Col. Charles Carter of Cleve

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Col. Charles Charles Carter

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Corotoman Plantation, Lancaster County, Province of Virginia, Colonial America
Death: October 30, 1764 (56)
Cleve Plantation, George County, Province of Virginia, Colonial America
Immediate Family:

Son of Colonel Robert "King" Carter, I and Betty Landon
Husband of Mary Carter; Anne Carter and Lucy Carter
Father of Charles Carter of Ludlow; Elizabeth Carter; Anna Francis; Mary Walker Carter of Cleve; Judith Walker Browne (Carter) and 9 others
Brother of Ann Harrison; Sarah Carter; Elizabeth "Betty" Carter; Robert Carter, II; Ludlow Carter and 5 others
Half brother of Elizabeth Thigpen; Elizabeth Burwell Nicholas; Judith Carter; Judith Page; Sarah Carter and 3 others

Occupation: colonel
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Col. Charles Carter of Cleve

reference number 57 https://archive.org/details/cartertreecompil00cart/page/108/mode/2up

https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Carter_Charles_ca_1707-1764

Charles Carter, a son of Robert "King" Carter, was a planter and member of the House of Burgesses (1736–1764). Carter was educated in England and returned to Virginia in 1724, after which he moved to one of his father's estates in Middlesex County. He later purchased a King George County plantation known as Cleve. (He was often referred to as Charles Carter of Cleve to distinguish him from relatives of the same name.) He served as a justice of the peace in King George County and as the commanding officer of the county militia. He helped establish three towns along the Rappahannock River. As a burgess, Carter became the most important lieutenant of John Robinson, the Speaker of the House of Burgesses and the treasurer of the colony. He enlarged his own landholdings and advocated for the diversification of Virginia's economy. To this end, he participated in some speculative schemes and pushed for agricultural reform. London's Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce awarded Carter a medal for his wine-growing efforts.

Early Years

Carter was born about 1707 to Robert "King" Carter, a land baron and member of the governor's Council, and Elizabeth Landon Willis Carter. It was the second marriage of both his parents. His elder half brother John Carter (d. 1742) became secretary of the colony and also a councillor, and his younger brother, Landon Carter, served with him in the House of Burgesses. Carter and his brothers were educated in England. After his return to Virginia early in 1724 he moved to one of his father's estates near Urbanna, in Middlesex County. The governor appointed Carter naval officer, or customs official, for the Rappahannock District on November 1, 1729, and on the following April 29 named him a justice of the peace for Middlesex County.

After the death of his father Carter moved to King George County to the Stanstead plantation, which he inherited. Later he purchased nearby Cleve, where he resided for the rest of his life. He was often referred to as Charles Carter of Cleve to distinguish him from several relatives of the same name. About 1728 Carter married Mary Walker, of Yorktown. They had three daughters and two sons before her death early in 1742. Their eldest daughter, Mary Walker Carter, married Carter's nephew Charles Carter (1732–1806), who served with him in the House of Burgesses, and their only surviving son, Charles Carter (1732–1796), also served with him in the House of Burgesses and later sat on the Council of State. On December 25, 1742, Carter married Anne Byrd, the seventeen-year-old daughter of William Byrd II, of whose estate he was an executor. They had six daughters and two sons before she died on September 11, 1757. Carter courted at least two women, including the widow Martha Dandridge Custis, before he married sixteen- or seventeen-year-old Lucy Taliaferro about June 9, 1763. They had one daughter, who was born a few weeks before his death.

Political Career

Carter was a trustee for the establishment of the towns of Falmouth, in King George County (after 1776 Stafford County), Leedstown, in King George County (later Westmoreland County), and Port Royal, in Caroline County, and he was a commissioner in the 1730s and again in the 1740s to determine the boundaries of the Northern Neck. Carter served as a justice of the peace in King George County beginning in 1734 and became county lieutenant, or commanding officer of the militia. In September 1734 he stood for election to the House of Burgesses, lost, and unsuccessfully challenged the result. Two years later Carter won election to the House of Burgesses from King George County but had his victory contested on the ground that he had offered life leases to one or more men to make them qualified to vote for him. The challenger failed to gather evidence properly, and the Committee of Privileges and Elections recommended that the challenge be dismissed. Carter served in every session of the assembly from 1736 until his death and quickly became one of the most influential burgesses. On his first day as a member he seconded the nomination of John Robinson (1705–1766) for Speaker, and during that session he took the lead in attempting to tighten enforcement of the duty on the importation of slaves, served on a committee that examined the treasurer's accounts, and also sat on a committee appointed to draft a bill to secure titles to land grants issued by the proprietors of the Northern Neck.

Lieutenant Governor William Gooch recommended Carter for the governor's Council late in 1742, but another man received the appointment. Throughout his career in the assembly Carter usually served on committees appointed to frame petitions to the Crown or to draft bills and major state papers on such topics as finance. In the October 1748 assembly session Carter succeeded Edwin Conway, who had temporarily retired from the House, as Robinson's right-hand man. Carter chaired the Committee of Propositions and Grievances and routinely presided during debate in the committee of the whole, which allowed Robinson to exercise his power effectively without fear of adverse rulings from the chair. Until his death, Carter remained, next to the Speaker, the most influential member of the House of Burgesses, even as the next generation of legislators, such as Richard Bland and Peyton Randolph (d. 1775), emerged early in the 1760s. Along with Robinson, Randolph, his kinsman Carter Burwell, and his brother Landon Carter, he was appointed in 1756 as one of the directors to oversee the colony's financing of troops to protect the Virginia frontier during the Seven Years' War.

Advocate for Economic Diversification

While his father was an agent for the Fairfax family, Carter received grants for large amounts of land in the Piedmont counties of the Northern Neck Proprietary, and he subsequently inherited large tracts from his father. Carter spent much of his life improving his huge landholdings and seeking to diversify the productions of his plantations. He constructed flour mills that served a wide community and grew a variety of crops for market. Carter and his brothers developed a copper mine, he owned equipment for a large distillery and for processing nut oils, and he built a bakery that produced ship biscuits for the maritime market. About 1746 he began construction of the great, seven-bay house at Cleve.

Carter was equally committed to the diversification of the colony's economy and the development of the Piedmont and the backcountry. He worked in the 1750s with other colonial gentlemen to obtain grants to large tracts of land in the West, and in 1754 he persuaded George Washington to survey the Potomac River above the falls in pursuit of their mutual interest in opening the upper regions of that river to navigation.

In 1759 Carter sponsored a bill to create a committee to encourage economic diversification in Virginia and award "bounties or premiums for the more speedy and effectual bringing to perfection any art or manufacture of service to the public." As committee chair, he initiated an extended correspondence with the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, in London. Carter shared the results of his experiments and the trials other planters made with a variety of raw goods and manufactures, ranging from hemp and salted fish to naval stores and viticulture. The society awarded him a medal in 1763 for his attempt to produce wine in Virginia. Carter hoped to improve the colony's economy and the profitability of its plantations by fostering new exports to replace tobacco, which he feared would saturate the European market. Carter was one of the pioneers in transforming the plantation economy of northern Virginia from tobacco production to grains and other commodities.

Later Years

When Carter wrote his will in 1762 he sought to extend his vision of economic improvement under the direction of a secure class of planter families. He instructed his executors to implement his full plan of agricultural reform at Cleve, and he granted a favored slave, Benjamin Boyd, a continued role in the maintenance of the estate's manufactures, as well as an annual income. Carter made substantial provision for all of his children, daughters as well as sons, and younger sons as well as his firstborn, and he ordered that his younger sons study law in London in order to prepare themselves for their varied business affairs in the colony. Carter used his will as an attempt to instill in his family a code of behavior that shunned material ostentation and emphasized genteel manners. Carter died at his home in King George County on April 26, 1764, of "a dropsey" that may have been induced by the use of narcotics to relieve pain or reduce fever. He was buried probably on his estate at Cleve.

Time Line

ca. 1707 - Charles Carter is born to Robert "King" Carter and Elizabeth Landon Willis Carter.

1724 - Charles Carter returns to Virginia after receiving his education in England. He moves to one of his father's estates near Urbanna, in Middlesex County.

ca. 1728 - Charles Carter marries Mary Walker, of Yorktown. They will have three daughters and two sons. November 1, 1729 - The governor appoints Charles Carter naval officer, or customs official, for the Rappahannock District.

April 29, 1730 - Charles Carter is named a justice of the peace for Middlesex County.

1732 - After the death of his father, Robert "King" Carter, Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) inherits Stanstead plantation in King George County, and moves there.

1734 - Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) begins to serve as a justice of the peace for King George County and becomes county lieutenant, or commanding officer of the militia.

September 1734 - Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) stands for election to the House of Burgesses from King George County, loses, and unsuccessfully challenges the result.

1736 - Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) is elected to the House of Burgesses from King George County. His victory is contested on the ground that Carter had offered life leases to one or more men to make them qualified to vote, but the challenge is dismissed.

Early 1742 - Mary Walker Carter, wife of Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764), dies.

December 25, 1742 - Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) marries Anne Byrd, the daughter of William Byrd II. They will have six daughters and two sons.

ca. 1746 - Construction begins on the seven-bay house at Cleve, Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764)'s plantation in King George County.

1756 - Carter Burwell, Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764), Landon Carter, Peyton Randolph, and John Robinson are appointed as directors to oversee the colony's financing of troops to protect the Virginia frontier during the Seven Years' War.

September 11, 1757 - Anne Byrd Carter, the wife of Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764), dies.

1759 - Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) sponsors a bill to create a committee to encourage economic diversification in Virginia and award "bounties or premiums for the more speedy and effectual bringing to perfection any art of manufacture of service to the public."

1762 - Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) writes his will and instructs his executors to implement a full plan of agricultural reform at his plantation, Cleve.

1763 - The Royal Society of the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, in London, awards Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) a medal for his attempt to produce wine in Virginia.

June 9, 1763 - Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) marries Lucy Taliaferro. They will have one daughter.

April 26, 1764 - Charles Carter (ca. 1707–1764) dies of "a dropsey" at his home in King George County. He is buried probably on his estate at Cleve.

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Charles Carter, 5th child born of Colonel Robert “King” Carter and Elizabeth Landon-Wells was born in Lancaster County, Virginia, and resided in Lancaster and King George County, Virginia.

Charles Carter((3)) (Robert((2)), John((1))), b. 1707; d. 1764; was the third son of "King Carter." He married three times:

First, 1728, Mary Walker. He had issue:

I. Charles Carter((4)), of Ludlow, d. 1796. Married Elizabeth Chiswell. Had issue. II. Eliza Carter((4)). Married William Churchill and had issue. III. Judith Carter((4)). Married William Burnet Browne. Had issue. IV. Mary Walker Carter((4)). Married Charles Carter, of Shirley, her first cousin.


Second, 1742, Anne Byrd. He had issue:

V. Anne Carter((4)). Married, first, John Champe. Second, Lewis Willis, of Fredericksburg, Va. (See Willis Family, pp. 59, 60, 61, etc., by R. C. Willis. Also chapter on Willis Family in this book. I give manuscript of Col. Byrd Willis, son of Col. Lewis Willis.)

VI. Martha Carter((4)). Married William Armistead, of Hesse, Gloucester Co., Va. (Armistead Family, 'Lee of Virginia," pp. 531, 532, 533.) Col. John Ambler's (of Jamestown) first wife was a Miss Armistead.

VII. John Carter((4)). Married Miss Claiborne.

VIII. Lucy Carter((4)). Left no issue.

IX. Landon Carter((4)), of "Cleves," b. 1751; d. 1811. Married, first, Mrs. Mildred Willis. Married, second, Mrs. Eliza (Carter) Thornton, of "Sabine Hall." Had issue.

X. Jane Carter((4)). Married Garvin Corbin. No issue.

XI. Sarah Carter((4)). Married William Thompson. Had issue.

Third, 1764, Lucy Taliaferro. He had issue:

XII. Anne Walker Carter((4)). Married John Catlett.

Source: About Virginia, Prominent Families, Vol. 1-4; Compiled biography of prominent families in Virginia. Original data: Louise Pecquet du Bellet. Some Prominent Virginia Families. Lynchburgh, VA, USA: J.P. Bell Company, 1907.

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“King” Carter’s wealth came from service as land agent for the English Proprietor, Lord Fairfax. As such, he collected rents on the millions of acres owned by Fairfax in Virginia. Politically active and instrumental in the development of trade and commerce in the colonies, the Carter family at one time owned over 300,000 acres and built numerous estate homes in Virginia, many of which remain as historic landmarks today.

In 1754, Charles Carter built Cleve Plantation and its magnificence vied with seats of his brothers, John of Shirley, Robert of Nomini, Landon of Sabine Hall, and with the homes of his sisters, Anne of Berkeley and Judith of Rosewell.

Cleve posed an imposing exterior, inspired by English designs of the type published by architect James Gibbs, and aptly conveyed the Carter family’s sophisticated tastes. Cleve differed from other brick dwellings of Virginia in surpassing them all in richness of stone dressings. At Cleve stone was found in all of the architectural features: the water-table, window arches, sills and jambs, doorway and quoining of the corners.

Cleve was celebrated for its fine collection of Georgian portraits. Rows of Carters looked down on the many generations that passed through the great hall. Three times married, first to Mary Walker, then Anne Byrd, and Lucy Taliaferro, Charles Carter had a total of 3 sons and four daughters. In his will written in 1762, Charles Carter stipulated that his sons learn “languages, mathematicks, philosophy, dancing and fencing” and that they be put with a practicing attorney until they arrive at the age of 21 years and 9 months. Carter’s daughters, on the other hand, were to be “maintained with great frugality and taught to dance”.

A fire in 1800 destroyed the Cleve interior after only a half-century of use but left the brick and stonewalls standing. A second fire in 1917 caused the demolition of the rebuilt structure. Cleve’s plan is known from surviving foundations and from photographs of the exterior taken before the second fire.

In 1759, a committee of the Virginia assembly was formed and charged with the question of economic diversification, a question made urgent by the depression in the tobacco trade. As its chairman, Charles Carter entered into correspondence with Peter Wyche in London, chairman of the agriculture committee for the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture, and Commerce (now the Royal Society of Arts), which offered prizes for various desirable enterprises in the colonies, among them vine growing and winemaking. Carter’s correspondence reveals that the prospects and methods for the cultivation of the grape in Virginia were an important subject. Carter had already begun grape growing at Cleve, where he made wines from both native and European grapes (it is said), and it was natural that he should have chosen commercial winemaking as one of his proposals for economic reform in Virginia.

The London society took an encouraging view of Carter’s proposals and recommended various vines and practices, including the trial of distilling brandy from the native grapes. In 1762 Carter, who by then had 1,800 vines growing at Cleve, sent to the London society a dozen bottles of his wine, made from the American winter grape (“a grape so nauseous till frost that the fowls of the air will not touch it”: probably Vitis cordifolia is meant) and from a vineyard of “white Portugal summer grapes.” These samples were so pleasing a taste—“they were both approved as good wines,” the society’s secretary wrote—that the society awarded Carter a gold medal as the first person to make a “spirited attempt towards the accomplishment of their views, respecting wine in America.”

Visitors to Philip Carter Winery are invited to view an authentic replica of the 1762 gold medal presented to Mr. Carter by the Royal Society, read his correspondence with the Royal Society on display in the Cleve Hall tasting room, and enjoy our premium wines that are produced in honor of Charles Carter’s dream for Virginia begun roughly 250 years ago

Robert King Carter, the wealthiest Virginian of his day, died in 1732, leaving many of his plantations to his son Charles. Educated in England, the young man wrote a tract on “a whole new system of Virginia Husbandry . . . wherein the business of Tobo farming, improving lands and making Wine, are largely treated of and earnestly recommended.”

Charles Carter became a burgess from King George County, worked with the Royal Society of Arts, and corresponded with Peter Wyche in London, chairman of the society’s agriculture committee. They discussed the production of varieties of French, Spanish, and Portuguese wines in Virginia, though Wyche thought the colony’s location, terrain, and soil made it a less than ideal place to bottle good wines. In 1762, Carter had 1,800 vines in his vineyard but, because of drought, doubted he would produce more than a hogshead of wine.

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Col. Charles Carter of Cleve's Timeline

1707
November 1, 1707
Lancaster County, Province of Virginia, Colonial America
1732
October 15, 1732
King George, Virginia, United States
1734
1734
1736
1736
Fauquier, Virginia, United States
1736
King George County, Province of Virginia, Colonial America
1739
1739
1739
1743
1743
Cleves, Plantation County, Colony of Virginia, (presently USA)