Skip to main content

At a General Meeting of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in foreign Parts.

Held on the 20th. Day of July 1764 [.…]

A Letter from the Revd. Mr. Moir, Itint. Missry. in North Carolina, dated Northampton Ap. 4th. 1764. Acquainting, that since his last of Octr. he has baptized in Northampton and the neighbouring Counties 136 white and 46 black Children; also in Edgecombe 171 white Children and 2 Adults and 16 black Children. He also writes, that by the Vestry Act past last March the Minister is made President of the Vestry, the Election of which is put off to the beginning of Augst. and is to continue three years; Dissenters are still admitted into it, and the Sheriff takes the Poll.

A Letter from the Revd. Mr. Reed Missry. in Craven County, North Carolina, dated Newbern Decr. 26th. 1763. With his Notitia Parochialis inclosed, by which it appears, that from June 21st. to Decr. 21st. he baptized 135 white Children and 1 Adult and 7 black Children. He was prevented Visiting St. Johns [Pa]rish last Autumn by a Fever, which reduced him so low th[at] his Life was almost despaired of. In his Letter of Decr. 21. 1762, he petitioned the Society for leave to return to Englan[d] for a few Months, continuing his Stipend. If this Reque[st] should be thought unreasonable, he begs he may leave [to] go to New England next Autumn, which is the most sickly Sea[son] here; for the long Continuance of the Fevers has greatly impaired his hearing and his health. He has not yet received the Books, nor heard of them since Mr. Macdowell's Letter.

Agreed to recommend to the Society, to give Mr. Reed leave of absence from his Cure for six Months, that he may eit[her] come hither or go to New England, as He judges most prope[rly] conducive to his health, provided he take care to procure a proper person to attend the Duties of his Mission.

Resolved to agree with the Committee—

A Letter from Arthur Dobbs Esqr. Govr. of North C[aro]lina, dated Cape Fear Brunswick, Mar. 29th. 1764. Acquainting the Society, that the Revd. Mr. Macdowell Missry. of Brun[swick] died last November of a lingering disorder, so that now they have but six Clergymen in the Province; four of them perform the[ir] Duty diligently; at Edenton, Bath, Newbern & Halifax. B[ut] Mr. Moir, he is informed, does not behave as a Clergyman ou[ght] to do; has no settled Parish, and performs very little casual S[er]vice; delights in Stirring up and making Divisions in his Neighbourhood, instead of promoting peace and Love; is suspected of imposing upon the Society in the returns he makes of Negros & others baptized by him.

The other Clergyman is Mr. Miller, of whom the Govr. gives a very indifferent Character: These six are all the Clergy they have to do Duty in 29 Counties or Parishes; where there are about 24,000 white Male Taxables, and near four times that Number of Souls, and above 10,000 black Male and Female Taxables; which Numbers are daily increasing. They have in this Province few or no Schools, and only a few Lay-Readers to serve the several Chapels erected in the several Counties. Sectaries of all Denominations, except Papists, are very numerous here, particularly Anabaptists or Dippers, there being so few qualified to give regular Baptism. These Evils cannot be removed till there are proper Schools erected for the Education of Youth and qualifying them for holy Orders, and Bishops appointed in America to confer them. His Excellency further writes, that, after some struggles, he has got a better Bill for the Maintenance of the Orthodox Clergy, by increasing their Income till Glebes can be purchased for them; but could not prevail to have a Right of Induction lodged in the Govr. He has also in this last Session passed a much better Vestry Bill, giving power to raise 10 Shillings upon every Taxable person annually in each County, to be applied to build Churches & Glebe Houses, and to purchase Glebes, and also to Maintain Schoolmasters in each Parish. Most Counties contain above 1000 Taxables and few under 800; so that the Sum raised will be considera[bly] more than is necessary to Maintain a Clergyman & Schoolmas[ter in] each County. As the Catawba Indians are now settled among our Planters, the Govr. would recommend it to the Society to fix a Missry. or Schoolmaster among them, who might also [be] appointed for Mecklenburg County, and may be of great u[se] in those back Western Frontier Settlements. He hopes a[lso] a Missry. will be sent soon to succeed Mr. Macdowell; a Clergyman likewise for the Neighbouring County of New Hannover to reside at Wilmington, and afterwards, as soon as conveniently may be, to the other Counties.

Agreed to recommend to the Society to return a Letter of thanks to Govr. Dobbs for procuring a Vestry Law in favour of the Clergy of his Province, and to assure his Excellency, that the Society will be ready to concur in every Scheme to encoura[ge] Schoolmasters to settle there, that they will take the first Opportunity to appoint a Missry. in the Room of Mr. Macdowell, & another for Mecklenburgh County and the Catawba Indians, & to send others as soon as they can be procured to be settled as his Excellency shall direct.

Resolved to agree with the Committee. […]

Another Letter from John Pownall Esqr. dated Whitehall July 2d. 1764. Inclosing, by Order of the Lords Commissioners [of] Trade and Plantations, the Extracts of two Letters from Art[hur] Dobbs Esqr. Govr. of North Carolina, respecting the State of Religion in that Province, and the great want of pious & learned Ministers which they desire may be laid before the Society.

Agreed to recommend that the thanks of the Society be given to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, for t[he] Extracts which their Lordships have been pleased to commun[icate] to them out of Govr. Dobbs's Letters, with an Assurance that the Society are truly sensible what an insufficient number of Clergy there is for the People of North Carolina, and have constantly taken pains to remedy it: But that the Hardships which the Clergy have long laboured under in that Province have been so great as to throw the utmost Discouragements in their way—That f[or] a considerable time, as their Missries. Letters inform them, there was no Vestry Law to lay a Tax for collecting the Salary [due] to the Ministers; That often, when the Sheriffs have had a whole Year's collection or upwards in their hands, yet as there was [no] Vestry to call them to an Account, the Sheriffs would not part w[ith] the Money, and the Clergy were in Effect destitute of any legal Provision or Encouragement, and had nothing to depend upon for [their] Support but their Salary from the Society—That this Evil, it is h[oped,] is now in a great measure remedied by the New Vestry Law which [the] Govr. has procured; and that the Society will endeavour to provide s[ome] more Missries. The Committee humbly submit to the Society, whether [it] may not be proper to recommend to the Lords [of Trade] to consider whether the Grievance above mentioned might not be [rem]edied by Ordering the Clergy of North Carolina's Stipend to be paid out of the publick Treasury, as it is in S. Carolina. Another Discouragement to the Clergy's settling in North Carolina, which still subsists, as appears by Govr. Dobbs's Letter of Mar. 29th. last, is that the power of Induction is not lodged in the Govrs. hands, which renders the Situation of the Clergy very precarious, and wholly dependent on the people.

Ordered, that the Secretary prepare a Letter for Mr. Pownall, agreeably to the Opinion of the Committee, with this Alteration only, that instead of recommending to their Lordships to use their Interest that the Stipend allowed by the Government to the Clergy of North Carolina, be paid out of the publich Treasury, as it is in South Carolina, that Circumstance be only incidentally mentioned, and that Representation be made to their Lordships how difficult it is on these Accounts to get proper persons to go over. […]