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Letter to Nathaniel Higginson


AUGUST 31, 1698.

Salem, August the 31st 1698.

My Beloved Son

Although my Self & yr Brothr Jno. have written to you Several times Since you went to ye Indias Yett we know not yt Ever you Received any one from us, & though I Question not but you have written divers Times to us Yett we have not Resd any one from you, Except ye first Year when you sent us yr Journal, wch I doe not Impute to any want of affection In yo but to some Unknown Accidents, as Intercepting of Lettrs &c Yett I am not discoraged from writting to yo again because (if ye lord please) this may come to yo though never any did before, I know yo are willing to heare from yr Relations & Native Country. In ye last lettr I Resd from yo befor yo wentto ye Indiaes yo Informed me that one Reason why yo left England was, you was willing for a time to be out of ye way of ye Troubles wch yo Saw coming upon Engld & yt ye Same Troubles would Reach us In N: Engld wch has most sadly come to pase for Sr Edmund Androse being sent over from K: Jeames to be Governr here wth a compa of sobjects nedy prsons Lawyers &c by ye Exercise of an arbitrary Government, ye foundation of all our Good things ware destroyd, ye wicked walked on Every Side & ye Vilest of men ware Exalted, ye Opressions & Sufferings of ye multitudes ware such, yt ye as Sone as they heard yt ye Prince of Orange was Gone for England, ye Country Rose in Armes Imprisioned ye whole Crew & Sent ym for England, but in little more yn a year ye country was brought into a Sad condition being also distresed by wars from ye Indians & ffrench both by land & Sea wch continues to this day & grate confusion in ye time of ye comitte of peace till it pleased god yt King William Gave us a new Charttr & Sent Sr Wm. Phip [a] Native of N: England (ye last sumer) to be our Governr wherby we hope for Some Riviveing By degrees, but ye nessesary Grate Taxations (30 000li one year), cause much murmering among ye people & by ye concurrance of many such causes N: Engd is Gratly deminshed & Impoverished & brought low & In noe place more yn In Salem wch had about 60 ffishr K: & othr Trading Ships belonging to it but is now Reduced to 15 ye whole fishr Trade bing ceased & ye men Scattered & Gone & ye affliction of this time hath fallen heavely upon me & my familly yt whearas yo know at first I had 160li p Annum but because yt was Troublesome I abattd 4li pr Ano yt I might Recr 100li money & 40 cord of wood wch I Enjoyed for many years till Sr Edmund Andros came yt ye way of Ratting was laid aside & left to a Voluntary contribution wch hath proved from many nontribution it hath ben for 6 years past but between 50 & 60li p an & it is not for ministers to contest a maintinance Especially in a time when ye people are inded Impoverished. Your brothr Jno is a Justice pc, Captt Horse (He is lately made Major of the Regimt) & much used in publick Occasions through ye blesing of god one his prudence & Industry he had attained a Competent Estate, he had five ffishr K: & ptt of two othr Trading Ships & did thrive in ye world, but by ye french taking his (& othr) K: he is now Reduced to one K: & a smal Shop he is now 44 & has 5 childr yr Brothr Thos is now 38 a Single man & yett nott in any settled way of Imployment haveing failed in yt he was in, I canott help him he is an object of pitty, & Soe is Especially yr poor Sister Dolliver being at last tottally deserted by her unkind husband (after he had spent all yt they had or yt I could doe for him) who was forced Severall years agoe She and her Children to returne home to me and live upon me She is alas by overbaring malloncolly crazed in her undrstanding. She is 46 an object of compassion your Sister whartons two Daughters Sarah & Bethiah are also by ye afflicting providence of God Cast upon me. You know yr Brothr wharton was a ma[n] of an Excellent Spirit when he married yr Sister Sarah he had an Estate of a 5000li & in an Increasing way of marchandizeing but since his second match ye providence of god frowned upon him many ways he lost at once 2000li of his Trading Estate by ye Grate fire in Boston, & a 1000li anothr time & Soe yt he was forced to Borrow much & put himself upon a designe of a coopr mine here at Wooburne by wch means he hoped to Recover himself, but in ye Vigerous prosicution of this designe at London it pleased God to take him out of this life he was much beloved & Lamented by all yt knew him & yo know he was a Good frenid of yrs. After his decease his Estate proved Insolvent & their is not a penny left for ye Children they have lived Wth me divers years & are upwards of twenty being objects of Grate compassion haveing had Liberal Education & now noe postions & I have little or nothing to Give unto ym I suppose you have heard your brothers Francis & Henry are dead.

Concerning yr self yo have ben by ye especial providence of god seperated from ye Rest of yr Brothren & I have been bereaved of yo this twenty years and wharas I intended you for ye ministrey & it was a Sore affliction to me yt you was Diverted from it, & I have thought Sometimes yt it may be God Intended you should be as a Joseph to preserve Relieve & Supply ye nesesseties of yo fathrs familly & yo owne flesh & blood of wch also there hath been a Recent Excample, here in Ne England not many Years since Young Andrson of Boston getting an Estate at Bantam (before ye change ther) he Sent such a considerable Supply to his aged fathr Brothr & Sisters as Enabled ym all to Live wel & Comfertably, when they ware but in a low condition before. Ye Truth is I Cannot Wth much confidence Propound this to you because (though I doubt not of Josr like andrson like child like Affection & brothrly love) I know not whether indeed yo have such an abillity yt you can doe as they did wthout wrong to yrself & yr Imploy yet being latly Informed by a neighbour In Salem coming from Barbados st yt he there spake wh ye Captains of 2 East Indr ships [&] they told him yt they knew yr self verry well & that you was Governr of Geoges forte from if this be Indeed soe and yt it may be wthout any wrong whence they came & yt you had a Greate Estate & Now to your Viz yt [you] can maintain your station cary on your Trade & Injoy ye fruits of yr owne Labour & yett out of an Over plus yt God has Granted you wch you can spare yt which may Reach to ye Supply of ye nessesetys of yr ffathr family & yr owne flesh & blood: then Indeed I propound to you ye Scripture Example of Joseph & ye N: Engd: Example of Anderson for yr Imitation

You may doe it Ether by sending from where yo are, or ordering from London iff yo have an Estate their or may procure it to be done by ye East India Compa whome you Serve as I have heard of Some Examples of that Kind & you know we have a cordial & tryed ffreind yr Unkle whitefeild yt will [be] Glad to be Imployed in Such a Service as Resring & transmitting ye Same unto us I am not Ignorant of ye many difficulties & cassualties in ye way by Reason of ye distance of time & place & Intervening accidents &c in all wch we must Submite to ye Providence of God wating upon in ye way of our Duty if he will please to prosper Such a designe because I am Aincient if you Should Joyne Mr Noyce wth your Brother Jno to distribute to ye Rest In case I Should be dead you may doe well, I would pray you to Send a Particular Remembr to yr Mothr her fformer husband left her 30li a year during her Life (which) I Should have had ffor my time but God took it away by ye Great fire at Boston. She hath been a Good wife to me & a good mother to my Children & been a prudent & Industrious manager of our ffamaly affaires. Methinks I would not have you Stay much Longer where you are but when you can come of wth honour & Safly & wth ye Leave & Good will of ye Eaft India Compa, yt you would Returne Either to Old or N England to Spend ye Rest of yr days among yr ffreinds & Relations divers desire it here Especially ye 2 Successive chamber ffellows, Mr. Noyce who hath ffully Answered ye Good carrected you Gave of him he is 45 & yet a single man & Captt Sewall who marring Mr Huls daughter of Bosto he left him a greate Estate, he hath been a good Brother Indeed In Recruting & Raising his Relations a good Exr for you to Imitate they both prsent their Special Respects & love to your self I could desire it too & yr Brothr Jno but must leave it to god.

Though I am now 77 yet through mercy, I Enjoy a better Health then formerly preaching Preaching once a Sabbath & my turne at ye Lecture Seldome failing my inwards are yet found & a pretty good Stomack, yet I feel ye crazines & decares (?) of old age gradually Growing Upon me I would be Glad if ye Lord please to see this which I have propounded accomplished before I dye, yt I may see ym in a better way to Live when I am Gone but I leave your Self & them & this whole buissines, to my gracious god & father in Christ who takes care of ye children of his Servant when they are dead & gone-. & now I shall tell you (in a word) wt are ye Cheife brathing desires of my Soul, O Lrd my God in they faver is ye life of my soul, thy saving Kindnes is bettr then liffe & to be wth Christ is best of all O yt I may find Grace in they Sight & yt Christ may be they covenant wth me and my covenant wth the yt I may win Christ & be found in him yt I may be accepted of him & yt I may be Sincere & wthout offence till ye day of Christ my dear Child let these be ye Chiefe desires of yo Soul also & Remembr Mattr 6 19: 20: 21 Mark 8: 34 to ye End 1 Timo 6: 17: 18: 19 then Shall wee assuredly meet in heaven tho we Should never more see on another here upon Earth Soe I Comend you t[o] ye Grace of God in Christ Jesus & Rest

yr Loveing ffather

John Higginson

When you write to me Informe of these three things

1 how ye breach betwene ye English & Indians is made Up & whethr be like to hold

2 whethr their be any track or footsteps of Christianity in those parts som authrs have writtin of ye Christians of Saint Thomas

3 What Reallity & progress of Christianity by ye dutch in ye Ile of Ceylon not far from you some years ago we heard their had been 300000 Baptized

This is a 3d letter written by one of your bro : Johns Sons.

Essex Institute Manuscript Collections, Misc. MSS.