Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

List of Letters | About This Collection

Electronic Text Center , University of Virginia Library


Letter from Robert Carter to John Pemberton, September 15, 1727

     Robert Carter writes to Liverpool merchant John Pemberton, September 15, 1727, to inform him that he is unable to handle the sale of the slaves on Pemberton's ship, the Leopard, because the terms Pemberton has set forth are too rigid. The captain apparently has arranged with John Tayloe to handle the sale. He reports the arrival of the governor and the proclamation of King George II, and that he is assisting Captain Christian of the Rose in the sale of his cargo of slaves. Captain Denton of the John and Betty sold a slave to a man named Killby whom Carter is sure will not be able to pay and he expects Denton to reimburse him.

Letter from Robert Carter to John Pemberton , September 15, 1727

-1 -

                             Added to Mr. Pemberton's last Letter

--                                                              Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

Sepr. the 15th. 1727

Sir --

     After Captain Hayes in the Leopard had been in York
river to meet with Mr. Nelson who is gone for England and find
ing no Orders for him there he came into this rive r to me, up
on Seeing the Strictness of your Orders I told him I could not meddle
with his Slaves it being impossible in my Esteem at this Season
of the Year to bring them out at your Peremptory terms so I
let him go he immedately goes up the river to Colonel Tayloe what
their Agreement may be I dont yet know the Ship is gone up
the Bay to Petuckson and Tayloe meets her there;

     Our Governor arrived into James river the 7th Instant
I went from home to wait upon him the 9th: the 11th the King
was proclaimed I got home last night at one o'clock Captain
came about from York into this river the 10th: is now
in Corotoman and I am going aboard him I shall do you the
best Service I can in the Sale of the Slaves but I fear that will not
be very good I [do not] doubt I must [be] forced to Stay for a great many bills
until April and Cash I am afraid will be very plenty the ship
I am in hopes we may get a freight for the number of the Slaves
are One hundred and Nineteen, of these but 38 men the rest women
and a great many boys and Girls,

-2 -

     The three Sick Slaves I fetched home immediately
after Captain Dentons sailing and took the best care of them I could
one of them is Since Dead of whom I had hopes to make the most

     One morning in my Absence before I got aboard
the Ship Captain Denton Sells a woman to one Killby an Acquain
tance of his, for £20. £17 a bill of Exchange on Mr. Stark of Glasgow
and takes a note of him for £3 to be paid in Cash in my name
he is a sort of a Pilate has been Several times by my house
but has not yet brought me his money and his bills I am told
are not worth a groat, I shall Expect Mr. Denton Shall make good
this loss to me pray be Expeditious in returning me the protests
Particularly this rascals for I Expect no other but to See it again
I have time to add no more but that I am

                  Yor: very hum ble Servt: --


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.

Although this letter is headed in the letter book, "Added to Mr. Pemberton's last Letter," it has not been possible to determine which letter Carter meant. The last letter to Pemberton of which the editor has a copy was August 23, 1727, and is marked "per the Carter." According to Carter's diary, the Carter sailed the next day. Accordingly, this letter must stand alone.

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] Thomas Nelson (1667-1745), a resident of Yorktown, was a merchant and was sheriff of York County in 1722 and 1723. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:12,34,184; and Greene. The Diary of Colonel Landon Carter. . . . , p. 96. )

[2] The Rappahannock

[3] John Tayloe (1687-1747) of Mt. Airy, Richmond County, who served as justice, burgess, colonel of militia, and as a member of the Council after 1732. (Ryland. Richmond County Virginia. . . . pp. 115-16. )

[4] Carter may mean the river in Maryland spelled "Petuckson" in his day, but now spelled "Patuxent."

5] King George II (1683-1760) reigned from 1727 until 1760. ( George II [r. 1727-1760] "The Official Website of the British Monarchy. " )

[6] James Christian was captain of the Rose, a vessel owned by merchant Pemberton. (See Carter to Pemberton, April 15, 1730.)

[7] Corotoman Creek runs in front of Carter's home of the same name in Lancaster County.

[8] The John & Betty was a Liverpool ship often carrying slaves owned by merchant John Pemberton. In 1726 the captain was John Gale, and in the next year, she was commanded by a Captain William Denton. The ship would be lost in 1729. (Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . p. 18, n. 23; Carter to Pemberton, April 15; 1730, and Carter to William Dawkins, June 28, July 26, and August 22, 1727, for Denton's first name. )

[9] John Stark (b. 1685) was a prominent Glasgow merchant in the sugar trade. "John Stark, another Revolutioner provost, was born in 1685, the son of a merchant, and was admitted a burgess by right of his father in 1706. He was brought into the magistracy in 1724 as dean of guild and then chosen as provost in 1725. Stark's election as provost was quite unusual, because, while all the provosts from the Union until 1724 had experience of serving as merchant-baillie, he had none. This probably indicates that Stark represented a new force of urban politics which came into the council in 1724. . . . " He served as as baillie and provost (mayor) from 1725-1727. ( Hisashi Kuboyama. "The Politics of the People in Glasgow and the West of Scotland, 1707-c. 1785." [Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinborough, 2012.], p. 66. ; and "Provosts of Glasgow" at "Welcome to Glasgow." )

[10] Carter meant that Kilby was "a person likened in some way to Pontius Pilate; esp. (in early use) a corrupt or lax person; (in later use) a person who evades responsibility." ( Oxford English Dictionary online. )

[11] A groat is "an old British coin worth four pennies." (Merriam Webster Dictionary .)

This text, originally posted in 2004, was revised May 13, 2014, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.