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The information that follows was transcribed by Richard and Roberta Sullivan and Kevin Reddigan, with assistance from and in
consultation with Enid O'Brien, Chris Morry, and Don Tate. It was extracted from a copy of the original manuscript catalogued
at The Rooms Archives, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador under the title "Census - Ferryland District, 1800;
Extracted from Charles Morice Pole fonds, PANL, MG205, Microfilm".


Census - Ferryland District, 1800


During the autumn and winter of 1799, and the winter, spring and summer of 1800, a three part census document was compiled at Ferryland under the direction of Robert Carter (Justice of the Peace), possibly at the request of then Governor William Waldegrave. The most significant part of this document is a nominal list of inhabitants who were deemed to be members of resident families. In the two other parts of this document, nominal and statistical information was provided pertaining to the work activities of businesses, masters, and individuals who were involved mainly in the fishing industry. One of the lists gives a snapshot of the employment situation during the cod fishery "off season", i.e. late autumn of 1799 to spring 1800. Another list identifies those employed during the following fishing season in the spring and summer of 1800. It should be noted that at that time Ferryland District referred only to the fishing settlements from Renews to LaManche inclusive.

After completion of this document, signed by Justice Carter on August 13, 1800, it appears it was presented to the newly appointed Governor, Charles Morice Pole. During his short tenure as Governor of Newfoundland (1800 - 1801), Governor Pole received and obviously retained a number of documents. Fortunately this Ferryland District document survived in his collection providing a valuable source of genealogical, historical, and statistical information for the district at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Research indicates that the original of the document is held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England. A copy is also held at the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa, in the collection MG 24 A 46, Sir Charles M. Pole fonds, reel A-134. In the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, a copy of the document is available for research at the The Rooms Provincial Archives, catalogued as an extract of the Charles Morice Pole Fonds - MG 205.

The three parts of the document are as follows:

A Register of the Families, inhabitants in the District of Ferryland, 1800 (usually referred to as The Ferryland Census of 1800).

This part of the document is a list of the names of parents and children deemed to form a resident family. In addition to nuclear families (parents with the same surname), a number of other families appear to be formed by common-law, single parent, or blended families living in the same dwelling. In addition to the names of the children, their ages are also given. The term "children" is used in the broad sense, since all offspring, regardless of their age, who were residing with their parent(s) or adoptive family were enumerated. Quite a few of the family names in this document form the core of today's families living in this area. Most importantly, these records help fill the void left by the loss of early parish records. This document also highlights an important factor in the growth of Newfoundland's resident population in the nineteenth century, i.e. the availability of resident females as prospective wives for many of the migrant young men and boys employed in the Newfoundland fishery.

Mr Carters List of Names of all the Masters, Servants, & Dieters residing in Ferryland Winter of 99 & Spring 1800

This part of the document provides a list of masters, servants, and dieters who "overwintered" in the district after the close of the fishing season in 1799. Analysis of the names indicate some of those listed came from resident families, sometimes in the employ of their father/step father, or another resident master. However, the majority of the overwintering labour force was a mixture of migrant Irish or English "youngsters". Many of them had to stay to meet their indenture obligations, while some chose to stay for various other reasons. Analysis indicates that a number of their surnames appear in later documents as ancestors of present day families, so we can speculate that romantic attachments to local females likely influenced their decision to stay in Newfoundland.

The Number of Fishing Vessels, Shallops, Skiffs, fisherman &Ca. employed this season 1800 in the fishery in each of the Harbours &Ca. in the District of Ferryland.

After the long cold winter, early spring marked the start of another busy fishing season in Newfoundland. This part of the document provides a list of individuals employed during the 1800 fishing season in Ferryland District. It names each business/owner and the various masters, agents, fishermen, and shoremen who were in their employ. It also gives a detailed breakdown, by business/owner, of the various fishing crafts that were used to prosecute the fishery in the district. Again, as in the previous part of the document, the workers were a mix of resident and non-resident men and boys.






A explanation of the various words and abbreviations related to the original document.


&Ca. - an earlier abbreviation of et cetera (etc).

Banking Vessel - a vessel engaged in cod-fishing on the Newfoundland offshore grounds, especially the Grand Banks. These boats varied in size, but were usually capable of carrying 500 quintals of fish, about two and half times larger than a shallop which could carry about 200 quintals.

Boatt M.r / B.t Mas.r / B.t M.r etc. - Boat Master - used in this document to indicate the individual who was in charge in each of the various boats involved in the fishery. The title appears to be used interchangeably with M.r or Mas.r - Master, however in the case of the banking vessels, this title likely implies a captain.

Cuddy - a small room, cabin, or enclosed space at the bow (fore cuddy) and/or stern (aft[er] cuddy) of a boat. Smaller boats usually had a fore cuddy which was used to provide dry storage for food, firewood, or clothing. In a small vessel or a large boat, cuddies were used for both sheltered accommodation and provision storage.

Dieter - a lodger or boarder. The term used in this document usually indicates someone who received food and shelter throughout the winter months, while living on a property provided by a master/housekeeper. For those who were under contract to a master, that master was obliged by law to provide basic necessities for his men at all times. The master was also directed to withhold, from his men's wages, forty shillings to secure their passage back home at the expiry of their contract. However if a man chose to stay in Newfoundland after the expiry of his contract, he was on his own, once he refused passage back home. If he had wisely saved some cash from his summer wages, his reserve funds could be used to secure adequate winter food and shelter. However, quite often those who had unwisely spent their summer wages in the pubs, could only procure meagre winter food and shelter against the promise of cash from the next fishing season's employment. This "credit" arrangement often kept many of them in debt for several years thereafter. It appears that many survived by hiring themselves out as "wooders" (i.e. woodcutters). In this role, they were paid no wages but, in return for basic food and shelter, they worked during the winter months gathering firewood, cutting timbers, repairing or erecting fishing premises etc., in preparation for the next fishing season.

M.r or Mas.r etc. - Master - see Boatt M.r / B.t Mas.r / B.t M.r etc. - Boat Master.

Mas.r Vyge - Master of the Voyage - a person employed in the fishery who supervised the crew of shoremen who processed, cured, and dried the fish once it was brought on shore by the fishing boats. It appears that this individual may have also been referred to as the beachmaster.

Quintal - the quintal (qtl.) was the standard unit of weight for salt cod fish: 112 lbs (50.8 kg).

Servant - a person employed by a master on wages.

Shallop - a large boat, decked at both ends and open in the centre, with moveable deck boards and pounds. There were cuddies both fore and aft where the fishermen could sleep. There were usually never less than three men in a shallop. They were built with a 30 to 40 foot keel and with a 10 foot (or wider) beam. Larger shallops generally had five men, and could carry 200 qtls. of dry fish. The shallop was usually equipped with two masts, main & fore, and carried four oars. It was used mainly in the inshore cod fishery, sometimes as the "mother" boat or collector for smaller craft. The larger ones could also be used for coasting. i.e. trading and carrying freight along the coast between settlements, and also to prosecute the seal fishery in the spring of the year.

Shoreman - a person employed in the fishery who was responsible for the processing, curing and drying of fish on shore.

Skiff - an undecked fishing boat that was built in various sizes. In this document, these boats were referred to as two hand and three hand skiffs, meaning that a crew of two or three men was usually assigned to operate and fish from these craft. The two hand skiff was likely the forerunner of the Newfoundland punt, a fishing craft which could easily be handled by one fisherman, especially after the introduction of single cylinder "make & break" engines.

Youngsters - a term used for the thousands of young Irish and English men and boys who signed on as labourers for two summers and a winter in the traditional West Country to Newfoundland fishery. The main source of this labour force came from the Irish counties in the southeast of Ireland and from the southwest England "West Country" counties, particularly those in and around Devonshire and Dorsetshire. In some documents these labourers are referred to as "green men", meaning that they were for the most part an inexperienced group, at least when it came to the cod fishery.


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