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Samuel Wood, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1767 September 28

ms-number: 767528.4

abstract: Wood writes to outline the touring and preaching schedule that he has prepared for Whitaker and Occom. He mentions a penny paper denouncing Occom.

handwriting: Formal handwriting is stylized, yet largely clear and legible.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with moderate staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Black.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.

layout: The first page of the letter is on one recto, but the second page is on two recto, not one verso. The third page of the letter is on one verso and is written in landscape orientation, not portrait orientation as on the other pages.

noteworthy: Wood consistently punctuates the contraction "I've" as "Iv'e."

events: Fundraising Tour of Great Britain

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

My dear Sir/
I wrote after You to Yar­
, and suppose You received my Letter
Since writing that Letter Iv'e wrote and
sent Papers to all the Places therein men
tioned and which You purposed to visit this
Week (Stowmarket only excepted, which
I know You could send to from Ipswich)
This will meet You (I hope well) at
Bury, where, I expect, our Friends will
be ready for You, in consequence of the
Notice had from me — they'll also
be ready for You at Melford on Friday
Forenoon — and at Sudbury that evening
where I expect Mr. John Gainsborough
(if at Home) will receive You —
Today Iv'e wrote to Mr. Ford of Castle­
and have sent Papers — I
inform him you'll be there Monday next
(October 5th) Forenoon and that one of You will
preach at 2. or 3. Afternoon if desired, and
as may be agreed upon by them next Lord's­
­Day — Iv'e also wrote and sent Papers to
Mr. Field of Halstead informing that
you'll be at Halstead, from Heddingham, either on
Monday evening (October 5.) or Tuesday Forenoon and will
(one of You) preach for him at 2. or 3. o'clock Tuesday
if agreeable and so appointed by him and the People on Lords­
­Day — and have also wrote to Mr. Davidson Brain­
, sending Papers, and informing him of your Design
to be at Braintree, either Tuesday evening (October 6th) or
on Wednesday morning (October 7.) time enough to preach the
Lecture there which begins about 10. Forenoon — To Mr. Da­
's Friendship and affection Iv'e committed You, and
have asked him to plan for You both to the westward
and Eastward of Braintree in Essex — You'll see by what
Iv'e done You are fixed for next week until Wednesday
without any further Trouble to You of writing to Hed­
Halstead or Braintree — The Paper which
Ive sent to these ministers and to all others are a Pamphlet
(the Narrative) the brief account and the Testimonials — These
Iv'e accompanied with a Letter to the minister or principal
Person — I expect all were received before Yesterday — and
these 3 parcels into Essex (Heddingham, Halstead and Braintree)
will get into their Hands tomorrow — I expect, as I shall
send them by this Midnight's Coach — at Weathersfield
[illegible][guess: Stormbourn], Dunmow, Thaxted and other Places that You
may go to Westward of Braintree You may show my
Letter of recommendation (if You go to these Places) so
You may Eastward at Coggeshall, Dedham, Colchester,
[illegible][guess: Wisham] Chelmsford — Had I time and was it necessary
I would have wrote personally to the ministers of those Places, but that's not
necessary — Since You left Us I received a Guinea from good Mrs.
(Mother to Mr. Corsbie of Bury) which was off Mr. Occom's Bill
with Mr. Ollyett completely — Here I receive your Letter of 26th instant
from Ipswich— I'm glad Youv'e done so well at Yarmouth and Woodbridge
I should rather think it best to proceed to Heddingham Halstead and Braintree
(for to Melford and Sudbury You must go) and so go over Essex (West and East) as pro­
posed — You may afterwards go to Cambridge and take in Bishop Stortford and
some other [illegible][guess: Place] in your Tour to Cambridge
I expect Mr. Corsbie this Week in Norwich, I wish You'd send by him 1. dozen
of the Brief representations for I'm got to the last of them, and must send to
[illegible][guess: Lynn], Walpole, Framlingham, and several other small congregations in Norfolk
and Suffolk — On Friday last was a Grubstreet penny Paper published at
Norwich aiming foolishly (but without Wit) to expose the Instititution
and good Mr. Occom in particular — A very low Affair it is and utterly
below Notice — I'm sure Mr. Occom is Soldier good enough to despise a
Squib, and therefore would have sent You one to excite your Laughter and to show what
Sort of People we have among Us, was it not for this expense of Carriage which
it would not answer to You — I shall be glad to hear from You at Leisure
Many have inquired whether Iv'e word from You and now I can satisfy them —
This famous Catchpenny is called a Cry from the wilderness, or a converted
Indian's Application to a christian congregation, both indeed it's below Grub
and as innocent as to doing any mischief, as it's low, foolish and malicious —
Mr. Scott remains confirmed — Mrs. Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Newton and M[illegible] Ruggles and
our little Girl and Boy all think and speak of You both and join in salutations to yourself
and good Mr. Occom — May God bless You both! May He prosper this glorious
Cause! and May You live to see the blessed Effects of your Labours — Adieu heartily,

I am, my Dr. Sir — Very affectionately your's Samuel Wood
Dr. Wood
September 28

The rev. Dr. Whitaker
To be left at Mr. Corsbie's
Bishop Stortford

A historic market town and a staging post on the mail coach routes between London and Cambridge in Hertfordshire county, England.


A town in the county of Essex, in southeastern England, at the intersection of two Roman roads. By the 19th century, its wool trade was replaced by the silk industry.


Cambridge is a town located in southeastern England about 60 miles north of London in the county of Cambridgeshire. When the Iron Age Belgic tribe built the first settlement in the area in the first century BCE, Cambridge was the site of dense forests and marshes on the River Cam (at the time known as the River Granta). In 40 CE, the Romans first acquired the territory on which Cambridge would be built, followed later by the Saxons and the Normans. Cambridge’s roots as an intellectual center and university town date back to the Middle Ages. In 1209, scholars began arriving in Oxford, and 75 years later Hugh de Balsham, the Bishop of Ely, founded the first college in Cambridge. Five more colleges were established in the 13th century and ten more in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Castle Hedingham

Castle Hedingham is a village located in Essex County in southeast England. Although there is evidence that it was settled much earlier, the village's recorded history begins when it was given to Aubrey de Vere, one of William the Conqueror’s lords, in the 11th century. In 1140, Aubrey de Vere III built Hedingham Castle, of which the keep remains and is still a primary site in the village today. On his fundraising tour of England with Nathaniel Whitaker, Occom preached and lectured in Castle Hedingham in 1767.


A small market town in Essex, southeastern England, on the Roman road of Stane Street and intersected by the Blackwater River. It is known for its many ancient buildings, formerly extensive antiques trade, and a market that has run weekly on Market Hill since 1256, when Henry III granted its charter.


Colchester, a town northeast of London, dates from Roman times and is the oldest recorded town in Britain. After a penny paper aimed at hurting Occom and his cause was circulated in this area, Samuel Wood wrote a recommedation that he advised Whitaker to show in Colchester and other towns along his fundraising route.


Dedham is a village on the River Stour in the county of Essex in northeast England. Samuel Wood wrote to Whitaker that he sent a letter of recommendation as well as a "Pamphlet" (Wheelock's "Narrative") and "the Testimonials" of Wheelock's School's success to the minister or principal person of Dedham in anticipation of a visit from Occom and Whitaker on their fundraising tour of England in the Fall of 1767.


Dunmow is an ancient market town on the River Chelmer in the county of Essex in northeast England. It is now called Great Dunmow and encompasses the tiny village of Little Dunmow. Samuel Wood wrote to Whitaker that he sent a letter of recommendation as well as a "Pamphlet" (Wheelock's "Narrative") and "the Testimonials" of Wheelock's School's success to the minister or principal person of Dunmow in anticipation of a visit from Occom and Whitaker on their fundraising tour of England in the Fall of 1767.


Essex is a county located in southeast England, northeast of England’s capital, London, adjacent to the Thames River and the North Sea, and bordered by Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, and Kent Counties. The name Essex is derived from the Old English word for the East Saxons. On his fundraising tour of England with Nathaniel Whitaker, Occom preached and lectured in several towns in 1767 located in Essex County, including Castle Hedingham, Halstead, Braintree, Weathersfield, Dunmow and Thaxted.


Framlingham is a town located in East Suffolk County north of London in England. Framlingham’s existence dates back at least to 1086, when it was mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, Framlingham became an economic center for surrounding estates and gained fame for its castle of the same name, which was built in the 12th century. Framlingham, and specifically its church, was one of the proposed stops on Occom’s fundraising tour of England. In a letter to Whitaker in 1767, Samuel Wood explains that he will send letters of introduction for Whitaker and Occom to Framlingham, among other towns in the area.

Grub Street

Grub Street was a road in London that became famous in the 17th century for the many hack writers who lived in and around the street. Generally the writing coming out of the area surrounding Grub Street was characterized as vicious and of poor quality. Due to the area's reputation, the word "Grubstreet" came to refer to unreliable and sensationalist writing in general. In 1830, the actual road was renamed Milton Street.


Halstead is a town located in Essex County in England, northeast of London. Its name is derived from heald, the Old English word for sloping hillside, and stede, the Old English word for a place of shelter. Halstead, a civil parish, is home to St. Andrews Church, built in the 13th century, which survives today, and around which the town developed. On his fundraising tour of England with Nathaniel Whitaker, Occom preached and lectured in Halstead in 1767.


Ipswich is a large town located in Suffolk County, England, northeast of London. The oldest continuously settled town in England, it was first built by Anglo-Saxons as early as 625 AD and called Gypeswic (which means port). The town’s location near River Orwell made it a sustainable trading settlement with wool as the prominent export. After the decline of the wool industry in the late 17th century, other industries, such as shipbuilding, leather working, malting, and brewing began to grow. Despite this booming trade, natives of Ipswich were among the first to settle in North America; Ipswich native Nathaniel Ward founded Ipswich, Massachusetts. While on his fundraising tour of England with Whitaker, Occom visited Ipswich in 1767.


Norwich is a city on the River Wensum in the mid-eastern area of England. In the middle ages, it was the largest city in England after London, and until the Industrial Revolution, it was the capital of the most populous county in England, vying with Bristol for the position of England's second city. The area was originally the capital of the Iceni tribe, but became the Roman capital of East Anglia following an uprising led by Boudica around AD 60. The Anglo-Saxons settled on the site of the modern city between the 5th and 7th centuries, calling it "Northwic." It became a major center of the wool trade, markets and export, with many churches, a castle and a cathedral. Norwich experienced a strong Reformation movement in the mid-16th century and was home to various dissident minorities, such as the French Hugenots and the Belgian Walloon communities. After the Restoration of 1660, Norwich excelled in cloth manufacture, which brought increasing urbanization and a flourishing of intellectual life. The city's fortunes suffered in the 19th century until the railroad connection was established in 1845, and several manufacturing industries developed in the early 20th century. Norwich was an important stop for Occom and Whitaker on their fundraising tour of England.


Wethersfield is a village in Essex county in southeast England, northeast of London. Its name likely derives from a Viking invader named Wuthha or Wotha, whose "field" or clearing it was. People from Wethersfield emigrated to New England with the Pilgrims in the early 17th century, which is why there are Wethersfields in Connecticut, New York and Vermont. On one of their fundraising trips north of London, Occom and Whitaker visited churches in Essex County. Samuel Wood wrote a letter of recommendation and sent parcels containing Wheelock's "Narrative" of the Indian School to principal contacts in villages around the town of Braintree, one of these villaged being Wethersfield.

Great Yarmouth

Officially named Great Yarmouth (to distinguish it from Little Yarmouth nearby) but known to locals as Yarmouth, this ancient coastal town at the mouth of the river Yare is in Norfolk County in east-central England, northeast of London. It was the site of a Roman fort camp and a Saxon monastery. For hundreds of years it was a major fishing port for the herring fishery, which was replaced in the 20th century by a flourishing oil-rig supply industry after oil was discovered in the North Sea. It also had a shipbuilding industry and has been a seaside resort since the mid-18th century.

Wood, Samuel
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.

Ford, William

William Ford was descended from a long line of dissenting ministers and martyrs. His mother, the daughter of an eminent nonconformist, Reverend Nathaniel Vincent, married a successful London merchant named Mr. Ford. They had two sons, John and William, who both became distinguished dissenting ministers. John was pastor of several congregations at Sudbury, in Suffolk, from 1729 until his death in 1750. William was educated for the ministry in London under Dr. Thomas Ridgley and Mr. John Eames. He then served as chaplain to the family of Sir Daniel Dolins at Hackney and preached around London. On December 18, 1730 he was ordained as minister at Haberdasher’s-Hall with another young minister, Mr. Samuel Parks, who afterwards settled at Oxford. In May 1732, Ford received a call from the Independent church at Castle Hedingham, in Essex, which he joined that summer. He served there for more than 40 years. Ford's congregation at Castle Hedingham was large, around 700, and he was noted for never having preached twice from same text. At the end of 1773, he had a paralytic seizure; he soon left his post, and died at Islington, London, on 26 April 1778. Occom and Whitaker preached at Ford's church on their fundraising tour of England in the Fall of 1767 and Wheelock recorded the amount collected from the congregation in his "Narrative" for that year.

Gainsborough, John
Newton, Samuel
Newton, Mary (née Wood)
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.

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.
HomeSamuel Wood, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1767 September 28
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