Adam Wise, Part 2

In the Adam Wise, Part 1 post, some background concerning slavery and its abolition was summarized as context for Adam Wise’s story.  Here, details of his life have been gleaned from official New Brunswick document collections including land registries and petitions.  Wills, which are very useful as sources, can be found in the land registries if land transactions were included.  As a caution, one finds while perusing the documents that names are sometimes spelled differently especially of those who could not read nor write.  In this instance, Adam Wise signed his official documents with an X indicating illiteracy and resulting in his last name being variously spelled Wise or Wyse.

According to Adam Wise’s 1823 petition for lots 24 and 25[i] in what is now known as Donnelly Settlement, Adam Wise was born in Virginia around 1769 and arrived in New Brunswick around 1790 “in the family of Col. Ellegood”.   He was almost certainly a slave of the Loyalist Ellegoods who had settled in Prince William, New Brunswick, after the Revolutionary War.   As evidence, there is a record in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick informing us that on “July 28, 1798; Baptised 2 Black children the property of Col. Ellegood, their names Sally and Adam Wise.”[ii]  Adam Wise Junior is mentioned in some of the official land related documents along with Adam Wise Senior.  Since there are no other documented Adam Wises who lived in that area at that time, it is quite likely that they were father and son.

Adam Wise was freed sometime in or before 1818 since during that year, he led a petition with 15 other people to seek land grants.[iii]  Many of them, if not all, were of African descent as well.  He himself was awarded lots 24 and 25 in the area now known as Donnelly Settlement and set about improving the land in accordance to the land granting rules[iv].  Unexpectedly, in 1823 he discovered that his final application for ownership had not been passed along to the proper authorities.  He had to hurriedly submit another petition (the 1823 petition mentioned earlier) to reinstate the grant, explaining the situation and requesting that the grant be awarded. This time, the application was successful and the land fully granted to him in 1824[v].   He was married and had eight children at the time.

Adam Wise died in 1839.   His will, having been written in 1836, was executed on December 31, 1839[vi]. The executors were his wife, Chloe Wise, and his son, Simon Peter Wise.  He willed his residence lots to wife, Chloe.[vii] Children mentioned were Simon Peter, Adam, Charlotte, Mary, Rebecca, and Ann.  It seems that only six children were mentioned, two less than the eight indicated in his 1824 petition for lots 24 and 25.

The above account leaves a number of questions unanswered, like when was Adam Wise freed and under what circumstances?  Who was Chloe, his wife?  What happened to his descendants?  The next blog post, “Adam Wise, Part 3” will focus on the scattering of his descendants.

[i] Petition of Adam Wise, 27 September 1823, Fredericton, “Black Loyalists in New Brunswick, 1783-1854,” Atlantic Canada Virtual Archives, diplomatic rendition, document no. Wise_Adam_1823_01. RS 108: Index to Land Petitions: Original Series, 1783-1918, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick. Note that the date at the website mentions the year as 1827.  This should be 1823.

[ii] The Slave in Canada by T. Watson smith, D.D., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Chapter III, paragraph 17.  Published 1899 in Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, Vol. X.  Also found in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.
[iii] Land petition was in the name of Adam Wyse, county of York in 1818.  There were 16 names in all.  Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Index to Land Petitions: Original Series, 1783-1918 (RS108).
[iv] The land granting process in New Brunswick had a number of steps.  First, a settler petitioned to the Lieutenant Governor.  An approved petition would result in a survey being done then ownership granted to the petitioner.  Certain conditions had to be met in order to retain the grant, for instance, a certain amount of land had to be cleared and building(s) erected within a certain time period.   Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Index to Land Petitions:  Original Series, 1783-1918 (RS108), Introduction

[v] Land grant number 1636 of 180 acres to Adam Wise in Prince William, York County, New Brunswick.  Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, 1784-1997 (RS686).
[vi] Adam Wise’s will written in 1836 and executed in 1839.  New Brunswick, Canada, County Deed Registry Books, 1839-1841 vol 023 p. 458-459
[vii] Curiously, the lots mentioned in Adam Wise’s will were 11 and 12, not 24 and 25.  It is possible that the 11 and 12 numbers were in error and should have been 24 and 25.  Or, they could have been part of an alternate numbering system specifically created for the Lake George Settlement, mentioned in the will.  In the land registry entry later on detailing their sale by Chloe and Simon Peter Wise, the lots were again referred to as 24 and 25.

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