Humphrey Chabourne’s 1667 probate inventory includes  “five servant men & mades” valued at 40 pounds. These almost certainly would have been indentured servants, though the 1688 probate inventory of Lucy Chadbourne’s second husband, Thomas Wills includes a “negro man” valued at 12 pounds (York County Probate vol. I fol. 7).  Nicholas Shapleigh was Lucy Chadbourne’s uncle. He lived in present-day Eliot, Maine and was one of the wealthiest merchants in the Piscataqua.  His 1682 probate inventory includes indentured servants, “Two Irish boys, one to serve about two yeares, & one 3 yeares” valued at 10 pounds.  It also includes “4 Neagers 3 men one woman & one little Neager” valued together at 90 pounds.  (York Deeds Vol. V, fol. 15-16). Presumably one of these slaves was Coffee, whose deed of sale is below. This rare document may be the earliest surviving deed of sale for a Maine slave.

Edward Bushell to Nicholas Shapleigh, May 4, 1676, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Deeds, Volume 9, folio 336. Published in Suffolk Deeds (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1897), IX, 336:

"To all People to whome these presents shall come Greeting &c. Know yee that I Edward Bushell Mercht. now resident in Boston in New England for good causes and Considerations mee thereunto moveing Have bargained & Sould unto Major Nicholas Shapleigh of Kittery in sd. New England a Certaine Negro man Called Coffe  now in the Custody of John Holder Sr. Liveing in Scotland on the Island of Barbados To Have and and to hold the sd. Negro called Coffe to the use benifitt & behoofe of him the sd. Shapleigh his heires & assignes during the terme of the nat­ural I life of him the sd. Coffe And I the sd. Bushell hereby prom­ise to warrant & defend the Sale abovesd. against any pson or psons claimeing Lawfully any right title or Intrest to the abovesd. Negro In Witness whereof I have heereunto Set my hand & Scale in Boston abovesd. the fourth day of May 1676"

A Genealogical Dictionary of  The First Settlers of New England, Before 1692
Volume #1, Pgs 309 - 322

In my opinion

the possibility exists that Black Will and/or his son and/or grandson had sailed to Casco Bay 

with Mr. Shapleigh, or on Mr Shapleigh's behalf prior to the Blacks moving here around 1727: 

"In the year 1659, Francis Small "was employed by Major Nicholas Shapleigh to purchase 

a certain great Island called Sebascoe Diggin, lying against a Necke of land called Merriconeag." 

He built a house there "by order of Major Shapleigh and possessed the Island in his behalf." This was called Small's Island.

 May 10, 1683, Francis Small, senior, aged about fifty-six, and his wife Elizabeth, aged about forty-nine, testified to the above facts. 

They had one child born there, which was the "first white child of English parents" born in that part of Maine.

["Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine" pg 81]


BLACK WILL born unknown (?) died 1727/28    

NOTE: Black Will was Major Nicholas Shapleigh's slave. After Nicholas died (1692) he was eventually given to John Shapleigh of Kittery.John's wife found religion and freed Black Will.. John died in 1706. Black Will purchased 100 acres in Kittery in 1696 while still a slave.

    2_William born 1691 mother: Alice HANSCOM born 1671 Kittery, ME d/o Thomas Hanscom & Anne Downing

    2_Elizabeth born 1712 mother: Elizabeth Brooks (possibly born Jan 24 1695 d/o John Brooks 1664-1711 Eleanor Frye 1668)

    2_Joshua (mentioned in will) mother: Mary unknown

    children: Benjamin 1719, Jonathan 1720, Mary 1722, Joshua 1724, Henry 1726, 

    Sarah 1730, Ammy 1731, Katherine 1734,Thomas 1738, Margery 1739

NOTE: Land grant, Kittery, 1703. Black William; 1714, his son Will by Long Bridge; 1718, his son Will by his own land.
NOTE: In 1708, Will bound his land to protect the town on Charles Frost's freeing Tony Freeman, and allowed him to build on the land. His will, proved 1727/28, provides that his wife Sarah be supported by his two sons. "and bequeathed to wife Sarah, and in the will of two sons, William and Joshua, To Joshua he willed 3 piggs." According to this will he had a grandson named William.

NOTE: Mary Knight m .Jan. 6, 1708 Samuel Green Note: Gen. Dic. of ME & NH: Mary was in court July 1702 for having a bastard, possibly that Benoni Knight, laborer, who took Joseph Clark's horse, rode him to Black Will's and turned him loose in 1721.


WILLIAM BLACK Jr. born Sept 1691 died after Jan 1, 1727

+m_ELIZABETH TURBOT  born 1682-93 

d/o Nicholas Turbot from Bredon, Wiltshire and Elizabeth (Spencer) Check, dau. of Thomas and Patience (Chadbourne) Spencer, of Kittery

NOTE: Elizabeth was presented for fornication July 5, 1715 (MPC V:166), lived with and was lawfully published to but was not permitted to marry, mulatto WILLIAM BLACK, Nov 22, 1714 (LND, 699) born circa 1691. The Deposition of Valentine Scates and Samuel Allen both of full age Testifyeth & Saith That Black Will a Mollatto of Barwick & Elizabeth Turbit of said Barwick, has for some time past dwelt together both in one house & they the Deponents know of know [sic] other person or persons that dwells in the house with them and haveing frequent ocation to be at the house have seen them in bed together & further Saith not taken upon oath the 16th July 1715 (MPC V:171).

    3_Elizabeth born in the winter of 1715 died ?

    "Wee Present Eliza: Turbut of Berwick for haveing a bastard Child since Last Sessions"  

    (MPC V:174 dated 3 Jan 1715/16); living and unm, a minor at the time her grandfather Black Will named her in his will, which was proved 1 Jan 1727/8 (YP #1199).
    3_William born 1716 - 1720 died unknown

   born after winter 1715 (MPC V:174) and probably before 1721 when his grandfather's will, which called him a minor, was likely written (it is undated)


1727 - Wm Black (son of Black Will) most likely was one of, if not the first, to arrive on Bailey Island 

1758 - The son of "Black Will", William Black assumed "squatters rights" to Newaggin. The ownership is acknowledged in the Act of Incorporation of the town of Harpswell at Harpswell Court in 1758. The island is referred to as "Will's Island". 

1760 - End of Indian Wars - Throughout the Indian wars there is no record that Will or his family ever had to leave the island despite attacks on many other nearby outposts in the area. 

1762 - In February of 1762, William Black (son of "Black Will") bought most of the south end of Little Sebascodegan (Orr's) Island consisting of one hundred forty four acres from Joseph Orr for one hundred and seventy two pounds. In September of 1762 he purchased additional acerage for thirty five pounds, nine shillings, four pence. This purchase appears to have been an investment rather than for a place to live and therefore indicates that Will may have had money to spare at that time and was not the destitute pauper history has made him out to be. It is also plausable that he had been paid for his claim to title of Bailey Island and that he was not "driven" away by Timothy and Hannah Bailey. In addition, Deacon Timothy appears as a witness to the February 1762 deed between Joseph Orr and Will Black, hardly the work of an enemy.

1777 - In 1777, Wm Black purchased, for eighteen pounds, sixteen shillings, six pence, in partnership with Josiah Clark, "...equal parts of the two islands in or near Casco Bay called ...Capt. Parker's Island (now called Ragged Island) and Sagwin Island" (?Seguin Island). 

1795 - In Jan, 1795 William Black bought nine and one half acres from John Blake for ten pounds, two shillings, eight pence (Book/Page 23/469). This land bordered on land owned by David Wheeler, Michael Sinnett and William Black..  

1805/1807 - Between 1805 and 1807, an Elizabeth Meyer, calling herself the daughter of William Black, sold 23 acres on Orr's Island to Stephen Sinnett for one hundred twenty-six dollars and fifty cents, and all interest in an island in Casco Bay called Parker's Island or Ragged Arse Island containing about 70 acres to James Sinnett for fifteen dollars and twenty-five cents.

1818 -  Another land document dated July 1818 states a land transfer from "Olive Black to John Black alias Blake".

The channel between Bailey and Orr's Island is named Will's Gut, a gut being an old English word meaning an area of swiftly moving water.

This raises many questions as to what happened to all this land. Did the descendants of William sell off most of his land? Did the children move away? Did some of the children use the name 'Blake'? 


WILLIAM BLACK III born 1716 - 1721 at Kittery, ME

+married before 1759 to his first cousin (?)MARY BLACK, born Apr 23, 1715 or 2 Jan 1722 Kittery, d/o Joshua (s/o Black Will) and Mary (_____) Black of Kittery.died after Mar 20, 1763 when she acknowledged a deed.

    ?William  born abt 1730 - 1750


WILLIAM IV or JOHN BLACK  born 1740 to 1750

+married Nov 28, 1773 in Falmouth, ME by Mr. Smith of Falmouth to RUTH WELCH born 1750 at New Portland, Somerset, ME

NOTE: Was Welch her married name " Edmund Welch married Ruth Annis"?

    5_John Black born 1774 to 1790


NOTE: No persons named "Black" are listed in the 1790, 1800 or 1810 census for Harpswell  

NOTE: 1800 census index for the State of Maine lists only: BLACK - Joab, Reuben

NOTE: A Josiah Black of Harpswell married Mary Patch of Kittery in Kittery Dec 9 1783. [Marriage intention of Josiah BLACK of Kittery and Mary PATCH of Kittery. They are also recorded as "Blacks". Apr 1784, pg 163] Josiah appeared on the census of 1810 at Cumberland, Maine. Josiah over age 45 with one female under 10 and one over 45 years of age. There were no children of Josiah Black and Mary Patch. Children of a Josiah Black and an unknown spouse both born at Harpswell, Cumberland, Maine, were as follows: Nancy was born on Mar 12, 1803 Betty was born on Oct 6, 1790   

    (?Jacob Black b abt 1785 m_Abigail Wilson of Harpswell)

    (?Simeone Black b abt 1785 m Mary Wilson of Harpswell)

NOTE: *FROM the History of Brunswick, Topsham and Harpswell" by Charles Sinnett  "Organized 1858...Orrs Island Freewill Baptist Church... It's original members were... John Black..." History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell:
NOTE: *FROM Part II, Chapter 26: Military History of the Three Towns page 686 "... Some time [in 1778] the privateer "Sea Flower", Captain Tracy, sailed from Newburyport and was never heard from. She had among her compliment of men, John Skofield, Captain John Campbell, Eben Stanwood, William Stanwood, David Stanwood, John Black, William Reed, William Hunt, David Stanwood, jr, and James Dunning, all of from vicinity".

NOTE:  There were "Blakes" living in Harpswell in 1790 - Jacob (1 male adult and 6 females), John (5 males over 16, 3 under 16 and 4 females) and John Jr.(1 adult male, 2 males under 16 and 5 females) 

NOTE: Some of the Black family in the area gradually changed their name to Blake.Some of the 'Black family' may have used the name Blake (pre-Civil War era) or perhaps it was just spelt that way on documents. A Brunswick, Maine, marriage is found between Prime Chapley (Shapley) and Mareny Blake on February 13, 1793. It is suspected that Mareny Blake was a descendant of Will Black or Black Will. Enter Captain John Shapleigh again who had freed Will Black or Black Will. The Blacks of the Kittery area had some children recorded there, but ultimately moved to what is now Bailey's Island and settled. Without good title to the land; they were soon displaced to Orr's Island. There has been some evidence uncovered that Mareny and Lorania/Lorane/Lorene Blake were sisters.

NOTE: In 1821,  Maine's Legislature prohibited interracial marriage by approving a state law that said any marriage "between any white person and any Negro, Indian or Mulatto shall be absolutely void" 



grave of John Black

JOHN BLACK born 1775 to 1790 Harpswell, ME died Feb 6, 1849 (Orrs Island Cemetery)

+married 1814 to MARY GOODROW (also spelled Gaudreau) or Goodhue born 1792 died Feb 9, 1840 (Bailey Island Cemetery) 

(stone inscription) Dearest mother thou hast left us, Here thy loss we deply[sic] feel: 

But 'tis God that has bereft us, He can all our sorrows heal. Footstone - M B

    6_Martha Ann Black born Feb 19, 1815 died Apr 13, 1870 (Orrs Island Cemetery)

   +married _1831 to John Henry Green died 

        children: Henry Nov 15, 1839 - Oct 11, 1842 Inscription: Death has been here! And borne away a brother

       from our site Just in the morning this day As young as we, he died (Orrs Island cemetery)

    6_Mary Black born May 23, 1816 died Sep 19, 1889 (Orrs Island Cemetery)

    [4 line epitaph, partly legible - "We miss thee in the morning"]

   +married _to James A Linscott born 1808 died Oct 12, 1866 (Orrs Island Cemetery)

    6_Charles Black born May 11, 1818  died Aug 28, 1905

    6_Lucinda Black born Oct 1, 1820 died Dec 10, 1839 (unverified)

    +married (?)James A Linscott This is the James Linscott who married Mary Black (above)

    6_Joseph Black born Sept 23, 1822 died Dec 24, 1856

    +married to Philomeana unknown

    6_Mahala Black born Aug 15, 1824

    +married to Ebenezer Doughty born Jan 23, 1826 Chebeague Island. Cumberland, ME

        7_Francis Ellen Doughty 08 NOV 1847 

        7_Stephen A Doughty 03 AUG 1848 

        7_Josephine DEC 1850 

        7_Sarah Francis Doughty 30 AUG 1856 

        7_Joseph E Doughty MAR 1859 

        7_Eben Doughty DEC 1862 

        7_Olonzo Doughty About 1864 

    6_John Jr Black  born Apr 15, 1827 died Feb 17, 1848

    +married 1858 to Mercy Johnson died 1846

    6_Rosilla Black born Oct 5, 1829 died Sept 25, 1846 (Bailey Island Cemetery)

    inscription: Her soul has now taken its flight To mansions of glory above;

    To mingle with angel's of light And dwell in the kingdom of love.

    6_Levina Black born Sept 1, 1832 died 1845

    +married to Oct 26, 1848 to Loring Doughty born 1832



Capt. CHARLES SYLVESTER BLACK born May 11, 1818 (1880 census states 1812) died Aug 28, 1905 

On his gravestone - (Orrs Island Cemetery)

 "A faithful one from us has gone 

A voice we loved is stilled 

A place is vacant in our home 

Which never can be filled" 

+married Dec 30, 1847 to MARY DOUGHTY Long Island, Portland, ME born 1826 (1880 census states 1829) died  Apr 3, 1887  

On her gravestone - (Orrs Island Cemetery)

"O let us think of all she said 

And all the kind advice she gave 

And let us do it now she's dead 

And sleeping in her lonely grave






7_(?)Samuel born 1845

7_Junietta Black

7_Edmund Franklin Black born Dec 10, 1854 at Maine.

+married Paulina Thomas, b. Aug. 9, 1857; resides Bailey's Island. Me, Dec 17, 1878 in Portland, ME

           8_Mary Isabel Black, b. Sept. 25, 1879; rm.. Jan. 29. 1899. Walter E. Johnson, b. Bailey's Island. Me. 

           8_Jennie Emeline Black, b. March 9. 1880; m., Oct. 6. 1903. Willie Waterman Johnson

           8_William Thomas Black, b. Sept. 11. 1881: m Jan. 1903. Susie E. Bennett. 

           8_Charles Percy Black, b. May 23. 1885: d. Nov. 14. 1902 (17y.). 

           8_Margaret Sinnett Black, b. July 4. 1887. 

           8_Hannah Bailey Black, b. Aug. 7. 1890.

7_(?)Harvey C Black born 1860 died 1947

+married (?)Hattie W. born 1863 died 1932

            8_(?)Albert W born 1888 died 1971

            +married (?)Iona born 1890 died 1948


                +married Dorothy

                    10_(?)living male

                    +married (?)living female (divorced)

                        11_(?)living female

                        +married living female (divorced)

                    1    1_(?)living male (adopted)

7_Sylvester Goodwin Black born 1864 - buried Orrs Island Cemetery

7_George H Black 1866 died (drowned) 1893 - buried Orrs Island Cemetery

NOTE: Sylvester built the house next door to his for his brother, Geoirge.



 Charles & Mary (child unknown)

 NOTE - 1880 census lists name as "Block". 



Sylvester Alice


SYLVESTER GOODWIN BLACK born 1863 died 1951 (Orrs Island Cemetery)

+married Dec 15, 1886 at Portsmouth, NH to ALICE MAHALA ROSE born Oct 29, 1867 died 1933 (buried Orrs Island Cemetery)

    8_Arthur Black born 1888

    8_Helen R. Black 1893-1926

   +married YORK

    8_Charles Black 1905-1966




Sylvester (called Ves) and Alice       Sylvester with his grandson, Ron 1947




Arthur Ruby


ARTHUR AARON BLACK born Oct 28, 1888 at Orrs Island, ME died Mar 1968, Florida


    9_Eleanor Black

    9_Ruby Black

    9_Lydia Black

    9_Emily Black

    9_Arthur Black, Jr.

    9_Kenneth Black (twin)

    9_Ernest Black (twin)


Left picture - Arthur and Ruby   

Right picture:

Arthur (2nd from right)

with partners & employees of their Portland Fish Market



KENNETH DINSMORE BLACK born May 10, 1911 Newton, MA died Nov 18, 1992 (buried Orrs Island Cemetery)

+married Oct 19, 1936 to MARJORIE OLIVE MURCH born Aug 24, 1915 (see Murch genealogy)

    10_Karl Arthur Black born Aug 17, 1937

    +married (1)Sara Andersen (divorced)

        11_Karen Louise Black born August 8, 1960
        +married Robert Daniel Plamondon born April 11, 1959
            12_Daniel Ambrose born May 29, 1991
            12_Karl Arthur born March 29, 1994
        11_Ellen Maria born Jan 15, 1962

        +married John Noel

        11_Nathan Edward born March 30, 1967

    +married(2) Demaris Moore born Jan 30, 1943

    10_Robert Sylvester Black born Nov 4, 1940

    +married Janet Metesh born March 14, 1940

        11_Brian Allen Black born Aug 11, 1962

        +married Apr 18, 1997 to Claire Hill of England

            12_Kieran Lysander Black born June, 2001

            12_Analise Filisia Black born June 8, 2003

        11_Theresa Ann Black born Feb 8, 1964

        +married  (divorced)

        +married(2) Al Stevens born April 17, 1953

        11_Kathleen Marie Black born Nov 3, 1965 died June 18, 1973

    10_Timothy Allen Black

NOTE: Ken Black and his brother Ernie were record setting runners for the University of Maine, Orono, Maine track team.

In one newspaper article (May 10, 1935) they are described by their coach as "The flying Blacks ... the mainsprings of the Big Seven" They were stars in the quarter, half, mile and two mile events. At least one of their records still stands and plaques depicting their winning times still line the walls of the UMO track and field house. Also on display is the infamous baton. During a rely, one of the runners dropped the baton causing the team to be dead last. When Ken Black, the anchor, was handed off the baton, he not only caught up, he won the race for his team.

Bill Cole, Ernie Black,                                     Ernie Black - seated left

    Coach Jenkins   Ken Black   Joel Marsh                           Ken Black - seated right                  ,


Ken & Marge   Ken



TIMOTHY ALLEN BLACK born June 30, 1953

        11_Tiffany Anne Black born Feb 16, 1984

        11_Elisabeth Ashley Black born Nov 4, 1985


        Seth Michael Ferrante born Jan 30, 1977

        Lauren E Ferrante born Nov 13, 1979

The following records copied at the York County Courthouse in Alfred, ME.

Black Will's emancipation papers Book VI, Fol. 88 dated Feb 13, 1700/Mar 21, 1700/Apr 2, 1701,

Sale of land (100 acres) to Black Will  Book VI, Fol. 43,

Sale of land by Wm Negro jun in Berwick, ME March 23, 1719/20 Book XII, Fol. 12

Last will and testament of Black Will

Recommended Links

A story on Black Will Researched and Written by Mario de Valdes y Cocom.

The First African-American Settler of Auburn, Maine by Douglas A Hall (with a mention of Will Black)


From THE BRUNSWICK RECORD, Brunswick, ME., June 17, 1965, article by Dale S. Davis:

"Until 1809 Bailey people were buried mostly on nearby Orr's Island or across Merriconeag Sound on Harpswell." That year the 18 year old son of David Johnson drowned off the island. David buried him near his home, "diagonally across the present Route 24 and invited his friends to use adjacent land in a similar manner, thus establishing the cemetery. Later the Merriman, Stover, and Orr families gave additional lots for the same purpose. At the time they made one interesting stipulation: only natives could be buried there. They defined a native as one whose grandfather had been born on Bailey."


click above picture for article


Slaves began arriving in Maine with their white owners in the 1600s. 

Maine slaves predominately worked as household help.


Triangular trade supported the economy of the New England Colonies. 

They made boats and sent food and lumber down to the West Indies (Barbados, Martinique, and Jamaica), 

and they brought back molasses for making rum. 

The rum was sent to colonies in Africa and traded for slaves. 

The slaves were then transported to the West Indies to work on sugar plantations. 

In return for the slaves, more molasses was sent to New England.


There were eight principal areas used by Europeans to buy and ship slaves to the Western Hemisphere:

West Central Africa (Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola): 39.4%

Bight of Benin (Togo, Benin and Nigeria west of the Niger Delta): 20.2%

Bight of Biafra (Nigeria east of the Niger Delta, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon): 14.6%

Gold Coast (Ghana): 10.4%

Senegambia (Senegal and The Gambia): 4.8%

Southeastern Africa (Mozambique and Madagascar): 4.7%

Upper Guinea (Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone): 4.1%

Windward Coast (Liberia and Cote d' Ivoire): 1.8%

Bight of Biafra from the Gold Coast were prominent in the northern colonies, 

especially New England, because the slave traders of Rhode Island concentrated their activities there, 

accounting for the enforced immigration of some 7,000 people, or 30 percent of the total arriving there. 

Senegambians were also prominent among African immigrants in the northern colonies, 

accounting for about 28 percent of arrivals, or over 7,000 people.