Edward Mashborne – Letter of April 25, 1716


This is the most important document in MASHBURN genealogical research. In it we learn that Edward was born in London. That he was living in Nausemond County, Virginia and escorted Mr. Rainsford into North Carolina. That he was born in London and was the stepson of Edward Lloyd (of Lloyd’s Coffee-House of London) and that he was not above trying to use this connection to gain employment. The lamentable state of affairs that Edward mentions is the fact that Quakers are gaining a foothold in the North Carolina and have started a school.

The MGA would like to thank Connie Mashburn who gave send this data to me. He received it from Mrs. I.M. Stinson who found the letter on a trip to England. Mrs. Stinson also found Edward’s baptism record in the parish records of St. Giles-in-the-Fields.

The SPG Letter

To the Secretary.
Nansemond in Virginia—
April the 25th. 1716 Most Worthy Sir:
The fair Opportunity yet offers me at this juncture of the Reverend Mr. Rainsford’s returning from these parts for Great Britain encourages me to address you after this manner, though at the same time I hazard a presumption by declaring my intentions by letter rather than petition. At the arrival of your late missionary, Mr. Rainsford in Virginia, I had the happiness to guide him in his way for North Carolina., and received from him several small tracts with the Society’s “Collection of Papers” that were very satisfactory to me; and proved not only advantageous to myself in particular, but to the children committed to my care in general, some of them explaining the Church’s catechism after so familiar and easy a manner that through God’s ______ I have fixed, not only in the children, but those in riper years, the fundamentals of religion, whereby they are able to give a rational and well grounded account of the faith in which! they were baptized in. Through this prospect of doing further good, I took the liberty of sending this, hoping that my well meant intentions may be compiled with. I find in the book entitled “The Collection of Papers”, the Society’s readiness to entertain such schoolmasters, as well as ministers, who are of good repute and well recommended to __em, and much the sooner for their offering themselves to them. This indulgence gave me some assurance of my future acceptance with that venerable body. It’s proper that I should mention the place of my birth, which was in London, and [I] am son to the late Mrs. Lloyd who operated a coffeehouse on Lombard Street, who I presume may be known to some of the Society. I have continued here in Virginia these eighteen years a school master, but finding the much greater necessity for one of my business in North Carolina rather than this place, and the lamentable circumstances they lie under in! that Government, old as well as young, for want of education, I humbly presume to offer myself to the Society for that employ[ment]. My character, I bless God, is well known to be inoffensive, and my labors have been indefatigable. The gentleman, from whom the inclosed recommendation comes, may satisfy to that particular. My life and deportment will bear the test of what’s required from schoolmasters by the Society, and for my other qualifications, writing, arithemetic, and instructing children in the principles of religion, the subscribers ____ [below?] testify for me, as well as the reverended gentleman, the bearer. If you please to communicate this to the Society, I shall be very grateful for the honor and should they condescend to entertain me, my utmost diligence should be exerted in _______ ________ and religious and undertaking. The condition of that government is well known to Mr. Rainsford, and he can amply satisfy the ! Society in these particulars. I presume to add no more, being with great veneration, Your most obedient humble servant, Edward Mashborne


Society of the Propagation of the Gospel, Letter Book A-11, pages 400-402, London, England. This letter was transcribed verbatim line by line by Mrs. I.M. Stinson at the SPG archives in London and has been given modern spelling and punctuation by Steve Allen Mashburn. Also copies of the letterbooks are on file at Duke University in Raleigh, N.C.

Bookplate with the SPG motto, Cross the Ocean to Serve. Despite the recommendation of the Bishop of London, the SPG choose not to support Edward Mashburn’s endeavors at the Indian school.

17th Century Schools

Education in London

Charity Schools

The Fable of the Bees

Pro. Sommerville’s Correspondence

Professor C(harles) John Somerville is an University of Florida historian who is an recognized expert on childhood in the 17th and 18th century. He was asked if Edward Mashburn’s letter contained any indication of where he may have recieved his schooling.

Date: 11/14/00

Dear Steve,

Thanks for sending the letters. The only thing that strikes me about them is that Mashburn doesn’t list the school that he attended (if any) in London, which would have been known to the officials of the SPG. Nor does he indicate that he would be capable of teaching Latin, to anyone who wanted to go on to any of the (three) colonial colleges that could prepare them for the ministry. The letter seems a bit awkward too, at a time when grammar school students would have been trained in epistolary prose. But after all, service on the colonail frontier would not have been a very attractive career possibility for people then, and we can assume that Mashburn’s prospects had not been very bright in London. I expect that his schooling must have been spotty.

John Sommerville

In support of Professor Sommerville’s statements, it is interesting to compare Edward Mashburn cirriculum with the 1712 curriculum of the Boston Latin Grammar School.