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 Messrs. Micajah Perry, Sr. andJr., January 17, 1721

     Robert Carter writes to London merchants Messrs. Micajah Perryand his grandson of the same name, January 17, 1721, reporting on therecent session of the Virginia Assembly that had sat until Christmas.William Byrd, representative of the colony in England, was voted£400 but the governor attached conditions Byrd would not agreeto, and they can get the details when Byrd arrives. Most of the shipspresently in Virginia are from Bristol and Liverpool, and they arenot expecting the London ships until March. He comments that Bristolis the worst tobacco market in Britain but he has received goodprices there. The deaths of James Walker and Mrs. Rostow, and theserious illness of Cole Digges, are recorded. He concludes that hehas considered what to do with his surplus cash in the Perry's hands,but will not call on it soon, and notes that there will be someprotested notes from his involvement with sale of slaves from theship, the Mercury.

Letter from Robert Carter to Messrs. MicajahPerry, Sr. andJr., January 17, 1721

-1 -

Rappahannock, [LancasterCounty, Virginia]   
January 17th1720/21

Messrs. Perry
Senior & Junr. --

     My last was of November the 8th, OurAssembly sat
until Christmas We Just got home to eat our plum Pottage
Eighteen Laws were passed Some ofthem no doubt will meet
with a little animadversion on Your Sidethe water. The Assembly
has been liberal of their money uponseveral accounts among
others they voted Colonel Byrd whothey appointed their Agent
for their present affairs [sic ] 400 pound this met with a slur the Goverr.
would not pass It but upon Such Conditions Byrd would
notcome into, the particulars he will best tell when he gets
amongYou, The Governor hath [sic] [sic] made no Secretaryas yet
he Executes the place himselfall our Clerks Comissions

-2 -

run in his Name so much for polliticks [sic] -- --

     We have few Ships among us hitherto Some Bristol
Men &Some from Liverpool It seems the Londoners were
not to sail until after Christmas. We may look out for them
I reckon in March. Ibelieve there will be no want of
Tobacco when they come wish theymay be modest in their de=
=mands for freight, the Bristol market is the worst in England
& yet I had 10 pence there for stemmed & 10 1/2 at Leverpool, [sic]

     James Walker is lately dead & so isMrs. Roscow, Collo. &Digges
has had a severe spell but Ihear is recovering.all Your other
friends for what I know are well & may thisfind You So.

     the Concluding Clause of this Lettr.from the other side.

     I am not unthoughtful how manyways I have had of late
to make use of my Cash in Your hands,but You may Expect I
Shall Trespass no further for a good while,I'm afraid
the Mercury's affair willproduce me Some Considerable
protests which it is [not] to be doubtedwill be too common a Complaint
when the Ships arrive

I am Gentleman Your most humble Servant


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. 62-63.

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] The Oxford English Dictionary citesan 1864 reference which seems the most likely meaning of Carter's words: "1864 Chambers' Bk. Days II . 755/2 In old times plum-pottage was always served with the first course ofa Christmas dinner. It was made by boiling beef or mutton with broth, thickened withbrown bread; when half-boiled, raisins, currants, prunes, cloves, mace and ginger were added."

[2] Louis Wright wrote, "A feud of long standingexisted between William Byrd and Lieutenant Governor AlexanderSpotswood. Byrd, as agent for the colony, opposed Spotswood's effortsto limit the power of the Council. For details of their quarrel, seeLeonidas Dodson, Alexander Spotswood, Governor of ColonialVirginia, 1710-22 [Philadelphia, 1932], 144 ff." (Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . p.62.)

[3] Alexander Spotswood (1646-1740), army officer witha succesful career, was a protege of George Hsamilton, first earl ofOrkney, the royal governor of Virginia, who sent Spotswood toVirginia in 1710 as lieutenant governor. His first five years in thecolony were fairly successful ones, but his policies concerning landquitrents and over the colonial church brought confrontation withpowerful members of the Council. Their interests in England led toSpotswood's dismissal as governor in 1722. He had acquired large landholdings, and he went to England in 1724 where he married and workedon securing the titles to his Virginia land holdings. In 1730 hereturned to Virginia and remained there. ( (Gwenda Morgan. "AlexanderSpotswood," in the Oxfford Dictionary of NationalBiography. See also Leonidas Dodson, AlexanderSpotswood, Governor of ColonialVirginia, 1710-22 (Philadelphia, 1932),)

[4] James Walker (d. 1721) was a merchant in MiddlesexCounty who, with his brother Richard, was one of the developers ofUrbanna; he served as sheriff of Middlesex (Torrance. Virginia Wills and Administrations,1632-1800. p. 438; "Answers to Queries,"1 Virginia Magazine of History and Biography , 1[1893-84]:470-1; and Rutman and Rutman, A Place in Time: Middlesex. . . . pp. 228-31. )

[5] "Probably the wife of James Roscow, appointedreceiver-general of quitrents in 1716." (Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . p.63.)

[6] Cole Digges (1692-1744), of "Belfield," YorkCounty, came from a distinguished family. His father had been amember of the Council, and his grandfather the governor of Virginia.He was returned as a burgess from Warwick County in 1718, wasappointed to the Council the next year, and held the usual offices ofjustice and militia commander (for Elizabeth City, Warwick, and Yorkcounties). (Morton. ed. The Present State of Virginia. . . by Hugh Jones. p.239. )

[7] The draft of this letter ends just before theclause that begins "the Concludeing Clause. . . ." The followingparagraph was originally dictated at the end of the preceding letterto the Perrys in the letter book, but Carter marked it to be copiedas the concluding paragraph to this letter, and it has been placedhere.

[8] Carter and Robert Tucker were the agents for thesale of slaves carried to Virginia by the Mercury which was owned by Francis Chamberlayneand Francis Sitwell. See Carter's letters to Chamberlayne and Sitwellconcerning this sale of slaves on July 26 , 27 , and September 27 ,1720, and on July 2, 1723 .

This text, originally posted in2001, was revised September 22, 2011, to add footnotes, and tostrengthen the modern language version text.