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Chapter VIII. District of Ferryland

FERRYLAND was one of the earliest settled parts of Newfoundland. It is said to have been the rendezvous of one Easton, a piratical adventurer, who, in 1578, commanded a fleet of ten vessels. This daring adventurer impressed a hundred sailors for his fleet, and levied a tribute from all engaged in the fisheries.

In 1623, James I., by letters patent, gave his principal Secretary of State, Sir George Calvert, all the S. E. part of the island lying between the Bays of Placentia and Trinity, which he erected into a province under the name of Avalon. He planted a colony at Ferryland, and appointed Captain Wynn as governor, who built a large dwelling-house, a granary, and some stores; and in his communications the following year to Sir George, stated that on the 17th of August, wheat, barley, and oats were eared, and that the various garden vegetables had arrived at full maturity. These cheering accounts induced Sir George, who had now been created Lord Baltimore, to remove to Ferryland with his family, where he erected a splendid mansion, and built a strong fort, costing over $150,000. After remaining some years, and finding at length that the soil and climate did not come up to his expectations, and his estate being exposed to the attacks of the French, he returned to England, where he obtained a grant of lands in the Colony of Maryland, called after Charles’s Queen. He removed thither, and founded the City of Baltimore, now one of the principal cities of the United States.

In 1854 Lord Baltimore sought to establish his claim to the Province of Avalon, but in consequence of being so long out of possession, his claim was not allowed.

There is a tradition that St. Joseph, of Arimathea, took refuge in England. It is said he came to Avalon, afterwards called Glastonbury, in Somersetshire, and there founded a church, which was looked on subsequently as the cradle'of British Christianity. A splendid Abbey was erected. There is an ancient Roman town, now called St. Alban’s, but in ancient times called Verulam. The proto-martyr of Britain, St. Alban, there shed his blood for Christ. Calvert called his province Avalon, in honour of St. Joseph, of Arimathea, and his own town Verulam, in honour of St. Alban.

Lord Baltimore/ it is said, was a convert to the Roman Catholic religion, and having relinquished his situation at court, turned his attention to the establishment of the Colony of Maryland. About this time the Puritans had settled the Colony of Plymouth, and numbers of persons were emigrating from England to the unsettled wilds of America. The Puritans professed to have (led from persecution in England, while they in a short time persecuted Churchmen, Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, Roman Catholics, and Indians; they were, in fact, the most intollerant persecutors who ever set foot 011 American soil. There were no Methodists in those days, or they would have come in for their share of persecution.

In 1737, John and Charles Wesley were missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in the Colony of Georgia, and whilst there, Wesley was denounced as a Papist, because he, like a true Puseyite, mixed wine with water at communion, ami denied the validity of non-episcopal baptism. This was not the first, nor the twentieth time, Wesley was accused of Popery. An account of these and other Popish tendencies of Wesley, when on his mission to Georgia, may be seen in Tailfer’s Georgia, &c.

While the Baptists and Quakers were persecuted with fines, banishment, imprisonment, and death, for their religious opinions, in New England, “Lord Baltimore,” says Bancroft, “invited the Puritans of Massachusetts to emigrate to Maryland, offering them lands and privileges and ‘free liberty of religion.” It is said Lord Baltimore was the first in the western world to proclaim religious toleration.

“What a marvellous contrast,” says Dr. Coit, “between the conduct of these outcast Papists of Maryland and the Puritans of New England, upon the grand subject of religious liberty. Papists could tolerate : Puritans could not.”

According to Bancroft, the Roman Catholics were but a mere handful, surrounded by Protestant colonies. It was therefore a piece of policy on their part to afford an asylum to the persecuted.

“This claim, however, of the Romanists, as being the first to proclaim religious toleration, is disputed by Professor Knowles in his life of Roger Williams. Maryland tolerated Christians and Trinitarians only; and even passed a law in 1649, mulcting all who should speak reproachfully against the Blessed Virgin, or the Apostles. Mr. Knowles correctly says, such a provision might be made a terrible engine of persecution—for a Protestant might say, e. g., that the Virgin Mary should not be worshipped, and that would be a dismal reproach to her in the eye of a Papist. But Roger Williams, he says, granted toleration to every body. Bancroft says the law of 1649 threatened anti-Trinitarians with death. In Upham’s Life of Vane, in Spark’s American Biography, the priority appears to be claimed for Sir Harry Vane, as an asserter of liberty of conscience.”1

It is said the elder Lord Baltimore never settled in America. Stone type at various times has been picked up at Ferryland, supposed to have been brought there by Lord Baltimore.

In 1762, Governor Graves fortified and garrisoned the Isle of Blois, at the mouth of Ferryland Harbour. Robert Carter, Esq., rendered essential service to Lord Colville, in repelling the French, who were at this period in possession of all the settled coasts. Mr. Carter supported the garrison on the above island (where were also a number of the inhabitants of Ferryland) from the 24th of June to the 11th of October, by procuring provisions when they were scarce and dear.

In 1833 twenty-five vessels entered and cleared at the custom-house. But within the last thirty years, the trade and population of Ferryland have very much declined. Ferryland is the capital of the district, and in 1845 contained a population of 486. In 1857 the population was 598. There is a court-house and gaol, a Church of England and a Roman Catholic Church, and two schools. The circuit court sits here once a year. There is a resident police magistrate, who is also the customhouse officer and surveyor of crown lands. There is a clerk of the peace and constables. Here also resides the sheriff of the southern district, and several merchants.

The next place of importance is Bay of Bulls, where the French landed their troops in June, 17G2, who proceeded overland ami took St. John’s. In 1796, the French commander, Admiral Richery, destroyed the village, and shipping, took their fish and oil, and drove the inhabitants into the woods. The population of Bay’ of Bulls in 1845 was 626, and in the year 1857 it was 721.

The next important places are Cape Broyle, Brigas, Witless Bay, Fermcuse, Renews, and Le Manche, where a lead mine is being worked.

Near Renews is Cape Ballard, off which is a celebrated fishing bank, eight miles from which is Cape Race, the southernmost cape of Newfoundland, in sight of which most of the American and European steamers pass, and on which a lighthouse is erected. An electric telegraph has been erected from Cape Race to Cape Ray, a distance of 380 miles long, at a cost of £20.000 or $100,000. Off Cape Race a suitable yacht used to bo placed in order to intercept the Atlantic steamers, which almost invariably sight that headland. Carrier pigeons were employed to convey the news from Cape Ray to the Island of Cape Breton, a distance of 70 miles, now conveyed by telegraph.

In 1828, the exact position of the Virgin Rocks was ascertained by Mr. Jones, master of H.M.S. Nassau. There are dangerous rocks laying 18 leagues S.E. by E. from Cape Race in lat. 46° 26' 15" north, long, 50° 56' 35" west.

“The rocks extend in an irregular chain or cluster S.W. by W., and N.E. by E. 800 yards, the breadth varying from 200 to 300 yards. The least water on a white rock is 4 J fathoms, with from 5 to 6 J fathoms about 100 yards all around it, the bottom distinctly visible. Towards the extremities of the shoal the soundings are from 7 to 9 fathoms on detached rocks, with deep water between them; the current setting a mile an hour to the W.S.W., with a confused cross swell. To the S.E., S., S.W., W., and W.N.W. of the shoal, the water deepens gradually to 30 fathoms, half a mile distant; to the N.W., N., and N.E., one-third of a mile, and to the E.N.E, E., and E.S.E., a mile.

“The bank upon which the shoal is situated extends E. by N. and W. by S. four miles and a quarter; and two miles and three quarters across its broadest part, with regular soundings of from 28 to 30 fathoms, until they suddenly deepen on its outer edge to 39 and 43 fathoms.

“Lieut. Bishop, commanding H.M. Gun-brig Manly, writes, 9th July, 1829:—

“ The bottom was repeatedly seen by the officers of both ships, in from 7 to 4½ fathoms, apparently of a very white rock, with large particles of seawood on the sand around them. In addition to this, on the morning of the 7th, about 2 a.m., when riding with a whole cable and a heavy sea, 1 observed such violent breakers near the brig as to cause me to batten down the hatches; and I am of opinion that, had there been a little more wind, no vessel could have passed over that spot, or remained there with safety.’ ”

The population of the District of Ferryland in 1846 was as follows :—

4,399 Roman Catholics.
181 Episcopalians.
1 Presbyterian.
4,581 Total.

There were nine Roman Catholic and one Episcopal Church. There were 780 dwelling-houses, and 22 schools, with 975 scholars. There were 1003 acres of land in cultivation, giving an annual produce of 28,596 bushels of potatoes, 591 bushels of oats and other grain, and .904 tons of hay and fodder.

Of live stock, there were 176 horses and 607 cattle.

The population of the district in 1836 was 5, 111/ It had, therefore, considerably increased in 1845.

According to the returns in 1857, there were—

127 Church of England.
5,093 Church of Rome.
8 Wesleyans.
5,239 Total.

In 1874—

173 Church of England.
6,246 Church of Rome.
6,419 Total.

There were—

3 Churches of England.
8 Churches of Rome.
11 Places of worship.

There were 885 dwelling-houses, 23 schools and 834 scholars. There were 2,131 acres of land under cultivation, yielding annually 1,481 tons of hay, 306 bushels of oats, 26,785 bushels potatoes, 27 bushels of turnips, and 430 bushels of other root crops. Of live stock, there were 831 neat cattle, 153 milch cows, 337 horses, 350 sheep, and 301 swine and goats. Quantity of butter made, 9,944 pounds.

The number of vessels employed in the fisheries was 9 ; boats of from 4 to 30 quintals of fish and upwards, 768. Quantity of fish cured, 145,030 quintals of cod-fish; 757 barrels of herring; 2 tierces salmon; and 22 barrels of other fish. Gallons of oil, 153,856.

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