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, November 29, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins November 29, 1723, that he has learned that Robert Jones has lost his case tried in England. He informs the merchant that he wishes to be involved without his name being connected with it in another case that will be appealed from the judgment of the General Court in Virginia to England. The case was brought by a wealthy "Esqr. Hallow's," who lives near Liverpool against the heirs of Manley in Virginia. Carter recused himself from sitting on the case because he had bought an estate from Manley, and reports that Edmund Jenings's vote carried it before the council even though he is so old and infirm that he really does not know what he is voting on.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, November 29, 1723

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

Novr 29th. 1723

Mr Willm. Daqwkins

     I understand Mr Robert Jones hath
met with a defeat in his appeal Mr Sewell by his letter
informed me he was pretty sure the Court were of opinion
the will of old Brereton gave an estate Tail in his lands
but it seem's the Judges have dermin'd otherwise and Jones
is quite blow'n

     I am now concerned more nearly in another
appeal one Esqr. Hallow's a Gent: of Lancaster not far
from Leverpool hath sued the [illegible] heirs of one Manley for
a Seat of Land in Westmorland county and hath had the good luck upon a

-2 -

[ ... ] [gre] at nicety in the Law to get the Judgment of our
General Court in his favour. The Court was divided
till it came to Colo: Jenings who is so debilitated in his
understanding by Age and infirmities that in reality
he doth not know what he says or does his Vote carry'd
it against these poor Orphan's he may have happen'd to
have hit right but sure I am it was absolutly guess work
in him I did not set a Judge in the Cause having purchas'd
another Estate of this Manly to avoy'd all [illegible] reflections
I have promis'd to the Orphan's to support them in the
Charge of this appeal if the Judgment of the Court here
be affirmed against thn them The Orphan's will be turn'd
naked into the world to look for a being and the Will of
their Mother under which this Hallows also claims in=
tirely Defeated in her design'd provision for them, I
intend not now to enter into the particulars of the case
your Lawyer will receive the best information from
the Case it self which will be sent you in a short time
all that I design at this time is that you may be early
in feeing some of the ablest counsel you are to know it
hath been whisper'd that Mr Hallows sent in an opinion
of Sr Robert Ramonds which seem'd to favour his side
of the question, I know this Opinion hath been industri=
ously talk'd of whether this report hath had any influ=
ence upon our Court I shall not pretend to say Hallows
is reported to be both eminent and rich and having the
Judgement here on his side makes the Struggle the more
doubtfull You were some years ago Desirous of geting
business from hence for your Friend Mr Sewell commending
very much both his diligence and Skill gives me the en=
couragement to expect this will be no ungratefull trouble
-3 -

to you, the Solicitor general appears to be a very g[ood]
man in the Law if to be had so doth Waerg [sic ] but Mr Sew[ell]
can no doubt better judge whose Talents are the best of fite[d]
for the Court where our Appeals have their tryals, I wo[uld]
be as Strenuous as I could in this affair and yet without th[e]
mention of my name in it I am Sr.

Your very Humb: Servt -- --

per Fowler
Copy per Keiling


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] The "old Brereton" mentioned here may be Thomas Brereton, clerk of the Council in the seventeenth century. (Harrison. Landmarks. . . . pp. 45, 53. )

[2] Carter refers to the legal process of entail which is "to restrict (property) by limiting the inheritance to the owner's lineal descendants or to a particular class thereof "; or "to convert (an estate) into a 'fee tail' (feudum talliatum); to settle (land, an estate, etc.) on a number of persons in succession, so that it cannot be bequeathed at pleasure by any one possessor." (Merriam-Webster [Dictionary] online at, 11/19/2010; and ( Oxford English Dictionary Online )

[3] John Hallowes (Hallows) (1615-1657) had come to Maryland as an indentured servant, but later moved to Westmoreland County where he acquired extensive tracts of land. Some of that land was purchased in 1733 by Thomas Lee from Samuel Hallowes of County Lancaster, England, who "as a great newphew of Major John Hallowes," had acquired title in an important legal case decided in 1722, probably the one to which Carter refers. This land became part of Stratford. Carter may have hoped to acquire a tract from Samuel Hallowes to add to Nomini (see fn4) as John Hallowes had lived near that plantation of Carter's. John Randolph sailed to England in 1727 to become the colony's agent, and represented Hallowes in negotiations with Carter. ("Major John Hallowes. 1615-1657." Norris. Westmoreland County, Virginia. pp. 99-103.)

[4] A William Manly (Manly) (b. 1686) of Westmoreland County was a descendant of John Hallowes (q.v. ), and inherited considerable land in the county, David Eaton wites, "Manly also gathered in one body the large tract called 'Nomini Hall' and sold the same to the Hon. Robert Carter, March 11, 1712. W[estmoreland] D[eed] B[ook] 2, page 71." ( "Notes." William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, 15[3, Jan. 1907]:48 ; and David W. Eaton. Historical Atlas of Westmoreland County Virginia. [Richmond: Dietz Press, 1942], in an undated reprint. p. 46. )

[5] Sir Robert Raymond (1673-1733), was Attorney General,1720-1724, and a member of Parliament. He became a judge in 1724, and would later be later Lord Chief Justice (1725-1733). He was regarded as one of thethe foremost lawyer of his day. (Entry for Robert Raymond, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online at, 11/19/2010.)

[6] Captain William Keiling commanded the Betty. ( Survey Report 6800 summarizing Adm. 68/194, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

This text revised November 19, 2010.