Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

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Letter from Robert Carter to Micajah Perry, July 13, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant Micajah Perry, July 13, 1723, concerning the value of the Virginia estate of his niece's husband, John Lloyd, which Perry is negotiating to buy for Carter. He estimates the value of slave, and notes that cattle and horses have only modest value whensold individually, and that hogs have no market value. Carter has managed the estate for many years. He tells Perry to let the sellers know that he will match any other offer, and will pay as promptly as the sellers wish.

Letter from Robert Carter to Micajah Perry, July 13, 1723

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[Rappahannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]
July the 13th. 1723
Mr. Micaja Perry

Sr --

     I have already sent you an Inventory of the
LL 's Estate that It [sic ] may appear the clearer before you I now
send it you Distinguished under its several Species by which
you and the Gentlemen concerned will be the better Enabled to pass
your Judgements upon the value of it if they are in Earnest to Sell and
can make a good title, however, I shall give you here the best
Account I can, how the prices of Virginia Estates run from man
to man, as for Negroes Suppose you know the prices they are
Sold at well Enough, two Year ago Colonel Page bought [...]
Bombera man Slaves the finest that ever I saw between a [...]
18 and 28 years of age not one Exceeding Thirty I dare say

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of Captain Francis Willis Agent of the African company at Seven
teen pound per head, last Year I bought men for Twenty Women
Eighteen and Girls of 10 and 12 Years of age for 10 pound per
head, this Year I know of no large Quantity have been sold
together, the small folks and Middling people have been
the only buyers. I have known several Single choice men
bought for 20£ apiece the choicest have gone at 40£
this has been the rule with the Sellers as far as I have heard
I doubt not would I have taken a Quantity I might have
had them considerably cheaper, You must know the Slaves
such as that come from Gambia such as Colonel Page had are of a
much larger size and have more Sense and more used to
work than any other, I would freely give at any time 40 shillings
a head more for them Slaves than for the Cites [sic ]

     As for Cattle there is no Such thing as Selling a stock
together for ready Money, the common price for a young fat
Cow in killing time is Thirty five Shillings Cash and for a
Steer 7 Year old Fifty Shillings this you may be Informed of
by your Masters when they buy fresh meat, The horses and mares

     The horses and mares you must understand are
of very small Value among us they swarm upon us and are
degenerated into such runts that you may buy them as they
run almost for any thing, not many Years ago I sold Six out
of my pasture to Doctor Lomax of three Years old for shipping
of as 20 shillings per head some of these you will observe are very old
and some very Young,

     For the hogs I dont know what to say to them
as they run in the woods we Esteem them little better than Vermin,
and it is not common to put them into the Inventory of our Estates,
Indeed after we have spent a Barrel of Corn upon them per hog
to make them fit for killing, they will fetch you from 20 shillings to 25 shillings
per head the Barrows and Spayed Sows of 3 years old Current Money, for the
household goods it is very old and mean as you may very well
conceive having been under the use of such various hands,
There is 9 of the Negroes as I have already observed are so much

-3 -

past their labour that they are rather a charge than anything
Else, their Levy and clothes come to more then they make
there is three of them at one place put in for a Share and at
no place under two for a Share and a lusty Girl or Boy to
help out with their work to Boot, and yet the Overseers Grumble
very much to allow any thing for them,

     The Lands and Plantations you have often had a
particular Account of, when Carey has got that plantation away
as no doubt but he will (if he can make his title good) the only objection against him though I will defend it to the Utmost if you will
Send me such orders, There will be but Nineteen hundred Acres
or thereabout, every Plantation cleared quite out and no
Timber left for building, This

     This is a true representation of this Estate; old
Captain Willis knows as well the value of a Virginia Estate as any
man let him but consider the great difference there is between
Lands in those parts of the Country and Gloucester where he
lived, the low Ebb that tobacco is at and the little Income we
make at this day of our Virginia Estates and I could almost
agree he should set the Value upon it himself,

     I must confess in regard I have had this Estate so
long under my Government that the best of the Slaves went from
hence with my Brothers Daughter Lloyd's first Wife and are very
much related to several of my families of Slaves, having
lands in plenty to Settle them upon I am very desirous to be
the purchaser, and will pay the money in as little time as they
can reasonably desire it and will give as much as any other
person that will Offer at the Estate Entirely together and I
hope if not for my Sake at least for my son whom they Seem
to have very much in their Esteem to whom this Estate may probably come they will let me have the
first refusal of it, Thus you have this Affair fully before y [ou]
as I can set it until I hear futher from you about it I a [m]

Your most humble Serv [ant]


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. It was published in Volume 2 (February 1842) of The Southern Planter, pp. 40 and 41 now online in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, 5/12/2015.

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] The Royal African Company, founded in 1672, grew out of earlier slave-trading companies that had been founded in the middle of the seventeenth century, and that held monopolies on the English trade in slaves. The trade proved so profitable that Parliament was lobbied successfully to rescind the monopoly and open the trade to anyone which happened in 1698. Carter anticipates that the company will fight the proposed tax on imported slaves even through it is to be paid by the colonial purchasers, not the importers. He was correct for the law was not allowed to stand due to lobbying against it in England. ( "Royal African Company Established," ; and Billings. et al. Colonial Virginia: A History. p. 232. )

[2] Francis Willis (1690-post 1749) of Ware Parish, Gloucester County, who served as burgess. ( "Willis Family." William and Mary Quarterly. 1st ser. 5(1896): 24-27, 171-176; 6(1897): 27-29, 206-214.)

[3] The preceding words in italics were entered by Carter between the lines of the clerk's draft.

Text revised November 30, 2007, October 1, 2009, and May 14, 2015.