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 Thomas Evans, July 22, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant Thomas Evans, July 22, 1723, to clarify his order for medicines, and to order new sword belts which he wishes Evans personally to select. He encloses a bill of lading (not present) for 8 hogsheads of tobacco. He then writes bitterly of reports in the colony that a bill near passage in the House of Commons will prevent the importation into England of stripped and lug tobacco which he attributes to the lobbying efforts of Scots and outport interests. He notes that a expected fine crop of tobacco in the colony has been severely reduced by hard rains, and states that Heaven is joining with the efforts of the lobbyists to ruin the Virginia planters who pay full duties on their imports into England.

Letter from Robert Carter to Thomas Evans, July 22, 1723

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]
July the 22d 1723
Mr. Thos Evans -- --

     The above is a copy of what went in the
Carter, I had overshot myself Strangely in my physic In
voice, upon a narrow Scrutiny into the Medicines I already
have find I want very few of them Accordingly I have crossed
in my Invoice those Medicines I would not have you send
me and tht you may not mistake me herein I send you a
particular Invoice for what physic I would have sent
and no more

     I have several good swords by me but never a
belt thats fit to wear these Silken belts do but little service
I have seen Buff belts very soft and pliant and yet very
Strong, I have also seen tan Leather belts both
Genteel and Strong I desire you will send me one of
Each sort and be at the trouble of buying them your

     Herewith will be sent you a bill of Lading
for Ten hhds. of tobacco on Board the Sarah Captain --
Richardson 8 of them stemmed and straight laid my own
Crop, the other two Sweet scented leaf which will be all I
shall give you the trouble of this Year I wish your pro
ceedings in my Affairs gives me Encouragement to increase
my number to you hereafter

      We have lately [had] come to us a very unnatural
unmerciful Story, and yet Packed with so much certainty
there is hardly left any room to doubt the truth of it a Scotch
Merchant from Glasgow writes to his Correspondent here
the Letter I saw and read dated the 9th of May Informing
him that the Bill in the House of Commons relating to tobacco
had passed a Second reading and was ordered to be engrossed in
which is a clause added Prohibiting the Importation of all
stripped and Lug tobacco to take place the 1st of June 1724
this is to be done when our Commodity is so miserably low
already seems to be so harsh a Story I dont know what
name to call it by, This author says this clause was obtained
by the Interest of the Scotch M erchants embers with the Assistance
of the outports

      We have a great many Scotch among us
at this very Day but report says they will be able to get
few of their Ships full and will be very late

-2 -

     A month ago we had a great prospect of a Crop everybody
planted very early but many hard rains since have spoiled
abundance of tobacco and it is Generaly said there is not such
a thing as a piece of good tobacco to be seen this we must
thank the mercy of Heaven for all human contrivances
seem to be Calculated for our Ruin. If the Scotch are Suffered
to carry on their frauds the gentlemen of the country who are
the Consigners and pays the full Duty will never be able to
live, the Scotch here upon their victory Triumph prodigi
ously and talk mighty big of carrying all before them, and
to flout and despise all the attempts that can be made
against them I am Sir

Your very humble Servant


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1723 July 4-1724 June 11, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.

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 the brief heading on the draft.

[1] Sweetscented tobacco was one of two major types grown in Carter's day. It was mild compared to the stronger oronocco. Sweetscented required "a typer of soil of limited distribution" and "was largely confined to the banks of the great rivers, the James, York, Rappahannock, and Potomac." ( Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953. p. 97 )

[2] "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." )

[3] 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 revised October 2, 2009.