Nova Scotia Archives

African Nova Scotians

in the Age of Slavery and Abolition

Establishment of the Negroes in Nova Scotia Appendix 18


      Memorial of John Chamberlain, Alexander Lyle, Alexander Farquharson, Frederick Major and Allan McDonald—Dartmouth, June 8, 1838.

      . . . Reside in the neighbourhood of the people of colour settled in Preston . . .

      That the land on which these people are located, was granted as early as the year 1784 but was abandoned by the original proprietors, and laid (sic) in a wilderness state untill (sic) the year 1815, at which time it was escheated, and divided into lots containing from seven, to ten acres, on which the Blacks were settled.

      That these lots are too small for a family to subsist in this country, if the land was of a fertile quality, but with very few exceptions these lands are sterile and unproductive in the extriam (sic); insomuch that it would be impossible for any persons to support families on them—And no class of settlers, let their habits be ever so industrious could possibly maintain their families on lots of the same size and quality, without being reduced to suffering and perhaps to starvation.

      That there is no part of the Province where employment as labourers can be obtained as readily as it can in Halifax and its vicinity—but the general want of manufacturing establishments is such that it is difficult for labourers to procure constant employment even in summer; and during the winter parts of the year which generally extends (sic) from the middle of November to the middle of April, no employment as labourers can be depended on—And it is well known that there are numbers of the white labouring people, who are engaged in the fisheries during the summer who spread themselves throughout the country, and labour the whole winter for no other compensation than their food.—Besides this persons very generally prefer white labouring people to the Blacks by which these unfortunate people have not an equal chance of obtaining their share of even the little labour that is wanted.

      That from these causes and others that might be mentioned, it is wholly out of the power of the Coloured people to maintain their families as labourers,—or to keep them from absolute starvation unless they have some other dependance—

      That these people have heretofore rendered their poverty less distressing, by marketing charcoal, staves, shingles and such other lumber as their limited quantity of land enabled them to procure—but these are now generally exhausted, and many of them have not sufficient wood for fuel;— insomuch that there has already been much suffering among them for that article.

      That the poverty and distress which they have been now subject to for a number of years—And the poor return they have received from the labour on their lands, has been such as to dishearten them, and this may be the occasion of much of the indolence that is to be observed in some of them, as well as the habit of beging (sic) to which so many of them are addicted. But Memorialjsts cannot discover any thing about these people, by which would appear, that they were incapable of arising to a comfortable independance if they had any fair opportunity of so doing.

      And that their suffering this last winter has been more severe than Memorialists could give your Excellency an adequate description of, and there is reason to fear that some of them has (sic) actually starved to death.

      Whereupon Memorialists humbly prays (sic) that your Excellency will take the whole premisses into wise consideration, and use such means in behalf of these unfortunate people as may be in your Excellencys (sic) power . . .

transcribed by Nova Scotia Archives staff 2004

Date: Publication No. 8, Halifax, N.S., The Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1948

Author: Prepared by C.B. Fergusson, Assistant Archivist under the direction of D.C. Harvey, Archivist

Reference no.: Commissioner of Public Records  Nova Scotia Archives  RG 1 vol. 422, no. 49 (microfilm no. 15463)