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 Robert Cary, December 16, 1727

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant Robert Cary, December 16, 1727, requesting that he join with merchant William Dawkins in being Carter's son Robert's security as naval officer to the Commissioners of the Customs. He notes that Mr. Fitzwilliams, surveyor general of customs in the colony, has raised an objection to Robert's appointment wbich he hopes that Cary and Dawkins will fight. In a post script he notes that he has just had word that his son John intends to press for the vacant deputy auditors position.

Letter from Robert Carter to Robert Cary , December 16, 1727

-1 -

Mr Robt Cary     Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]     
Decr. the 16th. 1727


     The Above a Copy Via Bristol I have little to
add only to let you know that our Governor has [sic] been so kind

-2 -

to my son Robert to renew his commission for the Naval Officers
of this river his securities are the same Colonel Page & the
Secretary we reckon that he must give Security also to the Comissioners
of the Customs again & it is my request to you that you will
join with Mr Dawkins in being my sons security a second
time there

     Mr Fitzwillams our Surveyer General made some
Opposition to the place of my sons living for the Convenience of the
trade I affirmed in Answer he lived a great Deal more Conven
ient than Urbana where the collector keeps his Office for thi [s]
I appeal to your Masters that Use here I have written the Story at
length to Mr Dawkins if this gentleman should make any
representation to the Comissioners against my son in this ma=
tter I pray you will join Your interest with Mr Dawkins in
taking off the force of his objections I am in which you'll very
much oblidge

                  Your most humble Servt

Decembr 16th. 1727 Last night I received a letter from the Secre
tary Advising me that he would push for the Auditors place with all
his strength and tells me his letters should come to my hand this day to go
by this ship which may be time enough if he is not too Dilatory
to be copyed


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. There is a 19th-century transcript of the letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, 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] 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.] )

[2] As Surveyor General of the Customs in the colonies in "South America," Richard Fitzwilliams was a member of the councils of Virginia, South Carolina, and Jamaica. He served with William Byrd on the commission to survey the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina in 1728. "The Virginia Company of London appointed a surveyor general for Virginia in 1621, and the crown continued to appoint surveyors general after Virginia became a royal colony in 1624. From 1693 until the Revolutionary War, the College of William and Mary was responsible for the Office of the Surveyor General, which appointed official surveyors and received one-sixth of the fees that they collected." (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:93-4; 155-56; and "Surveors and Mapmakers" in "Mapping Virginia" on the website of the Library of Virginia.)

[3] Urbanna was a town in Middlesex County built on lands orginally owned by Ralph Wormeley who resisted the idea after the town was authorized by the act of 1680. But development began after his death in 1701 and the passage of the third town act in 1706. ( John W. Reps, Tidewater Towns: City Planning in Colonial Virginia and Maryland. Williamsburg,VA: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1972. pp . 78-9. )

[4] "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. )

This text, originally posted in 2004, was revised July 25, 2014, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.