Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Alexander Stewart to Philip Bearcroft
Stewart, Alexander, 1725-1772
May 22, 1761
Volume 06, Pages 562-564
[From North Carolina Letter Book. S. P. G.]
Mr. Stewart to the Secretary.
Bath, No. Carolina, May 22, 1761.
My last by Capt. Walker of the 1st Octr having as I presume got safe home, in compliance with my instruction I make bold to inform the Society, of a material alteration that has happened within my Parish & the county of Beaufort, since the writing of that letter.
The inhabitants (thinking their county & Parish too extensive being near 100 miles long & 30 wide) petitioned the assembly last Decr for a Division into 2 counties & 2 Parishes which being granted, the Govr was pleased, to call the upper county, Pitt County, & St Michaels Parish & the lower in which Bath town stands, retains its old name of Beaufort & St Thomas’ Parish. This Sir I thought proper to inform the Society of, for their further instructions, having by this means lost the better half of my white Parishioners so that the whole number of whites in the Parish of St Thomas’ is not now quite 1000 besides about 400 taxable negroes. I as yet continue (till it can be supplied with a minister) to visit occasionally Pitt county which now lies above me, & Hyde county, which is below me, on the River Pamplico or Tar River, & every other vacant Parish into which I at any time have business, I take care to call the inhabitants of that Parish together & inform them of the Society’s good wishes for their souls welfare & of the great expence they are at, in maintaining an Orthodox Clergy for their benefit. Last winter I went as far Southerly as new River (about 80 miles from home) into Onslow county, the present seat of enthusiasm in this Province: where having preached twice the few remaining Episcopals there, were very thankful to me & the gainsayers of our establishment, were (as they said) glad to hear that in many things our disputes were only about words, I therefore think myself in duty bound, to inform the society that it would be necessary, to give their missionaries that are at Newbern & Cape Fear, directions to visit alternately the Southern counties of Onslow, Cartaret & Duplin, which lie between Newbern & Wilmington, till such time as they are willing to give encouragement, to a settled minister, & I for my part will undertake (as often as the vestry of this Parish will Permit
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me) to visit the counties of Pitt, Tyrrell & Hyde so as to take in all the vacant Parishes from Newbern to Edenton, northerly; & from Bath to Mr. Morris’s mission Westerly & the sea Easterly & the Edenton Missionary may take under his charge, all those to the westward of him as far as Halifax Town, where they have a fixed minister & the counties that lie eastward from Edenton, to the Sea, his Parish joining Virginia to the northward. I hope the society will pardon this rough draft, for the better attending several vacant Parishes, in this government for I imagine, these parts of this Province, lye at too great a distance from their itinerant Missionary, as I have never heard of his visiting any of them. Indeed he has business enough in the Western counties if he will apply himself to it, the People there being mostly Scotch Presbyterians & I hear have fixed several Presbyterian Ministers, already among them. However Sir such a scheme as this would reduce our Parochial Salaries, for there is a clause in the act, for establishing the clergy, that no missionary shall be paid any further, than for what duties he does in his Parish & I myself have been threatened to be dock’d for absenting myself on a Sunday now & then to attend the inhabitants of the adjoining counties.
In March last I likewise made a voyage [to] Altamuskeet in Hyde County (a place formerly mentioned to the Society as separated by a dismal morass, from the main of this Province) where I preached twice & remained a week & baptized in that time 52 white & 7 Negro children & 4 adult negroes. I likewise with pleasure inform the Society, that the few remains of the Altamuskeet, Hatteras & Roanoke Indians (whom I likewise mentioned in a former letter) appeared mostly at the chapel & seemed fond of hearing the Word of the true God & of being admitted into the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 men & 3 women & 2 children were baptized by me. I could have wished the adults were better instructed, but their sureties & a northern Indian among them, who had been bred up a christian, promised to take that care which the short stay I made among them, would not admit me to take of them, to have refused them altogether, might be the stopping the remainder of those tribes, who have very little notion of any religion living among a set of people, who want very near as much information as they themselves.
If the Society has any instructions for me they will come safe from Mr. Anthony Bacon’s in Threadneedle Street or Messrs White & Graham in St. Martins Le Grand, near Newgate Street.
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I am Revd Sir, the Society’s ever dutiful & your ever obt Brother & Servant
Missy at St. Thos. Bath Town.
Hat tip to Sharron for this document.