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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Urmston to Francis Nicholson
Urmston, John
December 01, 1713
Volume 02, Pages 76-78


North Carolina Decr 1— 1713

Honored Sir

The good news of your Honors safe arrival at Boston was very welcome to most here and has increased rather than abated our longing desire of your presence here ever since we heard of the Lords proprs their good intentions towards us in empowering so honorable a person to regulate the disorders and unaccountable confusions which the unhappy country hath been so long involved in the happy effects of the prudent care of other colonies when under your command makes your coming among us look the auspicious If ever we shall be a people worthy the care and protection of our mother country we must date it from the day of your arrival which God grant may be safe and speedy but give me leave to tell you your honor will have a pretty hard task on it I believe I need not tell you what a strange mixture of wretched mortals we have here many impatient of all discipline whether spiritual or temporal not a whit better than those St. Paul fought with at Ephes. & poor Coll Hyde during his short reign was vilely puzzled with them but the honest gentleman our now honorable president hath met with many more difficulties not only a refractory disobedient and gainsaying people but a potent and cruel Enemy to struggle with when he took upon him so heavy a burden the Indian War was just begun but by his unwearied diligence and wise conduct hath been carried on with great success—A country preserved which every body that was but least acquainted with our circumstances gave over for lost and the Enemy forced to a peace upon Honorable terms our intestine broils and contentions (to which all the misfortunes which have since attended us are owing) are in a great measure appeased, factions and parties no longer heard of and all having sufficiently smarted for their past divisions agree in their good esteem and approbation of his administration his public spirit and earnest endeavours for the welfare of

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this Government tho' at the expense of a great part of his estate hath gained him a great influence over all sorts and if not blessed with a plentiful fortune he could never have waded thro' so many difficulties

A perfect insight into the Interests of the country and a good estate are needful for a Governor and are very engaging with our folk and without that I plainly saw in Coll Hyde the character will be despised and the honor due unto it not supported—

Sir in obedience to the commands of the Honble Society & your honor I make you a humble tender of my best respects and take the liberty of assuring you I shall always have a due regard for the power wherewith you are invested by the Honble Society with reference to us Missionaries as well as to the merits and repute your indefatigable pains and generous concurrence in the promoting our most holy Religion as by law established hath deservedly gained you from all good men but to give you as directed a succinct account at present of all matters relating to my Mission would be too tedious—At a General Assembly next after Coll Hydes taking the Government on him a very favorable act was made in order to establish our Church but thro' the opposition of sectarists who are unwearied in seducing and perverting unsettled minds and stirring up an aversion in all that will harken them against our hierarchy and by reason of the poverty misery and calamities circumstances the country is reduced to—all Essays and attempts have proved abortive little or nothing done pursuant to the said act neither know I when it can be expected there should be for my part I despair of ever seeing it the fatigues and hardships I've been continually exposed to have quite wearied me, my constitution which has been heretofore healthy and strong and sufficiently tried by long and repeated Journeys and frequent change of climates is now broken—The air of America has been more disagreeable than that of a great part of the known world besides my health and strength are very much impaired—

I have supplied to the utmost of my power the whole county of Albemarle which is of a great extent above three years and an half have left no corner of it invisible I never was so hard put to it in all my life to keep soul and body together and subsist my poor distressed family I have been ill used by one whom I intrusted to receive my Salary and lay it out in Goods which would have turned to a good account here but for want thereof have been forced to draw Bills for England to the value of £250 St. of which I could have easily made a thousand pounds this country pay besides £45 St. I am to pay for my plantation when a dispute about the title is ended, which I believe will come before your honor.

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My fellow laborer Mr. Rainsford, was with us two or three days in August 1712 and returned to Virginia on pretence of fetching in his goods, but loitered there till the Indian War broke out, which deterred him from coming again till about a month ago. He is now set down in my parish and saith that when the Inhabitants have once heard him they'll forsake me, and I must be turned out. I fear he is of a very contentious temper, I have seen him but once, and that was by chance. His carriage towards me was very haughty, as if I was some contemptible inferior—a rupture, which is almost unavoidable, would be of ill consequence, create mirth and diversion, among our adversaries who are always ready with or without cause to revile and reproach us, and it would be very repugnant to the business and disposition of a missionary. I understand he expects his salary from the commencement of his Mission, albeit he has done nothing for it. Mr. Gordon, my predecessor, was not at all out of the way in demanding an hundred pounds per annum to come back again hither. I wish I had gone where at first designed although I have had here the augmentation he desired but believe that would not have engaged a timorous man to have stayed here so long as I have done. If your honor would vouchsafe to prompt the Society to take into consideration my mean circumstances the loss which I sustained in the mismanagement of their bounty the pains I have taken for want of assistance and the little prospect of any encouragement from the country it shall ever be acknowledged as an extraordinary act of your accustomed goodness and charity (for in truth I am very poor) by

Honored Sir &c