Letter from Arthur Dobbs to Reverend Philip Bearcroft, January 22, 1760
I have your favour of the 6th of August with the Box of Books you mention for the Missionaries; I have delivered Mr. Macdowell his parcel, as he is fixed in this Parish, where he discharges his Duty to Satisfaction, and is an exemplary good Liver, and deserves Encouragement, or to be made a Missionary, if the Society’s fund can afford it; I have also given Mr. Smith your Letter who is fixed in the neighbouring parish at Wilmington; I shall send the other Parcels to the other Missionaries Stuart Read and Earle by the first Opportunity by Sea from hence, as the Carriage by Land will be expensive to them, and shall distribute the valuable Books the Society has sent to them or to the other Clergy or Gentlemen qualified to read them, as we have some Deists sprung up in this Province; I am much obliged to the Society for the Appointment of Mr. Read and Mr. Earle their Missionaries in this Province, where we are so destitute of Clergy, and their parishes which generally take in a whole County are so very extensive, that the Charge of attending many Chappels is very great as well as laborious. I wish that your Admonishment of Mr. Meyer may have a good Effect; I observe in his Return to you he mentions his having baptized above 300 Whites and 60 Negros in one year; I wish it may be true, as I am inform’d he does very little Duty, I am loth to load him with facts from publick fame, so hope he will be able to justify his Character and Conduct, which ought to be established to procure Honour to his Mission.
The most Serviceable Thing I can recommend to the Society at present upon the visible Increase and extent of these Colonies by the manifest Interposition of Providence in our favour is, that they would recommend it to his Majesty to send over some Clergymen with Episcopal Power, if they dont prevail to have at least two Bishops fixed on this Continent for the Northern and Southern Districts; that they might ordain and visit the Clergy and see how they perform their Duty, which at present though they shou’d have no other Episcopal Jurisdiction or Spiritual Courts, except in separating the faulty from Communion wou’d I’m perswaded have a good Effect; for I find what Difficulties the Society is under in procuring proper Clergymen to officiate here in extended Forests, tho not deserts, when too many take Orders with a View to a Maintenance or preferment; This wou’d encourage the Colonies to set up Schools for the Instruction and Incouragement of youth, and from the Colleges now erected we might prepare our Youth for Ordination without the Expence and hazard of going over to England to be put in Orders, which wou’d in some Time lessen the Sectaries which so much abound in this and the neighbouring Colonies; This my good Lord Bishop of London told me he wished to have done, and that his so extensive Diocess was lessen’d, and I hope Methods might be found out to give such Bishops or Clergymen with Episcopal itinerant Powers a suitable Maintenance to promote so laudable a work, I am sorry that there are such Difficulties in procuring Clergymen and Schoolmasters of good Characters to come over to this Province, and hope the Society will think it of as great Moment to increase Missionaries in this Province (which contains above 80,000 whites besides Negros nor have we but 8 Resident Clergymen) as in the Northern Colonies, who though they have not Episcopal Clergy, yet have other Instructors which give them Christian Principles when there is a total want here having only Strollers who set up for Teachers without any regular Instruction, and many of them immoral Livers. Pardon me, Sir, for this Address, which I think so necessary for promoting the Success of the Gospel in this Province.
I lately received a Letter from Mr. Ichabod Camp from Middleton in Connecticut, who I find is a Missionary there at a small Allowance. He says That what he has there cannot support him, and is inclinable to come here, if there is any Encouragement; but find if he removes without The Consent of the Society that he will lose his Mission; I shall let him know the Encouragement given him, and that we have not sufficient Vacancies for many, and in Case the Society shou’d continue his Mission upon his removal, shall desire him to obtain Leave from the Society in order to encourage him to reside here, and perhaps this may induce others to come from the Northwards, since we have such Difficulty in getting any from England.
We have had a Session of Assembly here to reenact and amend some Laws repealed by his Majesty in England, one of which was the Vestry Bill which had taken the Nomination to livings from the Crown; But the Assembly was so employed in framing other Laws which in the End miscarried that they cou’d not attend to have a proper Law, so only established a Vestry Law for one Year to enable them to lay a Tax for the Maintenance of the Clergy pursuant to the last Law which settled £100 ⅌ Annum and £20 for a Glebe, as there is to be a new Assembly elected to sit in May, we have Thoughts to establish a general fund out of which the Clergy is to be paid as in South Carolina, if the Assembly will be prevailed upon to pass such a Bill, and then every Parish wou’d endeavour to have a Clergyman and Church in their own Parish.
It gives me great pleasure that the Society accepts of my Endeavours to encourage Religion and Morality in this Province. I pray God to bless their Endeavours for the General Good of the Church.
your most obedient
22d Jany. 1760
P.S. March 12th the Catawba nation is almost destroyd by the small Pox, not 40 fighting men left alive.
10 N. Carolina
Jan. 22d 1760