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 Dawkins, July 6, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, July 6, 1723, directing him to pay Captain Benjamin Graves for some supplies Graves is to pourchase for rigging Carter's sloops. In an extensive post script, he turns to an alarming report received in the colony that Parliament is about to pass a bill prohibiting the importation of stemmed, stripped, and lug tobacco. He complains that Parliament will not pass any law that will diminish the quantity of tobacco produced in the colony. He notes that there had been a huge crop in the colony, but circumstances have reduced it greatly.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, July 6, 1723

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

July 6th. 1723 --

Mr. Wm Dawkins

     I have desired Captain Graves to bring me in a
Small parcel of Goods, chiefly rigging. & some covering for my
Sloops with some other Small matters, I desire You to let him
have the money to pay for them & place it to the Account of

Your humble Servant

A Clause Added to Mr. Dawkins's Last Let [ter]

We have Strange news from Glasgow lately, & is written [with such?]
Peremptoriness there is hardly room left to doubt the truth [of it?]
A merchan t from Glasgow thence writes to his Partner here on the 9th of [. . .]
that the Tobacco bill before the House of Commons had had a Sec [ond]
reading & was ordered to be engrossed That in the committee of the
Whole House upon the Amendments of the Bill a Clause was
gained for prohibiting the Importantion of Stemd [sic] stripped & Lugg
Tobacco to take place the first of June next, and that this was
Carried by the Strength of the Scotch Members, with the Assis=
=tance of the Outports, Against the London merchants who are very
Mad about It, & it was reckoned wish [sic ] they had never meddled
in this Affair, If the Parliament of England, have so little
Mercy of Us, We must lay Aside all hopes of Ever being
Allowed, to fall to fall upon any Measures, that will lessen
the quantity.

A Month or six Weeks ago, there was a mighty
prospect of a large Crop. Every body had full Crops, planted
very early I have hardly known the like now the general Cry
is, there is no Such thing as a good Field of Tobacco to be seen
I Shall Say no more about It, but remain

Your very humb. Servant

There is due 10£ sterling to Esquire Heath from
this George Ball part of Haynie's
Debt he's a good Man, but can't
give Bills this year


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 have been added for clarity.

[1] Benjamin Graves was the son of Captain Thomas Graves (d. ante 1720), long a captain of vessels trading to Virginia, and a special friend of Carter. Benjamin also commanded vessels in the trade, especially the Carter . ( Adm. 68/194-196, ff. 33r, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[2] Parliament had, as Carter feared, passed an act forbidding the importation of stemmed tobacco in 1722. John Randolph would be sent to England in 1729 as agent for Virginia to try to have the act overturned; his mission would be successful. ( Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. [Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953], 116. )

[3] "The lowest grade [of tobacco] was known as lugs as early as 1686. . . ." ( Philip A. Bruce. Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Material Condition of the People, Based on Original and Contemporaneous Records. [New York: MacMillan and Co., 1896], I:442 online at "Classics of American Colonial History." )

[4] Carter uses the title of "esquire" for Heath meaning he was a man of stature in the colony. He may have been Samuel Heath, a justice of Northumberland County. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]: 82. )

[5] George Ball (1683-1746) was the third son of William Ball of Lancaster County. ( "Ball" at )

[6] Possibly John Haynie (1654-1723) of Northumberland County. ( "Haynie Family Home Page -- Third Generation" at )

This text revised September 24, 2009.