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 Edward Tucker, May 25 and July 9, 1728

     Robert Carter writes to Weymouth merchant Edward Tucker, May 25, 1728, to report the arrival of Captain Willson after a long voyage via Antigua, several bills of exchange, Captain Brett's inability to take his tobacco, and his hope that Willson will be able to carry it. The bulk of the letter is devoted to persuading Tucker, a member of the House of Commons, to support the colony's desire to repeal the act of Parliament probhibiting the importation of stemmed tobacco into England. In a post script dated July 8th, Carter notes that he plans to send 30 hogsheads of tobacco in Captain Willson's ship, reports bills of exchange, and orders beer, malt, and ale.

Letter from Robert Carter to Edward Tucker, May 25 and July 9, 1728

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]     
May the 25th: 1728

Edward Tucker Esqr.

Sir --

     After a round about Voyage by the way of
Antigua Captain Willson came Safe in at last, I had Some damage
in my Beer Necessity forced him in his long passage to refresh
his men and himself with Some of it; but that he and I shall

     Herein Send you a bill of Exchange of Thomas Edwards
for £13:12:3:d Also John Kirks for £8"9:11 both on your Self
which desire Credit for,

      Captain Brett soon after his coming in Spoke to me
for Some freight, Accordingly I promised him, but the number of
hhds: I could not then tell, I was a long time kept from home at
our Assembly and General Court , he sent two Sloops into our
parts, the last was after I got home and might have taken in
Some of my Tobacco but he had Some better friends to pleasure
I Suppose and so left me totally out Captain Willson I intend to
ship upon if he does not Serve me as Brett has done he has
Sent me word he will be with me in a few days when we Shall
Adjust that matter,

     It is the general Opinion of the Gentlemen in the Country
that the great Occasion of sending of so much Trash and under
is by the restraint we are under from Stemming for now all
the ground leaves and under Tobacco are tied up and go to market
none is so bad but the Outports Merchants and the North Britains
will buy at Some Price or other which we reckon Computing
through the Country amounts to Several thousand hogsheads and does
very much depress the market for the better Sort of Tobacco Whereas
if the good were picked out by Stemming it would be as Valuable
as the best Tobacco we make. We think so much of the Trash of our
Tobacco going home is no advantage to the King in his Customs

-2 -

and greatly to the damage of Merchant as well as the Planter in depress
ing the Price of all Tobacco for we Conclude this under Scrubby under
Tobacco is either Clandestinely run or Serves the Export trade either
way no Custom is paid for it. The Country in general is so deep
ly Sensible of this great Evil that the Council and Burgesses
have addressed the King and made Application to the Parliament
for the repealing of the Clause in the Act of Parliament prohibit
ing Stemming, And we have Employed Mr. John Randolph one
of our Eminentest Lawyers who is [sic ] now going home to Solic
it this affair; we are made to hope that the London Merchants
& the Outports will Join their utmost Strength with us to get
it Effected, And we are promised by the North Britains among
us that their representatives will give their helping hand,
And if all this Interest go along with us we have Strong
hopes we cannot fail of Success, Our Agent is instructed
with our reasons to the Parliament to prevail with them in
granting our Petition. You have the honour now to be a Member
of the house of Commons and in that respect a proper Person to be
applied to for your Assistance Although I believe you are
already so well Acquainted with the great mischiefs we
lie under by this gravious restraint which that you will want no
Arguments to Induce you to be hearty in this design I Ex=
pect it will be written you by most of the Gentlemen you Correspond with
upon this Topic I am
per Woodward Copy per Trice --

Sir --
Your most humble Servt:

per Woodward
Copy per Trice --

-3 -

               To be Added to Mr. Tuckers Letter the 25th May

Sir --                                                             Rappahannock July 9th: 1728

     The Above is a Copy Captain Willson is now coming into
the Indian Creek and as soon as he has taken in a little Tobacco there
he comes away to our river for the rest of his Load am afraid he will
hardly dispatch time Enough to get away with this Fleet I shall
have about 30 hogsheads in him,

     Herein are three first bills of Exchange drawn upon
upon [sic ] your Self Richard Neal for £2"-"-Peter Hack for £3"-"-
William Jones for £2 which I desire Credit for, I have had ill luck
with my Beer for these two years however I would desire you to
Send me 2 hogsheads of your best Dorchester Beer, well and Carefully
bottled off and packed up Also two hogsheads of your best Malt I hope it
will be Cheaper than the last and if your Southham be right good
this year I would have a hogshead of it put into bottles with care I
will have no more of it come in hogsheads By Willson I Shall be more
Particular remain at present

                  Your most humble Servant

Per Trice --
per Willson


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1727 April 13-1728 July 23, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. The word "Mr." has been struck before Tucker's name in the salutation, but the software will not allow it to be shown struck through as it will in the body of the text.

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 to the heading on the draft.

[1] No information about Captain Willson has been located.

[2] A bill of exchange is a kind of check or promissory note without interest. It is used primarily in international trade, and is a written order by one person to pay another a specific sum on a specific date sometime in the future. If the bill of exchange is drawn on a bank, it is called a bank draft. If it is drawn on another party, it is called a trade draft. Sometimes a bill of exchange will simply be called a draft, but whereas a draft is always negotiable (transferable by endorsement), this is not necessarily true of a bill of exchange. ( "Dictionary of Financial Scam Terms," 8/22/2005 )

[3] "Thos. Edwards, a little petty Fogging Lawyer the Clark of our County that hath as much Mettle and more cunning for Contention then his predecessor had" Carter wrote to Landon Jones, July 22, 1723. His opinion of Edwards later changed for there are more appreciative mentions of him in Carter's diary. Edwards was clerk of the Lancaster County court from 1720-1746. ( Within the Court House at Lancaster. Lively, VA: Lively Printing Services, Lively, VA: Lively Printing Services, [1976]. p. 15. ; and "Thomas Edwards, Gentleman, Clerk of the Court" in Brown and Sorrells. People in Profile. pp. 94-103. )

[4] John Brett was master of Weymouth merchant Edward Tucker's ship, the Princess Amelia, which had been commanded by a Captain Lawrence until he was drowned in 1725. (Survey Report 9729 detailing the Weymouth Port Books, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.)

[5] "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 )

[6] "It is become the practice of all the Consigners almost in Virginia to tye up all their Ground Leaves that has any part of the leaf good and this wears the Name of under Tobbo. . . . " ( Carter to Perry , May 25, 1728. )

7[] Out port means "a port outside a particular place; any port other than the main port of a country, etc.; spec[ically]. a British port other than London." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online )

[8] Scots

[9] King George II (1683-1760) reigned from 1727 until 1760. ("The Royal English Monarchy." 11/20/03)

[10] According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online , scrubby means "stunted, under-developed."

[11] Parliament had passed the act forbidding the importation of stemmed tobacco in 1722. Randolph would not leave for England until 1729; his mission would be successful. ( Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. [Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953.] p. 116. )

[12] England

[13] Thomas Woodward commanded the Providence, a ship owned by Captain John Hyde & Company, during a number of voyages to the colony, 1723-1729. ( Survey Report 6800 summarizing Adm. 68/194 and Survey Report 6801 summarizing Adm 68/195, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, and Carter's letter to the firm, September 17, 1723. )

[14] The 140 ton Welcome was owned by London merchant James Bradley to whom Carter would write about her on May 17, 1727 . John Trice (Frice) was her captain, 1723-1727. ( Adm 68/195, 154r, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[15] Indian Creek lies at the eastern tip of Lancaster County at the northern side of Fleets Bay where it is "the boundary between" Northumberland and Lancaster counties "for most of its course." and runs inland roughly northwest towards today's Kilmarnock. It probably was 6 or 7 miles from "Corotoman" by the roads of Carter's time. (Miller. Place-Names . . . . p. 72. )

[16] The Rappahannock

[17] Peter Hack (ca. 1690-1729) was sheriff of Northumberland County in 1716 and 1717. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 3[1705-1721] : 425, 448. Other information about Hack may befound in "Tithables of Lancaster County, 1654," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography , 5(1897):249-260 an online Google book; and "Peter Hack." )

[18] Malt is "barley or other grain prepared for brewing, distilling, or vinegar-making, esp. by steeping, germinating, and kiln-drying." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[19] Southam is a type of English cyder. Willia, Ellis. The Compleat Cyderman: Or, the Present Practice of Raising Plantations of the Best Cyder Apple and Perry Pear-trees, with the Improvement of Their Excellent Juices. ... By Experienc'd Hands , [R. Baldwin, 1754], pp. vi, 53, 78-79. Google books Google books . .)

This text, originally posted in 2004, was revised October 31, 2014, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.