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 William Robertson, January 9, 1728

     Robert Carter writes to his old friend William Robertson, clerk of the Council, January 9, 1728, requesting him to use his influence to help Carter choose the sheriff in the northern area of the Northern Neck, and to have him urge the clerks of three counties to pay the fees due for ordinary and marriage licenses.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Robertson, January 9, 1728

-1 -

[Corotoman, Lancaster County, Virginia]

January the 9th: 1727/8

Mr. William Robertson

Sir --

     It hath bin no Small pleasure frequently to me to have hear
of your deliverance so well from your late most Calamnitous
Disaster and that your wooden Legg is now become so familiar to
you that you are Qualifyed for all the parts of your business

-2 -

     I am now under a Strong fitt of the Gout and have bin so
for these Ten days which takes from me all hopes of giving my
Attendance at the first of the Assembly a very threatening Season
for a broken Constitution to be abroad in, You know Colonel Drysdale
always favourd me and I may Say Colonel Spotswood before him
in the Nomination of our northern Sherif which is some kindness
to me in geting in my Qt. rents and I would flatter my Self
to meet with the Same Indulgence under the present regment It may
lye in your way to Drop in a Seasonable word upon this Occasion
and if it does I dare say you will not slip the Opportunity In de=
feating any Attempt may be made from Some other Qr. --

     Some Clerks that lye in your way to call upon have not yet paid
me their Ordinary and Marriage Lycences to wit Isle of wight
Northampton, and Surry, if you will give your Self the trouble of
managing these Gentlemen You will oblige my Lord Orkny
as well as my Self , I have already writ to Mr. Hickman but had no
answer from him I wish you a Compleat recovery and am

Sir --
Yor. Affectionat most humble Servt.


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1727 April 13-1728 July 23, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.

The name of Carter's home, "Corotoman," the county, and colony have been added for clarity to this unheaded draft.

[1] Alexander Spotswood (1646-1740), army officer with a succesful career, was a protege of George Hamilton, first earl of Orkney, the royal governor of Virginia, who sent Spotswood to Virginia in 1710 as lieutenant governor. His first five years in the colony were fairly successful ones, but his policies concerning land quit rents and over the colonial church brought confrontation with powerful members of the Council. Their interests in England led to Spotswood's dismissal as governor in 1722. He had acquired large land holdings, and he went to England in 1724 where he married and worked on securing the titles to his Virginia land holdings. In 1730 he returned to Virginia and remained there. (Gwenda Morgan. "Alexander Spotswood," in the Oxfford Dictionary of National Biography, and Leonidas Dodson, Alexander Spotswood, Governor of ColonialVirginia, 1710-22 [Philadelphia, 1932].)

[2] Quit rent was the term used for "a (usually small) rent paid by a freeholder . . . in lieu of services which might otherwise be required; a nominal rent paid (esp. in former British colonial territories to the Crown) as an acknowledgement of tenure," in this case, to the proprietors of the Northern Neck. Carter as the proprietor's agent, collected these payments. ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[3] Carter uses "regiment" to mean the "rule or government over a person, group, or country; governance; esp. royal authority," a meaning obsolete today. ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[4] An ordinary was "an inn, public house, tavern, etc., where meals [were] provided at a fixed price; the room in such a building where this type of meal [was] provided." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[5] Richard Hickman (d. 1732) had been deputy clerk of Middlesex County in 1709. After Governor Hugh Drysdale's death, the Council appointed him to manage the Governor's house and its gardens. His name appears a number of times in the Council minutes as he was the doorkeeper, and as he took out land patents. From Carter's letter to William Robertson 1727 July 15, in which he complains that "Mr. Hickman is very dilatory with his probatted Administrations," it seems that Hickman must have done other work for the colonial government. (Edward W. James. "Libraries in Colonial Virginia." William and Mary Quarterly. 3[1,#4, Apr. 1895]:248-51 for Hickman's inventory recorded 1732 May 15 listing many books; "Notes from the Journal of the House of Burgesses, 1712-1726." William and Mary Quarterly. 21[1,#4, April 1913]:257 mentions his being Council doorkeeper; "Notes from the Journal of the House of Burgesses, 1727-1734, William and Mary Quarterly. 22[1, #1, July 1913]:54,56-58, mentions his being clerk of the Committee of Propositions and Grievances; and McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:114. )

[6] Robertson had broken his leg the previous August, his life was threatened for a period, and his leg had been amputated. See references in several Carter letters of August and September.

This text, originally posted in 2004, was revised August 26, 2014, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.