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 William Dawkins, September 10, 1731

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, September 10, 1731, to alert him to a small shipment of tobacco,, and to order a gold watch for his daughter, Lucy (Carter) Fitzhugh. He sends a small bill of exchange and reminds Dawkins of his order for pipe tobacco. He concludes with an order for several patent medicines.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, September 10, 1731

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

Sepr. 10. 1731

Mr. William Dawkins


     Herein I send You a bill of Lading for two
hogsheads of tobacco in the Mary Brigantine Captain Belcher One of them is
stemmed the Other leaf which Captain Dove left out neither of them

     I am indebted to my Youngest daughter a
gold Watch She is married to Colonel Fitzhugh I desire it may be
a good one with a Strong gold chain and a hook to it for a Woman
I request Mr. Athawes would be particularly careful in buying it
himself having a tryal of it for some time

     Herein I send you a Small bill of exchange
for £6 drawn by Thomas Booth on Mr. Berry which I desire you
will negotiate And that You will not for get [sic ] to send me a box of piping

     I am frequently troubled with Windy colic
pains and I have found Daffys Elixir to be the best medicine I could

-2 -

take for my relief I desire you will send me a quart of it in --
Small Bottles Pray take care that it be the right it is generally
Esteemed that the medicines that come from the Apothecarries
prove the best and are the truest made up I heartily wish
Your health and am Sir

               Your Most humble Servant --

I am also advised that Dr. Batemans drops are a Sovereign remedy
in my distemper -- I desire you will please to send me a Pound in Small
Bottles also a dozen Bottles of Stoughtons drops, herein come [s] a bill of
Exchange drawn by Captain Belcher on Mr. Athawes for £10.8.2
which I desire may be Carried to my Credit

per Belcher


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 extract of the letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia. At the head is noted "to be Copyd."

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] 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. )

[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] Henry Fitzhugh (1706-1742) of "Eagle's Nest," Stafford County, was educated at Oxford, and married Lucy Carter (1715-1763), Robert Carter's fourteenth child, in 1730. They had four children; after Fitzhugh's death, she married Nathaniel Harrison (1713-1791). He was a burgess and militia officer. (Carleton. A Genealogy. . . of Robert Carter. . . . p. 451 ; Robert A. Rutland, The Papers of George Mason, 1725-1792. [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1970]. I:lii ; and extensive generalogical notes, "Fitzhugh Family," in volumes 7 and 8 of Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. )

[4] A bill of exchange is a kind of check or promissory note without interest. It is used primarily in international trade, and is a written order by one person to pay another a specific sum on a specific date sometime in the future. If the bill of exchange is drawn on a bank, it is called a bank draft. If it is drawn on another party, it is called a trade draft. Sometimes a bill of exchange will simply be called a draft, but whereas a draft is always negotiable (transferable by endorsement), this is not necessarily true of a bill of exchange. (See "Bill of Exchange" in the online Dictionary of Financial Scam Terms: the Truth vs. the Scam. )

[5] "Daffy's elixir, the first "patent medicine" to be advertised in an American newspaper (in 1708) "was promoted as a general pick-me-up and universal treatment suitable for all illnesses." It had been invented by Thomas Daffy (d. 1680), a clergyman. ( James Harvey Young, PhD. The Medical Messiahs: A Social History of Health Quackery in Twentieth-Century America. Chapter 2: "The Lawless Centuries." ; and "Reverend Thomas Daffy Vicar of Redmile 1666-1680," Redmile Archive. ) The Apothocarries' Hall , established in 1617 in London, included a retail phaarmacy.

[7] Bateman's pectoral drops and Stoutons drops were also patent medicines popular in the colonies. ( George B. Griffenhagen and James Harvey Young. Old English Patent Medicines in America. [Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1959. Paper 10 in the series "Contributions from The Museum of History and Technology." Available online through Projct Gutenberg. )

This text, originally posted in 2006, was revised March 4, 2016, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.