Home: Documents: Diaries: Mission To America: 31-42
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The humble Memorial and Petition of Thomas Peters, a Free Negro and late a Sergeant in the Regiment of Guides and Pioneers, serving in North America under the command of General Sir Henry Clinton, on behalf of himself and others, the Black Pioneer and Loyal Black Refugees hereinafter described:
That your Memoralist and the said other Black Pioneers, having served in North America as aforesaid, for the space of seven years and upwards during the late war, afterwards went to Nova Scotia, under the promise of obtaining the usual Grants of land and provisions.
That notwithstanding they have made repeated applications to all persons in that country whom they conceived likely to put them into possession of their due allotments the said Pioneers, with their wives and children, amounting together in the whole, to the number of 102 people, now remaining at Annapolis Royal, having not yet obtained their Allotrnents of land, except one Single acre each for a Town lot and though a further proportion of 20 acres each private man, viz (a fifth part of the allowance of land that is due to them) is actually laid out and located for them, agreeable to the governors order it was afterwards taken from them on pretence that it had been included in some former Grant and they have never yet obtained other lands in lieu thereof and remain destitute and helpless; that besides the said 102 people
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That the said two descriptions of people, having authorized and impowered your Memoralist to act for them as their Attorney, he has at much trouble and risk, made his way into their country in hopes that he should be able to procure for himself and his fellow-sufferers some establishment where they may attain a competent settlement for themselves, and be enabled by their industrious exertions to become useful subjects to his Majesty-
That some part however of the said Black people are earnestly desirious of obtaining their due allotment of land and remaining in America, but others are ready and willing to go wherever the wisdom of Government may think proper to provide for them as free subjects of the British Empire.
Your Memoralist therefore most Honored Sir, humbly prays that you will humanely consider the call of your Memorialist and the said other Black people, and by laying the same before his Majesty or otherwise as you shall deem most proper that they may be afforded such relief as shall appear to be best adapted to their circumstances and situation-And your Memoralist shall ever pray &c &c
the mark of X Thomas Peters
From this day August 6th 1791 to the 19th inst I was employed in preparing for my voyage, gaining as much information as this short time would allow me on the business I had undertaken, assisting Thomas Peters in preparing him for his return, as I wished him to be at Nova Scotia before me to apprise his countrymen of my intended visit and waiting occasionally at the Secretary of State's office to suggest difficulties I might be liable to experience if not prevented by the orders he should send out to the Governors of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick- On the 11th I received a copy of part of Mr. Dundas's to Governors Parr and Carleton which sufficiently satisfied me as to the assistance I might expect from the governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and on the following day I received a letter from Mr. Williams the Solicitor and Secretary to the Directors of the Sierra Leone Company, giving me instructions and enclosing me papers for my information as to the proposals they had made to the Nova Scotians. Before I proceed I will transcribe the part of Mr. Dundas's letter to Governors Parr and Carleton, as well as the instructions.
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Extract of part of a letter from the Right Honorable Henry Dundas to Lieutenant Governor Parr dated Whitehall 3rd August 1791.
I transmit to you herewith a Memorial of Thomas Peters a Black who served with the King's Troops in America during the late war and afterwards removed into the Province of Nova Scotia complaining that he and his associates have not obtained the allotments of land promised to be granted to them and that otherwise the Province of New Brunswick continue in the like improvided state I am therefore to desire that you will immediately after the receipt of this letter give orders that the several circumstances stated in the Petition, so far as regards the situation of the Petitioners and his associates in the Province, under your Government may be enquired into and if it shall appear that the engagements made on the part of Government with respect to the said grants of land, promised to them, may be immediately granted, and in a situation so advantageous, as may make them some atonement for the injury they have suffered by their unaccountable delay, and I must desire to receive from you, as soon as possible, a particular account from you of your proceeding in consequence.
A plan having lately been formed by a number of gentlemen here for establishing a settlement on the River Sierra Leone and measures having been taken by them for obtaining a Charter of Incorporation, it has appeared to the Memorialist Peters, on a consideration of the encouragement held out by the gentlemen engaged in this undertaking, that the proposed settlement would be likely to afford to him and persons of a like description an Asylum much better suited to their constitutions than Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and he has in consequence expressed a desire that he and his family, and such other Blacks as may be disposed to become Settlers at Sierra Leone, may be removed thither. Although a compliance with this request will be attended with expence to the Public, His Majesty in consideration of their Service is anxious that they should be gratified and that measures should be taken for that purpose-In order therefore to ascertain the number of persons desirous of removing, it is His Majesty's pleasure, that you should immediately after the receipt of this letter', despatch a discreet officer to such part of the Province, where the persons in question may be now seated, and after stating to them the nature of the Plan which I now enclose, to offer to convey to Sierra Leone, free of expense, such of them and their families, as may prefer a removal thither to a continuance in Nova Scotia
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The tonnage proper to be engaged for the execution of this service, it is conceived should be nearly equal to two Tons for each Man or Woman and one Ton and a half for each child. That quantity is looked upon to be sufficient for their complete accommodation, and will enable them also to take with them any articles of which they may be now possessed which may be useful to them in the new settlement.
It is necessary however upon this occasion that I should mention to you and that it should be fully understood by these People, that Government takes no part in this business further than with a view to gratify such of them as may happen to be dissatisfied with their present situation.
N. B. The orders to Lieutenant Governor Carleton, New Brunswick, were something similar to the above with the addition of desiring him to convey those who wished to become Settlers at Sierra Leone over to Annapolis to be from thence forwarded to the place of general rendez-vous.
Copy of a letter from Mr. Williams Secretary and Solicitor Directors of the Sierra Leone Company
The Directors of the Sierra Leone Company after expressing the great satisfaction they have in the prospect of your kind assistance towards the collecting together and conducting to Sierra Leone such of the Free Blacks at New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, as are desirous of becoming settlers at Sierra Leone desire to refer you to their printed Declaration for the terms upon which they are willing to receive those Black into their Colony.
Of the mode of conveyance you are already informed from the letter of Mr. Secretary Dundas to Governor Parr It is left entirely to your discretion and that of your coadjutor Mr. Lawrence Hartshorne (acting together or separately as circumstances may require) to admit or to reject the application of Individuals as upon enquiry you shall find from the testimonial you receive of their characters whether they are
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COAST OF AFRICA
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That the Civil, Military, Personal, and Commercial rights and duties of Blacks and Whites shall be the same and secured in the same manner.
And for the full allowance of personal protection from Slavery to all such Black Settlers, the Company have subjoined a copy of a clause contained in the Act of Parliament whereby we are incorporated, viz.
Provided also, and be it further enacted, that it shall not be lawful for the said Company, either directly or indirectly by itself or themselves or by the Agents or Servants of the said Company or otherwise howsoever, to deal or traffic in the buying or selling Slaves, or in any manner whatsoever, to have, hold, appropriate or employ any person or persons in a state of Slavery in the Service of the said Company
Given under our hands London the 2nd day of August
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On the 8th we sailed and at 6 A.M. the Start point N.N.E. three or four degrees at 10 the Eddistone Light House N 1/2 E 4 Leagues-9th September Fresh breezes and cloudy Lat 49.10 Long 8.50 W Eddistone N 71 E 63 Leagues.
10th Light Winds and cloudy weather-No observation Lat per acct 58.57N. Long 11.09 W Cows (Cowes)S-57 340 Leagues
11th Fresh gales with a heavy Sea from the Westward Lat. 48-52 Long 11.24. W. Cows (Cowes) S.57 W. 336 Leagues
12th Light and Pleasant Weather with a long swell from the Westward, Lat. 48-36 Long 14-7 Cows [Cowes] S 54- W 304 Leagues-13th Do Ws. at intervals salin (sailing) lat. 48-35 Long. 14-48 Cows [Cowes] 53 W. 297 Leagues.
14th Do W. Saw a brig standing to the S. W. Lat 48.10 Long 17.10 Cows [Cowes] S. 50 W. 242 Leagues
16th Pleasant breezes and foggy weather with a heavy sea from the westward Spoke the ship Bell, Captain Rogers from London to Boston, 7 days from the land, Lat. 47-19-Long 22-25, Cows [Cowes] S-39 W 196 Leagues~17th Fresh gales and Cloudy at 11 P. M. saw a sail standing at the Westward-Lat. 46-47 Long. 26-24 Cows [Cowes] S 26 W 157 Leagues.
19th-Fresh Gales and cloudy weather rather thick at times, at
9 P.M. passed by a Brig close under our Lee. We were almost on board each
other before we could see her and were then going at the rate of 9 miles
per hour, so that had we touched, we must have both been lost. Lat 45.09
Long 34-28 Sable Island-S. 86-46 W. 361 Leagues-2Oth Moderate and rain
at times. At 9 A.M. hard gales and clear weather, Lat, 44.48 Long 30-43
Sable Island-S. 88 W. 332 Leagues. 21st Fresh gales and cloudy at 4 P.M.
spoke a French brig bound to Havre de Grace. A heavy Sea from the Northward.
Lat 43-53-Long 39-09 Sable Island N. 89-W 296 Leagues, 22nd pleasant weather-Lat.
43-51 Long 41-47 Sable Island N. 88-44 W. 250 Leagues-24th Fresh gales
a vessel passed us standing to the Eastward Lat 48-30 Long 46-06 Sable
Island N. 86. W. 197 Leagues.
September 25th-Fresh gales and cloudy Lat. 43.50 Long 47.07 Sable Island N. 88 W 188 Leagues-26th strong gales with rain-Lat 44-07 Long 48.00 Sable Island N. 89-W. 167 Leagues.
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October 1st Fine pleasant weather 'At 43-17 Long 55-6 Sable Island N 75 W-70 Leagues-2nd Cloudy with Fresh breezes Lat 43-58 Long 56-22 Sable Island N. 86-W 49 Leagues-3rd Fresh breezes and cloudy [cloudy] sounded 26 Fathoms Rotten Rock with Do Shells and fine gravel-suppose ourselves on Banquereau Bank Lat 44 36 Long 58.03 Sable Island S 64-W 27 Leagues. 4th strong gales with a heavy Sea at 6 sounded 36 Fathoms gravel with large stone the size of an egg. Lat 44.42 Long 58-40 W Sable Island S 55 W 20 Leagues-5th from noon to 3 o'clock we ran W-SW. 9 miles at 3 spoke a schooner from Marble Head fishing at an anchor on Banquerall Bank who informed us that Sable Island bore W SW 13 or 14 Leagues-at noon light winds and pleasant weather, sounded 80 Fathoms mud. Lat 44 81 Long, 60-46 Sable Island S 60 E 15 Leagues Sambro Light House at the entrance of Halifax Harbor West 37 Leagues- 6th October light airs and variable-bent the cables at 2 A.M. saw the land bearing to the Northward at noon fresh gales and clear weather. Owls Head W NW 10 or 11 Leagues Latitude observe 44-41-N.
During the voyage my mind has been constantly occupied with the most importance of my mission. I see it in a different point of view to what I did when I first offered my services, for then I was influenced by the feelings of the moment, in consequence of the affecting story I had heard Peters relate, and the difficulties the Directors seemed to have in finding a suitable person to conduct it; but when I got to sea and had time for reflection, the case was altered, I had then leisure to perceive the magnitude of the undertaking, and although I felt an equal desire to assist these unfortunate people, yet I almost shrunk from the responsibility I had imposed upon myself and having embarked in it-I had no alternative but to go on-
Before I reached Halifax it was necessary for me to come to some kind of determination as to the line of conduct I should pursue upon my arrival there, and having carefully perused the letters I had received front my friend Mr. Wilberforce, and having duly reflected upon their contents and also upon the various conversations I had had with many of the Directors on the subject of my mission I decided upon not soliciting any person to go with me, but to explain to all the views of the Sierra Leone Company and those of His Majesty's Government, and to leave to them to make their own choice for I considered them as men having the same feelings, as myself, and therefore I did not dare to sport with their destiny.
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I found by the Governors conversation that Peters had arrived some days before and had set off for New Brunswick. At 8 left the Governor's and went to the Coffee House, where some gentlemen of the Swedenburg persuasion supposing me to be of the same were waiting to congratulate me upon my arrival; from there called upon Mr. Hartshorne and paid my respects to Mr. And Mrs. Brinley
8th Delivered all my letters of introduction, and was much gratified at the general reception I met with, dined with a large party at the governor's where I met Mr. Hammond and his Secretary Mr. Thornton, who had just arrived in the packet from England on his embassy to the United States-The Captain of the Packet informed the Governor and his company that on the day he left Falmouth a vessel had arrived from Sierra Leone, giving an account that the few settlers sent out in the year 1787 had been cut off by King Jemmy, and that he feared we should find some difficulty in landing in the River.
This conversation gave the Governor an opportunity of starting difficulties as to the accomplishment of the plan which I was obliged to cut short by saying that it should not prevent me from exerting myself to forward the business, as I was confident that neither Government or the Company would suffer me to sail from hence if they thought there was any danger from the Natives, and that we should have sufficient time to know the particulars before we could possibly be ready to sail-The conversation dropped by the Governors pushing about the bottle-
I could plainly see that the Governor would rather I should not succeed in my business than otherwise probably from an idea that if the people were averse to leaving the province, it would be a good argument to prove that they were content and that their complaints were groundless.
October 9th-Went to Church heard the Bishop preach a good sermon dined with Mr. Hartshorne in the evening went home and wrote letters.
10th-Went on board the Packet to take leave of Mr. Hammond, dined with the Attorney General Mr. Blowers, spent a pleasant day and did not return till late in the evening.
11th-Visited the different parts of the Town-called upon the Admiral dined at the Coffee House in company with a Mr. Miller a Lieutenant in the Army who had arrived from the West Indies about a
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12th-This morning went over to Dartmouth which is about a mile
across the river from Halifax with Mess Hartsthorne and Putman to visit
some of the Free Blacks who were settled at a place called Preston about
four miles from Dartmouth. At 10 in the morning we mounted own horses
and rode through the woods till we reached Preston, called at the huts
of several of the inhabitants and stated to them the offers of the Sierra
Leone Company. Their situation seemed extremely bad from the poorness
of the soil and from their having nothing to subsist upon but the produce
of it. On our ride towards home we called upon an honest gardener who
shewed me some of the Maple sugar, as well as the trees in his neighborhood
and also a specimen he had refined equal to any I had seen in England.
This man is an excellent Botanist and lays out a part of his garden for
experiments-About two in the afternoon reached Mr. Hartshorne's Farm House
distant about two miles from Dartmouth, where we dined. This Farm appeared
to me in higher cultivation than any I have yet seen in the Province.
Town, 10th October 1791
I am sir Your most obedient Servant Stephen Bluck-
Mr. Lawrence Hartshorne-
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St. John's October 10th, 1791
this is to inform you of my arrival in this place, and find the people in high spirits- Regarding the proposals, I mean as soon as I can to proceed to Frederictown and return with all speed back to this place, and from this to Annapolis by that time I hope to hear from the Honorable Mr. Clarkson and your self. I do not mean to make any return of names, until my return to this place, my reason is, for so doing, to give them time to consider-when you plan to write to me direct to the gentleman you recommended me to-
I remain Sir
PS Please give my respects to Mr. Putman, and my duty to his Honor Mr. Clarkson, and let him know that I shall be glad to see him
17th Confined at home the whole of the day writing letters-
18th Conversed with several Black people-Mr. Taylor who was appointed as a Surgeon and Apothecary to attend me upon my different voyages and who had not been able from the short notice given him to sail with me from England, arrived this day in the Rashleigh. Dined with Mr. And Mrs. Brinley, and as the Packet could not sail this evening I indulged myself by remaining at Mr. B's till 12 at night-
19th. This morning employed in
seeing Mr. Taylor's baggage removed to my lodgings with Medicine Chest &c,
took a walk into the Dock yard, which is very commodious and to a part of Halifax
called the Dutch Town.
On my return home was visited by the Bishop,
to whom I introduced Mr Taylor, dined at home; at half past six finished all
my letters and took them to the Post Office, drank tea and spent the evening
with Mr. Hartshorne and Captain Rogers.
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Halifax 19th October 1791
I am happy to inform you of my safe arrival at Halifax on the 7th of October, after a passage of 29 days from Portland, as soon as I landed I waited upon the Governor who received me with civility and attention-
I found that he had published part of Mr. Dundas's letter to him as
I intend enclosing one of the Papers containing his letter I shall say
nothing further on that head-
I fear I shall not be able to add to the accounts you have already received, but must content myself by giving you my ideas upon the business, from the conversations I have had with many gentlemen upon the subject-In the first place, I was given to understand from those with whom I conversed (many of whom are friends to the Plan, and have offered Mr. Hartshorne and myself every assistance) that if I did not accept indiscriminately every one that offered I should meet with great opposition from the principal gentlemen in Halifax and that they would have it in their power to prevent the greatest part of the Black people from accepting the offers of the Company from their influence with them-
My answer to every one, as well as at the Governor's table and at other places has been that I should not solicit one Individual to accompany me and that I was likewise as determined to withhold the certificate which was intended as a reward to virtue and industry, from those who should appear to me not to deserve it That I did not intend to confine myself to Honesty, Sobriety and Industry in the strict sense of the words but that I should expect those who embarked for Sierra Leone should be men of a general good character-
We shall begin to examine and receive those who answer the description
we wish, to-morrow or next day, and shall transmit by the next vessel
a complete list of their names The Governors coincides with me in thinking
that the general