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Stephen Blucke is a name that will always be remembered when one discusses the early settlement of Birchtown. Blucke was a mulatto man from Barbados, with a black mother and a white father. He married a Black lady by the name of Margaret, and they adopted a young girl named Isabel Gibbons as their child.

Blucke's record of military service is rather vague. It is known that he was the commander of a company of Black Pioneers when they were settled in Birchtown, and that he was considered the leader of the blacks as a whole at that time. However, he is not listed in any of the regimental records for the Black Pioneers or the Black Brigade. Similarly, there is no record of his military service in Barbados. One source suggests that he was a slave of one John Willoughby in Virginia, but his literacy and contemporary accounts of him having been a native of Barbados suggest otherwise.

Blucke went out with the chief surveyor, Benjamin Marston, to look at the the Port Roseway area and decide what was to be set aside for the Blacks. He agreed that it was acceptable land for settlement, despite the sharp granite rocks in the bay and land, and the swamp to it's rear. Perhaps he was seduced by the area's beauty, or maybe he simply wished to settle quickly and avoid conflict with more influential whites.

Stephen Blucke was involved with much of the business within the community. In order to fish, he built a boat; one of the first to be constructed by blacks in Shelburne. He was quite friendly with the local merchant, Stephen Skinner, who seems to have acted as his patron. It appears likely that Skinner used this influence to both of their benefits. He hired blacks through Blucke, thus obtaining cheap labour and allowing Blucke to display influence in the community.

He certainly helped the members of his community receive the land they were entitled to, but he was the first in Birchtown to have a lot, a big one - about 200 acres. The rest of the population got 40 acres at the most, and not until about four years later. Blucke's home was the only well built structure in Birchtown, except perhaps the churches. It seems that he had some savings from the revolution, and continued to profit from his position as the connection between the black and white communities in the area.

Blucke was the only member of the community who was able to attend the Anglican church in town. The rest could not because they did not have enough money to rent a pew, and by that time, they likely preferred to have their own religious leaders.

Blucke helped many people with petitions to the authorities. Some documents from the period refer to him as the 'Birch Magistrate', which implies he was charged with enforcing summary justice in Birchtown, although records are sparse. He was often a witness to land being purchased or sold. He could write, so he also made petitions on behalf of the settlers for things like relief and other issues.

He organized the men into work crews, and ran the Black Militia, which constructed the Annapolis road and performed other public works. Later in his career, he became a teacher for the black students living in Birchtown. He was given favourable reports by the inspector of schools; they said he was doing well with his students. At the time of the Sierra Leone exodus, Blucke organized a petition opposing the use of public funds to transport the blacks away from Nova Scotia. It seems likely that his old patron, Stephen Skinner, had helped him out with the idea. If half of the blacks left, both men would lose half their influence. The petition was ineffective, and two years later the schoolhouse was closed due to lack of students.

Around 1788 Margaret Blucke left her husband: it seems that he took up with their adoptive daughter Isabel. She moved to New York and wrote a pleading letter to John Marrant asking him for details about the situation.

Around 1785, Stephen Blucke was accused of stealing money that was entrusted to him and shortly after decided it was time for him to leave Shelburne. Some articles of his clothing were found near the Annapolis road, which leads most people to believe that he was killed by an animal while attempting to escape. The money he was accused of stealing was later discovered, but Blucke's body was not.

Image of Stephen Blucke
Stephen Blucke

Story: Revolution

The Black Pioneers

Story: Arrival


Story: Faith

The Anglicans

Story: Exodus

Unlikely Opposition


Isiah Limerick

Stephen Skinner




Mission to America

Extract from Booth's Diary

Marston's Journal

Letter from Margaret Blucke - Marrant

Blucke pleads Mercy


Petition for roadwork

Muster of Blucke's Company of Pioneers

Petition for Poor Relief

Petition for supplies for those remaining in Nova Scotia