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 Robert Jones, October 10 and 14, 1727

     Robert Carter writes to Robert Jones, the chief manager of his properties in the northern part of the colony, October 10 and 14, 1727, to give him extensive instructions about the care and control of the slaves on the properties, the use of the horses and oxen, and the need to get the tobacco prized and rolled before bad winter weather. He is insistent that the houses have lofts where corn, beans, and other crops may be stored, and is pleased with the naming of his farms in the area.

Letter from Robert Carter to Robert Jones, October 10 and 14, 1727

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Mr: Robert Jones     Corotomn. [Rappahannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]     
Octor: 10th. 1727

     Yours of the 30th ultimo I shall now consider
as far as it wants an answer your sending but a small quantity
of the wheat now will make the work the heavier hereafter it's a
strange story to hear you complain for want of bags I am sending
up there bags every year I live whatever becomes of them you may
provide sives against another year if you can get them for corn
there is nothing like sowing wheat early my son tells me I sent up
six sack bags last year I have sent for England for padds to save
the horses backs I will endeavour to make three or four to come by
the next sloop to serve for the presant Your design of breaking
more Oxen I like very well and if I forget not will send you some
ropes to manage them

     Mercer is certainly run away if he comes in play
& we can agree I'll buy his land

     You may kill a beaf any where but at the falls & Rich
those two stocks I reserve for myself

     I don't know your meaning when you ask me to
Spare the wheat made at the falls Quarter when you come to spend thir
ty or forty bushels of when a year you will be above my keeping
ten or a dozen bushels will be the most that ever I shall agree to let
you have per annum Strother had less Johnson & Hedgeman
none at all as for Madagascar Jack I will by no means have
him go to the new design I have many reasons against it if he
be gone order him down toYour quarter and keep him to work
there till you have further orders from me I have better hopes
of the new negro woman than you think for now she hath tasted
of the hardship of the woods she will go near to stay at home whe[re]
she can have her belly full Ballazore is an incorrigeable
rogue nothing less than dismembring will reclaim him I wo=
uld have you outlaw him and get an order of court for tak-
ing off his toes I have cured many a negro of running away by
this means You may have Comings down to your assistance if
you think fit as for Mooney I don't know when he's free nor
what bargain I made with him but I beleive he is to stay till
Christmas you forget to mention what old steers there is to

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kill my next Sloop must bring down both the wheat & the beafs

     I would have you by all means possible get the toba
cco into hogsheads as soon as you can I cannot tell the reason why we
cannot get the Mountain & [Normans] Foard crops prized & rolled before
Christmas & before the dead of the winter comes I need not tell you
what a vast Damage it is to me to have my crops under your
care to roll in the spring of the year I am sure were I in your
place I would not doubt the doing it you have your hogsheads ready
before hand

     When you write your next I expect you will let me
know whats done at the new design if I remember right I order'd the
quarter & the Overseers house to be lofted it is very necessary not only
for the warmth of the houses but to lay the peoples corn up in 'twill
be very necessary that corn be got thither as fast as you can that
they may not be at a pinch when the bad weather comes & the runs are
high I am doubtfull in a wet winter the cedar run will be diffi=
cult to pass I would also have beans carried up thither that the peop
le may live as comfortable as they can and salt to be sure they must
have a good stock laid up the Overseer must have some hogs flesh
& if he has some beaf too from the Park quarter I shall not gru=
dge it him it if he minds his business & I would willingly let the
people have some hogs flesh either from the red Oak or from
the Park that they may have a bit now & then & the fat to gre
ase their Homony I know you will say to do all these things
will be very hard upon your horses especially when the bringing
wheat is to be so soon upon your hands I hope your Oxen will
be very helpfull in getting down your wheat I have a horse at
Mr. Jas: Carters that is young & large he tells me he's in very good
heart & will make a good plantation horse I am apt to think
there may be large hollow gums upon that land that will serve
instead of hogsheads for corn & salt & other things however if you
think it proper you may order Hurst & his gang to set up half a
dozen or half a score hogsheads for the use of tht plantation & to be
sure you must provide them well with piggins & pales by what
you write to me of Johnson I conclude you have agreed with
him to be my Overseer at that place I have already ordered

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very good Cabbins to be made for my people that their beds may
lye a foot and a half from the ground if this is not yet done pray
let it be done out of hand there is such large timber there that the
Carpenters may very well by riving thick boards and hewing them
make them answer the place of planck be sure never forget to
Order Johnson to be kind to all the negros but especially to the
new ones & this do every time you go up especially that they lye
warm you know what a sufferer I was last Year the Burnt
child dreads the fire I would have this plantation go by the name
of CARTERS RANGE and now I am about Names I hope
you will take care that the negros both men & women I sent yo[u]
up always go by the names we gave them for this reason I
nam'd them here & by their names we can always know what
sizes they are of & I am sure we repeated them so often to the[m]
that every one knew their names & would readyly answer to them
the horse at Jas: Carters will be delivered at upon your sending &
I would have him made a plantation horse for this quarter &
to be very well fed if you can but save his back ' 'till the new
Slooop comes up I purpose then there shall come to you Three
or four or half a dozen pads as good as I can make them
if you could light of two or three strong good druge horses
that are not too old & pay for them in Corn I should not be
against it

     There is one William Duff a liver in King George County
that is going to seat pretty near Normands ford he proposes to me to take
ten or a dozen barrels of Corn from that quarter & to deliver me
the Same quantity at Jonathan Gipsons at the river side I would not
make him any possitive promise not knowing how far you may
have engaged your self to England if you think you Can spare it you
may let him have it

        Octobr. 14th [1727] The Sloop
arrived here yesterday I shall
answer your letter by the next sloop
I find you call the new plantation
Carters lodge I beleive that is the name
I gave it wch: pleases me full as well as the
name I have now given to it therefore keep to


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. Published in Berkeley. "Robert Carter as Agricultural Administrator: . . .", 273-295.

[1] John Mercer (1704-1768) emigrated from Ireland where he had beentrained as an attorney. "He settled at Marlboroughtown in 1726 as a practicing attorney and at once allowed a facile pen to get him into trouble with the government." He eventually lost his license to practice law, and turned to the land speculation that he had begun as soon as he reached Virginia. "He married first on June 10, 1725 Catherine Mason (June 21, 1707-June 15, 1750) only child of Colonel George Mason (16??-1716) and his second wife Elizabeth Waugh, daughter of the Reverend Mr. John Waugh."(Harrison. Landmarks of Old Prince William p. 315; Copeland and MacMaster. The Five George Masons. ; and "John Mercer." )

[2] John Johnson replaced Nathaniel Hedgeman as Carter's "general overseer" in late spring 1721 after Hedgeman's accidental death. Johnson, Carter wrote Captain Thomas Hooper on June 22, 1721 , "hath lived under me for several Years and I hope will prove a diligent honest man . . . although he is unlettered." (Wright, Letters of Robert Carter 1720-1727. , 103. )

[3] Madagascar Jack was a slave who "hath for some time past Lain & hid and lurked in swamps and Woods & other obscure places both here and in Maryland killing hogs and Committing other Injurys to his Majestys good Subjects." Carter obtained permission from the Lancaster County Court on September 12, 1722, "to Cut off all his toes on one of the sd negroes feet in order to the reclaiming him & Terrifying others from the like practice." ( Lancaster County Order Book 7 1721-1729, p. 59; microfilm copy in Archives Research Services, Library of Virginia, Richmond. )

[4] Cedar Run wanders through today's counties of Fauquier and Prince William along the northern border of the Quantico Marine Base joining the Broad Run to form the Occoquan River just southwest of the community of Lake Jackson in Prince William County. ( Alexandria Drafting Company. In Carter's time, the area was Stafford County. Regional Northern Virginia. Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Drafting Company, 2002. )

[5] John Hust (or Hurst) was the overseer of "Hamstead Quarter," Stafford County, in the 1732 inventory, supervising sixteen slaves with the assistance of one horse. Hust apparently was a carpenter because Carter mentions his doing carpentry work in various letters. (Carter Papers: An Inventory. . . ." )

[6] By "riving," Carter means that planks could be split out of large timber. ( Oxford English Dictionary online. )

[7] Carter's Range probably is the farm in Prince William County called Range Quarter in the 1732 inventory. "Carter Papers: An Inventory. . . .

[8] Jonathan Gipson (d. 1729) "established Gibson's Tobacco Warehouse on the Rappahannock river on the dower land of his wife, Elizabeth (Thornton) Conway Gibson"; it was located "immediately opposite Port Royal in Caroline County. ( King George County Virginia Will Book A-1 1721-1752 And Miscellaneous Notes . [Fredericksburg, Va.: Privately Printed, 1978], 237. .)

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