On August 1, 1834, churches such as Cobb’s Hill Methodist Church in Warwick, which had been built by slaves were filled with blacks celebrating emancipation.
It was hard-fought and a long time coming, but freedom came to more than 4,000 slaves in Bermuda on August 1, 1834.
The previous year, the British Parliament passed an Abolition of Slavery Act, which affected slaves in all British territories, most of them in the Caribbean, but also in the Cape of Good Hope and Mauritius.
Slaveholders received financial compensation for the loss of their slaves from a £20 million fund established by the British Government, but there was no similar payout for slaves. In addition, laws aimed at diluting newly-freed slaves’ political power in Bermuda were passed.
The property qualification for voters was increased from £40 to £100. This remained in effect until 1963. Still, emancipation was cause for celebration. Churches, among them Cobb’s Hill Methodist Church, which slaves had built, were filled from Somerset to St. George’s. More than 400 blacks packed St. John’s Church in Pembroke.