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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian:Immigration Records by Patricia McGregor, PLCGS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
The Trelawny Maroons of Jamaica were a fierce bunch. In the early to mid 1700s they led numerous raids against the British known as the Maroon Wars. For 50 years prior to 1795 there was relative peace and during this time, the Maroons worked as slave hunters for the British. But in 1795 an incident occurred which infuriated the Maroons, left them feeling humiliated in the eyes of the slaves and violence once again erupted. The British wanted to avoid a Maroon uprising as they felt it would provide a bad example for the slaves who outnumbered their white owners by about 10 to 1. As well, Britain and France were again at war and France was trying to incite the Maroons to attack the British as a precursor to a general slave rebellion and French invasion of Jamaica. To the British in control of the island, the only viable option seemed to be moving the Maroons out of the colony. In 1796 the British government decided to relocate the troublemakers—the Maroons of Trelawny who by this time had destroyed their village and moved into the countryside. Three ships, the Mary, the Ann and the Dover with 568 Maroons on board began the six week journey from Jamaica, arriving in Halifax in July 1796. Upon arrival in Halifax the Maroons were instructed to remain on board ship until the authorities decided what to do with them.
Eventually they disembarked and a number of the men were hired to work on the Fort George and the Citadel fortifications. Some of the Maroons lived in barracks and tents near the Citadel, but most lived further from the town. Some moved to farms at Preston which had been vacated by black Loyalists who moved on to Sierra Leone. A second settlement was established at Boydville (on the road to Windsor). After a particularly severe winter in 1797 they began petitioning to be moved to a warmer climate; a second tough winter in 1798 only strengthened their resolve to move on.
The government finally relented and in Aug. 1800, 551 Maroons boarded the Asia and arrived in Freetown on 30 Sept. 1800.
“The historical record is at best ambiguous about the precise numbers who arrived and departed. It would not have been in the interests of any of the parties—the Jamaican, Nova Scotian or British governments, or the Maroons themselves—to record officially that any Maroons remained in Nova Scotia after 1800. However, a strong oral tradition claims such was the case...” (Grant 2002, 8)
Family names in black communities which connect to Maroon heritage include Smith, James, Colley, Williams, Brown, Downey, Gray, Johnson, Johnston, Thompson and Wright.
John Grant’s book The Maroons in Nova Scotia includes in the appendix a list of names gleaned from public records and documents including “... one of the more complete lists of the names of the Maroons who came to Nova Scotia in 1796 and made the journey to Sierra Leone in 1800” (pp.194-196).
Anyone with interest in black immigration and settlement in Nova Scotia should consult the website for the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia. http://www.bccns.com/
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian: Immigration Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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