Presented by the
Newfoundland's Grand Banks Site
to assist you in researching your Family History

Click on the graphic below to return to the NGB Home Page
Newfoundland's Grand Banks

To contribute to this site, see above menu item "About".

How to report a possible transcription error

These transcriptions may contain human errors.
As always, confirm these, as you would any other source material.

History of King's Cove





Amongst the early residents of King's Cove was Paddy Pendergast. He lived at the head of the Pond. Paddy's house must have been one of the earliest built, for in the sixties it had all the appearances of decay. After Paddy's death it was inhabited by Pat Dwyer and James Carroll who were his relatives. He kept a general goods store and sold rum. It does not seem that any less than a naggin of rum was bought at a time. There is in existence at King's Cove one of Paddy's account books for the year 1836. The most of the accounts ran something like this:

      1 gallon molasses
      1 lb. nails
      1 naggin rum
      l naggin rum
      1 lb. oakum
      1 naggin rum

There are scarcely any records now of the doings of the men and women of that day. That they had their romances, their sorrows and misfortunes, we have no doubt; but there was no Boswell who considered their lives of sufficient importance to record them. This is to be regretted; for nothing would give the King's Covians of to-day more pleasure than to read about the men and women who hewed a way for themselves from the wilderness of those days.

One of the outstanding personalities of the sixties was Michael Carroll who carried on business with Archie Munn and whose name has already been mentioned. He was a typical Irishman ruddyfaced, clean-shaven, and with a voice that sometimes shook the hills around him. To this day many stories are told of his boisterous wit and of his large-heartedness. He was a man of many interests, and had progressive ideas. He was keenly interested in mining, and did quite a lot of prospecting, especially at Bonavista Bay. He wrote a small pamphlet on the Seal Fishery, describing the different kinds of seals on the Newfoundland coast and giving much interesting information gathered from conversations with sealers.

In 1869 when the question of Confederation with Canada was the principal platform in the election contest of that year, Carroll stood as a candidate for Bonavista Bay. In his electioneering tour he of couple visited King's Cove. The King's Covians were bitter anti-confederates, and a threatening opposition was shown him. He was prevailed upon by some of his friends to make a speech. While he was speaking, some opponent came behind him and with a sharp sheath knife cut off the tail of his coat. This was the signal for a commotion during which Carroll took refuge in the house of John Hartery by the Pond. The house was surrounded by a crowd of inflamed politicians who demanded that Carroll be surrendered to them. Until nine or ten o'clock at night the angry crowd kept watch on the house, smashing an occasional window and trying to force the door. But to the credit of John Hartery, who had given the fugitive shelter, he chose to brave the anger of the mob rather than betray him. In the darkness of the night Carroll at last effected his escape under the flake which stretched at that time from John Hartery's house to the Beach.

Amongst the stories preserved regarding Michael Carroll, the following are of interest: He came to King's Cove as a guide with an Irish sportsman named Lord Gumalton. On their arrival at King's Cove they stayed at Lawton's house. They went up Bonavista Bay deer shooting. At the sight of the first deer, Gumalton fired and missed. Carroll in his impulsive Irish way suddenly blurted out: "You bloody fool." It seemed to Carroll that it had been an easy shot and the clumsiness of Gumalton's shooting had probably irritated him.

"What's that you said?" inquired Gumalton, turning white with anger.

Very discreetly, Carroll replied:

"I said it to the dog for disturbing and frightening the deer."

"If I thought you alluded to me," said Gumalton, "you'd get the other bullet through you."

Those who still remember Gumalton say that if appearances count for anything, he would not hesitate to avenge a real or fancied insult.

Another story told of Carroll is about a dealer of his who asked him one Fall for some bunting to make a nag. He gave him the bunting. The following Spring Carroll was in his office one day and looking through the window, saw a schooner coming to the wharf, flying a large flag with a red cross running from margin to margin. Carroll bolted through the office door without a hat crying out in his loud voice all the way to the wharf, "Welcome, welcome, me Christians."

A certain small dealer had been importuning Carroll to fit him out with a large fishing boat to go to some part of the French Shore fishing. Carroll knew that the same man could not find Greens pond. To satisfy the man, he fitted him cut, and when he was ready to sail, he came up to Carroll who was engaged in a conversation with a stranger:

"I am ready now sir," he said, "where will I go fishing."

This was too much for Carroll's Hibernian impetuosity. He gave forth one of his customary leonine roars:

"Go to hell, to Kamskatcha, where Monks got it last year." (Monks was one of Carroll's dealers).

It is probable that Carroll had too many irons in the fire to make a success of business. When the firm of Munn & Carroll failed, their liabilities were about $120,000. The business had probably been neglected for other enterprises. That he was enterprising admits of no question. He opened a copper mine in Bloody Bay, now called Alexander Bay, and brought miners from Cornwall, England. He had several men from King's Cove working with him. Two of these-Paddy Barron and Ned Martin went around with him prospecting. One of his instructions to them was not to pass any white quartz without bringing samples to him, or showing him the spat where they saw it. His constant insistence on this command soon became a source of merriment to his two assistants, and ended in their dismissal from his service. Carroll was very fond of dogs and always had two or three going around with him. Passing through St. Brendan's during the summer, Carroll had engaged a good looking pup from a man there. Later he sent Barron and Martin down for the pup. When they reached St. Brendan's, the schooners had got home from their summer's voyage on the Labrador, and as many of the residents were former King's Cove people, there was naturally a period of jollification during which the two purchasing agents forgot all about the object of their mission. When they went to get the pup they found it had been sold a day or so after their arrival. The man had one left, but it was sadly deficient in beauty lines-one side of his face being white and the other black. But rather than face Carroll without a pup of some kind, they brought him back the mongrel. When Carroll saw it he turned up his eyes, his face painfully distorted with rage and disgust:

"My God, my God," he roared, "is it the devil ye brought me?"

Barron. who had not recovered from the state of irresponsibility into which the revelry et St. Brendan's had thrown him, replied:

"We brought him because we thought there was a lot of white quartz in his face"

History does not say how Carroll discharged his unfaithful agents; but judging from Carroll's character, it was as dramatic as could be desired.

In 1873 he delivered a lecture on the seal fishery in the T. A. Hall, St. John's, and we lose sight of him for two years when we learn from a letter addressed by a friend to Mr. Archie Munn at Harbour Grace that his end was drawing near. The letter is evidence of the sterling character of the man and of his loyalty to his former friends, and may be reproduced here:

Bonavista, July 19th, 1873.
Harbour Grace.

Dear Sir.-I am requested by Mr. Michael Carroll who is now dangerously ill, to acquaint you of it. He arrived home about 4 weeks ago, and since his return, he has been very ill. Rev. Mr. Goodison has giver. him all the medical attendance in his power and he has no hope of his recovery. Mr. Carroll has requested me to convey to you and your family and to Mr. John Munn and Son, his best wishes and well you that although he is very weak he still retains all his usual lightness of heart.

Should it please the Almighty to take him from us, I will acquaint you of the fact at the earliest opportunity.

Yours respectfully,

John Daly.

George Connolly deserves a page in the history of King's Cove as a public benefactor. It was he who donated the old chapel hell to the parish chapel He lived in the house now occupied by Kenneth Monks, the watchmaker, and originally owned by Edward Brown, grandson of old William Brown. Mr. Connolly sold liquor in a small store by the edge of the Pond. Like hundreds of others of these early days, he could neither read nor write; but like "big Mrs. Murphy" had a very retentive memory, and kept a record of his whole year's credit charges on the beams and uprights with chalk-hieroglyphics. Notwithstanding this drawback he amassed a considerable sum of money and bought a dwelling "Alongshore." ("Alongshore" was the term used for that section of King's Cove below the Chapel).

The bell which he donated arrived by schooner in 1873. Rev. M. Hanley was curate then. When the bell was being hoisted from the hold of the schooner Mike Griffin of Broad Cove undertook to announce its arrival. Seizing the clapper as the bell hung suspended between the mainmast and foremast, he sent out long loud peals which vibrated back and forth between the Flagstaff hill and Chapel hill. Its music drew the whole village to the wharf, and amongst them Father Hanley. He seemed rather annoyed at the demonstration' and remained till the bell was safely stored.

The late Mrs. Maggie Hoskins of Trinity was a niece of Mr. Connolly.

Mention has already been made of William Brown, great grandfather of most of the Brown's at King's Cove. He was a native of Poole, Dorsetshire, England. His rapid progress in business shows that he must have been a man of great energy and astuteness. He was a dealer of McBraire; but after a while started business for himself. He exported his fish principally to Figuera. He was evidently a thorn in the side of Murphy, McBraire's agent, for we find Murphy writing to his Principal on November 18th, 1818, complaining of pedlars and referring to William Brown as follows:

"There are but very few-two in King's Cove who countenance the coming of such people publicly; these are William Brown and James Sullivan who are equally inclined to do us every mischief without knowing what for, as they have both been used as well, perhaps better than any of our dealers heretofore. Brown, I have totally rejected from allowing him to get any kind of article from either shop or store, and as for Sullivan I have no good opinion of him. If Brown continues as he is now, I shall turn him off and let him depend on getting supplies from these pedlars."

Six years after this we find McBraire's agent writing of Brown:

"We deem it necessary to have a good and general supply the next season as our neighbour Brown is enlarging his business and has done a good deal this year, and has engaged a young man as partner."

This was in April, 1824. and shows that Brown had been in business only a few y ears. The young man spoken of as his partner was Henry Shears, father of the Shears family of Open Hall. Before going into business for himself, at King's Cove, Brown had been fishing at Bonavista. He also used seal nets at Seal Cove a small Cove to the southward of King's Cove. The first summer he was married, he and his wife shipped to a planter for that summer, and in the Fall when he had his winter's supplies in, he had only one pound cash left. He used to tell that he wanted a shirt and he wanted also twine to mend his nets. It was a decisive moment in his life. We can fancy him now, this tough, burly indomitable Englishman, sitting by his clean white kitchen table, tossing his five shilling-bits from one hand to the other, with the grim spectre of Necessity trying to pull him along. But he made the fateful choice; the choice that every son of Adam has to make at some time in his life if he would cling on to the Goddess of Success: he decided to brave the cold north-west blast and buy the twine for his nets. It was the turning point in his life: for he often swore afterwards "by the living man" (this was his usual oath) that from that moment he never wanted a shilling afterwards. That his statement is pretty accurate is evident from the fact that when he died he left in dry cash forty-four thousand dollars. His rise was surely remarkable. Here was a man who could neither read nor write, establishing a flourishing business, building large brigs, and sending them to various parts of the world with cargoes or his fish, and bringing back the necessities of living. These large vessels were built at King's Cove by Henry Handcock, who always went by the name of Henry the builder. His vessels went principally to Figuera with fish and oil, and brought from Hamburg: bread, butter, pork, boots and fishery supplies. On one occasion, one of his vessels was overdue from Hamburg. A resident remarked to him:

"Mr. Brown your vessel hasn't turned up yet?"

"No. me sonny, I'm damned if I wouldn't swim to Figuery with a quintal of fish on me back and be back again since she left."

He was the first member for Bonavista Bay, having been elected to the first House of Assembly of Newfoundland in 1832. Prowse says of this Assembly that "it was the youngest constituted body in America: out it was rat one whit behind any of them in stately parliamentary pageant and grandiloquent language." "William Brown never distinguished himself as an orator in the House of Assembly . He was averse to making speeches. He believed in acts not words: for it was not by talking he had won his way from an obscure fisherman to an international merchant. Once when some important question was up before the House, all the members were making speeches and William Brown was urged to say something on the subject. After considerable importuning he arose and made this brief declaration:

"All I got to say is that I will send my vessels to Hamburg and bring ye back lots of bread and butter."

His daughter was married to the last of McBraire's agents- Esmond Mullowney who was drowned in Galway Bay. She after wards married Mr. James Stewart who once taught the Church of England school and who was a partner with Michael Murphy after McBraire closed up his King's Cove business. She was the mother of Will and Henry Stewart, and was a woman of refined manners, and most pleasing address. She belonged to the "good old stock"- calm, courteous and dignified.

At her wedding with Mullowney, her father put down on the table five hundred pounds. Mullowney had to cover it with an equal amount

Two of his brigs were anchored in King's Cove one winter in readiness to go to the sealfishery. On a Sunday morning a westerly gale arose and while the people were at church both brigs went out of the harbour in a cake of ice. The hardy men of that day, the Flynns, the Doyles, the McGraths, the Sullivans, the Browns, the Curtises, Holloways, Puddisters and Carrolls boarded one of them and ran her to Catalina; but the other vessel could not be boarded and was driven ashore at Birchy Cove.

He was devoid of bigotry-that characteristic of petty minds- and fraternised amicably with Father Scanlan.

William Brown had seven sons-George, Thomas. James, John, Albert, William and Joseph. The latter two lived always at Salvage, and Robert at Amherst Cove.


Thomas Lawton-the father of Richard, Michael and J. T. Lawton-was a native of Youghal Co. Cork, and was born about the year 1804. After coming to this country at an early age he worked as a cooper at Elson & Slade's at Carbonear. He settled at King's Cove about 1834. In 1840 he married Ellen Denief who was a stepsister of "Big Allie", and had come from Thomastown Co. Kilkenny. She was 18 years of age when she married.

A great grand uncle of Thomas Lawton had been in King's Cove long before the latter settled there. He used to come from Ireland every Spring to fish at Bonavista and go home in the Fall. He knew King's Cove well; for it was from there the Bonavista men used to get their wood supply. He often warned his grand nephew that if ever he went to Newfoundland, the first calamity that would befall him would be starvation. This old man died several years after Thomas Lawton came to Newfoundland. He was 104 years old when he died. Apparently the hardships of the Newfoundland climate did not shorten his days.

As already told, Thomas Lawton had three sons: Richard, Michael and John; and three daughters: Margaret, Kate and Mary. He was a cooper by trade having served his apprenticeship in his native town of Youghal. He had considerable musical ability and could play the flute and violin. One of his treasures was a flute which he was always careful to note cost him six guineas in Cork. It could be heard all over King's Cove. On summer evenings after work he used to sit on his gallery and play this flute for hours, and when the evening was calm the music lover heard the melodious strains of "The Valley lay smiling before me", or "The meeting of the Waters" float down The Pond. He was fond of reading and had collected a small library. A favourite book was "Dr. Cahill'; Lectures." He subscribed to thc "Irish Nation" and the arrival of the foreign mail was the signal for all the Irishmen around to flock in and hear the news from the old home. He was the first to announce to his compatriots in King's Cove that Allen, Larkin and O'Brien had been hanged on an English scaffold, and that Napoleon the Third had surrendered at Sedan.

One of the oldest residents of King's Cove was Maurice Devine, grandfather of the present Devines. He came from Dingle in the Country Kerry, Ireland. Maurice Devine was a typical specimen of his native County. Kerry is situated in the west of Ireland. The land is hilly and poor and from time immemorial its inhabitants have had a hard struggle to draw a living from its ungenerous soil. The struggle through centuries had bred a race of hardy, alert and spare-fleshed peasantry. They are noted throughout Ireland for their braininess. The noted editors of the 'Nation" newspaper in the days of Ireland's keenest struggle for freedom-A. M. Sullivan and T. D. Sullivan, and the famous O'Donovan Rossa were from Kerry. The typical Kerryman is tall, thin, sandy-complexioned, alert and quick in his movements. Maurice Devine had these characteristics.

He had four sons: John, Pat, Mike and Maurice. John was the father of Maurice, Tom and P. K. He was a good violinist and supplied the music on special occasions. He married Margaret Casey, the daughter of a planter, vessel owner and merchant.

Dr. Philip LeVesconte was the first resident doctor in King's Cove. He had been practising at Trinity and previously at Greenspond. He came to King's Cove in 1874. His coming was one of Father Veitch's progressive steps. Previous to this, any one from Southern Bay to Keels needing a doctor's services had to go to Trinity. Dr. LeVesconte's advent was therefore hailed as a notable advantage to King's Cove and the adjoining settlements.

Dr. LeVesconte was of French Huguenot extraction, a native of Jersey Island and came of a good family. His brother Harry LeVesconte had been a naval lieutenant and was lost with Sir John Franklin in his ill-fated Polar expedition of 1845. The public had a high opinion of Dr. LeVesconte as a doctor. Some surgical operations performed by him while at Greenspond had caused l: s fame to spread. In modern surgical practise these operations would be considered elementary; but eighty years ago they were considered remarkable. It was with a feeling of glad expectancy that the public awaited his arrival.

Dr. LeVesconte was a taciturn man, seldom speaking except when spoken to. He had a fund of stories which he enjoyed telling whenever he felt in the humour. When he died his place was taken by his son, Charles, who practised at King's Cove, until his death in 1940. He came out from England first as a doctor to Antigua, W.I. He was not prepared to learn that the place was populated with so many negroes. A vessel from Brooking's was there the following year taking cargo for the firm at Greenspond. He became acquainted with the Captain. He asked him about Newfoundland and Greenspond and had they a resident Doctor there, etc. The Captain agreed to give him a passage to Greenspond.

The Ryans were a very large fami1y. Mick, Davy and Tom were brothers. Mick had three sons-Pat, Tom and Jack; Torn five sons-Will, Tom. John, Dave and Mike, and two daughters: Ellen and Mary. Ellen married Will Devine, father of T. S. Devine, Superintendent of Lighthouses. Tom married the widow of Captain Pat Fowlow who was in command of the S.S. Lion when she was lost in Baccalieu Tickle. John went to live at Conche and was killed by falling over a cliff while prospecting with Inspector Hanrahan. Mike went to live in Boston; he married Hettie LeVesconte.

The families of English descent were the Brown's, Curtises, Handcock's, Weeks. Those of Irish descent were the Devine's, Sullivans, Hogans, Martins, Walshes, Hollands, Lawtons, Dwyers, Pendergast, Ryans, Barrons, Kerrivans, Briens, Maddoxes, Costellos, Aylwards, Murphys, McGraths, Doyles, Flynns and Barretts.

A notable figure in King's Cove life was William Hartry. He had been a bookkeeper at McBraire's and had got ~ reputation for sobriety and attentiveness to his work. He was one of these men who make better servants than masters. After McBraire closed, he started business for himself in a store "Longshore" where the Barretts now live. Notwithstanding his experience with ,McBraire he soon fell in debt to his supplier-Beck of St. John's- and the sheriff came down to attach the stock. Some lawless persons heard of the sheriff's coming, and the night before his arrival, they threw the store and its contents over the Banks into the water. Whether this was done as a personal favour to Hartry or as a means of destroying the records of the debtors it is difficult to say. Mr. Hartry afterwards became bookkeeper with Munn & Carroll; a position he held till the business was wound up. He was the father of Will Hartry, the school teacher and of four other sons: Jerry, Jim, Pat and John. Only John has left any descendants. Mr. Hartry was an inveterate tea drinker. The pile of tea-leaves which lay outside a back window of Munn & Carroll's office testified to this.

Another person noted in the history of King's Cove was Jim Fitzgerald, the mailman from Trinity. Although not a resident of King's Cove, his weekly trip with the mail, made him a familiar figure on the streets. He was an Irishman, big of frame, bushy eyebrows, and an inscrupable, unaccommodating look on his wrinkled and weather-beaten face. He walked from Trinity to King's Cove with the mail-bag strapped behind him. When he came to the "Chute" (the rising ground at which you catch the first sight of the town) he blew a tin horn about two feet long, and he continued blowing this till he deposited the mail at the post office. He never condescended to tell any news. When asked what was the news, his invariable reply was: "It's all in the bag."

The only news he condescended to tell was the landing of the first Atlantic cable at Heart's Content. Like other mortals he had his troubles and the older residents remember that whenever he took shelter at night his first concern was the condition of his bunions which grew so large that he had to cut holes in the sides of his boots and put on large concave patches to guard against pressure on the tender spots. His boots were curiosities.

* * * * *

The woman who dominated the social life of King's Cove for nearly half a century was "big Mrs. Murphy," as the younger people called her, or "big Allie" as she was called by the old stock. Tall-over 6 feet-muscular, with full round face, physically and emotionally strong, her ruddy cheeks and Hibernian eyes always made her a conspicuous figure either on the street or at home. She wielded a strong right arm which never hesitated to deliver a sharp blow to man or woman whenever she deemed the occasion demanded it. Her unbounded hospitality gathered under her roof travellers and stragglers from every quarter. No one who sought shelter from her was refused. When a strange schooner came into the harbor, she immediately went out in a boat to inquire if there were any women on board. If there were, they were invited to come ashore and stay till the schooner was ready to leave.

But though hospitable she was not generous; she expected some return for what she gave. She was not averse to getting something for nothing. Every Spring and Fall she held a washing day, On a suitable day she invited a number of women and having provided them with wash tubs, she hustled through the bedrooms and cupboards and gathered all the bed clothes that needed washing after the six months wear. All day long the soap suds flew around the kitchen and outhouses, and at evening long strings of white blankets and sheets lined the fences and yards. Then the feasting commenced, followed by dancing. At midnight, the women wearied from the day's work and from the dancing went home. The "good time" was all the compensation they received or expected.

Christmas was a gala time in the "big house" as her home was called. Every woman from Devine's to Lawton's cooperage (that included all King's Cove in these days) would be invited. They were asked in batches of ten or fifteen at a time. After tea and other refreshments were cleared away, dancing commenced. The cotillion, eight-handed reel, and the single step were the popular dances. Four couples danced the cotillion, and after it was finished, each couple had to dance a single step. Everyone had his own favourite tune for this dance and the fiddler was supposed to furnish the special music demanded by the dancers. Two well known airs for the double step were "The wind that shakes the barley," and "The rakes of Kildare." When a rest from the strenuous gyrations of the red and cotillion became imperative, the interval was given over to song. With a voice or with none, it was an inescapable law that every dancer should dug. Then songs were of a sentimental character, generally portraying the sorrows of the rejected lover. These dances at Christmas and at frequent intervals during the year, were looked forward to with much interest by both old and young.

Mrs. Murphy reigned an autocratic queen in her own home. In the big spacious kitchen of the old house, she sat back in a large home-made chair pushed back to the dresser. From her throne she greeted with exuberant welcome the boys and girls who crowded in at night tol listen to the stories or songs which she always demanded, or join in the dances which she encouraged nightly. If she felt inclined to nod, she dozed even while the dancing was going on. The boys and girls often were amused that with the scraping of violins and the stamping on the floor, she could slumber so peacefully. She dozed so soundly at times that she did not observe people coming in. On one occasion she was in this condition when the late M. T. Flynn entered. There were inquiries as to how the weather was outside. M.T. replied that there was a great aurora borealis. The strange sound floated across the big woman's half conscious brain. One of her schooners lying at the wharf was named "Alice" after herself. Jumping up suddenly, she exclaimed:

"A row aboard the Alice; a row aboard the Alice; for God's sake run down and see what's it about.'

She was the eldest daughter of Michael Denief who appears to be the first person to obtain a grant of Crown land on Topsail Road. He came to this country from Thomastown, County of Kilkenny, Ireland, about the year 1835. In 1837 the boxam Irish lass married Michael Murphy who was then doing business in McBraire's premises. They had four sons: Stephen, Bernard, Dan and Pat, and two daughters: Catherine and Johanna. Stephen died of consumption in early manhood. Bernard met a tragic death through suffocation when his house was burnt down, and Dan and Pat died in middle age. Though the business went under the name of Michael Murphy & Sons, Mrs. Murphy was the guiding spirit.


James McBraire was the most outstanding figure connected with King's Cove in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. He was born in the North of Ireland and was in early manhood a sergeant in the British Army. He came to Newfoundland, just like the other immigrants,-"a poor man seeking his fortune". He lived for a few years after his arrival at Harbor Grace where he carried on an export trade in fish, oils and seal skins. He believed he could do better in St. John's and in 1792 sold out his premises to Denis McGrath for Five Hundred pounds. Whilst in St. John's he took the lead in mercantile, military and social affairs. In 1806 he organised the Mercantile Society and was elected President of that body. He also became President of the Benevolent Irish Society which was founded the same year. While president of that Society he never ceased to devote his energy to the relief of the poor, till he left the country in 1821. The Society, in gratitude and appreciation of his zealous work, unanimously elected him Honorary President during his lifetime.

He retired to make his home at Berwick-on-Tweed, Scotland, where he died March 24th, 1832. Robinson & Brooking were then his agents at St. John's and his agent at King's Cove was Michael Murphy, who had been manager since Mr. McBraire's departure from Newfoundland in 1821.

After Mr. McBraire's death the King's Cove business was directed from Berwick-on-Tweed by his son John. After Mr. Michael Murphy's rather sudden death at the age of 56, James Henderson from Falkirk, Scotland conducted the business pending the selection of a permanent Manager. Eventually Mr. Esmond Mullowney was made Manager. He had been assistant manager and storekeeper. He was popular with the dealers and the business prospered under his care. He married Rebecca Brown, daughter of William Brown the other prominent business man of King's Cove. Miss Brown was an heiress and at the wedding which was kept up for three weeks-her father planked down five hundred pounds on the altar rail as a dowry. Mr. Mullowney instantly covered it with five hundred more.

It was customary for the agents to "go home" to Berwick at the end of the year taking with him the books and season's records. Esmond Mullowney took passage on New Year's Day, 1840 in the Firm's brig "Orion". She was lost with all hands in Galway Bay, Ireland.

McBraire and his son, John had a paternal interest in their dealers and officials. In the late Judge Prowse's History of Newfoundland there is an allusion to a parting salute made by Mr. McBraire as he was passing out the Narrows: "Good bye my poor fools; good bye." There is no foundation for this statement. Mr. McBraire was not a man of that stamp. The following extracts from a letter written by Mr. McBraire to his King's Cove agent on the occasion of Mr. Murphy's death ought to convince us that Judge Prowse's aspersion is unfounded and unwarranted: Here arc the extracts:

Tweedhill, Scotland,

Sept. 9th, 1821. Sir:

I have received your letter of the 10th ult. announcing the melancholly event of Mr. Murphy's death which I sincerely regret, -a man in whom I had much confidence, and for whom I felt esteem and friendship. I condole with the afflicted widow. I en close you a few lines for her and shall write again more fully in a short time. Two respectable people ought to administer to protect the interest of the widow and children. She is a person deeply interested for herself and children and I expect you to act as her friend.

Nothing shall be neglected on my part to convince the widow of a continuance of my friendship and patronage.

I have thus with painful feelings endeavoured to communicate my ideas under the melancholly circumstances of the case. I must add my sincere wish that you and everyone under you may study and contribute as much as lies in your power to the comfort and consolation of the widow."




Amongst the many outstanding mariners who were born in King's Cove was Captain Tom Doyle, who became known as a great Coastal Pilot, in which work he was active up to the time of his death in 1929, at the age of 84 years.

He began his career as a seaman at the age of 12, when he went to Labrador in a vessel out of King's Cove. Being a strong, robust lad, with a love of the sea in his blood, it was not long before he had mastered the art so well that in his teens he had his own schooner, and after a few voyages to Labrador, took up coasting, in which he was actively engaged for nearly half a century, owning and operating his own vessel most of that time. He was well known all over the country, as his coasting trips took him to all parts of Newfoundland; and his friendly, genial character made him very popular with people everywhere he visited.

He started going to the Seal Fishery when he was 17, and continued practically up to the time of his death, making 63 voyages in all to the Ice. He first went with Skipper Joe Perry in the brigantine "Seaflower", out of Catalina. Several Spring's he made two trips, once, in 1870, with Captain Edward Murphy, of Catalina, in the steamer "Mastiff", in which year they brought two trips to Harbour Grace, arriving with first load on March 22nd. He also sailed with Captain Ash, in the "Lion" and the "Bear" out of Trinity. When quite a young man he was made a "Master of Watch", at the Ice, in which capacity he sailed for many years with some of the leading Captains, including Captain Samuel Blandford, with whom he went for many years, and later with Captain William Winsor.

He missed two Springs from the Seal Fishery, during which time he was in the Arctic regions with Captain Bernier, as Ice Pilot, in the Canadian Government steamer "Arctic." On one of these trips they went as far as Baffin's Land, and Captain Doyle's knowledge of ice conditions was of the greatest service to Captain Bernier, from whom he held the highest recommendations as an Ice Pilot.

He had an exceptionally keen and piercing eye, which made him very successful as a pilot and seaman. During the last ten years of his life, he went out of the Coasting business, and was engaged in piloting many of the larger steamers visiting Newfoundland, including the A.N.D. Co. boats, which he piloted to Botwood for many years. His knowledge of the coast was said to be amazing, and he had a most successful career, meeting with no major accident despite the fact that he went to sea in all kinds of weather.

The following extract from the Evening Telegram of March 2nd, 1928, relates to his sealing career:


Bridge Master of Undava Made First Voyage 63 Years Ago
Skipper Tom Doyle Hale and Hearty at 80-

Skipper Tom Doyle, who goes with Capt. W. C. Winsor in the S.S. Ungava as Bridge-master to the Seal Fishery this Spring, has probably a longer sealing record than any man going to the ice this Spring. It is sixty-three years since he first went to the Seal Fishery with Skipper Joe Perry in the brigantine "Seaflower", 155 tons, out of Catalina. Capt. Joe was the father of the famous Isaac Perry, and Skipper Doyle went with him three springs.

In the Spring of 1868, he went out with Captain Edward Murphy, brother of the famous Captain James Murphy, in the brigantine "Florence", 160 tons. They sailed from Catalina.

In '69 Mr. Doyle sailed from his native place, King's Cove, in the "Goldfinder", with Skipper Jim Martin. They went to Griquet early in winter and sailed from that port in the early part of March. Their plan was to run out when the seals came along and drift South with them. The ice conditions were too hard and they got only about a thousand seals.

In 1870 Capt. Edward Murphy of Catalina got his first steamer, the Mastiff, and Skipper Doyle went with him. They brought in two trips to Harbour Grace, arriving with first load on March 22, and in April with a load of old ones.

In 1871 Capt. E. Murphy had the S.S. Montecello and Mr. Doyle was with him again. They got jammed in Bonavista Bay, broke their propellor and gave up the voyage.

In 1874 he went in the S.S. Lion with Capt. Frank Ash, out of Trinity. They got a full load of seals, striking them E.N.E. of Belle Isle on March 28. He continued to go with Capt. Ash in the S.S. Lion and the S.S. Bear, out of Trinity, and was promoted to Master Watch in '81 by Capt. Ash, with the privilege of officers' quarters in the cabin.

His next venture was in the S.S. Hope with Captain Jonathan Brett, sailing from Catalina, bringing in 17,000 seals. He went with him also for the following spring. They lost their tail shaft and had to give up the voyage and sailed for St. John's with what available canvas they had. Their catch was only 3,000 seals.

From 1898 to 1906, he went with Capt. Sam Blandford, in the Neptune and other ships.

In 1907 he spent the Winter and Spring in the Arctic regions with Captain Bernier in the S.S. Arctic, chartered for research and survey work by the Canadian Government. The headquarters were at Pond's Inlet.

Skipper Tom joined Captain W. C. Winsor in the S.S. Beothic in 1913 after an interval of a few Springs at home and has been out with him every Spring since as Bridge-master. Though he has now reached the four-score limit in years, he is hale and hearty and as full of enthusiasm as ever for the seal hunt. If there is an older man going out this Spring, we would like to know. He has had a very successful experience too as a barrel-man, and when his piercing eye can't make out a seal on the ice, well, there is no seal within twelve miles.

We wish Skipper Tom a bumper trip in the S.S. Ungava this Spring.

(EVENING TELEGRAM, March 2, 1928).

His wife, who was Miss Margret Devine, of King's Cove, predeceased him by a few months. Surviving are three sons: Captain William, of the Pilot Service, St. John's; Captain Michael, with the New Jersey Tug Co., U.S.A.; and Gerald S., of St. John's. One son, Sergeant Benedict, was killed in France in the first World War.

Pat Murphy, the genial postmaster of King's Cove for over Thirty years-was the youngest son of Michael Murphy head of the firm of Michael Murphy and Sons. He died in 1907. Besides keeping the post office, he entertained visitors and commercial travellers from all over Newfoundland, and his name was well known to travellers passing through King's Cove by the Northern Coastal boats. He was a man of robust physique and could be easily recognised on the coastal wharf amongst the large crowds that usually awaited the docking of the mail-boat. He had a unique talent for story-telling and could entertain his visitors for hours with the humorous side of the life of the neighbourhood. He was married to Miss Julia LeVesconte, sister of the late Dr. LeVesconte.

A Kingscovian who has held a very prominent place for the last twenty-five years in the industrial and political life of Newfoundland is Kenneth M. Brown. He has had a varied experience In his early years he worked with his father, the late lames Brown, at the "shore" codfishery and subsequently prosecuted the Labrador fishery with the late Captain Dan Greene of Newtown, Bonavista Bay. Later, he went to the seal fishery with Captain Dan when he became master of the S.S. Aurora.

In 1907, attracted by the glowing reports of the prospects of the halibut fishery in British Columbia, he went to Vancouver and became engaged in that fishery in a steam trawler. Later he was appointed successively to the positions of mate, pilot, and master of several of the Company's vessels. On the death of his brother who was chief officer with him, he resigned his position as master and brought the remains of his brother to Newfoundland for burial. Three years later he took a position with the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company and during his employment with that Company became president of the International Brother; hood of Pulp, Sulphite and Papermill Workers' Union, the largest union in Grand Falls. He held this position as President for six or seven years.

In 1920 he attended the International Labour Convention at Ottawa. In 1921, he led the Grand Falls strike, which lasted three months and ended in a compromise settlement. In 1922 he again attended the International Labour Convention at Buffalo as Delegate and President of the Grand Falls Branch, known as Local 63.

In 1923 he openly entered the arena of politics, and in com pany with two experienced politicians, Dr. Arthur Barnes and Captain Jones, under the leadership of Sir R. A. Squires contested the District of Twillingate. He and his two colleagues were elected, he himself leading the poll by the largest vote polled in that election in Newfoundland. Owing to the formation of a new Government, another election in that District was necessary the fol. lowing year. Under the leadership of Mr. Albert Hickman. Mr. Brown was asked to contest Twillingate again in company with Mr. George F. Grimes and Mr. T. W. G. Ashbourne. All three were elected; but only ten of the Hickman Party were returned He then spent four and a half years in Opposition, Mr. W. S. Monroe being Prime Minister.

In 1928 he again contested Twillingate under the leadership of Sir Richard Squires in opposition to Mr. Ashbourne who was in a previous election his colleague. He was again elected.

In 1932, after the dissolution of Parliament, he contested the District of Grand Falls as a Conservative under the leadership of Hon. F. C. Alderdice. Although Grand Falls was considered the most Liberal District in Newfoundland, he was elected with an almost two-to-one vote. This continued success at the Polls and his long connection with the Labour movement undoubtedly had the effect of making his popularity and ability recognised and he was appointed Minister of Labour in the Alderdice Government, the first Minister of Labour to be appointed in this country. He held that office till 1934 when in unison with the rest of his Party he voted for an abeyance of the Legislative Assembly.

In 1936 he was unanimously elected President of the Fishermen's Protective Union of Newfoundland. He still holds that office (1943). In 1941 he organised the Union of Newfoundland Seamen, and is still its President. He is a member of the Newfoundland Woods Labour Board and also a member of the Newfoundland Industrial Development Board. He was for two years a Government Director of the Newfoundland Hotel, and has been for fifteen years a Director of the Fishermen's Union Trading Company of Port Union. He is now the senior Director of the Company.

In 1937 his name became more prominent to the general public than it had ever been before by the spectacular dispute over the price of seals brought in by the S.S. Imogene. Mr. Brown on behalf of the crew disputed the price offered by the owners of the Imogene. The result was that the men's share of the seals, amounting to fourteen thousand was taken from the Imogene, country. He has settled many strike, and labour disputes, and no doubt, is destined in the coming years the crucial after-war years-to play a vital part in the knotty labour problems which we all see looming ahead.

Kenneth M. Brown is the son of the late James and Caroline Gill Brown. He was married in 1918 to Violet Irene Hollett of Grand Falls. They have five children, four daughters and one son.

Patrick Joseph Devine, Chief Warden of H. M. Penitentiary, was born at King's Cove November 11th, 1883, son of the late Michael and Catherine (Martin) Devine. Educated at the R. C. Commercial School he had ambition to seek an occupation and scope for his talents in some other occupation than that of the fishery which not only involved drudgery and hard work but gave only a scanty livelihood in those days. He went to the United States and worked there for four years. In 1906 he returned to Newfoundland and joined the police force at St. John's and did duty under Inspectors McGowan, Sullivan and Hutchings during their regimes. He did special duty in several outports including Harbour Main, where in 1912 he married Miss Anne Fahey of that district. In 1923 he was transferred to St. John's and appointed Chief Warden of the Penitentiary. He was acting Superintendent of the institution on several occasions and was awarded the King's Jubilee Medal for "long service" in 1935.


John M. Devine, well-known as the Big Six, is ,a native of King's Cove who made good in business circles on Water Street, St. John's, having got his first training with the firm of the late Philip Templeman at Bonavista. He represented the former business at King's Cove from 1898 to 1900 in the general trade of the country. He came to St. John's after that year and secured a position as dry goods salesman with Marshall Bros. and worked there till 1908. He started business for himself in that year and continued to 1916 when he was made Vice-President of the Newfoundland Wholesale Dry Goods Co. He had meantime took an active interest in politics and in virtue of his ability as a speaker and debater and his general knowledge of the Newfoundland trade was appointed by the Government as Trade Commissioner for Newfoundland, and with headquarters at New York, in 1920. He returned to St. John's on the expiry of his engagement, and in 1932 resumed business for himself at 339 Water Street under the sub-title of The Big Six and a slogan "Once a Number-Now an Institution." By sheer hard work and constant personal supervision he in a few years built up a prosperous trade and his store became one of the most popular on Water Street for the retail purchase in everything that men, women and children wear. He by virtue of his knowledge of the New York dry goods market, gained during his residence there, has a great advantage in knowing when and where to get the bargain goods that the people want. His four sons are living in the United States and all volunteered for service in the war and have got promotion. He visits the U. S. markets every year and selects his yearly requirements in the dry goods line.

Another native of King's Cove who has had a remarkable career at sea is Tom Carroll, who during the present war, in his 73rd year, had the distinction of being the oldest active member of the British Merchant Marine. He started going to sea when he was 13, and at 19 he was whaling in the Arctic, with Captain Arthur Jackman. He made several trips to the North, and the old people of King's Cove tell of the impression Tom Carroll used to make on the youth, when he returned from his Arctic voyages in his 'teens, giving his descriptions of the many hazards encountered during the trips. He was a hero in the true sense, and there is no question but that he encouraged and inspired many of the other young men of King's Cove who afterwards became prominent Master Mariners, to take up the fearless life, and carry on in the best traditions of the sea. Tom Carroll is a "Seadog" in the best sense of that term. He became captain of one of Ryan's trading schooners, and was also on the Bankss with his brother, Captain Will Carroll. In recent years he has been Bo'sun of Bowring's steamers; and while this is being written (June, 1943) he is in Greenland waters doing war work on a mission for the United States Government in the good ship "Eagle."


Page transcribed by: Bill Crant June, 2000
Page revised: Sept 2002 (Terry Piercey)

Recent Updates Contact Us

Search through the whole site
Hosted by
Chebucto Community Net

Your Community, Online!
JavaScript DHTML Menu Powered by Milonic
Newfoundland's Grand Banks is a non-profit endeavor.
No part of this project may be reproduced in any form for any purpose other than personal use.

© Newfoundland's Grand Banks (1999-2018)