William Hall

William Nelson Hall[1] VC (25 April 1827 – 27 August 1904) was the first black person, first Nova Scotian, and third Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross. He received the medal for his actions in the Siege of Lucknow.

Hall was born at Summerville, Nova Scotia, in 1827[2] as the son of Jacob and Lucy Hall, who had escaped American slave owners in Maryland during the War of 1812 and were brought to freedom in Nova Scotia by the British Royal Navy as part of the Black Refugee movement.[3]

Hall briefly served in the United States Navy from 1847 to 1849. He served for a time aboard the USS Ohio alongside John Taylor Wood, who later supported Hall’s US Navy pension claim.[7]

Hall volunteered for the British Royal Navy in February 1852, serving at first aboard HMS Rodney. Hall fought in the Crimean War serving ashore in a naval brigade from Rodney at the battles of Inkerman andSebastapol in 1854. Hall remained with the Royal Navy for the rest of his career. He joined the crew of HMS Donegal in 1859 and on October 28, 1859, he was presented with the Victoria Cross by Rear Admiral Charles Talbot while Donegal was anchored at Queenstown Harbour. Hall rose to the rating of Petty Officer First Class in HMS Royal Adelaide by the time he retired in 1876. He returned to his home village in Horton Bluff where he ran a small farm until his death in 1904.[10]

William Hall