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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Urmston to David Humphreys
Urmston, John
June 22, 1717
Volume 02, Pages 286-288

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

North Carolina June 22—1717


Since my last per via (New England dated May 1st. I have received one from you of July 16th. 1716 by South Carolina; at my first coming hither I sent divers of my Letters open to a certain member of the Society to be by him first perused and then delivered in at the next Board; the little good effect they had (albeit the contents I thought would have drawn pity from a heart of Stone) made me suspect my friend and therefore have not been guilty of that which I now find is deemed a fault, for many years, but perceive as little regard to me as before; notwithstanding I ever had fresh matter of complaint. and as long as I stay here I need not fear wanting that with hard strugling we have had a vestry at last in my parish vizt on the north shores of the Sound in Chowan there were but seven vestry men and they chose in a new member in room of one who positively refused to qualify himself as the late act directs by declaring under his hand that he would not oppugn (a soft word for tender consciences instead of conform to) the Church of England, for, he said he must go sometimes to the Quakers meeting and if he saw cause he might one time or another oppugn &c.

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The absent members will not agree to what was then enacted and many of those present seem to dislike of what they then did pretending they were overawed by the Governor, by whose order the Vestry was called, who is since gone to live in the County of Bath so that all the good his honor intended me will come to nought. It was proposed by the Govr and minuted down that I should be inducted, the majority were consenting, but now unwilling to part with the power so valued by them of choosing or hiring yearly ministers. It was then ordered that every Titheable in the Parish should pay me five shillings towards the raising Fifty pounds for the last year ending January 1st last past, the number of the Titheables is not sufficient to raise such a sum and they have not power to Levy above five shillings per Titheable for our Parish contains not a third part of the Inhabitants which are in the precinct and afore time were one parish. as for the arrearage for four years with 18£: formerly due which by agreement ought to be £258 but was by an after Vestry reduced to £150 and ordered by the then churchwardens to be collected, that cannot be raised unless the other parish or part of the Precinct which before seperation was equally obliged per a new act be compelled to pay their share. In plain English 'tis to put me off from insisting upon what is my just due; neither do I think I ever shall receive what is now ordered; for notice has been given by the present church wardens according to the Vestry Act to pay their Levy on or before the first of this month, upon pain of forfeiting double tax, and as yet I have received but six pounds in paper; this paying of money such as it is, puts them quite out of humor: they cannot endure to be at charges upon what they value so little Religion.

I have given you an account in former letters of the great scarcity of Provisions throughout the Country; I thank God we have with hard struggling and many an empty Belly got over it. It was not so grevious to my family as many others, because accustomed to want our north Colonies have taken advantage of our necessity and have made us pay dear for the worst of Bread and meal: what cost them but seven shillings we have paid 40s for in pitch and tar besides divers ways of cheating us. Our Governor bought a couple of Barrels of meal and one of them proved half Ballast. We have hitherto had a very seasonable year, there is great prospect of plenty of Grain and fruit but if the winter afford us meat—we have no Hogs so many died of Poverty last winter and the Black Cattle are almost all destroyed by murrain, so that we shall not suddenly recruit. In these difficult times I have been forced to draw upon the Treasurer as often as I met with any body that knew what to do with

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a Bill of Exchange I have purchased Pitch to buy food with, gave more than it would sell for in London, some proved nought some not full casks and more not yet paid, and thus I have been puzzled to keep soul and body together. Since the 21st of December last I have drawn for £85 and am still in want, tis not twice £80 will maintain me at the rate I am forced to manage £20 yearly paid before hand in Goods vendible here, would have done me more service than my salary. I never bought so much goods for £80, my necessity still obligeing me to anticipate, and often draw before money become due.

These accounts are tedious I doubt & scarce believed, seeing the Society requires it under the Parishoners own hand, which I think not to be expected. It was agreed that we should hold a Vestry every first Sunday in the month, but we have none since the first, nor I believe ever shall; the first Sunday in the month we had one church warden and three Vestrymen. I delivered the Societies Letter dated June 11th 1716 directed to the Church wardens and Vestrymen of Chowan; they read it and gave it to me again, saying they knew not what answer to return; so little regard is had to so great authority and less gratitude to so generous benefactors, it is all one to them whether they have a minister & church to go or not.

My quondam fellow Labourer the Revd Mr. Rainsford meeting with some of my Parishioners in Virginia told one I was to be turned out, to another recalled, they would be glad of either for then the debt due to me would be paid. I have more than once desired the Letter and if not provided with two nego young men and a negro girl all born among the English and used to work & a Bill or Letter of Credit to Barbadoes for the £40 yearly as I have formerly requested it will be utterly impossible for me to stay here much longer.