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 Captain John Hyde & Company, July 3, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to Captain John Hyde & Company, July 3, 1723, to report that a shipment of goods arrived while he was at the Assembly, but he has been so busy since his return that he has not had time to review the goods. Hyde's ship must remain in the colony until the next crop is ready; the last harvest has all been shipped. The Scots ships that came in together have not been able to obtain full cargoes while "our Ships are all got full." He describes the terms of the recent Assemblly's law restraining the quantity of tobacco planted, and states some arguments for the approval of the law by the government. He encloses a bill of lading for 40 hogsheads of tobacco, an invoice for goods for his children, and a bill of exchange (none present).

Letter from Robert Carter to Captain John Hyde & Company, July 3, 1723

-1 -

Rappa[hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]
July the 3d: 1723
not yet coppy'd
[Captain] Jno. Hyde & Compa:

Gent: -- --

     Yours of the 28th of March by Capt. Burton came to hand
According to your orders he sent down his long Boat with my goods
they came when I was from home at our Assembly had not the
Oportunity of writting him an answer Mrs: Chew Acquaints
me their Tobbo. was all gone Your Ship must lye over till the
next Crop and urges me to provide some early Tobbo for
her to which I dont know what to say, I have heard it talkd
that after Tobbo has paid the Duty here they have Exacted the
Duty there over again which if true is a very great
Discouragement to the Trade and to a Communication
between the two Governments. I shall enquire into it and
shall be very willing to serve your Interest

     We have had a long assembly which hath kept
me from home till very lately and puts me into such a hurry
cannot spare time at present to overhall the goods Shall
say nothing of them att present

     You tell me and indeed all agree the same that
while the Scotch Affair was on foot there was no Selling
Tobbo: but that you were then Intreaty for a good Parcell
of my Tobbo: I have hopes by this time you have sold
it of all what these Ships find on hand tis to be feard will
not do very well, our Ships after abundance of Struggling
and dobbling are all got full, The Scotch Fleet that came all
came in att once upon us many of them cannot find Tobbo:.
and Sevll. of the MaryLand Ships lye over,


     You have been so kind from time to time to advise
me of the Steps of the Scotch affair in return I shall tell you what
we have been doing here towards our releif, our Good Governour

-2 -

in Compassion to our Sufferings hath adventured to p[ass a ?]
Law, laying a Stint upon our planting to 6m plants per [head]
which is not to be in force till Aprill next that the King m[ay]
have time to lett his pleasure be known whether he will be
Graciously pleased to allow it a being, The Damage to the
revenue will be the great cry again itt [sic ] the reasons for itt
being but too many wee hope will preponderate the Merchts
we Expect will be pleas'd with it and their own Interest
as well as ours Engage them to Exert their Uttmost Vigour
in the Support of it

     The very low ebb that the Trade is come to. a low
Markett at home the Shipping now coming full, and the greatest
Crop upon the Ground that ever was known, nothing but fatal
ruin threatens us unless we can have the releif of this Law

     After all there will not be such a mighty Dimi
nution to the revenue as some Imagine 6m plants upon
the best of our Grounds Nicely tended will probably make
more and better Tobbo. then 10 or 12 (m) of the bad as well
as the good are thrown in to Augment the Quantity, many
more reasons you will be able to Suggest to your Selves
and we hope you will have none to put you upon Endea-
vours for Destroying itt, I might give you a much larger
Entertainment of the proceedings of our Assembly, but there is
no fear of news Mongers enough without any help of mine

     Herein I send you a bill of Lading for 40 hhds
of my Crop Tobbo on Board the Carter Stem'd and Strait laid
Seperated from all manner of Trash passd upon Oath, and
I have avoided the fault of hard prizing, all these Circum
stances will make It Acceptable or I shall Conclude it
out of my Power

-3 -

     Herein I also send you a small Invoice for my
Childrens things, you pl and some odd things for myself
you pleas'd both them and me so well last Year that I am
not Desirous to change hands, by Capt. Hopkins I flatter
myself with hopes to have some good news of my business
already under your care I am Sr. -- --

Your most humble Servt

Herein is a bill of Exche. on Yor.
Self for 2"0"6. lately come to
my hands of Daniel Watt's Draft


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter letter book, 1723 June 16-1724 April 23, Robert Carter Papers, (acc. no. 3807), Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. There is a nineteenth-century transcript of this letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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 y have been added for clarity.

[1] This may have been Hannah (Roy) Chew, wife of Larkin Chew (1676-1728) a burgess 1723-26, sheriff of Spottsylvania County, 1727-1728, where he owned 17,000 acres of land. ( "Genealogical Record: Larkin Chew," at ; and "Mathews-Williams Family Genealogy," at . both 8/20/2009)

[2] The trading policies of Scots merchants were of considerable concern to Virginia planters and English merchants at this time, and the matter came before Parliament in 1723. Vessels sent by Scots were crewed by captains and factors authorized to pay good prices in Virginia which enabled them to obtain full cargoes. English merchants argued that the only way the Scots could afford to pay such good prices was their ability to avoid paying duties on the tobacco at home. Micajah Perry appeared before Parliament and gave statistics of the duties paid by his firm in earlier years and the far smaller amounts paid in the past several years because his ships could not obtain full cargoes in Virginia. (Price. Perry of London. . . . pp. 64-65. )

[3] Carter may have dctated "doubling" in the sense of "a sudden turn in running" meaning that the ship captains had to do a lot of work in obtaining full cargoes. ( Oxford English Dictionary )

[4] For the Council's reasons for assenting to this proposed tobacco law, see McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:45-51.

This text revised August 25, 2009.