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 Colonel John Tayloe, January 29, 1729

     Robert Carter responds to proposals from Colonel John Tayloe, January 29, 1729, concerning mining operations that Tayloe is undertaking with the suggestion that they meet for discussion because there are practical problems that would have to be worked out.

Letter from Robert Carter to Colonel John Tayloe, January 29, 1729

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[Corotoman, Lancaster County, Virginia]     
Janry. 29. 1728/9

Colo. John Tayloe


     Your favour of the 24th came to me last night
Your subjects are so weighty and require so much depth of thought
that I cannot return you an Ultimate answer in so short a time
I am too Old and Infirm to begin projects at this time of day the
Irons I have already in the fire are so many one half of them
burn for want of a vigorous Application and yet there seems to
                                                            be a

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necessity upon us to find some Other ways to imploy our people
or else in a few years to become beggars

     I am glad to find so many considerable gentlemen
are engag'd in designs of digging Treaure out of the Earth and
do heartily wish them Success in their Undertakings I can't exp=
ect to see much good from these beginnings in my day but the ris=
ing generation I hope will to the great benefit of thier poor Country

     At this time I am under no inclination to put myself
to Charge upon the enquirys you are about to make nor am I willing
to be a joynt Undertaker with your Society untill I am better ac-
quainted with the progress you are like to make and in case of
Success beleive should rather entertain thoughts of receiving my
proportion at the pits mouth which I have heard Lawyers say as
the way or at least to have it Ship'd Seperately and be under the
Liberty of consining it to who I please but I talk of these things
under a great deal of ignorance

     You are certainly in the right that all the grants tht:
have been pass'd by any of the proprietors Agents one third of all
Copper and Iron Oar are excepted so that you have as much reason
to Expect a demand for the Iron Oar which you are Carrying
away daily as for the Other but I have given you no troubles
hitherto and would be thought rather an incourager of these
good works than an Obstacle to them

     Your Scond proposal has really a great deal of
te [m] ptation in it the Oar is just by one of my qrs: and I flatter
my Self the vein continues into my Land and there is no doubt
my conveniences are so large that I might make a Considera=
ble Advantage by delivering your Oar at the Landing could
I be well and faithfully serv'd but this must be a work of time
not less than thirty for fourty good Horses would be wanting prop=
er Carriages will be very Chargeable and hard to be got I believe
yours Come out of England and then proper drivers I doubt
will be harder to get that will be faithfull and diligent

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Withers is an Industrious fellow and on the Spot sees
his creatures fed and every thing under his eye its very
difficult for me at this Distance to get my plantations toll=
erably managed, I may say too truly but poorly This is all
I shall say to you at present Upon these Affairs perhaps you
and I may at some place or other meet together when we
may be better [illegible] prepared to talk these matters over to a greater length I hope
as Soon as you can you will send me your returns of your militia
Officers I am

                  your most humble Servt: &ca:


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1727 April 13-1728 July 23, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.

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

[1] John Tayloe (1687-1747) of Mt. Airy, Richmond County, who served as justice, burgess, colonel of militia, and as a member of the Council after 1732. (Ryland. Richmond County Virginia. . . . pp. 115-16. )

[2] There had been interest in mining in Virginia for a long time, and Alexander Spotswood was the leader in developing this industry. He had imported German miners and founded Germanna in 1714, and remained active in the work. Carter and his sons were digging copper, and Edward Athawes reported to Charles Carter on October 30, 1728 , that he had had ore tested by Peter Shaw whose report he enclosed; "I have assayed the matter you left me and find it to be copper ore, somewhat stubborn in the fire and not very rich, as affording but an eighth. The mettel seems to be exceeding soft and ductile the best properties copper can have. . . . I believe much poorer ore has been worked to advantage." ( The Athawes letter is in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia. See also Elizabeth Chapman Denny Vann and Margaret Collins Denny Vann, Virginia's First German Colony. [Richmond: 1961] and Dodson. Alexander Spotswood. )

[3] See the discussion of the Northern Neck proprietary on this project's home page.

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised January 27, 2015, to add a footnote and strengthen the modern language version text.