Black Loyalist Refugees, 1782-1807- Port Roseway Associates

A Black Wood Cutter at Shelburne, Nova Scotia

The Records

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.

The Database

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.

The content of the database entries reflects the original language used in the documents. This information was not translated.

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.

Search Screen

The search screen allows you to search by:

  • Surname
  • Given Name(s)

Note that some entries include only an initial for the given names. Try searching by surname only.

When you have entered your search terms, click on "Submit". The number of hits found will be shown at the top of the results screen.

How to Interpret the Results

Your search results will be posted as a results summary list from which you will be able to obtain an item description.

Search Results Page

The results list contains the following fields:

  • Item Number
  • Given Name
  • Surname
  • Age

Click on the underlined Item Number of a record to access the Item page, which contains additional information specific to that record.

Item Page

The item page has a digitized image of the original record available in JPG format and contains the following fields:

  • Given name(s)
  • Surname
  • Age
  • Year
  • Volume
  • Page Number
  • Record Title
  • Microfilm Reel Number
  • Reference
  • Item Number

You can view the corresponding page by clicking on the image.

To suggest a correction, click on the Suggest a Correction link to access an electronic form.

To return to the Search Results page, click on the Back button of your browser in the upper left corner of your screen.

How to Obtain Copies

You can print the images or save the images on your computer. You can view the complete microfilm reel H-984 on Héritage.

How to Access Library and Archives Canada Records.

Other Resources

Other Loyalist records exist. Consult Loyalists for more information about these records.

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