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Boston King was born as a slave near Charleston, South Carolina. King's father was the 'driver' at his plantation and as such was given certain privileges. Probably for that reason, King was apprenticed out to learn the trade of carpentry. His new master was much crueler and often beat him mercilessly. As a black he was an easy victim for the other apprentices and they would blame him for any lost tool or missing materials.

One day during the war, King set out on an employer's horse to visit his family. Another apprentice 'borrowed' the horse for several days, and knowing that no mercy would be shown to him, King decided to flee to the English lines in nearby Charleston.

King was accepted there and entered into service, working as the servant for Captain Grey. On one occasion, he delivered an important message through enemy lines urgently requesting reinforcements. Once, he had to escape a deserter who planned on taking him as a prize for his troubles in the Army. Later, he entered into service in the navy, and was captured by the Americans and brought to New Jersey. He escaped captivity again, and fled to New York where he stayed until the end of the war.

King was evacuated to Birchtown with the first wave of refugees. Once there, his wife became the first convert of Moses Wilkinson, the fiery Wesleyan Methodist preacher. King's father had been a Christian but King had lost his faith. His wife's faith rekindled his belief slowly, and King eventually became a leading member of the Black Wesleyan congregation, although not without some personal doubts.

A few years later King had a powerful religious experience and he began preaching among the people in Birchtown and Shelburne. This was 1789, the year of the great famine. King left a harrowing account of his struggle to survive the winter. He began working at building dories for the fishing industry, and his main customer persuaded him to come on a fishing expedition with him. Despite King's horror at the man's constant cursing, they got along reasonably well, and King had a much better winter the following year.

King began traveling through the province as a preacher, and the next year he was rewarded with the preacher's position at Preston. By the end of the year, John Clarkson arrived from England, and all of the religious congregation set off for Sierra Leone.

There, King preached and began doing missionary work among the natives. A couple of years later, he traveled to England to be schooled and confirmed as a minister. While in England, he narrated his remarkable 'Memoir", which is transcribed for your use and interest.

Image of Boston King
Boston King

Story: Revolution

Escape From Slavery

Story: Exile

Chaos in New York

Story: Faith

The Wesleyan Methodists


Moses Wilkinson


Memoirs of Boston King