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 Landon Jones, July 22, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to Landon Jones, son of his late sister-in-law, Mary (Landon) Jones Swan, July 22, 1723, concerning his mother's death and the status of law suits against Carter as her executor brought by Thomas Edwards, clerk of the Lancaster County court. Carter informs Jones, who lives in London, that his mother's son-in-law, John Swan, had made an agreement with her concerning improvements to the Swan estate but her papers were destroyed at her death. John Swan's widow has married Edwards who claims the majority of the estate. Carter plans to fight Edwards' suits aggressively, and if he wins, will see that Jones receives his portion of the estate.

Letter from Robert Carter to Landon Jones, July 22, 1723

-1 -

[Rappahannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

July the 22d: 1723

Mr. Landon Jones -- --

     Yours of the 6th. of Octor: last I now send you an
answer to of the Death of your Mother relating to the circum
relating to the Death of your Mother and her
Circumstances I now send you illegible an Answer to and for
your Satisfaction Also Coppies of the Testimonies proving a
Nuncupative will she made, upon this will I took out Lettrs:
of administration a Coppy whereof you will here likewise
receive and also an Inventory of the Valuation of an appraisemt:
of what she had by men upon their Oathes, Amounting to Eighty
two pound odd Money. You will observe two Negroes are
the greatest part of her Estate, the rest is nothing but Trumpery
and no mans Money. These two Negroes I gave her, one of them
she wills away to a Daughter of mine the other a Girl she
gives to you, but now I must Acquaint you with her Debts

-2 -

     You already know she was at Law most part of her
widdowhood with her Son in Law Swan both before
our Generall and County Courts a most Virulent and Vene
nious person he was he married the Daughter of one
Ingram who had the reputation of the most Litigious Hypocri
tical Knave that was in the County where he livd between
them both your Mother was baited like a bear at a Stake
the uneasieness and disturbances they gave her, she often
would say has said would hasten her to her Grave her Son Swan
died Some Months before her and Ingram within a week after
her, These three Littigants going off so near one another
I little Expected any new troubles would arise about this little
Triffle of an Estate, but Swans Widdow hath Married with
one Thos. Edwards a little petty Fogging Lawyer the Clark of our County that hath
as much Mettle and more cunning for Contention then
his predecessor had and hath commenced against me as
your Mothers administrator two suits to our last Genell
Court the one in Chancery and the other in Debt for
40£ Sterling To let you into the Ground of this last Suit
you must know that your Mother and her Son entered
into Articles of Accomodation, he was to make Sevll: buildings
for her residence to deliver up the half of her Husbands
Estate Slaves Lands &C, the profits hereof she was to Enjoy during
her life her part was to Resign her rights in the Mansion
house and to pay towards her husbands Legacies 40£
during Swans life little or nothing was done towards
these buildings for your Mother's reception, She livd and died
with me for some Years before her death
and yet this Edwards
thinks it a great peice of Justice to contend for this Money
Your Mother tho it was her harsh fortune to Spend so much
of her lateest Years in Strife, was willing to leave peace
behind her in order to which she gave it in charge to one of
her Confidents to destroy all her papers and I suppose th[e]
Articles went with the rest illegible into the flames, for I can by no
means hear of them

-3 -

so that I must now wait for a Coppy till they are produced by
my Antagonist to the Genll. Court thus you have a Short Accot:
of the unhappy Catastrophe of your poor Mother

     You must believe this tedious course of Law cost
a great deal of Money and that this money came out of my
pocket, upon a fair Accot: your Mother stands in my Debt
about 70£ most of it Money to the Lawyers however if I can
get the Victory over Edwards my Design is to let you have
the Slave or the Value of her which will be most Accepta
ble to you, altho these Suits before they are at an end I
reckon will Stand me in near Thirty pounds more but
let them cost me what they will I purpose Gods sparing my
life to defend them with Vigour

     By your Letter I Ap
prehend you have some place about the Inns of Court [If]
that is your Subsistance, I am so unfarely dealt with by
Some Merchants I deal with, that if I could be faithfully
and Vigorously Served I should go near to adventure into
a Law Suit, I shall be glad to keep up a Correspondency
with you being Sr,

Your Affectionate Kinsman
& 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 persons abroad. His usual return address, the county, and colony have been added for clarity to the brief heading on the draft.

The words in italics were added by Carter to the clerk's draft of his letter.

[1] Landon Jones was the son of Carter's sister-in-law, Mary (Landon) Jones Swan. See "The Landon Family" in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 2(June 1895): 430-433, for details of the family and the English estate to which Jones's mother may have had a claim that he was pursuing in that country.

[2] A noncupative will is an oral one, usually made by a dying person, whose terms are spoken before witnesses but not written down and signed.

[3] Mary (Landon) Jones Swan's son-in-law was John Swan. (Jones, Orders Book Entries . . . Referring to "Robert Carter. . . ." p. 115)

[4] Edwards was clerk of the Lancaster County court from 1720-1746. ( Within the Court House at Lancaster. [Lively, VA: Lively Printing Services, (1976)], 15. )

This text revised October 8, 2009.