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 William Cage, July 4 and 22, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to William Cage, trustee of Lady Fairfax's estate, July 4, 1723, concerning the debts owed by the former agent of the Northern Neck proprietary in the colony, Edmund Jenings, to the proprietors. Carter believes he has collected all that is possible and that the next alternative is to file a suit. He notes that Jenings is in very poor physical and financial health. He then turns to the problem of establishing the boundaries of the Brent Town grant within the proprietary and reports that George Brent and his mother have sworn they will not permit Carter to survey it. He adds that he always reminds Micajah Perry when writing him to have the rent money ready for Cage but hopes Cage will not call for it sooner than it is needed. In a lengthy poost script dated July 22, 1723, Carter reports the steps he has taken in the colony to force the authorities to recognize the rights of the proprietors to certain types of property. His case is to be heard by the General Court, and he asks Cage to obtain legal opinions in England that would support Carter's Virginia lawyers.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Cage, July 4 and 22, 1723

-1 -

Rappahannock [Lancaster County, Virginia]
July the 4th: 1723
Wm Cage Esqr. -- --

      Although you have not been pleased to let me have
a line from you in some Years, I must not omit to let you
hear from me Especially how your Affair with Colonel Jenings
Stands, it was a lucky chance I had to get so much of your debt from
him last Year, but I can't get a penny more from him, I have
lately got an Accot: Settled under his hand a copy of which
I now send you also a copy of part of a Letter of yours to --
Edmund Jenings whereby he reckons to discharge himself of
a [sic ] Above a hundred pound of his debt, he has no other Voucher
to do it by, and I must observe to you that both the Letter and
the name seems to be all of your own hand writing , wherein
your Demand was but for two Years rent, so that he reckons --
that you received of Mr. Adamson on his Accot: more Money than
he can make appear from any of the Accots: he has to show
from Adamson, It will be proper for you to consider of this --
Matter and let me know your thoughts of it -- --

     I have his repeated promises that he will dispose
of some of his Virginia Estate to raise money for you, these
are but words, I take his Circumstances to be very Desperate
and he is a very decayed man, so that I am of Opinion the
Safest way is to bring a Suit against him which I am not very
willing to do until you send me your positive Orders to justify
me in going into these harsh measures with him

     I shall find a great deal of Difficulty in the
laying Off the Brenton Grant, I have given some public
Notice about, Young Brent and his Mother declare
if I Offer to Stretch a chain there they will Stop me, I
must try whether they will be as good as their words, If
they do I shall go near to call them before their betters,
I hope your money upon my Lease is punctually paid
you, I hardly write a Letter to Mr. Perry but I
press him to pay your rents at the Succeeding Year it
is due, last winter he tells me your money was ready
for you at your call -- --

-2 -

I thank God I never am in want of Money in his hands to answer your Claim
although I take it as a kindness that in regard
to the hard Bargain I am under
In respect to the dead times of tobacco that you are
not too pressing and hasty with me faster than your
Occasions calls for it, believing you take your
money to be as Safe in my hands as in your own

     I reckon in writing to you it is as Acceptable
as If I joined his Lordship with you. with great
respect I am Sir

Your most Obedient humble Servant


-3 -

                             A Clause to be added to Colonel Cages Le [tter]
Sir --                                                             July the 22d 1723

When I wrote the above it was out of my head to let
you know that I had a controversy with the Crown about
the meaning of some words in the Proprietors Grant to wit
this Clause (All and all manner of Deodands goods of
"felons and fugitives Treasure Trove waifs Strays fines
"forfietures Escheats advowsons Royalltys and Heridita
"whatsoever) Notwithstanding these strong words all Colonel
Jenings time the Deodands have been taken by the
Governour the felons=goods, and the fines and forfietures
have been received by the Officers of the Crown and Accounted
for to the Revenue, Soon after I received your power of
Attorney I asserted our the proprietors Right and made a Demand of the
receiver General and had a hearing before Colonel Spotswood
the then Governour and the Council, whereupon an order
of Council was made that the Kings Attorney should prep [are]
a case to be argued before the Judges of the General Cour [t]
This case now lies for trial until the next Court
-4 -

I have feed the best Lawyers we have in maintenace
of this controversy and I hope both his Lordship and you
will justify me in it to the utmost, my Lease wears out
apace it will be no great loss to me to let it go as it will
but it may come to be of considerable advantage to those
that may hereafter Enjoy this Estate and will be richly
worth contending for

If the cause should go against me my present
thoughts are to Appeal to the King and in Council, but I pray you
will take the first Opportunity to let me have your full
Instructions about it, and if you send me the opinion
of some of the ablest of your Lawyers none better to be sure
than the Attorney General and the Solicitor General wch will be of great use to me , I believe
it may be advisable for me if I can to get the case set
over until our Spring General Court whereby you will
have time to let me hear from you, pray present my
humble Duty to his Lordship and allow me to Subscribe
myself Sir --

Your most Obedient & most humble. Servant


Source copy consulted: The recipient's copy of the July 4, 1723, letter is in the Fairfax Papers, Box 1, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California. Printed: Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . pp. 111-12. The draft of the letter and of the post script are in Robert Carter Letter Book, 1723 July 4-1724 June 11, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, and there is a nineteenth-century transcript of the letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The address leaf of the recipient's copy bears the following: "To Wm. Cage Esqr | Of Milgate | Near Maidestone | To the Care of Capt. Benja. Graves | & delivd to his own hand | Per the Carter." There is a note on the address leaf: "BG to Inclose this as directed. & desire | an answer as to the receipt of it by the | Generall Post." The letter is endorsed by Cage, "July 4, 1723."

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.

[1] George Brent inherited from his grandfather, George Brent (d. 1699) of "Woodstock," Stafford County (who was the "resident partner in Virginia" for the development of the Brent Town grant by Nicholas Hayward), the family's claim to a portion of the Brent Town grant.

[2] Alexander Spotswood (1646-1740) had been the governor from 1710 to 1722.

This text revised August 21, 2009.