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Letter from Alexander Stewart to Daniel Burton
Stewart, Alexander, 1725-1772
June 1767
Volume 07, Pages 492-496

[N. C. Letter Book S. P. G.]
Letter from Mr Stewart to the Secretary.

June 1768 [1767]

Reverend Sir,

I received yours of the 5th of February 1767—but a few days ago, and am much obliged to you for the concern you therein express for the return of my bad state of health. But by my many Letters since written you have before this found that contrary to my own hopes and the expectations of most of my friends (through the mercies of God) I am in a great measure for the present, relieved from my complaints whatever may be the resolution of the Society on the late clergy Law for this province, the Missionaries must patiently submit to the trusts reposed in that venerable body [which] no doubt requires that without favor or affection they keep up to the intention of their charter. But if by the late Act of Assembly the Missionaries are to be deprived of the Societies special provision; better they may all say that no such Act had ever been thought of. With the most becoming respect therefore, give the most unworthy of their Missionaries Sir leave to lay before them by you the difference between our former and present Establishment, the temper of this people relating to the Clauses for Induction and appeal and

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the great difficulties they lie under in the paying either public or parish Taxes, when these matters are looked into, I am in hopes the Society will thereby be induced to keep up their List in this province, at least till better times.

In 1754, when I first came over Chaplain to Governor Dobbs the legal Establishment was £50, proclamation money, equal as Ex: was then to about £30 sterling. Goods were then reasonable and provisions 100 per cent cheaper than at this day. The circulating medium afterwards depreciating the first Assembly of Governor Dobbs raised the Salary to £80, with a discretionary power in the vestry to add to that sum, The currency still falling in 1757 another Act was passed whereby the Clergy were not to have less than £100 proclamatn with the addition of a Glebe &c This likewise being looked on as mean and insufficient in 1763, it was raised to £133.6.8 the present established Salary, and equal now Ex: being at 75 to £82 Sterling. So that there ever has been an Establishment, though the Salaries have been different, yet the highest of these Establishments has ever been looked on, (without the assistance of the Mission) as mean and insufficient, inadequate to the fatigue, and exposing the Clergy to open contempt, the too frequent companion of low circumstances. Therefore when I first came here I found Mr Reed settled at Newbern by an agreement with his vestry at £133.6.8. and a house in the Town. But upon these terms, and in better times he had been obliged to have deserted his parish had not Mr Dobbs by laying before the Society his difficulties, induced them to take him upon their List, this the Society may further be ascertained of by referring to their abstracts, either for 56 or 57. If then Sr the parish of Newbern, known to be the most beneficial parish at that time in this province when money was plenty, on a better footing and punctually paid, was insufficient to support Mr Reed (a parsimonious saving man and without children) without the Society's special provision, certainly those that live in such parishes, where the perquisites are but trifling, the expences greater and the fatigue much more can never support themselves and maintain a heavy family charge. For my part when I first left Ireland to come over with Governor Dobbs I gave up a certain curacy of £40 a year, with the hopes and expectations of preferment on Mr Dobbs promise of being taken and continued on the Society's List, for which purpose at an extraordinary expence I went over to London, had Lord Hertford's Letters recommendatory to Dr Sherlock the Bishop of London, likewise

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Dr Arthur Smith's (then Bishop of Donno) Letters, demissary and recommendatory together with Governor Dobbs to the same purport. These with my Letters of Orders and Testamonium as Master of Arts from Dublin College together with my abilites were examined by Dr Nicolls now a living member of the Society, and no doubts are upon record in the Registers Office, Shortly after this and a little before Governor Dobbs, I came over to Newbern to provide for his family. This was the parish I expected but finding it filled, I settled in the Parish I am now in, and at the same yearly Salary as Mr Reed though short in other emoluments and of more difficult and extensive duty. Thus I continued near two years, but the county being divided, and my salary thereby becoming burthensome I agreed to take £100 currency per annum from the Vestry, and they granted me Letters of presentation to the Governor. But the right of Institution being not then in the crown, for want of proper Church Officers, the whole Vestry received me in Form into their Church, and declared me inducted by signing an Instrument of Writing to that purpose.

Pardon me Sir for being thus tedious; my only motive to it was that the Society might thereby know that the Establishment was equally certain and the Salary much the same formerly as under the present Act of Assembly. The only difference is the change of our Master from the people to the Crown and an Appeal to the Bishop of London from the Sentence of the provincial Governor &c. But this is all vainish, for the expence of an Appeal would be so very great that unless for the sake of reputation for the Emoluments of a parish not even the most innocent would attempt it.—Besides tis worthy of observation, that there has scarcely been a man of any character, the Missionaries excepted, that has remained here for any length of time. The duty is so much less, and the Salaries so much better in all the provinces round us, that they are held but for a season and quickly take their flight, Nay, some of the Missionaries (Mr Morton lately) have removed for those very reasons.

Had not Governor Tryon push'd the clause fee Induction in his first Session of Assembly, when the people were a little complaisant it is more than probable that it had not yet been granted. In some counties they have refused his clerks; in others the Vestrys have fixed rather than qualified. In others of which this is one we have neither Sheriffs nor other Tax Officers, and in all they are on the shift and double how to get clear of every public expence. In short

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so great is the distress of the people for want of a currency, that Mobs and Riots are frequent, and in many places where there are Officers they dare not distrain for any Dues whatever. This sensibly affects every person whose dependance is on the public particularly the Clergy whose hands are tied up from every opportunity of relieving themselves not only by this office but by the extent and rarity of their Duties, nay where even the people are well affected toward the Clergy, they cannot pay them for want of money. This then being the true state of this province at present, what have the Clergy gained by the late Law? It is true they have the name of an Induction, equally before certain, and that they have changed their Masters, the people for the Crown. But notwithstanding this the Vestries have many subterfuges, many things in their power, which it is not in the power of any Governor to foresee or prevent. This Sir is our gain; and our loss is like to be the Society's special provision by much the better half of our support and that at a time when there can be no dependence on any provincial Salary.

The other part of our provision (viz a Glebe of not less than 200 acres, a house 36 by 18 ft &c) though it may sound largely in England yet here is of little consequence. The Glebes hitherto purchased have been mean, barren unimproved Lands, the houses built, such as they build generally in their Towns to save Lots; merely to be within the letter of the law. The burthen of clearing the Timber off such Lands and of making them fit for agriculture is the part of the Incumbent. This is a work of Time & expence, and few Incumbents are able at first coming to undertake it. Besides Lands such as are here, are easily to be acquired either from the Crown or from some person who has already patented them. In this case every man will chose to improve his own, so that the Glebe lands of consequence must remain in their natural state, till all the rest of the valuable part of the parish is improved. That may be an advantage on a future day. But for this century I dare say no Clergyman will settle himself on an unimproved Glebe, when he can either purchase for himself, or rent from others; Lands already improved at a low value. My Glebe is the most valuable one in this Province at this time, it was granted to this parish in 1706 at the first settling of this County it is good Land and about 300 acres, yet this Glebe remained in that condition till within these 7 years that upon the Vestry's agreeing to build me a tolerable House, I obligated myself to clear and improve 25 acres,

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and to give £40 towards furnishing the house. This accordingly was done, and I lived there two years and some times reside there yet, yet this Glebe I say and house which some time ago would have sold for 400 sterling, will not at present bring £5 sterling Rent, and is of no further use to me than a place for Saturdays when I preach at the Church, as I was advised to leave it on my health's account, and to reside on a more open plantation on the South side of Pamplico as much in the centre of my business as the Glebe.

But I would not be too pressing in these matters, neither should I have said thus much on my own account, who am not nor ever was through the goodness of God in suffering circumstances but in very pity to those of my brethren whose Lot may not have fallen in so fair a ground. It is true I should sensibly feel the want of the Society's special provision as I have a family if here I continued but that could not be long unless I determined to injure that family by adding to the losses already sustained by sickness and other unavoidable casualties. The Society's favors have been more than sufficient for my poor services, that I either have or hereafter shall be able to perform, and therefore I most gratefully return them my thanks for all indulgences and particularly for their assurance of not deserting me till our Government had securely provided for me. That may already be thought to be done by the late act of Assembly, but how insufficiently every person acquainted with the nature and circumstances of this Colony may properly judge. The want of some current medium renders it impossible for the people to pay the smallest established Salary, and when paid the high advance upon Goods, the insufficiency of our exports, and the badness of our staple and navigation, render the N. Carolina Salary of a nominal Hundred pounds Sterling scarcely equal to £40 Sterling in S. Carolina: Virginia or any other of the Northern Provinces from whence we are supplied with most of the articles for clothing and house keeping at about two for one.

When you consider how deeply I am like to be interested in the Society's resolutions, I hope this long letter will meet with indulgence, and shall therefore make use of the remainder of my paper to inform you that the state of my parish is much the same this season as last, and that I am Reverend Sir—

Yours &c.