This letter, written by Thomas Mitchell in Amsterdam to his uncle, Experience Mitchell, in Duxbury in 1662, is the oldest document held by the DRHS’ Drew Archival Library. The letter tells of the death of Experience’s sister and enquires about family matters.
Experience Mitchell (c. 1603 – 1689) arrived in Plymouth Colony aboard the ship Anne in 1623. In 1637 he was part of the first group of settlers in Duxbury and acquired land on the north side of what is now Harrison Street, on the Blue Fish River. Thomas Mitchell was the son of Experience’s sister who had stayed with the Separatists in Holland. Although Experience did not come aboard the Mayflower, he and others like him that arrived in the early years of Plymouth Colony are still considered Pilgrims. Immigrants to Plymouth Colony came not only on the Mayflower in 1620, they also arrived on subsequent ships, Fortune in 1621, and the vessels Little James and Anne in 1623.
Read the transcription of his letter below:
Loving and kind uncle my hearty love and kind salutation. I do here desire unto you hoping and wishing you and yours wellbeing both in Soul as in body. I shall here communicate unto you a sad dispensation of the Lord toward me in the taking away from me out of this life my most dear and tender Mother the which unto me indeed is a great loss not only missing her most tender affection to me and over me (the which is very much) but also the most sweet and Godly example of piety by the which as by her Counsel Godly persuasions she did labor to bring me and us all here with her to see and experience more & more the sweetest of walking in the ways of God in obeying of him and in keeping close unto him the missing of which you may easily judge cannot but be sad unto us here. Nevertheless we do desire seeing it this is the will of our God to administer unto us having appointed unto us all to die, to labor to be contented and submit unto the will of our God. Considering the goodness of Almighty even in this providence the which had it been long afore would a have been more sad in respect of my minority and young years it being always her desire to see me to come to age afore she should depart this life the which mercy the Lord hath granted unto us for I am now about 23 years of age and able sundry years ago through the mercy and goodness of the lord my God to subsist in the world by my fathers trade the which is indeed a good consideration and give me occasion to awaken my soul and yet to be thankful to God especially when I mind the sadness the which she was in of late being very weakly out of which the lord has delivered her having taken her out of this sad and toilsome world a world of misery and has brought her to the kingdom of his dear son to an inheritance immortal in light. Thus most loving uncle I have communicated the sad. Received a letter from you bearing date 23 April 1661 in the which I understand concerning all your healths at the hearing of which I am very glad. I do also wish my cousin Elizabeth much joy with her daughter that God has given her to her 6 sons. I do also wish my cousin Sarah much joy in her married estate and as touching your enclosed letter for Mr. Preserved May I have delivered it and do return an answer and now as touching my two sisters and their husbands and children they are well and do most heartily remember their love unto you and unto their cousins and I pray remember me most kindly to your wife and unto all my loving cousins the which to name I cannot. Also I pray you uncle do so much as to present my respects and my sisters and their husbands to my Aunt and my Cousin Joseph and acquaint her concerning my dear mothers departing. I would have written to her also but I wanted time the ship being to go away pray my Aunt and Cousin to write and not fail and I pray do you also no fail to write and so commending you all to the Lord I shall remain where I am
Your very loving cousin
In Amsterdam 24 July 1662
Uncle yet a word the which perhaps you have not heard of, the which is the decease of Mr John May and Uncle Dickens which died both about half a year since.
For to be delivered unto his very loving Uncle Mr. Experience Mitchell dwelling in Duxbury Town in New England. To be sent.
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