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 William Dawkins, April 16, 1730

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, April 16, 1730, to report that he has received the accounts of sales of his tobacco and that the goods have arrived in good condition. He complains about the extremely low prices received for his tobacco, and comments on the small crops presently in Virginia and Maryland. Most of the letter is devoted to his business in the hands of merchant John Falconar who had died, and his instructions to Dawkins in representing Carter to Falconar's executors. He encloses a letter that Dawkins is to present to the executors.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, April 16, 1730

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Rappa[hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

April 16. 1730

Mr: William Dawkins


     I have receiv'd your several letters this year your
accounts of sales and your Account Currt. your sales indeed are the lowest
as you observe I think that ever you gave me however to be inginious take
them round they are the best has fallen to my Lott for that years Crop [ . . . ]

      I have receiv'd my goods in good condition the Bailey
arriv'd this day three Weeks all that I shall be able to load upon her this year
will be between 50 and 70 hhds how he will come off himself does not yet
Know We have little outport trade yet the Scotch talk of a great many
fewer ships to come from thence than Usual this probably will very
much help the Londoners the masters are driving about after freight

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all the Country over if there be any regard to report [s] from all parts both
of Virginia and Maryland you may depend upon a Very short crop
I cannot reckon there will be so much by at least 10,000 hhds as went
out from Virginia Last year for my own part I have Concerns in all our rivers &
pritty large ones at the Falls of this [river] 3I am sure I shall fall short of
500 wt of tobo per share considerably less than I made in the gust year

     In yours of the 24th of Janry by the Haswell, you tell me you
had sold some of my tobo at 8 1/2 d my letters by that ship advise me
that the market was rising I am in hopes you will be able to advance
the price for what of my tobacco remains unsold you are not
unsencible of the Vast Expence we live at Small crops poor priz=
es great Salarys and great mort4litys and less for the maintainance
of my Familys I cannot Subsist with I can too truely say I grow poorer
and poorer Every Year I live

     The death of Mr Falconar fills me full of doubts what is to be=
come of my Affairs in his hands his Son here tells me himself and 2
very Substantial honest men in London are his fathers Executors
and promises me all imaginable justice Pressing me Strongly to con
tinue my business to him he seems to be an ingenious man for his years
but old heads are not to be found upon young Shoulders I cannot think it
prudent to continue my Correspondence with that house till I see what
Course the young man will steer and I cannot think of any friend I
have in London so proper to intrust this Affair to as yourself &
hope you will serve me in it both strenuously and with diligence
Accordingly I send you inclosed a letter to Mr Falconars Executors
Whereby to demand of them an Accot of my Concerns and to receive
of them the money that is due to me from Mr Falconar upon his
accot Currant and also the produce of certain quantities of tobo that were

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just sold & to sell at the writing of his last letter he hath sent me two Accounts
Curtts of late the first of them Bears date June 10th.. 1728. In this
account his ballance in my favour is £1121"9"8 herein he gives
me Credit for 13 hogsheads by James Hopkins 20 hogsheads by George Buckr=
and 17 hogsheads by Thomas Dove this tobo was sold the 16th
of April 1728. He sends me another account Currt date June
14th 1729 the ballance due to me in that Accot is £1099"12"1
In that accot he gives me Credit for 8 hhds by James Bradby for
20 by Peter Wills and for 10 hogsheads by Ditto

     In his letter of the 29th of September 1729 is this follow
in [g] clause "The 11th of April 1728 I sold 29 hhds of tobacco to Alderm
"an Levett
20 of which were thine amounting to £535"16"2 that
"was the first time I ever dealt with the Alderman and I believ'd him
"to be a Safe man but he has Stopt payment and is to meet his credit
"ors in a few days he owes I am told about £5000" for Tobacco what
"his propositions will be I know not but the loss I hope will not be great
"for I have receiv'd two thirds of the money, more I am told than he
"has paid to all the trade since the time I dealt with him it is a
"Sign the tobo trade is very bad when an Alderman and Sheriff of
"London shall bre ak. thus far Mr. Falconar I shall not make any Observation upon this
proceeding only to noat that I am advis'd according to the Circumstances
of this transaction I am not lyable to bear any loss by the Breaking
of Mr Levett, Last Year I sent to Mr. Falconar 30 hogsheads of tobo
by Peter Wills and 11 by Bradby also 2 Luggs by Bells Ship of the
30 by Wills he gives me an Accot of the sales of he had sold 27 hhds those
by Bradby as choice a Crop as any upon York River; likewise
17 hogsheads a Crop I sent him out of James River markt [tobacco mark] a choice
Crop also [illegible] were unsold these [tobacco mark] were the produce
of a plantation of mine the profits whereof however I design'd for Mr Burwells
remains and Mr Falconar Accots for them in a particular
manner under the denomination of Merchants hundreds esta[ te]

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The crop that went by Bradby in 1728 the same Crop sold at 9d
cleard me above £10" per hogshead equal to any of Mr Burwells tobo=
and I expect these 11 hogsheads will yeild at least as much He hath
also been a large manager of Mr Burwells affairs and stands
considerably in debt to that Estate to be Accounted for to me

     Now how is best for you to Proceed in this Affair I am at
a loss to give you instructions if you find there is no danger
of a fair and punctual proceeding with me you will Act the
more calmly but if otherwise I hope your Zeall will be the
warmer to see that I have right done me I think you are
already qualify'd as my attorney in London as I remember I sent
you a general power of Attorney in the Case of Wise I am

                  Your very humble Servant.

I have thoughts to send you a
new power of Attorney by Adam Graves

by Loxam
Copy by Malbon

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                       mmd: to be added to Dawkinss letter
                     the following [illegible]
I herein send you Williams Downmans Exch: on Yr Self for £15"6.0
                            Wm. Thorntons on ditto -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- £ 5"1"1
                            Nic: Smith on John King of Bristol -- -- 7"2"2
                            Sam: Skinker on Tom Longman Bristol 3"0"0                                                                                                                                                                                              £  30"9"3

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To the Exrs of Mr John Falconar          Rappa. Apl: 16" 1730


     Mr John Falconar of London whose Exr (his son
Mr. John Falconar here tells me you two Gentlemen (Your names I do
not at Present remember) are appointed with himself) had consider
able concerns of mine and of Mr. Burwells Estate by my con
signment in his hands which no doubt Mr Falconars books
will Sufficiently demonstrate to you to Mr. William Dawkins my
very good friend and Corrispondent Merchant in London. I have
now Sent a full Accot of my Affairs in Mr Falconars hands
as they stood when Mr Falconar sent his last Accots and letters to
me and I have desired and impowred the said Mr Dawkins

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to make a demand of you of all my concerns as well my own as those
belonging to Mr Burwells Estate and to receive all the Effects that are
due from Mr Falconars Estate not at all doubting according to the promises
made to me by Mr Falconar here but that I shall meet with all imaginable justice and
punctual dealing from his executors if their [sic ] be any toboss unsold at the
time this gets to you it will be very Acceptable to me if you deliver it
over to Mr Dawkins who perhaps may be most better Acquaninted with
the trade than you are I am

                  Your very humble Servant

[illegible] by Loxam
Copy by Cap. Malbon
To Messrs.
Dav'd Barclay living in cheapside & Daniel Phillips living in Liebard


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.

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] The Bailey was a London ship owned by William Dawkins and commanded at various times by Adam Graves (1725-1730) and by Thomas Dove 1730-1732. She was a vessel of some 250 tons and carried 15-17 crew members. ( Survey report 6801 summarizing Adm. 68/195, 156v, and other data in Adm. 68/194 and /196, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia; A letter of Carter's to Dawkins May 12, 1732, refers to "your ship Bailey." as does a letter of August 10, 1733, from Carter's executors to Dawkins. [ Lloyd T. Smith, Jr., ed. The Executors' Letters of Robert Carter of Corotoman, 1732-1738. (Irvington, VA: Foundation for Historic Christ Church, 2010) p. 76]. )

[2] 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 )

[3] While the clerk clearly wrote down "gust," either his or Carter's attention must have been straying. In the context of the letter, "last" was what was intended. No use of "gust" for "last" appears in the Oxford English Dictionary.

[4] John Falconar (1677-1729) was a London merchant with whom Carter dealt. He apparently was in New Jersey and Maryland, 1699-1705. In 1728, Falconar and Henry Darnell formed an association of 29 London tobacco merchants to deal with the French tobacco purchasing agent as a group in order to keep the price as high as possible. The association lasted only lasted a year or two before dissolving because some of its members were dealing directly with the French agent and selling below the agreed-upon price. (See Carter's letter to Falconar of July 24 and August 22, 1727, for details about the payment of £200 to him. See Carter to William Dawkins, for Falconar's death date. "GEN-MEDIEVAL -L Archives" on Rootsweb, 8/10/2015 ; and Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953. p. 129 )

[5] Captain James Hopkins commanded the Mary in 1727-1728. He was then working for London merchant Robert Cary. He is mentioned in Carter's diary. ( Adm. 68/194, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[6] The Marlborough was a vessel of 100 tons and 14 men, commanded by George Buckeridge (Buckbridge). In a letter to London merchant John Falconar July 24, 1727, Carter refers to this vessel as "yor. Marlborrough." ( Survey report 6801 summarizing Adm. 68/195, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[7] The Micajah & Philip was a large vessel of some 400 tons carrying a crew of 27. The captain's name varies from record to record as James Bradley or James Bradby. Thomas Jones wrote to his wife, then in England, concerning this ship in 1728, "The Micajah & Philip that comes to James River is as good as the best Ships that Comes hither, but Bradby the master seems to be a little conceited and prodigal." ( Adm. 68/194-196, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia ; and Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 26[1918]: 172, abstracting the Jones Papers at the Library of Congress . )

[8] Captain Peter Wills commanded the Booth in 1723-1724, a ship belonging to merchant Thomas Colmore of London (see Carter's letter to Colmore of January 20 and February 15, 1724), and the Amity, a vessel of 500 tons and 21 men, in 1727-1729. He is mentioned in Carter's diary in 1723. ( Survey Report 6800 summarizing Adm. 68/194, and Survey Report 6801 summarizing Adm. 68/195, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[9] Richard Levett (d. 1740), mercer, represented Aldersgate on the London council from 1722. A mercer according to the Oxford English Dictionary Online is a tradesman "who deals in textile fabrics, esp. silks, velvets, and other fine materials; spec. a member of the Worshipful Company of Mercers, a livery company of the City of London." Levett apparently had other facets to his business besides textiles. ("British History Online," 9/3/2015)

[10] "The lowest grade [of tobacco] was known as lugs as early as 1686. . . ." (Philip A. Bruce. Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Material Condition of the People, Based on Original and Contemporaneous Records. [New York: MacMillan and Co., 1896]. p. 422 online at "Classics of American Colonial History."

[11] Carter and Thomas Wise had "traded with each other in tobacco and bills of exchange between 1707 and 1717," but Wise "neglected his duty in returning those bills that were protested." Carter sued Wise in England to recover his money, and he won £180. ( Survey Report 10147 describing C24/1398 part 1, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia; and letter of August 19,1723 , Carter to Micajah Perry.)

[12] Captain Loxom commanded a vessel named the Loyalty in 1729-1730. (Survey Report 9727, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. See Carter's letters to John Pemberton April 15,1730 and August 4, 1731 .)

[13] The Rebecca was probably a London Ship; she was of 300 tons, had a crew of 11, and was commanded by Samuel Malbon in 1731. ( Adm. 65/195, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

14[] William Downman was a justice of Richmond County from 1718, sheriff in 1722 and 1723, and a tobacco inspector in 1731 and 1732. (Ryland. Richmond County Virginia. . . . p. 504. and McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4(1721-1739): 12, 34, 238, 286 )

[15] A bill of exchange is a kind of check or promissory note without interest. It is used primarily in international trade, and is a written order by one person to pay another a specific sum on a specific date sometime in the future. If the bill of exchange is drawn on a bank, it is called a bank draft. If it is drawn on another party, it is called a trade draft. Sometimes a bill of exchange will simply be called a draft, but whereas a draft is always negotiable (transferable by endorsement), this is not necessarily true of a bill of exchange. (See "Bill of Exchange" in the online Dictionary of Financial Scam Terms: the Truth vs. the Scam. )

[16] Major William Thornton (d. 1742/43) of King George County. ( King George County Virginia Will Book A-1 1721-1752 And Miscellaneous Notes. [Fredericksburg, VA: Privately Printed, 1978], p. 277. )

[17] David Barclay (1682-1769) was an extremely successful Scots Quaker merchant in Cheapside, London. ("David Barclay of Cheapside." Wikipedia, 9/7/2015)

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised September 8, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.