Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Primus (b. circa 1786 - d. ?)
MSA SC 5496-001667
War of 1812 Escaped Slave, Harford County, Maryland, 1814


Primus escaped his enslavement in Harford County around September 1814, "shortly before the Battle of North Point." Three of Aquila Nelson's sixteen slaves, Peter, George, and Mark, had already escaped to the British frigate Menelaus under the command of Sir Peter Parker. A few days later, the British sailed up the Bush River on barges, which Primus boarded at "Deep Point." This may have been near Deep Spring Branch, which fed into the Bush River at a point projecting into the east side of the river, north of Nelson's farm.1

A short time later, all four men were using their knowledge of the area to guide the British up the Bush River on a raid. After burning three ships at Park Point, near Nelson's home, the troops stole the schooner Fox from Stump & Company at Harford Mills.2

Although his whereabouts following the War of 1812 are uncertain, Primus may have ended up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, along with the thousands of other black refugees whom the British transported there from America. Two men named Primus appeared in the resulting Halifax List, but only one, twenty-seven-year-old Primus Jackson, fits the right age group. He was listed has having a wife and one child, but their names are currently uknown.3

Geographic representation of Nelson property, Primus's escape, and overview of slavery in Harford County on historical map available here (Google Earth required to open file).


1.     Claim of Aquila Nelson, Case 803, Case Files, compiled ca. 1827 - ca. 1828, documenting the period ca. 1814 - ca. 1828, *ARC Identifier 1174160 / MLR Number PI 177 190,* National Archives, College Park.
3.     Walter W. Preston, History of Harford County, Maryland (Baltimore, MD: Press of Sun Book Office, 1901) 217.

2.     Ibid.

3.     "Halifax List." African Nova Scotians: in the Age of Slavery and Abolition. Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.

Return to Primus's Introductory Page

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