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 Tucker, May 11, 1732

     Robert Carter writes to Weymouth merchant Edward Tucker, May 11, 1732, to report a large shipment of tobacco on the merchant's ship the Portland, and commenting on the large number of ships then in the colony due apparently to rumors of a large tobacco crop which probably are not true. He encloses (not present) the bill of lading and notifies Tucker of bills of exchange. He writes that he did not receive a promised account current, orders more Dorcester ale, and sadly notes the death of his son Robert on May 6, 1732.

Letter from Robert Carter to Edward Tucker, May 11, 1732

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

May 11. 1732

Edward Tucker Esqr


     My last went by the way of Liverpool and bore date
March 8 1728 and with This accompanys the Portland Captain Russel on
whom I have loaded 59 hogsheads of Stemmed straight laid Tobacco that has
passed the fiery trial of our new Law 44 of them my own crops and 15
a Crop of Colonel Pages I cannot doubt it rising very well to your satisfaction
after so Strict a Scrutiny. Having been so often mistaken in our guesses
at the proper time of selling our tobaccoes I shall not adventure to give you
any directions when to make sale of these. Although Your Captain has met
with great delays in his Loading and when you might have expected
him at home is Still with us You must reckon him a forward Ship
being one of the first excepting a Couple of Liverpool Ships and one Londoner
that went out of York that was not fully Loaded indeed a Small Ship of
Mr. Perrys sails with yours there are very few Ships more near ready most of
our trade have but just arrived abundance of Ships we have we Suppose
from the expectation of a great Crop I am just got home from the General
there the great cry was of a Short crop through most parts of the Country &
that many of our your Ships could never find tobacco for near their Loads
tobacco in the Country is considerably Started lately I was forced to buy some
to discharge some country Dues to the Southward and could not get it under 12/6
per cent after I had tried all that I could hear of that had any to sell
what fate we that are freighters shall meet with at your markets must be left
to time to tell us the Event your Captain will give you a more particular account
how matters go here

     Herein comes a bill of Lading for my Tobacco the weights
of it and the tare of the Cask you will have under the Naval Officers hands
here is also a bill of Exchange of Captain . Russels upon yourself for £21"10 which
I desire Credit for And I am to advise you that on the 6th Inst I drew a bill
of exchange upon you for £ one hundred pounds payable to John Randolph Esquire

-2 -

which I desire may meet with due honour at time

     I have lately received your favour from London of the 18. of
January in it you mention the Sending me an Accot Current by the
Portland but it must be your mistake I had only the sales of the 10 hogsheads
sent you in 1730. It seems you did not remember you had disposed of any
more of my 20 hogsheads than one of the 12 you told me before were un=
sold I reckon then being the winter season might make Selling
difficult [sic ] and 'rest in hopes the Spring market might help you off with
The rest and that this will arrive to a Clear town [sic ]

     Your Dorchester beer proved very good but we must act
our Coat according to our cloth I would have another hogshead from you the
next year although I drink little of it myself for the Entertainment of my friends
but it must be upon this condition if you can be able to bring out my tobacco
at near £ ten pounds Per hogshead

     I have now sent you the greatest parcel I think of
stemmed tobacco that ever I did in one year I hope I shall have no Cause
to repent it I did it in a great measure to help your Captain in his dispa=
tch and I daresay he will own he would have been much more plunged
than he has been, had he wanted my large assistance

     It has pleased God in his good providence to lay his
heavy hand upon me in bereaving me of my dear Son Robert who took
his leave of this world by a Sudden death on the 6th. instant I am going up
to his habitation to be present at his funeral obsequies I am I

                   Your mournful most humble Servant

hear nothing yet of your
Ship to Potomac


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] John Russell commanded the Portland, a British-built vessel owned by Weymouth merchant Edward Tucker. ( Survey Report 09729 detailing the Weymouth Port Books ; and Survey Report 09731 detailing Exchequor King's Remembrancer Port Books. Weymouth, Customer, 1730, found in theVirginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[2] 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 1731 August 1.(Billings. et al. Colonial Virginia: A History. pp. 236-39.)

[3] "The governor's Council, also known as the Council of State or simply the Council, consisted of about a dozen of colonial Virginia's wealthiest and most prominent men. Beginning in the 1630s the Crown appointed Council members. . . . Crown appointments were lifetime appointments. From 1625, when Virginia became a royal colony, until the outbreak of the American Revolution (1775-1783), the Council members advised the royal governor or his deputy, the lieutenant governor, on all executive matters. The Council and the governor together constituted the highest court in the colony, known initially as the Quarter Court and later as the General Court. The Council members also served as members of the General Assembly; from the first meeting of the assembly in 1619 until 1643 the governor, Council members, and burgesses all met in unicameral session. After 1643 the Council members met separately as the upper House of the General Assembly." ( "The Governor's Council" in Encyclopedia Virginia .)

[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. )

[5] The tare weight is the weight of the container "that is deducted from the gross weight to obtain the net weight" of the product held in the container. ( The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. Updated in 2009. Quoted online by The Free Dictionary, 9/13/2011. )

[6] By the Navigation Act of 1663 colonial governors were empowered to appoint an officer to carry out provisions of the Act, which officer "is there commonly known by the name of the naval officer." "Naval officers in British colonies in North America and the West Indies prepared shipping lists and forwarded them through the colonial governor to the Board of Trade or to the Treasury in England. The Navigation Act of 1696 established the naval officer's responsibility, to obtain detailed information regarding every ship entering and clearing in the colonial ports. The lists contain chronological entries of ships and their cargo. Information includes the date of entry or clearance, the type and name of the ship, its home port or colony, the details of the vessel's construction and registration, the name of the master and owner, the last port entered and the immediate destination, and the tonnage of the vessel "(1. "The Navigation Acts ." July 26, 2006; and 2. "British Records Relating to America in Microform Collections" July 26, 2006 . [This source is no longer available on the web, but is a good summary and is retained for that reason.] See "Navigation Acts" in "Digital History" for abstracts of the several acts.)

[7] 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. )

[8] "After Burton and London, Dorchester was also known for the quality of its ales. This honor seemed to have been due to the water. The Complete Country Housewife published in 1760 asserts, 'One of the best esteemed beers in England is that brewed in and near Dorchester. The excellence of this beer is in great measure owing to the quantity of chalk, with which that country abounds; which being impregnated with the water, produces that agreeable softness, for which this beer is so much admired.' . . . 'The author of Every Man his Own Brewer claimed it was not only the water but also the malt that made Dorchester beer unique. It is said to be brewed from barlies well germinated but not to the domination of pale malt and its peculiar taste proceeds from the starchiness of malt and quantities of salt and flour mixed with the wort. ( Frank Clark. "A Most Wholesome Liquor : A Study of Beer and Brewing in 18th-Century England and Her Colonies." [Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library Research Report Series-364. 2000.] )

[9] Carter probably means that the ship's captain would have been thrown into even more trouble than he had been in getting cargo.

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