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 the Earl of Orkney, December 12, 1727

     Robert Carter writes to the non-resident governor of Virginia, the Earl of Orkney, December 12, 1727, thanking him for two letters and for his expression of satisfaction with Carter's administration of the colony while president. He sends two bills of exchange, one for the governor's salary and one for a portion of the fees to which Orkney is entitled, explaining that he will have Commissary James Blair review the accounts on Orkney's behalf. He solicits Orkey's support for his son Charles to succeed his brother Robert as naval officer [of the Rappahannock] when Robert moves to the Potomac. He closes the letter with comments on the selection of a successor of Nathaniel Harrison as deputy auditor of the colony.

Letter from Robert Carter to the Earl of Orkney, December 12, 1727

-1 -

To the Right Honble:     Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]     
Decembr 12. 1727

the Earl of Orkney

My Lord

     I have had the honor to receive two letters
from your Lordship of the 18th of May & 31st. of August Acknowledging
the receipt of the bills of Exchange I remitted with very kind expre-
ssions of your favorable opinion of my Administration in the time
of my Presidentship which gives me a great Deal of Satisfaction pleasure

     Herewith I remitt send to your Lordship two bills of
exchange both Drawn on Mr William Dawkins Merchant of London.
one for £ 377:1: -- being your Ldships part of the Salary from the 25th
of April to the 11th of September the Day our Governor published his commission

-2 -

The other bill for £ 233:2:3: completing your Moiety
of the perquisites as far as my Receipts as Your Lordship will see by the state of the en
closed Accot
it would be but too troublesome to send you my respective
vouchers of the Several Officers to justify the truth of this Accot
there are s everal ome County Clerks that have not yet paid me for
Marriage & Ordinary Licences most several of the former will be paid in tobacco
wch at this time is a poor Comodity when I have received what is behind I intend to get Mr. Comissary to
take an inspection of all the vouchers Accots who from thence will be
able to make it the justice of my proceedings Clear to Your Ldship & I believe will be a method
[illegible] that will give your Lordship full satisfaction

     fif [t] een -- 15 percent is our common Exchange between bills
& Cash I have twenty perCent this Year allowed for my bills
the Corn I could not Dispose of for money only a few barrels of it have
been forced to take it to myself & have Allowed A larger price than I have
sold for*

     I must not take upon me to measure the Character of
our Governor but thus far we promise ourselves a great deal of
happiness under his Administration Government

     My Lord in the time of my Administration
happened the Death of Mr Robinson our Naval Officer my Second
Son Robert being of age & married & living most Convenient for the place
I put him into the Naval Office & our Gove [r] nor has been so kind to rene
w the Comission to him & am in hopes the behaviour of my son will be
So Agreeable as not to deserve a remove he lives with me at present
& how may Years more he may I do not Yet know but the patrimony
I intend for him lies upon Potomac river whenever he removes to it
I should be glad to procure his place for my third son Charles at Mans Estate also
whose living will be on this river I know a word from Your Lordship
to our Governor would be of great weight towards this change if your
Lordship will please to Vouchsafe me such a favour; not but that I
have met with all the kind & Civil distinguishing treatment from our governor Since
his Arrival that I could desire & may perhaps if I live continue
so much in his good Graces to incline him to such a Step upon

-3 -

my own intercession however your Lordship s influence to be sure
will very much facilitate the matter I have a very Large family
to provide for am grown a very crazy man I have no merit to plead
only that I have served the Government in the station I am in above
illegible Eight seven & twenty Years almost Eight & twenty Years & my recei
vings from it have not answered my Expenses

      It will be no news to acquaint your Lordship with the sudden
death of Colonel Harrison one of our Council as well as Deputy
his place in the gift of Mr Horace Walpole who can
make the most interest with him Its likely will stand the fairest
Chance I shall must remain a Spectator only with wishing that
merit may take place & that since [illegible] this place has been generally
held by one of our Council who are the judges of our General Court
that for the good of the Country it may fall to the lot of a person of Gravity Experience & some
knowledge in Our laws & constitution for I may presume to
say such a person will not be unuseful to Supply the place
of those that are lately gone off when you [r] shall think it proper Lordship's leisure will
allow me the favour of your remembrance I shall always grate
fully receive it who am who am with all
Dutiful respect

              My Lord
                your Lordship's
                  most obliged
                    most Obedient
                      & most humble servant

per Christian


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.

The last paragraph of the letter was written by another clerk on a separate sheet (page 4) as an insertion headed "A clause to be added to my Ld Orkneys letter" and it has been placed as intended in the body of the letter on page 3.

The editor feels reasonably confident that a number of the corrections to this draft are in Carter's hand, which is not surprizing considering it was a letter to Lord Orkney. These corrections by Carter have been indicated by the use of bold italics.

[1] A moiety is "a half, one of two equal parts." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online )

[2] The account of the Governor's perquisites is available.

[3] Although the text for the following paragraph of the draft is contiguous at this point, the clerk inserted the asterisk which must have been a signal to begin a new paragraph as the subject changes completely.

[4] Carter refers to Christopher Robinson who had been the naval officer of the Rappahannock River and who had died prior to a Council meeting of March 1, 1727. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:128. )

[5] The naval officer was an official in the colony that reported to the Commissioners of Customs, a body that had first been established in 1663; the group was reorganized several times, especially after 1688. The board was "intrusted with collection of customs both in England and the colonies." The board helped write many of the instructions for colonial governors in collaboration with the Privy Council. "Their direct connection with the colonies was through the governors, who were instructed to correspond with the commissioners, and to send them, every three months, lists of clearances, and also reports of illegal trading. The governor's agent in matters of trade was the naval officer whom he was empowered to appoint, but who was required by the 7th and 8th William III to give security to the commissioners of customs." ( Louise Phillips Kellogg. The American Colonial Charter. A Study of English Administration in Relation Thereto, Especialy after 1688. [Annual Report, American Historical Association. Vol. 1, Govt. Print. Off., 1904], p. 226. For a recent study, see Alvin Rabushka. Taxation in Colonial America [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.] )

[6] Carter is usig the term "crazy" in an older sense that means "Full of cracks or flaws; damaged, impaired, unsound; liable to break or fall to pieces; frail, 'shaky.'" ( Oxford English Dictionary online. )

[7] "The auditor was unquestionably a royal appointee, and held his commission under the great seal. He was, after 1680, upon the appointment of the auditor-general of the colonies, the deputy of that official. When the auditorship was established, it was stated that only councillors and those who had long resided in the colony were eligible to this office, and it seems that this principle was generally observed. . . . As the name of the office indicates, the auditor examined all the revenue accounts of the colony, except a few purely local ones under the supervision of the treasurer. Among these accounts were those of the royal collectors and naval officers, the quit-rents, the public claims, the fines and forfeitures. He swore to his accounts before the governor and the Council in April and October, and forwarded them through the auditor general to the lords of the treasury. . . . For a few years after the establishment of the office, the auditor received a salary from the Assembly; later, he was paid a salary as a royal official of £100 a year out of the British treasury. His compensation was, however, largely in the form of a fee, which was gradually increased from three to seven and a half per cent of the revenue accounts audited, and amounted to about £400 a year." ( Percy Scott Flippin. The Financial Administration of the Colony of Virginia [Johns Hopkins Press, 1915.] 38-39. )

[8] Horace Walpole was the brother of Robert Walpole, the chief minister of England. Horace held the posts of "auditor general and surveyor general of the royal revenue in the colonies." (Billings. et al. Colonial Virginia: A History. )

[9] "The governor's Council, also known as the Council of State or simply the Council, consisted of about a dozen of colonial Virginia's wealthiest and most prominent men. Beginning in the 1630s the Crown appointed Council members. . . . Crown appointments were lifetime appointments. From 1625, when Virginia became a royal colony, until the outbreak of the American Revolution (1775-1783), the Council members advised the royal governor or his deputy, the lieutenant governor, on all executive matters. The Council and the governor together constituted the highest court in the colony, known initially as the Quarter Court and later as the General Court. The Council members also served as members of the General Assembly; from the first meeting of the assembly in 1619 until 1643 the governor, Council members, and burgesses all met in unicameral session. After 1643 the Council members met separately as the upper House of the General Assembly." ("The Governor's Council" in Encyclopedia Virginia )

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

This text, originally posted in 2004, was revised June 17, 2014, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.