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 Edward Tucker, July 5 and 29, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to Weymouth merchant Edward Tucker, July 5, 1723, to inform him that he has drawn a bill of exchange on him to the London slave traders, Francis Chamberlaye and Francis Sitwell. He reports several other bills, including one from John Wormeley for a cask of Tucker's brandy. He closes by noting that he hopes to send 10-12 hogsheads of tobacco on board Captain Wilson's ship but has not heard whether there will be room for them on board. In a lengthy post script dated July 29th, Carter notes that Captain Wilson has been delayed by sickness, and that the weather has reduced the expectations of a good crop. He tells Tucker that the news of a prohibition of importation of stemmed tobacco into England has been confirmed in Virginia, and suggests that Tucker and the other English merchants will need to learn to "Cheat as fast as they [the Scots]," they may be able to survive. He is not sure how long this sad state of affairs will last because most Scots ships have not found cargoes other than tar this year because they arrived so late.

Letter from Robert Carter to Edward Tucker, July 5 and 29, 1723

-1 -

[Rappahannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]
July the 5th. 1723
Mr. Edd: Tucker -- --

     The chief occasion of this is to advise you that
I have this day drawn on you for 116£ 18 shillings 0 pence 1/2 payable to Messieurs
Francis Chamberlain and [Francis] Sittwell which I desire you to answer
at time upon my Account I have been under a necessity of mak [ing]
use of this money, pay them of the balance of their Negro [con]
cern, although I have abundance of money lying out upon that
Accot that I cannot command a penny of it --

-2 -

     Herein I send you two small bills of Exchange of
my own drawn upon your self, George Yerby for 6£: 4 shillings : 5 pence
Kitt Garlinton on Ditto 3£: 13 shillings 4 pence

     Herein you have also a bill of exchange of Mr.
payable to your self for 9£ and is for a cask of your
Brandy There I think is 2 Cask behind and one has been drawn
to fill up the rest, and some I have made use of my self.

      [Captain] Wilson they tell me will not get away this month
I have sent him word he shall have 10 or 12 hogsheads of me but
whether he will have room to take them in I have yet no anwer
finding you are so pestered with stripped tobacco these I intend shall
be all Leaf which is the needfull at present from Sir --

Your humble Servant

Postscript to Mr. Tucker's last Lettr. --

                                                            Rappa [hannock] July 29th. 1723
Herein are the Seconds of the above mentioned Bills,
Captain Wilson meets with some delay by sickness, he reckoned to
be out in the Bay a Fortnight ago but is Still at my Storehouse
he has 10 hhds. from me of Leaf Tobacco , The Expectation of
a great Crop shrinks upon us Every day by the Unseasonable=
=ness of the Weather, Your Captain Will see more of It before he goes,

We have it confirmed to Us. the Scotch have
got a Clause in the Tobacco Law prohibiting stemmed Tobacco which
Seems to complete our Ruin & to give us up entirely as a prey
to them, this Sort of Tobacco the Scotch did not care to Dip in
It would not answer their designs, If you can find a way
to Cheat us fast as they, You may keep pace with them, but
it is our fate to be tied down to the whole Duty, & if they can
bring Tobacco into the Nation, & Sell it for less, & yet get Estates,
our Ruin is inevitable. But surely those things will
not last long, their Ships have but Indifferent luck this
Year, they come in So late, many of them will not get loaded
Some fill with tar, I am offered Freight now for Glasgow
for Six pound I am --

Sir Your Humble. Servt --


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1723 July 4-1724 June 11, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. There is a 19th-century copy of the 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. His usual return address, the county, and colony have been added for clarity to this unheaded draft.

[1] Francis Chamberlayne (abt. 1667-1728) was from a Warwickshire family. His father was also a London merchant, and "Chamberlayne engaged in commerce himself and may have been involved in the slave trade." He was quite wealthy, and represented New Shoreham in Parliament at two different times, first as a Whig, and later as a Tory. ( David Hayton, et al., The House of Commons, 1690-1715. [Cambridege University Press, 2002,] 507-508.. Found online on Google books,. 9/14/2009)

[2] A bill of exchange is a kind of check or promissory note without interest. It is used primarily in international trade, and is a written order by one person to pay another a specific sum on a specific date sometime in the future. If the bill of exchange is drawn on a bank, it is called a bank draft. If it is drawn on another party, it is called a trade draft. Sometimes a bill of exchange will simply be called a draft, but whereas a draft is always negotiable (transferable by endorsement), this is not necessarily true of a bill of exchange. ( "Dictionary of Financial Scam Terms." at 8/22/2005 )

[3] John Wormeley (1689-1727), a younger son of Ralph Wormeley (d. 1701) for whom Carter had been a trustee in John's youth. When his older brother, Ralph died in 1714, John inherited all of their father's considerable estate in Middlesex and York counties. He married Elizabeth Tayloe and had six children. ( See "Letters Concerning The Estate Of Ralph Wormeley" on the opening page of this web site ; and Edmund Jennings Lee, Lee of Virginia 1642-1892 . [Heritage Books; 2008 reprint found on Google Books, 9/10/2009], 147. )

[4] Chesapeake Bay

[5] 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. )

This text was first revised April 5, 2002, to include the post script, and was again revised September 16, 2009.