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Letter from John MacDowell to Philip Bearcroft
MacDowell, John, 1717-1763
April 17, 1760
Volume 06, Pages 235-239

[From North Carolina Letter Book. S. P. G.]
Mr. McDowell to the Secretary


Brunswick, April 17, 1760

Revd Sir

Soon after I had the happiness of receiving the very agreable & valuable present of Books from the venerable Society (which with your letter came to hand on the 6th of Jany last) I had an opportunity of a vessel from this port, bound directly to London. Capt.

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Liscombe, by whom I wrote to you to acquaint you I had Recd the Books & to return my sincere thanks to the venerable society, A Copy of which Letter Capt. Heron (by whom I have the pleasure of sending this) brings with him.

Since which my vestry met at Brunswick on Easter Monday & have wrote to the Society for a mission for me Seconded by his Excellency the Govr all which you will receive I hope by Capt Heron

I mentioned in my last to the society that I was sorry they did not think proper to grant me a mission here, wherefore I prayed they would be pleased to send me to one of the vacant Parishes to the Northward, who have applied to them for a Minister, as I understand there are several who have applied—but if on his excellency's & my vestry's recommendation they think fit to receive me & continue me here, I shall be well content, for my only reason for praying them to send me to the northward was, because I could not possibly any longer subsist myself & family on £100 this currency allowed me by my vestry, for as every thing here is 3 or 4 times dearer than in Europe, I do not Reckon my present allowance to be so good as £30 at home, which however made a shift to subsist me, while I continued single & if I always could have made it do, I nere should have troubled the Society to ask anything from them. For they may readily be persuaded, that it was not any prospect of worldly ease or grandeur that induced me to come to America and then that I continued so long in this part of it where it is impossible to give them an adequate Idea of all the fatigues, hardships, sickness, &c., I have gone thro' since I have been here, but as it was God's will to allot me my station here at first, I thought I could not in conscience desert it without endeavoring to bring it to some good. In this young and rising Colony where so great a door and effectual is opened to me, where the fields are white unto harvest, where the harvest truly is great and the Labourers are few, where so large a scope for the ministry lies open before me, in a Country inhabited by many sorts of People, of various nations and different opinions, customs and manners, when it was but to have remov'd into South Carolina, or into Virginia, or some of the more healthy provinces to the northward, in all of which there are many vacancies and everything quite comfortable and easy to the ministers, they having for the most part only 2 or 3 places to attend, and these not more than 10 or 12 miles from the Parsonage, and good churches or decent Chapels to officiate in—but here our Chapels, or rather people's houses where we are obliged to attend are more than 30 some of them 40

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miles distant from the Centre of the Parish, and often we have to ride 15 or 20 miles without seeing a house to flee to for shelter from a thunder shower which are very severe and very frequent here in the summer, and other inclemencies of the weather which often shifts, from one extreme to another, and which is the reason people are so unhealthy here. Think upon me, my God, for good according to all I have done for this people, which prayer I humbly trust in God, He will be pleased to hear and grant in His good time, and that I may yet see religion and virtue in a flourishing condition among us, then shall I see of the travail of my soul, and shall be satisfied. It is with great pleasure I can acquaint the Society that my parishioners of Brunswick have a fine large church, by far the largest of any in this Province, in great forwardness—the Brick work is done, and great part of the roof up, we hope to have the Church covered and fit for the Performance of Divine Service this ensuing summer, and a Parsonage house to be actually built and a glebe purchased for me. The gentlemen (among whom Coll Dry, Collector of Port of Brunswick and Capt Quince, a merchant in Brunswick deserve particular notice) are very zealous in the accomplishment of these things. His Excellency Govr Dobbs, will put up a Pew for himself and Council, a Pulpit and Reading Desk, and will give a Carpet for the Communion table and Plate and Linen for the Communion Service, and Surplice for the Minister.

I have a very good Vestry. To convince the Society of their good disposition towards religion and to me as their Minister, I relate this instance. The General Assembly of the Province met for the dispatch of the Public business last winter, and after sitting seven weeks, they broke up, or rather were dissolved by his Excellency, without making any particular allowance for the Clergy; only a discretionary Power to the vestries to allow them what they thought proper, and my vestry having been so kind as to allow me ten pounds this currency more than used to be allowed by Law, for the vestry Law was repealed at home last year among some others, but there is just now a new Assembly chosen, who are to meet the 22d inst. at Newburn for the transaction of Public Business—This day his Excellency is set out to meet them; and I hope they will do something for the encouragement of an orthodox Clergy and consequently of religion and virtue in this young and rising Colony.

As for my own part I submit to the disposal of the venerable Society of me, if they will be pleased to receive me upon the List of their Missionaries, but if not, I must look out for some part where I can

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live and maintain my young family. I shall be sorry to leave these people, who have used me as Kindly, I am convinced, as it is in their Power, but this present war is a great destruction to this poor young Country. I beg the venerable Society will be pleased to favor me with the intimation of their pleasure, which shall be punctually obey'd by the Society's most obliged and most devoted humble Servant

JOHN MACDOWELL.

(P.S.) I mentioned to Colln Dry when he told me the vestry had petitioned the Society for a mission for me, (for they did it unknown to me) that I thought the vestry should have mentioned how much they would allow me yearly, he said he wished he had known that, he would have desired the vestry while they were met, to have settled it & mentioned it, but they were then broke up. I do not however in the least doubt, but that they will continue, tho' the Law shou'd make no provision for us to do as much as they have hitherto or at least as much as they are able to do, & if the venerable Society will be pleased to station me here while I possibly can continue, I will never make any complaint. I wrote to the vestry of St. James' to send a certificate of my having visited other parishes while I was minister there & they sent the enclosed. I send it to the Society to let them see I have never been negligent in the extraordinary services they are pleased to mention in your letter to me, “that they will consider me for.”

I wrote also to the several vestries St Johns Onslow St Gabriels, Duplin, St Martins Bladen; where I have made many visits, & all of them I know will send my credentials of my ministry among them, but they have not had time yet to send them since their meeting at Easter—waiting for them I have deferr'd sealing up my letter till the day of Capt. Herons coming down to Sail. However I believe I need not send any more nor will the venble society I hope doubt of my services in that or any other respect after what his excellency Govr Dobbs and the vestries of St James' & St Phillips' do certify; who have been eyewitnesses & have known all my conduct since I have been in America & would every Minister that comes here do as I have done, viz. to serve 7 years without troubling the Society for a salary, especially in such a poor country as this the venble Society would have it more in their power to reward those that are the most deserving, this gives me the greater confidence to make them this address now, in hopes they will not let me suffer, and I shall, as in duty bound, ever pray, that Almighty God may bless them

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and prosper the works of their hands upon them! O may he prosper their handy work, that his way may be known upon earth, his saving health among all nations; may God of his infinite mercy grant a blessing unto these their pious undertakings till from the rising up of the sun unto the going down of the same the name of God may be great among the Gentiles & in every place incense may be offered unto his name & a pure offering. Amen. Amen. These are the daily & fervent prayers of,

Revd Sir your most obliged &c.
JOHN MACDOWELL



Additional Notes for Electronic Version: This letter enclosed a certification - See Related Documents.