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, February 13, 1724

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, February 13, 1724, to enclose a bill of lading for 50 hogsheads of tobacco. He comments on freight rates, the quality of his tobacco, and on 3 hogsheads that are poor because of a "Notorious rogue" of an overseer. He turns to the misfortune of Captain Adam Graves who has been ill and unable to seek cargo for his ship although he has now recovered, and notes that he has made two large sloops available to Graves for moving tobacco to the ship. In conclusion, he adds that all the planters in the colony are expecting very good prices for their last shipments of stemmed tobacco.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, February 13, 1724

-1 -

The other Book

                             per Keiling

Feb. 13th. 1723/4 --

Mr. Wm. Dawkins              Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

     I have been pretty plentiful to You already
Shall say the less now herein You have a bill of Lading for fifty hhds.
of my Crop Tobacco which I have shipped upon Your Charter, Keiling would
not Sign his bills under Eight pound Ten, although he did my other
Bills at Eight pound, In Yours of the 2d. of August You tell me You were
to have the freight as the rest of the Ship went, I hope You will Set this
Matter to rights with Mr. Perry & do me justice, As I am not for
Sinking the freight too low, So I am as unwilling to give too much,
You may remember how Baily Kent fared by exacting 20 shillings upon his
freight which I am sure proved to the damage of the Carter some hundreds
of pounds, This Tobacco in general I have taken all Imaginable care
to manage in the Best manner, & I hope will rise as well as the Year
Affords, but I must Advertise You of three hhds. No. 32. 33. 34. that
are but Indifferent & as indifferently managed My overseer was a Notori
=ous rogue & passed this Tobacco upon his Oath, I discoverd not his Villany
until the Tobacco was marked & ordered away, You must do the best with
it You can, but pray let it not discredit the rest of my Goods.

-2 -

     Poor Adam Graves has had the Misfortune to be taken [ ... ] [most grave]
=ly ill at York which kept him from his ship I think abov[ ... ] [e a fort]
=night, I saw him Yesterday, he had abundance of blood ta[ ... ] [ken]
from him and looks very pitiful, You may be sure this p[ ... ] [uts]
no Small disadvantage to Your Concern they have but sixty [ ... ]
hhds. Yet on board, -- We have had a very wet Spell there is n[ ... ] [o]
rolling Tobacco , and he tells me a great many peoples Tobacco that [ ... ] [he]
Sends for are not ready & upon One pretence or another not t[ ... ] [o]
be got, what the Event of these difficulties will be I Shall not
foretell, I am Sending Out a Sloop and hands that carries
70 hhds. to fetch Tobacco for him, I have another Sloop of the Same
bigness that he may have at an hours warning but he
protests to me he does not know where to Send her as Yet.
I tell both the Master and Mate, they must double their diligence
If they intend to do any thing considerable, & I will not fail to
Spirit them every time they come cross me, & they Shall want
no Assistance of mine that I am able to give them, thus You
have a short sketch of Your Affair here Graves has underta=
=ken to sail by the 20th of March, herein You have a bill of
on Your self Drawn by John Hudnal for £ [omission in text]
which I desire you'll Either credit me for or Protest --

     Since the Above I had been on board of Captain Graves he is grown
pretty brisk reckoned up to me promises that he has for [sic ] more Tobacco than his
Ship can carry, If Men will be but as good as their words.

     We flatter our selves with mighty hopes of wonders from our
stemmed Tobacco
this Year it being the last we are to make, & all the merchants
Your Self Especially encouraged us to Send off all we could of that Sort
now it lies at Your door to answer Your promises, certainly if the consider
=able men of Your Number will Agree together to set it up at a good
price You will be Able to bring the smokers into a yielding Temper
I am Sir -- --

Your very humble Servant


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.

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] Captain William Keiling commanded the Betty. ( Survey Report 6800, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia )

[2] Adam Graves was a son of Captain Thomas Graves [d. ante 1720], long a captain of vessels trading to Virginia, and a special friend of Robert Carter's. Adam Graves commanded the Bailey in 1725-1727, a ship that belonged to London merchant William Dawkins. ( Survey Report 6800, and Adm. 68/194-196 found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia )

[3] 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 )

[4] 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. )

This text, originally posted in 2002, was revised February 15, 2011, to add footnotes, and to strengthen the modern language version text.