Establishment of the Negroes in Nova Scotia Appendix 21
Petition of Colored People at Preston
To His Excellency
Lord Viscount Falkland &c &c &c
Lieut. Governor of Nova Scotia
We the undersigned Inhabitants of the Township of Preston, beg 1eave respectfully to approach your Excellency with a statement of the hardships of our Situation, and to request your Excellencys aid to remove the disabilities under which we labour.
Petitioners are Refugees, brought from the Plantations of the southern States, during the American War or their decendants (sic), being placed by Government upon ten acre lots, of poor land, many of them including swamps and likewise entirely barren & unproductive, and none of them sufficient to yield subsistence for a family however skillfull (sic) and industrious, they have dragged on a miserable existence but few, if any of them, rising above the level of hopeless poverty. But few white men in this country seldom make a living upon ten acres of good land, and Petitioners believe that any number of them similarly placed to themselves in a strange country, and beneath a rigorous climate, after being recently relieved from the associations and pressure of slavery and the heat of a southern sun, would have for many years presented the same spectacle that the coloured people of Preston have exhibited.
The object of this Petition is twofold
1st To humbly pray your Excellency to allow grants to pass confirming our titles to the lands we occupy, that those of us who wish to sell and remove to better locations or follow other employments may dispose of our lands and improvements to those who remain. At present, holding under Tickets of location, we cannot sell to advantage, we are tied to the land without being able to live upon it, or even vote upon it, without being at every Election questioned, browbeaten and sworn.
2nd. Our humble prayer is, that your Excellency will cause some larger and better lots of land to be laid off, and assigned to those of us, who are willing to remove upon such terms of settlement as will enable us to acquire a freehold by patient industry and frugality and your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray
William Dair Senr.
(and about 105 others; all but about three (excl. 2 above) made their X's).
For grants of their Lots, and for larger and better lots for those who are disposed to remove
Recd 23d Feb. 1841.
Referred to Surveyor General
By His Excellency's Command
In Council 11 March 1841.
A plan and description of the several lots which had been laid out to Blacks at Preston passed this office on the 4th Mar. 1836, and in the preceding year of the lots laid out for the Blacks at Hammonds Plains. Why the Grants were not perfected I know not. There can be no doubt that in this severe climate at least 100 acres would be required for each family in order to afford a proper supply of fuel, but at the same time these people have wasted their fuel by burning the wood into charcoal. I am not aware of their being any authority for passing Free Grants to them.
Department of Crown Lands John Spry Morris
4th March 1841 Comr. Crown Lands
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.: Nova Scotia Lands and Forests Nova Scotia Archives RG 20 series C vol. 31