M*CH*MORE One Name Study
The Newfoundland Connection
The settlement of Newfoundland
As elsewhere in North America, Newfoundland was colonised by
the British in competition with the French. However, the process
was very much slower than was the case for Canada and the United
From as early as the 16th century, English and French fishermen
sailed across the Atlantic in spring, spent the summer fishing the
rich stocks of cod, and returned in autumn. Amongst the English,
a triangular trade grew up: Supplies were sent from England to Newfoundland,
salted fish and cod liver oil taken to the Mediterranean, and wine
and fruit brought back from there to England.
The vast majority of the English fishermen and merchants were
from Devon. In the period 1675-1681, for example, an average of
4000 Englishmen per year travelled in fishing boats to Newfoundland.
Their most common ports of origin were Dartmouth (42%), Bideford
& Barnstaple (18%), Plymouth (10%), Poole (9%) and Teignmouth (6%)(1).
Several Dartmouth merchants made fortunes from the triangular trade.(2)
Settlement was slow and even discouraged at times. The size of
the permanent population rose very gradually, from about 1000 in
1713 to 40,000 in 1830.(3) The English first settled
the area around St John's, the present capital, and then expanded
along the entire east coast. The French concentrated on the north
and south coasts. Naturally there was conflict, but the French never
succeeded in establishing a permanent settlement.
By 1830, over 80% of the population lived on the east coast;
there were still very few settlers on the west coast, which was
not settled until the second half of the 19th century. The vast
majority of the permanent inhabitants were of English extraction,
but there was a significant number of Irish.(4)
Newfoundland achieved responsible government in 1854, dominion
status in 1909 and became (with Labrador) a province of Canada in
1949. For further information on the exploration and settlement
of Newfoundland, visit the
Newfoundland Heritage site.
Wikipedia has a concise political history of the province.
Several visits to Newfoundland by
are documented, but there were no doubt many more:
- A John MITCHELLMORE of Stokenham sailed from Bay Bulls NL to Dartmouth
in November 1770, working as a carpenter.
- Peter MUCHAMORE
sailed from Dartmouth to Fermeuse NL in 1776 and returned in early 1777.
Several other voyages as master in 1790-1796 are also documented.
- His son Peter MITCHELMORE
apparently undertook several voyages around Newfoundland and Labrador
between 1820 and 1823.
- A John MITCHELMORE of Sherford was master of
several ships which
made voyages to Newfoundland between 1813 and 1817.
- Voyages are also recorded for
in 1819-1820 and a Thomas MICHELMORE of Blackawton in 1823.
Some M*CH*MOREs stayed long enough to appear in Newfoundland
- In 1814, James MITCHELMORE
married the daughter of a Trinity Bay settler family and may have remained
in North America.
- A William MITCHELMORE married in St John in 1828 and had at least
three daughters there. This family may also have remained in North America.
- Thomas MITCHELMORE
married a succession of local girls and established a settlement at
Green Island Bay on the Northern Peninsula (see below). The majority
of his descendants still live in the same village.
Unpublished investigations carried out at the Maritime History Archives
in St John's also suggest that several Staverton MICHELMOREs might have
been involved as merchants.
Green Island Cove
The Strait of Belle Isle is the 125 km long stretch of water
separating the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland from Labrador.
At its narrowest, it is only 15 km wide. The Newfoundland coast
was long known as the French Shore, but is now referred to as the
Strait Coast. It is peppered with small fishing communities, some
with as few as 150 inhabitants. From south to north, the largest
are Black Duck Cove, St Barbe, Anchor Point, Bear Cove, Flower's
Cove, Savage Cove (formerly Poverty Cove), Sandy Cove, Pines Cove,
Green Island Cove, Lower Cove, Green Island Brook, and Eddies Cove.
Settlement of the Strait Coast began in about 1775 at Anchor
Point, where Abram and Robert GENGE established an enterprising
business(5). They attracted fishermen and seal hunters
by promises of good catches. Not many settled, perhaps because the
Strait is filled with sea ice for 6-8 months of the year and the
mean summer temperature is only 10 °C.
Gradually some of the fisherman began to settle, each newcomer
searching out his own spot and raising his family in relative isolation.
The result was that, right up to the present day, each village is
dominated by people sharing a small number of surnames.
Green Island Cove, where
settled in the 1850s, is a case in point. His was the only settled
family until a Scotsman James McLEAN joined them some 20 years later.
The population grew from 8 in 1871 to 56 in 1901 and 224 in 1971.
In 1928, among the adult population there were 20 MICHEMOREs, 12
PARRILs and 8 McLEANS. Anchor Point was even more extreme: among
45 adults enumerated in 1928, all but two carried the name GENGE.
Cod fishing has declined substantially in the past 20 years due
to over-fishing, and the economic conditions along the Strait Coast
have deteriorated accordingly.
here for biographies of some early settlers of the French Shore/Strait
Wikipedia has an interesting article summarising the history
of Anchor Point up to the present.
(1) W. Gordon Handcock, So longe as there comes
noe women: Origins of English settlement in Newfoundland. St
John's NL: Breakwater Books, p. 56.
(2) Ibid., p. 154.
(3) Ibid., p. 97.
(4) Ibid., p. 102.
(5) Pat Mitchelmore, Green Island Cove, Newfoundland:
1800-1972. Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's NL,
1973. (Unpublished term paper)