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This information was set to me by Judge Gerald Barnable in 1993. 
I typed it with the spelling of the names exactly as they appeared from his researched document……
Roberta Sullivan 2002



The Ferryland Riots of 1788


In Sept. 1788 Captain Edward Pellew, Governor Ellot’s surrogate,  assisted by justices Robert Carter and Henry Sweetland his son in law, held court in Ferryland and convicted
111 men of rioting the previous winter. 

Following is a list of those convicted:



William Coman

Patrick Galligar

Michael Daddeen, (or Rahaley)  transported

John Martin

Lawrence Quinn

Cornelious Shannahan

James Cornisk

Robert Quinn

Richard Power

John Delahunty

James Burk

Stephen Quinn

John Walsh (Grant)

John C. Murphy

Walter Lundrigan

John C. McDanial

Edward Whalen

Richard Dillen

John Kenaught

James Lawless

John Sills

James Burk

Francis Cummins

Patrick Gaulton

John Dunn

John Cornick

Lawrence Fennelly

John Dwyer

John Walsh

William Reddy

William Gibbons

James Foreham

Michael Cox

Michael Lundrigan

Terry Harrington

James Whalen

Dennis Sullivan

Edward Wallis

John Walsh

John Flevon

Patrick F. Caulborn

James Murphy

William Morrisey

James Neil

Thomas Brazil

Thomas Burk

Matthew Morrison

Magne Larey

Danial Dunnavan – not found

Matthew Cannon

Edward Farrol

James Kelly

Michael Power

Edward Costley

John Dellin

Pat McGrath

Edward Long

Philip Fahey

Thomas Murphy (salter)

John Morrisey

Nicholas Murphy

Moses Avoy

Dennis Gorman, alias Meagher, transported

John Barry

Denis McCarthy

John Drew

James Bryan

William Fitzgerald

Arthur Sheehe

John Dunphy

John Shannahan

William Day

Danial Giery

William Neil

Edward Huolahan

John Hogan

Thomas Kelly

John Moran

Thomas Howlan

Andrew Fewer

Walter Fewer

James Power

Simon Fitzgerald

John Bryan

Michael Coughlin

Thomas McMaunahan

John Grace

Thomas Quinn

Thomas Culliton

John Ronan, transported, 39 lashes

John Cane ( father)

John Rogan

Martin Fogarty

James Sheehe

Kearon Reddy,  transported

Philip Doolin

Thomas Murphy

Jack Forestal

Andrew Jacob

Nicholas Ryan

Samual Butler

Michael Maher

Jeffrey Power

Patrick Ward

James Carney, 90 lashes

William Fogarty

Francis Doyle

Michael McCarthy

John Aid

James Doolin

The following men were identified as being the ringleaders.


Martin Fogarty

William Fogarty

Philip Doolin

Thomas Murphy

James Sheehe

Keran Reddy

James Doolin

Michael Burk

James Burke

John Ragoin

William Bulger

Stephen Harper



The court document  described them as …”the ringleaders and open abettors of the riots caused to the great and manifest danger to the inhabitants of this place, and their property.

And the said offenders, having absconded to avoid being brought to their trial in open contempt of the lawful authority,  after they had been summoned to appear.  We are of the opinion that the threats now made use of, towards the principal inhabitants of this District, will, in the winter, be carried into execution if the same notorious offendeds are permitted to return.  We therefore decree the crime with which they stand charged, have been fully proven.  That all and each of them forfeit all the wages which may be due to them for their services in the fishery.  That they are, all of them, banished from the District as vagabonds, and to receive, if they should be so dearing as to return, 39 lashes on their bare backs with a cat of nine tails.  For those not on wages the product of the voyage is to be forfeited.” 


The record also noted that Dennis Gorman, Thomas Kerrivan, Lawrence Dwyer,  and Michael Rahalay had already been transported for their part in the riots.


A further order, modifying the original decree that those who had fled away were to be whipped, was made at the end of September.  Those who turned themselves in would not be whipped after all.  Stephen Harper, Phillip Doolin and William Fogarty surrended.


As already illustrated, some were punished and more severely than others.  Another decree forbade anyone giving shelter to the escaped rioters.  Nicholas Murphy must have done so, and also have been a man of some property.  His land was sold to pay the amount of the fine imposed on him 20 pounds.  Thomas Norris bougt it.


William Coman was fined this same amount.  During one episode he had taken the constatble, William Carter, as if to say “Take him, you’re responsible  for this state of affairs”  The fines collected were placed in the hands of a Protestant committee so that they could build a court house and jail.  A naval ship with marines remained stationed in Ferryland the following winter to insure that there wouldn’t be be a recurrence.  (Ref. PANL GN5/4/C1,  Ferryland Court Records, 1786-1812)


The court records do not give the cause of these riots.  Even the historians have been very circumspect.  Pedley, for instance,


From a memorial purporting to come from ‘the magistrates principal merchants, traders, and inhabitants of Ferryland’, to which nineteen names are subscribed, His Excellency learnt, that there had been much manifestation of a riotous, lawless, spirit, that the memorialists were in fear of their lives and property, and considered themselves in absolute need of military protection. 

    From the scanty notices which have come down to us of this affair (and though scanty, they represent it as being serious, and calling forth strong effort and severe punishment in the repression of the religious animosity.  The Irish Roman Catholics, so long held down, having had their bonds relaxed, were disposed to use their freedom with angry wantonness, and to take vengeance on those who belonged to the side of that Protestant ascendancy by which they had been oppressed.  That the riot was of the character and origin ascribed to it, appears, first, from the fact that in the directions of Governor Elliot to the people of Ferryland, to cooperate with the naval force sent for their protection, he advises the formation of a committee from the Protestant inhabitants; and secondly, in a letter from the same authority to the officer who had been successfully employed in the repression of the riots, the writer states that an admonition had been addressed to Father Power and to Father O’Donnel (priest at St John’s),  from which he was lead to hope that there would be no more trouble”.   (Ref. Pedley, Charles,  The history of Newfoundland - London)



Page Revised: December 2002 (Don Tate)

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