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In Their Own Words

August 19, 1734

Yamacraws Visit with Archbishop Recorded

In London, the Earl of Egmont recorded in his diary an account of the Yamacraw Indians’ visit with the Archbishop of Canterbury on the previous day and on the Yamacraws views on God and praying:

“They were yesterday to see the Archbishop of Canterbury, and were extremely pleased with their visit. They had apprehensions that he was a conjuror, but the kind reception he gave them altered that imagination. The Archbishop would have put some questions to them concerning their notions of religion, but they have a superstition that it is unfortunate to disclose their thoughts on these matters, and refused to answer. They attributed the death of their companion [Tomochichi’s cousin, who had died of smallpox] to having too freely spoke thereof since they came over. Nevertheless the King [Tomochichi] was so taken with the Archbishop that he said he must come again alone to talk with him. At coming away he said he now really believed they should have some good man sent them to instruct them and their children.

“He showed his politeness in that visit. The Archbishop refused (out of respect to them) to sit down, though so weak as to be supported on the arms of two servants all the time they were with him … .

“I have in another place mentioned their notions of religion; their belief of one God who resides above, their wishes that He will prosper them, which implies a Providence, and a happy place for souls departed… .

“They say God will, when He pleases, reveal knowledge to them, but they expect it will be to their youth, for the grown men having killed an enemy are polluted and must not expect it. They have a dependance [sic] on God, that He will do what is best for them, and that He knows better what is fit than they; wherefore they look on it as foolish to tell God their wants, or pray to Him… . Moreover, they believe it a great fault to pray to images, as they see the French and Spaniards do, and imagine the Cross to be some bad spirit to whom they pray.”

Source: Historical Manuscripts Commission [U.K.], Manuscripts of the Earl of Egmont. Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (Viscount Percival) (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1923), Vol. II, p. 121-123.