First Families of Virginia – The Carters, Part 2

No one dominated Virginia between Governor Berkeley and the American War for Independence more completely than Robert “King” Carter. His presence could be felt in every facet.

Carter reigned supreme economically in that he purchased and sold more land than anyone else. He used that land not only for tobacco, but also many other ventures including agriculture, mining, and other schemes. These projects were so successful that after Carter’s death, his proprietor, Lord Fairfax, decided that he had to move to Virginia himself and take over the family business.

Politically, few rivaled Carter, and none save perhaps James Blair, reigned supreme for so long. Carter won most of his battles, and in the end even served to write and rewrite many of Virginia’s laws. Those who dared to oppose him often lost in spectacular ways, such as when Governor ran afoul of many leading colonists. Carter’s heavy influence certainly helped sway the Crown’s decision in removing the erstwhile Nicholson.

As dominant as Carter was both economically and politically, he left a far more enduring legacy with his large family. Robert married twice, fathered 15 children, and more than 60 grandchildren. Carter made sure that this vast progeny married well and received desirable bequests from his more than 60 page will. Those bequests set his descendants in high positions of influence for many generations, even influencing the United States still today. Such was the vast shadow that Carter cast that in some instances it can still be felt, both good and bad, today.



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  33. The Fairfax Grant
  34. The Proprietors of the Northern Neck: Leeds Castle


All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of the Carter Family Crest.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on Apple Music, and “The Storms Are on the Ocean” by The Carter Family, also available on Apple Music.

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