Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

List of Letters | About This Collection

Electronic Text Center , University of Virginia Library


Letter from Robert Carter to [Robert Jones, October 18, 1728]

     Robert Carter writes to Prince William County resident [Robert Jones, October 18, 1728], to give his manager instructions about the care of hogs, the handling of corn, butter, and hides, construction at the new town of Falmouth, and the use of nails in adding laths to the slave cabins on the plantations under Jones's charge. He expresses the need to keep the slaves warm in the winter because it will mean fewer fatalities.

Letter from Robert Carter to [Robert Jones, October 18, 1728]

-1 -

[Corotoman, Lancaster County, Virginia]

      [...] the feet and the Cheek are Victuals I love very well as for the hy [des]
]I] dont know what to Say to them if Sage will take off all the hides [that]
[a] re there and all the murrains as well as the Slaughtered hides and will
[illegible] of Pair of good Shoes apiece for them big Enough for my Neg [roes]
] . . . ] with another I do not care if you let him have them Pray be
[ . . . ]ng careful that the meat be dressed very Cleanly I think it was pretty well done last year --

     Now I come to the hogs I would have the several Overseers
call up their hogs every day and feed them and want them to the
Quarters and as Soon as their Corn is gat [he] red to put up the killable hogs
[in]to Pens to be ready to be driven down about Christmas I would
[have the . . . ] hogs that are for me killed there and the way for
[ . . . ] for the future shall be thus I will keep but half a dozen
[ . . . ] they to be well fed and when they are near Pigen
[put] into Pens and kept there till their Pigs are near
[ . . .] and I would have troughs made to feed them with
[ . . . ] set to have no more hogs raised than I can afford
[ . . .] them in the Summer to want them to the Plantations
[ . . . ] good care I might very well Expect to have Twenty
[ . . . ] a year from Each plantation besides the Overseers the
[ . . . ] flesh for your house Workmen and the Doctor
[ . . . S]hall be all I would desire As for the stocks of Cattle
[ . . . ] ously decreased and the Calves that are raised thi [s]
[ . . . ] of them very ordinary Particularly at the Richland
[ . . . g]reat deal of care taken of them Several I dare
[say . . . ] The Doctor must be allowed the Same beef & hogs
[ . . . ] The pots of Butter made at the several Plantations
[ . . . mu] st be Sent down I would have them weighed and so marked
[ . . . th] at I may know from what Quarters they come I Expect butter
[fr] om Threalkilld a good deal although I forgot to talk about it when
[I] was there he has Ten Calves very fine ones and his wife
[s] eems to be a good housewife

--                                                             Turn Over
-2 -

     Now to the Corn I would have the Corn at the Several Quarters when
it is all husked carefully measured and no Corn reckoned in bu [t]
what is Actually measured at the time I would have the people's C [orn]
measured off by its Self two hogsheads of Ears for every working han [d]
and a hogshead of Ears for every two Children. The Overseers Corn I [would]
have taken away Some Corn I would have measured off [ . . . ]
Cattle horses and hogs the rest of the Corn I would have kept by its
Self for [...] [ . . . ] use I would have all my Corn Yearly Shelled out
in [...] [ . . . ] and put into hogsheads that it may be known how it is
spent and I would have the Corn verified every time [ . . . ]
Plantations I will sell no Corn nor will have any bar [rels made]
for any nor any removed from one Plantation to a [nother without]
my positive and written directions

     I think to have Daikens hors [e . . . ]
and to let him have the Corn from the red Oak [Quarter . . . ]

     Colonel Pages overseer Slaughter desired [to exchange?]
his Corn for Corn in the York I will Consult Colonel P [age about it]
if he is willing I believe I Shall go near to let him [have corn from ?]
Ashleys in Exchange but of this you shall hear more

     I hope you have been getting dow [n . . . ]
Cart ready for the Sloop and that you will ma [ke every effort ?]
to get the Tobacco in the Fork as fast as it is Stripped a [nd get it]
down to the red Oak before the hard winter wea [ther comes as you]
proposed to do and when this is done [ . . . ]
of the way at your Leisure resting the [ . . . ]

     I have written to John Hurst about my build [ing]
at Falmouth and also of other things I Send the Letter ope [n so that]
you know my Orders and take a Copy of them and be assis[ ting]
in the Execution of them I also write to Tim Dargan and [send]
it open to you that you may let him know what he has to

-3 -

trust to and if you find any fault with him between this
& Christmas let me know it --

     My horses you have [been] Instrumental in bringing them
to that wretched Low Condition they are in I hope you will take
Effectual care that they are so placed and taken care of that they
may be recruited again --

     I have sent you 10,000 Nails for Lathing & filling in
all my Quarters and pray let it be done out of hand that the Quarters be made
as warm for the People as we can I Expect the Overseers Shall reave
the Laths and nail them up, I have spoken to Several of them about
it and they promised they would do it I have Sent I reckon more
Nails than will do pray take care tht. it be well done if we can bu [t]
Find a way to keep the People warm with warm houses warm
[b] edding and warm Clothes I cant believe but we Should have
[f] ewer mortalities I am Sure I have done my part if the Overseers
[d] o but theirs There are a great many new hands in my Gangs
[Th] e overseers Should take care that the old hands does not Crow
[ov] er them be sure ]to] let them have their Bellies full


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1727 April 13-1728 July 23, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. This date has been tentatively assigned because the letters immediately following it in the letter book were written in mid-October 1728. The earlier page or pages of this letter book are missing, and the pages on which this draft was written have lost material along their edges as well as a large section that is missing on one side.

This letter was published in Berkeley. "Robert Carter as Agricultural Administrator: . . .", 273-295.

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

[1] Murrain is "the flesh of animals that have died of disease. . . ." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[2] William Threalkill is mentioned in the 1733 inventory of Carter's estate as the overseer at Poplar Quarter, Stafford County. (Carter Papers: An Inventory. . . ." .)

[3] Fork Quarter was a farm in Richmond County that would become a part of the "Sabine Hall" estate as it was bequeathed to Landon Carter. It was part of the John Lloyd estate managed by Carter; see the list of slaves on that estate taken April 16, 1728, for the list of the estate's properties. In 1733 , William Galloway, the overseer, supervised 16 slaves, 42 hogs, and 54 cattle. (Carter Papers: An Inventory. . . .;" and Greene. The Diary of Colonel Landon Carter. . . . , p. 5. )

[4] John Hust (or Hurst) was the overseer of "Hamstead Quarter," Stafford County, in the 1733 inventory, supervising sixteen slaves with the assistance of one horse. Hust apparently was a carpenter because Carter mentions his doing carpentry work in various letters. (Carter Papers: An Inventory. . . ." )

[5] The new town of Falmouth was created by the Assembly in February 1727. Carter, Mann Page, Nicholas Smith, William Thornton, John Fitzhugh, Charles Carter, and Henry Fitzhugh the younger were the "directors and trustees." The land chosen for the site of the new town lay in King George County, and deeds would have been recorded in its court records. ( William Waller Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of the Laws of Virginia . . . . [Richmond, 1820. reprint, 1969]. IV, 234-39. )

[6] "In 1724, Robert Carter took out patents for, among others: the Licking Run tract of 10,227 acres which lay along and east of Licking Run above Germantown and across Owl and Turkey Runs, to what was then supposed to be the western boundary of the vast Brent Town Tract. Here Carter seated the Lodge Quarter mentioned in his will." Timothy Dargan was its overseer in the 1733 inventory. ( Carl F. Cannon, Jr., "Robert ("King") Carter of "Corotoman." Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Duke University, 1956, p. 274; and Carter Papers: An Inventory. . . ." )

[7] The word "reave" meant to "to tear; to split, cleave" in Carter's time. Pehaps he meant that the overseers would prepare the laths for nailing onto the walls of the slave quarters. ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

This text, originally posted in 2004, was revised January 16, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.