Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

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Electronic Text Center , University of Virginia Library


Letter from Robert Carter to Edward Athawes, July 31, 1731

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant Edward Athawes, July 31, 1731, to inform him of a recent discovery of a rich vein of ore in the works of the Frying Pa copper mine, and that the company's schooner has been sent to bring a load down to Carter's home. He reminds the merchant that the Bailey is bringing 67 barrels of previousl-excavatecd ore in her bilges.

Letter from Robert Carter to Edward Athawes, July 31, 1731

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

July 31. 1731

Mr. Edward Athawes


     On the 22d Instant the partners in the
Frying company wrote to yo. a joynt letter of that Affair I have only a
Small Short line to add Tom Dove hath a Sample of the last ore we receiv'd
I have had no fresh Accot from our general Overseer there but I have
receiv'd one from another who writes from a Court abt 25 miles off Frying pan on the 23d. Instant
Acquainting me that a person just come from thence told him that
our miners the Week before had rais'd three tonns of that rich ore
who told him he would give £50 a tonn for it here in the Country
this was one Shaw a refiner who we had in our business for a year & a
half before the miners came in this I beleive you will take for a

-2 -

Rodamantade as I do giving large grains of Allowance Yet cannot
forbear Conceiving there is so much in it to add Pinions to the
Wings of Our Expectations. I have sent up a Scooner a small Vessel
of the Companys bought for that Service for a load of ore if so much be
got down to the Landing her return will enable me to give you a more
Certain Accot of the truth of these Storys. At Present I know not of any
Opportunity to send some barrels of this ore to yo. this Shipping You may
beleive if this Vein does not prove illusive to us whe [sic ] shall push
our Work with our Outmost Zeal. I thought this further hint
would not be unentertaining to you

     We have loaded on board the Bailey Sixty Seven Barrels
of the Ore We had by us as you have been already advis'd we reckon about 21000 weight a bill of Lading
for it you have herein to save freight it is shot into the Run of the
Ship She is not hindred in her Loading by it one hogshead of tobacco We do not
expect it is very rich but we flatter ourSelves it will do Something
more than pay freight & Charges I have already writ an answer
to yr. Paragraph relating to Capt. Dove & am

                  Your very humble Servant.


Source copy consulted: Letter book, 1731 July 9-1732 July 13 , Robert Carter Papers (acc. no. 3807), Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. There is a 19th-century transcript of the letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Robert Carter generally used a return address of "Rappahannock" for the river on which he lived rather than "Corotoman," the name of his home, on his correspondence, especially to merchants abroad. The county and colony have been added for clarity.

[1] In 1728, Carter, his sons Robert and Charles, and his son-in-law Mann Page, organized a company to mine for copper on a tract of some 27,000 acres that Louis Morton describes as lying "near the present boundary of Fairfax and Loudoun counties." Fairfax Harrison wrote that the tract was "on the Horsepen of Broad." Today, there is a Frying Pan Park just east of the border of the Dulles Airport reservation, and there are other things with the name in the area. The company was not successful. (Morton. Robert Robert Carter of Nomini Hall. pp. 18-19; and Harrison. Landmarks. . . . p. 342. )

[2] The Bailey was a London ship owned by William Dawkins and commanded at various times by Adam Graves (1725-1730) and by Thomas Dove 1730-1732. She was a vessel of some 250 tons and carried 15-17 crew members. ( Survey report 6801 summarizing Adm. 68/195, 156v, and other data in Adm. 68/194 and /196, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia; A letter of Carter's to Dawkins May 12, 1732, refers to "your ship Bailey." as does a letter of August 10, 1733, from Carter's executors to Dawkins. [ Lloyd T. Smith, Jr., ed. The Executors' Letters of Robert Carter of Corotoman, 1732-1738. (Irvington, VA: Foundation for Historic Christ Church, 2010) p. 76]. )

[3] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a "rodomontade" is "a vainglorious brag or boast; an extravagantly boastful or arrogant saying or speech."

[4] A bill of lading is "an official detailed receipt given by the master of a merchant vessel to the person consigning the goods, by which he makes himself responsible for their safe delivery to the consignee. This document, being the legal proof of ownership of the goods, is often deposited with a creditor as security for money advanced." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[4] the bilges

This text, originally posted in 2006, was revised February 19, 2016, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.