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Lester-Garland

  • Familie
  • [18-]

The Lester-Garland family, an English-based merchant family, was involved in the Newfoundland fish trade in the second half of the eighteenth century, with primary headquarters in Poole (England) and Trinity (Newfoundland). Like many businesses of the time, the Lester-Garland familial ties were reflected in the Lester-Garland enterprises. The principals in the Lester-Garland family were Benjamin Lester (1724-1802), brother Isaac Garland (1718-1778), son John Lester (d. 1805), son-in-law George Garland (1753-1825), grandsons Benjamin Garland (later Benjamin Lester, died), George Garland Jr. (d.) and John Bingley Garland (1791-1875).

Benjamin Lester (1724-1802) was born in Poole, Dorset, the son of Rachael (Taverner) and Francis Lester. His mother, Rachel, was the daughter of William Tavernor, Bay de Verde (Newfoundland) and his father, a former mayor of Poole, was involved in the Newfoundland trade. Lester married his cousin Susannah, daughter of Jacob Taverner (Trinity). He had six children, including one son, John, who survived him.

Following the death of his father (1737), Benjamin Lester relocated to Newfoundland where he was employed by his uncle, John Masters, a Poole-Newfoundland merchant, and Irish partner Michael Ballard. Lester became an agent for Masters at Trinity. By 1748, he was himself a leading planter and merchant, having received the substantial Trinity fishing premises, "Taverners" from his father-in-law. By the early 1760s, Lester and his brother Isaac were in partnership: Benjamin purchased Newfoundland codfish from planters and fishermen whom he also supplied with fishing gear and provisions; Isaac managed the Poole end of the enterprise by securing vessels, shipping supplies and fishing servants to Newfoundland and marketing incoming cargoes of Newfoundland fish, oil and pelts.

Benjamin Lester returned to Poole in 1767, but he continued to visit Trinity regularly to direct the company's Newfoundland operations. By the early 1770s, the Lesters owned an ocean-going fleet of 12 vessels and established mercantile premises at Trinity, Bonavista, Greenspond, and Tilting. They constructed vessels at Trinity and New Harbour, Trinity Bay, and became involved in the offshore fishery on the Grand Banks as well as the salmon fishery and the cod fishery along the French Shore and the Labrador coast. They also employed large numbers of men in cutting wood, trapping furs, and sealing.

After the death of Isaac Lester in 1778, Benjamin Lester continued the Poole-Newfoundland operations. By 1793, he owned 20 ships, the largest fleet operated by an English-Newfoundland merchant in the eighteenth century. He also accumulated substantial property in Poole, including Mansion House, Stone Cottage and two country estates.

One of the major concerns of Benjamin Lester was the continuation of his company as a family business under the Garland name. Son John had little interest in the Newfoundland trade and no male heirs. Daughter Amy married George Garland (1753-1825), who was employed as Lester's counting-house manager in Poole. As Lester became increasingly involved in British politics in the 1780s and 1790s, Garland assumed more direct responsibility for the trade. By his will, Benjamin Lester left the Newfoundland trade in half shares to his only son John Lester and to George Garland, to be operated as Benjamin Lester and Company. He also arranged that much of his Poole property should go to his eldest grandson, Benjamin Lester Garland (1779-1839), on condition that he would take the Lester surname. Benjamin Lester Garland changed his surname to Lester and received his inheritance, but took no interest in the Newfoundland trade. The firm Benjamin Lester & Company continued until the death of John Lester in 1805 when George Garland assumed control. In 1819, Benjamin Lester was replaced in the firm by his brothers, George Jr. and John Bingley Garland (1791-1875), first Speaker for the Newfoundland House of Assembly.

Sons George Garland Jr. and John Bingley Garland were sent to Trinity to manage the company's Newfoundland assets. In 1821 John returned to Poole where he managed the Poole headquarters until his return to Newfoundland in 1832. Following the retirement of his father (1822) and the departure of George Jr. from the family business (1830) and his death without heir, John Bingley Garland became sole proprietor. He established a partnership with St. John's merchants George R. Robinson and Thomas Brooking. He returned again to Poole following a brief political career, and dissolved his partnership with Robinson and Brooking. The Garland premises at Trinity operated under a variety of names until 1906 when it was purchased by Ryan Brothers (Bonavista).

Oke (family)

  • Familie
  • 1833-1968

The Oke family documented in the fonds are the descendents of lighthouse builder and inspector Robert Oke, an English immigrant who had initially been employed at Burin by the Slade mercantile firm. The Oke family established several family businesses in Harbour Grace and in St. John's.

William Robert Oke (1833-1894), son of Robert Oake, established Oke's Carriage Factory and Undertaking Rooms in Harbour Grace in 1856; the business was relocated to Duckworth Street, St. John's. Four of Oke's sons were involved in the business: Robert Kammay, John Carnell, William Carnell, and Edward Landgon; the name of the firm was changed to William R. Oke & Sons, Builders (1885) to reflect their involvement. William R. Oke & Sons constructed carraiges, wheelbarrows, cartwheels and caskets.

Following the St. John's Great Fire (1892), the factory, which was uninsured, was completely destroyed. A son, John Carnell Oke, reestablished the business on Prescott Street as John C. Oke & Sons, later renamed Oke's Carriage Factory (ca. 1900). Gordon Jeans Oke, son of J.C. Oke, entered the business as a partner in 1906 and assumed full control of the firm in 1931.

After World War II, the Oke family phased out carriage production, although the coffin factory remained in operation until 1968. In 1968, following 62 years in the trade, Gordon Oke retired and the business closed.

Manuel (family: Exploits, N.L.)

  • Familie
  • [176-]-

The community of Exploits was initially settled by Europeans in the mid- to the late-eighteenth century. The settlers were attracted by a thriving fishery which they supplemented by sealing. The first census (1836) reported a resident population of 220.

In 1857 there were two merchant families operating out of Exploits: the Manuels and the Winsors. By the end of the 1880s, the Manuel family became involved with the export of Exploits fish to Portugal and Spain.

In the mid to late twentieth century, the community of Exploits has been virtually abandoned. Just two residents remain. The Manuel family has remained prominent in other areas of Newfoundland.

Knight, William

  • Familie
  • 1722-1843

William Knight (1722-1799) and his son Benjamin Knight (1767-1843) were shoremen from Marblehead, Massachusetts, who were involved in the deep sea cod fishery. In addition to owning several schooners, the family outfitted voyages from their waterfront chandlery, retailed provisions and dry goods to fishing families, and kept a flakeyard in Marblehead where they employed retired mariners to dry the cod from their vessels. William conducted the business until his death in 1799, when it passed to his son Benjamin, who operated it through to 1833.

Harris, Lottie and George C. (Grand Bank, N.L.)

  • Familie
  • 1879-1954

George Chesley Harris (1879-1954), businessman, politician, was born in Grand Bank, Newfoundland, on 14 July 1879, the eldest son of Mary (Forsey) and Samuel Harris, a Grand Bank vessel owner, captain and merchant. On 11 June 1904, Harris married Charlotte (Lottie) Pitts Pratt (1884-1954), an artist and music instructor. Lottie and George had one child who died shortly after birth. They were, however, very close to the children of George's sister, Eleanor (Harris) Carr. George C. Harris died on 28 Jan. 1954. Wife Lottie died in the same year, on 8 Sept. 1954.

Harris was educated at the Methodist Academy, Grand Bank. Following graduation, he attended Mount Allison Academy and Commercial College in Sackville, New Brunswick, where he completed commercial courses. After his return to Newfoundland, he joined his father's mercantile firm, Samuel Harris Ltd., and managed a branch of the business in Marystown. An interesting aside: In 1881, George's father, Samuel Harris, had taken his 70-ton schooner, named George C. Harris in honour of his son, to the Grand Banks fishery, a venture which led eventually to the establishment of the successful fishing enterprise.

In 1914, George became the managing director of Samuel Harris Export Company. The Harris family was the most active of the Grand Banks merchants investing in the construction of fishing schooners. Between 1910 and 1920 the following schooners, commonly called the fleet of the "Generals" were built for the Harris' enterprises: Dorothy Louise (Allendale, N.S., 1910), General Maude (Shelburne, N.S., 1917), Roberta Ray (Grand Bank, 1917), Carl Tibbo (Grand Bank, 1918), General Byng (Marystown, 1918), General Currie (Grand Bank, 1918), General Smuts (Shelburne 1918), General Allenby (Grand Bank, 1918), General Horne (Shelburne, 1919), General Jacobs (Shelburne, 1919), General Knox (Marystown, 1919), General Plummer (Allendale, 1919), General Ironsides (Grand Bank, 1920), General Trenchard (Allendale, 1920), General Rawlinson (Marystown, 1920).

Under the direction of George Harris, the company quickly expanded to other communities on the Burin Peninsula, Hermitage (South Coast) and Change Islands (Notre Dame Bay). While initially this expansion was a successful move for the company, poor market conditions and new fishing regulations by the government soon proved that the rapid expansion had been unwise. In 1923, the firm declared bankruptcy, then considered the largest bankruptcy in the Dominion of Newfoundland. The firm was taken over by a consortium of creditors, including the Bank of Nova Scotia, who renamed it the Samuel Harris Export Company and appointed George Harris' brother-in-law and former bank manager, Percival Carr, as its managing director. In the 1930s, it was restructured as the Grand Bank Fisheries.

With the help of his brother-in law, Percy Carr, George did not lose the Harris home. He worked in another company created by his father, Western Marine Insurance Company, and, in time, became its president. George attributed the loss of the family export company to the fishing regulations introduced by the Squires-Coaker coalition government, rather than to international economic conditions. As a result, he entered politics and was elected to the House of Assembly in 1923 as a supporter of John R. Bennett's opposition Liberal-Labour-Progressive party, which - despite its name - represented a coalition of conservative and dissident interests. The following year, Albert E. Hickman, George's cousin, became prime minister of Newfoundland and George switched parties in order to support Hickman. Following political defeat in the 1924 election, Harris became a strong supporter of Confederation and acted as the chief returning officer (1949, 1953) for the federal riding of Burin-Burgeo. He also served on the boards of the local Methodist church and the Grand Bank hospital.

Wife Charlotte (Lottie) Pitts Pratt (1884-1954), an artist and music instructor, was the daughter of a Methodist minister, the Rev. John Pratt. Her brother, Edwin J. Pratt (1882-1964) became a renowned Canadian poet, professor and critic. Nephew, John Christopher Pratt (1935- ) is a painter and printmaker with an international reputation.

Lottie's family moved to various communities in Newfoundland due to her father's career in the ministry. She received her early education at St. John's (where she had musical training), Fortune and Bay Roberts. After Lottie married George, she taught piano and voice lessons in Grand Bank and sang in the Methodist choir and community concerts. Aside from music, Lottie was also an accomplished artist and gave many of her watercolour paintings to friends. Throughout her married life Lottie was involved with her church and charitable organizations. She hosted card games and tea parties to raise money for such organizations as the Frazer Guild and the Woman's Patriotic Association.

In 1908, four years following their marriage, Samuel Harris built a house for the couple as a wedding gift. A three-storeyed Queen Anne style dwelling, the Harris House became a Registered Heritage Structure in May 1993 and received a Sothcott Award for restoration in 1996.

Lyall Family

  • Familie

Ernest Wilson Lyall, who is the author of; 'An Artic Man' was born in 1910 at Island Harbour on the Labrador Coast. One Year later his family moved to Port Burell, NMT. He joined the Hudsons Bay Company in 1927 and over the next nine years was posted in Cape Smith, Port Burwell Pond Inlet, and Artic Bay where he met his wife Nipisha. They lived in Fort Ross between 1937 and 1949 when they moved to Spence Bay. The Lyalls have lived there since raising eleven children. Ernie and Nipisha Lyall were presented with the Commissioners Award on August 8, 1979, to honor the roles that they had played as energetic, progressive leaders in their community.

Peyton (family)

  • Familie
  • 1749-

The Peyton family played a prominent role in the early European settlement of Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland, and particularly within the bay and river of Exploits. Three generations of the Peyton family are represented in the fonds: John Sr. (1749-1829), John Jr. (1793-1879), and Thomas (1828-1912).

John Peyton Sr., fisherman, trapper and trader, was born in Christchurch, Hampshire in 1749. He married Anne Galton of Wimborne Minster, Dorset and they had two children, John and Susan. He died in Newfoundland in 1829 and was buried on Exploits Burnt Island.

Peyton arrived in Newfoundland in 1770 with Captain George Cartwright. He established himself as a furrier and salmonier in the Exploits bay and River region, but these activities brought him into conflict with the aboriginal Beothuk. Peyton is alleged to have behaved brutally toward the then dwindling tribe, taking violent reprisals against them for pilfering his salmon stations and fishing premises. In 1812 he brought his nineteen year old son John to Newfoundland and took him into his partnership.

John Peyton Jr., civic official, trader and magistrate, was born in Christchurch, Hampshire, in 1793, the son of John and Anne (Galton) Peyton. He married Eleanor Mahoney of Exploits Burnt Island (formerly of Carbonear) on 21 February 1823 and they had six children: Ann, John Henry, Thomas, Elias, James, and a child who died in infancy. John Jr. died on 25 July 1879 and was interred in the family plot on Exploits Burnt Island.

John Jr. was raised and educated in Wimborne Minster, Dorset. He was employed for three years as a clerk at Somerset House, London. In 1812 his father brought him to Newfoundland where he became established in managing the salmon and furring business along the Exploits River, and in cod fishing and shipbuilding in the Bay of Exploits.

In 1818 John Jr.was appointed the first justice of the peace for northern Newfoundland and the coast of Labrador. In 1832 he was commissioned to conduct the first recorded census of the Twillingate and Fogo district. He conducted another census in 1836. That year he was also made a stipendiary magistrate for the region. At this stage he moved with his family to reside in Twillingate, while maintaining his salmon fishing rights on the Exploits River.

In marked contrast to his father, John Peyton Jr. is noted for his efforts to establish friendly relations with the Beothuks. He is especially remembered for sheltering and protecting Shawnadithit, the last known survivor of the Beothuk, at his home in Exploits Burnt Island. He is also renowned for his long service as a justice, magistrate and prominent public servant in Notre Dame Bay.

Thomas Peyton, fisherman, civil servant, magistrate and member of the House of Assembly, was born at Exploits Burnt Island, Notre Dame Bay in 1828, the second son of John Jr. and Eleanor (Mahoney) Peyton. He married Ann Pearce of Twillingate. He died in 1912 at Twillingate.

As a young man Thomas managed the family salmon fishery on the Exploits River. He was later employed as deputy land surveyor in the geological survey of Newfoundland by Alexander Murray and was subsequently appointed as a fishery warden on rivers in Notre Dame Bay. He served as a justice of the peace and as a magistrate. Thomas Peyton became the Liberal member in the House of Assembly (MHA) for Twillingate 1889-93.

Like his father, Thomas Peyton was a distinguished public servant in the Twillingate district. He was credited with the discovery in 1875 of copper deposits in Green Bay which became the Hall's Bay Mines at Springdale. Peyton has also been recognized for his efforts to conserve salmon stocks.

Leavitt (Family, Saint John, N.B.)

  • Familie
  • 1746-

The Leavitt family were merchants, shipowners and shipmasters, resident in Saint John, New Brunswick. Jonathan Leavitt (1746-1811) came to Saint John from New Hampshire in 1762 and was one of the first English-speaking inhabitants. He served as captain and pilot on vessels belonging to the firm of Simonds, Hazen and White prior to the American Revolution. Jonathan married Heprabeth Peabody and they had eight sons and two daughters. Jonathan's brothers Daniel and Francis joined him in Saint John where they were involved in the coastal trading as partners of Francis Peabody until 1810. Jonathan prospered as a shipowner and mariner and upon his death left a considerable estate.

Jonathan Leavitt's son, Thomas (ca. 1795-1850) continued the family business. He inherited a half-interest in the family home, ownership of four choice lots in Saint John, as well as a seventh part of a large landholding on the Miramichi River. In 1817, Thomas was admitted as a merchant freeman in the city of Saint John and from that time played an active role in the business life of New Brunswick. In 1822, he married Mary Ann Ketchum and they had four sons and three daughters.

In the 1830s and 1840s, Thomas acted as agent for the Liverpool Association of Underwriters along with a number of New York marine insurance companies. In 1835, he was appointed the US consul for Saint John. He was a founder of the City Bank (1837) and later, president of the Bank of New Brunswick. Thomas Leavitt died 24 October 1850.

O'Brien Family

  • Familie

Thomas O'Brien was the first O'Brien to arrive at L'anse au Loup, Labrador from Bonavista, Bonavista Bay in the late 1850's. He married Margaret Hogan from St. John's and had four children. Following Margaret's death, Thomas married Elizabeth Ann Barney of L'anse au Loup and they had five children. The O'Brien family has since continued for many generations.

Gosling family

  • Familie
  • 1863-

William Gilbert Gosling (1863-1939), businessman, politician, historian, and social activist, was born at Bermuda 8 September 1983, son of Elizabeth (Gilbert) and Charles Gosling. In 1888, he married Armine Nutting, headmistress of the Bishop Spencer College; the Goslings had four children; Ambrose (b. 25 Nov., 1888), Armine, Frances and Arthur. Gosling died in Bermuda on 5 November 1930.

Gosling was educated at Bermuda University. In 1881, he moved to St. John's to work at Harvey & Company. Gosling earned several promotions, and became a director in 1913.

In addition to his duties at Harvey & Company, Gosling was active in the Newfoundland Historical Society and wrote several Newfoundland histories (History of Labrador, 1907; The Life of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, 1909), [founded and served as president of the Newfoundland Board of Trade (1913)], was appointed municipal councilor (1914) and elected mayor (1916-1921). Gosling also enjoyed painting. Gosling was active in the Child Welfare Association (founded 1921). In 1928, Gosling retired to Bermuda.

Armine Nutting Gosling (1862-1942) teacher, suffragette, author and community activist, was born in Waterloo, Quebec, in 1862, daughter of J. Nutting. In 1888, she married William Gilbert Gosling. The Goslings had four children; Ambrose (b. 25 Nov., 1888), Armine, Frances and Arthur. Gosling died in Bermuda on 15 December 1942.

Gosling arrived in St. John's in 1882 to assume the duties of headmistress of the Church of England School (later Bishop Spencer College). During her residency in Newfoundland, Gosling was involved in a number of community organizations. She was a founding member of the Society for the Protection of Animals, the Child Welfare Association, Woman's Suffrage League, and the Ladies' Reading Room. Gosling was the first woman to serve on the Council of Higher Education, and was an active suffragette in the local women's movement.

In 1928, William and Armine Nutting relocated to Bermuda. Following the death of her husband, Gosling donated his book collection to the citizens of St. John's (the Gosling Memorial Library opened in 1936) and also wrote "Labrador and North Newfoundland, an Outline History of the Work of the International Grenfell Association," and published "William Gilbert Gosling: A Tribute."

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