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Description by John Blair concerning his journey to North Carolina
Blair, John
1704
Volume 01, Pages 600-603

[From N. C. Letter Book of S. P. G.]
MR. BLAIR'S MISSION TO NORTH CAROLINA.

I was ordained, in order to go to the plantations, 12th April, 1703, and then received the queen's bounty of £20, and, soon after, my Lord Weymouth's bounty of £50; upon which I lived in England till the 1st of October following, which, together with my fitting out for such a voyage and country, consumed the most part of my money. I had likewise £5 sent me by my lord of London to Portsmouth, and when I landed in Virginia I had no more than £25.

I landed in Virginia, 14th of January, 1704; and, as soon as I could conveniently travel, I waited upon the governor, and immediately after made the best of my way into the country where I was bound.

I arrived amongst the inhabitants, after a tedious and troublesome journey, 24th ditto. I was then obliged to buy a couple of horses, which cost me fourteen pounds,—one of which was for a guide, because there is no possibility for a stranger to find his road in that country, for if he once goes astray (it being such a desert country) it is a great hazard if he ever finds his road again. Beside, there are mighty inconveniences in travelling there, for the roads are not only deep and difficult to be found, but there are likewise seven great rivers in the country, over which there is no passing with horses, except two of them, one of which the Quakers have settled a ferry over for their own conveniency, and nobody but themselves have the privilege of it; so that at the passing over the rivers, I was obliged either to borrow or hire horses which was both troublesome and chargeable, insomuch that in little more than two months I was obliged to dispose of the necessaries I carried over for my own use, to satisfy my creditors.

I found in the country a great many children to be baptized, where I baptized about a hundred; and there are a great many still to be baptized,

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whose parents would not condescend to have them baptized with god-fathers and god-mothers.

I married none in the country, for that was a perquisite belonging to the magistrates, which I was not desirous to deprive them of.

I preached twice every Sunday, and often on the week-days, when their vestries met, or could appoint them to bring their children to be baptized.

I called a vestry in each precinct, in my first progress through the country, to whom I gave an account of my Lord Weymouth's charitable bounty in supporting my mission among them, and likewise of the good designs the honorable society had for them, as I was informed by Mr. Amy that they had settled £50 per annum for the maintenance of two clergymen amongst them; and likewise a proposal that Dr. Bray desired me to make to them, that, upon their procuring good glebes, he doubted not that there might be a settlement made for the advantage of the Church, such as there is in the island of Bermudas, viz., two slaves and a small stock in each precinct, and that to be continued good by the incumbent to his successor, which will be a lasting estate to the Church.

They have built in the country three small churches, and have three glebes.

In the three chief precincts, there is a reader established in each, to whom they allow a small salary, who reads morning and evening prayer every Lord's day, with two sermons, and I took care to furnish them with books from the library before I came away.

I remained very well satisfied in the country till their Assembly sat, which was on 1st March, where I expected they would propose a settlement for my maintenance; and they taking no care of it, together with my then circumstances, which were but very indifferent, discouraged me very much, and occasioned my first thoughts of returning to England; for I was informed before I went thither that there was £30 per annum, settled by law, to be paid in each precinct for the maintenance of a minister, which law was sent over hither to be confirmed by their lords proprietors, and it being supposed not to be a competency for a minister to live on, was sent back again without confirmation, whereof the Quakers took the advantage, and will endeavor to prevent any such law passing for the future, for they are the greatest number in the Assembly, and are unanimous, and stand truly to one another in whatsoever may be to their interest. For the country may be divided into four sorts of people: first, the Quakers, who are the most powerful enemies to Church government, but a people very ignorant of what they profess. The second sort are a

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great many who have no religion, but would be Quakers, if by that they were not obliged to lead a more moral life than they are willing to comply to. A third sort are something like Presbyterians, which sort is upheld by some idle fellows who have left their lawful employment, and preach and baptize through the country, without any manner of orders from any sect or pretended Church. A fourth sort, who are really zealous for the interest of the Church, are the fewest in number, but the better sort of people, and would do very much for the settlement of the Church government there, if not opposed by these three precedent sects; and although they be all three of different pretensions, yet they all concur together in one common cause to prevent any thing that will be chargeable to them, as they allege Church government will be, if once established by law. And another great discouragement these poor people have, is a governor who does not in the least countenance them in this business, but rather discourages them.

Finding it impossible to travel through the country at that rate I began, I was resolved to settle in one precinct, but the people, all alleging that my Lord Weymouth's charity was universally designed for the whole country, would not consent to it; which bred some disturbance amongst them, upon which I was advised, by some of the best friends of the Church, to come over and represent their condition to the honorable society, not only of their want of ministers but likewise of inhabitants to maintain them; and their desires, they complying with my necessities, was a powerful argument, considering I was then reduced to my last stake, and knew not where, or upon what account, to be further supplied. Besides, such a solitary, toilsome, and hard living as I met with there were very sufficient discouragements. I was distant from any minister one hundred and twenty miles, so that if any case of difficulty or doubt should happen, with whom should I consult? And for my travelling through the country, I rode one day with another, Sundays only excepted, about thirty miles per diem in the worst roads that ever I saw; and have sometimes lain whole nights in the woods.

I will now endeavor to show you how inefficient a single man's labors would be amongst so scattered a people. In the first place, suppose him minister of one precinct (whereas there are five in the country), and this precinct, as they are all bounded with two rivers, and those rivers at least twenty miles distant, without any inhabitants on the road, for they plant only on the rivers, and they are planted in length upon those rivers at least twenty miles, and to give all those inhabitants an opportunity of hearing a sermon, or bringing their children to be baptized, which must

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be on the Sabbath, for they won't spare time of another day, and must be in every ten miles distant, for five miles is the furthest they will bring their children, or willingly come themselves; so that he must, to do his duty effectually, be ten or twelve weeks in making his progress through one precinct.

You may also consider the distance that the new colony of Pamtico is from the rest of the inhabitants of the country, for any man that has tried it would sooner undertake a voyage from this city to Holland than that, for beside a pond of five miles broad, and nothing to carry one over but a small perryauger, there are about fifty miles desert to pass through, without any human creature inhabiting in it. I think it likewise reasonable to give you an account of a great nation of Indians that live in that government, computed to be no less than 100,000, many of which live amongst the English, and all, as I can understand, a very civilized people.

I have often conversed with them, and have been frequently in their towns: those that can speak English among them seem to be very willing and fond of being Christians, and in my opinion there might be methods taken to bring over a great many of them. If there were no hopes of making them Christians, the advantage of having missionaries among them would redound to the advantage of the government, for if they should once be brought over to a French interest (as we have too much reason to believe there are some promoters amongst them for that end by their late actions), it would be, if not to the utter ruin, to the great prejudice of all the English plantations on the continent of America.

I have here in brief set down what I have to say, and shall be ready to answer to any questions the honorable society shall think convenient to ask me concerning the country; and shall be both ready and willing to serve them anywhere upon such encouragement as I can live, according to my education, after my Lord Weymouth ceases to lay his commands on me.

I have made a considerable losing voyage of it this time, both by my troublesome travelling in America, and likewise by being taken into France, where I was prisoner of war nine weeks, and was forced to make use of my credit for my sustenance; and have lived in the same circumstances since I came to England, without any manner of relief, which has been very troublesome to me, all which has brought me considerably in debt, near £35, and now in no way to pay it, without my charitable benefactor or the honorable society judge my labors worthy a reward.