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, March 25, 1724

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, March 25, 1724, concerning a shipment of tobacco on board the Bailey, some of which he has committed to Micajah Perry and some to Thomas Evans. He devotes considerable space to his displeasure with the Bailey's captain, Adam Graves, and his slights to Carter who had done some particular favors to ensure the ship's large cargo. He reports that Captain Holliday has arrived bringing Carter's son Charles who is in good health, and adds, "I return you a great deal of thanks for your care and kindness both to him and his brother Since they have been with you." While neither had achieved scholatically quite what Carter has hoped, he believes they have good morals and will succeed in life. In his own hand he adds to the draft several paragraphs concerning bills of exchange and a promise to comment on his sons' expenses while in England.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, March 25, 1724

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Mr Wm. Dawkins              per the Bailey                Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

March the 25th: 1723/4

     I have 29 hhds: on Board the Bayley for wch:
I have no Bill of Lading 16 of them under two Marks are to
come to you 11 of them all stemmed and Luggs of my own Crop
straight laid the three numbered wth Lettrs: Luggs which I will not com
mend the other two straight laid and very good Tobbo: It was prized
at my own house and I saw it often 3 of my Number goes to
Mr. Perry the other 10 to Mr. Evans, The way I took to get so
much for your Ship was thus Captain Graves being once in
a great deal of fear of getting his load I persuaded Keel
to Spare me 10 hogsheads of what I had promised 10 hogsheads more
was to be taken in by the Booths Sloop, but she got her load up
the River and left them. Captain Wills sent me word immediately
he would send for them let the damage be what it would
to him If I pressed it supposing it would be no dis a kindness to
Captain Graves I easily Excused Wills, This Tobo: I sent on
Board in my own Craft two hhds. more being the last stemmed
I had left I sent to his side but he was so crowded he turned
them ashore again, The report I had of his proceedings was
that he would clear out this Day but he which made m[ ... ] [e]

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think I should have time Enough to write my Lettrs: but
he has been more Expeditious and broke ground Yesterday
falling down almost as low as my house, Indeed the hurry
he has been in and the confusion by Tobacco pressing upon
him in such an unexpected manner the Slight he put on
me in turning my two hogsheads ashore I cannot much fault
him for but his taking his leave of me in Such an abrupt
manner without giving me Bills of Lading or paying
me for the tobacco I have carried on board of him has
been a little Extraordinary, I suppose he will be saying
a great deal in justification of himself and therefore
tis necessary to tell you the Story; last night after nine o'
Clock he comes on Shore in much hurry desiring me to
spare him a barrel of pitch which I refused but fully
designed to let him have one in the morning, he then
pressed me to do my business, I told him I would forgo
having my Bills of Lading rather then begin such a
work at that time of night, he was also in a mighty way
with my Skipper who brought him 75 hhds: on Board
threatning he would drub him if he fell in his way
charging him with taking in several mens tobacco that
he had no orders for and leaving out others that he had
I must own he is an Illiterate fellow but he is as well
acquainted with the rivers as a man can well be [he] has
been in my Employ for this 25 Years together almost
without interruption And in Excuse of himself [illegible] tells me
that Captain Graves Notes were so dark and confused he
did not know what to do, The rest of the Story I shall
leave to the other side Graves staid with me until after a
Eleven of the clock and then takes his departure I sup
pose for this voyage

     I agreed with Captain Graves for bringing
his tobacco on board with my Sloop and hands to be paid at
the rate of 5 Shillings: Sterling per hogsheads for the 29 hogsheads
went from my house he owes me at least 3 Shillings
per hhds -- I have spared him tar and pitch at several

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times the which he was to return me in kind the Quan
tity I cant well tell his Carpenter knows I cant charge
him less for the pitch less then 22: shillings : and for the tar
14: shillings : per barrel

     I Expect there will be another contention
about the terms of his freight not long after his first
coming in there was a strong report brought down the
river that a Ship which brought in hither Convicts had
set up for stemmed tobacco and offered to take Seven pound
I then told him there was necessity for it to declare for 8
pound and he was then of the same Opinion. I told him
I would give no more the terms I gave to Keeling and to
Captain Hyde's Ship and so I Expect, although I hear lately he
has Signed some of his bills of Lading how many I
cant say at 8£:10 shillings :

     I am now to Acquaint you of the safe arriv
val of Holloday and my Son Charles being at home in good
health, and I return you a great deal of thanks for your care
and kindness both to him and his brother Since they have
been with you although they are not under such Improve: mnts
as I Expect, however they promise to be well moraled
youths God sparing me Life am not in doubt they will
come to make a good figure in the world and be able to get
their bread

     I have had the oportunity to discourse one
that lives in the house with Skreen about your bill of exchange
he tells me Skreen absolutely denies the drawing of it
although by comparing the hands the [y] seem to be as like as two peas
If I can serve you in this matter I will

     You are to pay Esquire Heath ten pounds part
of Haynes debt I have lately got the money.

      It is a Vast charge You have put me to for my Sons
Expences this last Year and yet their furniture is not Extraordinary
I shall Enter into the particular Examination of it when I have time
& give You my thoughts upon it

     I am to Advise You of a Bill I have drawn on You for four
pound ten shillings to Henry Thompson.

-4 -

     Herein I send You a bill of exchange of John Hudnals on Your self
for £20.6"11 which desire Credit for --


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.

Carter edited the clerk's draft of this letter and added the final three paragraphs in his own hand as is noted by the use of italics.

[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] Captain Peter Wills commanded the Booth in 1723-1724, and the Amity in 1727. He is mentioned in Carter's diary for June 1723. ( Survey Report 6800, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[3] Drub, according to the Oxford English Dictionary Online means "to beat with a stick or the like, to cudgel, flog; in early use, spec. to bastinado; to thrash, thump, belabour; also, to beat in a fight. . . ."

[4] William Holladay commanded a ship named the Princess Carolina. ( Survey Report 6800, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[5] William Skreen of Hanover Parish, Richmond County, and two others had taken a patent for 1020 acres in what was then Essex County August 17, 1720. A patent held by William Skrien (Skreen, Skrine) is referred to in a number of patents taken out in St. George's Parish, Spotsylvania County, in the 1720s. ( Nell M. Nugent. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstract of Virginia Land Patents and Grants. [Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1979] 3(1695-1732):198, 222, 308, 317, 411. )

[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 March 4, 2011, to add footnotes, and to strengthen the modern language version text.