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 Showed your distastisfaction to the Clause in the Act of Parliament .
laying us under a prohibition from Stemming our Tobacco the Con
Sequence of which has [sic] so very bad Effects upon us that I cant
believe you Entertain any better Opinion of the restraint than
you had when it was laid on. This Country in general are So
very Sensible of this great Evil that we [sic] have Joined all our
Endeavors to get the liberty of Stemming allowed to us again. The
Council and Burgesses have addressed his Majesty have made

-2 -

Application to the Parliament and have Send home an Agent
to Solicit the Affair. Most of the Gentlemen of figure in the Country
I believe will Invite the Merchants both of London & the Outports to
Join their Interest with us. The North Britains if we
may give any Credit to their Merchants here, are heartily
for the taking off 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.
Tobacco runs at which we Conclude is mainly owing to the Abun
dance of Trash tht. is now Shipped off which and we can See no way
to prevent but by Stemming our under Tobacco Separateing the
good and heaving the bad away which you know used
to be more valuable than the best leaf, Whereas now the
current practices to tie up all the ground and Scruffy 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 lays out his Crop
to oblige the Merchants to take off 2 or 3 hogsheads of his under Tobacco
Else he will not deal with him for the rest These things you will have the full information of from yor: own Masters This Scroby
Tobacco we beleive is most of it either Clandestinly run with
out paying Custom or Sent abroad in both Cases the Crown
is no Gainer, and if this can be demonstrated and all the
Merchants will go heartily into it we Entertain our Selves
with great hopes to meet with relief according to our 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 --
                  Your 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.