Nova Scotia Archives

African Nova Scotians

in the Age of Slavery and Abolition


R. v. Gray (indictment of Jesse Gray for selling Mary Postell as a slave and kidnapping Flora Postell her daughter)

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Jesse Gray, a Loyalist at Argyle, re-enslaved his mistress, Mary Postell, sold her for 100 bushels of potatoes, and also tried to sell her children back into slavery. Postell complained; Gray was indicted and tried for selling Mary as a slave and kidnapping her elder daughter but acquitted. Mary affirmed that she had been Gray's mistress and could not prove that she had not been his slave. So she was left in the state of slavery to which he had returned her. The magistrates were Loyalists, many of them slaveholders unsympathetic to the plight of freed blacks who risked re-enslavement at every turn.

Like her contemporary, Lydia Jackson, Mary Postell too has been remembered in poetry. See Sylvia Hamilton, "Potato lady", in George Elliott Clarke, ed., Fire on the Water: An Anthology of Black Nova Scotian Writing vol. 2 (Pottersfield Press 1992).

Date: April-November 1791

Reference no.: Shelburne County Court of General Sessions of the Peace  Nova Scotia Archives  RG 60 Shelburne County vol. 1 file 49-4