Collection - Pinsent photograph collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Pinsent photograph collection

General material designation

  • Graphic material

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  • Variations in title: Previously known as Pinsent Photographs
  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the collection.

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  • Reproduced [197-] (originally created [18--]-[19--]) (Creation)
    Pinsent, Sir Robert John

Physical description area

Physical description

27 photographs

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Robert John Pinsent (1834-1893), lawyer, politician, Supreme Court Justice, orator, was born 27 July 1834 at Port de Grave, Conception Bay, Newfoundland, son of Louisa (Broom) and Robert J. Pinsent, a magistrate and judge. Pinsent was married twice, first to Anna Brown Cooke, and then after her death to Emily H.S. Homfray. He died on 28 April 1893 in St. John's.

Pinsent received his education at the Harbour Grace Grammar School. He articled at the law firm of Bryan Robinson, St. John's, commencing in 1850. He was called to the bar in 1856. During his legal career, Pinsent established a reputation as a trial lawyer. Pinsent was appointed Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1865.

In 1859 Pinsent was appointed to the Legislative Council, resigning in 1865 to successfully seek election to the Newfoundland House of Assembly as the member for Brigus-Port de Grave. Initially a supporter of confederation with Canada, he was defeated in the election of 1869. However, Pinsent altered his position several times on the issue of confederation. He was reappointed to the Legislative Council (1869) and served briefly as the leader of the anti-confederates in the upper house. In 1873, he severed his connections with the anti-confederates, and retired from politics in 1878.

Pinsent was appointed Supreme Court Justice and presided over the Circuit at Harbour Grace (1880-93). During this time he administered several northern and southern circuits in outport regions, as well as a variety of sessions around Newfoundland. In 1891 Pinsent headed a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Claims by Inhabitants of St. George's for Losses in Their Herring Fisheries, occasioned by their allegations of interference by French fishermen.

Pinsent promoted agriculture as a secondary industry in Newfoundland and developed his own farm on the Salmonier River. An accomplished speaker and orator, he supported the Young Men's Literary and Scientific Institute (and its successor, the Athenaeum in St. John's), serving as President and Vice-President for many years. He was a member of three Church of England synod executives and a Fellow in the Royal Colonial Institute. He was knighted in 1890.

Custodial history

Copied from the originals by Dr. Pinsent and donated to MHA via Keith Matthews.

Scope and content

The collection consists of copy prints of older photographs of Sir Robert J. Pinsent and other family members. Subjects include the Pinsent property at Salmonier, Newfoundland; fishing on the Little River, Codroy; opening of the House of Assembly (1896); view of St. John's; and scenes of the Newfoundland railway.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Acquired from Dr. Keith Matthews.


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

No restrictions

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

MHA Finding Aid 84. Item-level description. Also on MHA database PHOTUSER.

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Created - May 6, 2013

Language of description

  • English

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