Collection - Robert Slade & Company collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Robert Slade & Company collection

General material designation

  • Textual record

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Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

  • Variations in title: Previously known as the Slade papers
  • Source of title proper: Title is based on the subject of the collection

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Reference code

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1783-1865 (Creation)
    Robert Slade & Company

Physical description area

Physical description

1.5 m of textual records

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Administrative history

Robert Slade & Company was one of several Slade family companies based in Poole and operating in the Newfoundland trade in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The original Slade firm was established in the 1750s by John Slade (1719-1792) with Newfoundland headquarters at Twillingate. John Slade later acquired trading premises in Fogo and established a branch business at Battle Harbour, Labrador. Robert Slade (1768-1833), John's nephew, was employed as a ship's captain. He assumed responsibility for the firm's business in Labrador and inherited (1792) a portion of his uncles' mercantile estate, John Slade & Co.

In 1804 Robert Slade formed his own firm, Robert Slade & Co., and established a trade at Trinity by acquiring premises formerly owned and operated by the Poole firm of Jeffrey & Street. Slade expanded to Catalina (1813), Heart's Content (1817), Bird Island Cove (Elliston) in 1822 and Hants Harbour (1835). Robert Slade directed his trade from a country house in Poole and employed agents to manage affairs at Trinity. James Gover was appointed manager (1804-9), succeeded by William Kelson (1809), who became a shareholder in 1822.

In the period 1804-1822, the firm traded under the name Robert Slade. In 1822 it became Slade & Kelson, when William Kelson, the company's chief agent at Trinity, also became a shareholder. Robert Slade died in 1833 and, from 1837 until 1850, the firm was styled Executors of the late Robert Slade Sr. After Kelson retired, the firm was renamed Robert Slade & Company and traded under that name until it was dissolved in 1861.

Under the management of William Kelson, Robert Slade's firm established an extensive trade with fishing families in Trinity Bay, utilizing the truck, or credit system. By the 1820s Robert Slade had become one of the larger Poole firms in the Newfoundland trade along with George Garland & Sons (Trinity) and Fryer, Gosse & Pack (Carbonear). Like the Garlands, Slade became involved in shipbuilding; the company fitted out fishing crews for the French Shore and the coast of Labrador and dispatched vessels to the spring seal hunt on the northeast coast.

In the 1820s Slade & Kelson encouraged permanent settlement in Trinity Bay, especially at Catalina and Bird Island Cove (Elliston) by opening and operating mercantile premises. When the firm closed out at Trinity, the Slade property was purchased by Alexander Bremner who formed a mercantile partnership with Walter Grieve and operated as Grieve & Bremner.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Collection consists of original material and reproductions collected by Dr. Keith Matthews, including business records and ledgers, 1806-1822; diaries, 1809-1852; fish collection books, 1791-1852; and some correspondence and letter books. There is also a series of Matthews' notes taken from Slade documents for the period 1783-1858. Photocopies predominate.

Collection is arranged in eight series which reflect the administrative structure of the business: Robert Slade, Trinity, 1806-1822; Slade and Kelson, Trinity, 1822-1839; Executors of Robert Slade Sr., 1839-1852; Robert Slade & Company, Trinity, 1851-1860; Slade and Cox, Fogo and Twillingate, 1818-1837; John Slade and Co., Fogo and Twillingate, 1791-1865; John Slade and Co., Labrador, 1791-1832; Keith Matthews' notes on documents dated 1783-1858.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


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

Users should be aware that copyright rules and regulations may apply to some parts of this collection.

Finding aids

Finding Aid 89

Associated materials

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No further accruals are expected.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created - May 17, 2013

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


Accession area

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