Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

List of Letters | About This Collection

Electronic Text Center , University of Virginia Library


Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, February 28, 1732

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, February 28, 1732, to report that he has received letters from Dawkins and reports of sales, but none for tobacco shipped in 1730. He comments on the complications of his affairs with the estate of London merchant John Falconar which Dawkins is handling for him, and briefly on the new tobacco inspection law. He also includes a bill of exchange (not present).

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, February 28, 1732

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

Feb: 28. 1731/2

Mr: William Dawkins


     I take this first Opportunity via Liverpool to ad=
=vise you of the receipt of your sundry letters by the Rebecca Captain Malbon
with which comes your sales of [illegible] several tobaccos and I hear also from my neighbours
that you have sent their sales also but I do not yet meet with any sale
from you of my own tobacco which went away in the year 1730 if you have
sent me any they are not come to hand perhaps the next Ships may bring

     As for Mr: Falconars affair it has given you
a great deal of trouble which I must acknowledge your favour in . You have full powers
from me to prosecute that matter either in a Legal or peacable way the
Stopping my money for the payment of Colonel Pages debt is a most unjust proce
=eding Serjeant Ryders Opinion justifies me in this charge and I dare
[illegible] dare say all the Lawyers in England will agree with him in his
opinion. I have a letter from the Executors themselves vindicating

-2 -

their usuage to me under the Specious pretence of doing equal justice by all
the Creditors and with those fine words of doing as they would be done by
bidding me defiance to the Law I shall take a little time Longer to consult
about this matter

     In a former letter I gave you liberty upon their payment
of all the balances that they owned Mr. Falconars Estate stood indebted to me
to give up my claim to the money was stopped from me upon the Account of
Levets failure but as they have not complied with these payments I hope
I am not bound to stand by that Concession but that if I must go to Law
I may bring that matter over the Coals Also; being well advised I ought
not to bear that Loss. You tell me that they pay only 10 Shillings in the pound
to every Creditor and that they have it in their power to pay off every Creditor
in what order they please but I cannot be of your Opinion had you prose
cuted them to the Law upon receipt of my Power You might have reco
vered a judgement and then I should have had the preference to all debts of
an inferiour dignity

     Young Falconar is very wrong in his charge against
me I treated him at my house with more civility than he deserved and as
to my calumniating him to the Governour I thank God I have no talent
for such foul stuff his great quarrel against me was my declining
the continuance of any business to him I had had experience enough,
of the treatment I had met with from his father and his Executors
to scare me from having any more to do with persons of his persuasion

     We are now beginning to Ship tobacco under our new Law
we meet with a world of difficulty and a great deal of Delay but we must
Struggle with them in the best manner we Can you will have a larger Accot of
this matter from your own Masters I shall conclude at present with wishes
for your health and happiness being

                  Your most humble Servant

Herein send you a small
bill of Exchange drawn by Mr. Joseph Ball on your self & Company for £2"0"0
which desire may be Carried to my Credit


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.

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] John Falconar (1677-1729) was a London merchant with whom Carter dealt. He apparently was in New Jersey and Maryland, 1699-1705. In 1728, Falconar and Henry Darnell formed an association of 29 London tobacco merchants to deal with the French tobacco purchasing agent as a group in order to keep the price as high as possible. The association lasted only lasted a year or two before dissolving because some of its members were dealing directly with the French agent and selling below the agreed-upon price. (See Carter's letter to Falconar of July 24 and August 22, 1727, for details about the payment of £200 to him. See Carter to William Dawkins, for Falconar's death date. "GEN-MEDIEVAL -L Archives" on Rootsweb, 8/10/2015 ; and Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953. p. 129 )

[3] A sergeant-at-law is "a member of a superior order of barristers (abolished in 1880), from which, until 1873, the Common Law judges were always chosen . . . More explicitly, serjeant at (the) law, serjeant of (the) law. . . ." It is an ancient British legal term for a barrister, one who pleads cases in court, and writes opinions about cases for clients. In this instance, the Ryder may have been Dudley Ryder who was called to the bar in 1719, and made a Solicitor General in 1733. ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press; and "Dudley_Ryder_(judge)" in Wikipedia,, 6/1/06, 3/31/2016.)

[4] There are references to the failure of a merchant named Levet, sometimes referred to as Alderman Levet, in some of Carter's earlier letters. It seems unlikely that this was Richard Levett, mayor of London in 1699 as he died in 1710.

[5] "To haul (a person) over the coals . . . " means "to call (a person) to account; to rebuke or reprimand severely." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[6] Caluminating means "to utter maliciously false statements, charges, or imputations about" another person. ( . Accessed March 31, 2016. .)

[7] The tobacco inspection act of 1730 was introduced and steered through the legislature by Lieutenant Governor Sir William Gooch. " The "bill called for the inspection and bonding at public warehouses of all tobacco shipped abroad; for the destruction of all unacceptable tobacco; for standardization of the size of hogsheads . . . ; for maintenance of detailed records to prevent smuggling; and for the circulation of warehouse receipts as legal tender in lieu of tobacco iteself. . . ." Gooch also managed to obtain approval of the act in England. It went into effect August 1, 1731. (Billings. et al. Colonial Virginia: A History. pp. 236-39.)

[8] 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. )

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