Methodist elder and missionary, known as the Father of Methodism in Nova Scotia, Canada; b. Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, 1760; d. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sept. 6, 1834. In 1775, Black's parents emigrated with him to Nova Scotia, where they settled in the Amherst–Fort Cumberland district. About 1779 a revival began among the Methodists in the district; Black became a convert at age 19 and a lay preacher at age 20. In this capacity he traveled the length and breadth of Nova Scotia, laying the foundations of organic Methodism.
In 1786 at a conference in Halifax, he was placed in charge of the Nova Scotia mission. Three years later in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which he had visited in 1785, he was ordained deacon and, the next day, elder. Upon his return to Nova Scotia, he became superintendent of the Methodist societies in British North America, and shortly afterward he visited the Windward Isles and Bermuda. In 1791 he appealed to England for more lay preachers; the response was good, and the work of consolidating the missions progressed well. In 1827 Black's first wife and both his children died; he remarried the following year.
Bibliography: m. richey, A Memoir of the Late Rev. William Black (Halifax, 1839). j. e. sanderson, The First Century of Methodism in Canada (Toronto, 1908).
[j. f. reed]