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Military of Ferryland District
Donated by Kevin Reddigan

Pre World War I

Although Newfoundland has had a military presence for centuries, early garrisons tended to be very small, certainly not large enough to fend off sustained enemy attacks. They were for the most part undermanned token outposts, backed up by occasional patrols carried out by British ships-of-war. Even with France and England at war sporadically from 1689 to 1815, it appears the main purpose of the local Newfoundland garrisons was to protect the fishery. After 1815, the role of the military was further diminished, relegating the soldiers to providing aid to the local authorities, when the constables couldn’t cope with civil unrest. In 1870, even this duty came to an end, when the British government withdrew its soldiers from the last military garrison at St. John's.

It appears that prior to World War I, there were very few people from Ferryland District who became involved in the military. The list below shows several that I was able to find, who were from (or associated with) our district.


Lt. Robert Carter, born 19 Sep 1791, Ferryland, son of Judge William Carter and Ann Catherine Weston. Officer in the Royal Navy, J.P., magistrate, and first elected representative in the House of Assembly for Ferryland District. Died 25 May 1872, buried in the Forest Road Anglican Cemetery, St. John's.

Pte. Thomas Graham Morry, born abt 4 Dec 1849, son of John Henry Morry and Elizabeth Sarah Winsor. Thomas served in the Provisional Battalion of Infantry of Active Militia of Canada, from 1872 - 1874. While serving, he was sent to Manitoba, as part of an expedition force, to suppress the so-called "Red River Rebellion. Died 24 Jul 1935, buried in St. Luke's Anglican Cemetery, Cedar Hill Crossroad, Victoria, British Columbia.

Able Seaman Thomas Rossiter, born abt. 1784 in Wexford, Ireland. Fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 on the Royal Navy ship HMS Conqueror. It is not known if he was a volunteer, or had been impressed by the Royal Navy. Research indicates he probably settled at Caplin Bay abt. 1809. Family lore relates that Thomas returned to Britain to collect his Royal Navy "prize money", but was never heard from again. The belief was that he may have been robbed and killed for that prize money.

Pte? J. James Sullivan, born Ferryland , July 1866, son of Richard Sullivan and Mary Healey. According to family lore, Jim went to the US, joined the US Army, and served in the Spanish American War. He returned to Ferryland, then went back to the US again, married there, but later returned home to Ferryland. Died 13 Mar 1951 in St. John's, Newfoundland. Buried in the Ferryland RC Cemetery.

Lt. Henry Sweetland, born Ferryland, abt. Feb 1787, son of Henry Sweetland and Anne Carter. He served in the Royal Navy - dates unknown. Died abt. 10 May 1849, Topsham, Devon, England. Buried Topsham, Devon, England.

Seaman Francis Tree, born Boston, MA, abt. Dec 12, 1762, son of Francis and Bridget (Murphy) Tree. It appears Francis fought briefly in the American Revolution likely onboard the brig, Hazard, commanded by Capt. John Foster Williams. As per Mrs. Tree's account in "The Newfoundland Journal of Aaron Thomas - 1794" pp. 110 - 112, one of her sons, who had "served under General Washington in the American Army", and was a "Citizen of the States of America", had been impressed by the British Royal Navy while in London. At that time - 1794 - he was still being forced to serve on the Royal George, a "British Ship of War". Died abt. 19 Jan 1842 in St. John's and is buried in the Forest Road Anglican Cemetery, St. John's.

Return to Ferryland Military Index

Return to the Main Military Records Index

Military Records Contact: Daniel B. Breen

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