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 Micajah and Richard Perry, July13, 1720

     Robert Carter writes to London merchants Micajah and Richard Perry, July 13, 1720, that he has distributed their letters which have come in a box via Maryland, and comments on what has been heard of the South Sea "Bubble," adding that he must depend on their judgements concerning his annuity and other investments. He informs the merchants of a bill of exchange for £500 that he has drawn on them for "The part I am to hold in Bagwells Ship." Their recent sales of his tobacco have pleased him, but asks them to avoid "These late Sales" for his tobacco. He hopes that because the French and Spanish markets are now open that tobacco prices will hold and that there are fewer ships from the outports this year and about the usual number from London. The ships are loading to capacity which has depreciated prices in the colony, but which he hopes will not affect those at home. Because the Perrys have written that some of his tobacco was not of the best quality, he resolves "If please God I live I will endeavour to be nicer than Ever I have bin." He turns to his son John, then studying law in London, and John's desire that his father forgive his extravagant living of the past; he believes John's allowance of £200 per year is a generous one. Colonial politics are calm, but Nathaniel Burwell has lost his place in the Assembly.John Bashford visits Carter frequently "to know his Doom," and Carter requests the Perrys to remember his "Debt from Hastewell" and to attempt to recover the money should opportunity arise. He concludes by noting that pirates have been "very bold & rogueish upon our Coast this Year" and comments that he cannot understand why England does not offer more protection to the merchant fleets.

Letter from Robert Carter to Micajah and RichardPerry, July13, 1720

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Rappahannock, [LancasterCounty, Virginia]

July 13. 1720 --

Messrs. Micajh. & Richd.

Gent -- --

     Yor. box of Lettrs. via Maryland was brought me from
McCartys by a man of my own The begining of last week The
Same Day I carri'd them to Mieldlesex Court where I dispers'd most
of Them Mr. Pratt took care of those for James rivr & York So that
I believe none of them will miscarry, in Yors. to me You Express a
Great deal of Concern abt. The Stock Jobbing Trade , and the
ruinous Consequences of It. We have since Accots. of May Date
that advise the Southsea Company had gott an Act of
Parliament in their favour and that their stock was then up
at 320 PerCt. If This be true You may well compare It to the
Missesscipy Company . I have already told You as to my annuity
I must Submitt It to Yor. Prudence to Do by me as You should
think most advisable to do for Yor. self, In one of Yor. Letters
You say the bank buys all the annuitys they can how that
will Effect me I cant tell must Submitt It to Yor. Judgement
What money I Already have at Interest I am very willing
to keep there, but I have no Thots. of Contriving the laying out
anymore at present -- --

     The part I am to hold in Bagwells Ship the £500 I drew
on You tother Day to Collo. Jennings & some other large Tres
=passes I have still to make upon You wth. the fund necess
=ary for the Clearing my Tobo. will exhaust me low enough
The Tobo. You had sold of mine I was very well contented wth.
and shall be glad to find You held out to the end of the
Chapter These late Sales I am always affraid of & am very
desirous you'l Avoid them in my Concern as much as reas-
=onably You can -- --

     I would hope the French & The Spanish Marketts
being both open you will be able to keep Tobo. up at The price
It is, We reckon we have considerably fewer Ships this year
than the last from the outports & to London not more, Indeed
theyl all return full and to Spare wch. hath Considerably
Depretiated the Commodity here but we flatter our selves will
have no Effect at home. You say some of my Tobo. was not
so agreeable as you could wish lett me come but well off wth. that
& the crop now sent If please God I live I will endeavour to be nicer than Ever
I have bin That I may keep pace with that Miscellaneous
Gent Mr. Pratt, who fluxes me egregiously

     You tell me my Son promises You to give me Sattisfaction
in rendring particular Accots. of his expenses but in this he hath
faild, he only Desires me to Draw a Line of oblivion upon what

-2 -

what [sic ] is past & promises he will Conform himself to myAllow=
=ance for the future and certainly 200 pound per Annum is a very
Genteel maintenance for him. he seems suspicious Mr.
Randolph hath done him some Disservice in his Character of him --
but in this he's Intirely Mistaken. he hath not lett fall any one
Expression That ever I heard of to his Disadvantage nor did I ever
Intend to make his Circumstances the measure of my Sons only as
to the Improvemt. of his time, Yor Lettrs. upon Polliticks are not
at all Encouraging neither shall I give You any further Trouble
upon Those Themes, We are now under an Entire reconcili
=ation and all partys seem resolv'd to forgett whts. Past . Poor Nath.
hath left his place and is like to Stand Concluded for
wt. I see. Tis well he can live wth.out It & may all honest men
be able to Do So. You have already had a full accot. of the steps
of This reconciliation. I need give You no further trouble abt. It

     My Affair in Whitehaven You have finish'd and
Bassnetts business I shall Say no more of Poor Bashford is often
wth. me to know his Doom, My Debt from Hastewell one of the
owners of the Carter I can never forgett & am unwilling You
Should not remember It If ever It should lye in Yor. way to
Serve me -- The privateers have bin very bold & rogueish
upon our Coast this Year, all Yor. Captns. will Sett this Story
in a better light than I can Surely all the Traders Concernd
This way will Join in one Clamour wth. one voice to have more
care taken of us for the future, That such a Fleet of Ships
So very profitable to the Crown and such a Country Should
ly so Exposd to Every Pickerune rogue is a most Egregious Shame
I'll release you at present & am --

Yor. most humble Servt.


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1720 July-1721 July, BR 227, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California. Printed: Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . pp. 4-7.

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] Louis Wright has speculated that Mr. Pratt might be William Pratt of Gloucester County as there were several Pratts active in Virginia at this time. Carter writes here that "Mr. Pratt took care of those [letters] for James rivr & York" which makes Wright's speculation as good as any. In the close-knit society of his time andclass, Carter would certainly have learned what others were receiving for their crops, but a definite identification of the irritating Mr. Pratt is not possible. (Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . p. 2. )

[2] Carter refers to the South Sea Company whose stock in June had been worth £1060 for each £100 share; the crash of the "Bubble" was underway even as he wrote. ( Goldwin Smith. A History of England. Chicago, et al. : Scribner's, 1949. p. 424. )

[3] The Compagnie de l'Occident, often called the Mississippi Company, was a speculative company formed in 1717 by John Law, a Scot with an excellent reputation in France as a banker and financier. The firm assumed control of Louisiana from the French government on January 1, 1718, and its stock sold well. But wild speculation ensued, and the company failed in 1720. ( Dictionary of American History, III, 421. )

[4] Britain and France had been allies since the Quadruple Alliance was formed in 1718, and Britain's quarrels with Spain were to end with the Treaty of Madrid, signed in 1721. There would be peace for the remainder of Carter's lifetime.

[5] At a meeting of the Council on April 20, 1720, Lt. Gov. Spotswood and the Council agreed to end a controversy that had lasted for several years, involving questions of the power of appointment in the colony, and the power of the governor vs. that of the Coucil. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 3(1705-1721): 524. and Morton. Colonial Virginia. II, 475. )

[6] John Bashford (d. 1735) may have had problems, but in 1726, he was to present affaidavits in Northumberland County court to prove his parentage and marriage because "he had fallen heir to an estate in England." ( "The Heaths of Northumberland County, Virginia," William and Mary Quarterly. 24(1)[1915]:109-115. )

[7] This was probably Edward Hastewell (d. Jan. 1708/09), a London Quaker merchant who signed on November 23, 1699 -- as did Micajah Perry and John Goodwin -- a memorial, on behalf of themselves and others trading to Virginia, to the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations. In a letter of July 13, 1720, to the Perrys, Carter also referred to Hastewell as one of the owners of the Carter .(For death date see Narcissus Luttrell. A Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs, from September 1678 to April 1714. [Oxford: University Press, 1857], 392, online at Google Books 9/26/2009. )

This text revised September 28, 2009.