Nova Scotia Archives

African Nova Scotians

in the Age of Slavery and Abolition

Establishment of the Negroes in Nova Scotia Appendix 19



      The Petition of the Reverend Robert Willis, D.D., Rector of St. Paul's Church in behalf of the Coloured People of Halifax.

Humbly Sheweth,

      That your Petitioner in presenting this his fifth Petition on behalf of the African School respectfully tenders the expression of his gratitude for the kind notice and support which the Institution has received from your Honorable Assembly.

      That although the School has laboured under many and great disadvantages from the want of a proper school—house (which would have been erected in the course of last Autumn if carpenter's labour had not been monopolized by the building of the Hotel:) the benefits of a sound, religious, moral and intellectual education are abundantly manifest in the children and have been by them indirectly conveyed to their parents.

      That this amelioration of the general condition of the people of colour in this town must be evident to any one conversant with their history.

      That the advancement which the children have made in every branch of knowledge in which they have been instructed, and their great improvement in the whole tenor of their conduct and deportment refute the opinion which was too commonly entertained, that there prevailed amongst them a peculiar want of moral principle, and a natural deficiency of mental power.

      That from the opening of the school (every system of education tending to produce emulation having been rejected) no bad or unkind feelings have been generated in the children; and that consequently their acquirements will not disqualify them for the performance of their duty in any state of life in which it may please God to place them.

      That the master has voluntarily taken upon himself to instruct the most proficient amongst the boys (who were well acquainted with the common rules of arithmetic) in Geometry, Navigation, and the art of Surveying:—that this extended education has been followed by excellent effects ;—more especially as it will increase the qualifications of the people of colour as seamen; and their aptitude for the service of merchant—sailors can be attested by the mercantile community of Halifax.

      That your Petitioner feels great satisfaction in assuring your Honorable Assembly that adult persons of colour (many of whom had attained the middle stage of life) have been taught to read in the African School, and have thereby been enabled to acquire a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, which affords them profit and delight. That this good has been effected by the master devoting three evenings in the week to their instruction.

      That there are now on the Register of the day—school the names of sixty three children; and since the establishment of the African School two hundred and twenty five persons have been instructed within its walls.

      That your Petitioner will not further expatiate on the manifold advantages which the people of color derive from the Institution for which he pleads,—hoping that Members of your Honorable Assembly will, as heretofore, visit the seminary, and satisfy their own minds of the truth of your Petitioner's representations.

      That African Schools have been established at Preston, Hammond's Plains, and, in an humble way, even at Beech Hill, where there is a settlement of only ten families ;—that similar results have supervened, varying of course with the greater destitution which exists in these desolate places.

      That your Petitioner earnestly solicits a continuance of the stipend which has formerly been granted to the master and mistress of the African School, (the latter of whom has imparted practical instruction to the Girls in the most useful and profitable department of female work) ;—and that your Honorable Assembly will take into its most favorable consideration the peculiarity of the claims of the people of colour, and their utter inability to provide suitable instruction for themselves, under the circumstances in which they are at present situated.

      And your Petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Robert Willis D.D.

January 27th 1840.

Statement of the Income and Expenditure of the
African School at Halifax during the year 1839.


Tuition money received for scholars£12-10-0
Entrance for scholars not paid, but probably will4-15-0
Received from Doctor Bray's Associates £40 sterl'g50-0-0
Grant from the Province Treasury100-0-0
Private Subscriptions5-0-0
Contingent expences (sic)5-19-4
Salary of the master110-0-0
Salary of the mistress40-0-0

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. 296, no. 48 (microfilm no. 15381)