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 John Pemberton, May 30, 1728

     Robert Carter writes to Liverpool merchant John Pemberton, May 30, 1728, to solicit his support of the colony's effort to obtain the repeal of the act of Parliament forbidding the importation of stemmed tobacco into Great Britain.

Letter from Robert Carter to John Pemberton, May 30, 1728

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]     
May 30th: 1728

Mr. John Pemberton

Sir --

     If I recollect right Some former Letters of
yours Shewd your distastisfaction to the Clause in the Act of Parlmt.
laying us under a prohibition from Steming our Tobbo: the Con
Sequence of which hath [sic] so very bad Effects upon us that I cant
beleive you Entertain any better Opinion of the restraint then
you had when it was laid on. This Country in general are So
very Sencible of this great Evill that wee [sic] have Joynd all our
Endeavrs: to get the liberty of Steming allowd to us again. The
Councill and Burgesses have addressd his Majesty have made

-2 -

Application to the Parliamt. and have Send home an Agent
to Solicite the Affair. Most of the Gent of figure in the Country
I beleive will Invite the Merchts: both of London & the Outports to
Joyn their Interest with us. The North Brittains if wee
may give any Credit to their Merchts. here, are heartily
for the taking of this restraint and will be Zealous in getting
it effected. The damage to the Trade in general as well as to the
Planter Seems very demonstrable by the low mean price tht.
Tobbo: runs at which wee Conclude is mainly owing to the Abun
dance of Trash tht. is now Shipt of which and wee can See no way
to prevent but by Steming our under Tobbo: Seperateing the
good and heaving the bad away which you know used
to be more valuable then the best leaf, Whereas now the
current practices to tye up all the ground and Scruffe leaves
into bundles and Sell it at half price, Indeed none is so
bad but it will Sell for Something or other and its become
very Customary for a planter where he layes out his Crop
to oblige the Merchts. to take of 2 or 3 hogsheads of his under Tobbo:
Else he will not deal with him for the rest These things you will have the full information of from yor: own Masrs: This Scroby
Tobbo: wee beleve is most of it either Clandestinly run wth.
out paying Custom or Sent abroad in both Cases the Crown
is no Gainer, and if this can be demonstrated and all the
Merchts. will go heartily into it wee Entertain our Selves
with great hopes to meet with releif according to or. wishes
and I flatter my Self you will be one of the Forwardest in
ptomot your Port in promoting this good design I am

              Sir --
                  Yor. very humble Servt;

per Denton
[illegible] per Trice


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.

[1] Parliament had passed an act forbidding the importation of stemmed tobacco in 1722. John Randolph would be sent to England in 1728 as agent for Virginia to try to have the act overturned; 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], 116. )

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

[3] England

[4] 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 )

[5] Scots

[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] Carter probably dictated "scrubby" which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary Online , means "stunted, under-developed."

[8] The John & Betty was a Liverpool ship owned by merchant John Pemberton; she often carried slaves into the colony. In 1726 the captain was John Gale, and in the next year, she was commanded by a Captain William Denton. The ship would be lost in 1729. (Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . p. 18, n. 23 ; Carter to P3mberton , December 18, 1727; Carter to Pemberton, April 15, 1730; and Carter to William Dawkins, June 28, July 26, and August 22, 1727, for Denton's first name. )

[9] 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. )

This text, originally posted in 2004, was revised November 6, 2014, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.