The Petition of Freelove Allen – aired February 7, 2002 for CBC National Radio Syndication

In Culture, Education, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on July 30, 2016 at 3:00 AM

Intro: Did you know that slavery didn’t just happen in the United States, but it happened in Canada too? If you didn’t, now you know. And you’re going to find out about a lot of aspects of black Canadian history with a four part series produced by Rob Corbett and written and narrated by Donna Kakonge.

It wasn’t only in the States that people had slaves. In the early days of this country many white people kept slaves too. Many white men stole the lives of blacks with slavery. In return, many of these slaves stole from their masters. In the case of Freelove Haszard Allen, her life was also returned by slave owners.

Freelove Haszard Allen was a slave of a Colonel in Charlottetown. She became the key figure in a trial for theft. In the spring of 1796, she was
charged with theft, along with her husband and another male slave. All three were described as servants of the Colonel.

The theft took place in the Barracks of the Commanding Officers on March 21, 1796. Freelove admitted to stealing coins and clothing with a value of 25 pounds. But she gave no reason for her actions.

Freelove’s husband and the other slave were accused of aiding the crime and accepting stolen goods.

The judge in the case owned a slave. One of the assistant judges owned four slaves. The other assistant judge had been robbed by a slave a year earlier.

There were also at least three slave owners among the jurors.

It was clear to Freelove that she wouldn’t get a break in this courtroom.

Section 18 of the Act relating to Treasons and Felonies made embezzlement by slaves with a value over 40 shillings, or 2 pounds, a felony. Hanging was mandatory on conviction.


Freelove’s husband and the other slave involved were convicted of receiving stolen goods. They were acquitted on the charge of inciting and aiding Freelove to commit the crime.

The men got branded with a Tee for theft on the palm of their left hands and received 500 lashes on their bare backs. After that, they returned to jail until each could post a bond to keep the peace.

Freelove was convicted of larceny and sentenced to death. She was scheduled to hang April 5, 1796.

Many white women in Charlottetown didn’t want to see Freelove hang. A petition was started right away to save her life.

The petition with 33 signatures was sent to the Lieutenant-Governor.

The petition had some conditions. It said that Freelove acknowledged her crime and would agree to be indentured for life and sent to the West Indies or elsewhere and sold. If she returned to P.E.I., she would be executed. Freelove agreed to the conditions. Since she was illiterate, her signature of X was marked for her by one her sympathizers.

The women who signed the petition displayed a sisterhood with Freelove. Petitions for clemency were common. Yet, they almost never were made for women.

Perhaps that’s why it was a success. On May 9, 1796, Freelove was given 40 days to leave Prince Edward Island.

That is the last heard of Freelove Haszard Allen. It is assumed she left Canada alive and never returned.

I’m Donna Kakonge

Extro: To know more about Freelove Haszard Allen and other blacks in the history of the Maritimes, read Black Islanders by Jim Hornby, published by The Institute of Island Studies at the University of P.E.I.

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