A Black Wood Cutter at Shelburne, Nova Scotia
During the American Revolution, the British and Loyalist forces evacuated New York in 1783. Hundreds of Loyalist refugees joined as the Port Roseway Associates with the intention of finding new homes and creating a new settlement together in Nova Scotia. These Loyalists, with their families, servants and slaves, founded the community of Port Roseway, shortly renamed Shelburne. The free Blacks amongst the Loyalists formed a separate enclave known as Birchtown.
Library and Archives Canada holds the Shelburne historical records collection (MG 9 B9-14). The collection consists of records relating to the community of Shelburne including the minute book of the Port Roseway Associates, 1782-1783; several muster rolls of Loyalists, 1783-1784; proceedings of the Court of Quarter Sessions, 1784-1860; and a register of writs, 1787-1807.
The collection is divided into three sub-series:
- Port Roseway Associates
- Capture of the schooner Eliza
- Shelburne County Court Records
The collection is available on microfilm reel H-984.
The Port Roseway Associates sub-series contains the minute book of proceedings of the Port Roseway Associates, 1782-1783 (volume 1; pages 1-218), including a list of the Associates and muster roll of free Blacks who settled at Birchtown in 1784; a petition from the overseers of the poor to the magistrates of Shelburne for the relief of Blacks, 1789; and a "Sketch of Shelburnian Manners" attributed to a Mr. Fraser of Miramichi, 1787.
This database provides access to 1,498 references to the Muster Book of Free Blacks who settled in Birchtown held at Library and Archives Canada.
Information from the muster book was input into this database and the muster book was digitized.
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Important note: Given that some of the original documents are very difficult to read, some information in the database may be incorrect and/or incomplete.
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How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records.
Other Loyalist records exist. Consult Loyalists for more information about these records.