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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Urmston to Francis Nicholson
Urmston, John
April 12, 1714
Volume 02, Pages 125-128

[From North Carolina Letter Book of S. P. G.]

North Carolina April 12 1714.

Honored Sir

As soon as possible after I was favoured with one from the Society inclosed in your honor's I sent to the several Vestries within this

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wretched Government in number seven and exhorted them to lay hold of this opportunity of obtaining Missionaries and School masters which are much wanted—I know not how quick they may be in complying with your commands if know them I am not apt to believe they'l not be over forward, such slow bellys to all that concerns souls health: most here had rather be without them. I am sure they are not worthy of any and were their usage of me known I am persuaded none would be so mad as ever to come among them they'l neither pay Minister nor Schoolmaster nay they had need to be hired to go to church or send their children to school I and all my predecessors have been laden with calumnies reproach and scandalous falsehoods instead of wealth nay having had the hard fortune of staying against my will longer with them than any of my function ever did—I find them more prone to take from us by fraud and extortion what we bring with us and seem unwilling we should live though at our cost by them—

I cannot but wonder the Society should want to be informed about the state of this sorry country since I have sent them so many and such dismal accounts of it I fear I have been abused for my custom hath been to send my letters open to a certain Member of the Society who either hath not delivered them or else they were not believed I have often prayed for a removal or rather leave to go home and had I been able I should long 'ere this have left the place 'tis very grevious to live in so great want of food and raiment and indeed all necessaries, to hear the complaints of a poor Gentlewoman I brought from her friends who had she not been my wife would never have endured so much baseness and above all things the continual danger we have been in a long time of being sacrificed by the Indians, frightful reports of daily murders committed in the neighborhood—I blessed God we have escaped with our lives but have suffered more than any other family in the Government for all that lost either houses goods or provisions were relieved and taken care of whereas we are neglected I have frequently begged both in public and private for relief if not allowance as their Minister at least their charity as a christian and Inhabitant but it availed nothing; many would say why did I not labour & make corn they saw no reason why I should not work as well as they.

I cannot see how it will ever be possible to settle a Ministry here the people live so scattered and remote the Parishes so large that they cannot be supplied without much labour and charge—I have been open exposed to great danger and a great expense and at last bought a couple of Negroes and a canoe in order to serve my cure and forced to hire a white

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hand to teach them as well as make them work, weary of that charge I resolved to buy me an English Servant was cheated with one by Thomas Jones who out of pure kindness spared me one whom his brother had tried for 8 months and not being able to manage him let me have him for £14 Sterling he could not have found such another villain in all America he first robbed me and at 3 weeks end ran away—I sent after him but cannot hear of him—This is the 4th white servant I've lost since I left England I was most abominably cheated with a Negro who died within ten days after I bought him—I've been very unfortunate in cows and horses my Salary spent in Bills the worst way of improving it; My attorney abuses me has suffered two Bills to come back protested and I fear will serve other two which I since drew upon him in like manner, so that I shall be very miserable, nothing coming in from the Country nor credit—

We had great plenty of corn wheat and Porke and hoped I should have had a little of each if I had not employed my hands in the service of an ungrateful people I might have had grains of all sorts. I prest the vestry to meet me and provide for me in time but could not prevail til the arrival of your honor's letter and then 'twas with great difficulty after six voyages and ten days spent myself and hands attending upon the Gentry: some were for allowing me nothing, others said it was too late, the people having disposed of all the provisions they could spare—They agreed upon an answer to your Honour and the Society 'tis ordered to be written over fair I guess by Christmas next twill be ready to send, I would have inserted their treatment of me it might perhaps have been encouragement for other to come from England, I do not suppose they'l let me see much less sign it—They do not allow me to sit in Vestry, at my first coming I prevailed with the Assembly to make an act for establishing the Church but was not consulted about it The former act offended the Society in reserving a Power to the Vestry to turn out and hire Ministers at pleasure.

I think this is of worse consequence for now they are at their liberty to allow any thing or nothing and accordingly the purpose to serve me—Coll Hyde engaged this Parish to pay me £45 for the time past to Christmas 1711 tis not much above half collected and of that I have received £11 odd shillings they promised me £60 per annum ever after but now will pay me nothing—a year hence we may have another Vestry and then the Sheriff must account for his mismanagement—If I have no goods from England this spring I know not what will become of me—Mr Rainsford acted very unfair; he would have forced me out of this

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Parish, no other place would please him he offered to serve it gratis and told the people the Society did not expect the country should allow any thing, that doctrine was very edifying but in a short time he became as contemptable as he endeavoured to render me he is now in Virginia but will not be entertained. Reckoton and Nansimond rejected him I am told the Governor has threatened the latter to compel them to receive him.

I acquainted your honor in a former if I mistake not that the Library my Predecessor Mr Gordon should have brought in was left with Mr Wallace of Virginia he is dead and I fear the Books will be lost—I have desired an order more than once from the Society or Mr Gordon to demand them but have no answer from that or a thousand other things very material relating to my Mission; surely paper and ink must be dear in England The Vestry of Coratuck where Mr Adams late Missionary died detain his Books on pretence they were at some charge in fetching them out of Virginia and will appropriate them to that Parish where no Minister will scarce ever reside. The famous Library sent in by Dr. Brays directions is in a great measure destroyed I am told the books are all unbound and have served for some time for waste paper.

I humbly beg of your honor to order £20 Sterling to be laid out as follows and sent by the bearer and I'll send you my Bill upon the Treasurer viz. Sugar the best sort—Molasses and Rum of each a barrel, the best pale or slack dried Malt a hogshead with hops proportionable the three former are as precious here as gold of Arabia with them I can buy Provisions—I shall want 3 or 4 Sickles a gallon of the best sallet oil Nutmegs 2 ozs. Ginger 2 lbs. black pepper as much cinnamon cloves mace each 3 ozs. ink powder two papers and if money will hold out a barrel or two of cider will be very welcome—I should not have taken this liberty had I any acquaintance there I desired the Society to give me credit there or at Barbadoes £20 per annum but am neglected twould have done me great service—Many begin to doubt of your honor coming hither and more do not desire you may—if you do not here will be no abiding for me, I therefore crave I may be dismissed if your Honor cannot do it I entreat you to press the Society to do it—I find by virtue of an order made since I left England 'tis not prudent to remove without leave first obtained I beg pardon for my tedious long letter and your acceptance of the most humble respects of

Your Sir &c