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 John Carter, March 3, 1721

     Robert Carter writes to his son, John Carter, March 3, 1721, in England noting that his anger at William Dawkins over Dawkins' impertinence and rudeness has cooled, perhaps from his recent gout attack. He asks John (indirectly) to see Dawkins, and if Dawkins has also cooled off, then John is not to relieve Dawkins of the care of John's younger brothers (also in England at school). Carter praises Dawkins as a good businessman in the trade which only has a few good merchants, and continues that he needs to deal with Dawkins because his affairs are too large to entrust to the Perrys alone. He concludes that he does expect respect from those to whom he gives his business.

Letter from Robert Carter to John Carter, March 3, 1721

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

Mar 3d. 1720/21

Dear Son John --

     What I wrote to You the other day about my Children
was the result of my first thoughts a fit of the Gout which now I'm
under brings me to a Cooler Temper (perhaps the little man and
Such are very commonly of a Waspish disposition) may upon a
review of his Letter condemn himself for the style of It, when
You come to show him my other Letter he will no doubt
produce my answer and if he shows any uneasiness about my
orders upon and Confessions of his folly, I am not for having You
put them in Execution, Mr. Bailey whom he Supposes I

-2 -

had cast the reflec [tion] s upon (which was very far from my thoughts nor
Indeed do my words carry any Such Sence,) was his true friend
and to whom he owes his all, therefore some allowance is to
be given to the Zeal he justly owes to his memory, but if his
pride be so overgrown that he treats You with no better
manners than he has done me pursue my first orders & then deliver
Mr. Evans's Lettr., after all I can tax Mr. Dawkins with no unkind
=ness to my Children, everyone he is a good Merchant & has done my business
as much to my satisfaction as any man, and the Trade is so
Indifferently furnished with valuable men if I leave him
I dont know where to find such another & my Concern is too large
to put It all into one man's hands, besides Mr. Perry the Elder
is so very aged he must have a time to go off which humanely
Speaking can not be far off and Im afraid the Grandson has not
a head calculated to go through such a multitude of business with
that Dexterity that they have hitherto done. these are weighty
Considerations however I will meet with respect from those that
Do my business & get my money let the Consequence be what
It will pray God Direct You in all things I am

I admire You did not write to me by
John Fitshugh who I believe made
himself familiarly acquainted wth You


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. 84-85.

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 persons abroad. The county and colony have been added for clarity.

The controversy between Carter and William Dawkins spread over some months in 1720-1721. Carter had written before to Dawkins in terms similar to those used in this letter; see his letter to Dawkins of 13 July 1720. Dawkins had begun his career as an apprentice in the Bailey mercantile firm as Carter notes in this letter. After the death of Arthur Bailey, Jr., he succeeded to the firm into which he brought Edward Athawes with whom Carter would also correspond, as would his sons after his death.

[1] The word "everyone" written between the lines is probably in Carter's hand, but makes little sense in context.

[2] John Fitzhugh (d. 1733) of Stafford County, a younger son of William Fitzhugh of "Bedford." He was a burgess from Stafford in 1727. ( "The Fitzhugh Family." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 7[1899-1900]: 317-19.)

This text revised March 27, 2009.