Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

List of Letters | About This Collection

Electronic Text Center , University of Virginia Library


Letter from Robert Carter to John Burridge, July 29, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant John Burridge, July 29, 1723, that he is shipping 32 hogsheads of tobacco to him on board the Sarah of Weymouth. He reports several bills of exchange and then turns to the act in Parliament that will prohibit the importation of stemmed tobacco into England which he blames on the Scots. He concludes that recent wet weather has ruined crops.

Letter from Robert Carter to John Burridge, July 29, 1723

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

July 29th. 1723 --

Jno. Burridge Esq --


                                  For Harvey to write

     Herein I send You a bill of Lading for Thirty
two hhds. of Tobacco on board the Sarah of Weymoth, 20 of them stemmed
my own Crop, the other Leaf, I had not the opportunity of
Writing by the Ship ordered a bill of Lading by her --

     I have already advised You of a Draft I had made
On You to Mr. Sitwell for One hundred pounds, herein
send You three small bills of exchange to wit: Willoughby
on Matt Gundry £16. Ditto on Yorself £ 20 --

-2 -

and George Eskridge on William Cawley £9"16"7 -- Together
Forty Five Pound, Sixteen Shillings & seven pence --
which desire Your Management of.

     We have now the Dismal news of the Prohibition of
stemmed Tobacco ,
the only Refuge we had to get a penny by, this
It seems gained by the Interest of the Scotch , & now we shall
be Entirely a prey to them, but surely there will come
a time when the Treasury will open their Eyes upon the
Vast Damage to the Kings Revenue by their Frauds
the mischief will be, we shall be ruined first, May
the Heavens Lend us Some relief, Our Fellow Subjects
has no mercy for us,

     We have had a very Wet season of late,
has damaged our crops, You'll hear more hereafter I am

Your most humble Servt

herein are the second bills


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] One of Carter's clerks was named John Harvey, and there are notes on some of Carter's dictated letters, "Harvey to copy," as on this one A John Harvey witnessed his will, and some of its codicils, which is logical if Harvey had written it out for Carter. However, on 1729 November 14, Carter wrote to Micajah Perry that Harvey, "whom you sent me from the Hospital," had completed his service. Carter indicated that he did not trust Harvey, and intimated that Harvey might have stolen some accounts of the Burwell estate of which he requested copies from Perry.

[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." 8/22/2005 )

[3] Willoughby Allerton (1664-1724) was a prominent citizen of Westmoreland County where he was burgess, sheriff, and militia officer. (Allerton Genealogical Data at, 4/16/04; and McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 3[1705-1721]: 92,146,381,420. )

[4] Parliament had indeed passed an act forbidding the importation of stemmed tobacco in 1722. John Randolph was 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. )

[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 revised October 12, 2009.