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Lebeus Driver, letter, to Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 October 8

ms-number: 766558.3

[note (type: abstract): Driver writes to provide information about Whitaker and Occom's route through Southwest England, and about the ministers they will meet at each stop.][note (type: handwriting): Handwriting is bold and stylized, yet mostly clear and legible.][note (type: paper): Single sheet is in poor condition, with heavy staining, creasing and wear that results in a significant loss of text. A large square has fallen away from the paper, likely due to excessive creasing.][note (type: ink): Brown-black ink is faded in spots.]
[Gentn | Gentlemen]GentnGentlemen/
Hope this will meet you and find you under the smiles
of your master, Enjoying the tokens of his love to your Souls: His
People's to the [cauſe | cause]cauſecause you are [emarqu'd | embarked]emarqu'dembarked in.
Sounded in your behalf last week the Towns of Wincanton[place0242.ocp]
Milbourn[place0136.ocp] [Somerſet | Somerset]SomerſetSomerset[place0213.ocp]. Stalbridge[place0223.ocp] [& | and]&and Sherborne[place0211.ocp] [Dorſet | Dorset]DorſetDorset[place0061.ocp]. Yeovil[place0248.ocp]
did not go to. My name perhaps being obnoxious to a leader there.
Your way is I [preſume | presume]preſumepresume to give previous notice of your coming to [Rev:d | Rev.]Rev:dRev.
[M:r | Mr.]M:rMr. Hughes[pers0268.ocp] of Wincanton[place0242.ocp]. His place is but small. The neighbourhood good.
As to Stalbridge[place0223.ocp] Direct To [Rev:d | Rev.]Rev:dRev. [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Gray[pers1766.ocp] in Henshige-Marsh[place0100.ocp].
Milbourn-Port[place0136.ocp] to [Rev:d | Rev.]Rev:dRev. [M:r | Mr.]M:rMr. Newton[pers0390.ocp]. Thus far you'll proceed with
ease. But at Sherborne[place0211.ocp] [tho' | though]tho'though a [prmiſing | promising]prmiſingpromising place some [man[above] aagment | management]man[above] aagmentmanagement will
be [gap: tear][guess (h-dawnd): requisite]requisite [M:r | Mr.]M:rMr. Lewis[pers0329.ocp] The young [Paſtor | pastor]Paſtorpastor in our way. One above many,
[gap: tear]the New, little or [Seperate | separate]Seperateseparate, [tho' | though]tho'though largest people by far.
[gap: tear]e to him [& | and]&and people. But the latter are so stiff That
[gap: tear][illegible] [any thing | anything]any thinganything at the other [gap: hole]rger; but at their
[gap: tear]er He nor I [cou'd | could]cou'dcould beat [theim | them]theimthem out of that whim. Your
[gap: tear]eching at the other will give no umbrage. [Wou'd | Would]Wou'dWould
[gap: tear]mas Minister of that Meeting. he is a good [temper'd | tempered]temper'dtempered Man.
[gap: tear]ing very near. They intend [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): to]to give you a [Metting | meeting]Mettingmeeting at
[gap: tear]Yeovil[place0248.ocp] where I did not think it proper to appear in
[gap: tear]y write to honest [gap: hole][guess (h-dawnd): [Mr | Mr.]MrMr.][Mr | Mr.]MrMr. [gap: hole] Baptist Minister.
Nephew I think to your old Friend of that name at Bristol[place0020.ocp].
And to [M:r | Mr.]M:rMr. Parrot[pers0404.ocp] At The [Preſbyterian | Presbyterian]PreſbyterianPresbyterian meeting in that Town.
I wish you well in the Lord. Take care of your Corporal Tabernacles.
Believe you don't overrate ['em | them]'emthem Am pretty sure you can't do much
in the errand you are upon without ['em | them]'emthem. Commending your [perſons | persons]perſonspersons
and cause to our common Master. I remain yours [&c. | etc.]&c.etc.
Lebeus Driver[pers0171.ocp].
[note (type: editorial): Blank page.]

Dorset is a county in southwest England on the English Channel coast. Occom and Whitaker visited several towns in Dorset in the Fall of 1766.


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.

Henstridge Marsh

Henstridge Marsh refers to a village east of Henstridge proper in Somerset County in southwest England. The land was controlled by the Selesmarsh manor, owned by the Selesmarsh family in the thirteenth century. In the sixteenth century, the Selesmarsh developed fisheries and common pastures for sheep and cattle in the area. The land was divided into separate farmhouses in the seventeenth century.


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.


Westbury is a small town in southwest England, 25 miles southeast of Bristol. Because it sits on the westernmost border of Wiltshire County, its name derives from “west” and the Saxon word “burgh.” Humans have inhabited the area since at least the Stone Age. Beginning in the 1500s, Westbury became known for its clothiers, an industry that suffered during north England’s Industrial Revolution. Occom visited the area surrounding Westbury just before the Inustrial Revolution really took hold, staying in surrounding towns in the autumn of 1766 while conducting his fundraising tour with Nathaniel Whitaker. Supporters of Wheelock’s school, notably Lebeus Driver and the Calvinist minister Daniel Fisher, suggested audiences for Occom’s preaching when he visited the area.

Driver, Lebeus
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.


Gray was a minister, probably of a Congregational or Presbyterian church, in the small town of Henstridge Marsh, in Somerset, England. He was one of the clergymen Lebeus Driver directed Occom and Whitaker to contact and meet on their fundraising tour of England in 1765, but there is no other information about him. Records for Henstridge mention a Mr. Benjamin Gray in 1776 and in 1802 call him "the younger," but his occupation is listed as "farmer." A Benjamin Gray, esq. (d. 1832), is also listed as a resident of Pond House in Henstridge.

Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0037.ocp Whitaker recipient Whitaker, Nathaniel
pers0030.ocp Ocam Occom recipient Occom, Samson
pers0268.ocp M: r Mr. Hughes mentioned Hughes
pers1766.ocp Rev: d Rev. M r Mr. Gray mentioned Gray
pers0390.ocp Rev: d Rev. M: r Mr. Newton mentioned Newton
pers0329.ocp M: r Mr. Lewis mentioned Lewis
pers0404.ocp M: r Mr. Parrot mentioned Parrot
pers0171.ocp Lebeus Driver writer Driver, Lebeus

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0238.ocp Westbury Westbury
place0242.ocp Wincanton Wincanton
place0136.ocp Milbourn Milbourn-Port
place0213.ocp Somerſet Somerset Somerset
place0223.ocp Stalbridge Stalbridge
place0211.ocp Sherborne Sherborne
place0061.ocp Dorſet Dorset Dorset
place0248.ocp Yeovil Yeovil
place0100.ocp Henshige-Marsh Henstridge Marsh
place0136.ocp Milbourn-Port Milbourn-Port
place0020.ocp Bristol Bristol

This document does not contain any tagged organizations.

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1766-10-08 October 8.— 1766

Regularized text:

Type Original Regularized
modernization Rev:d Rev.
modernization Meſsrs Messrs.
variation Ocam Occom
modernization cauſe cause
variation emarqu'd embarked
modernization Somerſet Somerset
modernization Dorſet Dorset
modernization preſume presume
modernization M:r Mr.
modernization Mr Mr.
variation prmiſing promising
variation man[above] aagment management
modernization Paſtor pastor
variation Seperate separate
variation any thing anything
variation theim them
variation Metting meeting
modernization Preſbyterian Presbyterian
modernization perſons persons
modernization &c. etc.

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
& and
Gentn Gentlemen
tho' though
cou'd could
Wou'd Would
temper'd tempered
'em them

This document's header does not contain any mixed case attribute values.

Summary of errors found in this document:

Number of dates with invalid 'when' attributes: 0
Number of nested "hi" tags: (consider merging the @rend attributes, or using other tags) 0
Number of tags with invalid 'rend' attributes: 0 (out of 12)
Number of people/places/organizations with unknown keys: 0 (out of 23)
Number of "add" tags with unknown 'place' attributes: 0 (out of 1)
Mixed case attribute values in header (potential error): 0 (out of 124)
HomeLebeus Driver, letter, to Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 October 8
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