Robert "King" Carter

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Robert "King" Carter is our 6th Great Grandfather. He was born around the year 1663. He died August 4, 1732 and was buried at the Old Christ Church, Lancaster County, VA.

Robert 'King'Carter

He was the second son of Colonel John Carter, Esq. and his mother was Sarah Ludlow Carter, John's fourth (4) wife. King Carter would move onto to become Speaker of the House in Virginia (1699), Treasurer of the Colony, and also, Acting Governor (1726). He was married twice. He married his first wife, Julia (Judith) Armistead around 1688. King and Judith had five (5) children:

- John (Married Ann Hill)
- Elizabeth
- Judith (Died in infancy)
- Sarah (Died in infancy)
- Judith

Julia (Judith) Carter died in 1699. King married his second wife, Elizabeth (Betty) Landon around 1701. Betty and King had 11 children:

- Ann (Married B. Harrison)
- Robert, Jr.(Married Priscilla Churchill)
- Sarah (Died in infancy)
- Elizabeth (Married Burwell)
- Betty
- Charles
- Ludlow
- Mary
- Lucy
- George

John Carter’s second son, Robert was born at his father’s house at Corotoman to Sarah Ludlow Carter, John’s fourth wife, in 1663. Sarah died while Robert was still very young and his loss was doubled when his father died in 1669, leaving him a parentless child of six under the guardianship of his older brother John.

By the time of his death John Carter’s land holdings on the Northern Neck had increased to some 6160 acres, which passed largely to his oldest son, John II, though 1000 acres were willed to Robert. John II expanded the Carter holdings on the Northern Neck during the next twenty-one years. When he died without a male descendant in 1690, most of the Carter landholdings passed to Robert, then 27 years of age.

Few facts are known of the 21-year period of Robert’s life from the time of his father’s death until he inherited his father’s and brother’s holdings. His father’s will provided for a traditional English education for Robert, noting in particular that he should learn to read and write Latin. His brother sent him to England, but the duration of his stay is uncertain.

Perhaps of equal or greater importance in Robert’s overall education was the first hand knowledge he gained of the tobacco business from the London end. Mr. Bailey, with whom he lived, was a successful merchant whose trade with Virginia was considerable. Bailey’s residence and place of business were probably contiguous, and a young man as astute and sharp eyed as Carter proved to be would no doubt have observed and learned much about the trade. Carter in his maturity had reason to believe that no one knew more about the Virginia tobacco business than he did.

Robert Carter’s prominence in Virginia during the rest of his life was due unquestionably to his many abilities and talents, which he utilized to build a virtual economic empire. Of this, tobacco was the keystone. Robert Carter’s income not only came from the sale and export of tobacco, but from other business ventures such as; purchasing and reselling crops of smaller planters, English investments he demanded that he be paid the going interest rate, loans with interest at the going rate, rented his fleets of boats and flats, local hauling of cargoes for which he charged a fee. “King” Carter also derived considerable income from salaried political positions such as; offices of Treasurer of the Colony and Naval Officer of the Rappahannock (whereby he was recipient of fees paid by vessels entering or leaving the river), as well as membership in the House of Burgesses and, later, on the Governor’s Council. His appointment in 1702 as agent and Virginia representative of Lord Fairfax’s vast Northern Neck Propriety. Carter served two distinct and separate terms as agent for the Fairfaxes: 1702-1711 and 1722 until his death in 1732, also as agent for the Culpepper Family. Carter was paid a salary as agent. Additionally he was also able to turn a profit through sales of proprietary lands, not only for Lord Fairfax but for himself. Carter purchased more than 110,000 acres of Fairfax lands, and he chose his acres with great care.

Col. Robert Carter—called “King Carter’—His tombstone at the east end of the church, [Old Christ Church, Lancaster Co., VA][translation from Latin], has the following inscription: “Here lies buried Robert Carter, Esq., an honorable man, who by noble endowments and pure morals gave luster to his gentle birth”. Rector of William and Mary, he sustained that institution in its most trying times. He was speaker of the House of Burgesses, and Treasurer under the most serene Princes William, Anne, George I. and II. Elected by the House its Speaker six years, and Governor of the Colony for more than a year, he upheld equally the regal dignity and the public freedom....His first wife was Judith, daughter of John Armistead, Esq.; his second Betty, a descendant of the noble family of the Landons. By these wives he had many children, on whose education he expended large sums of money. At length, full of honors and of years, when he had well performed all the duties of an exemplary life, he departed from this world on the 4th day of August 1732, in the 69th year of his age.

The first actual land grant found on record in the Northern Neck section of Virginia is to Col. Robert Carter, as the agent of Lord Fairfax and to his sons and grandsons. As the agent of Lord Fairfax, the Proprietor of the Northern Neck of VA, Col. Carter handled vast bodies of land and by his will left over 300,000 acres of land to his children.

Robert Carter rebuilt the Christ Anglican Church in Virginia and donated it in 1732. His tomb, and tombs of his two wives rest on the east end of the Church. Among Robert “King” Carter’s decedents are three signers of the Declaration of Independence, two U.S. Presidents, six Governors of Virginia, at least five (5) U. S.

The inventory of Robert Carter’s estate, taken after his death by direction in his will, showed the following quarters and plantations. Acreage was not given, only the inventory of slaves, livestock, and tangible goods.

Robert “King” Carter Estate Inventory Lancaster County 11quarters or plantations, plus two miles and the vestry tract Northumberland County 4 quarters or plantations Richmond County 9 quarters or plantations Westmoreland County 10 quarters or plantations Caroline County 1 quarter or plantation King George County 2 quarters or plantations Stafford County 2 quarters or plantations Spotswood County 2 quarters or plantations Prince William County 2 quarters or plantations

Each of the 45 quarters or plantations had an overseer, and each was stocked with slaves, horses, hogs, cattle, and goods.

When Robert died he is said to have left over 10,000 pounds sterling, and, by inventory, 734 slaves and 2266 head of cattle, plus sheep, hogs, and horses. He owned 45 sizeable quarters or plantations, and his total land holdings at his death came to a reported 300,000 acres. When the value of his other investments, including those in London, is added to his livestock, slaves, buildings, equipment, and boats. Carter’s worth must have been enormous even by today’s standards.

Once asked why rich men grow richer, Carter answered, “We are but stewards of God’s building; the more He lends us the larger He expects from us, and happy they that make a right use of their Master’s talents.”

The center of the Carter holdings was a place now known as “Corotoman,” situated on a point of land at the confluence of three waterways; the Rappahannock River, a smaller river called the Corotoman, and a short navigable creek that became known as Carter’s Creek. Here ships to and from Europe had easy access to the Carter headquarters at Corotoman.

Robert Carter was a God fearing man and a strong supporter of the Church of England in America, and he was determined that his children be raised in that church. References to his creator and to accepting misfortune as God’s will are frequent. He is known to have been a vestryman and church warden in early manhood, and he continued to be a frequent churchgoer as long as his health permitted. Finally there was his gift to God and memorial to his family, Christ Church. Surely one who did not walk in fear and awe of his Maker would not have done these things.


the following is a painting of Robert "King" Carter in his younder years:

Below is Garston Manor, the ancestral home of Robert Carter in Hertfordshire, England

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