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The Province of Freedom 1787-1789

The Province of Freedom 1787-1789

In 1787, a plan was established to settle some of London’s “Black Poor” in Sierra Leone in what was called the “Province of Freedom”. A number of “Black Poor” arrived off the coast of Sierra Leone on 15 May 1787, accompanied by some English tradesmen. This was organized by the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, composed of British philanthropists who preferred it as a solution to continuing to financially support them in London. Many of the “Black Poor” were African Americans, who had been given their freedom after seeking refuge with the British Army during the American Revolution, but also included other West Indian, African and Asian inhabitants of London.

The area, said to have previously been a slave market, was first settled in 1787 by 400 formerly enslaved Black Britons sent from LondonEngland, under the auspices of the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, an organisation set up by the British abolitionist, Granville Sharp. They established the ‘Province of Freedom’ or Granville Town on land purchased from local Koya Temne subchief King Tom and regent Naimbana, a purchase which the Europeans understood to cede the land to the new settlers “for ever.”

The established arrangement between Europeans and the Koya Temne did not include provisions for permanent settlement, and some historians question how well the Koya leaders understood the agreement. Disputes soon broke out, and King Tom’s successor, King Jimmy, burnt the settlement to the ground in 1789.

Alexander Falconbridge was sent to Sierra Leone in 1791 to collect the remaining Black Poor settlers, and they re-established Granville Town (later on renamed Cline Town) near Fourah Bay. Although these 1787 settlers did not establish Freetown, which was founded in 1792, the bicentennial of Freetown was celebrated in 1987.

After establishing Granville Town, disease and hostility from the indigenous people eliminated the first group of colonists and destroyed their settlement. A second Granville Town was established by 64 remaining black and white ‘Old settlers’ under the leadership of St. George Bay Company leader, Alexander Falconbridge and the St. George Bay Company.

This settlement was different from the Freetown settlement and colony founded in 1792 by Lt. John Clarkson and the Nova Scotian Settlers under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Company

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