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In Their Own Words

October 03, 1738

Letter to Trustees Evidence of Problems Colonists Faced

Throughout the first two decades of Georgia’s existence, the Trustees continually faced the problem of inadequate financial resources to support the colony. One reason was unanticipated expenses that continually arose, as evidenced by this letter from colonist Isaac Gibbs in Georgia to the Trustees:

“I with my wife, two sons about six and eight years old and a man servant set sail October 8, 1737 … . We had a very good passage ‘till we come to Charles Town bar, where we had the misfortune to strike and began to fear we should have been all lost, but through mercy we all escape[d] with out lives. The ship was left by every soul as a wreck … . I had laid out near £50 in linen goods for sale and some ironware mostly for my own use, which all received very much damage. And some of my household goods were quite lost, and our wearing clothes almost all spoiled, which, with our extraordinary stay and charge at Charles town, was about £20 loss to me. My wife also received very much hurt, being thrown out of the ship into the long boat and tossed about into another little vessel, of which hurt she languished and miscarried in January about a month after our landing in Georgia. Thus being weak and with the change of climate and alteration in living, she languished ‘till the beginning of June and died, which with other illnesses in my family has been above £20 extraordinary charge to me, which with my common family charge has drained my substance so that I am obliged to crave assistance from Your Honours’ Store.

“But I propose to have a plow if I can possibly, for it is a hard thing to come at in this place… .

“I would crave also the favour of Your Honours to grant another 50-acre lot… .

“If Your Honours would please also to grant me the favours which has been promised to the other settlers at this place I should be very thankful, such as a cow, a hog, &c, a gun and two or three old tools, which I am not provided with nor did I think of whilst in England. A cow would be very agreeable to our little ones in this place. Here is not one nor a drop of milk to be had in this place, so that we have not what is proper here to nourish them in their illnesses… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. II, pp. 349-350.