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, May 12, 1732

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, May 12, 1732, reporting that he has received a number of letters and accounts. He is reasonably pleased with most tobacco sales, but complains about the price received for tobacco from Rippon Hall because it had had the reputation of bringing the very highest prices when Edmund Jenings owned it. There are some minor problems with Dawkins's accounting, and Carter reports tobacco shipments and the general belief in the colony that the year's production will be low.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, May 12, 1732

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Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

May 12. 1732

Mr. William Dawkins


     Your ship the Bailey arriv'd the 22d Ulto. I was from home when
she came in and have been almost ever since at the general Court
I beleive I am in possession of all your letters and packets design'd me by
the Ships that are arriv'd my goods are safe on shoar and without damage
Your 4 accounts of sales of my tobaccoe in 1730 three of them I will not complain of the sale
of the 39 by the Bailey is a very mean one and such as you know I have
not been usd to receive from you for my Stemmd tobacco but I must own
there were several hogsheads that were very mean tobacco however I most observe
too that I had not shipt them hhds. if it had not been in Service to your
Ship to fill her up at the importunity of John Graves. The Sale of the
12 hogsheads by the Spotswood you must allow me a little to discant upon. They
were my Rippon

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Crop and under a particular mark if my directions were rightly
follow'd but in your Accot are under the Common mark of my home
Crops whether the mistake hath been in your Clerk or my marker I
can't say and how they came to be so prodigious light so much less
than the weights that were return'd to me I am likewise surprizd [sic]
in This crop I took particular pains to recommend to you that I had
great hopes you would be able to advance to the top of the market
and has had always the Charecter of as good a crop as any upon York
River except the E.D.s One Mathews is my next neighbour is within a
good bow shot of my plantation sends his tobaccoe to Berry and always
has to my certain knowledge the top of the Market and this very year I am
Well inform'd has £17" per hogshead indeed he makes his tobaccoe prodigeous
heavy, and mine was prodigeous light but that is never any damage
to the price Per pound you had the Crop of this plantation last Year and I
intend you the same Crop again this year and to Ship it in Bradby, I
must never let you rest from being teazed 'till you find out Berrys Chap=
who I can't think but would give you as much for my Crops as Mathews
gets for his I think I have already told you how Falconar sold this Crop
and when I bought the land of Colonel Jennings I had the assurance no crop
in the River outsold his indeed I indeavour'd to know what mark he put
upon it but could not find it out and so was forc'd to make a mark,
for it which I have kept ever since I was master of the Plantation
however it came to be altered in yr account of sales

     I find you have paid Mr. Edwards's bills of Exchange out of my money you
should have noted the day of payment to me and have sent me in a protest against
Mr. Edwards and that you had paid it upon my Accot

     Herein I send you a noat from Patrick Conolly on Mr. Perry for the ball
ance of his 2 hogsheads yielding £5"18"11 here is also a bill of my own drawn by Thomas
on James Buchanan, for £6"11"10. Colol Robinson hath promised me
to pay yr bill of Exchange that was sent to me by Leon. Hill which I had little hopes of
getting and am not sure of yet

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     I have on board the Rebeccah 21 hogsheads of Stemm'd tobo my
own Crops Undr. yr. mark which I intend to Consign to you Capn. Malbon is now gone to Clear
but whether I shall see him or no to get my bills of Loading I know not he sends
me word he intends to be with me on Sunday but I shall not then be at home tomorrow
morning God Willing I am setting out upon the Doleful Occasion of my dear
Son Roberts funeral who it hath pleasd the Almighty to take from me in the flower
of his age in a very sudden manner to my great grief and Confusion

     Mr. Falconars affair you have writ a great deal to me about
it seems in your last letter you were under no expectation of receiving any more
money from his Executors very soon I hope you will be watchful as you are fully
impowered from me to take all proper Measures to secure the remaining part
of my debt their Stopping my money for Colo Pages debt is a very unwarrantable
act in them and that no law will bear them out in however as things now
stand I am almost inclinable to take it out of Colo Pages Estate as it Can be rais'd
but more of this hereafter

     You advised me that the Thistle was arriv'd in the West of England
and Mr. Athawes tells me that Belchers Vessel was afloat from which I hope
we shall not loose our Oar I have a great deal to say to him when I have another
Opportunity about our mine All that I have to say to him now is to tell him tht.
our hopes are intirely Vanish'd having met with no sign of Oar since that vein
left us Last Summer altho we have been making searches ever since

     I have not seen Capn Dove yet and no know nothing of his Affairs he
is now up the River I shall do him all the service in my power, but I have already
Shipt off the greatest part of my tobacco I have a great deal less to ship this year than
I have had for these Several years past but the very short crop I have made
The reports at Williamsburgh were of Short Crops in most parts of the Country
especially to the Southward and the general opinion was the Crop this year was
a great deal less than it was the last and that many of the Ships would come short
in their Loading of which we have great Store in the Country I beleive upon
the Expectation of a very great Crop but the Storys from Your masters who are
flying about all the Country over will be yr. best informations I have been so

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often deceiv'd in these things tht I shall not pretend to guess how they will
issue. I am

                  Yr. mournful Humble Servant

I am to advise you that
while I was at the general Court I drew a bill of Exchange upon you payable
to Colo Henry Fitzhugh for one hundred and fifty pounds



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 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]. )

[2] Ultimo means "on the last day (of a specified month)." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. 5/9/2016)

[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] The Spotswood was a London ship commanded by James Bradby, 1727-1732, and was owned by Micajah Perry. ( Adm 68/195, 70r ff., found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. See Carter to Micajah Perry April 16. 1730. )

[5] Rippon Hall had been Edmund Jenings' estate in York County which he had acquired in 1687 from John and Unity West when it was named "Poplar Neck." Jenings's bad financial circumstances forced him to mortgage the property to Carter who eventually acquired title to it. Carter obviously felt its mill would be a good acquisition .( "Notes and Queries." William and Mary Quarterly. 2[Apr. 1894]: 270-278, now available through the Internet Archive. )

[6] This probably was Baldwin Mathews (ca. 1670-1737) a justice and militia captain in York County where Ripon Hall was located. (Anne Woodlief. "A Mathews/Matthews Family Line." 5/9/2016.)

[7] Men named Bradby commanded both the Micajah & Philip and the Spotswood.

[8] A chapman is "a man whose business is buying and selling; a merchant, trader, dealer." ( Oxford English Dictionary online. )

[9] 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 )

[10]"Thos. Edwards, a little petty Fogging Lawyer the Clark of our County that hath as much Mettle and more cunning for Contention then his predecessor had" Carter wrote to Landon Jones, July 22, 1723. His opinion of Edwards later changed for there are more appreciative mentions of him in Carter's diary. Edwards was clerk of the Lancaster County court from 1720-1746. ( Within the Court House at Lancaster. Lively, VA: Lively Printing Services, Lively, VA: Lively Printing Services, [1976]. p. 15. ; and "Thomas Edwards, Gentleman, Clerk of the Court" in Brown and Sorrells. People in Profile. pp. 94-103. )

[11]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. )

[12] Patrick Connelly appears on a 1716 list of titheables in Christ Church Parish, Lancaster County ( "Tithables in Lancaster Co., 1716." William and Mary Quarterly 1st. ser., 21[July 1912]: 107. )

[13] Thomas Barber of Richmond County was a surveyor, and would be appointed a justice of that county in 1730, tobacco inspector in 1734, and sheriff in 1736. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]: 215, 342, and 369. )

[14] Merchant James Buchanan (d. 1742) had run his business from Bideford and Topsham, Devonshire, but he later moved it to London. ( The Directory Containing an Alphabetical List of the Names & Places of Abode of the Directors of Companies, Persons in Publick Business, Merchants and other Eminent traders in the Cities of london and Westminster and Bororugh of Southwark. London: Printed and sold by Henry Kent in Finch-Lane Near the Royal Exchange . . . , 1736. p. 110; and A Compleat Guide to All Persons who have any Trade or Concern with the City of London and Ports adjacent. . . . London: Printed for J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball in Pater-noster-row, MDXXXL )

[15] 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. )

16[] 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. )

[17] 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. )

[18] There are several references in Carter's 1731 letters to Edward Athawes to a brigantine, the Mary, commanded by a Captain Belcher. She was a vessel owned by King and Queen County resident Samuel Smith; she was commanded by Thomas Price. (See Carter to Samuel Smith , January 22, 1728.)

[19] 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. )

[20] the Rappahannock

[21] 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. )

[*] Carter means by "discant" "to make remarks, comments, or observations; to comment (on, upon, of a subject, topic, etc.)." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

This text, originally posted in 2006, was revised May 9, 2016, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.