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IN THE YEAR 1858 (28th October).



His Excellency Sir Alexander Lennerman,
Governor of Newfoundland, &c., &c.


On the First day of October instant, I had the honor to receive your Excellency's Despatch, by Her Majesty's Cutter Netley, Lieutenant the Honorable Ernest G. L. Cochrane. Being at that time on the eve of my departure for Nova Scotia, urgent private business compelled me to take advantage of your Excellency's limitation of "one month or so" for my reply. I therefore left for Halifax on the morning of the 2nd October instant.

To you Excellency's enquiry for the names of the individuals or companies who would discontinue their autumnal credits, I beg leave to name Messrs. Samuel McKay, Joseph Legrandais, John Thomas, Francis Halbot, John Messervey and Sons, Ernest L. Romain, and Constant Garnier; besides many of the settlers, who, possessing the means to engage and profitably to employ fishermen, were in the habit heretofore of supplying. I beg to add, the above parties assured me that the dread of the loss of the spring and summer fisheries, as threatened by French interference and disallowance, reluctantly compelled them to suspend their autumnal credits. I beg also to observe that the credit system here is dependent solely on the strict honesty of the poor fisherman, and on the certainty of the next ensuing spring and summer fisheries, to enable the fishermen to pay the advances made during autumn and winter. The French claim, therefore, of exclusive right to those fisheries by their recent notice, alone oblige the traders here to adopt the alternative of no credit, as a matter of self protection, until the question of a mutual right of fishery be settled by the Governments of England and France.

I beg leave to inform your Excellency, that I had the honor to afford and procure for Commander Paisley, of Her Majesty's Ship "Atalanta," the information he required to carry out your Excellency's orders when on his special visit to this harbor in August last.

I beg to announce to your Excellency, that immediately on receipt of the Proclamations transmitted by her Majesty's Cutter "Netley," I caused them to be circulated through this settlement, in accordance with your Excellency's commands.

In answer to your Excellency's first enquiry, "Whether the settlers in Saint George's Bay do not prosecute the fishery, herrings, &c., &c., from the close of the French fishing season, early in October, to 1st April?" I beg here to state, that no fishery, with the exception of a very limited cod-fishery, is prosecuted from early in October to 1st April; for the reason that the autumnal months are generally too boisterous for punt fishing, while the winter months are generally shut up with heavy ice, which seldom disappears before the 20th April.

To your Excellency's second enquiry, "Whether the settlers' prosecute the fishery during the French fishing season; and if they do so, is it with French concurrence; and for what period they may have carried on the practice?" In reply, I beg to inform, that the settlers can only prosecute the Herring, Cod, and Salmon fisheries during the French fishing season, for the reasons above stated; and I can confidently further say, that for the past thirty years (having been a resident for that period) no interruption, to my knowledge, was at any time offered or threatened by French Commanders. The oldest settler, a native numbering eighty years, can testify to the same fact.

Your Excellency desires, thirdly, the names of the six hundred people to whom allusion is made in my letter of 18th August last; a description of their localities, and the distances their residences are from the Sea. I beg to refer your Excellency to an appended list underneath, of about four hundred and forty four persons. Of forty families and upwards swelling the list, I am assured, in a letter of this date from the Rev. A. Belanger, that "many are already without any means of subsistence, and the others will very soon be short of food." Their localities generally range along the borders of the Bay of St. George and along the borders of the Harbor, while their residences rarely are one hundred yards from the Sea.

Your Excellency requests to be informed "whether there are any huts, stages or other structures built by the French in st. George's Bay, and whether there are any french subjects remaining there after the Fishing season" In reply, I beg to say that there are neither any huts, stages, nor structures whatever, built by or belonging to the French in St. George's Bay; nor are there any French subjects remaining just now. Occasionally, a deserter or two from French fishing vessels or establishments come and remain - none for the past two or three years to my knowledge.

Your Excellency graciously desires my opinion as to the settlement of St. George's Bay, and whether, I think it is a settlement of importance to British fishermen. The settlement of St. George's Bay I humbly conceive is important, from it's rapidly increasing population; - from the great accumulation of personal property, and the greatly enhanced value of real estate within the last thirty years - from its vast resources in herring, and more partial resources in salmon; and from its proximity to the Gulph and Labrador cod-fishery. As a place of refuge for distressed shipping homeward bound from the neighbouring shores of Canada and New Brunswick, it is of invaluable importance, as it has, within my experience, afforded shelter, and I may add, given life, to many shipwrecked seamen. The Bay of St. George, freed from French interference, and wholly British, from its commanding position in the Gulph of St. Lawrence, with governmental support to encourage it, would, in my humble estimation, spring into new life, into wealth, and finally into acknowledged importance.

The people of Bay St. George are all warmly attached to the place. The idea of removal, it appears to me, is intolerable to them. Starvation alone, consequent on a loss of their fisheries, would or could reconcile them to an abandonment of their much cherished homes.

Trusting that the foregoing reply will afford the information desired by your Excellency's despatch.

I have, &c., &c.,

Bay St. George, Newfoundland, 28th October, 1858.



List of Destitute Families referred to in the foregoing Document.

John Lucas(in family)....11
John Benoit(in family)....5
Oliver Benoit(in family).... 4
Desire Alexandre(in family).... 11
Benjamin Young(in family).... 7
Charles Duval(in family).... 8
John M. Alexandre(in family).... 6
Stephen Campbell(in family).... 7
George Benoit, Sr.(in family) ....12
George Benoit, Jr.(in family) ....6
Alexander Josseau(in family) ....9
Constant Anceruin (Aucoin)(in family) .... 7
Pierre Doucet(in family) ....7
John Marsh(in family)....7
Patrice Le Blanc(in family)....4
Francis Camue(in family)....7
Peter Le Basque(in family)....8
Isodore Cormier(in family)....8
William Barry(in family)....8
Paddy Clanso(in family)....1
Widow Ryan(in family)....4
Widow Rossel(in family)....5
Cossime Le Blanc(in family)....8
George Sheppard(in family)....9
Thomas Le Blanc(in family)....5
Charles Blanchard(in family)....5
Timothee Blanchard(in family)....8
Almeé Le Blanc(in family)....7
Joseph Le Blanc(in family)....5
Antoine Le Blanc(in family)....7
Joseph Le Blanc(in family)....0
Amand LeGeune(in family)....5
Joseph Le Basque(in family)....6
Frank King(in family)....8
Alexis Legeune(in family)....6
Daniel Legeune(in family)....5
Joseph Legeune(in family)....5
Clestin Legeune(in family)....0
Jean Pillet(in family)....6
John Le Basque(in family)....8
Jacque Leguene(in family)....4
Widow Plevat(in family)....4
Frank Joseph(in family)....5
Paul Joseph(in family)....9
Louis Gabriel(in family)....6
Widow Noel(inmates)....5
Joseph Jeddon(in family)....5
Widow R. Marsh(in family)....6
(widow of Reuben Marsh)
Eugene Raymond(in family)....5
Stephen White(in family)....4
Dominique White(in family)....5
Auguste Reste(in family).... 4
Frank Jacquais(in family)....5
Edward Goudon(in family)....5
Vincent White(in family)....5
Maxime White(in family)....2
Philip Linching, Jr.(in family)....2
(Hann) James Harnar(in family)....8
Philip Haynes(in family)....9
William Haynes(in family)....4
George Haynes(in family)....6
Louis Benoit, Sr.(in family)....9
Louis Benoit, Jr.(in family)....4
Harry Young(in family)....12
Daisley Josseau(in family)....9
Frank Marsh(in family)....5
Joseph Delaney(in family)....6
Benjamin Perrior, Jr.(in family)....4
John Webb(in family)....3
Paul Longuepee(in family)....3
J. Young (Flewen)(in family)....6
Joseph White(in family)....2
(McIsaac) Angus McStane(in family)....1
Jaque Webb(in family)....4
Henri Legune(in family)....4
Widow Morette(in family)....5
Isaac Young(in family)....6
John Gillis(in family)....8
Donald McIsaac(in family)....6


N. B. - The foregoing list has been as carefully made out and revised by my neighbours as circumstances admitted of. Five families, amounting to thirty-two individuals, have withdrawn from the settlement under fear of want for the winter; while several families, assisted by their neighbors, will have the means of passing the winter.




Page transcribed by: Ivy F. Benoit

Page Revised by Ivy F. Benoit (April 30, 2003)

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