Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Robert Cottle, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 December 9

ms-number: 766659

abstract: Cottle informs Whitaker of potential donors. There is also the text of a notice that Occom will preach the next Sabbath in Frog Lane.

handwriting: Cottle's hand is formal, stylized and largely clear and legible. The text of the notice is in Whitaker's hand, which is also mostly clear and legible.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in poor condition, with heavy staining, creasing and wear.

ink: The letter is written in brown ink that has faded significantly. The notice is in strong brown-black ink.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.

layout: The first page of the letter is on one recto, but the second page is on two verso, not one verso. Whitaker has written the notice in different orientations.

events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain

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

Most Rev. and Dear Dir —
through mercy I got safe home and found my dearest
and family all well since I left you I have recollected
a family Near Salisbury one Mr. Walters son and
Daughter and I believe if you wait upon them they
will give you something handsome towards the Charity
they are near relations of of Mr. Steel of Broughton
In Hampshire which I beg you will by no means
neglect calling upon the old Gentleman son and Daughter
Query if it would not be worth your while to call at —
Andover where a part of the family do live he having
a Daughter married there in considerable Circumstances
I am persuaded Mr. Steel and family will do all they
can to promote this great Charity please to present
my best respects to the whole family —
I do most sincerely wish you success in this so great
an Undertaking my heart is with you and was I a
person of fortune great part should be devoted to
the conversation christianizing and Instructing the poor
Indians May the Lord be with you
And his presence go before you and bless you and this
your great and laudable Undertaking but I cannot take
my leave of you as I hope you will and Mr. Occom be with us
on Lords Day but this I must leave to your generosity
and as you shall see the path of duty with only saying —
it would give your friends in general great pleasure and one in
particular but for fear of being tedious must conclude
with my respects to Dr. Mr. Occom and Accept the same
from Dr. Sir
Your sincere friend and I Somtimes humbly
hope brother in our Common Lord
Robert Cottle
please to give me a line
by the first opportunity after you have
been at Broughton and with success also please
to remember me in your prayers — My wife gives her love to you both
The Rev. Mr. Occom
will preach next Sabbath
morning at half after
ten o'Clock at the Rev.
Mr. Frank
s in Frog Lane
And as it is imagined
by Some that this is a party
design Set on foot by the
Methodists etc. This is there‐
fore to assure the public
that this noble design was
[illegible][guess: institute] and carried on by
Gentlemen who are of no
Such party, as is evident by
the Reccommenders of all deno‐
minations above —
The Rev. Mr. Occom, an Indian
of North America, who is come
to England in order to promote the
Charity reccommended above will
preach at the Rev. Mr. Frank's in
Frog Lane next Sabbath at half
after 10.' O'Clock in the morning
for the benefit of Said Charity.
And as Some have imagined that this
Charity is a party design and Set on foot
by the Methodists: This is to assure all
persons that this noble institution was
begun and is carried on
with a view
only to Christianize and Civilize the
miserable Indians, and without any
design to promote any party what‐
ever; as is evident from the above
recommendations in which Chris‐
tians of all denominations have
united, And we Shall be heartily
Sorry if any party Should arise to
obstruct the progress of So pious
and Catholic a design.
Rev. Mr. Whittaker
at Bath
per the favour of Mr. Ludlow
From Mr.
[illegible][guess: Cottle]
Mr. Steel of Broughton
Methodism is an 18th-century revivalist movement founded by John Wesley that sought to reform the Church of England from within, but separated in 1795 to form a vigorous and influential Protestant sect. The movement was led by Wesley and his brother Charles, who were joined for a time by the English evangelist George Whitefield, all of whom had connections to the North American colony of Georgia. Their open air, extemporaneous preaching of personal, experiential redemption and the necessity of a new birth attracted many people who felt neglected by the Anglican Church in England and by the Congregational and Presbyterian churches in New England. As a New Light minister, Wheelock supported the revivalist movement, but many in the upper eschelons of society, whom Wheelock wanted to interest in his "great design" of Indian conversion, regarded it and Methodism in particular as partisan and overly radical. Some Native evangelists were drawn to Methodism in the 18th-century, though Occom remained a staunch Presbyterian all his life. In particular, William Apess (1798-?), a mixed blood Pequot, turned to Methodism during the Second Great Awakening (1800-1830s), and became an ordained Methodism minister and preacher, a prolific writer, and the leader of the Mashpee Indian revolt of 1833, which represented a noteworthy push for Indian self-governance.

A city in the southwest of England. In the mid-18th century, Bristol became England's second biggest city due to its thriving importation of sugar cane, tobacco, rum, and cocoa, all products of the slave trade. Its affluence made it an important and lucrative stop for Occom and Whitaker on the fundraising trip to the west of England.


Hampshire is a county located on the southern coast of England and is one of the larger counties in the country. The name Hampshire evolved from Hamtunscir—the combination of Hantum, which refers to Southampton, and scir, meaning district or zone. The name is often abbreviated to Hants. Throughout Hampshire’s history, agriculture has been a major component of its economy. In a 1766 letter, Robert Cottle informs Nathaniel Whitaker that the Steel family, which resides in Hampshire, and their relations would most likely give a good deal of money to Whitaker and Occom for the Indian Charity School. Cottle suggests that Whitaker and Occom make a point of calling on these families.


Andover is a town on the River Anton in Hampshire County on England’s southern coast. Its name comes from the Celtic “on dubr,” meaning ash tree water. The town grew in the 1400s as it developed wool, iron, and leather industries and benefited from its position on a main road that connected eastern and western England. In a 1766 letter, Robert Cottle advises Nathaniel Whitaker to take Occom to visit the Steele family of Andover, at that time a small market town, as he thinks they would likely donate a large sum of money to the Indian Charity School. Immigrants from England who settled Andover, MA, named their new home for the Hampshire town they left behind.

Frog Lane

Frog Lane is a street located in the city of Bristol, England. Like other neighborhoods in this area, it was the site of surface coal workings, bell pits and adits, as early as the 13th century, and throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Then, in 1853, a deep coal mine was sunk there called the Frog Lane Colliery that operated productively for a century; it was the last of the deep South Gloucestershire pits to be closed. Many miners lived in cottages in the area, who, in early generations, were uneducated and disenfranchised. During the revivals in the early to mid-18th century, their plight attracted the attention of John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, who preached to huge crowds nearby on Coalpit Heath in the open air. Given the revivalists’ influence in the area, it is not surprising that in 1766, on his fundraising tour, Occom was scheduled to preach at a church on Frog Lane to raise money for the Indian Charity School.

North America

A fashionable city in Somerset County in southwest England, 97 miles west of London.

Cottle, Robert
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.

Cottle, Sarah (née Simon)
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.

Ludlow, Thomas
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.
HomeRobert Cottle, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 December 9
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only