Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Advanced Search Options
Letter from James Moir to Philip Bearcroft
Moir, James, d. 1767
September 04, 1742
Volume 04, Pages 606-608

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

Brunswick Septr 4. 1742.

Reverend Sir [to the Secretary]

This County of New Hanover where I reside was last year divided into two Parishes Vizt the Parish of St. James on the North side of Cape Fear River, and that of St. Philip on the South. The Vestry of St. James immediately after division agreed to pay me annually £50 ster. upon my consenting to be their Minister. The year before they allowed me only £16 Sterling of which not one Farthing is paid as yet. The Vestrys are chosen in this Province every other year & are empowered to fix the Parish charges & Tax the People accordingly; they make a new agreement with or reject their Minister yearly according to pleasure; and the Parishes being very large it happens that sometimes there is a majority of the Vestry in one Quarter & sometimes in another, which renders it difficult for the Minister to know in what places he shall officiate next year or whether he is to officiate at all, in that very Parish where he was elected the preceding year.

The new Vestry of St James in May last thought their Predecessors had been too generous to me & insisted on my officiating twice a Month in two different places about the distance of 20 miles from Wilmington each and once in 3 Months in two other places one at the distance of 36 Miles, the other of 60 all in the Parish and where I had officiated formerly; signifying to me at the same time, that they would allow me one Month in the year to visit the other Parishes within the bounds of my Mission; the remainder of the year was to be spent at Wilmington—with which I promised to comply upon this condition they wod continue the £50 Str pr annm according to my agreement with the last Vestry. This they refused and would promise me no more than £37. 10sh. which was the least they were permitted to give by a new Law. I immediately took my leave of them, being fully convinced from the experience of the two former years, that this allowance together with the Bounty of the Venerable Society would not defray the necessary charges of my office.

-------------------- page 607 --------------------
Some time after they sent for me, pretended the Parish was poor and they had some thoughts of getting me £12. 10sh. by Subscription—this I could not consent to because of the uncertainty of the very payments that are to be made as the Law directs. Several of the Gentlemen belonging to the Vestry of the Parish of St. Philip's being in Town at the time; and hearing what had passed in one Vestry gave me to know they would gladly accept of the offer I made the other Vestry. I took some time to consider this. And upon recollecting how the Venerable Society had recommended me to Brunswick & Wilmington (formerly called Newton) while they made but one Parish ordering me at the same time to be directed by the Governor, who allows me to chuse for myself, and after reading the 22d of the New Orders relating to the Missionaries; I thought I could not in justice refuse the Gentlemen who presently agreed to give me £10 Ster: more than I desired of the other Vestry.

A Missionary in this River has a most difficult part to act, for by obliging one of the Towns he must of course disoblige the other, each of them opposing the other to the utmost of their power. Notwithstanding the majority of the present Vestry at Wilmington are professed Dissenters & endeavour'd by all ways & means to provoke me to leave that place yet they cannot endure my settlement at Brunswick—while I was their Minister they were offended at my officiating some times in St Philip's now to exasperate that Vestry against me, they insist on my officiating frequently among them—I lived two years & upwards in St. James' Parish & baptized many, but could never prevail with them to give me an opportunity of baptising one in the Court house which is their place of Public Worship And now that I live in another Parish, they still want me to Baptize when & wheresoever they please, which I cannot comply with, and therefore offered to do it at stated times in their Parish; but this would not satisfy them—Some of them seemed resolved to complain against me at any rate, and actually threatened to do it upon my refusing to baptize any child in their Parish when desired—I shall always be ready to perform any part of my Function at proper seasons and in proper places, & indeed upon any occasion if a just reason can be assigned—Though I cannot help condemning myself for having baptized many children here in corners, who might have been brought to the Public Service, with very little inconvenience—the better sort of People where I now live, need no persuasion (thank God) to bring their children to be Baptized on Sundays; whereas at Wilmington the meanest of them reckoned it an affront to desire them.

No Province in America as far as I can learn has more need of Missionaries & none can deserve them less—As we are subject to the humours

-------------------- page 608 --------------------
and caprices of Vestrys here, I cannot think it would be amiss to permit us to settle in such Parishes as are most willing to contribute towards our Maintenance; and must confess I have no prospect at all of bettering our condition here unless the Venerable Society oblige every one of our Parishes that applys to them for a Missionary to make some certain provision for him before he is sent over—And so soon as I can hear that the Venerable Society is disposed to send over any I shall not fail to let them know the particular Parishes where they are likely to be most serviceable.

I hope my Letter of April last is come to hand before this time, together with the copy of it I left to be transmitted when I set out for the Northern parts of my Mission, and now beg leave to acquaint you that since that time I have baptized 74 white children and one slave, & administered the Sacrament of the Holy Supper to 56 Persons—From the Boundary Line of So West Branch of Neuse River we have five Countys—As to the County of New Hanover I have mentioned it already—The other four countys make but five Parishes—And the number of the Inhabitants Male and Female from 16 to 60 amounts to 7000 and upwards. they have but few Negroes among them in comparison to what we have in this County. I propose to Travel twice a year betwixt South Carolina and the Newse till another Missionary came in but shall not be able to do so above once after this Fall—For no Parish here will consent to any more, and if we have no Parish we cannot live—There are no Fees in this Province but for Marriages, and the Justices of the Peace take all of those Fees where there is no settled Minister in the Parish—Moreover my health won't permit me to undergo toil and fatigue as I have done heretofore. Many are the inconveniencys Missionarys are exposed to in this country as I could easily prove were it not I hate dwelling on such a subject, and should have never tired your patience with such hints but that too many here want to make Slaves and drudges of us and yet won't allow us any reasonable satisfaction for our pain

I am Revd Sir, yours, &c