Following the American Revolution in 1783, about 1500 black loyalists settled in the community of Birchtown outside of Shelburne. They had been promised land and freedom for service to Britain during the Revolutionary war. The Book of Negroes, a handwritten manuscript, documented the names of those who arrived. This comprised the largest free black community in British North America at the time.
Living conditions were harsh with a scarcity of food and shelter consisting of covered pits dug in the rocky soil. Equally harsh was the treatment received from white settlers in nearby Shelburne. Promised grants for land were slow to materialize Most of these loyalists left for Sierra Leone when the opportunity arose in 1792. Their stories are told at the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown.
Other black loyalists settled near Digby and Weymouth.
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