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


Letter from Robert Carter to John Carter, July 19, 1720

     Robert Carter writes to his son John, then in London studyinglaw, July 19, 1720, about an opinion that he has received from SirRobert Raymond in England concerning "Mr. Lee's Deed of Settlement,"expressing his dissatisfaction with it. Sir Robert's opinion hadindicated "a wide Difference between a bond Debt and a debt upon Simple Contract" and Carter expounds upon the trouble such aninterpretation will create for the colonists. He asks John to attemptto see Sir Robert or another able attorney to have certain points inthe opinion expanded upon, and adds that he will consult lawyers inVirginia. He sends family news, and indicates his need for aschoolmistress for "my three Younger Children . . . at home with me Mary, Lucy, & George," noting that he haswritten Mr. Perry about one, but John may be able to assist.

Letter from Robert Carter to John Carter, July 19, 1720

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Rappahannock, [LancasterCounty, Virginia]
July 19 1720

Dear Son John -- --

     I have Considered Sir Robert Raymonds opinion
upon Mr. Lee's Deed of Settlement& can find but little en=
=couragemt. Therefrom for the recovery of my money, SirRobert
makes a wide Difference between a bond Debt and a debt
upon Simple Contract now If all Debts are resolvable
intothese two mine must be Construed to be a Contract
Debt. & soaccording to Sir Robert not recoverable out
of a real estate, If This be Law we in thePlantations
are in a very Dangerous Condicon [sic] for we have nothing
but the Merchants Accounts for our Security, and any Merchants
for the Advancemt. of his family may Throw all the
money he has of others topurchase a real Estate
with & when he's Dead his family goesinto the possession of It
& his Claimers are with out remedy,but to the point as
for the pretence of a free contract that wasmade between
Lee & his wife before the Coverture I believe There's
nothing In It norindeed can It be Thought That Lee the
Son Should propose a Settlemt. out of his fathers
Lands which were fee Simple So long beforethe fathers
Death when he had no knowledge whether the lands would
Ever come to him or no. If the truth were known this
Settlement was Contrived Just as Lee found himself
Tottering to Defraudhis Creditors, & to do something
for his wife and Childrenat other men's cost, but how
to discover the Dark pt. of this Story I cant find a
way, my next Step must be to Show Sir Robert's opinion
to our Lawyers here & See what they Say to It. It is a hard
case & for my Life I cant see the Equity of It.That my
Children Should go a Starving & another mans upon
my money should have a maintenace & no Law
will Affordme nor mine a remedy, Sir Robert Raymond
is a very Great man & perhaps will not allow You a

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Free Discource with him If You can have so much Influence
with him or any other able Lawyer wthout heaving away
more money, togain me a Clear opinion upon all
These points It would beSattisfactory, Sir Robert's
opinion is in such a terrible Character in some places
I can do no more but ghess [sic] at his meaning, all Your
friends hereare well for what I know, Mrs. Ann is the
Chief housekeeper I have, my threeYounger Children
are at home with me Mary, Lucy, & George Igreatly
want a Schoolmistress for them a Grave woman of
about forty years of age, that hath been well Educated &
is of a towardly Disposition to make It her business to be
their Tutoress I would willingly give reasonable yearly
wages to such a person for four or five Years, I know
Thereare a great many Such to be met with in London
That are hardly able to maintain themselves, I have
writ to Mr. Perry to send me in such a person. You
may Perhaps be instrumental in procuring one
& It beinga matter in which You are more nearly Concerned
have thot. It not amiss to mention It to You

I am


Source copy consulted: Robert CarterLetter Book, 1720 July-1721 July, BR 227, Huntington Library, ArtCollections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California. Printed:Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . .. pp. 32-34.

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, especiallyto merchants abroad. The county and colony have been added forclarity.

[1] Sir Robert Raymond, later Lord Chief Justice, wasAttorney General in 1720. He was regarded as the foremost lawyer ofhis day.

[2] In law, coverture is the status of a married womanconsidered as under the protection and authority of her husband.

[3] Sir Robert Raymond's clerk's handwriting wasterrible.

[4] Probably Ann Vitty, later (February 18, 1722)delivered of a "dead child," which RC noted in his diary.( Lancaster County Court Order Book 7, l721-1729, p.92,Archives Research Services, Library of Virginia, p.92. )

[5] George Carter (ca. 1718-ca. 1741-42) wasCarter's fifteenth child; his mother was Betty Landon Willis Carter.He attended the College of William and Mary and was sent to Londonafter his father's death to study law. He died there unmarried.(Carleton. A Genealogy. . . of RobertCarter. . . . p. 457. )

This text revised December 16, 2008.