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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Urmston to David Humphreys
Urmston, John
December 31, 1719
Volume 02, Pages 371-373

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

North Carolina Decr 31st 1719


Since my last of July per Via New York there occurs very little worth rehearsing, we need to say “bis repetita placent” but I find I may repeat Bill Millies the old story over again before I learn whether it pleases or not I can only tell you I am more miserable than ever & harder put to it to subsist myself and poor family than I used to be. I did intend since my letters are in vain, to have come over for England next spring, & to have made known my circumstances viva voce and if I had sped no better than my letters have done, I purposed to have sent for my family, and to have taught A B C in a garret and have tried to have got one of the many 5c curacies or readers places in at about London & doubted not but to have had more comfort and enjoyed myself better than ever I did here. It hath pleased God to take to himself my dear wife she died of very grief and discontent not to say want for truly of late we have lived very sorrily. It was irksome and uneasy enough to turn farmer or planter, but am grown so great a proficient, that if I had slaves and barns with necessaries that must be had, I could improve my plantation raise stock and subsist myself & family very comfortably, but to cott as I must now do, will be more tedious to me, and create more trouble than all the rest. I have only a sorry wretch that I came by on the Ships account & hath but a year and a half to serve, she knows nothing

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of household affairs and a notorious whore & thief, and yet preferaable to any that can be hired here notwithstanding all her faults. She was bred a Trader in Spitlefields but followed the Musick Houses most & other vile courses which brought her to Bridewell and from thence transported hither. Except I can get a sober good woman into the house I cannot hold it any longer. I intend to send my two youngest children as a present to the Society hoping they will put them into some charity school or hospitall. Whereby they may be educated and provided for, when they come to age for I am not able to maintain them. My eldest is near twenty capable of helping me, but is bent upon going for England, so that you may guess what a rare housekeeper I am like to make with this sorry wench and a senseless dumb negro fellow. There is no boarding here, there is never a family that I know of that I would live in if they would hire me. My brother Taylor has had tryals of that, & has changed his habitations a dozen times since he came hither and wishes himself in South Carolina again. I can put no other construction upon the Society's not taking notice of me but that they will force me to leave their service & now you see I must do it, and yet considering I am aged wanting but 3 of 60 years, I am not fond of leaving a pretty settlement and a warm country, to come and seek my bread in a cold starving country, and therefore once more beg the Society to put me in the way how to get negroes. 3 or 4 at least recommend me to some body at Barbadoes, or the other islands Virginia or New York who will take my bills & be just to me, or else will pay what is due to me at any of the places aforesd I will continue where I am, I know nobody I can trust all that I have ever dealt with me have cheated me since my tedious and dangerous fit of sickness. I am grown very crazy and not able to to travel, so that I have not baptized many this last half year, Seven only in my neighborhood, 5 one in another Parish. The first long journey I took since my sickness through weakness and bad roads, I was so fatigued that I desired to have my horse sent back & I hired a canoe and two negroes to carry me back I was soundly wet and got a great cold the passage cost me £20 so that besides loss of health I was out of pocket, and scarce thanks for my pains. I have had many such Chapps, Its a common notion that I am obliged to serve the whole country but I must disappoint them for the time to come With much ado I prevailed with my vestry to meet the first time in three years, they pretended to have collected for the two first years after the late Act took place they paid me in bills £79 for £100 alledging they could raise no more and for the two last years ending this day they have promised me £80 more and
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what they collect more is to pay a reader in the remote parts where I cannot attend as they say I ought to do every other Sunday which I neither can nor would be obliged to do for £50 per annum more. I must pay the Collector 2 or 3 per cent so that my income is of little value. They have entered a memorandum in their Vestry book that these £143 due to me, on the former account but when or how it will ever be raised I know not for no man is liable to pay more than 5s per poll every year and that you may see, will not raise the yearly allowance what must become of the arrears? In fine I find they are for keeping up the old custom to do what they list with Ministers. They matter not how poor we are, or how miserable we live, we shall be the first they cheat or overreach in their dealings. Ready enough to complain upon any supposed neglect and yet at the same time are not for coming to Church above once in a month or two and then they neither know nor care what they come about, very negligent and ignorant of their duty. I have administered the sacrament of the Lords Supper but twice these 5 years in public and as often to sick persons I pray you to let me know the sentiments of the Society in relation to this that I may begin to dispose of myself and family if so be they will not comply with my requests I wish I could sell my house and land at anything near the value I should not then be long in resolving what to do.

I am Sir Yours &c