John Green, my 4x great-grandfather, was born in New Jersey in 1740. During the American Revolution, his Tory family remained loyal to England. John and his four brothers all "joined the Royal Standard" and fought to keep British control of the Thirteen Colonies. Having lost that struggle, John and his brother Adam emigrated in the late 1780s to the Niagara region in Canada as United Empire Loyalists. John brought along his wife Mary, seven children and a slave named Tom.
Slavery was perfectly legal in Britain and its Empire at that time. It took British abolitionists many decades to convince people that slavery is morally wrong, repugnant and should be abolished. Change came slowly, in small incremental steps. Initially, abolitionists succeeded only in having legislative reform measures passed to undermine slavery's viability and usefulness, not to end it completely.
The first such measure was taken here in Canada in 1793 at the behest of abolitionist John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. He persuaded the legislature to forbid any new slaves from being brought to Canada after that date. While slaves already in Canada remained enslaved, any children born to them in Upper Canada would be freed at age 25.
In 1807, Britain passed its own incremental reform statute and abolished the slave trade (although not slavery itself). It took another generation of political and social agitation before slavery was completely abolished at last in Britain and throughout the Empire in 1833.
John Graves Simcoe
Simcoe and his wife were good friends with John Green and his family. I suspect it was Simcoe who persuaded or pressured John Green to voluntarily free his slave Tom now that they lived in Upper Canada. It is said that after being freed, Tom chose to stay in the employ of the Greens for wages.
John Green prospered in Upper Canada until his death in 1830. In addition to owning a farm, saw mill and grist mill, he was also appointed as a surveyor, road builder and justice of the peace. His family name was given to the village of Greensville. Today it is part of the suburban neighbourhood known as West Flamborough on the outskirts of Hamilton, Ontario.
West Flamborough's Christ Church Anglican and its old graveyard sit on land provided by John Green in 1817 for that purpose. John Green and his wife (as well as my 3x great-grandfather Samuel Green and his wife) are all buried there apparently, although their tombstones have long since deteriorated and been lost to mortal view.
[Final two photos by Debra She Who Seeks, 2013]