The Early settlers of Bay de Verde

With particular reference to the Blunden Family.

Return to the Blunden Pages

In trying to find the parents of John, James & Thomas Blunden, the ancestors of the Blunden families shown elsewhere in this web site we have come across much information both proven and unproven that is not documented elsewhere on this site. This page is an effort to share some of it as a guide to further research, readers should note that some of it is conjecture, some opinion and some from old documents and should all be viewed as not proven.

Firstly some of the family anecdotes are:-

John & James were from Waterford, County Kilkenny, Ireland
( The Irish Blundons who were Catholics went to St Johns, there is no indication that the B de V Blundens were Irish.)

Another brother emigrated to the U.S. and one to France.
(Anything is possible but we have seen nothing to indicated this is true)

The family were Jesters from France.  (Seems most improbable)

The name of one of the brothers was William.
(There are no records to support this)

The Blundens of Bay de Verde came from the south of England.
(This seems to be the most logical conclusion and will be explored further below.)

It is also possible that they came indirectly via New England as many settlers first went there and then fished the Newfoundland Grand Banks.   (Worth exploring but a long shot)

Now a little about the early days of the fishing industry at B de V and its links to England:-

“From the mid-18th century, Dartmouth, Teignmouth and Poole were occupied predominantly by merchants, ship-owners, captains, seamen, tradesmen, fishermen and their families involved in the Newfoundland cod trade. Villages such as Shaldon near Teignmouth and Kingswear near Dartmouth were inhabited almost exclusively by families dependent on the Newfoundland fishery. Newton Abbot, an inland market town in South Devon, was a major recruiting place for both Teignmouth and Dartmouth, and was home to families who depended on the Newfoundland trade. In 1809 a visitor to Newton Abbot reported that "Sixteen Captains of Ships which sailed to Newfoundland...resided with their families at the place," and that "at the season appointed for hiring there have been 1200 Sailors assembled in the town to be hired." Obviously a large proportion of these came from outlying areas since Newton Abbot`s own population was only about 2500. At times also, Poole ships embarked nearly as many migrants to Newfoundland as its own total population.”

“The fishing fleets originally went out annually and the merchants of Poole built up a prosperous trade. Once settlement was allowed families found it prudent to have members resident at either end of the trading route. By 1675 members of the Taverner family were living at Bay de Verde, Newfoundland as well as in Poole. Bridport merchants also benefited by sending rope and nets out to the Newfoundland fisheries and the Hounsell family, who owned a rope and net manufactory at North Mills in Allington, also brought salted cod back.”

Indeed the 1675 - List of Planters from Sir John Berry's Census shows 10 “planters”
almost half of whom are of the Tavener family employing a total of 124 men.

Planter Name Children Men Boats Stages Cattle

M F  Bay Verds

Margaret Taverner 0 0 10 2 1 -
Wm Taverner & wife 1 1 10 2 2 -
Andr. Taverner 0 0 18 3 1 -
Robt. Taverner 0 0 10 2 1 -
Joseph ffalin 0 0 18 2 1 -
Peirce Smith 0 0 11 2 1 -
Xpher Hill & wife 1 1 5 1 1 -
James Jeffreys 1 0 - - - -
Richard Bayly 0 0 32 6 1 -
Ezekiel Gardiner 0 0 10 2 1 -

Since this is almost 100 years before the birth of our brothers we cannot assume that they emigrated from England, they could have been in fact born in B de V and the few records that did exist of those early days have been lost. They could also of course have been crew on one of the many fishing boats coming across the Atlantic from Britain and decided to stay. Both possibilities must be examined.

The earliest records that thus far have surfaced do give some value to the supposition that they may have been born of parents who were at B de V. Consider the following that tell us that a John Blunden who was well enough off to have a servant and order 5 gallons of rum was living in the area prior to 1755. It would seem probable that if he employed a servant then he maintained a household and was probably married. Could he have been the father of James and John as well as Thomas or be some other relation?

The old Trinity Court records for 4 Oct 1755 say:-

Mr Thos Gebert as you knows that David Gorman was a sarvant to Mr John Blunden  (and) was a customer of yours ………..

A local merchants ledger dated 1757 gives this:-

Debt of John Skilton To William Warn …..
6 quarts rum delivered to John Blonden- per your order …..

Then there is this from the return of possessions B de V

1770 Thomas Blunden received - 1 House 2 Gardens - By deed of Gift from his Father.

This, one of the first baptisms documented in B de V could be a child of the older John Blunden?

1786 - 5  August  at  Bay  de  Herbs  by  Rev.  James  Balfour  M.A. ------- BLUNDEN, Sarah of John & Cecilia

 Irregardless of which Blunden first came to B de V is seems almost certain that they came from the South of England and most probably from the Poole area, this being the home port of the Taverners fishing fleet. We cannot rule out however the possibility of them arriving entirely independent of the Taveners but this seems less probable. I would also note here that a search of early British records show almost no Blundens in Devon, a handful in Dorset but quite a large number of families in Hampshire. Since Poole, although in Dorset, is very close to the Hampshire border it reinforces the probability that they came from this area.

Then there is this from the Lester Diaries. The Lesters were closely involved with the trans Atlantic Poole-Newfoundland cod fishery and trade and in fact related by marriage to the Taveners who founded the Bay de Verde settlement.

From the Lester Diaries  

Isaac Lester Diaries July – Sept 1767  

Shipt 50 hhds of Bread in blundon………

Thos Mercer & Jack Lander came here to day for me to Sign ye Bond for ye Bread to be Shipt on blundon this fellow wd not have done this, if the Election was not at hand

Wednesdy 15 July 1767 Wind SE Gave, James Deacon, my Bros Letter he gave by Capt blundon give him also ye Salisburg News papers & Loyal Eavening Postin his Letter, was a Coppy of my Letterto R Smith abt Insuring ye Ships……..

James Deacon was here when I had ye Letter fm my Bro, as he was going with blundon told him to Tell my Bro I Recd his Letter but was not able to Write him,………

James Deacon, Came up out of Capt blundon this Eavening, & I Wroteby him again to Ben

Frydy 17 July 1767 Wind E & NE & SE Capt blundon got to Brownsea this Morning…..

Satterdy 18 July 1767 Wind W, & NW, Recd a Letter fm Wm Fuller & Son..........4Do James Norman, fm Cork Was 9 days Going there & beat there all the way......................1.2 Capt blundon Saild this Morning

“Saturday Sept 12th Morng Wd at SEt, at 10 a Clock, Mr Randell Sent me word he had ordered the Sloop to Sea, Wind Vearing to SWt got my things onboard, & went of my Self, got to ye Cape at 1 a Clock, Wind SWt at 4 was near the Bird Isles, see Capt blunden was onboard him got my Letters, he had been out two Months, Stood of & in all Night Wd SWt”

( Note that it appears Capt Blundon / Blunden’s ship was named the “Blundon”!)

Mar 4 Isaac Lester Diaries 1769

Capt blunden is Arrivd this Eavening from Cadiz, & the Escape fm Lamat on her Way to Ostend”

Dec 25 Isaac Lester Diaries 1776

“In the Eaveng Bens Wife Sent me Down a Letter she had fm Peter Prim from St Johns.
Sent for Tilsy & order him & blunden to go & Look out for my Bro”

Satterdy 19th Janury 1771

Wind S & SE Snow & Thaw
Recd a Letter fm Cole & Bingly.........4
Do J Becher..........................4
Do Wm Fuller & Son...................4
Do Steph blundon.....................7
Do Matt Liddon.......................4

NOTE – There are 20 documents listed of which 5 or 6 appear to contain references to a Blundon or Blunden via an OCR search of the documents.


Note:- The ship “Benin’ 200 tons, with a Capt Blundon out of Liverpool and said to hold 400 slaves was involved in the African slave trade in 1754/55

In the Poole Quarter Session Indictments of 1773 (QSI 167) a Robert Blunden is mentioned in conjunction with the Lesters.  This is in reference to the Indictment of Jeremiah Leary and George Kempsall for theft of 24 seal skins 14.03.1773. The complaint was from Isaac and Benjamin Lester.  Robert Blunden was a witness which suggests a connection to Lesters and Quay.

So to sum it up the questions are:-

Are John and James brothers to Thomas?
Were they all the sons of  the earlier John?
Were they born in England or Newfoundland?
Were they simply related in some other way?
Did they emigrate directly from England?
When and where did the earlier John come from?
Was Capt Blunden the Robert Blunden witness in the above indictment or-
Was he the John living in B de V before 1755 or another relative?

Are our assumptions totally wrong?

Those who have questions or further information can contact us via email

 Addendum summer 2014, Cynthia Fox writes:-

Your guessing re: the Capt Blundon makes some sense. The Ann Thacher who gave birth to the Jane Snelgrove who married Stephen Blundon was the daughter of a wealthy woman, Ann Thacher and ?? (Ann & James Thacker). Ann and her husband were wealthy, lived in a castle in the UK, but like many English and French, owned land in Newfoundland. Both the English and the French were being encouraged to buy up and live in as much of Newfoundland as they could, so one of the countries could claim "squatter's rights" ownership of it. So many wealthy people moved over there briefly, married up a few of their children with the locals, and left them there, returning to the comforts of their UK homes..... Ann left her daughter Ann there after marrying her to James Snelgrove, a respectable local minister. There was a handsome dowry, a paper trail, et is therefore unlikely that her daughter Ann would have married off her own daughter Jane to just some guy. It makes sense that Stephen Blundon was the grandson of a respectable ship owner. We puzzled over the fact, for years, that Stephen Blundon and his father John just sort of sprouted on BDV, and Ann Thacher Snelgroge breezily married Jane off to him. So your story fits, from that perspective.