Letter from John Urmston to the Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel [Extract]
Volume 02, Pages 247-249
[From North Carolina Letter Book of S. P. G.]
Mr URMSTONE TO THE SECRETARY—(Extract)
Novr 13th 1716
I have already acquainted you with the Report of your Letters by Captn Godfrey (who to the Great astonishment of every body is come a second time with a small ship from London) that to the Vestry of Pasquotank
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was delivered but is misunderstood by them: they imagine you want to knowe what they are willing to allow a Missionary and intend to make as large offers they did to me at my arrival & doubtless will be as well performed That Parish is now divided into two: the poorer half proposed to furnish me with a good House, Land, Stock of all kinds. and allow me £100 per annum, if I would abide altogether on their shore and yet the whole precinct was hard put to it to raise £30 in five years; it was collected in the produce of the Country in the space of three years and after 20 Journies 50 miles an end and several vestrys I first got £20 in paper money, and a year after with much ado, the remainder in like pay.
This I have formerly suggested but suppose I am not believed. and no wonder, for it is not credible that a minister should be so treated by a people who would be thought Christians; and think you the Vestry will ever own it! convince me of an untruth they cannot I defy them.
There was a vestry appointed for Chowan where I have resided six years and a half; several Essays have been made towards a meeting but there were a majority, at least we had Eight (whereof two refused to qualify themselves as the Act which I sent to the Society) directs and nowe they pretend without a new Act they are no vestry: all to evade paying me hoping by that means to drive me out of the Country as they have several others before me and so save their money. I offered to name others in the place of those that refused to act, but was answered that I was never levied by the parish and therefore not incumbent, the Govr dare not take upon him to do it, for a great part of the Colony are ready to unite against him for attempting to remove some of our great officers. They say they will have him out by one means or another
I am like to have a fine time out amidst such confusion: I took great pains this year to make divers sorts of grain Barley, Wheat, & Indian Corn, it pleased God to destroy all or most, quite throughout the Government, we must be supplied from abroad or starve and to complete our ruin, we have no meat in most parts. I did once hope to have had pork & Bacon of my own, but shall not have a morsel save wheat I feed with Indian Corn which is very scarce with me. I have not enough to keep me with Bread six months—no Beef, Butter or Cheese no fat to butter one nor make soap, no Tallow to make me few candles, so that we shall have a tedious winter long and Dark nights, hungry bellies, and dirty linen, I have nothing to buy with, let one wants be what they will: swamp water goes down worse in winter than in Summer. My Credit is lost, I have had so many Bills protested that no body will trust me, blessed circumstances but custom makes them something easier, this is
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not the first complaint I have made, but expect I shall not be believed or not regarded wheretofore, 'tis strange living when a man is continually cracking his Brains how to get a Belly full of meat. I was not in Lancashire my native County at the time of the Rebellion, nor if there, would I have joined the Rebells, and why. I must. remain in Exile I know not, but if it be my doom, I pray I may have £40 per annum in two Bills of Exchange payable at Barbadoes, that in West India Goods would Keep my House handsomely. I made the like suit to the Society 3 or 4 years ago and if complied with I had not needed to run into debt as I have done and draw faster than money became due, I hope I have some in Bank now & will eat Boild Corn and salt the year out, before I'll draw any more. Notitia Parochialis. I travelled as soon as the heat of summer was over quite through the Government from end to end, 100 miles southward, beyond Menze River 60 miles westwards Virginia, and as far northeast. I baptized in the last half year 279 whereof 11 adult. tho' the parents neglect, want of passage by land and water. I left many unbaptized in my travels I found the people of a temper throughout the Government very indifferent to religion will be at no pains or trouble about souls health and at the same time complain of me as if I were bound to go to every house, we have had no communion since Easter was twelve months as to other matters we continue statu quo
These with my humble respect to the Honourable Society especially those who I am known to, are from
Your most humble servt
JOHN URMSTONE Missionary