Nova Scotia Archives

African Nova Scotians in the Age of Slavery and Abolition

"A list of proprietors of the township of Liverpool with their number in family respectively"
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Barbary (Barbara) Cuffy was the only black person among the proprietors of the New England Planter township of Liverpool. The three in Cuffy's family are presumably Cuffy herself and her two children, Deborah and Isaac. Cuffy was a midwife. She was almost certainly the widow of Stephen Cuffy, who is listed with a family on a 'census' of Liverpool 1761 (compiled 1939). The Cuffy name does not appear on the original Liverpool township grant issued in 1759. However, Barbara Cuffy's name appears on the 1764 grant confirming ownership of shares in the township. Cuffy, like most of the proprietors, had one share, equal to 500 acres. Proprietors had the right to vote in town meetings.

Cuffy sold some of her property to Thomas Gordon in 1765 and 30 acres to Robert Stevenson in 1769. Her name appeared on a 1787 list of people who had left the town and county and forfeited their land. A number of them returned to the United States, likely because of republican sympathies during the War of Independence. Robert D. Long, writing at West Medford, Mass. In 1926, listed Cuffy among those who "returned to Plymouth." (Annals of Liverpool and Queens County, 1769 1867)

An entry in Simeon Perkins's diary on 13 June 1780 indicates that Cuffy had left Liverpool by 1778. Perkins refers to "my lot had of Isaac Cuffe [purchased in 1778], and 2½ acres had of Jon. Barss [purchased in 1767], where Barbara Cuffe's house stood." Isaac had presumably taken over his mother's property when she left. There is no record of any sale of her land to Jonathan Barss. As late as 1811, Perkins still referred to Cuffy's former property as "Barbary's lot" or "my Barbary field".

For more information on Cuffy, her family, and a visit to Liverpool in 1909 by one of her descendants, Mabel E. Smith of Yarmouth, see the T.B. Smith fonds at the Nova Scotia Archives. Mrs. Smith hired noted Halifax lawyer James R. Johnston (1876 1915), also an African Nova Scotian, to research the title to Cuffy's property.

Date: [ca. 1764]

Reference: Commissioner of Crown Lands  Nova Scotia Archives  RG 20 series C volume 43 number 1

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