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 Perry, February 13,1721

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant, Micajah Perry, grandsonof the great merchant of the same name, February 13, 1721, concerninghis annuity and the effects on it of the crash of the marketspeculation known as the "South Sea Bubble." He trusts the seniorMicajah Perry to make the right decisions concerning his investments,and welcomes the younger Perry's offer to take £2000 atinterest when Carter accumulates that much cash in the firm's hands.He briefly mentions his poor tobacco shipped in the Carter, but questions that Perry has notcommented on the better tobacco shipped by Captain Wharton. He addscomments on the outport ships then in Virginia and the shippingcharges in effect. He concludes that he hopes to increase hisbusiness with the firm.

Letter from Robert Carter to MicajahPerry, February 13, 1721

-1 -

Rappahannock, [LancasterCounty, Virginia]

February 13th.1720/21

Mr. Micajah Perry

Sir -- --

     I have Yors. of the 5th. of Octobe r You make a hideous com=
=plaint of the SouthSea the ruinous Effects of It. As to my Annuity I must
take the fate of other men, Your Father speaks doubtfull [sic] what heintends
to do with It Yet he will Actthe best for my Interestas if it were his
own in which I must confide, I'm oblig'd toYou for Your offer about
taking two Thousand pound at Interestafter that becomes money in
Your hand, In The Bank I observedthe prints gives 5 per cent for mony [sic]
and so Im satisfied You maydo and be no looser and oblige me in It
to boot under those terms I cant go, and so much I propose Ican
get from anotherSafe hand, if You will not do give it but I had rather
It Shouldremain with You, and not be too straight laid with me
in thisaffair if I would parcel out money hereand had it to
Spare Icould let go a great deal at 6 perCt uponvery good
Virga. Security

     You complain heavily of my Tobacco in the Carter
I'm Sure a great deal of thatwas both Choice and good
Some Indifferent hogsheads I know there waswhich will never
be to be helped There will be somebetter and Some worse in

-2 -

Every Crop, You do not mention the Tobo in Wharton most of that
came from the best plantations I amMaster of. I know Yor business
is vastly large I desire You'l befriend me in selling my Tobacco as early
as You can, These lagg [sic] sales and dilatory Accounts carry a frightful
Aspect pray allowme to be one of Your first favorites I know it is
Easy for You todo if You please

     You inform me of the reason ofthe delay of Yor Ships
and indeed a very good one You give Ithink You are pretty secure
of having little Sweet scented Tobonext Spring The outport men
here are yet very few but what are it is Impossible for us to stop
their Loading, If the largeFreighters wont fill them the little
ones will and they give to Liverpool and Bristol at this
Day Nine & Tenpound per Tunwhich is not in our power by
any means to help Such is theMadness of the people

     Yor kind Treatment of my business will Engage me to
Increase rather than diminish myconcern to You having been a
long Correspondent with Your Family and being desirous toContinue
So to my Grave I conclude

Yor most humble Servant


Source copyconsulted: 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. 72-74.

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] Carter refers to the scandal of the value of thestock of the South Sea and other companies which wild speculation haddriven enormously high in June 1720, and which was nearly worthlessseveral months later. Many fortunes were made and lost. Perhaps themost succesful speculator was Sir Robert Walpole who made a fortune,retired, and then was called to save the nation as prime minister, apost he held from 1721 until 1742. ( Goldwin Smith. A History of England. Chicago, etc.: Scribner's, 1949.pp. 422-424. )

[2] Sweetscentedtobacco was one of two major types grown in Carter's day. It was mildcompared to the stronger oronocco. Sweetscented required "a typer ofsoil of limited distribution" and "was largely confined to the banksof the great rivers, the James, York, Rappahannock, and Potomac."( Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: AMaritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953. p. 97 )

This text revised March 9,2009.