In Their Own Words
September 17, 1735
Trustee Notes on Sending Wesleys and a Debtor to Georgia
In London, Georgia’s Trustees took up a number of matters at this day’s meeting. Among those was the brief mention of sending two brothers to Georgia. The other matter relates to whether the Trustees had intended Georgia to be a debtors’ colony. We know that very few imprisoned debtors were ever sent to Georgia, but there was at least one:
“Mr. Burton informed us that two gentlemen, one a clergyman, bred at the University [Oxford}, and who have some substance, have resolved to go to Georgia out of a pious design to convert the Indians. They are brothers and their names Wesley… .
“Mr. [John] West, our late bailiff [in Savannah] attended. His desire is to have 500 acres and to part with his house and 50 acre lot [in Savannah], and in consideration of God’s good providence in retrieving him from poverty into good circumstances by going to Georgia, he leaves it to us to charge him with what sum of money we please towards other distressed persons who go to Georgia. He was a broken blacksmith by trade, and relieved out of fail by the Debtors’ Act, swearing himself not worth 10£. We found him an honest, sensible man, and sending him over in the first embarkation with Mr. Oglethorp made him one of the bailiffs or chief magistrates of Savannah town. As he went on the poor list, his lot was a house in town and 50 acres of land. He followed his trade of blacksmith there, and took 10£ a week by his work. Soon after his arrival he married the widow of another that went over, by which her half of her husband’s 50 acres and his house fell to him for her life, which house he has set for 20£ per annum. He desired to quit his magistracy that he might have a gentleman’s lot of 500 acres, and has obtained our consents to sell his own house and 50 acres, and for that end came over… .”
Source: U.K. Historical Manuscripts Commission, Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1923), Vol. 2, pp. 194-195.