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 James Bradley, May 17, 1727

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant James Bradley, May 17, 1727, reporting the arrival of Bradley's ship, the Welcome, and of letters he has received from the merchant. He was disappointed with the sales of his tobacco, but notes that they were about what he had received from others. He is sending tobacco on board the Providence and he sends a bill of exchange for the duties. He reminds Bradley that he wishes to find a place for his son Landon as an apprentice to learn the Virginia trade, and hopes that Bradley will change his mind about taking Landon.

Letter from Robert Carter to James Bradley, May 17, 1727

-1 -

Rappa[hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]   
May 17th 1727

Mr. James Bradley

Sir --

     Yor: Ship Welcome is arrived but lately Mr.
Trice was with me the other day and is in pretty good hopes he shall
be able to do his business I have promised to Assist all I can but
cannot do much had he bin an Early ship his business would
have bin easy

     I have rec'd your Several Letters and the Sales of my
Tobbo: which was very low however it keeping pace with my
other Accots: I must be Contented In hopes the next will do better
It was all my own Crops and you may Easily Conjecture wee
cannot live by these prices the most wee can make per head ha[r]
dly amounts to a hhd.

     I have now sent you in the Providence Capt:
10 hhds: of my Sweet Scented crop Tobbo. I never make
any other and that you may have ready money to clear it
with I send you a bill of Exche: on Mr. Perry for One hundred pds:
I have never bin used to want the Discounts, All the Merchts promises
a riseing market upon an Empty Town These two or three last
years has almost broke our backs

     My son Landon is now with me and I'm sorry

-2 -

you could not agree to take him an Apprentice His Morrals
appear to be so agreeable and his Education so well Advanced
that I dare Say his behaviour would not be unacceptable to you
Perhaps upon second thoughts you may change your mind if you
do give me the Earliest Intelligence of it you can and let me know
what your demands are to have with him he is not 17 yet I am

Yor: very humble Servt:

I also Send you three small bills of Exche: drawn
on Mr. Perry. to witt Thos: Lee for: 4:14:11
Frans: Lightfoot for £13:13 Gowin Corbin
for £5: -- : -- , which I desire you to credit me wth:
per Woodward
Copy per Hopkins


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter letter book, 1727 May-1728 July, 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.

[1] James Bradley was a London merchant with whom Carter dealt from at least 1723 until his death. As noted in this letter Bradley owned the Welcome, but little information about Bradley has been located. (There is a listing of the firm of Bradly & Griffin, Merchants, Fenchurch-street, opposite the Mitre Tavern, on page 13 of Kent's Directory For the Year 1740 Containing An Alphabetical List of the Names and Places of Abode of the Directors of Companies, Persons in Publick Business, Merchants, and other Eminent Traders in the Cities of London and Westminster, and the Borough of Southwark. [London: Printed and Sold by Henry Kent in Finch-Lane, near the Royal Exchange: and by the Booksellers and Pamphlets Shops of London and Westminster, 1740]. p. 39. Online, examined 8/12/2005 and 6/14/2012. )

[2] The 140 ton Welcome was owned by London merchant James Bradley as Carter notes here. John Trice (Frice) was her captain, 1723-1727. ( Adm 68/195, 154r, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[3] 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. )

[4] Sweetscented was one of two types of tobacco grown in Carter's day. The other, oronocco, was "bulkier and coarser than sweetscented . . . had a sharper leaf 'like a fox's ear,'" and was stronger in flavor" than sweetscented." ( Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953. p. 97 )

[5] Carter refers to the duty, logically called the impost, imposed by Britain on imported tobacco, and to the cocket (for which a fee was charged), which was the document bearing a cocket or seal issued by the "King's Customs House" that the impost had been paid. (See the definitions of each word in Oxford English Dictionary Online.

[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," 8/22/2005 )

[7] Landon Carter (1710-1778) was Carter's seventh child by his second wife, Elizabeth (Landon) Willis. Landon would live at "Sabine Hall," Richmond County, and marry three times, leaving many descendants, some of whom own "Sabine Hall" today. As an adult, he would keep a very interesting and useful diary. A reproduction of a portrait of him may be found on the website of the Foundation of Historic Christ Church. ( Jack P. Greene. "Landon Carter" in Sara B. Bearss, John G. Deal, et al., eds. Dictionary of Virginia Biography. [Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2006], 3:76-78; and Greene. The Diary of Colonel Landon Carter. . . . )

[8] Thomas Lee (1690-1750) of Westmoreland County was the son of Richard Lee II, and nephew of Edmund Jenings; he would build "Stratford," and succeed Carter on the Council. For a good article on Thomas Lee, see "Thomas Lee of Stratford 1690-1750" by Jeanne A. Calhoun on Stratford plantation's website. ( Burton J. Hendrick. The Lees of Virginia: Biography of a Family. [Boston: Little Brown, 1935]. pp. 48, 51, etc. )

[9] Francis Lightfoot had been naval officer for the upper district of James River until his death; a new officer was appointed in February 1727. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:160. )

[10] Captain James Hopkins commanded the Mary in 1727-1728. He was then working for London merchant Robert Cary. He is mentioned in Carter's diary. ( Adm. 68/194, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

This text, originally posted in 2003, was revised June 15, 2012, and January 26, 2015, to add to and strengthen the footnotes and modern language version text.