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John Munn and Co. fonds
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- Textual record
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Photocopied [196?] (originally created 1770-1918) (Creation)
- John Munn and Co.
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45 cm of textual records
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John Munn and Co. was involved in the Newfoundland fishery supply trade, especially the inshore and Labrador fisheries, and was one of the most successful firms in Conception Bay in the nineteenth century. The sealing industry was equally important in the firm's operations, and the company was one of the first in Conception Bay to invest in steam vessels for this purpose. During the 1870s and 1880s, the firm was the leading supplier of sealing vessels in Conception Bay and was able to compete with Water Street mercantile houses of St. John's.
The firm was established in 1833 as Punton & Munn by Captain William Punton (d.1845) and John Munn (1807-1879), a native of Port Bannatyne, Scotland. The principals had been in the employ of Baine, Johnston & Co. at St. John's. When Punton died, John Munn became sole principal of the company. Munn continued with the assistance of his relatives: son William Punton Munn, and nephews Archibald Munn (1814-1877) and Robert Stewart Munn (1829-1894). The firm flourished and, in 1872, became John Munn and Co., with John remaining as principal and William P. Munn and Robert S. Munn admitted as partners. When Thomas Ridley and Sons, a prominent competitor in Conception Bay, was declared insolvent in 1873, John Munn and Co. purchased that firm's Harbour Grace premises and several of its fishing rooms in Labrador. It also assumed the role of supplier for many of Ridley's former clients. In 1873, John Munn (or John Munn and Co.) also acquired the Harbour Grace Standard, the local newspaper, with nephew Archibald Munn as the publisher.
John Munn had married Naomi Munden of Brigus in 1838 and the couple had three daughters, Isabella, Elizabeth Naomi, and Susannah in addition to their son, William. He was elected to the Newfoundland House of Assembly as the Conservative member for Conception Bay in 1842 and retained his seat until 1848. Before the granting of Responsible Government in 1855, he was appointed to the Legislative Council. He represented Harbour Grace in 1869 and held his seat until 1873, when he retired from politics. In addition to his business interests, he was a strict follower and member of the Presbyterian church. He was made a justice of the peace for Harbour Grace in 1843. John Munn retired to England in 1878, and died 28 September 1879 at Southport, Lancashire, near Liverpool.
In 1882, William P. Munn died, leaving his cousin Robert Munn as the sole principal of the firm. The firm encountered financial difficulties during the 1890s, culminating in the bank crash of 1894. Both Robert Munn and John Munn had been directors of the Union Bank, and the firm had financed much of its operation through that institution. The collapse of the Union Bank plunged the firm into bankruptcy from which it did not recover.
The originals of these documents were in the custody of Mack Lee, Harbour Grace. They are believed to have been found in the Customs House at Harbour Grace.
Scope and content
This fonds consists of photocopies of separate items which were kept at the premises of John Munn and Co. in Harbour Grace. It includes seal landing books, 1849-95, Harbour Grace Customs records, 1770-1918, and minutes of the Conception Bay Mutual Marine Insurance Club, 1850-87.
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Copyright is held by the Conception Bay Museum.
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Created - May 15, 2013
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