Background

The links below are to pages which highlight some of the concepts, people and events that feature in this remarkable story. Connnected to them are references and links to further information and other source material.

  • Jane Jackson-Thompson

    Jane Thompson is one of the oldest members of the cohort of Black Loyalists from Virginia. She appears to be the matriarch of a very large extended family.

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  • John Willoughby

    John Willoughby was major Virginia planter and a suspect Loyalist, who died in 1776.

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  • John Murray, Lord Dunmore

    John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore (1732 – 25 February 1809), was the  colonial governor of Virginia at the outbreak of the American Revolution.

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  • Johnson families from Virginia

    The name Johnson/ Johnstone/ Johnston is not found among slaveowners in the Norfolk area in the tithable lists for 1770s, but the name is well represented among the runaways from Norfolk.

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  • Treaty of Paris

    In November 1782 a provisional peace treaty was hammered out between the British and the Americans in Paris.

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  • Evacuation of New York

    In April 1783 the first evacuation fleet left for Nova Scotia. A week later  the British Commander, Sir Guy Carleton, sailed up the Hudson River to Orangetown for a conference with General Washington to discuss the evacuation. As the victorious commander, Washington opened the meeting by reiterating the resolution of Congress regarding “the delivery of all Negroes and other property.”

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  • Small Pox

    In January 1776  smallpox made an appearance in Virginia. Although smallpox had been present in the colony at times before there had never been such a serious and widespread outbreak.

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  • Virginia's Black Methodists

    Norfolk’s enslaved Methodists  owed conversion to Robert Williams, a self-funded Wesleyan itinerant from Ireland who arrived at Norfolk en route to New York in the summer of 1769. By 1776 there were several large Black Methodist meetings in the area around Norfolk.

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  • The Burning of Portsmouth 1779

    In May 1779 the British detached a fleet of ships under Admiral Collier with a army detachment under General Matthew to make a putative raid into the Lower Chesapeake and destoy the tobacco warehouses. This fleet was supported by a smaller fleet of privateers owned by John Goodridge. After destroying much of Portsmouth, the British took away a large contingent of runaways from the Portsmouth and Norfolk area. A group consisting of 256 men, 135 women and 127 children.

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  • The campaign for Philadelphia

    On July 23 1777 the British fleet left from Sandy Hook, New York carrying more than 15,000 soldiers and headed into the Atlantic before turning south to enter the Chesapeake in August and sail up the bay to its northern extremity to set the troops ashore at the head of the Elk River on August 25.

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  • Cornwallis and the Siege of Yorktown

    At the end of spring 1781, General Cornwallis  and his army entered Virginia.

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  • Quakers

  • Washington's Runaway Slaves

    On July 19, 1776 eight vessels from Dunmore’s fleet made a foray up the Potomac River for the purposes of gathering fresh water. On July 24, while entangled in an armed skirmish with the local militia, the British ships were joined by another small craft that had come down the river from Fairfax County. Those on board offering their services to the British were “three of General Washington’s servants” who were taken aboard HMS Roebuck.

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  • John Moseley - From Chesapeake Bay to Botany Bay

    I found John Moseley (Mozley) in the New South Wales muster of 1828. He was described as a dealer in Essex Lane in the Rock, unmarried and childless, but employing two women servants. Moseley was an emancipated convict who had arrived in New South Wales on the Scarborough in 1788. On his conditional pardon, Moseley was described as over 5 feet 7 inches tall, with black complexion, black eyes and woolly hair.

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  • The Radical Methodist Congregation of Daddy Moses

    Quite a few Methodists made it to Dunmore between December 1775 and May 1776. Mary Perth and others came from Willoughby's plantation in Princess Ann County,  Nathaniel Snowball absconded from a plantation in neighboring Norfolk County, his wife Violet came with her son Nathaniel from Princess Anne County, while his brother Timothy, slipped away from another master in Norfolk.

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  • “One Militant Saint”: The Much Traveled Life of Mary Perth

     

    In 1772, in Norfolk Virginia, when the moon provided just enough light, a young slave woman would strap her baby on her back and slip out of household of John Willoughby. Cautiously making her way out of the sleeping town,

     

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  • From Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone

    A rich spiritual experience was the only consolation for a life of appalling poverty in Nova Scotia. 

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  • Wilkinson family of Nansemond County

    There seems to be a relationship between the families of Wilkinson and Jordan because of the close connection between the runaways. “Daddy Moses” Wilkinson, who was owned by Mills Wilkinson, was the dominant Methodist among the runaway cohort from this region, but the other Methodist preachers are all owned by Jordans. Luke and Phillip Jordan  owned by Josiah Jordan married to women owned by Wilkinson.

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  • The Jordan and Pleasants Families

    Thomas Jordan was a Quaker who arrived in Virginia in 1624 and who married Margaret Brauseur (Bracey/Bressie). By the 18th century the Jordans, all descended from the eight sons of Thomas, were the most significant Quaker family in Virginia

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  • Washington’s Revolution (Harry that is, not George)

    As Harry Washington faced a British military tribunal on the west coast of Africa, charged with rebellion against the colonial government of Sierra Leone, did he appreciate the cruel irony of his situation?  Fourteen years earlier he had fled his enslavement to the commander-in-chief of the rebel forces in colonial America to find freedom with the British military and a return to his African homeland.

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