From the book 'Lunenburgh, or the Old Eastern District', Chapter XXXVI. By J. F. Pringle, Judge County Court. Published in 1890.

A well-known character in Cornwall twenty years ago, was John Baker, who died in January, 1871. He was a mulatto, and had been a slave, as had been also his mother Dorine; his grandmother, Lavine, and his great-grandfather Cato. The history of his family goes back to a period prior to the settlement of Upper Canada, in fact to the time in the old Colony days when the war with France was a thing of the future and the Revolutionary war not dreamed of. Cato, John's great-grandfather, was an African. He was brought to North America, where he became the slave of Mr John Low, a resident of Newark, New Jersey. While in Mr Low's service, Cato's daughter named Lavine was born, who, in 1759 gave birth to Dorine, John Baker's mother. The date of Dorine's birth is established, from the following facts: Mr. Low's daughter Margaret married Dr. Farrand (a physician living in the State of New York) in 1752 or 1753. In 1759 Mrs. Farrand gave birth to a daughter named Hannah, who afterwards married Joseph Anderson, a lieutenant in the King's Royal Regiment of New York.* It was a well-known tradition in the Farrand family that Hannah Farrand and the daughter of the slave Lavine were born in the same year. *Joseph Anderson and his wife Hannah Farrand, were the author's maternal grandfather and grandmother. In 1763 Elizabeth Low, another daughter of John Low, married James Gray, who had been a captain in the 42nd Regiment (the Black Watch), and had sold out after the taking of Havana, in the Island of Cuba, in 1762. Whether Lavine and her daughter Dorine, or Dorine alone, was given to Mrs. Gray by her father is not distinctly known, but it was known that Dorine was the property of the Grays, and that when the breaking up of families began in 1776, Captain Gray and his wife, and their nephew and neices, Jacob Farrand and Hannah and Catherine Farrand (children of Dr. and Mrs. Margaret Farrand), came to Canada, and brought with them Dorine, then in her seventeenth year. Captain Gray and his nephew got commissions in the King's Royal Regiment of New York, the former as major of the 1st Battalion, the latter as ensign. Mrs. Gray remained at Sorel or Montreal. At the latter place Hannah Farrand married Joseph Anderson, a lieutenant in the same regiment. Dorine remained with Mrs. Gray and married a German named Baker, by whom she had a large family, of whom Simon was the oldest, John the second. When the regiment was broken up in 1784, Major Gray, his wife and son Robert Isaac Dey Gray, left Montreal, bringing with them Dorine and her husband and family, and settled at Gray's Creek, about three miles east of the Town of Cornwall. Joseph Anderson and his wife settled about a mile and a half west of the town. On the death of Col. Gray in 1795, Dorine and her children became the property of his son, Robert Isaac Dey Gray, who was a lawyer. He practiced in Cornwall for a short time, and went to York, where he was appointed Solicitor-General of Upper Canada in 1797. When he went to York to reside he took with him Simon Baker as his body servant. In the winter of 1803-04, Robert I. D. Gray went to Albany. On his return he wrote a letter to his cousin, Mrs. Catherine Valentine*, dated at Kingston, February 16, 1804, of which the following is an extract: "I saw some of our old friends while in the States. None was I more happy to meet than Lavine, Dorine's mother. Just as I was leaving Albany I heard from our cousin, Mrs. Garret Staats, who is living in Albany, that Lavine was living in a tavern with a man of the name of Bramley. I immediately employed a friend of mine (Mr. Ramsay, of Albany,) to negotiate with the man for the purchase of her. He did so, stating that I wished to buy her freedom, in consequence of which the man readily complied with my wishes, and although he declared she was worth to him £100.00, he gave her to me for $50.00. When I saw her she was overjoyed, and appeared as happy as any person could be at the idea of seeing her child Dorine and her children once more, with whom, if Dorine wishes it, she will willingly spend the remainder of her days. I could not avoid doing this act; the opportunity seemed to have been thrown in my way by Providence, and I could not resist. She is a good servant yet, healthy and strong, and among you you may find her useful. I have promised her that she may work as much or as little as she pleases, while she lives; but from the character I have of her, idleness is not her pleasure." Mr. Gray adds "I saw old Cato, Lavine's father, at Newark,** while I was at Colonel Ogden's. He is living with Mrs. Governeur, is well taken care of, and blind; poor fellow came to feel me, for he could not see. He asked affectionately after the family." Lavine came to Canada and lived for the remainder of her life in the family of Judge Anderson, near Cornwall. *Mrs. Valentine was Catherine Farrand, sister of Mrs. Joseph Anderson. She married John Valentine, adjutant of the 1st Battalion, K. R. R., N.Y. **New Jersey. In one of the Toronto papers published on the 15th of December, 1869, John Baker's story is given in his own words, of which the author takes the liberty of giving the following copy. He says: "I was born at Quebec, but brought up at Gray's Creek. My mother Dorine was from Guinea.* My father was a Dutchman; he married mother at Gray's Creek. Mr. Gray was colonel of a Scotch regiment**, and wore kilts; was married in the United States. I came to live at Gray's Creek when a boy. Col. Gray's son, Robert Isaac Dey Gray, was his only child, and went to school in Quebec. He was member of Parliament for thirteen years running, and became Solicitor-General. He studied here with Mr. Jacob Farrand, to whom he was related. The Colonel had much property he was strict and sharp, made us wear deerskin shirts and deerskin jackets, and gave us many a flogging. At these times he would pull off my jacket, and the rawhide would fly around my shoulders very fast. My brother Simon was older than me, and was Solisary (sic for Solicitor-General) Gray's body servant. He dressed up Simon better than himself. He took him to Toronto with him. After Col. Gray died, Mrs. Gray lived with the family of Judge*** Anderson, who lived about two miles and a half west of Cornwall, till she died some years after**** and I lived with Mr Farrand. He used to go journeys on horseback, when I would go with him, having his valise strapped on my back; he rode like a tartar, and the valise used to knock on my back as I galloped after. I lived three years in Toronto in a large white house north of the landing. We had in the house Solisary Gray, Simon, two black women, and myself. The people were very proud and grand them times. Simon was master's body servant, and dressed finer than his master, with a beaver hat and gold chain. Solisary Gray had land all over the world. Did not know of Mr. White. Heard of the duel*****,it was before my time. Governor Hunter was a severe and wicked old man. He wore leather breeches. In one pocket he carried tobacco, in another snuff. When giving orders he would take out a handful of snuff, and it would fall over his white ruffled shirt. He always wore shoes with silver buckles; never saw him with a boot on. He ordered the trial of the Indian at Presque Isle. The weather was stormy. Mr. Gray did not want to go, but Gov. Hunter insisted. Master took Simon with him. The schooner started between four and five in the afternoon, and we heard of the loss the next morning; a brig called the 'Toronto' coming up brought the news. Lawyer Weeks, too, had ridden down to attend the trial, and, came back next day. None of the bodies were ever found. There were about twenty houses in Toronto then. I went and stayed at Judge Powel's for six months. Then a recruiting party came along; I listed to go to New Brunswick. Judge Powel 'paid the smart' for me seven times. He then said that if I went again and listed I must go. I said 'thank you, sir,' but the second night after I was at the rendezvous and listed again. Col. Allan swore me in and dragged me away. First we went to New Brunswick; stayed around that ugly, miserable place for three years, till our time expired. Col. Drummond, afterwards killed at Fort Erie, was our colonel, and Col. Moodie, who was shot on Yonge street, was lieutenant-colonel. When our time was out, Col. Moodie paraded our regiment, made us a speech, and called on all who wished to list to hold up their right hands. All in the ten companies did so. We were after this at Lundy's Lane, Fort Erie, and Sackett's Harbor. We were at Waterloo, when Col. Hatch commanded us; the 104th Regiment was ours. I saw Napoleon. He was a chunky little fellow; he rode hard and jumped ditches. After that we came back to Canada, and got our discharges in Montreal. I liked the service. If I were young and supple I would not be out of the army. The Queen now gives me a pension. Some of my sisters are still living near this. I and mother were freed by Solisary Gray's will. We got a little of the money he left for us, but not much." * John is mistaken on this point. His great grandfather, Cato, came from Guinea; his mother was born in the Province of New York. **Another error of John's. Col. Gray served first as ensign in Lord Loudon's Regiment in 1745, and afterwards as captain in the 42nd until 1762 or 1763. He was on half pay as major of the 1st Battalion, K. R. R., N. Y., when he lived at Gray's Creek. ***This should be Captain Joseph Anderson. Judge Anderson lived east of Cornwall. ****1800. *****A duel between Attorney-General Whyte and Mr. John Small, which was fought on the peninsula, opposite York, in January, 1800, with a fatal result to Mr. White. Mr. Small was tried for murder but acquitted. In 1864, a man named Cosens had killed an Indian, whose brother, failing to find Cosens, killed John Sharpe in revenge. Lieutenant-Governor Hunter ordered the trial of the Indian to be held at Presque Isle, near Brighton, then a somewhat important place. The Government schooner, "Speedy," Captain Paxton, was detailed to take the court party from York to the place of trial. It was late in the autumn of 1804, the weather was stormy. The "Speedy," never a strong craft, was unseaworthy. Hull spars and sails were out of order, and the captain remonstrated strongly against venturing out at that season of the year, but the Governor was peremptory and the vessel sailed, having on board in addition to her crew, Judge Cochrane; A. McDonell, sheriff of the Home District; Mr. Gray and his servant, Simon; John Fiske, the high constable; the Indian prisoner and some other persons. Mr. Gray, who dreaded the voyage, had made arrangements to go down on horseback with Mr. Weeks, a barrister, who was going to the court, but the judge urged him so strongly to make the voyage with him, that he consented. The "Speedy" sailed and had nearly reached her destination when she was struck by a sudden squall, and sank with all on board. No trace of the vessel or of any who were on board of her was ever seen again. At the time of Mr. Gray's death, slavery was still in existence in Upper Canada. The Statute 33, Geo. III, Chap. 7, passed on the 9th of July, 1793, prohibited the importation of slaves. It did not liberate any negro then in a state of slavery, but provided for the emancipation of children of slaves on reaching the age of 25 years. Mr. Gray made his will on the 27th of August, 1804, the third paragraph of which is as follows: "I feel it a duty incumbent on me, in consequence of the long and faithfnl services of Dorine, my black woman servant, rendered to my family, to release, manumit and discharge her from the state of slavery in which she now is, and to give her and all her children their freedom. My will therefore is, that she be released, and I hereby accordingly release, manumit and discharge the said Dorine, and all and every of her said children, both male and female, from slavery, and declare them and every of them to be free." The fourth clause is in these words: "And in order that provisions may be made for the said Dorine and her children, and that she may not want after my decease, my will is, and I hereby empower my executors, out of my real estate to raise the sum of twelve hundred pounds currency and place the same in some solvent and secure fund, and the interest arising from the same I give and bequeath to the said Dorine, her heirs and assigns for ever, to be paid annually."* *The executors of the will, instead of raising the sum of £1,200 out of the real estate, set apart 2,150 acres, which were sold and the proceeds divided between Dorine and her children. To his servant, Simon, he left all his wearing apparel and his silver watch, and also two hundred acres of land, lot number 11, in the first concession of Whitby. He gave to John, his other black servant; two hundred acres of land, lot number 17 in the second concession of Whitby. He also gave to Simon and John, each fifty pounds. John Baker remained in York after Mr. Gray's death, until he enlisted, and he appears to have been in the army until after the battle of Waterloo. It is not known in what corps he was serving at that time. It could not have been the 104th, as that regiment did not take any part in the action.* After his discharge, he came back to Cornwall, where he proved himself to be an industrious, hardworking man, until old age and infirmity incapacitated him for labour. Some ten years or so before his death, a pension of one shilling sterling a day was procured for him from the British Government. The author paid him the first quarter's pension and well remembers the old man's pleasure at receiving the long delayed recognition of his services, and his joyful shout of "God save Queen Victoria." For the last few years og his life, he was to be seen daily, limping down to the store of the late P. E. Adams, on Pitt street, where he did odd jobs, and in the interval took a seat in one particular part of the store, where it is said that the floor was worn away in the place where his feet rested. He died on the i8th of January, 1871, the last of those who had been slaves in the old provinces of Quebec and Upper Canada. It was believed that he was one hundred and four or five years of age at the time of his death, but the facts of the case as already shown, appear to be against this belief. His mother was born in 1759; she came to Quebec with the Gray family in 1776, when she was seventeen, and her sons, Simon and John were born in Quebec. Simon was the elder of the two, and it is not probable that John was born before 1778, which would make him 93 in 1871. *See Alison's History of Europe.