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Sooley/Sooly Family Bible
from Heart's Delight, Trinity Bay

This Old Family Bible is currently in the possession of
Christopher Morry, Rockland, Ontario.

The notations recorded below appear in the first pages of a St. James bible which was in the possession of my
mother, Evelyn Mary (Wheeler) Morry, after her mother, Sarah Minnie (Bishop) Wheeler, died in 1962 .
Prior to that, it was evidently in the possession of Minnie’s father, Jacob Bishop, and mother,
Jane Chislett. How he or she came to have it in their possession is a mystery.

It contains entries from 1853 to 1879

 

 

Written on the inside cover of the Bible

Nathaniel Crocker
Heart's Delight

 

 
 

 

Written on the first page of the Bible

Sooley

Anna Sooley
Heart’s Delight
The daughter of William
and Mary Sooly who was
born in the year of our
Lord in 1858.
Born July
31
Ag…[???]

Lucy Sooly
The daughter of William
and Mary Sooley who was
born in the year of the
Lord in 1853 April 9 [?]
Died 22 Jan 1879 Aged [?]

 

 
 

 

Written on the next page of the Bible

It [?] and PP they both did
agree to blot out the name of J
and C all stood a mourning
and sorry to see the envy
and notice [?] of Hand P.P.

P.P.
Steal not this book my
honest friend for there
you see the owners
name and when you
die your God shall say
where is that book
you stole away

When it…[???]

Anna Sooly is my name
Newfoundland is my nation
Hearts Delight is my dwelling
place and Christ is my
Salvation

 
 

 

Page after Title Page

When I am dead and
in my grave and all
my bones are rotten this
little book will tell
my name when I am
quite forgotten

Anna Sooley who
was born in the
year of our Lord
in 1858 Died in  June 6  1879
Aged 21 years and
Ten months

 
 

 

Page Fragment 1

Page fragment evidently torn from a bible or other religious book that contained sentences virtually identical to some of the above, written in the same hand. This page fragment was evidently inserted between the pages of a bible that had belonged to Jacob Bishop

 

 
 

 

Page Fragment 2

Page fragment evidently torn from a bible or other religious book that contained sentences virtually identical to some of the above, written in the same hand. This page fragment was evidently inserted between the pages of a bible that had belonged to Jacob Bishop

 

NOTES

Minnie’s father was Jacob Bishop of Heart’s Delight, or more precisely the area now known as Cavendish, which was formerly known as Shoal Bay or Shoal Harbour. Her mother, Jane Chislett, was from what was then known as Island Cove but is now known as Islington. For all intents and purposes the two communities, though considered quite distinct by residents and genealogists, have been historically combined in many records, such as voting lists, under the general name of Heart’s Delight. This makes it difficult at times to trace one’s ancestors to a more specific geographic location at any given point in time.

We presently know very little about the parentage of Jane and Jacob, but it is known that these two families are among the founding families in their respective small Trinity Bay communities. Although these surnames may have been found elsewhere around Trinity Bay and Newfoundland, these families were were very specific to these two locations and were not closely related to people by the same name found elsewhere. The surname of the mothers of Jane and Jacob are unknown.

The surname which figures most prominently in the bible notations is Sooly or Sooley. The two spellings of the name appear interchangeably in the bible notations, even in reference to the same person. This name is historically more widely dispersed in Trinity Bay, appearing in several communities around the Heart’s Delight area, but also in Heart’s Content and elsewhere, including communities like Baie de Verde, Caplin Cove and Carbonear on the other side of the peninsula in Conception Bay. Nevertheless it is assumed that the Sooleys mentioned were either residents of Islington or Cavendish, since they record their location as Heart’s Delight, and it is also assumed that they must have been related to either Jacob Bishop or Jane Chislett. How else to explain the bible being in their possession?

Another name appears at the very top of the inside of the front cover, which seems to be unrelated to the notations that follow:  “Nathaniel Crocker, Heart’s Delight”. Unfortunately nothing at all is known about this person, including whether his name was added before or after the Sooley notations, and whether or not he was a relative of theirs. However, despite the fact that Crocker is a very common name around Newfoundland, it is noted that it appears in voters’ lists and other records for Heart’s Delight.

The notations are transcribed as accurately as possible, especially in regard to the spelling of the surname, which varies constantly. Some of the writing is no longer legible and is indicated with question marks.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

In addition to the above notations, which are all the writing that appeared in the bible, there was also included as a place marker a cloth ribbon in remembrance of the life and death of Queen Victoria, who died 22 Jan 1901. Most likely this was passed out at the time and was used by the current owner (Jacob or Jane Bishop) as a place marker in the bible.

The maiden name of Jacob’s or Jane’s mother could have been Sooley since the bible was passed to one of them, evidently as a remembrance after the untimely early deaths of Anna and Lucy. However this is purely speculative at this time, based solely upon the fact that Anna, Lucy, Jacob and Jane would have all been born more or less about the same time and in the same villages.

Since recording these notations preliminary investigations have revealed several possible leads:

  1. A William Bishop Sooley from Heart’s Delight was a member of the Home Guard of the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit in WWII and was assigned the Regimental Number 3556. Source – Newfoundland’s Grand Banks website. This seems to indicate a marital relationship between the Bishop and Sooley families, hence the likelihood that the bible was given to Jacob after Anna’s death, not to his wife Jane.
  2. The Stonepics database of pictures of gravestones in Newfoundland cemeteries indicates that a gravestone bearing the name Anna Sooley, who died in 1879, is found in the cemetery in Heart’s Delight. Perhaps there is more information on that stone that may be of value in determining her relationship, if any, to the Bishops and/or Chisletts. I have ordered this CD from Stonepics.
  3. In 1871, a William “Sully” was recorded as a trader in Heart’s Delight in Lovell’s Directory. This was almost certainly the father of Anna and Lucy. If so, as a merchant, there should be more records concerning him than the average fisherman, which should facilitate finding out more about the family.
  4. On Friday, 06 July, 1855, Harriet Sooley, the eldest daughter of William Sooley of Heart’s Delight, married William Crocker. Source is Gert Crosbie’s BMD records from Public Ledger 1820-1882 and Newfoundland Express 1851-1876. Almost certainly Harriet was a sister of Anna and Lucy and it may very well have been her son Nathaniel Crocker whose name was found on the inside cover of the bible. For some reason, possibly an early death of Nathaniel, the bible was then given to Harriet’s sisters Lucy and Anna. The fact that this wedding was published indicates the family was wealthier than the average fishermen and William Sooley, being a merchant, could afford this extravagance.

Post Script

On a visit to Newfoundland in September 2009, while going through some family papers and documents held by a cousin, John Wheeler, we discovered a page fragment evidently torn from a bible or other religious book that contained sentences virtually identical to some of the above, written in the same hand. This page fragment was evidently inserted between the pages of a bible that had belonged to Jacob Bishop. While this still does not prove the relationship between Jacob and Anna, it certainly strengthens the anecdotal evidence that a relationship of some kind existed.


Christopher Morry
Rockland, Ontario
Canada

Contributed by Christopher Morry (2017 03)

Page Updated May 14, 2017 (Craig Peterman)

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