Papers Relating to the Negro Refugees : 1783-1839 (predominantly 1815-1839).

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .N6P8N4
Category: Nova Scotia
Creator: Nova Scotia. Public Records.
Description: 4 microfilm textual records (5 volumes) ; 35 mm
            Of the Black people who came to Nova Scotia after the American Revolution, 1,190 of the approximately 3,500 Black Loyalists would relocate to Sierra Leone in 1792. As a result of much dissatisfaction with their treatment in Nova Scotia, especially with respect to the settlement of land claims, many Black persons eagerly welcomed Lt. John Clarkson's mission of 1791 to recruit settlers on behalf of the Sierra Leone Company to start a new life in Africa.

A group of Jamaican Maroons, escaped slaves who had formed their own communities in Jamaica, were deported to Nova Scotia in 1796 after a failed rebellion.  There they were settled on lands in Preston and supported by government.  They were not content and the government agreed to send them to Sierra Leone in 1800, where they had previously transported the Black Loyalists.

During and after the War of 1812, Black Refugees arrived at Nova Scotia where many would be settled on small plots of land surrounding the City of Halifax.  The largest communities were at Preston and Hammonds Plains.            

Online: Some or all of this content is available online; see Finding Aid section.

The records pertain to the three waves of people of African descent who arrived in Nova Scotia between the years of the American Revolution and the War of 1812, with the bulk concerning the refugees from the latter war. The documentation is quite varied, and typically generated by government employees or agents; for example, correspondence, reports, petitions, land settlement plans, business contracts, and accounts. The contents document the black experience related to: proposals and intended removals from Nova Scotia to Sierre Leone (1790-92) and Trinidad (1820s and 1830s); Maroons from Jamaica (1797, 1800-1804); enslaved people captured during the War of 1812 and sent by vessels to Halifax; War of 1812 refugees's initial arrival and stay at Melville Island and subsequent removals for some to the poor house and military hospital; development of new settlements in Nova Scotia, with plans and sketches (1815-36). Documents contain specifics on arrangements and situations of these people including logistics and supplies such as rations and clothing, finances, returns and lists of people, deeds, and conditions or state of the people and settlements. General topics for research include Black history, slavery, Nova Scotia, emigration and immigration, social history, health and welfare, local history.

Arrangement: A section of miscellaneous documents, arranged in chronological order begins the material; thereafter it is organised by volume (volumes 419-422), and somewhat in a chronological order within each.

Places related to Nova Scotia not already mentioned include: Beech Hill, Musquodoboit and Guysborough Roads, Hammonds Plains, North West Arm, Preston, Dartmouth, Windsor Road, Annapolis, Refugee Hill, Prospect Road, Beaver Bank, Cobequid Road, Great Lake [Grand Lake?], and Chester Road. Other place names not already mentioned are Chesapeake (Virginia), Charleston (South Carolina), and Boston (Massachusetts). Some of the main people include: Collectors of Customs - Thomas N. Jeffery, Richard Best, and Jones Fawson; Henry H. Cogswell, Deputy Provincial Secretary; Theophilis Chamberlain, loyalist and Preston government agent; Charles Morris, surveyor; Richard Bulkley, Provincial Secretary (1759-93); Michael Wallace, merchant; and Rupert D. George, Provincial Secretary.

The last volume consists of extracts from the Book of Negroes - 1783, the original of which is contained in the British Headquarters Papers, more commonly known as the Dorchester Papers or the Sir Guy Carleton Papers. This document was created under the direction of Sir Guy Carleton at New York, listing and describing Black people who were to embark on British vessels at the end of the American Revolution as part of the British evacuation. It names and describes each individual, including the master to whom the enslaved formerly belonged. There are 2 versions, an American and British; The Loyalist Collection holds the British version.

Originals: The original records are held by the Nova Scotia Archives (NSA).
Archival Ref. No.: NSA RG 1, vols. 419-423.
Finding Aids:

1. Volumes 419 to 422 of these records have been digitised and are made available via the Nova Scotia Archives' website; they are searchable based on a title or heading given to the documents, and browsable. (The same headings used in the hand-written table of contents found on the microfilm.)  The title for this online is African Nova Scotia Diaspora:  Selected Government Records of Black Settlement, 1791-1839.  

2. A transcription of the British version of the Book of Negroes is available on the website, "Black Loyalist".

A Microfilm Shelf List, which corresponds reel numbers, volumes, and dates,is available online as an Electronic Finding Aid record and in print in the Loyalist Collection Inventory binders (red binders).

Relating to number 1 above, an itemised listing of each document is available for volumes 419 to 422, which provides volume numbers, document numbers, and brief descriptions of content. These are available on microfilm and in the red Loyalist Collection binders (as well as online as mentioned above).
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Microfilm Shelf List Papers Relating to the Negro Refugees .pdf
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