Tradition in the Clements family has it that Francis Clements was born in or near Charleston, South Carolina in 1760, the son of a black slave mother and her white master. The story goes that at some point before the American Revolution, Francis Clements became the property of Francis Ryerson, a resident of New York and prominent Loyalist to Nova Scotia in 1783, where he was a founding settler of Clements Township in Annapolis County. The same tradition states that Francis Clements married Sarah Broadcloth, a Mohawk from Montreal. The supposition is entirely within the realm of possibility. The Mohawks, members of the Iroquois Confederacy, and originally occupants of upstate New York, were strong allies of the British during the Revolution and, when peace was concluded, were evacuated in large numbers to the area of the St. Lawrence River between Kingston, Ontario, and Montreal, Quebec. Where and when the couple married is unknown.
The historical evidence supports portions of the story. The only person listed as property of Francis Ryerson in the Book of Negroes, the Black Loyalist directory of refugees leaving New York in 1783, was one Sarah, a passenger aboard the Michael bound for Annapolis (Royal) under Capt. James Bishop. She was described as mulatto, age 22, a stout wench in the household of Francis Ryerson, whose property she was proven to be. She is in all likelihood the Sarah who became the wife of Francis Clements.
The pattern followed by many slave surnames would suggest that Francis Clements, if born in South Carolina as is likely, was probably born on a Clements plantation in that state. If enslaved on his arrival in Nova Scotia, Francis Clements received his freedom within a few years. In 1788 Francis he was one of 146 blacks who made application for a grant of land from the 7500 acres in Annapolis County set aside for Black Loyalists. The grant in Clements was confirmed in 1789 when Francis Clements received 50 acres. Francis Clements and his son, John, remained in Clements Township. Son Andrew lived early on in Granville Township, and sons Abraham and William lived first in Annapolis Township before removing to Granville. Family tradition does not list daughters Sarah and Louisa, but these two women are undoubtedly of this family.
Francis and Sarah Clements had children:
- John/Jack Clements, b. c. 1788. Jack Clements bpt. 27 May 1873 age 85 (Baptisms: St. Clement’s Anglican, Clementsport). Jack Clements m. Sylvia (surname unknown), perhaps the Sally Clements of Annapolis bur. 11 Apr. 1853 age 70 (Burials: St. Luke’s Anglican, Annapolis Royal). At the time of the 1838 Nova Scotia Census, John Clements was listed as a labourer living in Clements Township with a household of four, containing one male and two females over 14 years in addition to himself.
- Abraham Clements, bpt. As an adult 5 Aug. 1821 (Baptisms: St. Luke’s Anglican, Annapolis Royal). Abraham Clements m. (1) Margaret/Peggy (surname unknown). At the time of the 1838 Nova Scotia Census, Abram Clements was listed as a labourer living in Annapolis Township with a household of ten, containing one male and one female under 6 years, two males and one female between 6 and 14 years, and one male and three females over 14 years in addition to himself. Abraham Clements m. (2) Louisa (surname unknown).
- Letisha/Letitia Clements. Letitia Clements m. (1) 7 Junes 1821 Ephraim Camps (Marriages: Granville Anglican). Ephraim Camps drowned 1 Dec. 1829 (Granville Township Book, p. 339). Widow Letitia Camps m. (2) 10 May 1831 Abraham Wooder/Woodow. (Granville Township Book, p. 339)
- Mary Clements. Family tradition mentions a Mary Clements as a daughter of Francis and Sarah. A Mary Ann Clements of Perotte had a son, William Henry Clements, bpt 16 Sept. 1841 (Baptisms: St. Luke’s Anglican, Annapolis Royal).
- Ann Clements. Family tradition mentions an Ann Clements as a daughter of Francis and Sarah.
- Andrew Clements, b. c. 1799. Andrew Clements m. Mary (surname unknown), b. c. 1811 (60 in 1871). At the time of the 1838 Nova Scotia Census, Andrew Clements was listed as a labourer living in Granville Township with a household of six, containing two males under 6 years and one male and two females over 14 years in addition to himself. Andrew Clements, farmer, married, b. Clements s/o WH(sic) and Sarah Clements, d. Granville 24 Jan. 1873 age 74 of consumption; Mary Clements informant. (NS Vital Stats- Annapolis Co. Deaths: Yr. 1873 Bk. 1801 p. 71 #45). Mary Clements d. At the Alms House in Bridgetown 4 Feb. 1900 aged about 90 (Annapolis Spectator 23 Feb. 1900).
- Sarah Clements. Although family tradition does not note a daughter Sarah of Francis and Sarah, the Sarah Clements who m. 24 March 1827 George Black (Marriages: St. Luke’s Anglican, Annapolis Royal) is probably of this family. The marriage was witnessed by James Brothers and Isabella Godfrey.
- William Clements, b. c. 1810 (61 in 1871). William Clements m. 24 March 1836 Maria Mitchell (Marriages: Bridgetown-Wilmot Anglican). Maria Mitchell b. c. (62 in 1871), d/o Henry and Susan (Brown) Mitchell. At the time of the 1838 Nova Scotia Census, William Clements was listed as labourer living in Annapolis Township with a household of two, containing one female over 14 years in addition to himself.
- Louisa Clements. Although family tradition does not note a daughter Louisa of Francis and Sarah, the Louisa Clements, spinster, who m. by banns 2 Aug. 1838 Abraham Chandler, bachelor (Marriages: St. Luke’s Anglican, Annapolis Royal) was probably of this family. The marriage was witnessed by Abraham Clements and Isaac Chandler. After her death, Abraham Chandler m. (2) at Granville Mountain 18 Oct. 1855 (Christian Messenger 14 Nov. 1855) Mariah Camps, d/o Ephraim and Letitia (Clements) Camps.
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