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Pomeroys of Fogo Island
By: Ross Pomeroy
The first Pomeroy, of record, to have worked in the Fogo Island area, was Robert Pomeroy. The ledgers of the Slade Company, merchants of Fogo, registered a Robert Pomeroy as an employee for the summer of 1789. Most likely Robert left for England once the summer fishery was over and before the island was locked in the grip of winter ice. No document has been found that would indicate that he returned to Fogo the following season.
The next Pomeroy mentioned in the Slade records was William Pumroy (Pomeroy). I was unable to establish any relationship of Robert to William Pomeroy, planter, of Fogo Harbour. William Pomeroy was my great great grandfather and the ancestor of many Fogo Island residents.
In the early years the Pomeroys of Fogo Island resided in Locke’s Cove, a small cove within Fogo Harbour, accessible only by boat or a strenuous walk from Fogo town, over a high rocky cliff. The community has long since been abandoned and the houses floated to new foundations further in the harbour.
William Pomeroy 1806-
My great great grandparents were William and Jane Pomeroy. No marriage document has been uncovered to reveal Jane’s maiden name. It may have been Lucas as that surname is used as a second Christian name in two of her sons' families. Her son, Joseph named his daughter Jemima Lucas Pomeroy and her son John named his son Lemuel Lucas Pomeroy. That the maiden name is Lucas is pure speculation but use of the mother’s maiden name as a second christian name of their children was a common practise in the family. This is evident throughout the records I have examined.
William Pomeroy was born about the year 1806. William’s birth year can be established because of his marriage to his second wife, Ann Day, a widow from Musgrave Harbour. They were united in Holy Matrimony on November 01, 1879 in the Methodist Church in Fogo. She was listed as 47 years old and he was listed as being 73 years of age.
Where William was born is a matter of conjecture. It may have been in Brigus, Conception Bay, The Methodist Church of Brigus records a William Pomeroy born in 1806 to John Pomeroy and Ann Roberts. Ann was listed as a widow of John Norman. Although the year of birth and the name are the same as my great great grandfather’s, and the names of William's family in Fogo are similar to the names of the John and Ann’s family members, no direct link can be ascertained at this time.
Today, there are Pomeroys residing in Brigus who are descendants of a William Pomeroy who was born in 1817. It is their belief that their ancestor William was of John and Ann Pomeroy who once resided in that community. No records linking this William to John have been found and, therefore, we must wait further research to clearly link the families.
Did John and Ann’s first son, William, die? Was another William born to them in 1817 or was there another Pomeroy family living in Brigus at the time? Unfortunately many of the church records of Brigus Methodist Church have been lost or destroyed. I was unable to locate the second William's baptism record nor could I find any official record of the first William's death or burial. Hopefully more research will help to determine both of the Williams’ birthplaces.
The fact that great great grandfather William was residing on Fogo Island by 1834, and was prosecuting the cod fishery is evident from his account in the Slade Company ledgers. This account was active as early as November 20, 1834 and remained so for many years.
The major merchandising establishment in Fogo was started around 1772 by John Slade of Poole, England. The Slade’s kept meticulous records. Much of their records of commerce with established fishermen have survived intact and may be viewed at the Public Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador and at Memorial University’s Maritime History Archives.
William's account heading is spelt William Pumroy. It was later changed to William Pumroy and Coy (1865) and then to William Pumroy and Sons. The misspelling of the name was most likely due to the fact that William was illiterate and the spelling of the name was left to the scribe who managed the ledger. The later this spelling will be changed to Pomeroy
Some of the items that William purchased in 1834, were a gallon of olive oil, candles and a gal of rum. On the credit side of the ledger in 1835 were seal pelts. By October 22, 1836 William Pumroy charged goods costing 27 pounds 6 shillings and 5 3/4 pence ( £27.6.5 3/4). This cost will be eliminated by bartering fish, cod oil and seal pelts.
Through the day books of the merchants, one can get a glimpse of William's family in their daily lives, as they charged various items at the merchant's store.
Saturday September 24, 1864 John charged 3 lbs soap and 1 yard of binding for 10 shillings and 2 pence.
Saturday May 16, 1868, Joseph charged 2 lbs pork and 3 Gals molasses and some coffee.
May 26, 1868, Joseph's wife, Charlotte, charged 1/2 pt brandy (for medicinal purposes, of course).
June 06, 1868 Samuel charged 6 lbs. of beef to the account.
On August 31, 1865 William Pumroy and Sons mortgaged their property in Locke's Cove to John Slade & Co. for 147 pounds 10 shillings and 4 pence. The cost of this transaction to William was five pounds sterling (£5). Quite a sum of money for a fisherman in outport Newfoundland at that time.
Was William expanding his business and needed more capital for a schooner? Or, was this an attempt to survive a year of dismal failure of the fishery? The circumstances that motivated him to mortgage his property to the Slade Company may never be known and we can do little but ponder the answer those questions.
Although, I was unable to establish a name of a boat listed to William Pomeroy of Fogo, the ledgers show that some of William’s charged goods were being paid by freighting. It seems that William was carrying merchandise for the Slade Company to and from Fogo at certain times of the year. He still provided the merchants with fish, seals and oils from his own sea harvest but was supplementing his income by transporting merchandise for the merchants.
Even though many church records have been lost or destroyed by fire, a brief sketch of William's family can be gleaned from the information that is available through the Church of England and Methodists Church records of Fogo.
I have established that William and Jane Pomeroy had, at least, six children... James, John, Joseph, Johanna, Samuel and George William. The first daughters born to James, John, Joseph and Johanna were named Jane after their grandmother. No records of baptism have been found for Joseph, James and John but an approximate year of birth for John and Joseph may be deduced from their ages at time of death, as recorded in the Methodist Church Records. John was born about 1838 and Joseph about 1840. The 1921 census for Newfoundland shows James as having been born in February of 1834. I have not found any evidence of William and Jane having children between 1834 and 1838, in other words after James and before John.
The Methodist church was not permanently established in Fogo until about the 1840's. Up to that date Methodists in Fogo received sporadic visits from travelling ministers who would stay long enough to baptize children that were born since the last minister’s visit, and sometimes, to marry their parents. Many Newfoundland marriages were often carried out by ministers of other faiths or failing that, some would settle for a common marriage. A man and woman would call all the members of the settlement together and announce to all, their intentions to live together as man and wife until they could have the marriage legitimized by the church as soon as the minister or priest arrived in the area. This practise was often called “a Newfoundland wedding”.
William and Jane may have been married in The Church Of England church for they had at least three of their children baptized in that church. This may have been because of the absence of the Methodist Minister. All of William's children eventually married in the Methodist Church.
William Pomeroy witnessed several weddings during his life in Fogo. Church records list him as attending the marriages of James Blandford and Mary Downer in 1847; James Ludlow and Anne Oven on October 23, 1853; Joseph Payne and Anne Barnes on November 3, 1856; John Peckford and Charlotte Edwards on October 8, 1857; as well as , John Pain (Payne) & Maria Brown July 10, 1867. He witnessed the wedding of his daughter, Johanna, to Jacob Ford in 1868 in the Methodist Church.
The burial records of the Fogo Methodist Church from 1840 to 1890 have not been located. Therefore, the exact year of William’s death and of his wives and some of his sons can not be determined. No grave marker for him, or for his two wives has been located. They may have been made of wood and have long disappeared with time. Jane died sometime after the birth of their son George William in 1849. Hopefully, further research will allow me to fill in the missing data.
Considering the date of his second marriage in 1879, we can only state that William died sometime between 1879 and 1890. The burial records since 1890 have been preserved. William Pomeroy passed away leaving his business to his sons. By then, the family was making barrels (coopering), freighting for the merchants and prosecuting both the cod and seal fishery.
George William Pomeroy 1849 -
George William was baptized April 25, 1849 by Reverend Ernest Augustus Sal in the Church of England Church of Fogo. His date of birth was not recorded. George was the youngest child of William and Jane Pomeroy.
George William married Emma Jane Coveyduck in Fogo on October 27, 1874. The wedding was witnessed by his brother Joseph and J.A. Lucas.
Emma Jane was a daughter of William and Sarah Coveyduck of Change Islands. Church documents of Change Islands show that Emma Jane was baptized October 8, 1853. She was about 22 years of age when she married George William. Other siblings of Emma Jane were; James John Coveyduck baptized July 21, 1850; Rebecca Coveyduck, baptized on June 29, 1856 and Julia Coveyduck who was baptized on September 01, 1860.
A son was born to George William and Emma Jane on February 28, 1879. He was christened Francis George Pomeroy. The marriage was not to last, for within a year or two of their son's birth, George William died. The date of death and cause is unknown at this time.
On November 3, 1882 at the age of 29, Emma Pomeroy, now a widow, married Samuel Jacobs of Joe Batts Arm. Emma and Francis George moved from Locke's Cove to Joe Batt's Arm to live with Samuel. Francis was less than three years old at the time of the move and would live in the Jacob's family home without changing his surname. Francis Pomeroy grew up in Joe Batt's Arm and like his father before him, made his living as a fisherman. He knew, as with all of those who try to eke out a living from the sea, that danger to life and limb was always imminent.
On April 7, 1917, Francis Pomeroy, Joseph, Stephen and Walter Jacobs, as well as, William and Herbert Freake went to hunt seals on the ice off Joe Batt's Arm. On the ice that day were others including Harry Curtis and John Decker.
When the wind started to change, Curtis and Decker, along with some others, turned for home, but Francis and his companions could not navigate the crevice that was opening in the ice between them and shore. They began to walk the ice in search of some way that might yet get them safely home....but none was found.
The men knew the night would soon overtake them and that walking in the dark would be foolhardy. They may have made a fire from the wooden handles of some of their gaffs and settled down for the night.
The next day the ice had driven far from shore and the men were seen no more. The sealing gaff belonging to Joseph Jacobs was all that remained of this terrible tragedy. This gaff is now protected by a glass case and mounted on the rear wall of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Joe Batt's Arm. The following note was placed on the glass.
On the seventh of April, 1917, four young men from South
The ice was on land and it was blowing a strong breeze from a
In the month of June, a man belonging to Twillingate, picked
After a lapse of a few months the gaff was handed to Mr.
Two other men, in pursuit of their vocation, were lost on
Emma Jane lived just eight months after her son, Francis, lost his life on the ice. She is buried in the Anglican cemetery in Joe Batt's Arm. Her headstone is lying flat and almost covered by grass and soil. The inscription reads:
Erected by Rosanna Decker
"She is gone but not forgotten
And right at the very bottom of this marker Rosanna had inscribed:
"Also, her stepbrother Francis Pomeroy
No evidence has been found that Francis was ever married or had children and it is quite likely that this branch of the Pomeroy tree had withered with his passing.
Rosanna Decker was the daughter of Samuel Jacobs and Emma Jane Coveyduck. She married John Decker of Joe Batt’s Arm on May 14, 1907.
Written and Contributed By: Ross Pomeroy (April 2004)Page Last Modified: Wednesday March 06, 2013 AST
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