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From the Thomas R. Cole Collection
Assorted Notes on French Attacks




Prowse, DW., A History of Newfoundland
From The English, Colonial, and Foreign Records, 1895.

Belleville: Canadiana reprint series 33, Mika Studio, Belleville, Ontario. 1972.

referring to Wadham of Poole and his involvement in the Nfld. trade.

To Mr. Samuel Merrett. Sept. 21, 1702 from Pool.

This serves to advice you that yesterday Mr. Thos. Wadham in the Hopewell of
this place arrived here in three weeks from Trinity Harbour; he brings the bad news
that about a week before he left 40 or 50 armed Frenchman came over by land from
Placentia to Sillicove (TC Note- now Winterton), surprised the inhabitants killing
3 or 4 and took Mr. John Masters out of his bed rifled his house, and carried him
and his goods aboard a Jersey ship laden with fish and sailed northward with the
ship and 1,000 qtls. of fish but took no fish from the rocks; they much doubt their
being gone to Bonavista where is only Captain Weston. A French man of war hath been
off St.John's all the summer and hath taken seven ships in sight of that harbour.
The Convoys were not arrived when he came away.

This letter was not signed nor do I know the writer [TC Note].


1702- Bonavista- Captain Wesson/ Weston.
1705- Bonavista- Captain of the Pembroke from London, John Noll.
1705- Bonavista- Captain of the Society from Poole, Capt. Auten.


From a London newspaper, The Flying Post, 10 March 1705 (OS) 06/NS, reprinted in
Prowse's A History of Newfoundland. London: MacMillan, 1895., re: the burning of Capt.
Auten's ship the Society of Poole in a French attack on Bonavista in 1705. This
letter could be passed over as insignificant to Quaker history but for
the name of one of the ships- the Society:

"St. John's in Newfoundland, Sep 21.

On the 18th of August last, about 144 French and Canada Indians came about
two o'clock in the morning in two sloops and canoes to Bonavista Harbour, about 30
leagues to the Northward of this place and surprised the Pembroke galley of London of
250 tons, 44 men and 20 guns, John Noll, Commander laden with dry fish. And the Society
of Poole of 140 tons, 14 guns and 24 men, Captain Auten, Commander. And also the William
of about 115 tuns, 10 men but no guns, having 30 tuns of lamp oil on board. They also
attempted to surprize Captain Michael Gill of Charles-Town in New England, of 14 guns
and 24 men, who discovered their boat to be French, fired briskly upon them, killed
and wounded some of them so that they returned to the Prizes they had taken and brought
the great guns of both ships to bear upon Captain Gill and continued firing upon him
with both great and small arms for the space of 6 hours, till his ship was much
shattered, He, on the other hand, playing his great guns and small arms all the time
on them. During the action, he veered his ship somewhat to the shoar, About 8 o'clock,
when they found he could not be taken, they set fire to the Society and cut her loose
in a flame to drive upon him, but by the great diligence of Captain Gill, he got clear
of her and she burnt to the keel. Finding that would would do, they set fire to the
ship William and set her before the wind, furiously burning to that degree, that the
lamp oil burning in a flame on the water, was like to have set him on fire, but that
both he and his men laboured in the fire, and turned her clear of them. [The buoy-rope
of the William's anchor got between the rudder and the stern and kept her clear of
them.- Penhallow]. And when the inhabitants who had fled into the woods and rocks,
saw Captain Gill's courage, they came down and appeared in a body in arms, which when
the French saw, they immediately weighed and set sail and carried the Masters and men
with them. And about forty leagues off [on the N.E. coast], they gave the Masters and
some of the men a boat, who soon after returned, to whom the French declared, that had
they taken Captain Gill they would not have left house stage or goods in the harbour;
all which is owing under God to the courage and conduct of Captain Gill. He had but one
man killed and three wounded; but the enemy had several killed and wounded."



Page contributed by: Thomas R. Cole, February 2000
Page revised: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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