Nova Scotia Archives

African Nova Scotians in the Age of Slavery and Abolition

"City clergy: Rev'd Mr Preston"

Richard Preston was born in Virginia in 1791 or 1792. A former slave who had purchased his manumission, he came to Nova Scotia as a young man, about 1816. He took Preston as his surname after coming to Nova Scotia. He began his preaching career as an apprentice to John Burton, founder and pastor of First Baptist Church, on the corner of Barrington and Buckingham Streets, Halifax.

Preston was ordained as a minister in London, England in 1832. He was minister of Cornwallis Street Baptist Church, Halifax, from the establishment of the congregation in 1832 until his death in 1861. He was directly involved in setting up Baptist churches in Dartmouth, Preston, Beechville and Hammonds Plains. He was instrumental in setting up several more, among them Campbell Road Baptist Church (Africville) and North Mountain Baptist Church (Granville Mountain). For many years, Preston travelling on horseback, as seen in this pen and ink sketch, was a familiar sight to Nova Scotians.

Preston was known as an outstanding speaker and inspiring preacher, with a sharp mind and a graceful sense of humour. His abolitionist speeches during his stay in England were very well received. Preston established a racially integrated Abolition Society (to promote abolition of slavery in the United States) at Halifax about 1846. He played a major role in establishing the African United Baptist Association, his crowning achievement, in 1854. He died at Halifax on 16 July 1861.

Date: [ca. 1850]

Artist: Dr. J.B. Gilpin

Credit: History Collection, Nova Scotia Museum

Reference: Nova Scotia Museum P149.29

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