William Hall: Africans in Nova Scotia, Canada

Photo: William Hall
The early Africans who settled in Nova Scotia were primarily fleeing from colonial America. William Hall's parents, Jacob and Lucy Hall, escaped slavery from either Maryland or Virginia -- depending on the commentator -- during the War of 1812. The Hall family arrived in Nova Scotia as part of the Black Refugee movement whereby Africans were brought to Canada by the British Royal Navy in exchange for their assistance in resisting the rebelling British colony that would later become known as the United States of America.
During the War of 1812, the British frigate Leonard intercepted a slave ship bound from Africa to the United States and forced it to deposit its “ivory cargo” at Halifax. Among the freed captives hitherto marked to be auctioned as slaves in the southern states was William Hall’s father Jacob. Hall’s mother, Lucinda, who was a slave on a plantation near Washington, escaped her bondage when the British sacked and set fire to the American capital. She boarded one of the British warships that had conducted the raid and put into Halifax afterwards. - Excerpt from "Canada And The Victoria Cross: Of Rebellion And Rescue," by Arthur Bishop, March 1, 2004, Legion Magazine
Born April 15, 1827 at Horton, Nova Scotia, William Hall (born William Edward) worked in Nova Scotian shipyards before going to sea with trading vessels at the age of 17 years. From 1847 to 1849, Hall served in the American merchant navy aboard the USS Ohio. On January 4, 1847, the Ohio sailed for the Gulf of Mexico arriving at Veracruz on March 22, 1847 to help in the siege of the city in the Mexican-American War. Veracruz soon surrendered.

Bombardment of Sebastopol by HMS Rodney, Crimean War (1854)

Hall enlisted in Royal Navy on February 2, 1852, and served on the flagship Victory. He entered the Crimean War in 1954, serving on the Rodney. He also served on the Shannon as Captain of the ForetopIn 1857, he won the Victoria Cross for bravery while fighting in the Siege of Lucknow in what is known by the British as the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He was the first person of African descent and the first Canadian to win the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in the British Royal Navy.

Image: 2010 Canadian postal stamp issue of William Hall.

Hall retired from the colonial wars to Horton Bluff, Nova Scotia. He died on August 25, 1904 and was buried at Lockhartville at the Hantsport Baptist Church Cemetery.

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