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 Mercer, February 7, 1729

     Robert Carter writes to Stafford County resident John Mercer, February 7, 1729, concerning land that Mercer and William Hall both wish to acquire, and suggesting a meeting to resolve their differences.

Letter from Robert Carter to John Mercer, February 7, 1729

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Corotoman, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

Feb: 7. 1729

Mr John Mercer

     According to the desire of your last letter I have discoursed Mr. Warner
at large upon your Affair having before us the several letters relating thereto
I find my not sending a Warrant to Mr. Warner according to your first desire was
Chiefly upon two reasons first upon the Looseness and uncertainty of your entry
mentioning no boundaries only two runs in which Mr. Warner tells me
there cant be so Little as ten thousand acres as he reckons that are ungranted
A second reason was that from the information both of your self and others
the Land you are aiming at was within Joness bounds alias Jeofferys Patent my
province is only to grant Lands that have not been granted before I am not a
Judge to determine upon the Validity of patents I have received quitrents once
for Jeofferys's Patent. and think I cannot fairly grant any of it away kno=
wingly upon these reasons I sent you no Warrt

     Hall when I was at Occaquan made his entry with me bounding it
on three sides with other mens Lines suggesting it as Land ungranted where
upon I sent him a Warrant in which I think no injustice was done to you

     It is my inclination to please as many as I can but among litigants
you know all sides cannot be pleased upon the whole I cannot see upon
what ground I can well stop Halls Deed however seeing you desire a Caveat
against it I Shall delay its issuing for sometime and now send notice to
Hall about it that if you think it worth your while I shall be ready to give yo [u]
a hearing sometime between this and the Middle of April You and Hall must
agree the time of your coming. Connels Survey being within the purview of
your caveat I shall observe the same method in.

     But to please you if I can and to put this controversy at to an end
I have Sent a Warrant by Mr. Warner for your taking up a thousand Acres of

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Land within your proposed bounds in which he says as I have already obs=
erved there are Several thousand acres of ungranted Lands or if you cannot
please your self there if you can find another piece of Land more to your satis
faction let this Warrant be returned and I will immediately Send up another
for you and thereby oblige you if it is in the power of

              Your humble Servant


Source copy consulted: Letter book, 1728 August-1731 July, Robert Carter Papers (acc. no. 3807), Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.

The county and colony have been added for clarity to the heading on this draft.

[1] John Mercer (1704-1768) emigrated from Ireland where he had been trained as an attorney. "He settled at Marlboroughtown [in then Stafford County] in 1726 as a practicing attorney and at once allowed a facile pen to get him into trouble with the government." He eventually lost his license to practice law, and turned to the land speculation that he had begun as soon as he reached Virginia. "He married first on June 10, 1725 Catherine Mason (June 21, 1707-June 15, 1750) only child of Colonel George Mason (16??-1716) and his second wife Elizabeth Waugh, daughter of the Reverend Mr. John Waugh."(Harrison. Landmarks of Old Prince William p. 315; Copeland and MacMaster. The Five George Masons. ; and "John Mercer." )

[2] John Warner was the surveyor of King George County in 1727; he laid off the town of Falmouth in 1728. Later he worked for Lord Fairfax, and prepared an important map of his holdings. (Harrison, Landmarks of Old Prince William , 626-628. )

[3] streams

[4] Quit rent was the term used for "a (usually small) rent paid by a freeholder . . . in lieu of services which might otherwise be required; a nominal rent paid (esp. in former British colonial territories to the Crown) as an acknowledgement of tenure," in this case, to the proprietors of the Northern Neck. Carter as the proprietor's agent, collected these payments. ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[5] The Jeffries family owned much land in Virginia, especially Sir Jeffrey Jeffreys, MP, heir to the business affairs of his uncle, John Jeffreys (1614-1688), master of the Grocers Company and alderman in 1661. He wrote about their holdings to his son John on February 10, 1721 .

[6] William Hall may have been a resident of Stafford County because that is where John Mercer lived at the time. See Carter's letter to Hall this same day.

[7] The Occaquan River is a major tributary of the Potomac River that lay in Stafford County in Carter's day. Much of the river today is known as the Bull Run, and forms the boundary between Fairfax and Prince William counties, and to the west, between Loudoun and Prince William counties. ( Alexandria Drafting Company. Regional Northern Virginia. [Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Drafting Company, 2002.] Coverage of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William counties.)

[8] A caveat is a "process in court (originally in ecclesiastical courts) to suspend proceedings; a notice given by some party to the proper officer not to take a certain step until the party giving the notice has been heard in opposition." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised January 28, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.