Letter from Theodorus Swaine Drage to William Tryon
Drage, Theodorus Swaine, ca. 1712-1774
Volume 08, Pages 179-181
[From N. C. Letter Book S. P. G.]
Letter from Rev. Mr Draige to Governor Tryon.
Salisbury, March 13th 1770.
May it please your Excellency.—
I had the honor of your Letter, have most grateful sense of your goodness and condecension in the inquiry after my health and situation. Col: Frohock and Mr Martyn have no way answered the expectation formed of them.—
Major Dunn and Mr Giles have had a regard to your Excellency's Letter. I found it necessary as the weather would permit me to go into the country, was very agreeable to the people; who were desirous that I should stay amongst them, promised me support; to give them satisfaction in this respect, I made a public declaration at Salisbury, that by a License from the Bishop of London and with your Excellency's approbation and appointment I had fixed on this parish of St Lukes, there to perform the office of a Minister of the Church of England, which met with no opposition. But this Declaration gave an alarm to the warm parts of the Dissenters and I explained it by letting them know, that it was agreeable to Law that every parish should have a curate until such a time as there was a fixed and stated Minister; though not entitled to the Rectors Income, had all other rights, and in such character should and would reside until such time as your Excellency or the Bishop should think proper to revoke me; as to the Fees, though I am right, I am very tender, for fear of Suits which would be construed into contention, and moderation is the character under which I must appear; they take the advantage of this leaving me to subsist almost entirely to my own expense, Marrying in defiance of me under the Licenses, though I let it be known, all I required was
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leave, which I should readily give to any person Dissenting Clergyman or Magistrate as they should choose on presenting the License to me, and that without a fee, as I indeed understand the law to be, but that my leave is necessary. Col: Frohock seems to think they may pass by me, or at least encourages them to do so. The members of the Church of England on this my Declaration as to residence, and in which I shall not deceive them, are forming into a strong union and will appear in a great body to choose a Vestry on the sixteenth of April, Easter Monday. It was so managed the last year as to vote a vestry of such persons, whom they were before assured would not qualify and such persons in order to raise money to pay their Fines, to become Informers against the Freeholders, who were absentees, being entitled to half the penalty which the Freeholders are to pay, proposed to make up a sum not only to serve that present occasion but for years to come a standing Fund for disqualifying Vestrymen, entirely to prevent any Clergymen of the Church being settled in these parts. They say not in words only but wishing that as they have opposed England in endeavouring to intrude on their civil rights, they also shall, and have a right to oppose any intrusion on their religious rights, a Maxim I presume dangerous in itself not with respect to this county and the neighbouring counties, but to the whole Back Frontier of America, principally settled with Sectaries, and is deserving of the attention of Government, before power is added to inclination. I plainly perceive if I lose my hold, it would be such a discouragement to the present Members of the Church of England, they would never rally again, many of them would quit and go into those provinces where they could have a free exercise of their religion, others would be absorbed up in, and become of the same principles with the people they stayed amongst. Thus I am, may it please your Excellency, engaged in an affair unforeseen, and which the public service requires me to be steady in,—however disagreeable my situation and mode of living, but as that is personal, I shall pass it over in silence. I recommend steadfastness and that the Church of England act with coolness, and a christian Temper; the opposites have treated my person with no incivility, my behaviour is studied to give them no offence but they are bitter against my cause.
I enjoy my health and a fine air. I wish your Excellency was equally happy in those two respects. I was glad to hear that your
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Lady and Miss were well, and must assure you it will always be the matter of the principal pleasure to me to hear of the health and prosperity of your Excellency and family, which may the Almighty grant, is the constant prayer of
Your most dutiful &c.
THEODORUS SWAINE DRAIGE.