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Description found in Archives

William King collection [textual record (some microform)]. 

Collection consists of

Date(s)

1836-1895

Place of creation

Ontario

10 cm of textual records.
1 microfilm reel.

Scope and content

The collection consists of Rev. William King's manuscript autobiography, a transcript of the autobiography, correspondence, personal papers, legal documents, printed material pertaining to slavery and fugitive slaves in Canada, newspapers, and other records relating to the Elgin settlement, Buxton Mission, and the settlement of Blacks in Ontario.

Textual records: microform
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

The originals in volumes 1 to 4 have been withdrawn from circulation. Researchers must use the copies on microfilm reel C-2223.

Textual records The finding aid lists the correspondence in chronological order and lists the newspapers and dates of issues microfilmed on reel C-1462. MSS0191 90 (Electronic)
http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000001195.pdf

Biography / Administrative history

William King was born 11 November 1812 in Northern Ireland, son of William King, a farmer, and Elizabeth Torrence. He was sent in his early teens to an academy near Coleraine where he received a classical education. He attended the University of Glasgow but left in 1833 to move with his family to the United States and settle in Ohio. He moved south in 1835 to Jackson, Louisiana, where he taught and became rector of Mathews Academy. He married Mary Mourning Phares, 10 January 1841, in East Feliciana, Louisiana, the daughter of a wealthy slave owner. King, who had become disillusioned with southern society and slavery, returned to Scotland in 1843 to study theology and was licensed to preach by the Free Church of Scotland. His wife died while they were in Scotland. Appointed by the church's colonial committee to serve as a missionary in Canada, King returned to North America alone in 1846.

King conceived a plan to return to Louisiana to sell his estate, bring his slaves to Canada, and free them. Returning to Canada in June 1848, he proposed creating a settlement that would offer Blacks land, education, and religion. The synod of the Presbyterian Church in Canada formed a committee, including Rev. Robert Burns and Rev. Michael Willis, to assist in his design and they selected a large tract of land in Raleigh township near Chatham, Canada West (Ontario). King became the managing director of a stock company named the Elgin Association with authorization to purchase the land and establish the Elgin settlement. In spite of local opposition led by Edwin Larwill, King arrived in Elgin on 28 November 1849 with the fifteen slaves he had freed to form the nucleus of the new settlement. The Elgin Association governed the secular affairs of the community while the Buxton Mission, supported by the Presbyterian Church, attended to its religious needs. Black families acquired 50 acre lots which they cleared and farmed. The population of the settlement, known both as Elgin and Buxton, had grown to 130 families by 1853.

King remarried, 15 September 1853, to Jemima Nicolina Baxter at Buxton. He had been ordained by the Canadian church in 1851 and during the 1850s travelled extensively in North America and Great Britain to raise funds for the mission. The success of the settlement did not forestall an exodus back to the United States after the outbreak of the Civil War. Seventy men from Elgin enlisted in the northern army. The settlement continued but the Elgin Association, no longer required, eventually dissolved in 1873. King retired from active ministry on 10 July 1883 but continued to preach on occasion. After the death of his wife in 1887, he moved from Elgin to Chatham where he died, 5 January 1895.

For more information see the biography by Jason H. Silverman in the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography" or King's own autobiography in the collection.

Additional information

Some of the documents in this collection are found in horizontal storage.

Custodial history
Miss Anna Straith donated Rev. William King's papers to the Archives prior to 1926, possibly in 1917. The transcript of King's autobiography was received in 1981 from Professor Robin Winks of Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Related materials
Further correspondence of the Reverend William King and an account of his early life in Scotland and the United States is available in the James Cleland Hamilton papers, MG 29, C 51.

Associated material note
A diary of Rev. William King ca. 1855-1856 is held by Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, in North Buxton, Ontario, N0P1Y0.

Exhibitions note
Exhibition Title : Black History Month Event. Curator: Myron Monryk, National Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; 2003.02.03. ( MG 24, J14 Vol. 4, no. 860)
Exhibition Title: Culture and Democracy: Lord and Lady Elgin in Canada, 1847-1854. Curators: National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. (FC 3100 N3 K55 1860 folio) Further Venue: Rideau Hall, Ottawa, Ontario; 2003.04.02-2003.08.18. Further Venue: La Citadelle, Quebec City, Quebec; 2003.09.05-2004.02.16. Further Venue: Château Ramezay Museum, Vieux-Montreal, Quebec; 2004.04.16-2004.05.02.

Subject heading

1. Newspapers - Canada, 1849-1895 Buxton Mission, 1836-1895.
2. Missionaries - Ontario, 1836-1895 Elgin Association, 1836-1895.
3. William King - Biography, 1836-1895.
4. Slavery - Canada, 1835-1895.
5. Legal documents - Ontario, 1836-1895.
6. Schools - Ontario - Records and correspondence, 1836-1895.
7. Associations, institutions, etc., - Canada, 1836-1895.

Private

Other system control no.