Moses Wilkinson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Moses "Daddy" Wilkinson or "Old Moses" (c. 1746/47[1][2] – ?) was an African-American slave and Wesleyan Methodist preacher in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone.

Moses Wilkinson was a blind and lame slave from Nansemond County, Virginia; his master was Mills Wilkinson.[3] After Dunmore's Proclamation promised slaves of American rebels their freedom if they would join the British forces fighting in the American Revolutionary War, Wilkinson led a band of runaway slaves to freedom in 1776.[2][3] In New York, the self-appointed, illiterate, fiery Wesleyan Methodist preacher gathered together a congregation.[4]

When the British were defeated in 1783, Wilkinson and other Black Loyalists were transported aboard L'Abondance to Halifax;[4] he is listed in the Book of Negroes.[1] A Black Loyalist settlement was established in Birchtown, Nova Scotia.[4] On 26 October 1791, 350 people gathered in Wilkinson's church to hear John Clarkson explain the Sierra Leone Company's plans to reestablish a colony in what is now Sierra Leone,[2] the previous 1787 attempt having failed miserably. Displeased with a climate colder than they were used to and a hostile reception from the resident whites, Wilkinson, members of his Methodist congregation, and those of other denominations emigrated; 1196 Nova Scotian Settlers set sail from Halifax on 15 January 1792.[2]

The ships made landfall on 9 March. Wilkinson established the first Methodist church in Settler Town.[5] The Sierra Leone Company clashed with the independent-minded Christian denominations, and matters came to a head with a failed rebellion led by Methodists in 1800.[4] Two Methodists were executed, a number of others, mostly Methodist, were exiled elsewhere in Africa, and Wilkinson's brand of Methodism lost favour.[4]


  1. ^ a b "African Nova Scotians in the Age of Slavery and Abolition". (official website of Nova Scotia).  Wilkinson's entry in the Book of Negroes gives his age as 36.
  2. ^ a b c d Gary B. Nash. "Thomas Peters: Millwright and Deliverer". 
  3. ^ a b Clifford, Mary Louise (January 2006). From Slavery to Freetown: Black Loyalists After the American Revolution. McFarland. pp. 15–18. ISBN 9780786425570. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "The Radical Methodist Congregation of Daddy Moses". 
  5. ^ Glenn Whipp (May 6, 2015). "Emmy Contenders: Join Louis Gossett Jr. of 'Book of Negroes' on Thursday". Los Angeles Times.