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James Kirkup, letter, to Thomas Ludlow, 1766 October 20

ms-number: 766570.2

abstract: Kirkup suggests that Whitaker and Occom come to his parish, and offers to notify neighboring ministers in the event that they do.

handwriting: Handwriting is small and stylized, but mostly clear and legible. The trailer appears to be in Whitaker's hand.

paper: Single sheet is in fair condition, with moderate-to-heavy staining, creasing and wear. Repair work has been done on particularly worn areas.

ink: Brown.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.

events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain


Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.


I three or four Weeks Ago received a Letter signed by the
Rev. Messrs. Whitaker and Occom with a narrative etc. for a special reason
with which Ill acquaint them, if I have the pleasure of seeing
them in this Country, I did not publicly mention their important
Errand to my people 'til Yesterday: when I read part of the narrative
to them; told them how well recommended it came and preached on
a particular subject to lead them to be generous in case one or both
of the Gentlemen should think fit to pay us a visit. I apprehend
that it might be worth their while to come to our neighbourhood:
there are many Congregations of great property and generosity very
handy: and in case the Gentlemen have not made application to the
respective ministers of those Congregations, if I knew the time when
we might expect them, I would acquaint the Rev. ministers with the
Same. There are at Yeovil 2, at Sherbourne 2, at Bridport 2,
at Lime 1, at Charmouth 1, Axminster 1, Chard 2, Ilminster
1, Crewkerne 1, Lambrook 1, Broadway 1: all distinct —
Societies of protestant dissenters, many of them very near and
none of them above. 16 or 17 miles from this Place. If the gentlemen
should not think fit to come, I will, at a Convenient Season, make
a Collection in our Society and remit the money as directed. I give you the
trouble of this by the direction of the above mentioned gentlemen and
am, Sir,
your friend and humble servant James Kirkup.
South Petherton October 20th 1766

From Rev. Mr.
Kirkup
of South
Petherton
to Mr. Ludlow
Radical New Lights/Separatists
Separatism in late 18th-century colonial New England refers to the radical New Light congregations that split off (separated) from antirevivalist churches, often called Old Lights. These separatist groups were spawned by the preaching of evangelical ministers like Englishman George Whitefield and Anglo-Americans James Davenport and Gilbert Tennent who spread their message through the British Atlantic world during a period called the First Great Awakening (1730s and 1740s). These revivals involved various groups—Baptists, Congregationalists, Moravians, Presbyterians and even Anglicans—and aided the formation of new movements such as Methodism and the Separate movement specific to New England. This movement shared elements of the Separatism of the late 16th and 17th centuries, in which dissenting Protestants in England, often called Puritans, separated from the Church of England because they felt it was not sufficiently reformed or pure. The group misnamed "the Pilgrims" who settled Plimouth Plantation in 1620 were separatists. These elements include an extemporaneous style of preaching that emphasized personal conversion and relatively unmediated spiritual experiences. In the early phase of the revival in New England, prominent conservative ministers welcomed the renewal but the revivals soon became more democratic, anti-authoritarian, and experiential. Thus, the Old Lights opposed revivals while moderate New Lights embraced the Awakening but rejected its excesses and radical practices like stirring up crowds and calling out ministers they considered unconverted. Not all New Lights were Separatists, and though they always remained a minority, many Separate churches split off from Congregational churches during the 1740s across New England; some came to sympathize with local Baptist congregations. Linford Fisher identifies a specific form of Native Separatism during this period modeled on the Anglo-American movement that retained Christian practices but eschewed conventional institutional affiliation.
South Petherton
Broadway

A village in the Cotswold area of southwestern England, named for its wide main street, which was an ancient "ridgeway" and the major road from Worcester to London. Broadway is named as one of eleven “Congregations of great property and generosity very handy” that Occom and Whitaker are advised to visit on their fundraising trip in the west of England.

East Lambrook

East Lambrook is a village located in south Somerset, southwest England. The St. James Church in East Lambrook dates back to the twelfth century and was the central church for East, West, and Mid Lambrook. The East Lambrook manor dates back to the fifteenth century and today is renowned for plantswoman Margery Fish’s gardens. In 1766, Whitaker and Occom visited a number of Protestant dissenter congregations, including one in “Lambrook,” which is itself not a village; a reference to St. James Church indicates that the village in question is East Lambrook.

Crewkerne

Crewkerne is an ancient market town in Somerset, near Dorset in southwest England. Occom and Whitaker were recommended to visit Crewkerne on their fundraising tour of southwest England in 1766.

Ilminster

Ilminster is a town located in the southwest of England, and takes its name from the River Ile and its longstanding church, The Minster, also known as St. Mary’s Church. The town has been home to a market since the Middle Ages. In the Georgian period, Ilminster housing expanded thanks to resources from nearby Ham Hill. Ilminster parish was a stop on Whitaker and Occom’s fundraising tour of England, and even prior to their arrival, the town church donated money to the Indian education cause.

Chard

A small but prosperous market town in Somerset county, southwestern England, near the border of Devon.

Axminster

A market town in the east of the county Devon in southern England.

Charmouth

An ancient coastal village at the mouth of the Char River in West Dorset, southwestern England.

Bridport

A market town in Dorset, southwestern England, on the coast at the western end of Chesil Beach and the River Brit; originally a fishing port and center for rope and net making.

Sherborne
Yeovil

Yeovil is a market town in Somerset County in southwest England, 40 miles south of Bristol and 130 miles west of London. It was founded in the 8th century after the Saxons conquered parts of Somerset. Its name is likely a corruption of the Celtic word Gifl, meaning forked river. It was famous for its glove making industry, which was replaced in the 20th century by new industries like light engineering. Several people in England wrote to recommend that Occom and Whitaker stop in Yeovil, among other towns in the area south of Bristol, on their fundraising tour of southwest England in the Fall of 1766.

Kirkup, James
Ludlow, Thomas
Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

Whitaker, Nathaniel

Nathaniel Whitaker was an outspoken Presbyterian minister with a long and wide-ranging career. Between his ordination in 1755 and his death in 1795, Whitaker ministered to five different congregations. His longest tenure was at Chelsea, CT (near Norwich), from 1761-1769, during which he joined Occom on his two-and-a-half-year fundraising tour of Britain. While in Chelsea, Whitaker was very involved in Wheelock's project. The two engaged in frequent correspondence, and Whitaker served on Eleazar Wheelock's Board of Correspondents in Connecticut, as well as on the Board of Trustees of Moor's Indian Charity School. At one time, he was Wheelock's presumed successor, but Dartmouth's Trustees demanded that Wheelock appoint another. Wheelock, in part due to his strongly-held belief that Native Americans were childlike and rash, was convinced that Occom needed an Anglo-American supervisor on his fundraising tour. After several candidates turned down the job, Wheelock selected Whitaker. He proved to be a poor choice; he was, by many accounts, a difficult man to get along with, and many of Wheelock’s British allies, including George Whitefield and the English Trust (the organization that took control of the money Occom raised in England) preferred to deal with Occom, although Whitaker insisted on handling the tour’s logistics. Furthermore, in Britain, Occom was the obvious star of the tour, and it was unclear to many why Whitaker asserted himself so prominently. Whitaker’s poor decisions seriously alienated the English Trust and increased their suspicion of Wheelock’s later dealings and treatment of Occom. He gave the English Trust the impression that they would have control over money raised in Scotland (which was in fact lodged with the parent organization of the SSPCK), and he was the executor of the “Eells Affair,” a plan initiated by the CT Board of the SSPCK to bring the money that Occom and Whitaker raised back to the colonies by investing it in trade goods and selling them at a profit (Eells was one of the merchants who was to help with the resale of goods). The English Trust learned about the plan by reading letters that Whitaker had given them permission to open in his absence, and were immediately shocked. The wording of certain letters made it appear that only a percentage of the profit from the resale of the goods would go towards Moor’s Indian Charity School, but beyond that detail, the English Trust was scandalized at the thought of money raised for charity being invested in trade. The English Trust blamed Whitaker entirely for these affairs, and issued specific instructions for Occom to notarize all documents requiring Whitaker’s signature. In short, they wanted Occom to supervise Whitaker, when Wheelock had envisioned the opposite relationship (both Occom and Whitaker seem to have ignored their instructions, preferring to have as little contact with one another as possible). In 1769, a year after his return to Connecticut in 1768, Whitaker found himself dismissed by his Chelsea congregation (likely because he had spent two and a half years away from them). He went on to serve several more congregations before his death in 1795. Whitaker was an outspoken Whig, and during the Revolution he published several pamphlets on his political opinions.

Fundraising Tour of Great Britain
After many months of planning and shifting personnel, Occom, accompanied by the minister Nathaniel Whitaker, sets sail in December 1765 for a two-and-a-half year tour of England and Scotland in order to solicit contributions to Wheelock’s Indian Charity School and missionary efforts. Introduced to aristocrats and prominent clergy by the minister George Whitefield, Occom preaches many sermons, travels widely, and collects a large sum of money.
HomeJames Kirkup, letter, to Thomas Ludlow, 1766 October 20
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