Lord Dunmore was the Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia at the start of the American Revolution. He issued a proclamation, known as "Dunmore's Proclamation" stating that all enslaved black men who escaped and joined his regiment to fight the rebels would be given their freedom after the war was over. Hundreds made the attempt; search this index for clues to your ancestor's involvement in the unit.
While the records for this unit are largely contextual, Findmypast has attempted to build a searchable index of all those known to participate in the regiment.Wherever possible, we have included the following information:
First and last name (if given) of the enslaved
Any "AKA" - also known as - that may be mentioned in the text
Any accompanying family member(s)
Date of event
First and last name of the enslaver
County and state of the enslaver
The known fate of the enslaved
Additional notes found in the material
Disclaimer: Please note that the terms used in historical records reflect the attitudes and language of the time and may now be considered inappropriate, derogatory or offensive.
At the time hostilities broke out in Virginia, Lord Dunmore was serving as the Royally appointed Governor of the Colony. He, and the rest of the British forces, knew that a slave revolt was one of - if not the most - feared event in the southern colonies. As the militia units of the Colonists inched forward, Lord Dunmore issued his infamous proclamation.
You can find the full text of the document at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, as it was published in the "Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser" on Wednesday, December 6, 1775.
While it never did result in a massive uprising, it did change the lives of hundreds of individuals forever. Only about 800 men were able to join the regiment, but many, many more were inspired to seek freedom behind the British lines over the course of the war. Unfortunately, many of them did not survive the first year, suffering from smallpox in great numbers or returned to their former enslavers. Many appear to have chosen to die in freedom from illness rather than return back to slavery.
Altogether, between 1100-1200 runaways responded to Dunmore’s call to raise arms and support the King.
The following sources were utilized to create this index:
Morning Reports, "The Virginia Gazette," August 31, 1776, Williamsburg, VA. Accessed via colonialwilliamsburg.org.
Carey, Charles W., Jr. "Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment." Thesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, March 1995. Especially pages 87 - 96, Appendix.
"The Proceedings of the Convention of Delegates for the Counties and Corporations in the Colony of Virginia, Held at Richmond Town, in the County of Henrico, on the 20th of March 1775." Wythepedia, W&M Law Library.