Main content

Title: Charles Beatty's Appeal, viz. Distressed Presbyterians in America
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileBeatty, Charles/12
SenderBeatty, Charles
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationclergyman
Sender Religionunknown
OriginPennsylvania, USA
DestinationUlster, Ireland
Recipient Gendermale
Relationshipunacquainted fellow clergymen
SourceThe Belfast Newsletter, Tuesday, 14th April, 1761.
ArchiveThe Central Library, Belfast.
Doc. No.9706234
Partial Date
Doc. TypeLET
LogDocument added by LT, 25:06:97.
Word Count2200
TranscriptBelfast, June 16th, 1760.
The Memorial and Representation of Mr. Charles
Beatty, minister of Neshaminy, in name and behalf
of the corporation of the relief of poor and distressed
Presbyterian ministers in the province of Pensylvania
[Pennsylvania?], the counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex
upon Delaware;
To the Reverend the Members of the Synod of Ulster,
and to all pious and charitable Christians
Humbly sheweth,
THAT Pensylvania [Pennsylvania?], a province distinguished for
civil and religious liberty, has been peopled from
England, Ireland and Scotland, etc. That those in general
who held a parity amongst all gospel ministers, united
and formed churches after the Presbyterian plan,
both in that and the neighbouring provinces, New York,
New Jersey, Maryland, etc. and at length their ministers
agreed to hold a synodical meeting once a year, in the
city of Philadelphia.
As the first settlers were generally in low circumstances,
and were obliged to lay out a great part of their little all
in making settlements on their frontiers, they were unable,
and many of them unwilling, to make any tolerable
provision for the support of a gospel ministry; they
were highly pleased with the prevailing principles, that
ministers should work for their livings, and preach for
Many of the lower ranks who flocked there, were ignorant,
disorderly and untractable, readier to learn the
vices of their Indian neighbours, than to teach them the
more perfect ways of God. They were soon dated with
the name of planations, though their present wealth
was no more than the mere necessaries of life. Thinking
too highly of themselves, they were apt to despise
the ambassadors of the meek and lowly Jesus. Swayed
by their unruly passions, they were not easily brought to
the strict and civilized conduct which his gospel requires.
Many worthy Protestant ministers, who left Europe with
a truly catholic spirit, to promote the kingdom of Christ
in that wilderness, and may educated in that country,
had those and other great uncommon difficulties to struggle
with. They earned their bread, in a great measure,
with the sweat of their brows, freely preaching the gospel
of the grace of God: but as their stations prevented
them from following the more gainful employments of
life, their families were frequently left forlorn and
destitute. Often have surviving friends seen, with the
deepest sorrow and regret, the widows and children of
these great and good men, who had been examples of
industry, of hospitality, of patience, of every good work
to their flocks, reduced to the most pinching straits,
while they were unable to afford them any suitable relief.
Such hardships and distresses were not peculiar to the
servants of our Lord who were first called to labour in
that uncultivated part of his vineyard, but were, and
still are, sensibly felt by their successors: arising partly
from the dispositions of too many who resort to these
places, partly from surrounding barbarians, and partly
from the situation or low circumstances of their respective
congregations. Some congregations, even in the
interior parts of the provience, are not able, without
assistance from others, to maintain their pastors, and yet
are so situated, that unless they have settled ministers
amongst them, they must either abondon their profession,
after the example of, alas! too many of their neighbours,
or become a prey to the erronous sects around them.
It is obvious, that the labour of the ministers
and the dangers to which they are exposed must be
great, while their livings are small, and what is still
worse, extremely precarious, because their people are
continually shifting their habitations, either from a love
of variety, or from the prospect of more commodious
dwellings. What a minister enjoys to day, he cannot
flatter himself with to-morrow. The most promising
settlement of Presbyterians may, in a few years or
months, be entirely possessed by Moravians, or any other
society, however heretical, if they call themselves
These things have been always great discouragements
to pious and good men in the ministry. They have
also been great hinderances to parents from educating
their children for this necessary and honourable, but
laborious office. They may soon bring the gospel ministry
into contempt, by its falling into weak hands; and will,
if a timely remedy is not applied, deprive many
congregations, in that vast wilderness, of the ordinances
of divine institution.
Great however, as these difficulties are, the Corporation
and Synod would not have been burdensome to their brethren
in this happy island, if a very afflicting dissensation
of Providence had not greatly increased their calamities.
An Indian war broke forth; a savage, barberous enemy,
prompted by the perfidious French, like prowling wolves,
fell on the peaceful habitations of their frontier
inhabitants,and time after time plundered and robbed,
murdered and scalped, without regard to age or sex. The
innocent babes, torn from their mothers breasts, were
dashed against the trees, or buried alive in presence of
their almost distracted parents; while the unhappy parents
durst not vent one groan, or drop a single tear, over
their slaughtered little ones, much less find fault, lest
they should have shared in the same dreadful fate.
As the frontier counties of Pensylvania [Pennsylvania?]
and Virginia were mostly settled by people of the
Presbyterian persuasion from Ireland, their ministers
have felt the blow severely. Several of their congregations
were entirely broken up, and numbers of their people led
into captivity, many of whom are in bondage among the
Heathen to this day, subjected to the cruelest tortures,
and in danger every moment of the worst of deaths.
The ministers, thus bereaved of their flocks, were
obliged to fly from place to place, reduced to the dilemma
of seeking shelter in the innermost parts of the
province, distressed with war, or to go forth to repel
the enemy, with such of their people as had escaped
their barbarous hands.
The memorialist thought it his duty and honour to
take part in their affliction, and accompained to the
Honourable Commissioners, employed by the Government,
and other Gentlemen, who, animated with love to their
country, and zeal for their civil and religious priviledges,
exposed themselves to the inclemency of a severe winter,
and to all the dangerous incursions of the Indians,
till they built forts for the defence of the frontiers.
He also continued, with the army of the Provincials till
the French were forced to fly from Ohio, and until Fort
Du Quesns (now Pittsburgh) was in his Majesty's possession.
This he has mentioned, not out of vain glory, or as
pretending to any distinguished merit, but that the reader
might know he does not speak from heresay, does not retail
vague uncertain stories, but narrates undoubted facts;
facts no less true than melancholy, of which he had access
to the most certain information, or was himself the
mournful spectator.
The honourable gentlemen, propretaries of the province,
being well informed of, and deeply affected with the
calamitous circumstances of such of the inhabitants
as are of the Presbyterian persuasion, and sensible that
their reverend ministers had distinguished themselves
by their loyality to the best of kings, had been extremely
useful in defending their country, and in promoting
religion, virtue and industry, among the people under
their care; have, out of their great benevolence and
humanity, erected a charitable corporation, by letters
patent, for the relief of distressed Presbyterian
ministers, and for the support of their widows and
children. In the letters patent such gentlemen and
ministers were nominated to accept this important trust,
as gave the greatest satisfaction to the united synod
of York and Philadelphia; who pursuant to the powers,
where with they are vested, propose to establish a fund
for the support and relief of such ministers as are or
may here after be called to preach the everlasting
gospel among the benighted Indians, or to such
congregations as cannot afford them sufficient
Both the gentlemen and ministers of the province,
who are able, have chearfully set their shoulders to this
burden, and will exert themselves to the utmost to
promote such a great and good design: but finding that all
they can do will go but a short way towards raising the
sum which it necessarily requires, they did nominate and
appoint the memorialist to apply, in their name, and in
their behalf, to their Christian brethren in Ireland,
with full powers to receive and transmit such sums and
donations as they shall think meet to bestow for this
pious, charitable purpose.
Though he has given only a few passing hints of the
distressed situation of many worthy ministers, and the
desolate circumstances of their respective flocks in the
province of Pensylvania [Pennsylvania?], the counties of
Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex upon Delaware, etc. which,
if fully ennumerated, would fill many volumes; he
apprehends enough has been said to bespeak the
compassionate regards of all the friends of religion
and liberty.
To relieve such distresses, the society in England for
propagating the Christian religion yearly bestow a
considerable sum on their missionaries; and the hardy
frugal Germans were under a necessity to apply both to
England and Holland for relief: they were assisted by
charitable donations from the King, many of the
nobility and others, and even by a general collection
from the church of Scotland.
The memorialist may venture to say without offence,
and with great truth, that no denomination of ministers
on the vast contient are more painful and industrious,
or have a juster claim to the charity of the ministers
and people of Ireland, than those for whom he pleads.
The far greater part of them are their brethren by the
ties of nature in the most literal sense; many of them,
they trust, by the more endearingties of grace; andd all
of them the subjects of the same gracious sovereign;
they are the servants of the same great Lord and Master,
hold the same doctrines and walk by the same rules:
their number is great, their necessities still greater;
they and their people are every day at the hazard of
their lives, enlarging the bounds of Christ's kingdom,
and extending at the same time, the British empire.
The far greater part, now in arms, contending for our
happy constitution against French and Indians, are of
that denomination: none have exerted themselves more,
and none have suffered so much in the glorious contest:
many of them as above mentioned, are still in bondage
among the Heathen; and those who have escaped with their
lives are stript of their All; their houses burnt, their
fences destroyed, their plantations laid waste, and to
speak within bounds, their country for 60 or 70 miles
(a few forts excepted) one continued ruin; and, what
afflicts them still more, they are deprived of the
means of grace. These are the objects that solicite
your charity, not to relieve their bodily straits,
however great and pressing; but to supply their
spiritual wants, to enable them, by giving a little
out of your abundance, to maintain those who are called
to dispense amongst them the bread and the water of life,
which has often refreshened your own souls.
The Memorialist shall only add, that his constituents,
the ministers and gentlemen of the Corporation and Synod,
in whose name he speaks, beg that their Christian
friends and brethren would regard them as guardians
taking care of an infant church, in great distress,
amidst a vast wilderness. They plead for ability to
spread the gospel of peace through the dark places
of the earth, that have been long the habitations of
cruelty. They plead for the faithful ministers of
Christ, and zealous asserters of British liberty, who
languish amidst misery and want. They plead for many
congregations in danger of no more hearing the glad
tidings of salvation. They plead also for vast
numbers of the rising generation, who, without your
friendly aid, may be for ever deprived of the most
inestimable blessing, public instruction and gospel
ordinances. Charity is a most exalted grace: it is
highly beneficial to mankind; will be loudly applauded,
and receive an ample reward in the great day of
recompence. Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard,
nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive,
what glory and felicity awaits those who, out of love
to God, and concern for the Mediator's kingdom, shall
contribute for promoting this Godlike design, of saving
souls from death. Great, unspeakaby great, shall be
their reward in heaven, when they that have done good,
"shall shine as the firmament", and "they that turn
many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever".
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, held at
Edinburgh May 15, 1760, having considered the above
representation, together with the certificates produced
by the Memorialist, they did authorise and appoint a
collection to be made in behalf of the petitioners; but
as the money to be expected from the collection will go
but a short way towards executing the extensive plan of
the Synod and Corporation, the Memorialist plan of the
Synod and Corporation, the Memorialist humbly hopes for
the kind and charitable assistance of the friends of
religion in Ireland, for promoting such pious and
necessary purposes.