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


April 6, 1702
Letter from Robert Carter to the trustees of Ralph Wormeley's estate, April 6, 1702

     Robert Carter states his positions concerning the interpretation of the will of Ralph Wormeley and the actions he has taken with the portion of the estate under his control. He notes his differences in interpretation and action with Edmund Jenings as well as his willingness to meet the other trustees as soon as his responsibilites at the General Court in Williamsburg are completed.

Letter from Robert Carter to the Trustees
of Ralph Wormeley's Estate, April 6, 1702

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County,Virginia]

April 6, 1702

By Way of Reply to Colonel Jenings's Propositions about the
Will of Esquire Wormeley Deceased .

     That the Widow has her Choice out of the Household goods to the
Total : of One hundred pounds, is plain from the Will.

     That she has a Right to a fifth of the Personal Estate and ought [to]
be Served in point of Choice is what I have Delivered as my Opinion
before this Day; though Seemed to be Doubted by some Others.

     That she has a Right of Dower in theLands is beyond Controversy,
if it Can be done by apportioning plantations &ca. as near an equ[al]
as may be it will be the Easiest Way, but if this wont Satisfy the Widow
Dower Comes to be assigned her, he will be a Friend to the Estate
Can find a way to Lay it out without Charge for my part I Can ['t]

     That Mrs. Elizabeth . Wormeley after the Widows Choice of the Personal Estate [. . .] [ . . . ]
out, has the Choice of a Negro, is also the Plain English of the Will, and [she]
has been without him so Long; has been and is a prejudice [to ?]
be granted and the only thing that I know Of, wherein any [thing]
in the Will has been a Sufferer for want of an Earlier Div [ision]
ont is it is only the Labour of a Negro for a few Months.

     That she has already had the Other Legacys given to her [ . . . ]
it has been I suppose for want of fetching, That Colonel [ . . . ]
about her Provision, That the Twenty pounds per annum for he [r provision?]
Due to her as the Year Runs Out, and no Doubt ought to b [e paid?]
Colonel Jenings who Shipped the York Tobaccoes [sic] Scruple [ . . .]
to Apply to me, I will give her the Bills , Running the Haza [rd]
and so I shall Yearly while I am Concerned with the Estate

     That Madam Corbin has a Legacy of Fifty pounds givenher b [y the will is]
also very plain, but whether the Tobacco made use of by Colonel Cor [bin be]
-long'd to the Estate in Gloucester & Westmoreland Countys goes in Q [uit rents]
that Legacy or no is to me a Secret, If Colonel Corbin has any further [ . . . ]
none so fit as Colonel Jenings to settle it with him, and no Doubt [he]
Effects enough from the Concern under his Management to answer [that]
and a great Deal more.

     That the Will of Our Testator as I take it to be the Basis of our powe [r]
being held to the Glass of the Law, Ought to be the Directory to Our pro [ceeding]
and shall be so to mine as far as I know it though in the Will We are [called]
Trustees, in Law Sence I apprehend we are Executors (the other Term [is]
no Law Phrase) and have the full power of Such durante minore aetate [te We]
want not any Deputation from One Another to Enable Us for the [manage]
-ment of the Estate, Nor for my part shall I ever seek any, I have alre [ady]
paid Several Debts and will pay all that Comes that appears to be
I have paid the Quit Rents Levys &c. of the Estate, I sent for Clothes [and]
Other Necessarys for the familys Last year (which by the Providence of [God was]
Lost in Burford , I have been providing as well as I Can for them in the Coun [try]
and Notwithstanding Colonel Jenings Opinion (who I am told has [open?]
-ly said the Lost Goods I am Liable for and he might as well [ . . . ]

-2 -

      Colonel Corbin ought to bear the Loss of those he sent for, and the Tobacco
Shipped Last Year by Colonel Jenings went upon his Risk I shall send again
to England as soon as I Can for more,

     That in Shipping the Tobaccoes what I am Concerned in, I shall Chiefly
Consider the Interest of the Children, which will be to send most to them who
makes the best Returns and when there is Money before hand, to Lodge
it in the Ablest hands where there is least appearance of failure, which is
the Method I observe to my self [sic ] in my Own affairs, I have no Friends or
Relations there further than they Render themselves bytheir good Management in my favour.

     That the Books of Accounts Papers &c. Remain where they were to be
Viewed by the Trustees when they Please, but the Debts are so Incon
-siderable, Except the Sheriffs & Clerks Accounts they are hardly Worth the
Solemn Way of Settling proposed

     I shall be at all Times most Ready to give an Account to my Companions as
far as I am Concerned in Management when they Desire it, but for
a Dictatorship amongst Us I am unwilling to yield to; will Rather
Cease to Meddle with any Dead Mans Estate while I Live

     The following is an Account of my Proceedings hitherto.
A Short ime after the Death of Esquire Wormeley, We took probate upon his
will, Colonel Jenings not there, and that We might be Enabled for the Divi
-sion Moved the Court that an appraisement might be made by Judicious
Gentlemen and Obtained Order Accordingly. Several Meetings We
had Month after Month, where I Constantly attended for the Division, but
for want of a Suitable Nombrs. of Appraisers, The Matter was not Effected
until December, Colonel Jenings at none of those Times, meeting, In the
-mean time, I have not been wanting in taking Care of the business of the Plan
-tations, a very Good Crop was made, is Preizd [sic] , and Freight I have
taken for the most part if not all, Good Overseers Settled for the Ensuing
year, and the plantations in very good Order.

     The Crop made by Esquire Wormeley I shipped as followith

      Ten hogsheads went to Mr. Corbin , which I Left my Own Tobacco out for
and Lay by me all the year, He Writes me General he had soldfor
Nine pence 1/2 But no Account as yet. Sixteen hogsheads went to Mr. Lee
of the same Tobacco sold at Nine pence 3/4, Ten pence, and Ten pence 1/4
he has sent an Account of Sales but no account Current Twenty seven hogsheads
went to Mathews & Goodwin He writes but Two hogsheads were sold striped Leaf at
Ten pence 1/2, and that Price for the stemn'd, and Ten pence for the Leaf he
hoped to Reach for them all.

     The Goods for the familys use Lost as above were sent for to Mathews &c.
Amounting as per Invoice to £86:2:2.

     Many Journeys I have made, and many more shall if I Continue in
the Management of any part of the Estate tho' heartly Wish I were fairly Dis
Charged I have other business enough for my Time & thoughts,

-3 -

     Could I Answer it to the Dead, and to the Living, should hard [ly]
Turmoil my Self with Other Mens Estate without the Least appear [ance]
of Profit. Colonel Jenings has but once passed York River
all this Time, I will not say to pay a Visit to a Bro [the] r but upon [cal]
-le Submit it to Judgement, to whom Esquire Wormeleys Children [are]
most Obliged

     As to the Division so much urged for, it had been Effected no d [oubt]
Long before now if all the Trustees had attended the appraisme [nt]
and it shall not be my fault, if it be not Effected so soon a [s a]
full meeting of the Trustees Can be had for the Doing of it, [as]
for the Ninth of this Month to begin as proposed , I Cannot possib [ly]
be so long from home having a Public Call to be at Willi [ams]
Burg on the 15th. and perhaps must stay there for a Month or [six?]
Weeks together, Not having that great Conveniancy som [e per]
sons has of Lying every Night at home if they please

      Perhaps the Widow may be upon Designs of Tasting the Sw [ee] ts of [matri]
mony a Second Time, If so a Hasty Division seems mos [t evi]
-dent; Otherwise I must Reassume my former Opinion
it is most for the Childrens advantage the Estate Rema [in]
as it is.

     As soon as may be after the General Court
I shall be Ready to attend a Division

      Rappahannock Aprill [sic] the 6th. 1702 --


Source copy consulted: Christ Church Parish, Lancaster County, Processioners' Returns, 1711-1783, and Wormeley Estate Papers, 1701-1710, 1716, Acc. 30126, Archives Research Services, Library of Virginia, Richmond, 147-149. The letter book contains a copy of Edmund Jenings's proposals , and an account "of the Profitts of the Secretary's Place Accrewing Due from the Public Clerks . . . 1700."

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. The county and colony have been added for clarity.

Ralph Wormeley had two daughters, Elizabeth (Wormeley) Lomax and Catherine (Wormeley) Corbin. ( Janet and Robert Wolfe. "Notes for John Lomax and Elizabeth Wormeley" and "The Wormeley Family (Continued)." The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 36, no. 1 (1928): 98-101. )

[1] Elizabeth (Armistead) Wormeley Churchill was Robert Carter's sister-in-law through her sister, Carter's first wife, Judith Armistead. She married first Ralph Wormeley (1650-1701), by whom she was the mother of of Ralph (ca. 1681-1714) and John (1689-1727). Her second husband was William Churchill (1649/50-1710) of 'Bushy Park," Middlesex County. Her daugher Priscilla Churchill married Robert Carter II.

[2] Dower is "the portion of a deceased husband's estate which the law allows to his widow for her life." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[3] 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. )

[4] Catherine (Wormeley) Corbin (d. ante 1707), daughter of Ralph Wormeley, was Gawin Corbin 's first (of three) wives. ("The Corbin Family of Virginia." )

[5] Carter sems to have omitted a word commonly used with these two. The phrase usuallly is "administration durante minoritate" generally taken to mean"administration during the administrator's minority,:" i.e., administration of a decedent's estate during the minority of the named executor, or person normally entitled to appointment as administrator." ("Administration durante minoritate administratoris" in Free Online Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions.

[6] To prize is "to compress (cured tobacco) in a hogshead or box." There is a good description of the process on pages 100-101 in Middleton's Tobacco Coast. ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press; and Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. [Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953]. )

[7] "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 )

This text revised September 23, 2008, and again July 15, 2016, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.