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Letter from Richard Marsden to Edmund Gibson
Marsden, Richard, ca. 1675-1742
July 07, 1735
Volume 04, Pages 10-14

[From North Carolina Letter Book of S. P. G.]

My Lord: [Bishop of London]

In a short time after I was determined to settle at Cape Fear I purposed to write to your Ldshp, for I always thot it Incumbent on me to give you an acct how I Employ'd myself, and I was under very great Inquietude yt I had at all neglected ye performance of my duty in yt particular; but I had this satisfaction that it was not from forgetfulness or disregard, for I always affected a reputation of having ye utmost dependence and Esteem for you, bnt I was sensible you had recd some Impressions to my disadvantage, and I must confess it was this made me ashamed to appear before yr Ldshp, but I could not any longer satisfy myself in deferring to acquit myself of this obligation. I recd Sundry strong Evidences of yr good will towards me whilst I was in England when yr Ldship. was Bishop of Lincoln, and I Embraced the first opportunity from Jamaica after I was Informed of yr translation to the See of London, to Congratulate yr Ldship on his late Majesty's favour to you, and yr Ldshp. was pleased to condescend to Honr me with a most kind and obliging answer. It has been an Inexpressible grief to me yt I have since fallen into any misdemeanor whereby I have incurred yr Ldshp's displeasure. In my abovementioned Letter from this place, I humbly implored yr Ldshp's pardon, and sincerely assured yr Ldshp. yt I should never forgive myself for any miscarriage I had been guilty of, and cast myself upon yr compassion [illegible] so agreeable to yr nature I flattered myself I should not be an unfortunate Instance of your denying it when Implored. If yr Ldshp. had been pleased at that time to have Intimated to me your favourable Inclinations towards me in an answer to my Letter, it would have been a singular support to me under the great labour and pains I take in this new settlement in the faithful discharge of the offices of my function, and I should have received it as a great and sensible favour, and should on all occasions Expressed my utmost Gratitude; But I rec'd a Lettr from his Excelly Gab: Johnston, Esqr our Governr from Edenton at the time of the sitting of the assembly

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there, wch struck me in an Extraordinary manner, for he was pleased to acquaint me in it yt he had lately rec'd a Letter from yr Lordshp. wherein there was a Postscript relating to me, whereby yr Ldshp. seems to be misinformed of my behaviour and conduct, but that he Intending to lay yr Ldshp's Letter before the Assembly he had orded his Secretary to make out a Coppy of it, wch he would Sign to attest the truth, rather than send in the original with yr Postcript to my disparagement; and was pleased also to assure me yt he would set yr Ldshp. right in his answer, and in ye most effectual manner do me justice to yr Ldshp. The Gentlmn of the vestry of St. James Parish in Cape Fear sometime since recommended me in a Lettr to yr Honble Society for Propagation of ye Gospel, making application to them in my favor for an additional Stipend, as with that of the Parish might be sufficient to support me; but I was advised to defer sending it till after his Excelly,s arrival, who was then daily expected, there being good reason to believe yt when his Excelly was truly Informed of my Behaviour State and Circumstances would also readily condescend to recommend me; and I have presumed in this to send a Coppy of yt Letter for yr perusal, but his Excell. assuring me of his best offices in my favour to yr Ldshp. and yt I might depend I had no occasion of ye Vestry's recommendation or any other application. therefore I did not send the original at this time.

There is a time my Lord when a man may be the subject of his own discourse and give a few Relations of things he has worthily done as well as other truths, when used by way of Apology to remove a Calumny or accusation. I have been at Cape Fear near seven years and I can truly say yt Earnestly imploring the divine assistance I have from my heart and soul done my utmost to promote ye glory of God; and the General bent of my Resolutions and ye constant course and tenor of my conversation has been strictly conformable to ye Gospel; for I have always been under apprehension and fear lest anything in or from myself should hinder the success of ye Gospel wch I teach. Frailty is so conspicuous and [illegible] yt there are few men free from faults Either in conduct or principles, but I assure yr Ldshp. I can give a good acct of myself, and the end of any Scrutany against me would be favorable to me; I am not partial to myself, and with respect to my ministry my conscience clears me of all unfaithfulness and neglect of duty. Four years I preached here freely at my own house without demanding or Expecting anything for my pains, and gave the greater part of my congregation a dinner every Sunday, and did not receive in all yt time any Consideration and some weeks with a laborious diligence I traveled 60 or 70 miles to

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preach and Baptize and returned home against Sabbath day; and I hope it was not simply unlawful for me to Endeavour to subsist myself by Imploying what little I had in trade or in any honest way to preserve it; where many of ye Inhabitants here are in such mean Circumstances yt they cannot maintain a minister; and if I had Insisted on a maintenance at my first settlement it would have hindered me from being so useful here by hindering the people from coming under the preaching of ye Gospel, finding it would be charitable to them and therefore I was willing to give them a Convincing proof yt I sought not theirs but them. But having met with various losses and disappointments the vestry for this parish came to a resolution Easter Monday March ye 26th [173⅘?] to allow me a Sallry as mentioned in their Letter to yr Society in my favour, but I have not received to ye value of 100lb this Currency, wch is not above twenty pounds proclamation, and have no certain prospect when I shall receive the remainder, there being no care taken to collect it at present, and I am certain I cannot be at unnecessary charges; when I preach at Brunswick and in travelling to ye different places where I am called or officiate have spent in the last two years about two hundred pounds this currency besides being often obliged to take two negroes for three or four days in a week to transport me by water where I necessitated to preach, to the great neglect of my plantation, wch would be a certain maintenance if I could allow myself to continue at home, and mind the business of it and not be solicitous to do what good I can in this new settlement; and his Excelly our Governr is fully convinced of this, and therefore I hope will not fail to do me Justice to yr Lordshp. I have often declared, and it is a true assertion, yt if yr Lordship was on any acct to suspend me from exercising my ministerial function it would be as great a service as yr Lordship could do me if I was to continue here. I am bould to say yt there is not a clergy in the West Indies or in any part of America yt has a better title to yr Societies favour as I can make fully evident. I have never acted from worldly advantages and I undergo more fatigue & labour in the discharge of my office than any three Clergyman in St. Caroline yt has ye Societies allowance; love is the spring and fountain of all my performances which makes me undergo my toilsome service with ye utmost chearfulness for I have met with little or no Consideration for my pains and diligence so yt cannot be any inducement to me. I have run myself into a great many Inconveniencies and I am now in an advanced age and under difficult circumstances and not so capable as I have been to perform every toilsome service, but however I shall never be sparing of myself for fear of shortning my day for I am truly sensible yt the lamp of my life
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can never burn better than in endeavouring to light others to heaven; and shall never judge any labour or pain too great in contending with the errors and sins of men sufficient in ordr to bring them unto God by conversion and repentance my behaviour here for near seven years must have convinced all reasonable persons yt I have a true compassion for ye souls of ye people of this new settlement and a fervent desire to farther their salvation, and whatever success I have had I hope I shall receive the reward of an honest endeavour from him who estimates our pains not by their results but by their natural tendencies and sincere intentions; and I flatter myself I shall be so happy as to meet with yr Ldships approbation and generous encouragement. Pray lay aside all displeasure against me and let me experience ye candid disposition, and make me so happy as to assure me yu retain a favorable opinion of me. Your lordship has always encouraged the honest endeavours of ye meanest of ye Clergy, I beg of you let not me ye only unfortunate instance of denying it. if yr lordship out of yr great goodness and compassion will condescend to procure me a yearly allowance from ye Society in some measure answerable to ye Charges I must be at and the fatigue I must undergo I shall ever greatfully acknowledge the favour and you may firmly depend shall have no Reason to repent of any Service you do me or of any Condescentions in my behalf.

I have no Library, no books but only ye Bible. Burket on ye new testament and Common prayer Book but what I borrowed, and truly my Ld there are very few Bibles, common prayer Books, books of devotion &c in this Province; Indeed my Ld it would be a great act of charity without delay to supply this part of ye Province at least with good Books. There are alas some persons very Industrious to furnish many families with the Independt rigg, Jubb and Walstone on our Saviour's miracles and several others of ye same pernicious kind wch are sent abroad; I have lately obtained your Ldships Letters to ye People of yr diocese wch has been of great service to me. I humbly entreat yr Lordship to condescend to prevail wth ye Society in favour of this place to send what books yu may judge necessary and if you will be pleased to order them to my care they shall receive from me all possible satisfaction in ye discharge of my duty and the prudent distrabution of ye Books yt shall be sent

I have endeavoured as much as may be to get an exact knowledge of the inclinations, dispositions, state and condition of the Inhabitants of N Carolina and if yr Lordship requires an acct from me will not fail to send yu as perfect an one as I can. I am well known in all ye parts of this Govrmt and have baptized in it about thirteen hundd men women

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and children besides some negro slaves and never received ye least Compensation on yt acct. I have always endeavoured to guard myself from Contempt and have procured a moderate reputation to myself in all parts of this Province.

I will not be any farther troublesome to yr Lordship at this time but conclude wth beging your blessing and encourgmt, and let me assure yr Lordship yt no one can declare with greater cheerfulness or greater friendship or with more respect and regard than myself yt I am yr L'dshp's most Humble and most obedt Servant

RICHd MARSDEN

Cape Fear North Carolina
July ye 7th 1735