“Negroes, their souls are as precious
in ye light of God as any others.”
~ 1804 ~

Georgetown County, South Carolina
Copyright © 2000, Frederick Smoot. All Rights Reserved.

Front of 
Edmund Botsford, 1804 letter to London

Stampless Folded Letter Sheet. The mailing information and the letter are all on one single sheet of paper. The letter was written over a period of many days, 24 March to 17 April.
Gray Oval Ship Letter Postmark:
Manuscript: 10
         Rev. Doctor John Rippon
         No. 11 Grange Road
         Southwark ---
         Honored by
         Capt. Scott
British circular rust backstamp:
         J__ 27
Letter’s Author:
         Edmund Botsford

Geo Town March 24, 1804
Rev dear Sir.
         It has not been for want of inclination, or of matter that has prevented me from writing to you before this, but a consciousness of my inability to write any thing correctly, I am pleased however to see so many of my dear Brethren contribute to your design & assist you with intelligence for your Register, which I beg leave to inform you has been to me & many others highly pleasing & very profitable. I cannot pretend to describe pleasing sensations the reading of some things in your work has afforded me. I thank you, & I bless God from the bottom of my heart for inclining & assisting you in the same. Your selection of Hymns & your arrangement of Doctor Watts’s Hymns & Psalms I think deserve the thanks of all the friends of Zion. I think it my duty to recommend them as far as my very small influence extends. At this late period I sincerely thank you for the several little, but real tokens of respect with which you have favored me, for none more than the life of that good old disciple Mr. Leppard; I never saw the good old man, but I trust I shall in a little time; for I do not expect to live many more years. I have lived in this Town 7 years & I do not know if I have been instrumental to the conversion of one person -- I have baptised 4 Negroes, but they were not, strictly speaking, the fruit of my ministry. Negroes, their souls are as precious in ye light of God as any others. It is probable that you have heard of a pleasing revival of Religion at Beaufort, ye residence of my young friend Mr. Cook. It is rather extraordinary that ye revival has been & continues, among ye higher class, it is both among ye independents & Baptists -- I have been informed it originated by a visit of a Gentleman who had been on ye Judiciary Bench, by ye name of Elay, of ye State of Georgia, & who Sometime since has been baptised by Mr. Notcomb, & lately ordained a Minister of ye Baptist Society. it is said he is a most amiable character -- I have been invited to attend with him and & Doctor Furman at ye ordination of Mr. Charles Lereven -- I rather think I shall be prevented from attending -- If I do attend I shall take this letter with me finish & Send it from Charleston where ye ordination is to be performed. The friends of Britain, of whom I consider my self one, tremble for your fate -- I doubt not, thousands in America are pouring out earnest prayers for you preservation. We have been some time in great suspense respecting you, no Ship directly from any part of ye united Kingdom having arrived for an unusual length of time. Mar 27th Apl 1st The above appointment in Charleston does not take place till May. We have rec’d acct from Britton that ye Invasion had not taken place, that ye King was ill & that Prince of Wales was much displeased with ye Royal conduct toward him -- I sincerely wish you & my native Country the best of blessings. May we all be prepared for ye great events of which futurity seems pregnant.
I am Rev & Sir your humble servant
& unworthy Brother in ye Gospel
Edmund Botsford

Autograph of 
Edmund Botsford, 1804

         Will Doctor Rippon be so obliging amidst ye great variety of his important engagements, to employ a leisure minute to writ a line ye writer of this. April 4th Yesterday my drooping spirits were much revived by conversing with 2 persons whom I hope are converted & who it is probable will join our church at our next communion season -- my poor unworthy labours have been blessed to them -- who but these 2 are ye first fruits of a larger in gathering -- I know you Joy Amen. Lord’s  Day Apl15th. This day I baptised the two persons aluded to above., in Sampit River in preference of a very large number of Spectator. It was a fine pleasant day, the Congregation behaved with great seriousness -- A greater number staid to see us communicate than have staid for some years past. The persons I baptised were my fourth wife & her Sister & I will be thankful, forever thankful. He has heard my prayers, having in the course of my Ministry baptised 284 persons 60 of whom were black. But surely it is very trying to live 7 years in a place & ones labours not blesst to ye conversion of one soul. Notwithstanding my want of success I dare not conclude I ought not to be here. Our present place of worship stands at the S E extremity of ye Town in a low wet situation it was built by subscription for ye use of Independents and Presbyterians, when any of their ministers should come to town, as well as Baptists -- The house was out of repair, it would take a large sum to give it a proper one -- these considerations, together with our having a lot of our own (given by ye original Proprietor of ye town) in a pleasant convenient situation, induced us to open a Subscription for building a new House, one family and & ye several branches subscribe £ 420 pounds sterling. The dimensions of ye House are about 60 feet by 40 , exclusive of a Steeple, the house is built of wood on a brick foundation, it is now almost ready for service. We please our selves when we get into our new house our congregation will be more regular and respectable. On my return from our association at the High=hills of Santee Nov 1802, I attended a Camp-meeting at a place called Kings Tree, about 50 miles from this place. The meeting was convened & concluded by the Presbyterian clergy, 4 of whom were present, 2 Methodists & 2 Baptists, & about the 1000 people, it began on Friday & broke up on Monday. I think there was as little confusion or enthusiasm as ever I saw at a meeting of ye kind -- here I had an opportunity of seeing some of those strange bodily exercises, & was indeed my self a subject to them, tho not to so great a degree as some; ye chief agitation I felt was when in bed -- the cause & ye feeling are difficult to describe -- at ye time of ye agitation I had no particular impression of mine -- The next evening sitting by the fire, before our tent, where some young people were singing, I think it was about eight o’clock, in a very instantaneous manner I had such views of ye fulness of Christ, of ye goodness of God & of ye abominable nature of sin & its dire effects, that I never remember to have had, accompanied with an earnest desire to communicate my views to all arround me -- when ye singing was ended I began to exhort, sinner to believe in Christ, & Saints to honour him by a holy life & conversation -- I went frome fire to fire exhorting till 4 o~clock in ye morning. I came home happy & communicated what I had seen, heard & felt -- I set up evening lectures, from house to house, & seldom preached less than 5 or 6 times in ye week ye remainder of ye winter, ye ensuing Spring & Summer, till I was taken ill on ye 7th of October -- but no additions to our church -- The Methodists however have had a revival, attended with such confusion & disorder, that whenever I was among them I lost every span of devotion -- I hope some of ye work was accompanied with divine influence but I greatly fear ___ converted -- their doors are wide & several have been added to their Society & some already expelled -- ye great number who joined were ____[end of page]

         I have buried most of the respectable members of this church. Also a Daughter of nine years of age, an only son of 18 & my third Wife. On the 7th of last October I was seised with a violent fever which I fully expected would have terminated in death, but I was disapointed: On ye 26 of Novr I was enable to preach one sermon. The Winter has been very wet & uncomfortable, which with a peculiar complaint in my right eye, has prevented me from attending to the duties of my function in a great measure. However useless I have been in Geo Town to others, to me it has been a School of instruction. My last sickness was much blessed, I never saw so much of God & Christ, nor so much of sin & self -- so that I feel thankful for it, For what I am spared, time will discover, perhaps for greater trials; well the will of the heavenly Father be done, he knows best what will suit us & I think my desire is to be wholly at his disposal -- He called me by his grace when in ye midst of sin -- he called me to ye work of ye ministry when in such circumstances that every one thought it was a delusion -- He blessed my labour where there was little prospect of success -- He brought me through a variety of dangers & difficulties & does still support me even under the present trying scene; I am not destitude of hope yet of seeing some fruit of my poor unworthy labour in this place, The seed lie buried long in _st, it shant deceive their hope. Many a dear Servant of Christ has not been favored so much as I have been. When I entered on ye Ministry my cry was ’Lord bless me to one soul.

         My preaching in this Town many years ago was blessed to the awakening of Mr. Botsford -- Since Lords day I heard of two or three others persons who are on the enquiry. Last Lords day week 7 were baptised in Beaufort most of whom are very respectable character. Apl 17

         Edmund Botsford, the author of this letter, was born in England in 1745 (died 1819). He arrived in Charleston, South Carolina 1766 and he united with Baptist church of Charleston, Mar 13, 1767. He prepared for the ministry under Rev. Oliver Hart and in Feb 1771 was licensed to preach. He was invited to preach in Georgia by the Tuckaseeking brethren, remained there for one year. Botsford Baptist Church at McBean Georgia carries Rev. Edmund Botfotd’s name. He founded the church along the Savannah River in 1773. He later moved the church to Briar Creek near McBean, Georgia. He was ordained 14 Mar 1773, in Charleston, by Rev. Oliver Hart. Edmund Botsford left Georgia in the spring of 1779, for South Carolina. As our letter demonstrates, Botsford was instrumental in establishing a Baptist church in Georgetown. Today’s First Baptist Church in Georgetown is a direct descendant of Botsford’s church. Botsford died in 1818 at Georgetown and is buried there. His grave has recently been damaged by a falling tree, the grave is in need of restoration.

         Recommended articles by Dr. Thomas J. Nettles:
         Early Baptists and Easy-Believism
         The Rise & Demise of Calvinism Among Southern Baptists

         John Rippon, the recipient of the letter, was born 29 Apr 1751, Tiverton, Devon, England, and died, 17 Dec 1836, Surrey, England. He is buried at Bunhill Fields Cemetery, London. He wrote, “
A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, Intended to Be an Appendix to Dr. Watts’s Psalms and Hymns” (1787). His edition is claimed to be one of the most commonly used in hymn books today. He was also the editor of the “Baptist Register (Rippon’s Register).”

         “Doctor Furman,” mentioned in the letter would be Richard Furman who was pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston.

         “at Beaufort . . . my young friend Mr. Cook.” mentioned in the letter would be Joseph Cook.

         The “invasion” of “Britton” was in reference to the fact that England had declared war on France in 1803.

         Kings Tree is located in Williamsburg County, west of Georgetown.

From the Collection of Frederick Smoot
Provenance: Austin Miller 1998

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