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 Alderman [Micajah] Perry, July 10, 1732

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant Alderman [Micajah] Perry, July 10, 1732, to comment on the tumult in the General Assembly over an Act of Parliament concerning the recovery of debts in the colonies which was considered unfair.

Letter from Robert Carter to Alderman [Micajah] Perry, July 10, 1732

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

July 10.. 1732

Alderman Perry


     In your letter of the 12th of April by the Man of War
which I have in some measure already answered you are pleased to take
into your view some public affairs and among the rest to excuse your
Self from any further Concern in that Severe act of Parliament which you
were so kind to send me wearing the title, for the better Recovery of Debts in the
British plantations
than what relates to proving Merchants accounts if it

-2 -

had stopt there it would not have alarmed us in the manner it has done but
what with that and the prodigious Oppressions we labour under in other
Respects it has raised so general a fury in the Assembly that has Carried
them into measures which I heartily wish from getting out of one extreme,
we may not be involved in another the particulars you will hear enough of
from other pens A months time of the assembly was run out before I was
got to it and all the Schemes were laid long before I came and the Current
so Strong there was no Stemming the tide if some had had never had so great an
inclination to do it Mr. Randolph the Agent of the Country Embarks in
the Burwell to prosecute the great designs upon the Anvil from him you will
have a Copious account what steps have been taken for the relief of this
poor Oppressed Country in Addressing to his majesty. Representing to the Lords of the Treasu
ry and petitioning to the house of Commons what will be the consequence
of these grand undertakings must be left to time to disclose

     As for an Excize which most men wish for to relieve us from
the Oppression of the Merchants from the danger of Broken accounts and
from the many destructive articles that have of late years been found out
to deprive us of the greatest part of the Profit of our Labours I must profess
is beyond my comprehension to forsee what will be the Consequence of this
prodigous Change upon our trade but the general cry that has borne down
all before it has been it is more illigible to rely on the mercy of our Prince
than to be subjected to the tyranny of the merchants who are daily increasing their
Oppressions upon us it is an old Adage that Oppressions make a wise
man mad what our Madness will produce I can hardly promise myself
to live to see the end of

     As for the news from the Shipping there is no doubt but the
masters let fly their batteries to their owners I shall Conclude this Epistle
with Sincere wishes for your health and happiness being really

                  Your most Humble Servant

via Liverpool Loxum


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 Burwell was commanded by Captain Constantine Cant and may have been owned by William Dawkins and Micajah Perry as Carter reported her December 1723 arrival to each of them. ( Survey Report 06445 sumarizing "Adm. 68/196," "Greenwich Hospital: General Accounts. the Names of Ships and The Accounts Paid for Sixpences at the Port of London;" Survey Report 05336 summarizing "Admiralty-Miscellanea, Register of Passes, 1731-1733," etc., found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[2] Carter may refer to an excise tax which the colonists favored because of a variety of problems with the taxes on their tobacco, and particularly because of the act of parliament to which Carter refers earlier in his letter. Collecting debts owed by colonists to merchants in Great Britain was difficult for the merchants because of restrictive laws about proof of debts in Britain, and because there were two sets of books 3,000 miles apart, that carried the details of each transaction. In 1732 British merchants got through the act of parliament that made it much easier for them to collect these debts "merely on their own oaths" and which allowed them "to attach both real estate and slaves to secure them." (Billings. et al. Colonial Virginia: A History. pp. 242-43. )

[3] The editor has been unable to determine what word Carter meant from what the clerk wrote down.

[4] Carter's remark was prophetic for he had less than a month to live.

[5] Several vessels named The Loyalty sailed to Virginia. One commanded by Francis Wallis cleared from Poole for Virginia in 1726. Captain Edward Loxam commanded a vessel of this name in 1729-1732 as did James Tarleton in 1732. (Survey Report 09727, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. See Carter's letters to John Pemberton April 15,1730 and August 4, 1731 .)

This text, originally posted in 2006, was revised June 20, 2016, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.