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, February 28, 1732

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant Edward Athawes, February 28, 1732, on behalf of the Frying Pan copper mining company to report the arrival of a ship carrying goods for the company, and that the miners from Bristol, to whom Lord Fairfax had given a lease, are having no better luck in finding good ore than the company's miners. He responds to criticism about lack of candor in the company's affairs by pointing out that Micajah Perry has been closest to Lord Fairfax, and the company has accordingly used his offices. He reminds Athawes of two shipments of copper ore.

Letter from Robert Carter to Edward Athawes, February 28, 1732

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

Feb: 28. 1731/2

Mr. Edward Athawes


     his accompanys a Liverpool Ship and is the
first Opportunity has offered from this place this Season Captain Malbon
Met with a long passage from Maderia Arrived here but ten days ago
your goods to the Frying Pan Company are not yet brought on shore I have
many letters from you to the Company none of them afford us much comfo=
=rt and what is the worst of all our hopes of Success are quite blown up we
have been able to meet with no vein of Ore worth raising since last summer
and begin to be very near the erms of despair however we still keep pushi=
=ing [sic ] [illegible] on and must continue making further searches until our
miners times expire

     The Bristol mens Undertaking has been much
at the same pass until very lately I met with a story the other day how true
I know not that they had just fallen upon a large vein of very rich Ore this
wants confirmation. If we meet with any good news no Opportunity
shall slip of Communicating it to you

     In your letter of the 20th of October you are pleased
to complain you think you have not been treated with so much Candour
as you ought to have expected in this Affair I must assure you you have
no foundation for this Charge Aldderman Perry has a great deal of
intimacy with my Lord and we took him to be the most proper person
to treat with him about a lease for our mine in Case it Succeeded and he has
been the only person that has negotiated my affairs with his Lordship and
I must own has always been very Zealous in doing me all friendly servi
ces and we could pitch upon no person in our opinion so proper to bring
about this matter but it was not without giving him the liberty to make
use of You in carrying it on as he should find Occasion and we were not
wanting in expressing how much You had exerted Your self in serving
us in this adventure

     We sent you 16 barrels of rich ore as we thought
in Your brig Captain Becher our bill of Loading bears date the 13th of September
we have no accot Yet of his Arrival We also sent you 11 Barrels
by Captain Reid in the Thistle that bill of Loading dated November 14.
of this we have no reason to expect an Accot yet I am for self & Company

              Sir       Your most 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 nineteenth-century copy of this 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] The Rebecca was probably a London ship; she was of 300 tons, had a crew of 11, and was commanded by Samuel Malbon in 1731-32. ( Adm. 65/195, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[2] 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. )

[3] Lord Fairfax had given a lease to miners from Bristol to dig on his land. See Carter's letter to Fairfax , July 16, 1730.

[4] The clerk probably misunderstood Carter and wrote "Beecher" when "Belcher" was correct. There are several references in letters to Athawes the previous year to Captain Belcher of Athawes' brig Mary.

[5] 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. )

[6] The Thistle was a London ship commanded by a Captain Reid and owned by merchant James Buchanan. (See Carter to Edward Athawes , 1731 September 10, 1731, and Carter to James Buchanan , November 19, 1731. )

This text, originally posted in 2006, was revised March 31, 2016, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.