Chapter 3

Ciphering Ciphers

Tracing Irish Women on the Southern Avalon

There were there 110 men, at least half of them armed, not counting women and children… This place is very fine. There are 17 houses, and about 116 men, not counting women and children. We found sheep and cows here. —Father Baudoin, ca. 1697

Like other seventeenth-century observers in Newfoundland, Father Baudoin demonstrated a knack for "not counting women and children" and a propensity to lump them together with the livestock.1 English naval officers in the late seventeenth century were also somewhat relaxed about counting women, and certainly about identifying them, in their census reports to the Commissioners of Trade: a mistress of a fishing plantation, if she was enumerated at all, appeared only as the numeral "1" next to her husband's name in a column headed "Wife"; servants were tabulated together in another column, undifferentiated by sex. However, the census system became more systematized with the passage of the Newfoundland Act of 1699, and numbers of mistresses and women servants were more regularly (if not always accurately) reported by the naval commodores and governors annually from that point onwards. Still, the task of tracking Irish women immigrants to the southern Avalon is not an easy one.

Newfoundland is not exceptional for the paucity of its early census and immigration records. Historians studying early migration patterns to other parts of North America have also encountered difficulties in ascertaining the actual numbers of people who arrived in the New World. The task is further complicated by any attempt to separate the permanent immigrant from the sojourner (a task that was, no doubt, almost as difficult for official recorders of the day). Because of Newfoundland's unique status as a fishery rather than a colony (at least in official terms) until the early nineteenth century, historians of early settlement continue to struggle with the question of how to measure accurately the transient versus the permanent elements of Newfoundland's population.

While early census material exists, summer population figures were often temporarily inflated by ship-fishermen, bye-boatkeepers, and fishing servants hired only for the summer or two summers and a winter;2 even over-wintering populations included large numbers of transient servants and dieters (although many did settle in time). Furthermore, even as the migratory fishery entered its prolonged demise in the latter part of the eighteenth century, the ascendant resident fishery continued to employ significant numbers of fishing servants, both migrant and resident, at least until after the Napoleonic Wars, when the traditional planter fishery virtually collapsed and was replaced by household production in the industry (see below). Additionally, some migrants used Newfoundland as a stepping-stone to colonies on the mainland, relatively cheap fares to the island making it an attractive layover. This phenomenon is difficult to measure because it was not systematically recorded, although it was frequently referred to in anecdotal evidence of the period.3

There are other reasons why early Newfoundland census material does not provide a solid foundation for calculating the dimensions or components of migration and population growth. There are sometimes internal anomalies within individual censuses as well as inconsistencies between censuses.4 Also, estimates in round numbers were sometimes recorded by observers when exact information was not available for particular communities or districts. Additionally, categories shifted over time and were not clearly defined. Before the 1836 census, for example, women were enumerated as either "mistresses" or "women servants," with no category to differentiate unmarried women who were not servants.5 Indeed, the category of "women servants" is itself problematic, for it does not differentiate between domestic servants and fishing servants. Age groupings present a further complication. In annual reports up to the early 1830s, "children" were reported separately from adults, although the age demarcation was not given. From 1836 onwards, males and females were reported under specific age groupings; yet even these categories changed in 1857 (the most notable change, in terms of separating adults from children in the population, was the shift from an "under 14" category to an "under 10" category).


Precise information on Irish immigration and ethnicity is also elusive. There are no specific immigration statistics available for the period covered in this study, and the ethnic origins of the inhabitants were not recorded until the 1857 census. Even then, the category only recorded non-native-born classifications such as "Irish-born" and "English-born," not the multi-generational ethnic group. The CO 194 returns did enumerate a category of "passengers" by source area (England, Ireland, or Jersey), yet even this word is open to interpretation. Passengers in the early years of reporting were people coming to the island as seasonal workers in the fishery (either for the migratory fishery or the resident fishery); but gradually, throughout the eighteenth century, increasing numbers of passengers came to Newfoundland in the hope of remaining on the island. Thus the line between seasonal migrants and permanent immigrants became further blurred. The picture is also clouded by the fact that many Irish passengers to the southern Avalon from the turn of the nineteenth century onwards likely disembarked at St. John's. Separate passenger figures for most of the Southern Shore (Bay Bulls to Cape Race) rarely appeared thereafter, and not at all after the Napoleonic War period, although passengers to Trepassey and St. Mary's continued to be recorded separately. None of these passenger numbers were demarcated by sex.

Given the drawbacks of the early census materials, it is difficult to provide precise baseline data on the migration of Irish women to the southern Avalon up to the mid-nineteenth century. It is possible, however, to capture impressions of these movements, using the breakdowns that are available in terms of winter and summer inhabitants, masters and mistresses, male and female servants, and religion. Parish records, birth, marriage, and death notices in newspapers, name file collections, and the oral tradition provide additional insights into source areas, immigration networks, marriage and settlement patterns, and early community formation.


Source Areas

When Mary Ryan left county Wexford in 1826 to come to the southern Avalon, she was following one of the most well-traveled Irish migration streams to Newfoundland in general, and to the southern Avalon in particular. The Historical Atlas of Canada maps the source areas of known emigrants from Ireland to Newfoundland from 1780 to 1850. thumb It demonstrates that, overwhelmingly, the Irish in Newfoundland came from the southeastern counties: Kilkenny (1,835) provided the greatest number of emigrants; Wexford (1,685) slightly edged out Waterford (1,625) for second place, while Tipperary (1,135) ran a respectable fourth; Cork (505) and Carlow (190) followed distantly as source areas, while the remaining known emigrants (420) came from other Irish counties.6 The logic of the emigrant stream was intrinsically tied to the Newfoundland fishery. These counties formed the hinterland of ports that had been stopping points for the West Country fishing ships in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and which had developed a passenger and provision trade in their own right in the eighteenth century.

The Atlas also provides a breakdown for inhabitants of Ferryland district in 1836 who had been born outside Newfoundland. This analysis indicates that the major source regions for those who were Irish-born were similar to those of the larger Irish migration stream to Newfoundland, with a slight re-ordering of the top three source areas: Wexford first (78), followed closely by Kilkenny (73) and Waterford (71). Tipperary (34) was not as well represented as in the general Irish emigrant population, sending only half as many emigrants as either of the top three. As with the larger migration stream, Cork (16) and Carlow (7) followed in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Another 14 persons hailed from other Irish counties.7

Information on the source areas of Irish women emigrants to the southern Avalon is very sparse indeed. I have been able to identify only sixty-seven women who came directly from Ireland and to track only sixty-three of these to their home counties (information on towns, villages, and parishes is even more scarce and statistically negligible).8 While data are limited, they certainly trace a picture that does not vary far from the two analyses outlined above and, indeed, correspond closely with that for the Irish-born of Ferryland district: Wexford (18) was the leading source area, with Waterford (14) and Kilkenny (13) ranking second and third, respectively; again, Tipperary (9) was a respectable fourth (indeed, better represented among women emigrants to the area than among the Irish-born in Ferryland district), while Cork (5) ranked fifth (see Table 3.1). Although it is difficult to ascertain how representative these figures are, the impression they create is that Irish women's emigration to the region was generally linked to overall Irish movements to the southern Avalon (see Figure 3.1). In other words, there does not seem to have been a separate migration stream—a distinct cluster or pocket of source areas for women emigrants—that was different in character from the larger movement that was overwhelmingly impelled by the Newfoundland fishery.


Motives and Patterns of Migration


Writers such as Mannion, Head, and Nemec have already described the particular blend of push and pull factors that attracted many migrants from the southeast of Ireland to Newfoundland (see Appendix B). A series of crop failures from 1726 to 1729, the severe frosts in the winters of 1739-40 and 1740-41, a devastating drought in 1741, and high unemployment triggered by the Spanish War provided an impetus for migration by the middle of the eighteenth century that happily corresponded with an increasing demand for Irish servants in the Newfoundland fishery. Furthermore, in the latter eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the southeastern counties, like other parts of Ireland, were experiencing the ill effects of overpopulation and land shortage. Subdivision and subletting of land were increasingly undermining the viability of holdings and eventually came under prohibition altogether, leaving few options for surplus offspring in small-holder or cottier families. Meanwhile, the domestic textile industry was struggling, particularly in the recession that followed the Napoleonic Wars. The agricultural sector was also badly hit by the post-war slump, as prices for farm produce dropped and markets for provisions declined. And although advances were made in farming technology, they created a surplus of labor that was not absorbed by any corresponding increase in town manufacturing. The southeast was not as heavily affected by these developments as the west and north, but these push factors combined with the drawing power of employment and good wages in the Newfoundland fishery to create a very specific emigration stream from the southeast to Newfoundland—one that, in its largely Catholic composition, was quite distinct from the markedly northern and Protestant character of the broader Irish emigration flow to North America up to the post-Napoleonic War period,9 and one that, in its responsiveness to employment opportunities in Newfoundland and declining conditions in the mother country, challenges Miller's perception of an inferior Irish Catholic emigrant type.

Other written sources, historical and contemporary, confirm the attraction of Newfoundland fishery for Irish immigrants.10 The oral tradition on the southern Avalon also acknowledges the role of the fishery in drawing the Irish to the area. Audio Sample In addition, it offers some alternative motivations: the Irish rebel running from the law; the Irish Catholic fleeing from religious persecution; the Irish cottier escaping the Great Famine. But while isolated cases such as these may have existed, these explanations are far more reflective of an inherited mythology of grievance than actual experience. The Irish rebel was more likely a deserting servant hiding from a fishing master; the religious refugee would surely have sought sanctuary someplace other than a British possession affected by the Penal Laws; and, while crop failures and regional famines may have encouraged movement to the southern Avalon, the hungry peasant of the mid-nineteenth century most likely went to the mainland, for most Irish immigrants to Newfoundland had arrived by the early 1830s. This is not to dismiss the importance of these communal myths of migration, for they provide insight into the evolution of ethnic identity and reflect a shared collective historical memory of deprivation and struggle that is in itself a significant cultural continuity with the home country and with other Irish emigrant groups.

But for immediate motivations for migration, we must return to the economic lure of the Newfoundland fishery and the opportunity provided for migration, first by West Country fishing ships, and later by Irish vessels involved in the passenger and provision trade. But how did women feature in this distinctive migration pattern? While the current literature has identified male immigrants to Newfoundland as craftsmen, farm laborers, or the sons of small farmers, it does not speculate on the socioeconomic backgrounds of female immigrants. Specific data are scarce, but some logical inferences can be drawn from the historical geography of their source areas. According to O Grada, the triangular area from Cork to Dundalk to Wexford—an area that corresponds roughly with the southeastern Irish homeland of many southern Avalon immigrants—was a high tillage zone in the relevant period, with labor-intensive agriculture and a relatively complex social structure, including farm laborers, tradesmen, artisans, and small farmers as well as middling and large farmers.11 The inference, then, that Irish women immigrants on the southern Avalon came from agricultural or artisanal family backgrounds who were feeling the squeeze of demographic and economic pressures in Ireland is a reasonable one. It is also quite likely that many had worked in cottage textile industries. In particular, there was a high degree of women's participation in the domestic woolen industry, which flourished in southern Ireland until at least the late eighteenth century and was as important economically to that area as the linen industry was in the north. Thereafter, it declined steadily as a result of rising wool costs and competition from English textiles, and had virtually disappeared in some areas by the taking of the 1841 census.12 On this front as well, then, Irish women were facing the specters of recession and unemployment. It is thus hardly surprising that a number of women from southeastern Ireland turned their eyes to the Newfoundland fishery as an attractive alternative to declining opportunities in Ireland.

As naval officers and governors in Newfoundland had occasion to remark, a significant number of single Irish women came to Newfoundland in search of work as servants and ultimately married among the fishermen or planters and remained.13 One such woman was Mary Crane, who came out to Ferryland from County Cork in the late 1820s. According to family folk history, she spotted local carpenter Tade Bryan on the wharf as she was disembarking and declared then and there that he was the man she was going to marry—a prophecy that proved correct in fairly short order.14 But romance likely took a back seat to the exigencies of earning a living for most of these women. A few became fishing servants, heading, splitting, salting, and drying cod as part of shore crews. Far greater numbers contracted themselves as household servants to merchants, planters, administrators, and their families—a type of service that was itself often an important component of the sedentary fishery (see Chapter 4). In either case, the women were hired (by oral agreement or by a written shipping paper15) either in Ireland or upon arrival in Newfoundland. When women were specifically recruited for work in this fashion, the law looked upon the arrangement as a formal contract, just as in thethumb cases of men contracted as fishing servants. In a 1787 court case in Ferryland, for example, Elizabeth Cullen complained that she had been shipped in Ireland "on order" by the wife of Patrick Goff to serve James Shortall in Ferryland. But the vessel had had a long passage over, and Mr. Shortall had run out of patience and hired another servant instead. When Elizabeth finally arrived, Mr. Shortall "reshipped" her to his neighbor, Mary Sanders. Elizabeth served Sanders for a while, but they had a falling out and parted. Elizabeth went back to Shortall, but he refused to take her in, and she was forced to take lodgings with a Hannah Gaffney. Finally, Elizabeth took her original employer—Mr. Shortall, the one who had recruited her from Ireland—to court for her boarding expenses; and the court agreed with her, ordering Shortall to pay for Elizabeth's lodging and diet with Hannah Gaffney and to take her back into his own care.16 Case File 1

Of course, not all Irish women servants signed shipping papers, but verbal employment agreements were also recognized by law. The existence of this system conjures up an image of an Irish woman servant who was far more informed and purposeful than the impoverished, immoral woman of eighteenth-century governors' proclamations.17 Most of these women were making informed decisions to improve their lives when they left Ireland to come to Newfoundland, even those who gambled on finding work upon arrival.18 It was their intention to lead purposeful lives on the island, not to become a burden on their new community.

In addition to single servants, numbers of women immigrated as part of family groups—particularly as wives, potential wives, or common-law partners19 of men who were involved in the fishery.20 Some of these men had already been working in Newfoundland and sent passage money back to Ireland or made arrangements with their employers to bring out wives or future brides. In the fall of 1830, for example, James Whelan, who was fishing at Salmonier, made the following request of his employer, Saunders and Sweetman:

thumb…I have one request to beg of you that is to give Elinor Hannigan a passage out to placentia in the Spring of the year and I shall pay you and by doing so you will oblige me very much and I shall be for ever under a compliment to you and please to let me have an Answer if you will be so obliging.21

The company letterbook provides further evidence of arrangements made by fishing servants to send money home or have wages paid to wives or other family members in the home country.22 While these letters are sporadic and do not designate the use of the money, there can be little doubt that in some cases, remitted wages would have helped to pay passage for family members—male and female—to Newfoundland.


There is strong evidence of Irish women migrating as part of family units to join the fishery at Cape Broyle and Caplin Bay thumb in the late 1700s and early 1800s,23 and this was likely reflective of much female immigration to smaller outharbors in the area, where there would have been less demand for female servants than in more established and populous centers such as Ferryland, Bay Bulls, and Renews. In Cape Broyle, for example, the first permanent families—Kelly, Aylward, Grant, Walsh, Fitzgerald, Bryan, and Kent—were all Irish, and they immigrated as family units in the 1780s, 1790s, and early 1800s.24 In some cases, male members of the family had already been involved in the Newfoundland fishery in some capacity. This was possibly the experience of Michael and Mary Ryan, whom we encountered in the previous chapter. It was certainly the case of the Bryan (also Brine and O'Brien) family. Catherine and Michael Bryan of the parish of Hook, Wexford, had likely married by 1767-68 (when their first child was born). Michael may have already been fishing at Newfoundland at that time, but he was certainly fishing at Brigus South as early as 1774, for a reference is made to his fishing plantation there in a grant of fishing premises to John Welsh and John Sullivan.25 Catherine remained in Wexford in the early years and raised their growing family (six boys and one girl by 1787-78) while her husband was away at least for several months of the year (and possibly for years at a time, if Michael over-wintered in Newfoundland). But in 1792, Catherine and the children joined Michael on the southern Avalon. They settled in Cape Broyle harbor, although the Pole Papers indicate that by 1800, Michael was still fishing off Brigus South—by this time, as a boatmaster for merchant Richard Hutchings—and that four of his sons (Michael Jr., James, Richard, and Thomas) had joined him in Hutchings's employ.26

Some details survive of other family migrations from Ireland to Cape Broyle. Elenor (Nellie) Lyons and her husband, Richard Welsh, left Wexford in 1784 to come to the southern Avalon. They arrived in Petty Harbour in 1784, where their first child, Michael, was born, and they moved on to Cape Broyle the following year. In 1788 or 1789, Nellie gave birth to their second child, Thomas, the first child born in Cape Broyle harbor.27 Mary Ann and William Leahy (or Lahey) and their two children, Michael and Margaret, came to Cape Broyle in 1812 to take advantage of the high wages in the Newfoundland fishery in the latter stages of the Napoleonic War period. They were part of the "Kehoe [or Kough] gang," recruited by George and Thomas Kough, Irish Protestant merchants from Ross with a base of operations at Cape Broyle. The Leahys were the first family to settle across the river in Fairy Pond.28 thumb Johannah Doran and her husband, Richard Furlong, were natives of Tipperary who arrived in Cape Broyle circa 1813-15; like the Leahys, they were probably lured by the prosperity of the Newfoundland fishery. According to the local oral tradition, they were married in a church in County Galway and then walked straight to the ship that would carry them to the southern Avalon.29 Interestingly, Sarah Drohan, a widow or single woman, and her children were listed in the Pole Papers as residing at Cape Broyle in 1800; it is possible that Johannah Doran Furlong may have been related to this group and that she and Richard may have come to Cape Broyle through family connections on Johannah's side of the family.30 Audio Sample

Irish families also featured in the early settlement of Caplin Bay (now Calvert).

thumb thumb thumb

Diarist Aaron Thomas noted in his journal that an Irishman named Poor (or Power) was living in that outharbor in 1794 with a young wife, "very fair and beautiful," and four children.31 This was likely Michael and Alice Power, who were still in the community, with seven children, in 1800.32 The oral tradition also tells of early Irish family immigration to that outharbor, noting that among the first permanent Irish settlers in Caplin Bay was a group that arrived in the summer of 1805 from County Wexford, consisting of a Wade family, three Sweyne (or Swain) families, a Kehoe family, and a Meaney family. They initially lived at Stone Island, a headland at the mouth of the harbor close to the fishing grounds, but soon moved further inwards for protection. They were joined by a young man named Joseph Sullivan, also of Wexford, who married one of the Sweyne daughters, Mary.33

So despite the cool reception from naval officers and governors at Newfoundland, Irish women joined the migration stream as single servants, as prospective partners or married women, and as daughters. In various outharbors along the southern Avalon, they began to live productive lives within family units and providing essential services to the growing fishing population. And the increasing presence of Irish women would have a particular impact on community formation in the area. Given the transient nature of employment in the Newfoundland fishery, it was quite common for male fishing servants to find employment in different harbors from year to year. Figures 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4 are based on nominal census data in the Pole Papers. They trace the movements of male servants and dieters who over-wintered in Ferryland district in 1799-1800 as well as those who worked in the fishery in the area in the summer of 1800. Figure 3.2 traces non-local migrations in Ferryland district for the spring of 1800, and demonstrates a significant movement of men into and out of the district at the start of the fishing season. Figure 3.3 and Figure 3.4 illustrate further movements of male fishing personnel from harbor to harbor within the district itself between the winter of 1799-1800 and the spring of 1800.

Granted, these local migrations would have included some men who had already settled in the area—men such as Michael Bryan and his sons, encountered above, who had been living in Cape Broyle for some time but worked in Brigus South. However, many others were shifting locales, in and out of the southern Avalon or between harbors in the area, as work opportunities presented themselves.


It was the presence of women that would eventually tie most of these men to particular communities. Some Irish fishermen were joined by wives or fiancés from the home country. Yet in more significant numbers, single male servants arriving on the shore found wives not only among the small English planter group already established there, but increasingly among Irish women immigrants and, certainly by the turn of the century, among an expanding group of first- and second-generation Irish Newfoundland women living in the area. Matrilineal bridges often factored in the clustering of families in particular coves and harbors; and matrilocal or uxorilocal residence patterns played a crucial role in community formation, as many couples established themselves on land already occupied by the wife or apportioned from or adjacent to the family property of the wife. In contrast to some population movements, in which men primarily established themselves first in new communities and then sent for fiancés, wives, and children, this was a phenomenon in which a large number of men joined women, setting down roots and raising families in their wives' home communities.

This occurred in Cape Broyle, for example, with the wave of young male servants who arrived in the latter stages of the Napoleonic War period and during the final large wave of Irish immigration in the 1820s. When John Cashin came from Wexford in 1812, he first worked in Caplin Bay; but he met Mary Welsh, the first-generation Irish Newfoundland daughter of Nellie Lyons and Richard Welsh, and married her in 1814, and the couple settled in Mary's community of Cape Broyle. Philip Hays from Kilmaback, Wexford, married Bridget Brennan, first-generation Irish Newfoundland daughter of James and Anstice Brennan of Cape Broyle, in 1813; the couple remained in Bridget's home community. John Dalton arrived in Cape Broyle in the 1820s and married Mary Grant, first-generation Irish Newfoundland daughter of Richard and Margret Grant, who had come from County Tipperary in the 1780s; John and Mary settled in Cape Broyle (their daughter, Mary Dalton, would also marry an immigrant—Charlie Oldridge [or Aldridge] of the London area—around mid-century, and settle on her family's property on Dalton's Lane). Edward Hartery was also a new arrival from Ireland in 1820s; he married Elizabeth Kelly, first-generation Irish Newfoundland daughter of Catherine and Cornelius Kelly (agent at Cape Broyle for the Koughs), and they established themselves on land near the Kelly home.34

In nearby Brigus South, thumb an Irish Newfoundland woman, Catherine Henley, married newcomer Michael Hayes of Ireland around 1790, and the couple settled in Catherine's home community. By a will dated 1826, Catherine's father or brother, Patrick Henley, left her a fishing plantation, lands, and houses in Brigus South. Catherine died in 1828, and her husband, Michael, applied for letters of administration of her estate in 1829, which were granted in 1830. The couple's sons, Michael and James, married local Irish Newfoundland women: Johannah Neil, most likely of Brigus South, and Elizabeth Kelly, of Cape Broyle (the same Elizabeth Kelly who had previously married Edward Hartery of Ireland, above, now widowed). The two younger couples settled in Brigus South on the lands from Catherine's estate and were still there in 1871.35

Irish and Irish Newfoundland widows, like Elizabeth Kelly Hartery Henley, who remained in Newfoundland and raised families on their own, or remarried and formed new families, also provided essential continuities in early settlement. The Pole Papers provide various examples of widows raising families without male partners in 1800. Margret Whelan, Elizabeth Forehan, and Mary Whelan, for example, were all widows living in Ferryland with large families (four or five children); Sarah Drohan was living in Cape Broyle with two teen-aged children; Margret Aylward of Fermeuse was widowed with five children; and Bridget Flaherty was raising a family of four young children, all under the age of twelve, alone at Fermeuse. This census also provides instances of families with children whose surnames differed from those of the listed fathers—suggesting that the mothers may have previously been either married or in common-law relationships.36 Margret and James Neill of Ferryland, for example, were raising a family of children with surnames Murphy, Furlong, and Neill; Anstice and Edmund Dunphy were living in Brigus South with two children with the surname Buckley; Mary and James Ready of Fermeuse were raising a family of seven children—three with the surname Ready and three with Clancy; the children of Fanny and Edmund Chidley at Renews had surnames Chidley and Gearn.37

Anecdotal evidence provides further examples of widows who helped to establish communities on the southern Avalon. Catherine Cooney of Kilkenny, for example, married Peter Weston, magistrate and merchant in Ferryland, circa the mid-eighteenth century, and later became mother-in-law of William Carter, judge of the vice-admiralty court of Newfoundland. At Peter's death, Catherine inherited one-third of his extensive estate and, in her widowhood, became a powerful matriarch of both the Weston and Carter families. Furthermore, while these families were Protestant, Catherine remained Catholic and exercised a high degree of influence with several priests at the Catholic mission in Ferryland.38 Mary Neill, the wife of Constantine Neill (originally of Ballymartin, Kilkenny; Mary's birthplace is not known), was widowed at Fermeuse circa 1810. She had eleven children at the time, nine of whom were eighteen years of age and younger (the older two were twenty-eight and thirty, and likely the offspring of an earlier marriage of her husband). Constantine, who died intestate, left a considerable estate worth approximately £1,800, and it was ultimately distributed one-third to the widow and two-thirds to the children. Mary stayed on in Fermeuse to raise her family and remarried (to James Dalton) circa 1814.39


We have already encountered Mary Ryan of Wexford, who remained in Cape Broyle with her three young sons after Michael's untimely death, eventually married James Coady of Wexford, and raised a second family with him. Another example is provided by Margret Bryan, who came out to Cape Broyle from Wexford with her parents and brothers in the 1790s (see above). Margret initially married John Kelly, another offspring of Catherine and Cornelius Kelly. John died at an early age, and Margret inherited his fishing premises at Cape Broyle, which she gave to her brothers and which were operated by family production for the next century and a half. Margret remarried; her new husband was Michael Gregory, the son of an established English planter family at Brigus South (the couple were practicing Catholics, although whether Michael's family had already converted from Protestantism is unclear).40

It is apparent, then, that matrilocality and uxorilocality played an intrinsic role in community formation in the area. These patterns repeated in various communities along the southern Avalon. In 1799, Thomas Power from Carrick-on-Suir married Elizabeth Connelly of Ferryland. James Murphy from Wexford married Margaret Power of Witless Bay in 1806. Patrick Corane (possibly Crane or Careen) from Wexford married Judith Cullotin of Fermeuse in 1807. Daniel Wright from Tralee married Bridget Phelan Makis of Ferryland in 1808. Matthew Meaney from Carlow married Mary Bryan of Ferryland in 1813. Richard Lacey from Waterford married Bridget Condon of Ferryland in 1814. John Bagley from Waterford married Eleanor Cahill of Witless Bay in 1817. Michael Molloy from Wexford married Mary McGee of Ferryland in 1823. Thomas Gower from Waterford married Bridget Doyle of Renews in 1825. Tobias Thomson from Waterford married Catherine Neal of Renews in 1826. Patrick Tobin from County Kilkenny married Sarah Dunn of Ferryland in 1827. Maurice Daly from Waterford married Mary Whelan from St. Mary's in 1844. Patrick Shanihan from Wicklow married Mary Kennidy of Mobile in 1844. William Grant Malone from Wexford married Esther McCarthy of Renews in 1847. William Kirney from Tipperary married Mary Murphy of St. Mary's in 1853. Michael Moore from Wexford married Anne Gready of Mobile in 1853. Edward Roben from Tipperary married Margaret Dinn of Witless Bay in 1854. John Hurly from Cork married Ellon Murphy of St. Mary's in 1858. All these couples remained on the southern Avalon.41

A standard demographic technique for measuring the stability of community populations is surname-sieving: tracing the persistence of surnames over time in a given locality to establish the transition to a permanent population. Gordon Handcock uses this method in his examination of English migrations to and settlement in Newfoundland.42 But this technique has a patrilineal-patrilocal bias that does not accommodate alternative forms of continuities in early community formation in Newfoundland. Figure 3.5 for example, shows a partial family tree for the Oldridge family in Cape Broyle. Surname-sieving would not locate any significant clustering of the Oldridge name until the late nineteenth century.thumb But continuities in the family line date back to the late eighteenth century: through the wife of the first Cape Broyle Oldridge, Mary Dalton, a second-generation Irish Newfoundland woman on her mother's side, whose grandparents came to the island from Tipperary in the 1780s; and through their son John's wife, Kathleen Walsh, whose grandparents on her father's side had come to Cape Broyle from Wexford in the 1780s, and whose maternal roots in the community went back three generations to Michael and Catherine Bryan of Wexford. Furthermore, the Oldridge surname no longer exists in Cape Broyle, although numerous relatives through maternal links and sister marriages continue to live in the area.

Granted, this chart demonstrates an unusual case of a surname establishing itself late and subsiding quickly. Most Irish surnames would have established themselves earlier in the nineteenth century, and many persist in the area today. However, the example effectively demonstrates the limitations of surname-sieving. The technique gives the demographer something concrete to work with, for written records on men are much more readily available than those on women; but it certainly requires strenuous qualification if used in the Newfoundland context, for it mutes the matrilineal bridges and matrilocal/uxorilocal residence patterns that often predated patrilineal-patrilocal patterns in early settlement. For every marriage of a male immigrant to a "local woman," a similar family chart would extend back at least one generation, possibly more, as well as laterally among collateral kin. If these women-centered networks are taken into account, it becomes evident that the tendency towards population permanence began earlier than surname-sieving can reveal.

A final example comes from the oral tradition and a family history of the "two brothers came out from Ireland" genre. Women's agency is virtually absent in a local manuscript—primarily a retelling from the oral tradition—about the Ryan family of Biscay Bay.43 The chronicle develops from the perspective of the men involved. We are told that the patriarch, Denis Ryan, came out from Ireland (possibly Cork) in the early 1800s and fished for four summers with Goodridge's at Renews. He had a large family, and his son Thomas and Thomas's brother-in-law Richard Hartery eventually founded the settlement of Biscay Bay. Lineage and settlement patterns in this account are traced through the patriline only. Family enterprises are described without reference to the participation of wives, sisters, and daughters.


But if we look carefully, we can see the themes of matrilocality, intermarriage, and matrilineal bridges woven into this family history. Like many other Irish fishing servants, Denis Ryan married a local woman, Susanna Moore (likely of English or mixed English-Irish ancestry) of the Lower Coast, Trepassey, sometime before 1810 (when their first child was born). After their marriage, the couple moved to the Dock in Trepassey and built on land near Susanna's family home (possibly on land owned by her family). The couple had seven children—two boys and five girls. All five daughters married and remained in the Trepassey-Portugal Cove South area to raise their families. The two sons married local women from nearby Daniel's Point and Portugal Cove South, and they, too, stayed in the area. One of the sons, Thomas, met his future wife, Bridget Hartery of Portugal Cove South, while fishing as a servant with her family. The couple married about 1850, and through this connection, Bridget's brother Richard met and married Thomas's sister Margaret. Thomas and Bridget moved to Island Pond Gulley, Biscay Bay; they were joined by Richard and Margaret shortly thereafter, and the two couples became founding families of the community that would later develop there. Thus, with this slight re-emphasis of the limited information on women in the family, it is possible to bring forward the centrality of Susanna Moore, the Ryan sisters, and Bridget Hartery in this particular clustering of families in the Trepassey/Portugal Cove South/Biscay Bay area.

Given the paucity of records on women in early settlement, it is not possible to ascertain how representative such anecdotal evidence is. But it is possible to find within these stories the cues we need to help us rethink the processes of immigration and community formation in Newfoundland—to shift the focus of family and community histories to include women in the frame.


Intermarriage and Assimilation

Irish-English intermarriages, such as those between Susanna Moore and Denis Ryan or between Margret Bryan and Michael Gregory, were common on the southern Avalon, especially in older communities with mixed populations such as Brigus South, Ferryland, Bay Bulls, Renews, and St. Mary's. Irish male servants married women of English or mixed English-Irish ancestry (widows or daughters and granddaughters of English planters). John Macaboy from the parish of Ross, Wexford, for example, married Mary Midleton of Bay Bulls in 1800; John Murphy from Cork married Mary Peterson of Ferryland in 1804; and Bartholomew Dumpty (or Dunphy) from Wexford married Mary Jordan of Brigus South in 1813. Irish or Irish Newfoundland women married English fishing servants and men from English planter families as well. Margaret Gibbons Muny (or Mooney) of Ferryland, for example, married John Prose from Dorsetshire in 1805; Mary Hennessy of Ferryland married John Moody from Greenock in 1809; Mary Power from Tipperary married Thomas Norris of Witless Bay in 1810; Mary Bryan Bull of Ferryland married John Browse (possibly Prowse?) from South Hampton in 1817; Johanna Mackey of Brigus South married James Binning from Devonshire in 1818; and Mary Dalton of Cape Broyle married Charlie Oldridge from England in the mid-nineteenth century.44

Most of these intermarriages brought about conversions to Catholicism and/or the raising of children in the Catholic faith; ultimately, they resulted in assimilation to Irish culture.45 Census material for the period provides evidence of a continuing integration of much of the English Protestant population into an expanding Irish Catholic ethnoreligious group. Figure 3.6 traces roughly in intervals of decades the growth of the population wintering over on the southern Avalon from 1735 to 1857 and provides a snapshot of the population in terms of its growth and structural components. Perhaps the most striking feature is the rapidly rising proportion of Catholics in the population, as indicated by the line at the top of the graph. Late seventeenth-century census material had evidenced a strong English Protestant presence on that shore; yet only one century later, the inhabitants were almost totally Catholic.

In particular, there was a dramatic increase in the percentage of Catholics in the population between 1754 and 1805. Certainly, this period witnessed an influx of Irish into the study area, and using the standard Newfoundland formula of ethnicity—Catholic = Irish, Protestant = English—one could view this movement purely in terms of a net movement of incoming Irish immigrants and outgoing English inhabitants. Anecdotal evidence provided by Catholic priests and ministers of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), however, strongly suggests that the processes of intermarriage, conversion, and assimilation were at work in conjunction with Irish in-migration.


In reporting on the satisfactory "progress of religion" in the Catholic mission at Ferryland, for example, Father Thomas Ewer was able to boast to his superiors in 1796 of making considerable inroads in the Protestant population:

The many fruitless attempts of Methodist Preachers have been successfully baffled & there is now but one of that sect in the district of Ferryland & Trepassey whose family became Catholic this year. The Protestants likewise lose ground & their minister oblidged to decamp notwithstanding his £70 a year from the Society. Their feelings at such an event are easily conceived.46

thumb By 1801, the SPG still had a mission on the Southern Shore, but the missionary's report that year revealed only 225 Anglicans (with 7 actual communicants) in the district, compared with 1,579 dissenters, "particularly Papish."47 By 1845, the Anglican congregation on that shore had shrunk further to 132 members in Ferryland, Aquaforte, and Renews.48

Indeed, a sense of fatalism about the increasing Catholic presence pervades the records of the SPG for the southern Avalon. As early as 1773, the Protestant inhabitants of Bay Bulls had indicated "that to their great concern they find the Roman Catholic Religion daily gaining ground."49 In 1842, when Anglican Bishop Aubrey Spencer visited Bay Bulls and "some adjoining settlements," he found "but one single Protestant family, where the Church of England had once sixteen hundred persons in her Communion." The bishop continued on to Ferryland "with deep gratitude to Almighty God, that he had guided me to these few sheep in the wilderness, who have not followed the multitude into the strange pastures."50 His doleful observations strongly suggest intermarriage and conversion rather than out-migration of Protestant families. In 1845, Anglican Bishop Feild reported that "all in St. Mary's Bay and along the whole coast from thence to Renews are now Romanists," while only four families in Placentia "remain of our Communion (and some of these wavering)." He concluded, "Nothing can keep the remaining members of our church steadfast in their profession but an immediate increase of Ministers."51 Like his predecessor, Feild sketched an impression of assimilation rather than exodus.

Catholic Bishop Michael Fleming, on the other hand, happily commended his priests for the gains they had made in the battle for souls on the southern Avalon. While touring that shore in 1835, he was pleased to stop in the mixed community of Renews and confirm 140 candidates, "the great part of whom had been converted to our holy religion."52 On the island in general, he was pleased to see the numbers who had turned from "the flock of the stranger" to "the bosom of Christianity" upon the arrival of the Catholic missionaries.53

But while the Catholic bishop and his priests congratulated themselves on their success in converting the Protestant population (and there is no doubt that their official presence after 1784 contributed greatly to the process), Figure 3.6 suggests that assimilation was already well under way before the arrival of Catholic clergy. There was certainly a dramatic jump in the percentage of Catholics by 1785, but it is far more likely that, with the proclamation of liberty of conscience issued in 1784, more Catholics finally felt free to openly admit their faith than that the founding of a Catholic mission had had such a dramatic and immediate effect on conversion rates. It appears that the process of assimilation had gained momentum during an earlier period, roughly from the 1740s to the 1770s. The presence of a few itinerant priests, hiding in cellars and fishing boats, would hardly have accounted for such a significant shift. A more compelling explanation can be found in the increasing numbers of Irish arriving in the area, with conversion and assimilation resulting from intermarriage. The effectiveness of the priests in shepherding souls from "the flock of the stranger" likely correlated significantly to the growing numbers of Irish Catholics in the marriage pool.

A comparison of available records of Catholic and Protestant marriages (covering primarily the period from the turn of the nineteenth century onwards) confirms that this process gained momentum in the latter half of the study period. Very rarely does an Irish surname appear in the Anglican parish records of the area. Within the Catholic parish records, by contrast, English surnames are frequently interspersed among the Irish, indicating a high degree of assimilation of English Protestant patrilines into the expanding Irish Catholic ethnoreligious group by the early 1800s. A more in-depth breakdown of marriage patterns within the two groups adds further texture to the impression of a growing and maturing Irish Catholic population, steadily incorporating new members, vis-à-vis a beleaguered English Protestant group, increasingly middle class,54 in retreat and turning inwards on itself or recruiting from outside the southern Avalon to maintain its pedigree.


Table 3.2 demonstrates patterns of marriage within the Catholic community on the southern Avalon, using those marriages for which the places of birth for both spouses could be identified. While data for the period up to 1800 are too sparse to be significant, and information for the period up to 1830 is less comprehensive than that for later years, it is still possible to detect a Catholic population that is growing and becoming increasingly established in the area. The table indicates that significant recruitment of marriage partners from Ireland continued up to the 1840s; within this group, the pattern of southern Avalon women marrying Irish men was two to three times more common than the reverse, once again emphasizing the importance of matrilocality in initially establishing an Irish population in the area.

By the 1830s, there was a shift in the prevailing marriage pattern to that of the wife and husband both hailing from the southern Avalon, indicating that the peak years of Irish immigration were over. This pattern markedly predominated the latter part of the period of this study, reflecting an established population that was replenishing itself internally. Throughout the time frame, there was a constant incorporation of English surnames. A number of these family lines likely had begun to be absorbed into the Catholic population in the late eighteenth century and thus already had mixed English-Irish bloodlines by the time parish records were more systematically kept. But the trend continued, and was reinforced by ongoing intermarriage with the Irish in the nineteenth century.

A similar table on English Protestant marriage patterns (Table 3.3) provides a strong contrast. Only sixty-two Protestant marriages on the southern Avalon can be traced for the study period, reflecting two significant factors about this ethno-religious group: its small and relatively declining size compared with the Catholic community; and the fact that this mostly middle-class group continued to recruit members from outside the southern Avalon (hence, many marriages were registered elsewhere, particularly in parishes in St. John's or England). From the limited data that are available, the pattern of southern Avalon wife marrying southern Avalon husband was the most common in the latter decades, but only in the 1831-45 period did it account for over half (54 percent) of the marriages; thereafter, it declined to 40 percent (compared with the climb from 53 percent to 80 percent within the Catholic population for the same periods). Overall, unions between two local spouses accounted for only 39 percent of Anglican marriages, indicating significant recruitment from outside the area. Also, unlike the expanding Irish Catholic population, the English Protestant group married almost exclusively within itself, either choosing local spouses from the same ethnoreligious group and class or securing spouses from the English Protestant middle class elsewhere to maintain its homogeneity. Thus, a limited set of local surnames—Carter, Coleman, Johnston, Morry, Payne, Saunders, Sweetland, and Weston—dominate the records, while the regular appearance of certain St. John's family names—Tessier, Livingstone, Lemessurier, Rendell, and Skinner—indicate that connections with this particular segment of the middle class in the capital were being reinforced through marriage. Endogamy within such a small group resulted in some complex webs of relationships (see Figure 3.7).

Thus the equation of ethnicity and religion in the study area must be qualified. The "Protestant = English" portion of the formula held true (for the most part) among the local elite, with the exception of some few Irish Protestant mercantile families in the eighteenth century, such as the Bengers, Dobels, Nasons, and Ludwiggs (see Chapter 9). But the "Catholic = Irish" segment faltered within plebeian culture as many English Protestants were absorbed into the Catholic community. On the southern Avalon, the Irish ethnic group subsumed the English, with the exception of a small group predominated by mercantile and administrative families. Here, again, the southern Avalon Irish experience was quite different from the initial segregation and ultimate assimilation described in much of the literature on Irish migrations to America and Britain. The Irish on the southern Avalon not only intermingled with the English population but actually became the dominant ethnic group. And it was a process in which Irish or Irish Newfoundland women played a vital part, as marriage or common-law partners of not only incoming Irish Catholic migrants but also plebeian men of English Protestant descent, thus bringing many English Protestant patrilines (families with surnames such as Glynn, Williams, Yard, Carew, Maddox, and Martin) into the Catholic population. The growing Irish ethnic group was reinforced by further Irish immigration and intermarriage over time. thumb But even by the turn of the nineteenth century, a high proportion of the Catholic population (and hence, of the plebeian community and even the total population) was either of direct Irish extraction or had some Irish in the bloodline.


A Maturing Population

Figure 3.6 also illustrates that there was a generally increasing trend in the size of the total winter population (a loose approximation of the permanent population of the area), with peaks and troughs paralleling the fortunes of the fishery. The male population line has similar sinuosities to that of the total, reflecting influxes of male fishing servants during peak periods in the sedentary fishery. The numbers of women and children wintering over, however, follow a generally more even, upward course, particularly after the American Revolutionary War period, and are reflective of a more stable resident group. Because of the processes of intermarriage and assimilation, it is logical to infer that an increasing proportion of these women and children were Irish or Irish Newfoundlanders (of full or partial Irish descent). The figure shows significant increases in all sectors in the years from 1805-15 and from 1825-35; these movements correspond with the two main periods of total Irish migration to Newfoundland and are therefore highly suggestive of Irish in-migration, particularly as there was no significant increase in total English migration to Newfoundland during the same periods. Figure 3.6 also demonstrates a maturing population with sex ratios moving closer to one by the middle of the nineteenth century. (The 1857 results are skewed somewhat by the Trepassey–St. Mary's area, where there was still a relatively high male-to-female ratio of 1.56; Ferryland district, by contrast, had reached a more mature ratio of 1.17.)


A breakdown of masters, mistresses, children, male servants, and female servants in the winter population of the southern Avalon is shown in Figure 3.8. The close alignment of the numbers of masters and mistresses wintering over, with roughly corresponding variations in the line representing children, reinforces the impression of a family settlement pattern among the planter group.55 The steady increase in this sector from the American Revolutionary War period onwards also corresponds with anecdotal evidence about the growing influx of Irish and an expansion of Irish planter society on the southern Avalon. The line representing male servants again supports anecdotal evidence about Irish immigration to the area: note, for example, the sharp increase over the period of the Seven Years' War, when the Irish began to replace English servants in significant numbers; note also the surges during the American Revolutionary War, the period immediately following the outbreak of hostilities with France in 1793, and the latter stages of the Napoleonic Wars, when servants for the resident fishery were in particular demand. Also, by this time, significant numbers of male fishing servants were becoming long-term residents themselves. The Pole Papers of 1799-1800, for example, provide ample evidence of servants living with their families in Ferryland district. In addition, the smaller, yet still discernible, surges in the women servants' line during the Seven Years' War, the American Revolution, and the latter stages of the Napoleonic Wars also suggest that the recruitment of women as servants (either domestic or fishing) was linked to the fortunes of the resident fishery.

The increasing number of women in the area is particularly significant, for this phenomenon permitted the re-establishment of the key social, cultural, and economic unit of rural Ireland: the family.56 This revival had significant implications for production in the fishery and the actual survival of fishing communities along the southern Avalon. ^top

Transition to Household Production

Figure 3.8 in conjunction with Figure 3.9 provide evidence of another area in which women played a pivotal role in the establishment of early communities: the transition to the household production unit. The two figures represent inhabitants and personnel involved in the resident fishery on the southern Avalon for roughly five-year intervals during winter and summer, respectively. The critical components to observe in each figure, but particularly in the chart representing inhabitants during the summer fishing season, are the broken line representing hired male fishing servants (who initially provided the bulk of the labor in the resident fishery) and the three solid lines representing the planter family group (masters, mistresses, and children). Both figures clearly demonstrate an overwhelming reliance on hired servants in the sedentary fishery at the middle of the eighteenth century. As the migratory fishery at Newfoundland went into decline due to almost constant wartime conditions, particularly from the American Revolutionary War onwards, the resident sector moved into ascendancy in both actual and relative terms. However, this ascendant position was not reflected in an increased hiring of servants by the sedentary fishery on the southern Avalon past the early 1790s; after this point, significant numbers of servants continued to work in this sector, but never again in the same proportion to the planter group. Rather, we can observe the solid lines representing the planter family group rising to meet and subsume the plummeting broken line representing hired male servants. By 1805, the numbers of servants converged with the planter group, with numbers of male servants dropping towards the numbers of masters and mistresses. If the resident fishery had continued to rely overwhelmingly on hired labor, this convergence would not have happened. What had occurred over this period was a significant shift towards household production, in which family members took over fishing and shore work, with women assuming much of the work of shore crews—especially salting and drying, although in some cases, heading and splitting as well (see Chapter 4). thumb At this stage, the resident fishery consisted of two types of planter groups: planters who continued to depend primarily on the labor of hired servants, and planters who hired servants in smaller numbers to reinforce the family production unit, with the latter group predominating in most areas after 1800.

The latter years of the Napoleonic War period witnessed the final decline of the migratory fishery and consolidated the position of the resident fishery. Prosperous conditions in the sedentary fishery at this time induced a final surge in the numbers of hired servants on the southern Avalon. This reflected broader trends in the Newfoundland fishery, which saw increased hiring of servants and elevated capital investment by planters during the boom created by the re-opening of fish markets, the temporary absence of French and American competition from those markets, and inflated fish prices—all in conjunction with the local development of a viable North Shore/Labrador fishery and a spring seal fishery. But in the post-war recession, the waged-labor foundation of the planter fishery was undermined as fish prices dropped while inflationary wages and provision prices persisted. Adding to the planters' dilemma was a wage and lien system, carried over from the days of the migratory fishery, in which waged servants had a first lien on a planter's fish and oil for their wages, contracted in advance and payable in full, regardless of the outcome of the fishing season; the planter's current merchant supplier had a second lien on his fish and oil. Given this combination of factors in the post-war period, numerous bankruptcies ensued, the planter fishery based on waged labor shriveled, and the resident fishery became almost fully dependent on household production. Fishing servants continued to be hired, but mostly as a supplement to family labor.57

There has been a tendency to view this final transition to household production in terms of opportunities lost and failure—the traditional planter fishery in retreat, forced to rely on family labor as a last resort. But the shift to a family fishery was a positive response to changing circumstances in the fishery, reflecting a more careful management of personnel and resources. Certainly, family members, with high stakes in the outcome of the season, would generally have been more reliable workers than waged labor. Granted, significant numbers of fishing servants were hired on shares, or were paid with a combination of wages and shares, and therefore had more of a stake in individual voyages than those receiving wages alone. But even servants on shares would not have had the same kind of long-term commitment to the enterprise, being able to contract their services elsewhere as labor demand and the fortunes of the fishery dictated. In terms of capacity, the family production unit that incorporated the extended family would certainly have matched the output of a small-scale traditional planter fishery. And it was a rational economic response to contracting market conditions (including increasing competition, shrinking demand, and declining prices) and the vagaries of the fish resource. Even the oppressive wage and lien system of the period was not the major determinant in spelling the demise of the traditional planter fishery, for it is doubtful that a planter fishery based on hired labor would have ultimately challenged the growing logic of a family production unit, given the wide fluctuations in the trade and in fish catches.

Certainly, this is the impression created by the data from the southern Avalon.58 While good markets and high wages stimulated production and attracted large numbers of servants to the fishery, their numbers never did reach their former proportions of the eighteenth century and remained lower than the numbers of the planter family group (Figure 3.8 and Figure 3.9). By contrast, the shift to the family production unit may be detected in the steady climb of the planter family group from the 1780s onwards, and it had certainly gained considerable momentum by the turn of the nineteenth century. This transition was not set off course by the increased hiring of servants during the late Napoleonic War period; rather, family production (with some hired servants) continued and ran in tandem with the traditional planter fishery. In the post-war recession, the resident fishery was stressed and retreated to pre-boom levels. But the transition to the family production unit accelerated and solidified, while the planter fishery based on hired labor spiraled downwards and ultimately collapsed.59 As Figures 3.8 and 3.9 demonstrate, by 1836, the number of masters had passed that of male servants for the first time, the number of mistresses had taken a dramatic upswing towards the number of male servants, and the size of the overall family group had completely overtaken the servant group, who were now mostly supplementing family labor—continuing a process that, with perhaps slight fluctuations due to briefly abnormal conditions, had been underway since the last quarter of the previous century.60


The two figures suggest a precipitous drop in the numbers of male servants for the years 1845 and 1857. The censuses for those years did not methodically record the number of servants in Newfoundland—an administrative decision that was, in itself, indicative of change. Indeed, Ferryland was the only district in Newfoundland to report any servants for these two years (211 and 141, respectively), and whether these were fishing or domestic servants, male or female, was not specified.

However, the 1857 census does provide evidence of a system of family production fully in place on the southern Avalon, as demonstrated by Figure 3.10.61 When examining the figure, there are some anomalies in the census figures that must be considered. There were two categories under which people involved in the fishery could report: "Persons engaged in catching and curing fish" and "Able-bodied Seamen and Fishermen in this Colony and its Dependencies." There were obviously variations in recording under these categories, depending on the census taker. Given the distribution of numbers for the area between Bay Bulls and Lamanche, it seems likely that women were reported under the former category while men were reported under the latter; on the shore between Brigus South and Cape Race, both women and men were recorded under the former category. For the section from Cape Race lighthouse to Cape Dog, again, only the former category was used, but it seems likely, given the low numbers, that men only were recorded. (It is impossible to accept that no women in the Trepassey–St. Mary's were involved in the fishery—Colonial Office census material, anecdotal evidence, court records, and the oral tradition argue otherwise.)

Given these limitations in the record, there is still strong evidence of an almost complete shift to household production. Figure 3.10 shows those involved in the fishery in key communities as a percentage of the population between the ages of 10 and 70 (an approximation of the working population). As can be seen, participation in the fishery in some areas was extremely high, particularly in the area between Brigus South and Cape Race, where percentages ranged from 90.71 percent (Ferryland) to 102.71 percent (Cape Broyle). The low percentages for the Trepassey–St. Mary's area have already been attributed to the census-taker's idiosyncrasy. Results for Bay Bulls and Mobile also seem low and likely reflect an anomaly in recording. Nonetheless, the overall percentage of the working population on the southern Avalon reporting in these two categories was 74.19 percent. If we remove the anomalous Trepassey–St. Mary's area, the percentage climbs to 84.94 percent of the working population of the remaining communities; and if we remove the low reportings from Bay Bulls and Mobile, the percentage climbs again to 93.71 percent. The evidence of the shift to household production on the southern Avalon is overwhelming—the culmination of a process that had already gained momentum in the late eighteenth century.



The Irish women who arrived on the southern Avalon during the study period came from the southeastern counties of the home country, primarily Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny, and Tipperary. Like most Irish male migrants to Newfoundland, they were responding to economic recession and land shortages in Ireland and the economic lure of the Newfoundland fishery. They came out as single servants (fishing and domestic) and as members of family groups, and it was their intention to lead productive lives within their family units and the broader fishing community. These women were not passive victims of forces beyond their control; rather, they weighed the evidence before leaving Ireland and made conscious decisions that they felt would be in the best interests of themselves and their families. And, regardless of the popular refrain of eighteenth-century governors' proclamations, most did not become a charge upon the community.

Women played an integral role in early settlement of the area, for it was their presence that was key in stabilizing community populations through the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Had British authorities had their way in stemming the flow of women immigrants, the migration stream to the southern Avalon (and, indeed, the entire English Shore) would have remained largely temporary and transient, given the nature of employment in the Newfoundland fishery. As Captain Wheler had so accurately observed in the seventeenth century, "Soe longe as there comes noe women, they are not fixed." But women had come and remained; they formed a marriage pool for incoming planters and fishermen, and thus provided the basis for permanent settlement. While male fishing servants moved in and out of the southern Avalon, and from harbor to harbor within the area, women were a more permanent element in local populations. Migrant fishermen found wives or common-law partners originally among the English planter families already on the shore, but in the later decades of the eighteenth century and beyond, among increasing numbers of Irish women, especially first- and second-generation Irish Newfoundland women after the turn of the century. Matrilocality and uxorilocality were important elements of community formation as an occupational group that had remained largely transient for more than 250 years began to settle in the area.


Irish women were also instrumental in the processes of intermarriage, conversion, and assimilation that saw the English Protestant planter society of the southern Avalon almost completely subsumed by an Irish Catholic culture. Numerous English patrilines were incorporated into the Catholic population; in time, they would consider themselves as much a part of the Irish ethnic group as those who bore Irish surnames. These processes were reinforced by continuing Irish immigration, and by the end of the eighteenth century, the population of the southern Avalon was almost completely Catholic.

From the American Revolutionary War period onwards, there was a steady increase in the planter group—a group that was becoming more and more Irish as Irish in-migration increased and as the process of assimilation of the English ethnic group continued. Initial momentum for the transition to the family production unit in the fishery can also be discerned in this period. Although the resident fishery was moving into ascendancy over the dying migratory fishery, there was no corresponding surge in the hiring of fishing servants by the sedentary fishery after the 1780s, as the planter fishery based essentially on hired servants steadily gave way to a planter fishery based on family labor, with some supplemental hired labor. The Napoleonic War period saw the final stand of the former system, and its almost complete demise in the post-war recession. The transition to the family production unit continued steadily thereafter and was overwhelmingly in place on the southern Avalon by the 1857 census.

Here, then, was another essential contribution of Irish Newfoundland women to the stability of early communities on the southern Avalon. Throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, women increasingly took on shore work in the emerging family production unit. Particularly in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, when the migratory fishery had all but collapsed and the traditional planter fishery was in its death throes due to depressed fish prices that could not meet inflated servant wages and provision prices, women stepped into the breach and took the place of male fishing servants in producing saltfish for market. It was just one of many ways that Irish Newfoundland women helped to sustain settlement along the southern Avalon.



Note 1: Taken from the observations of Father Baudoin, a Recollet priest who accompanied French forces in their campaigns out of Placentia eastwards and northwards along the English Shore in 1696 and 1697. See Alan F. Williams, Father Baudoin's War: D'Iberville's Campaigns in Acadia and Newfoundland, 1696, 1697, ed. Alan G. Macpherson (St. John's: Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1987), 60. back

Note 2: Naval commodores' reports on the population and fisheries for the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries are available at the MHA and PANL; also, from 1699 onwards, annual returns of the fisheries, inhabitants, imports, and exports of Newfoundland were forwarded to the Colonial Office each fall after the fishing season had ended and are contained in the CO 194 Series at the CNS and PANL; a nominal census of Ferryland district for 1799-1800 (the Pole Papers) is housed in MG 205 at the PANL; and Newfoundland Population Returns, 1836, 1845, and 1857 are available at the CNS, MHA, and PANL. back

Note 3: For example, various proclamations were issued throughout the second half of the eighteenth century and into the early decades of the nineteenth century that banned the transportation of passengers—especially artisans, fishermen, and seamen—to the mainland without the governor's permission, indicating that the attrition of skilled workers through step-migration to the mainland was an ongoing problem. See PANL, GN 2/1/A. back

Note 4: For example, the Pole Papers list only one female servant in the district during 1799-1800, although the annual return in the CO 194 Series for 1801 (a return for 1800 is not available) indicates that there were 136 female servants in that district. back

Note 5: Handcock provides an educated guess that "women servants" included all unmarried women over fifteen years of age, although he does not explain his rationale. See W. Gordon Handcock, Soe longe as there comes noe women: Origins of English Settlement in Newfoundland (St. John's: Breakwater Books, 1989), 93. back

Note 6: John Mannion and W. Gordon Handcock, "The Southeast Ireland Homeland" and "The Southwest England Homeland," in Historical Atlas of Canada, ed. R. Louis Gentilcore, vol. 2 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983), plate 8. back

Note 7: A chart showing source counties appears in Mannion and Handcock, "Origins of the Newfoundland Population, 1836," in Atlas, ed. Gentilcore, vol. 2, plate 8. The precise figures were provided to me by John Mannion from his private database. Note that the boundaries of Ferryland district were not coterminous with those of my study area, for Trepassey Bay and St. Mary's Bay were not included. back

Note 8: Given the nature of the industry that attracted these emigrants and the reliance on male shore crews in the period before the transition to household production, there were fewer female than male emigrants to the area. However, given the overall lack of attention to women in the records of the day, the numbers of female emigrants would have been far greater than the limited segment represented here. back

Note 9: A number of historians of Irish emigration have noted that more than half of those who relocated from Ireland to North America before the 1820s were Protestants, particularly Ulster Presbyterians; many were small farmers and artisans who were suffering the effects of competition from large-scale agriculture and restrictions on the linen and woolen industry. See, for example: Donald H. Akenson, Being Had: Historians, Evidence, and the Irish in North America (Don Mills, ON: P. D. Meany, 1985); David Doyle, "The Irish in North America, 1776-1845," in A New History of Ireland, ed. W. E. Vaughan, vol. 5 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989); David Fitzpatrick, "Emigration, 1801-70," in New History, ed. Vaughan, 562-622; Cecil J. Houston and William J. Smyth, "The Irish Diaspora: Emigration to the New World, 1720-1920," in An Historical Geography of Ireland, ed. B. J. Graham and L. J. Proudfoot (London: Academic Press, 1993), 338-65; Houston and Smyth, Irish Emigration and Canadian Settlement: Patterns, Links, and Settlers (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990); Graeme Kirkham, "The Origins of Mass Emigration from Ireland," in Migrations: The Irish at Home and Abroad, ed. Richard Kearney (Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1990), 81-90; Kerby A. Miller, Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); and Janet A. Nolan, "The Great Famine and Women's Emigration from Ireland," in The Hungry Stream: Essays on Emigration and Famine, ed. E. Margaret Crawford (Belfast: Centre for Emigration Studies, Ulster-American Folk Park, and Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University, 1997), 61-70. back

Note 10: See, for example: MHA, MF-191, Kough Letterbook; PANL, MG 49, Sweetman Collection, box 5, Letterbook; Rev. Michael F. Howley, Ecclesiastical History of Newfoundland (Boston: Doyle and Whittle, 1888; reprint, Belleville, ON: Mika, 1971); Daniel W. Prowse, A History of Newfoundland from the English, Colonial, and Foreign Records (London: Macmillan, 1895; reprint, Belleville, ON: Mika Studio, 1972); Keith Matthews, "A History of the West of England-Newfoundland Fishery" (D.Phil. diss., Oxford University, 1968); and Harold A. Innis, The Cod Fisheries: The Study of an International Economy, rev. ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1954). back

Note 11: Cormac O Grada, Ireland: A New Economic History, 1780-1939 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994). back

Note 12: See: L. A. Clarkson, "Ireland 1841: Pre-industrial or Proto-industrial; Industrializing or De-industrializing?" in European Proto-industrialization: An Introductory Handbook, ed. Sheilagh C. Ogilvie and Markus Cerman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 67-84; Dierdre Mageean, "To Be Matched or to Move: Irish Women's Prospects in Munster," in Peasant Maids—City Women: From the European Countryside to Urban America, ed. Christiane Harzig (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), 57-97; and Maria Luddy, Women in Ireland, 1800-1918: A Documentary History (Cork: Cork University Press, 1995), part 3, "Work." back

Note 13: Much anecdotal evidence from authorities on the island discusses the arrival of significant numbers of single women, as has already been seen. Passenger lists for ships arriving at Newfoundland are not readily available; usually, passenger numbers only are cited in official reports. However, newspaper notices to passengers who had not paid their fares also create an impression of significant numbers of single women traveling alone. There were sixteen women's names among the fifty-four names of passengers arriving on the brig Joyce from Ireland in 1809, 1810, and 1811 who had not paid fares; only two of them appeared within a surname clustering that could be taken as a family group. Similarly, of the fifty-two non-paying passengers listed from the brig Good Intent from Waterford in 1817, six were women, but none were clustered with other family members. See PANL, Mildred Howard Collection (citing the Royal Gazette and Newfoundland Advertiser, 30 July 1812 and 14 October 1817). Granted, some of these women may have traveled with family members whose fares had already been paid, but surely many were single travelers. Their situation can be contrasted with the sixty-two women on board the brig Thomas Farrell out of Ross and bound for Quebec, of whom three-quarters were traveling within family groups. See Cyril Byrne, "The Brig Thomas Farrell," An Nasc 4, no. 1 (winter 1991): 6-7. back

Note 14: HE, Ferryland, correspondence with author, 8 March 1999. back

Note 15: Although I have encountered references to women's shipping papers in the court records of the area, I have not found any surviving contracts signed by women. The following is a shipping paper signed by a shoreman for Sweetman's and likely provides a rough equivalent in terms of wording:

I hereby engage to serve R. F. Sweetman on order from the date hereof until the 20th October as an Able Shoreman Engaging to do every thing else in my power for my Employers Interest & the good of the voyage agreeably to the custom of the fishery In consideration of my services well & duly performed without hinderance or neglect I am to be paid as Wages the Sum of Sixteen pounds Currency

My Wages to rate from 1st May next my diet being an equivalent for my labor the winter

Placentia 22 November 1839
Peter X Connors

See PANL, MG 49, Sweetman Collection, box 1, file 59. back

Note 16: PANL, GN 5/4/C/1, Ferryland, box 1, 43, Elizabeth Cullen v. James Shortall, [26 September?] 1787. back

Note 17: The fact that Edward Kough (see Chapter 2) was transporting women on bail with securities on both sides of the Atlantic implies that the system was still in place in 1825, for some of these women likely had prospective employers in Newfoundland who had shipped them "on order" and stood security for their fares. back

Note 18: Not all vessel owners in the passenger trade required securities in both Ireland and Newfoundland for passengers traveling on bond. While stationed at Newfoundland ca. 1813, Royal Navy Lieutenant Edward Chappell, of the HMS Rosamond, noted that significant numbers of fishing servants traveled on speculation with securities only in Ireland, hoping to find employment on arrival. This may have been a more common practice with male servants, however, as their likelihood of readily finding employment in the fishery was greater than that of women, and hence the risk for vessel owners was lower. Also, Chappell's account was written during the boom period of the Napoleonic Wars, when work was plentiful, and may not have been representative of other time periods. See Chappell, Voyage of the Rosamond to Newfoundland and the Southern Coast of Labrador (London: n.p., 1818), 218-22. back

Note 19: A common-law relationship was one in which a man and woman were not married by a religious, civil, or informal ceremony, but were cohabiting and having a sexual relationship as if they were husband and wife. Common-law relationships had no legal status during the study period and were deemed a "civil inconvenience" by central authorities because they deviated from a moral order that bolstered a patriarchal system of property inheritance. See Linda Cullum and Maeve Baird, "'A Woman's Lot': Women and Law in Newfoundland from Early Settlement to the Twentieth Century," in Pursuing Equality: Historical Perspectives on Women in Newfoundland and Labrador, ed. Linda Kealey, Social and Economic Papers, no. 20 (St. John's: ISER, 1993), 119. Court records, census material, and early missionaries' writings indicate that common-law relationships and informal marriages were not uncommon in the area, certainly up to the early 1800s (see Chapter 8). back

Note 20: The oral tradition provides the most romantic variation on this theme: Julia, the daughter of a wealthy Irish lord, renounced family name and fortune and eloped in the early 1800s with her father's stableboy/footman, named Ryan; they came to the southern Avalon—possibly to Caplin Bay (now Calvert) or Trepassey—to pursue the fishery. The story of "Lady Julia Ryan" is particularly intriguing to me because Julia Ryan was the name of my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother, both of Caplin Bay. back

Note 21: PANL, MG 49, Sweetman Collection, box 4, file 16, James Whelan to R. F. Sweetman, 30 October 1830. back

Note 22: See, for example, PANL, MG 49, Sweetman Collection: box 3, file 55, Capt. David Doody to Mrs. Brownrigg re: wages of Michael Mahoney to be paid to his wife, Betsy Mahoney, February 17, 1837; and box 4, file 20, Peter Carew to R. F. Sweetman re: effects of son John received by daughter Mary, February 16, 1835. back

Note 23: This pattern diverges somewhat from the one described by Handcock in relation to early English settlement in Newfoundland. Handcock says that English sailors and servants tended to marry "local women," while men of status or rank tended to bring their wives out with them. See Handcock, Soe longe. While most Irish male fishing servants also found wives among women residing in Newfoundland, particularly from the latter Napoleonic War period onwards, a smaller but significant number of male servants in earlier years were accompanied from Ireland by wives and young families. This was not unusual in the Irish context, for the emigration of women in family groups was actually the most common pattern of female emigration in pre-famine Ireland, and markedly so up to the 1820s. See Nolan, "Great Famine and Women's Emigration," 63. back

Note 24: James Joseph O'Brien, "Cape Broyle, 1959-60," unpublished community history (1960); and O'Brien, "Cape Broyle," unpublished chronicle of the old families of Cape Broyle (1971). While O'Brien identifies the Grants as Tipperary natives, oral informant HE, from Ferryland, says that the Grants might have been English Protestant Loyalists who immigrated to Newfoundland after the American Revolution; but she has also heard that they were Irish. E. R. Seary says that the name could be English, Irish, or Scottish. See Seary with Sheila Lynch, Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, rev. ed. (St. John's: Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1984), 200-201. back

Note 25: PANL, GN 2/1/A, vol. 5, 195, Grant to John Welsh and John Sullivan, 19 October 1774. back

Note 26: This family chronicle is a composite of information from: O'Brien, "Cape Broyle" (1960) and "Cape Broyle" (1971); PANL, MG 205, Pole Papers, 1799-1800; PANL, GN 2/1/A, vol. 5, 195, Grant to John Welsh and John Sullivan, 19 October 1774; and Mannion Name File, Cape Broyle, "Bryan" (various). back

Note 27: See: PANL, MG 205, Pole Papers, 1799-1800; and O'Brien, "Cape Broyle" (1960) and "Cape Broyle" (1971). back

Note 28: See: O'Brien, "Cape Broyle" (1960) and "Cape Broyle" (1971); also, James Joseph O'Brien, "Leahy Family" (unpublished and untitled notes on the Leahy family at Cape Broyle, [1971?]). back

Note 29: O'Brien, "Cape Broyle" (1960) and "Cape Broyle" (1971). back

Note 30: PANL, MG 205, Pole Papers, 1799-1800. back

Note 31: Aaron Thomas, The Newfoundland Journal of Aaron Thomas, ed. Jean M. Murray (London: Longmans, Green, 1968), 155. Thomas was a seaman with the Royal Navy and was serving on the HMS Boston in 1794 when it was assigned as a convoy ship to Newfoundland. back

Note 32: PANL, MG 205, Pole Papers, 1799-1800. back

Note 33: See: Lorraine Hawco, "Ledwell [family surname], Calvert, Caplin Bay," MHA, 43-B-1-47, Geography 2000 Collection, [early 1970s]; FMDB, file 03B, Swain family, and file 015B, Sullivan family; and Calvert Come Home Year Committee, "From Caplin Bay, 1920 to Calvert, 1995" (Calvert: Calvert Come Home Year Committee, 1995), 9. Also, EW, interview by author, Calvert, 21 July 1999. back

Note 34: O'Brien, "Cape Broyle" (1960) and "Cape Broyle" (1971); also James Joseph O'Brien, "The Oldridge Family" (unpublished notes on the Oldridge family at Cape Broyle, [1971?]). back

Note 35: See: Mannion Name File, Brigus South, "Henley, Catherine"; and PANL, GN 5/2/C/1, Administration of Estate of Catherine Henley, 10 September and 2 March 1830. back

Note 36: The incidence of such family groupings is far too high to warrant an explanation that all these children were orphans taken in by local families. The lack of overlapping in children's ages within the family groupings also suggests that these were children born of consecutive relationships rather than mixtures of orphans and biological children, which surely would have exhibited some age convergences (see Chapter 8 for further discussion). back

Note 37: Neither of these lists from the Pole Papers is exhaustive. back

Note 38: Cyril J. Byrne, ed., Gentlemen-Bishops and Faction Fighters: The Letters of Bishops O Donel, Lambert, Scallan, and Other Irish Missionaries (St. John's: Jesperson Press, 1984), 105-6, Father Phelan at Waterford to Archbishop Troy of Dublin, 4 February 1788. See also: PANL, GN 2/1/A, vol. 6, 149-53, Governor John Montagu, Grant to Catherine Weston and daughters Catherine and Sarah, 26 September 1776; and PANL, GN 5/4/C/1, Ferryland, box 1, Catherine Weston v. William and Hannah McDaniel, 8 March and 5 October 1787, and 17 August, 15 September, and 15 October 1790. back

Note 39: Mannion Name File, Fermeuse, "Neill" (various, citing PANL: GN 5/2/A/9, 14 and 26 October 1810; and GN 5/2/A/1, 8 December 1828 and 5 January 1829). back

Note 40: O'Brien, "Cape Broyle" (1960) and "Cape Broyle" (1971). Also, NNSF, interview by author, Cape Broyle, 1972. back

Note 41: Derived from various parish records for the southern Avalon, Mannion Name File Collection, and various O'Brien writings cited above. This list is not exhaustive. back

Note 42: Handcock, Soe longe. back

Note 43: Francis Corrigan, "The Ryans of Biscay Bay (1850—1970): A Study of Settlement," MHA, 43-A-1-42, Geography 2000 Collection, [early 1970s], 3-7. Some of the details were also confirmed by EW, interview by author, Calvert, 21 July 1999. back

Note 44: Derived from various parish records for the southern Avalon, Mannion Name File Collection, and various O'Brien writings already cited. Again, this list is not exhaustive. back

Note 45: Today, the area has been dubbed the "Irish Loop," for better or for worse, by government road signage and tourist information. Residents pride themselves on living in the most Irish corner of Newfoundland. Families that bear English surnames consider themselves as much a part of the Irish ethnic group as those that bear Irish surnames. Indeed, until recently, many were not aware of their partial English Protestant ancestry, although there is a growing awareness of mixed lineages, particularly among younger generations. back

Note 46: Byrne, ed., Gentlemen-Bishops, 140-42, Father Thomas Ewer to Archbishop Troy, Dublin, 20 September 1796. back

Note 47: PANL, MG 598, SPG Collection, C Series, box 1A/18 (Nova Scotia and Newfoundland), 180, Rev. John Dingle to Rev. Doctor Morris, Secretary to the SPG, 22 November 1801. back

Note 48: PANL, MG 598, SPG Collection, E Series, Report on the Diocese of Newfoundland, Mission of Ferryland, 1845. back

Note 49: PANL, MG 598, SPG Collection, C Series, box 1 (Newfoundland), 56, petition of the Inhabitants of Bay Bulls for a clergyman, 19 October 1773. Also contained in SPG Collection, D Series. back

Note 50: PANL, MG 598, SPG Collection, G Series, vol. 1, 9-10, Bishop Aubrey Spencer to Rev. A. M. Campbell, 22 June 1842. Spencer did not indicate how few were the "sheep in the wilderness" in Ferryland, but in 1826, the clergyman stationed there, Rev. Charles Blackburn, had indicated that the Protestant population numbered only 129. See PANL, GN 2/2, vol. 1, 49-50, Blackman to Edmund. B. Brenton, Colonial Secretary, 6 November 1826. back

Note 51: PANL, MG 598, SPG Collection, G Series, vol. 1, 159, Bishop Edward Feild to Rev. Ernest Hawkins, November 1845. back

Note 52: Monsignor Michael Fleming, Report of the Catholic Mission in Newfoundland in North America, submitted to the Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda (Rome: Printing Press of the Sacred Congregation, 1837), 39. Copy at the RCAASJ, Fleming Papers, 103/26. back

Note 53: Michael Anthony Fleming, "The State of the Catholic Religion in Newfoundland Reviewed in Two Letters by Monsignor Fleming to Rev. P. John Spratt" (Rome, 1836), 91. Copy at the RCAASJ, Fleming Papers, 103/26. Also, Fleming, Report, 39. back

Note 54: Anglican parish records for Ferryland district, extant from 1823 onwards, registered the occupations of fathers in baptismal entries until the incoming minister in 1855 stopped recording this information. The occupational profile for Anglican fathers in the district between 1823 and 1855 was: 3 clergymen; 19 merchants or merchant/planters; 2 merchants/sub-collectors of customs; 1 merchant/naval lieutenant; 7 masters of merchant vessels; 1 master of merchant vessel/merchant; 1 master of merchant vessel/planter; 3 planters; 1 mercantile agent; 1 gentleman; 4 carpenters; 1 sail-maker; 1 blacksmith; 1 laborer/mason; 1 laborer; 12 fishermen; 3 not given. Intriguingly, no fishermen fathers were listed before the mid-1830s, and all but two baptisms in this group occurred in the 1840s and beyond. See PANL, Church of England Parish Records, Petty Harbor Parish, Ferryland District, box 2, Baptisms, 1823-55. back

Note 55: One exception—a larger peak in the numbers of masters in 1815—corresponds with extremely prosperous conditions in the resident fishery. A significant number of single men (or at least men without families in Newfoundland), having earned high wages as servants, may have tried their fortunes as planter fishermen during this period. back

Note 56: Campbell discusses the family-centered nature of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century rural Irish society—both the conjugal unit and the extended kinship network with its physical manifestation, the clachan (the traditional clustering of families in which kinship ties defined community boundaries and property was communally owned and rotated in a system known as rundale). Campbell observes: "The family was of crucial importance in Irish rural society, not only as the primary economic unit of rural production, but also as the foundation of cultural continuity, social stability and support." See Maclolm Campbell, The Kingdom of the Ryans: The Irish in Southwest New South Wales, 1816-1890 (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 1997), 112-13. By contrast, Kevin O'Neill sees family formation as having decreasing relevance in pre-famine Ireland, arguing that declining opportunities caused a decrease in the labor demand/supply ratio, which actually discouraged family formation and led to increased emigration, particularly among farm laborers and smaller and larger farming households; only middling farming families remained relatively unaffected by the dictates of inheritance practices and the vagaries of employment demands in determining family growth. For the rest, reduced or delayed family formation was a means of population control in the face of demographic and economic pressures. O'Neill provides a very detailed and carefully researched analysis of the specific demographic responses of different household types to economic change in Ireland. However, the economic reductionism of his "market impulsion model" does not measure the social impact of these forces on Irish families and communities and does not satisfactorily address the cultural importance of family in Irish rural society or the impetus to establish or re-establish families after emigration. See Kevin O'Neill, Family and Farm in Pre-famine Ireland: The Parish of Killashandra (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1984). For a detailed description of rundale, see Robert James Scally, The End of Hidden Ireland: Rebellion, Famine, and Emigration (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). back

Note 57: See, for example: Sean Cadigan, Hope and Deception in Conception Bay: Merchant-Settler Relations in Newfoundland, 1785-1855 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), particularly Parts 2 and 3; Matthews, "West of England-Newfoundland Fishery"; and Shannon Ryan, "Fishery to Colony: A Newfoundland Watershed, 1793-1815," Acadiensis 12, no. 2 (spring 1983): 34-52. back

Note 58: Regional variations in economic development must be kept in mind. There was no southern Avalon involvement in the North Shore/Labrador fishery, and very limited participation in the sealing industry. There was, however, a significant banking fleet. back

Note 59: It did not disappear completely. The merchant firm Goodridge's at Renews, for example, was still hiring labor for fishing and curing on a large scale by the end of the study period. back

Note 60: This transition from the late eighteenth century is supported by sporadic anecdotal evidence from the period. Head, for example, cites the "First Report on the State of Trade to Newfoundland" (Great Britain, House of Commons) as evidence that most planters were using family labor in the fishery by the end of the eighteenth century, with women and children processing the catch. See C. Grant Head, Eighteenth Century Newfoundland (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, in association with the Institute of Canadian Studies, Carleton University, 1976), 218. Sweetman's were noting through the 1790s the inability of planters to meet the inflationary wage demands of fishing servants, and were complaining by 1804 that there were insufficient shore crews to split, salt, and dry fish on shore. "From the very great Scarcity of men, both with me and planters," M. Sweetman wrote to the firm's principals, "we have not been able to get a Fish in pile as yet." A shift to family production was implied in such observations. See PANL, MG-49, Sweetman Collection, box 5, Letterbook: James Downey, agent, to Saunders and Sweetman, 29 August and 4 and 5 October 1792; and M. Sweetman to Saunders and Sweetman, 15 June and 14 July 1804. In 1819, Lewis Anspach, an Anglican missionary in Conception Bay (but writing about Newfoundland in general), noted the participation of women in the curing process. See Rev. Lewis A. Anspach, A History of the Island of Newfoundland (London: Anspach, 1819), 468. In 1838, American observer Ephraim W. Tucker was impressed by the skill of women in processing fish on the Labrador coast, and wrote: "At the fish stands, while the cod fishery is in the full tide of operation, the women are seen among the most constant and dextrous in dressing the fish, thrown up by the fishermen. Some of these females will dress two or three thousand fish in a single day." See Beth Light and Alison Prentice, eds., Pioneer and Gentlewomen of British North America 1713-1867, Documents in Canadian Women's History, vol. 1 (Toronto: New Hogtown Press, 1980), 58-9, citing Tucker, Five Months in Labrador and Newfoundland During the Summer of 1838 (Concord, 1839), 119-20. And Norwegian fisheries investigator Peter Stuwitz observed that women and children were involved in processing fish in the St. Mary's Bay area in 1840. See Helge W. Nordvik and Lewis R. Fischer, "Peter M. Stuwitz and the Newfoundland Inshore Fishery in 1840," Newfoundland Studies 1, no. 2 (fall 1985): 129-40, particularly 135 and 138. back

Note 61: A similar figure cannot be attempted for the 1845 census year as there were profound problems in terms of reporting those involved in the fishery. The 1845 census contained a category "Planters, Fishermen, and Shoremen," but the reported numbers were very low, not accounting for even half the adult male population; for some communities, none were recorded under this category at all. Given that the cod fishery was the staple industry in the area, these recordings were obviously flawed. back