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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Urmston to David Humphreys
Urmston, John
January 29, 1717
Volume 02, Pages 270-273

[From N. C. Letter Book of S. P. G.]

North Carolina Jany 29th 1716/7


I am persuaded you will never have any answer to two Letters to the Vestries and Church Wardens of Chowan & Pasquotank: the former is in my hands still not knowing to whom I must give it, for thro' default (I may say wilful neglect) in not meeting in due time those appointed to be of the Vestry and have no power to meet or act till nominated afresh by an additional act to that of the late assembly and if that is ever brought into debate: it will be annulled, I sent the act inclosed in one of June 19th last past which if it has come to hand will satisfy the Honorable Society in many particulars; did it take place (but fear it never will) it is the most favorable I could obtain from the Assembly. I did

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not think there could have been such a construction put upon these words, which impower the Church wardens to procure a Minister which now are taken to be equivalent to that odious phrase of hireing or dismissing at pleasure yearly a minister, I altered the good old term, but dared not to go any further pursuant to our fundamental constitutions. All our acts were sent last Feby to be confirmed by the Lords Proprietors. or as the term is perpetuated without which no act is in force longer than two years, but of late the people assume that power to themselves by causing all such Laws, as they think fit to be confirmed at the first meeting of every Biennial, & enact laws contrary & destructive of former Laws which have been perpetuated. I am of opinion diver of the aforesaid Laws will not be allowed by the Proptrs and the Vestry Act will be in danger of being laid aside. The fundamental constitutions were intended to be unalterable, but now as little regarded as Magna Charta in England, this Lawless people will allow of no power or authority in either Church or state save what is derived from them. A proprietor were he here would be looked on no better than a ballad singer, what can a Governmt do or what success or order in the great design of establishing our church can be expected by a poor despised and contemptible Missionary.

The Governor would concur with me in appointng a new Vestry, but our Vestrymen (that should be) say I am not incumbent, because forsooth not hired by them and his Honor's appointment will not signify any thing, he has offered to induct me in order to entitle me to the Salary allowed by this late act but all in vain for it will never be paid. I hope his Letter to the Society which comes by the same opportunity will answer their demands as to my Loyalty and conformity to the present Governmt under King George, whom God long preserve my Endeavours in the discharge of my duty and the treatment I have met with and like to expect whilst in this wretched corner of the World, so that I shall not need to add in my reference to the two Lres of April 23rd and May 14th 1716 which with one of June 11th I received altogether pr via South Carolina Decr 29th I have not heard of any such person as Mr. Francis Phillips, mentioned in this last, in these parts, if he comes this way I shall obey the order sent me.

This is the 10th I have sent to the Honorable Society within 13 months under the several dates ut infra all the Letters pr Boston were sent under a cover to Jon Jekyll Esq. Collector there, my very good friend and old acquaintance. I have often intimated that the quickest and safest way of sending to me was under cover to him. If these Lines

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become to hand and would be complied with I might hope to live something easier than I have hitherto done, but having no answer to any of them it afflicts me sore, my misery increasing the longer I stay, could I dispose of my dear Plantation without much loss I would not stay a day in the Country, for I am in apparent danger of starving, we are threatened with famines there's not half grain in the Government subsist the Inhabitants, little or no pork; for my part, if not supplied from Boston, I shall not have a morsel of any kind of food within these six weeks; I thought I should have had corn and wheat sufficient for my use, but thro' bad seasons and the worm I did not reap the 10th part of what I might reasonably have expected. I had a fine stock of Hogs, but am in danger of loosing them all, we had no meat and for want of corn they die daily.

My Kind Parishoners are in hopes I must fly and then their debt for nigh six years service is paid, whilst one is gaping after my Plantation, another, my servants and stock at their own price, it is inconceivable nay past expression what I and my poor family have endured for almost seven years and it is like to be worse with us than ever. If money will hold out I may be supplied with a little cheese of all sorts, butter and malt unground, I have not a Gown to my back nor hat to my head nor indeed any other decent apparel I am in great want of a good & large rugg & quilt, a pair of large Blankets, with a good Ticking for a bed bolster and pillows. I beg some honest man may be employed to buy them for me, and there with an easy saddle and curb, Bridle and some paper and wax. I once made bold to hint that one common agent for all Misionaries would be of great service to us, I had rather pay commission than be cheated by pretended friends or relations. If the Society would be pleased to advance me half a years salary it would be deemed a gift and put me in a way of living that I should not need to draw so fast. In my last I desired two Bills of £20 sterling each payable at Barbadoes; with West India Goods to that value. I could buy provisions to serve me handsomely 12 months. My good Lord and late Rt Revd Diocesan promised me, if the Society did not make any addition to my salary that he would make me partake of some private Benefactions, but never heard from his Lordship. I recommend myself and my poor family to the generous Bounty of the Honorable society begging their prayers for us and rest, Sir, your most humble servt

JOn URMSTONE, Missionary

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Pr via Virginia Decr 17 1716

Pr Mr Gray passenger in Godfrey succsss, under cover to John Rivet at the Hand and pen in St Albans Street London Feby 14. 171⅚

Copy thereof pr Boston do 27

Pr Boston do 29

Pr Mr Portr now Prisoner in the fleet April 3rd.

Pr Boston do 31

Pr Virginia June 19

Under Mr Chevants cover to Mr Hear at the Custom House Oct 25

Pr Boston Novr 13

via cover

I am told this Brigantine returns with all speed.

P. S.—Sir

The master by whom this comes returns hither so that you may send by him he is to be spoken with at Jacob Atkinson's at the 3 Tuns on little Tower Hill If you can procure a Gown and Cassock Ingram in Pater Noster Row has my measure I should be glad of a riding coat for thro' want of that I have torn my gowns in the woods.