Make your own free website on

Rolph's Letter to Sir Thomas Dale
The coppie of this Gentleman's Letter to Sir Thomas Dale, that after married Powhatan's daughter, containing the reasons that moved him thereunto.

"Honorable Sir, and Most Worthy Governor:--When your leasure shall best serve you to peruse these lines, I trust in God the Beginning will not strike you into greater admiration than the end will give you good content. It is a matter of no small moment, concerning my own particular, which here I impart unto you, and which toucheth me so nearly as the tenderness of my salvation. Howbeit, I freely subject myself to your great and mature judgment, deliberation, apporbation, and determination; assuring myself of your zealous admonition and godly comforts, either persuading me to desist, or encouraging me to persist therein, with a religious fear and godly care, for which (from the very instant that this began to roote itself within the secrete bosome of my breast) my daily and earnest praiers have bin, still are, and ever shall bee poored forthwith, in as sincere a goodly zeal as I possibly may, to be directed, aided, and governed in all my thoughts, words, and deedes, to the glory of God and for my eternal consolation; to perservere wherein I had never had more neede, nor (till now) could ever imagine to have bin moved with the like occasion. But (my case standing as it doth) what better worldly refuge can I here seeke, than to shelter myself under the safety of your favorable protection? And did not my case proceede from an unspotted conscience, I should not dare to offer to your view and approved judgment these passions of my troubled soule; so full of feare and trembling is hypocrisie and dissimulation. But, knowing my own innocency and godly fervour in the whole prosection hereof, I doubt not of your benigne acceptance and clement construction. As for malicious depravers and turbulent spirits, to whom nothing is tasteful but what pleaseth their unsavory pallate, I passe not fot them, being well assurred in my persuasion by the often trial and proving of myselfe in my holiest meditations and praises, that I am called hereunto by the Spirit of God; and it shall be sufficient for me to be protected by yourselfe in all virtuous and pious endeavours. And for my more happy proceedings herein, my daily oblations shall ever be addressed to bring to passe to goode effects, that yourselfe and all the world may truly say, 'This is the works of God, and it is marvellous in our eies.'

"But to avoide tedious preambles, and to come nearer the matter: first, suffer with your patience to sweepe and make cleane the way wherein I walke from all suspicions and doubts, which may be covered therein, and faithfully to reveale unto you what whould move me hereunto.

"Let, therefore, this my well-advised protestations, which here I make before God and my own conscience, be a sufficient witnesse at the dreadful day of judgment, when the secret of all living harts shall be opened, to dondemn me herein, if my deepest intent and purpose be not to strive with all my power of body and minde, in the undertaking of so mighty a matter, for the good of this plantation, for the honour of our countrie, for the glory of God, for my own salvation, and for the converting to the true knowledge of God and Jesus Christ an unbelieving creature,--viz.: Pokahontas. To whom my hartie and best thought are and have a long time bin so intangled and inthralled in so intricate a labyrinth, that I was even awearied to unwinde myself thereout. But Almighty God, who never aileth his that truly invocate his holy name, hath opened the gate and led me by the hand that I might plainly see and discerne the safe pathes wherein to treade.

"To you, therefore, (most noble sir) the patron and father of us in this countrie, doe I utter the effects of this my settled and long-continued affection, (which hath made a mightie warre in my meditations;) and here I do truly relate, to what issue this dangerous combat is come unto, I have not only examined, but thouroughly tried and pared my thoughts, even to the quicke, before I could finde any fit, wholesome, and apt applications to cure so dangerous an ulcer. I never failed to offer my daily and faithful praiers to God for his sacred and holy assistance. I forgot not to set before mine eies the frailtie of mankind, his proneness to evill, his indulgence of wicked thoughts, with many other imperfections, wherein man is daily insnared and oftentimes overthrown, and them compared to my present estate. Nor was I ignorant of the heavie displeasure which Almightie God conceived against the sonnes of Levie and Israel for marrying strange wives, nor of the inconveniences which may thereby arise, with other the like good notions, which made me look about warily and with good circumspection into the grounds and principall agitations, which thus provoke me to be in love with one whose education hath been rude, her manners barbarous, her generation accursed, and so discrepant in all nurtreture from myself, that oftentimes with fear and trembling I have ended my private controversie with this:--'Surely these are wicked instigations, hatched by him who seeketh and delighteth in man's destruction;' and so with fervent praiers to be ever preserved from such diabolical assults (as I tooke those to be) I have taken some rest.

"Thus when I thought I had obtained some peace and quietness, behold, another but more gracious tentation hath made breaches into my holiest and strongest meditations, with which I have been put to a new triall, in a straighter manner than the former; for besides the many passions and sufferings which I have daily, hourly, year, and in my sleepe indured, even awaking me to astonishment, taxing me with remisness and carelessness, refusing and neglecting to performe the duties of a good Christian, pulling me by the eare, and crying, 'Why dost not thou indeavour to make her a Christian?' And these have happened to my greater wonder even when she hath bin furthest separated from me, which in common reason (were it not an undoubted work of God) might breede forgetfulness of a fare more worthy creature. Besides, I say, the Holy Spirit hath often demanded of me, why I was created, if not, for transitory pleasure and worldly vanities, but to labour in the Lord's vineyard, there to sow and plant, to nourish and increase the fruits thereof, daily adding, with the good husband in the gospel, somewhat tot the talent, that in the end the fruits may be reaped, to the comfort of the labourer in this life and his salvation in the world to come? And if this be, as undoubtedly this is, the service Jesus Christ requireth of his best servant, wo unto him that hath these instruments of pietie put into his hands, and wilfully despiseth to worke with them! Likewise adding hereunto her great appearance of love to me, her desire to be taught and instructed in the knowledge of God, her capablenesse of understanding, her ap0tness and willingnesse to receive anie good impression, and also the spirtuall, beside her own incitements hereunto stirring me up. What should I doe? Shall I be of so untoward a disposition as to refuse to leade the blind into the right way? Shall I be so unnaturall as not to give bread to the hungrie, or uncharitable as not to cover the naked? Shall I despise to actuate these pious duties of a Christian? Shall the base feare of displeasing the world overpower and withhold me from revealing unto man these spirituall works of the Lord, which in my meditations and praiers I have daily made known unto him? God forbid! I assuredly trust he hatn thus delt with mee for my eternal felicitie and for his glorie; and I hope so to be guarded by his heavenly grace, that in the end, by my faithfull praiers and christianlike labour, I shall attaine to that blessed promise pronounced by the holy prophet Daniell unto the righteous that bring many unto the knowledge of God,--namely: that 'they shall shine like the stars forever and ever.' A sweeter comfort cannot be to a true Christian, nor a greater incouragement to him to labour all the daies of his life in the performance thereof, to be desired at the hour of death and in the day of judgment. Again, by my reading and conference with honest and religious persons, have I received no small encouragement; besides mea serena conscientia, the cleannesse of my conscience, clean from the filth of impurity, quoe est instar muri ahenei, which is to me a brazen wall. If I should set down at large the perturbations and godly motions which have striven within mee, I should make but a tedious and unnecessary volume. But I doubt not these shall be sufficient, both to certify you of my true intent, in discharing of my duties to God and to yourselfe, to whose gracious Providence I humbly submit myself, for his glory, your honour, my countrie's good, the benefit of this Plantation, and for the coverting of one unregenerate to regeneration, which I beseech God to grant for his dear Sonne Christ Jesus his sake. Nor am I in so desperate an estate that I regard not what becometh of mee; nor am I out of hope but one day to see my countrie nor so void of friends, nor mean in birth, but there to obtain a match to my great content; nor have I ignorantly passed over my hopes there, nor regardlessly seek to lose the love of my friends by taking this course: I know them all, and have not rashly overslipped any.

"But shall it please God thus to dispose of me (which I earnestly desire to fulfill my end before set down) I will hearily accept of it, as a godly taxe appointed me, and I will never cease (God assisting me) until I have accomplished and brought to perfection so holy a worke, in which I will daily pray God to bless mee, to mine and her eternal happiness. And thus desiring no longer to live, to enjoy the blessing of God, than this is my resolution doth then to such godly ends, as are by me before declared, not doubting your favourable acceptance, I take my leave, beseeching Almight God to rain down upon you such plenitude of his heavely graces as your heart can wish and desire; and so I rest,

"At your command, most willingly to be disposed off,

"John Rolph."
Meade, Bishop William. Old Churches Ministers and Families of Virginia,
Volume I, pp 126-129. Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, MD, 1966. First published, 1857.

trprev.gif (5203 bytes)