Primary Resource

Letter from Virginia Slaves to Bishop Edmund Gibson (August 4, September 8, 1723)

In this letter to the Edmund Gibson, bishop of London, dated August 4 and September 8, 1723, one or more anonymous Virginia slaves appeal for their release from bondage and their education. It is unknown how the letter reached the bishop.

Transcription from Original

August the forth 1723

to The Right Raverrand father in god my Lord arch Bishop of Lonnd

this coms to sattesfie your honour that there is in this Land of verJennia a Sort of people that is Calld molatters which are Baptised and brouaht up in the way of Christian faith and followes the wayes and Rulles of the Church of England and sum of them has white fathars and sum white mothers and there is in this Land a Law or act which keeps and makes them and there seed SLaves forever—

and most honoured sir a mongst the Rest of your Charitabell acts and deed wee your humbell and poore partishinners doo begg Sir your aid and assisttancce in this one thing which Lise as I doo understand in your LordShips brest which is that your honour will by the help of our Sufvering Lord King George and the Rest of the Rullers will Releese us out of this Cruell Bondegg and this wee beg for Jesus Christs his Sake who has commaded us to seeke first the kingdom of god and all things shall be addid un to us

and here it is to bee notd that one brother is a SLave to another and one Sister to an othe which is quite out of the way and as for mee my selfe I am my brothers SLave but my name is Secrett

and here it is to bee notd againe that wee are commandded to keep holey the Sabbath day and wee doo hardly know when it comes for our task mastrs are has hard with us as the Egypttions was with the Chilldann of Issarall god be marcifll unto us

here follows our Sevarity and Sorrowfull Sarvice we are hard used up on Every account in the first place wee are in Ignorance of our Salvation and in the next place wee are kept out of the church and our matrimony is deenied us

and to be plain they doo Look no more up on us then if wee ware dogs which I hope when these Strange Lines comes to your Lord Ships hands will be Looket in to

and here wee beg for Jesus Christ his Sake that as your honour do hope for the marcy of god att the day of death and the Redemtion of our Savour Christ that when this comes to your Lord Ships hands your honour wll Take Sum pitty of us who is your humble butt Sorrowfull portitionors

and Sir wee your humble perticners do humblly beg the favour of your Lord Ship that your honour will grant and Settell one thing upon us which is that our childarn may be broatt up in the way of the Christtian faith and our desire is that they may be Larnd the Lords prayer the creed and the ten commandements and that they may appeare Every Lord's day att Church before the Curatt to bee Exammond for our desire is that godllines Shoulld abbound amongs us and wee desire that our Childarn be putt to Scool and and Larnd to Reed through the Bybell

which is all att prasant with our prayers to god for itts good Success

before your honour these from your humbell Servants in the Lord

my Riting is vary bad I whope yr honour will take the will for the deede

I am but a poore SLave that writt itt and has no other time butt Sunday and hardly that att Sumtimes

September the 8th 1723

To the Right Reverrand father in god

my Lord arch bishup of J London

these with care

wee dare nott Subscribe any mans name to this for feare of our masters for if they knew that wee have Sent home to your honour wee Should goo neare to Swing upon the gallass tree