The Bristol Newfoundland Merchant Adventurers And Captains, mid-1700's.

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Bristol Newfoundland Merchant Adventurers & Captains, mid-1700's.

A Brief Researching Of The Bristol Newfoundland Merchant Adventurers And Captains, During Mid 1700's Era. *The number of which may appear to have been actually more finite, than one may have otherwise considered. Transcribed and contributed by David Anstey, August, 2020. While I have endeavored to be as correct as humanly possible, there may be errors.

Bristol “Newfoundland merchants” interests during mid to late 1700's era, appears focused foremost in Conception Bay; and at St. Julians (Nicholas Darby), Northern Newfoundland. During later 1700's the Labrador Coast came into play. (Nicholas Darby, John Noble, Jeremiah Coughlan, Thomas Perkins, etc.) Circa 1700 era, there was some Trinity Bay interests.

Under intuition of such "narrow scope" of the early Newfoundland fishery merchant presence which is demonstrated below here, one might then consider the further impact of the early Fishery Census'. Ie: Schemes/States of the Fishery. Upon seeking the early settler/planter/bye boat keeper's old country origins, one may think of more firm association between the planters/bye boatmen, and the Fishing vessels as listed in the Fishing Ship Census'. For each community as listed. Agreed that the Census takers, may have on occasion missed an individual, or a visiting Fishing Ship. But generally, is not the macro picture actually largely painted via the various surviving early Newfoundland Census'? The early settlers were brought "out to Newfoundland", on the merchant adventurer's vessels. And there appears a more finite number of merchant vessels visiting, than may have been earlier envisioned. As indicated by this brief file. Possibilities are thereby limited. While it is correct that a vacuum of information is created by the many years of no stats in early Newfoundland; one may contemplate the long-term nature of the involvement of the early participants, within the English Crown's early Newfoundland Fishery. Basically, it is not arguable that the early fishery settlers, were connected with the visiting merchant adventurer’s vessels, as listed in the various Census'. For normal reasons there undoubtedly occurred the occasional change of vessel or captain, visiting a given coastal community. But the merchant adventurer's connections to specific Newfoundland communities were more static, less dynamic, and saw less changes. This applies more so in the earlier era, before second and third generational descendants of the original settlers became more common. Before the 1700 era, of the French disruption of the annual voyages, of the English Fishery.

Per the 1675 Fishing Ship Census at Carbonear, Conception Bay, Newfoundland. The vessel "Baltimore", out of Bristol, Captain James Porter.

*PCC Will of James Porter, Mariner of St. Stephens/St. Nicholas Parish, Bristol; Gloucestershire. Reference: PROB 11/484/28. Date: 08 May 1705

James’ Will was made on June 7, 1702. It names his wife Sarah. Also names his son James Porter, Mariner. And names his other children Sarah, Mary, Charles and John. James was the owner of three tenements. One in St. Stephen's Parish. Two in St. Nicholas' Parish.

*In 1696, James Porter of St. Stephen's Parish. Per "The Inhabitants of Bristol in 1696". Page 183.

*Per his 1702 Will, James Porter was resident of St. Nicholas Parish. ( The same local border area between the two parishes. The same street of residence. )

*Captain John Davis of St. Stephens, Bristol. Thomas Edwards of ?? Henry Pynn of St. Nicholas Parish. Etc.

*The parishes of St. Thomas, Redcliffe, St. Nicholas, and St. Stephens; were located immediately on the River Avon. From whence vessels would depart Bristol, for Newfoundland.


At Bristol, Captain John Davis was employed by Isaac Hobhouse in the 1720's & 1730's.

Henry Pyne of Bristol, merchant; became bankrupt on Dec 2, 1726.

Jacob Thrall of Bristol became bankrupt in 1793. Jacob died on Aug 22, 1804, aged 90 years.

Pynn and Thrall captained Bristol to Newfoundland, for Isaac Hobhouse.

In 1755, Isaac Elton & John Noble of Bristol, were new partners, and Newfoundland merchants. Whom were both protestant dissenters. Unitarian & Baptist. Does one expect their employees to have been largely non-conformist? Plural captains sailed to Newfoundland, for Isaac Elton. More than is realized!

*A Patience Davis had a 1754 Consistory Court of Bristol Will.

*Plural Thomas Edwards' Wills, in the Consistory Court of Bristol. *PCC Wills apparently not pertinent.

*Thus comprehending the "Allure" of Henry Pynn. A Bristol merchant family. Became bankrupt. Then captained for Isaac Hobhouse. While numerous associations captained for Isaac Elton. Two "foremost" Bristol Newfoundland merchant adventurers, in the Fishery. A prominent, exclusive, business association, for decades.

Henry and Augustus Pynn were sea going captains for decades. Dealt with the prominent Bristol merchant Isaac Hobhouse. One might say Pynns were captains, aka merchants.


*It is recorded that in 1764, Bristol customs entered 6 vessels "directly" from Newfoundland.

Arrived at Bristol from Newfoundland, the vessels:

Circa Jan 3, the "Prusian King", Captain Harvey.

Circa Dec 14, the "Champion", Francis; & "William Henry", Davy.

Circa Dec 8, the "Fanny", Captain Quick; "Andrews", Fortune; & "Molly", Captain Honeywell.

*The brief attempt to make this listing, has revealed Dartmouth, Devon; captains sailing directly from Newfoundland to Bristol, and vice versa. For Bristol merchant interests. There is earlier evidence of Poole and Lyme Regis, Dorset; captains, doing the same. James Drew out of Teignmouth, sailed the same route, on occasion.

Captain Davy/Davie above for Jacob Elton?

Captains Quick appears associated with both Bristol, (Nicholas Darby)(Richard Champion), and Dartmouth. Harvey & Honeywell, were Dartmouth captains. Voyaging for Bristol merchants.

Anthony Varder of Bristol, did business with Devon merchants and captains.

It thus appears to have been commonplace that captains of other British seaports, were often employed by Bristol merchants. How ever this author is not aware, that Bristol Captains were employed out of other British Ports, in "any" amount of consideration.

Revealing also, is the “narrow scope” of the Bristol "Newfoundland" merchants, whom were involved in the Fishery at the time. As evidenced with this current file. Including in the main: Isaac Elton sr. & Jr., Jacob Elton, John Noble, "Captain Charles Edwards" for merchant Jacob Player, John & Thomas Perkins, Nicholas Darby, & Jeremiah Coughlan. Earlier Isaac Hobhouse. Later Thomas Danson, John Clements, Mullown(e)y with Arthur Thomey, etc.

Additional vessels departing Newfoundland and visiting interim ports, pre "entering" the Port of Bristol; fall into a different listing.

a) "Sisters" Kelly, on Jan 24. ( From Newfoundland & Cork. Kelly appears associated with Waterford, Bristol, Newfoundland, and Coughlan. )

b) "Christopher", Christopher Edwards out of Bristol at Harbour Grace. (Sometimes Captain Butler.) ?For: James Harford?

c) "Lloyd", Carbery./Carbry. (Sometimes Captain Fortune.) ?For Edmond Gomond?

d) "Mary", Coghlan.

e) "Royal Charles", Studdy. (A Dartmouth captain.) For Isaac Elton/John Noble?

f) And there may have been a few other such Bristol vessels, unlisted here... But the main course has been presented.

Captain Richards also captained the vessel "Champion" out of Bristol in this era. Captains Hunt and Richards, sometimes sailed in company of each other.

*For further study...

In 1778 11 vessels entered the port of Bristol, from Newfoundland.

In 1795 7 vessels entered the port of Bristol, from Newfoundland.


*it is recorded that in 1764, Bristol customs cleared 14 vessels for Newfoundland.

Arrived at Newfoundland from Bristol, the vessels:

Circa July 17, the "Dolphin", Conway Heightington. ?For Isaac Elton?

Circa July 24, the "Concord" Steel. (Sometimes Captain Butler?)

Circa Aug 17, the "Mary", Wade; "Kitty" Butler; "Mary" Morris; "Andrews", Fortune; & "Squirrel" Moore(s).

Circa Oct 12, the "Antigua Factor", William Stooke, for Nicholas Darby; & "John Galley", Nicholas Darby.

Circa Nov 16, the "Industry", ?; & "Capelin", James Drew out of Teignmouth. ( ?"Industry", Mathews? )

a) ?"Martha", Mathews?, for John Noble.

One vessel apparently remains unlisted from this brief effort...

Captain Hunt also appears to have captained the vessel "Dolphin".

Captain Quick also appears to have captained the vessel "John Galley".

Captain Mathews also captained the vessel "Squirrel". For Isaac Elton/John Noble?

Captains Moore, Mathew, and Studdy, also captained the vessel "Severn" in this era. For Isaac Elton/John Noble.

Captain Studdy later captained the "Lord Howe" for Isaac Elton Jr.

John Hine & W. Henley, of Dartmouth; later captained for John Noble. Hine and Pinson later at the Labrador.

*For further study...

In 1778 24 vessels cleared the port of Bristol, for Newfoundland.

In 1795 10 vessels cleared the port of Bristol, for Newfoundland.


Abraham Elton, a Lewin's Mead, Bristol; Unitarian member.

Consider the Elton families business with Newfoundland. And their employees.

An Elton family vessel: Lloyd's List Jun 2, 1761, edition.

The "Duke of Tuscanny", Captain Malone, from Bristol for Waterford and Newfoundland, fell in with the "Duke de Biron", Privateer of Dunkirk, 100 leagues West of Cape Clear, and was in the engagement blown up, by the French throwing Granadoes into the Cabin windows. and only the Mate, three Passengers, and one Seaman, were saved out of 211 souls.

*Thus in 1761, 206 persons being sent to Conception Bay by the Elton merchant family, perished.

*A Captain Mullown(e)y was a later era business partner, with Arthur Thomey in Conception Bay.



The Manuscripts of the House of Lords, 1702-1704. Volume 5. New Series. London, 1910. Pages 332 & 333.

Great Britain, Parliament. House of Lords.

*An Account of the fishery of Newfoundland for the year 1703.

Greenspond, 40 Men, 6 Boats.

Salvage, 13 Men, 2 Boats.

Barrow Harbour, 11 Men, 2 Boats.

Keels, 11 Men, 5 Boats.

Bonavista, 200 Men, 30 Boats.

Bailey's Cove, 42 Men, 7 Boats.

Green Island, 24 Men, 4 Boats.

Only one fishing ship visited, for these above named places.

( "A candidate may have been" William Sharron/Sherring of Poole, Dorset. )

Salmon Cove, 24 Men, 4 Boats.

Trinity Harbour, 18 men, 3 Boats.

English Harbour, 24 Men, 4 Boats.

Silly Cove, 30 Men, 5 Boats.

New Perlican, 72 Men, 12 Boats.

Old Perlican, 108 Men, 18 Boats.

Bay de Verde, 42 men, 7 Boats.

Only one fishing ship visited, for these above places.

( "Candidate captains" would include Richard Davie of Lyme/Bristol, Alexander Smith/Robert Tavernor of Poole, Dorset; inclusive of other names. )

Carbonear, 60 Men, 10 Boats.

Harbour Grace, Bay Roberts, & Harbour Maine, 60 Men, 10 Boats.

Portugal Cove, 24 Men, 4 Boats.

Torbay, 12 Men, 2 Boats.

Only one fishing ship visited, for these above places.

( *Thomas Edwards "out of Bristol", was at Carbonear in 1703. A resident? )

Quidi Vidi, 48 Men, 12 Boats.

St. John's, 300 Men, 47 Boats. ( 18 fishing ships visited St. John's. )

Petty Harbour, 16 men, 3 Boats. ( 1 fishing ship visited Petty Harbour. )

Bay Bulls, 12 Men, 2 Boats.

Witless Bay, 6 men, 1 Boat.

Ferryland, including several small harbours, 72 men, 12 Boats. ( 1 fishing ship visited for these places. )

Renews and Fermouse, 12 men, 2 Boats. ( 23 fishing ships at Renews and Fermouse. )


The Manuscripts of the House of Lords 1695-1697. Volume 2. New Series. London, 1903. Pages 27-28.

Great Britain, Parliament. House of Lords.

*English manufactures exported from Barnstaple, to Newfoundland. From Michaelmas 1692 to Michaelmas 1693.

Malt, 20 quarters. Pease, 5. Bread, 10 cwt. Beer, 3 tuns. 8 Herring nets, valued at 9 Pounds. Lines, 20 dozen.

*Foreign Goods exported from Barnstaple to Spain. From Michaelmas 1692 to Michaelmas 1693. Includes:

Newfoundland dry fish, 1,500 quintals.


*Early Newfoundland staples like beef, pork, and butter, came from Ireland. Beef, pork, butter, molasses and sugar, came from Central America, and New England. Salt generally came to Newfoundland from Portugal and Spain. Imports like bread, flour, pease, earthenware, clothes, sail cloth, silk, cordage, fishing lines and hooks, seines, leather, nails, lead shot, etc., normally came from English/British Ports. Exports from Newfoundland into British ports, included train oil, dried codfish, and cranberries[partridgeberries].



Lyme Regis [Dorset] deeds. 1676-1717. Repository: Somerset Heritage Centre. Reference number: DD/TOR/126

Various properties including Varder's House in street joining Broad and Pound Streets and fulling mills (Varder, Sprake, Hackwood, King, Read, Bacon (see also DD\TOR/136 no 1), Tucker, Hitchcock, Hussey, Cleeves, Burridge, Cox, Sandford, Smith, Norwood, Newton).


Anthony Varder's Ledger. Page 11. 1697. Moneys paid Mr. Abraham Stevens of Foay being due to him for Salt.

*Abraham Stevens, Fowey Mariner, owned a house on Fowey quay.


The Manuscripts of the House of Lords 1697-1699. Volume 3. New Series. London, 1905. Pages 312-354.

Great Britain. Parliament. House of Lords. Edward Fairfax Taylor, Felix James Henry Skene.

*March, 1698 Parliamentary inquiries.

( Alexander Cumberbatch, a merchantman commander, had been captured by the French. A Prisoner of Ponti's squadron. Alexander was sent into Carbonear, by Ponti; to request much needed provisions for his squadron's Men of War. )

Being asked whether he ( Alexander Cumberbatch ) had any account of the English squadron at Newfoundland before he came onshore, he says: "We had a jealousy of six men of war being there by Mr. Hunt coming from Barbados to Newfoundland, but he was not sure of it till Mr. Edwards confirmed it to him at Carbonear."

At Carbonear, Conception Bay, 1697. These Commanders of merchantmen.

Thomas Farmer, in the vessel "Hawk". ( Bristol merchant? )

Mr. Edwards. ( Thomas Edwards of Bristol? )

Mr. George Shuttleworth, of Bristol.

Thomas Farmer gives his account of the carrying of 23 captured Frenchmen from Ponti's squadron, to St. John's. Whom were captured, when they ventured near to Carbonear Island.


CO 194/1. 1697. Page 182. Mr. Shuttleworth, Mr. Lowden, Captain Elton, Mr. Beale, etc. ( Merchant ships selling provisions to Colonel Gibson. ) *Consider Conception Bay.

CO 194/2 Pages 46-53 provide a good account of vessels trading and fishing in Newfoundland, during 1700.

At Hants Harbour. *Robert Farwell/Farewell/Fairwell out of Poole, Dorset.

At Port de Grave. *Steven Henning in the vessel "Bridport", out of Lyme Regis. [ One might consider early Brigus settlers. ]

At Carbonear. *James Webber(Vibert?) out of Jersey. *John Luscombe out of Topsham, at Carbonear. *Thomas Thomas out of Lyme Regis. *John Templeman in a 300 ton vessel, out of London.

CO 194/2. Pages 167-175 provide a good account of vessels trading and fishing in Newfoundland, during 1701.

At Port de Grave. *Shadrack Beale, out of Bristol; ?for Thomas Goldney? * John Clarke, out of London.

At Carbonear. *Woods Rogers out of Bristol.

Captains Shadrack Beale, Woods Rogers, and John Clarke, of Poole, Dorset heritage; sailing more so out of Bristol, to Conception and Trinity Bays, in this era.

*Consider Matthew Anthony's migration from Silly Cove, Trinity Bay; to Conception Bay. Temporary lodging at St. John's, not being a better option in the longer term. Such mobility caused by the French threat. And the need for the regular presence of a supplying English merchant. Whom may annually provide fishing tackle, inclusive of other livelihood necessaries.

*John Sulley/Silley of Poole, Dorset; and Silly Cove, Trinity Bay.


March, 1712. High Court of the Admiralty.

Commander: Shadrach Beale. Ship: Dolphin Galley. Burden: 170 tons. Crew: 40.

Owners: Joseph Whitchurch, John Templeman, Thomas Goldney and Charles Harford of Bristol, merchants, and Captain Shadrach Beale. Cook: William Jones.


An English "early era" division of a testator's Estate, under certain conditions of decease. Intestates, partnerships, etc., were treated differently.

Widow's dowry or 1/3 part.

Children's 1/3 part.

Testator's 1/3 part.

Link to additional notes on Bristol Merchants added October 2020

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