J. Allan Penny's History of English Harbour

The following cover letter and attached history speak for themselves. However, I do believe that what prompted their writing was a writing competition of sorts, with the winning entries being published in a book entitled "The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories". This particular story did not appear in the book, but is now found in the files of the Newfoundland Historical Society (where it is in its original hand-written form).
                                English Harbour, Trinity Bay
                                Dec 24th, 1963

To: Mr Don Jamison:

Enclosed is a brief Report or History of English Harbour, Trinity Bay.
I have tried to gather together fragments of thought that could have
been missed forever.

As I am 75 years old, I felt it my opportunity to pen this history of my
native village being born there in 1888 - September 13th.

I have tried my best to gather what information I could - maybe sometime
I may write a more detailed account.

Hoping what I have written is satisfactory.


J. Allan Penny, English Harbour, T.B.

The history of English Harbour, Trinity Bay, dates back with some of the earliest settlements in Newfoundland.

From early records, it is recorded that the two first family names was Talbot and Newell which much have arrived in the early 1600's. There is no trace of those names now, although there is a headstone in a garden at Trinity East bearing the name Newell and also there is a point of land in the vicinity called Newells Head or Point.

It may be of interest to note, that when English Harbour had two families, there was two families at Trinity and two at Bonavista. So the population of Newfoundland was very low at that time, maybe less than 500.

Referring to a report given by Capt Falkingham in 1732, which is 231 years ago, English Harbour is one of the five settlements mentioned in Trinity and Conception Bays. They are as follows: Bay de Verde, Old Perlican, Trinity, English Harbour and Catalina, also at that time there were three Justices of the Peace, could be one at Bay de Verde, Trinity, and Catalina.

There was five Constables, one in each place, so that gives some population to English Harbour, possibly an 100 persons.

The name of the settlement, English Harbour, occurs because its first settlers came from England, from the County of Devonshire, on the South Coast, bordering the English Channel. As they were English they called this settlement English Harbour.

From place names surrounding the settlement, there is one headland called French Head, which shows that in the time of the French invasion, of different parts of the island English Harbour being in close proximity to Trinity would have derived this name. At this time in the late 1700's the French entered Trinity Harbour.

Family names existing today are: Batson, Bestone, or Batstone, Barnes, Bugden, Fifield, Penny, Penney, Pottle, Jewer, Reid, and Wells-Ivany.

Names of families disappeared: Talbot, Newell, Anderson, Long, Hart, Higdon, Davis, Martin, Tocque, Ford, Waterman, Sweetland, Oates, Jones, Lockyer, Moore, Facey. As in all settlements, the position of the different families can give some unwritten history which could be lost.

With the exception of Talbot and Newell, the family name of Pottle seems to be the first, as the land or plantation that they chose was the best part of the settlement. Next comes is (Penny or Penney) who took the next greater part, Ivany and Barnes next.

Than Batson, Bestone, or Batstone, Lockyer, Sweetland, Jones came next. Anderson, Long, Hart next about the year 1785. Also Davis, Oates, Waterman, Ford, Martin, Bugden, Wells, Moore, Tocque about the year 1800.

According to local names around the settlement, verifying the above family names we have Sweetland [unclear but looks like Droke], Joe Harts Marsh, Frank Longs Hill, Billy Anderson's Marsh, Lockyers Marsh, Martin's Pond, Matties Pond, Davis Tickle, Oates Rock, Ford's Rock, Bugden Rock, Father Higdon's Pond, and Moore's Alley. (Alley a name given to a footpath in those days)

From the late 1700's to the present time, 175 years ago, one can easily trace the years with a little research.

With the coming of the early inhabitants came the Church and education, which was the Church of England. In the late 1700's to 1826 there was a school-chapel or small church here.

About 1826 a Wesleyan Missionary visited this place, and from this event, half of the population of this time turned to this denomination, Wesleyan Methodist.

A new Church of England Church, called St. Silas, was started to build in 1826, and finished in 1829.

The Wesleyan Congregation worshiped in the old school chapel until about 1875 when this congregation built a new church also.

In 1843, there is records to show, that records of births, marriages, and deaths was recorded, by Rev. David Martin, Episcopal Commissionary at that time which is 120 years ago.

I may make reference that his writing is very copperplate and distinctly clear.

Records show persons buried at that time at the age of 90, but the majority was in early life.

Again I wish to make reference to Thomas Oates, born in Wareham England in 1809. Came to English Harbour as a young man, married twice, the last time in 1860, died 1907 at the age of 98 years. He could have been older, but no one seems to know. Suffice it to say that his mother accompanied him to the dockside in England, rather than he should go to war, then going on in France with Napolean in 1812, between England and France.

Turning now to Education, the first teacher was a woman, Grandma Anderson, who taught a private school in her house. The second was James Moore, possibly about 1843, the third was John Collis in 1860, the fourth was Robert W. Facey from 1880 to 1903. It seems that teachers in those days spent their lifetime in the different communities, after 1903 teachers was coming and going with only two or three years duration.

The first Methodist School dates from about 1885 with a teacher, Miss Baggs, who came from White Rock in Smiths Sound, Trinity Bay.

The population of English Harbour in 1888 was over 400, it could have been that over a century ago, now it is only 150.

From English Harbour came many persons of note, in clerical circles, Dr Nicholas S. Facey M.A. Dr. Lett., Canon Hugh W. Facey, B.A. (Durham), and Rev. Warrick Wells. Also it is of special interest that within a distance of 100 feet of each other there were 3 B.A. B.D. namely Rev. Wilbert B. Bugden, Rev. Wilson A. Bugden, Rev. Edmund Bugden. and also Rev. Gilbert Ivany, B.R.E. I suppose its hard to beat the record of the Bugden's in Newfoundland. There were also nurses, teachers, and a magistrate.

English Harbour was stricken with a great disaster on Feb 27th 1892. Forty-nine men went seal-hunting, and fifteen men perished in a snow storm and squall. One man is surviving today Herbert Barnes at the age of 89.

In January 1901 two men died from exposure while travelling from Catalina to English Harbour.

In all its long record there have been only one fire, when a house burned to the ground in January 1922, which is a good record since English Harbour had a constable before the city of New York, U.S.A. had a fire brigade.

A 7th of June gale swept the place in 1866, when all of the large boats, called scallops, was driven on shore, and became total wrecks. Those boats was 30 feet of keel, was used for caraway boats, when fishing with cod-seines none was built again of this type, they were replaced by boats of smaller size. In visiting cemeteries, one finds monuments dating back over a century ago. They are mostly of a sandstone nature, and are of a large size.

There is one in particular of red sandstone about 5.5 ft by 3 x 3", some of them are of artistic design, with description of angels.

This fogotten history is gone with the past, yet it shows that more than a hundred years ago people were interested in their departed ones.

In the later part of the nineteenth century people began to travel from one place to another. So it afected one place and another. Before those days the only transportation was by vessels.

About one hundred years ago the fishermen of this place often had seals, salmon & codfish in their stores at one time, but we do not find it now.

I may say that from the sea came their subsustance to live, as every kind of equipment was necessary. There are no seal nets used now as this fishery do not warrant same.

As time passes, eventually some of the history of this place will fade away, but his article will suffice to give some information which may have passed away.

I know from stories told of the past that the people of this place were very humourous and witty. As it has been said a certain man was hauling foodwood and when coming over a pond in a strong wind he lost one of his cuffs, and as one was not of much use he threw the other one away to find the other. He followed this one and at last it stopped alongside of the missing or lost one.

Again to show how lightfooted some of those early inhabitants were. All a certain man used in crossing a wide boat was to throw his Cape Ann or oil hat about half-way across and than jump on it and land safely on the other side. These are little incidents of the past like many that have never been recorded.

As we are nearing the Eve of Christmas, English Harbour in those early days was not without its merriment and fun at Christmas.

I am writing now of the days when everyone used open fireplace as the chimney flue of the houses were very wide and at Christmas time each house had and used a big log called Christmas Junck as a back log and built the fire about it.

The usual Christmas Eve supper was "Spiced Coffee and Salt Codfish".

It is certain they enjoyed - a drop - as public houses were plentiful in those days. Again there was mummering and carol singing from house to house, the people brought those English customs with them.

I may add here that the 3 first stoves came to English Harbour in 1869 or 1870, over 90 years ago.

My grandfather Joseph Penny had one of these, it was cast in 1863 just one hundred years ago. Its name was Terra Nova. The other two people who owned stoves was Robert Penny and Mark Wells. Before this period it was all open fireplaces with dog-irons, pot-bars and cottevals.

Many changes have taken place in the last century, as we are now in a fast moving world.

In 1877 a Temperance Society was organized here. It was organized by a Temperance Lecturer a Mr Huchings from Halifax and Dr. Robert White, Trinity. The name of the society was Total Abstinence Mutual Improvement Society. One time this society had a membership of 150 members. It dwindled down to 5 active members and was dissolved 6 years ago, after been in progress for 80 years.

English Harbour was well represented in World Wars I & II. In 1914 to 18, in the army there went nine men, and the navy 3 men.

Four of those paid the supreme sacrifice, they were Arthur Richard Batson, Arthur Joseph Penney, William Edward Penney, and William Martin Ivany.

In the Second World War, two men paid the supreme sacrifice, namely Flight Mechanic Arthur Bugden (Airfoce), and Sylvester Jefferson Penney (Merchant Navy).

Distinctions were won by two men, Capt Arthur Richard Batson M.C. P.O. Martin Pottle D.O.M. (Navy)

Seven men went in the Forestry Unit in 1940.

This article covers a brief history of English Harbour, T.B. as I feel is as accurate as it can be told.

Hoping it agrees with your approval.

Gratefully submitted, J. Allan Penny, English Harbour, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland

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