Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

William Dare (b. circa 1789 - d. 1868)
MSA SC 5496-51580
War of 1812 Refugee, Calvert County, Maryland


Born in Maryland around 1789,1 William Dare was enslaved at the Calvert County home of John Dare.2 William was married to another slave, Nancy, with whom he had a son also named William. 

In 1814, with America at war with Great Britain, the British placed a blockade on Maryland waterways up and down the Chesapeake Bay. In April of that year, Admiral Alexander Cochrane issued a proclamation offering immediate emancipation to any person willing to take up arms against the Americans or who wished to be relocated to a British territory.3 That July, William Dare escaped to the British forces in Calvert County,4 taking up arms with the British. However, Dare refused to leave the area until he had rescued his wife Nancy and her brother, similar to the demands of another Dare family slave, William Mitchel.5 

Following the war, many slave owners in Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, and Georgia submitted claims for the loss of property that the British had taken or destroyed. Many of the claims centered on livestock, household items, and destroyed homes, tobacco barns... and slaves. A commission for determining the validity of claims and amount of compensation decided that Maryland slave owners would receive $280 for each slave that lost to the British.6 Although Dr. John Dare submitted a claim for the loss of one enslaved man,7 he died in 1826 before compensation.8 However, the claim was ultimately approved, with the estate of Dr. John Dare receiving $280 for the loss of William Dare.9

The Dare family and many other Maryland slaves were carried to Halifax, Nova Scotia, following the War of 1812.10 By 1824, Dare and his wife had settled in the town of Preston and were raising three children.11 That year, Dare and three other refugees - John Collins, Nace Leach, and William Broad - petitioned the Nova Scotia government for additional land to improve their livelihood and provide for their families.12 After the government granted William Dare 100 acres of land, he opened the Stag Inn to become his town's the first black owner of an inn..13 Dare still continued farming, a trade he likely had learned while enslaved in Maryland. William Dare passed away on May 16, 1868 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.14 In Canadian records, William Dare is often listed as William Dear or Deer.

1.    Claim of Dr. John Dare, Case Files, compiled 1827-1828, PI 177 190, National Archives, College Park, #606.

2.    American State Papers, House of Reprentatives, 19th Congress, 1st Session, Foreign Relations: Volume 5, pg 803.

3.    "Admiral Cochrane's Proclamation," Commissioner of Public Records NSARM RG 1 vol. 111, page 99-100.

4.    Claim of Dr. John Dare, #606.

5.    American State Papers, House of Representatives, 19th Congress, 1st Session, Foreign Relations: Volume 5, pg 806
     Claim of Dr. John Dare, Case 606, 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.

6.    Claim of Dr. John Dare, #606.

7.    ibid.

8.    "Obituary," Baltimore Patriot, 29 May 1826, pg 2.

9.    Claim of Dr. John Dare, #606.

10.    Harvey A. Whitfield, Blacks on the Border: The Black Refugees in British North America, 1815-1860, (New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2006), 

11.    "A list of people of Colour settled at Preston," Commissioner of Public Records NSARM  RG 1 vol. 419 no. 90-91 (microfilm no. 15460)
         Commissioner of Crown Lands NSARM RG 20 series A vol. 90 (1824) (microfilm no. 15737)  

12.    Commissioner of Crown Lands NSARM RG 20 series A vol. 90 (1824) (microfilm no. 15737)   

13.    John N. Grant, The Immigration and Settlement of the Black Refugees of the War of 1812 in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, (Hantsport: Lancelot Press Limited, 1990), 160.

14.    "Canada Deaths and Burials, 1664-1955," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 Jan 2013), William Dear, 12 May 1868; citing reference cn 624 p 147,                 FHL microfilm 1298880.

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