Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens
and Genealogical Records of the Old Families
Rev. William Black
To Rev. William BLACK came the honor and the opportunity of being the pioneer Methodist missionary in the Maritime Provinces. He, like other evangelists of that day, seemed oblivious to danger and opposition. Not ease nor worldly possessions seemed dear to him, if they interfered with his purpose to carry the Gospel to sinners. He traveled through Cumberland, Sackville, the settlements on the Peticodiac river, Parrsboro, Cornwallis, Horton, Windsor, Halifax, Shelburne, Liverpool, Annapolis, Prince Edward Island and other parts of Nova Scotia and neighboring provinces. He visited these places repeatedly during his ministry. He opened correspondence with John WESLEY, founder of Methodism, who encouraged him to continued in his work, and who assisted him in many ways. This kept alive his purpose of establishing and nourishing Methodist societies in the Maritime Provinces.
He was born at Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, in the year 1760. He attended school at Otley, and when very young decided to devote his life to the ministry. His father came to Nova Scotia in 1775 and purchased land at Amherst, Cumberland County, and when about fifteen years old our subject came with the rest of the family to the new home. He was not very pious as a boy, but was converted when about twenty years of age and not long thereafter began preaching, and in due course of time became one of the most influential and powerful preachers in Canada. By home study he overcame the lack of proper literary preparation, and he had remarkable success in spreading the Gospel. As years passed converts multiplied and his talents became better known to the denomination. He visited the United States, attended conferences in that country and found himself urged to the front to take the responsibilities of leadership in the Maritime Provinces, Newfoundland and Bermuda. This made it necessary for him to move to Halifax. It was in the summer of 1780 that he made a tour of the Maritime Provinces, proclaiming the way of life to all classes. Baptist and Newlight meeting-houses were opened to him. The people always received him cordially and heard him gladly. Hardships and self-sacrifice seemed to have been to him the very luxuries of his laborious and devoted life. His gifts were not extraordinary, but he had great force of character, and the talents and tact of a leader and successful organizer. Although ever overwhelmed with his work he found time to acquire a knowledge of Greek and Latin. Perhaps no one of the early ministers was more entirely consecrated to his work than William BLACK.
In 1784 he attended the Methodist conference in Baltimore, Maryland, which was perhaps the most notable gathering of its kind ever held in America up to that time. There he made his influence felt and obtained great assistance for the work in Nova Scotia. At Digby in 1786 he formed a large class, mostly colored people, and in October, of that year, he took a prominent part in the first Methodist conference of this Province, which was held in Halifax. There were at that time over five hundred Methodists in Nova Scotia. Our subject reported eighty members in Cumberland County and adjoining places. He had alos formed a class at Windsor. He again attended a general conference in Baltimore in 1792. The following year he went to the West Indies, where he did a commendable work. He also assisted in establishing on a firm footing Methodism in New Brunswick. He repeatedly attended general conferences of his church in the States, including the one in May, 1816, at Baltimore. Although his health became enfeebled during the latter years of his life, he continued in the work which he loved. His wife, nee Mary GRAY, native of Boston, died August 11, 1827. She lived to rear several children. In 1828 our subject married Mrs. Martha CALKINS, of Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
The death of Rev. William BLACK occurred September 6, 1834.