Ben Lomond Manor House
Nov 20, 2005
The Carter's of Colonial VirginiaJohn Carter, immigrated to Virginia from England in 1625 aboard the "Prosperous". Living in James City, no one know why he came to the Virginia colony, perhaps to leave the political strife in Great Britain, possible to better his station in an already hard world. Within a year his neighbors were so taken with his character, they asked him to represent them at the House of Burgesses.
In 1642, after acquiring some 13,500 acres in the Northern Neck between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers building his family estate called "Corotoman". He became a successful planter and businessman, also serving first as an elected Burgess, and then, as a member of the Governor's Council.
Marrying in 1650, his first wife, Jane Glyn, gave him three children, George, who dies young, Elizabeth and John II. After the early death of his wife, he married Eleanor Eltonhead Brocas in 1656. It was about this time he was elected to the House of Burgesses that automatically made him the commander of the local militia. This militia was responsible for ridding the area of the last of the Rappahannock Indians that brought to its commander more accolades. Eleanor died the next year leaving no children.
His third wife, Anne Carter, daughter of Cleve Carter of England, whom he married in 1658, died within the first year of their marriage, leaving no children.
In 1660, he married Sarah Ludlow, and had two more children, Sarah, who died young, and Robert Carter. Sarah Ludlow Carter died in early 1668 and her family had inscribed on her tombstone, "May her descendants make their mother's virtues and graces the pattern of their lives and actions". Little did anyone realize to what great heights her son Robert would achieve.
John Carter took a fifth wife marrying Elizabeth Shirley in late 1668. A son, Charles, was born in 1669. That same year John died. As a young man, Charles moved to England to live and died there sometime after 1690. John Carter the émigré, achieved prominence, wealth, political power, material goods and social prestige that he had earned for himself, but his sons and grandsons were to carve out an empire, such as he had never envisioned.
Upon his death, John's main estate, holdings and slaves went to his oldest son, John II, with
6,000 English pound's going to his wife, Elizabeth. Robert Carter was seven years old when his father died. Upon gaining his majority, being a second son, his prospects were not exceptionally bright. He had inherited 1,000 acres near the Corotoman River and one third of his father's personal estate valued at 1,000 English pounds consisting of a library of Latin books, a few slaves, and some other personal items.
Then by a sudden turn of events, his older half brother, John II, who ad married twice and had one daughter, Elizabeth (1675-1693), died at age 43, leaving Robert the sole adult male representing the family and inheriting the family estate.
Two years later in 1688, now at age 25, Robert married Judith Armistead, who gave him five children. John III (1689), Elizabeth (1692), Judith (1693), who died in infancy, Sarah (1694), who died at eight years of age, and another Judith (1695), named after the first daughter who died. Judith Armistead Carter passed after eleven years of marriage.
In 1697, Robert married his second wife, Elizabeth Landon Willis, the 16 year old widow of Richard Wilis and they had ten children. Anne (1702), Robert II (1704), Sarah (1705) dying as a young child, Betty (1706) who also died as a young child, Charles (1707), Ludlow (1709) who died young, Landon (1710), Mary (1712), Lucy (1714) and George (1716).
Robert Carter, being born into the Tidewater gentry of the young colony, eclipsed his father's accomplishments. Becoming a member, and later, speaker of the House of Burgesses, a member of the Governor's Council, a vestryman in Christ Church, a Justice of the Peace, and acting governor of the colony from 1726-1727 until William Gooch arrived. He was also a rector of the College of William and Mary, seeing that institution through the most trying of times. Because he so eclipsed his father, he has been regarded by historians as the founder of this Virginia family and was nicknamed "King". He ultimately became the richest and perhaps the most powerful man of his day.
Realizing the need that future generations would have for fresh lands, he obtained for his heirs some 333,000 acres.
Robert "King" Carter had arranged that the bulk of his lands would go to his eldest son, John Carter III (1689-1742) who married in 1725 Elizabeth Hill of Shirley Plantation.. He also saw to it that his other sons, Robert II, Charles, Landon and George would have ample estates. Robert "King" Carter died at the age of 69 in 1732 leaving an estate of 333,000 acres, more than 1,000 slaves and 10,000 English pound, a tremendous fortune in those days.
Robert Carter II (1704-1732) died unexpectedly at age 28, only months after his father, leaving his wife of seven years, Priscilla Churchill (1705-1757), a daughter Elizabeth born in 1725, and a son, four year old Robert III, born in 1728.
Priscilla Carter later married Colonel John Lewis from a family as ancestral and honorable as the Carters. Colonel Lewis was a widower with five children and when Elizabeth moved to his home, "Warner Hall" in Gouchester, her two children joined an already active household.