Primary Resource

Letter from George Thorpe to Sir Edwin Sandys (May 15–16, 1621)

In a letter dated May 15–16, 1621, the Virginia colonist George Thorpe tells Sir Edwin Sandys, the Virginia Company treasurer, of his attempts to convert Virginia Indians to Christianity.

Transcription from Original

Hoble Sr

vnto whom although §I owe§ verie much and am willinge to paie some thinge, yeat soe slender hath bine the haruest of o[u]r Labors, that I cann scarce finde out what to offer, insoemuch as I doute God is displeased wth vs that wee doe not as wee ought to doe, take his seruice a longe wth vs by or serious endeuours of conuertinge the Heathen that Liue round aboute vs and are dayly conersant amongst vs §&§ yeat is there is scarce any man amongest vs that doth soe much as affoorde §them§ a good thought in his §hart§ and most men wth theire mouthes mouthes giue them nothinge but maledictions and bitter execrations beinge thervnto falslye caried wth a violent mis[per]swation (growen vppon them I knowe howe) that these poore people haue done vnto vs all the wronge and iniurie that the malice of the Deuill or man cann affoord whereas in my poore vnderstandinge if there bee wronge on any side it is on ors who are not soe charitable to them as Christians ought to bee, they beinge (espetiallye the better sort of them) of a peaceable & vertuous disposition, only they are a little crauinge and that in a niggardly fassion for they will comonly [par]te wth nothing they haue whatsoeuer what is giuen them, they begin more and more to affect English ffassions and wilbe much alured to affect vs by gift[s] if the company would bee pleased to send somethinge in matter of apparell & householdestufe to bee bestowed vppon them I meane the King[s] I am [per]swaded it woulde make a good entrance into their affections they beinge as I think first to be del dealt wth by the booke of the worlde as beinge nearest to theire seance sence, I thinke likewise that the company shall doe well to make some publicke declaration of theire intente and deseir of the conuertion of this people and there wthall a testification of theire loue and hartie affection toward[s] them to bee sent hither and published thereby to molifie the mind[s] of or people, you will [per]ceaue by or Letters in what a poore takinge wee are in for you[er] Iron work[s] yeat I haue furnished them wth a mason of my own that hath buylt many Iron

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furnasses in England and I hope shall [per]form this here whervnto my help and often prsence shall not bee wantinge The whole people haue begune to plant vines this yeare and for my owne [par]te I haue planted for the Coledge nere tenn thousand and doe intend god willinge euerie yeare to sett more then double that number. The Silke-worme-seed is all perished sauinge a verie smale quantitie sent mee in the supplie of Bristoll of wch the Gouernor hath taken great care & I hope wee shall bringe it to [per]fection & doe intend to saue it all for seede.

In the matter or Gouerment here wee are many times [per]plexed sometimes for lacke of Legall officers & some times for wante of book[s] I woulde therefore intreate you to send vs the newe booke of thabridgment of Statut[es] and Stamford[s] pleas of the Crowne and m[r] west['s] prsident[s] and what other Lawe book[s] you shall thinke fit and if you please likewise t[o] send vs Gerard['s] Herball thereby to make comparison of the simples of the Countrey.

By reason of the Spaniard[s] behauiour toward[s] Captaine [Anthony] Chester wee haue some reason to doute wee maie alsoe heare of them in this place I praie therefore bee a meanes wee maie haue some Pikes sent vs wch weapon the maner of or peoples for fightinge ye wth the natiues hath worne quite out of vse but if shall haue to doe wth the Spaniard wee must fight wth him in his treanches wch hee that cann doe wth a Pike is a better Soldier then I. Euen soe wth my pra praier to thalmightie for you[r] heath & happines I rest.

You[r] most assured Louinge ffrende to searue you
Geo. Thorpe

James Cittie this 15th of Maie 1621

If you chance to heare mee ill spoken of by any that came from hence I praie you Judge charitablely till you bee better informed for I thanke god I haue the testimony of a good conscience that I haue done noe man wronge only I doe desier to bringe drounkennes & some other sinns out of ffation & If I liue I doute not but I shall doe it.

… [Indorsed by Sir Edwin Sandys:] Mr George Thorp from Virginia. By ye Bona Nova 16 Maij: 1621.