Last updated: July 11, 2022
One of many enslaved people that gained their freedom through the British during the War of 1812 was Lucinda “Lucy” Hall, born in 1794. She was a Black woman enslaved to George Loker in St. Inigoes District of St. Mary’s County, Maryland.
On April 2, 1814 - British Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane issued a proclamation offering Americans—but intended to mean enslaved individuals—to join the British land or sea services, or to move as free settlers to British processions in North America or the West Indies. The British understood that freedom-seeking enslaved individuals would help to weaken the American economy that was in part dependent on the labor-intensive cash crop tobacco. About 4,000 enslaved people gained freedom through the British.
In 1815, Hall seeked freedom with her daughter Letty to the British aboard the HMS Savannah. Her husband Jacob, who had a different enslaver, had already gone to the British and was waiting for them. She gained her freedom on Februrary 19, 1815, two days after the war officially ended on February 17, 1815.
The family was later transferred to the HMS Orlando, which allowed them to relocate outside of the United States as free British citizens. The Halls resettled in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Lucy worked as a cook for shipping magnate Sir William Cunard. After moving to Horton, she and Joseph had a son named William Hall in 1827.
William Hall would go on to join the British military and become the first Black person and the first Nova Scotian to earn the Victorian Cross for his service during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
Read more about William Hall from an article by the Maritime Museum of Atlantic in Nova Scotia.