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 Captain John Hyde and Company, January 29 and February 15, 1724

     Robert Carter writes to the London firm trading as Captain John Hyde and Company, January 29, 1724, concerning the firm's October report of sales of tobacco from the Burwell estate which has pleased him although he cannot resist pointing out that Micajah Perry sold some of the same crop for a half penny more. He comments on the possible sales of the last of the stemmed tobacco that will reach the London market soon. He reports that Captain Woodward will soon be ready to sail with about 70 hogsheads of Carter's tobacco on board, and notes the help he has provided to the captain, including his purchase of 1000 bushels of the incoming cargo of salt. He closes by writing that his understanding of their last communication is that the colony's act to restrain the quantity of tobacco planted with not be allowed. In a post script dated February 15th, just before Woodward's sailing, Carter encloses bills of lading for stripped tobacco from his plantations, from the Burwell estates, and from Mr. Grayson, and reports a bill of exchange to Woodward.

Letter from Robert Carter to Captain John Hyde and Company, January 29 and February 15, 1724

-1 -

                             per Fowler
                             Copy per Woodward                 Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

Janr. 29th. 1723/4 --

Capt. Jno. Hyde & Compa.


     I have the favr. of Yrs. of the 31st. of Octr. Yor. Accot. of Sales
of Mr. Burwell's 14 hhds. I shall not find fault with although You
must allow me to tell You, Mr. Perry sold of the same [illegible] Crop for a
half penny more, If he dos but hold it through the whole parcell
I am glad to find my last Tobo. pleasd You, & will continue in hopes
You will be able to keep up to the price, the small Modicum You
had sold of it went at, which will make some amends for the
Mean Sales I had from You before. I cannot believe, but Capt.
Hyde is able to Sell Tobo. as well as any man in London it must
be granted, there is a large Stock of Stemd Tobo. coming in these
forward Ships, more perhaps than Usual upon the Great hopes
most men feed themselves with, of its doing Wonders now we
Are prohibitted from making any more of it and tis probable the
Necessitas men that cant Stand the shock will afford good penny
=worths at first but I reckon there will not go much to Such
Men, the Bulk of the whole commodity will be in the hands of a
Few of Able Strong bottoms who will be able to bring the Smoakers to
a better Temper, If they please but to Unite into Such a resolu=
=tion --

     Your Little Ship, Capt. Woodward, hath been with us
Ever Since Septr. of which You have Intelligence long ago, She hath
now above 100 hhds. on board, I reckon Some time next month she
will be ready to leave us, I got him soon dischargd of his Salt
took above 1000 Bushels of it my self, The reason of the slow Steps
have been made in the loading of Your Ship I shall leave to the
relation of the Captain. I have put on board neer 70 hhds. of my own
Crops a large adventure in so small a Vessel, I shall wait wth.
patience for my Children's Supply, and am in hopes my last
Invoyce reachd You time Enough to have it in with them, If
I understand You right, Our Stint Act restraining us to plant
but six thousand per head, will not be allowd us, but of this I
do not hear of any intelligence in the Government, only what
You hint to me, You may depend upon it the latter Ships will
meet with but poor Gleenings, and I think we may have Our
Freight at what Termes we please to give, No Scotch are come
among us yet. I am -- --

Sirs, Your most humble Servt.

-2 -

Febr. 15th. 1723/4
     We are now come to the time of Woodwards departure he
will Sattisfie You how Serviceable I have been to him from first to last filling him
up when he did not know where to fetch a hhd. with Tobo., I design'd another way. You've
herein bills of Lading for 40 hhds. of Stripd Tobo. of my own Crops made at some
of the best of my Plans. You have also a bill of Lading for 4 hhds. of the Same Tobo.
made upon a plantation of Mr. Burwell's.

-3 -

                              Poscript to Capt.Hydes last Lettr -- --
which I desire Your Accot. of Sale of may be placd to the Credit of that
Estate, Here is likewise a bill of Lading for 2 hhds. of Tobo.. be=
=longing to one mr Grayson an Inhabitant of our river. the sale of it, it will be the best
way to return to me, I have just now drawn a bill of Exche.
upon You for £41"16"9 to Capt. Woodward which request Yor.
paymt. of
         I am          Gent Your most humble Servt.

The other Book


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. The county and colony have been added for clarity to the heading on the draft.

[1] Parliament had passed an act forbidding the importation of stemmed tobacco in 1722. John Randolph would be 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. )

[2] Thomas Woodward commanded the Providence during a number of voyages to the colony, 1723-1727. (Adm. 68/194 and 195, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.)

[3] The Assemby had passed an act in 1723 limiting the quantity of tobacco that might be produced by a planter. For the Council's reasons for assenting to this proposed tobacco law, see McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:45-51. "Vestries in the 1720s appointed people to serve as 'tobacco viewers,' a task that over-production of tobacco and the resulting low price of this staple made necessary. Tobacco viewers' inspected planters' crops to ensure that no one planted more tobacco than the law allowed." ( Edward L. Bond. Spreading the Gospel in Ccolonial Virginia: Sermons and Devotional Writings. [Lanham, MD: Lexington Books in Association with the Colonial Williamsburg ..., 2004]. pp. 18-19. Available online through Google Books.)

[4] 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. )

[5] In a 1716 titheables list of the inhabitants of Lancaster County, a John Grayson is listed in Christ Church Parish; he was one of those compiling the list. ( "Tithables in Lancaster Co., 1716." William and Mary Quarterly 1st. ser., 21(July 1912): 106-11. )

[6] 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" at 8/22/2005 )

This text, originally posted in 2002, was revised January 27, 2011, to add footnotes, and to strengthen the modern language version text.