1714 – William Taverner’s First Report relating to Newfoundland

1714 – William Taverner’s First Report relating to Newfoundland

I waited on Collnl John Moody who gave me severall papers to Publish when I should arrive at St Peters [SAINT-PIERRE] requesting me to Administer the Oath of Allegiance to her late Majy & Crown of Brittain To all the french Inhabitants who were willing to take it. To use my utmost endeavours to persuade ’em to continue in their respective Plantations and, if possible to hinder all French Ships from Fishing and Trading in those parts which belong to the English by the late Treaty of Peace. He also let me Have a Corporal and 11 Soldiers the better to enable me to proceed in that Service wch I readily embraced at that Juncture it tending very much to the Publick Good and benefit of Trade in those parts accordingly on the 10th ye Soldiers were Embarked.


Sailed for St Peters [SAINT-PIERRE]. In my Passage I discovered a very dangerous Reef of Rocks, on which the Sea broake very high they Lye 2 Leagues and half from another parcol of Rocks which are a miles Distant from ye middle part of Cape St Marys The Rocks bearing one from ye other ENE & WSW.

I arrived at the Harbour of St Peters where I put up Collnl Moody’s Order on the Church door as also the Declaration aforementioned to hinder the French from fishing or Selling Goods During my Continuance in that Harbour I administred the Oath to the Inhabitants I also demanded the reason of the French’s fishing there. One Rolland Chapau de Klaw Captn of the St Claude of Morlaix told me in presence of the English Masters of Ships after a rude manner That he had a good French pass to fish there which he would stand by and in case I offered to molest him he would fight me. The next Morning had a Consultation with the English Masters of Ships about it, and Confin’d aboard ye said French Captn made him produce his French passport. I also told him I would not be imposed on by any such passport, as knowing the French King had nothing to do with the Fishing at that Island & parts adjacent which now actually belong’d to the Crown of great Brittain by the Treaty of Peace.
The French Captn acknowledg’d his Error, begg’d pardon and pretended he was in Drink, however I obliged him to give 500 [?] Security for his good Behavior. I also required the Masters of the other French Fishing Vessels in the same Harbour to give the like Security.

I Surveyed the Islands and harbour of St Peters with the Rock adjacent, which in my Opinion is the very best place of Fishing for a few English Ships in and about Newfoundland & a considerable Place of Trade, especially about Michmas where all the Planters & Servants from the Bay de Espere, Cap nigro, Grand Bank, Fortune, Courbin &c. bring in their Furrs and Summers Fish to sell for purchasing their Winters Provisions and necessarys. The said Island is Subject to Foggs of a different dryer nature than those in other parts and yet is an extriordinary good place for drying & curing of Cod fish. There is good fishing ground all round the Island. The Harbour is good for Ships to Ride in especially the Bottom of it called The Bourgeway [BARACHOIS] where no wind can hurt ’em. There’s Beech enoug [sic] for 300 Boats and for Promoting the English trade in those parts. I have remitted to Your Lordp A New Chart thereof.

July 23d

I Sailed to and Surveyed the Northermost Bay of Manyclone where was a French Biscayer a fishing. I also required the Master of her to give Security of his good Behavior. Upon the Bottom of that Bay is clean sand, good anchor ground for Ships to ride in and Beech enough for 400 Boats. Its also a good place for catching and curing of Fish, but very Foggy. The French informed me That 14 Ships were used to fFish there at one Time.


I also Surveyed the Plantation at Isle Grole, being a good Fishing place and Beech for 6 Boats, and administred the Oath of Allegience to the Inhabitants of those parts. I went to the Isle de Espere and took ye Bearings & Dist from thence to Cape Lahune, Cape Manyelon [CAP MIQUELON], St Peters, Isle Verd, Cape May, Island Brunotte with the adjacent Rocks & places &c. The French informed me That the other Branche of the sd Bay de Espere called ye N E Bay runs about 20 Leagues into the Land, In it are abundance of [ ] which afford plenty of Furrs, Masts for Ships, very good Timber of all sorts both for Boards and Plank also plenty of Deer. The water is there very deep It’s accounted the Best Bay in Newfoundland The Inhabitants of St Peters &c. fetch most of their Timber and Boards from thence.


I arrived on board the Ship in the Harbour of St Peters where the Ship continued untill ye 18th of Septbr. During which time Surveyed all the Plantation there. I went out in the Boat as often as the weather permitted to Isl Verd, Manyclon [MIQUELON] & several other places I Surveyed those & other Islands in the Mouth of the Grand Bay of Fortune with the Coast of Chapeauroge &c. Charts whereof shall be sent home by the next Opportunity. In that Interim I hope to Compleat the Survey of the adjacent Bays wch being large & deep will require a considerable time to finish.

The Bottom of the grand Bay of Manyclone [MIQUELON] is allmost full of sand hills, at the NE corner whereof is a fine salt water pond about 2 Miles in length with above 800 Acres of very good pasture and meadow ground. The Soil is black Earth intermixt with Sand. The Land in that cold Climate makes it very fruitfull. It naturally produces wild pease and Grass in Abundance also some wild Wheat &c. Whose Improvement might be made by Industrious Farmers. On the Pond are abundance of Seals Fish & Wild Fowl &c.

Mounsr Costabelle sent a Letter from Placentia the contents of which hath been published by the Priest in the Chappels at St Peters & Fortune Threatning the French Inhabitants of those places that had taken the Oath of Allegience to her late Majty In case they remained there should be all Accounted as Rebells to the French King be hang’d if they went to France and have all their Goods & Effects Confiscated there, which frightened them very much. I was obliged to Continue at at St Peters somewhat longer than I entended to [ ? ] and Compose differences and encourage ’em to stay, otherwise this small Colony would have been quite Depopulated. The persons who had taken the Oath were concluding to goe for Cape Britton.

Another difficulty arose among ’em How they should be Supplyed with Provisions for their support the ensuing Winter I having hindred ye French Ships from Trading here by Collnl Moody’s direction.

The French Inhabitants required of me a Supply of Provisions &c. whereupon I had a Consultation with the English Masters & Merchts who were not Inclinable to give them Credit. Therefore I was obliged to promise ’em the Liberty of having Provisions from one Mounsr Gabriel Roger A French Mercht who gave them credit to be paid in Fish next season which I humbly desire Your Lordps will dispence with and be pleased to grant him Liberty the next Season to gather in his Debts so contracted. This being the only expedient I could take at this Juncture to make the poeple [sic] easy and prevent their going away. Their continuance here tends very much to his Majtys Service and good of the trade they being all Acquainted with the best Fishing grounds & places which the English another season to their great benefit will discover altho hitherto they have not frequented these parts, The very worst of them being better than the former English Settlements to the N.ward.
Septbr 19th

I left St Peters having Compleated my Survey of the adjacent parts designing to goe for Placentia.

Source : http://www2.swgc.mun.ca/nfld_history/CO194/TavernerReport1.htm

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