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 James Thomas, April 18, 1728

     Robert Carter writes to surveyor James Thomas, April 18, 1728, concerning work that he is to undertake in the western lands of the colony on Carter's behalf, and noting his displeasure with surveyor John Savage.

Letter from Robert Carter to James Thomas, April 18, 1728

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[Corotoman, Lancaster County, Virginia]

Apl: 18th: 1728

Mr Jas Thomas

     Your letter of the 15th came to hand last night I find you
have given in your deposition so there will be no Call upon you to town
but your staying so long from your Surveying business puts me out of all
hopes of your doing the work you have before you several warrants that
were directed to you Savage hath made surveys upon and now people
are desirous of having their warrants directed to him he hath return'd me
some plats upon your warrants but I have sent them back again and let
the people know I will not grant deeds upon Surveys made without my Au=
thority but if you neglect the business at this rate I must employ such as will
go thro it I expected you down and then I could have talk'd freely with you about
my own business but now I must leave you to the instructions you have already
had as for your employing of Awbery and Ashley I am very well contented you
should do it and for the service that they do in my business and the pro=
vision that Awbery finds I will very readily pay for but I would have you
make an agreement with them both beforehand Awbery is in my debt
for negros but he must not expect to pay me any of that mony that
way that belongs to gentlemen in England and he must be punctual
in complying to the payment of it according to time and pray let him
know so from me Awbery has writ to my son Charles for a commission
from me to take up wild horses you may tell him I will send him one in

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a short time and if he takes up any in the mean time that he will let
me come in for a share of I will justifye him in the doing of it

     Thos Owsley had a commission from me Several years ago at the
instance of Colo. Lee but I never saw a horse hair by it yet

     As for Ludwells being remov'd I had but little dependance
of him he told me many a fine story about Chenandoah in which I belei
ve he shot very much beyond the truth however I send you a copy of his relation
it may be of some service to you when you are out upon the
Chenandoah lands I should be desirous that the first surveys you make
for Colo Page and my children at Chenandoah be first made before
any upon the blew ridge or the bull run which last will be attended
I reackon with a great deal less difficulty altho the more you do this
trip the better you will pleas me I foresee you will not be able to fin=
ish half your warrants before the summer is too far advanced up=
on you I beleive Capt Barber and Mr Warner will both be out in the
woods at the same time you are if you agree to let them survey some of
your warrants I shall not be displeased but I will not allow Savage
to Survey any of them nor do I intend further to make use of him
Untill he gives me satisfaction in some erroneous practices he
hath been Guilty of I shall not say no more at present but am

              Your friend to Serve You


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.

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

[1] James Thomas was surveyor of Lancaster County, and after 1727, of Westmoreland County. In 1736, he would be one of the surveyors involved in the work of the commission to determine the bounds of the Northern Neck proprietary. (Brown. Virginia Baron. . . . pp. 83, 92. See Carter to Peter Beverley, December 14, 1727. )

[2] Williamsburg

[3] John Savage was a surveyor, later (1734) to be employed by Lord Fairfax while attempting to establish the boundaries of the proprietary. He had been appointed surveyor for King George County the year after that county was formed in 1720, and was referred to then as "gentleman." He was surveyor of Stafford County when he particpated in the Fairfax survey. ( Genealogies of Virginia Families from Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine. [Genealogical Publishing Co, 1981] Vol. I [of 4]:473; Brown. Virginia Baron. . . . pp. 83, 86, 88, 92; and Harrison. Landmarks. . . . p. 619. )

[4] Frank Awbrey (1690?-1741) was an active land speculator in the area that became Loudoun County, and was one of the first justices when Prince William County was organiized in 1731. He was sheriff of that county in 1739. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:239, 439; and Harrison. Landmarks. . . . pp. 148, 150, 153-54 ff. )

[5] Jack Ashley is mentioned a number of times in Carter's diary; he lived in Spotsylvania County and apparently was an overseer for Carter at one time although he does not appear in the 1733 Inventory. (McIlwaine, H. R., ed. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . . 4 [1721-1739]:254 ).

[6] Thomas Owsley (ca. 1690-1750) was a large landholder in Stafford County, and had taken many trips into the back country. (Harrison. Landmarks. . . . pp. 53, 83, 110. 609. )

[7] Thomas Lee (1690-1750) of Westmoreland County was the son of Richard Lee II, and nephew of Edmund Jenings; he would build "Stratford," and succeed Carter on the Council. For a good article on Thomas Lee, see "Thomas Lee of Stratford 1690-1750" by Jeanne A. Calhoun on Stratford plantation's website. ( Burton J. Hendrick. The Lees of Virginia: Biography of a Family. [Boston: Little Brown, 1935]. pp. 48, 51, etc. )

[8] "The Shenandoah River is a tributary of the Potomac River, 55.6 miles (89.5 km) long. . . . The principal tributary of the Potomac, the river and its tributaries drain the central and lower Shenandoah Valley and the Page Valley in the Appalachians on the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in [present day] northwestern Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia." ( "Shenandoah River" in Wikipedia .)

[9] The Blue Ridge is the chain of Appalachian mountains that lie on the western border of today's state of Virginia. In Carter's time, explorers were pushing over the range into the Valley of Virginia where the Shenandoah River lies.

[10] Bull Run is a major tributary of the Occoquan River, forming the foundary between today's Prince William and Fairfax counties, and then between Prince William and Loudoun counties. ( Alexandria Drafting Company. Regional Northern Virginia. [Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Drafting Company, 2002.] Coverage of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William counties.)

[11] Thomas Barber of Richmond County was a surveyor, and would be appointed a justice of that county in 1730, tobacco inspector in 1734, and sheriff in 1736. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]: 215, 342, and 369. )

[12] John Warner was the surveyor of King George County in 1727; helaid off the town of Falmouth in 1728. Later he worked for Lord Fairfax, and prepared an important map of his holdings. (Harrison, Landmarks of Old Prince William , 626-628. )

This text, originally posted in 2004, was revised September25, 2014, and January 26, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.