The Early Newells

This section includes information on my ggg grandfather, Philip Newell of ‘The Dock”, his children and their children.  It incorporates information from my original (1971) research and new information from the Internet and various other researchers (Jane Reed, Ted Newell, Ken Newell, Peter Noel and Kate Newell) .  The period covered extends up to the death of my gg grandfather (John Newell) in 1855 (his Will was an important data source).

The Dock is a small village on the northwest shore of Conception Bay, Newfoundland.  The following Map shows the location of ‘The Dock’ (red star) on a 1762 map of southeastern Newfoundland.  The locations of St. John’s Newfoundland (Capital of Newfoundland) and Harbour Grace (Harve de Grace) are underlined in red on the Map.  Harbour Grace is approximately 20 km north of ‘The Dock’ and historically was the largest town in Conception Bay.

Map of Southeastern Newfoundland 1762

In government records, statistics for ‘The Dock’ are frequently included with the neighboring village of Bareneed and in later records both of these villages are sometimes included under the Parish of Port-de-Grave (a larger town northeast of ‘The Dock’ on the following Map). There were fishermen living in Port-de Grave when John Guy founded the colony of Coopers Cove (now Cupids) in 1610.


There are no early (pre 1900) photos or sketches for ‘The Dock’ ; however, there is a sketch of the village of Bareneed first published in 1855 (see below).

Sketch of Bare Need (Bareneed) c. 1855 showing C of E Church (Source: Monthly Record, Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, March 1855) .

The Dock is beyond (southwest from) the hill in the top left of the 1855 sketch (see modern photo below); this hill is known locally as “Dock Mountain”.

The photo on the banner of this Web Site shows a view from the Newell’s land in ‘The Dock’.


The first reliable evidence of the Newell family in The Dock is a copy of a land grant to Philip Newell dated 1785 which I still have in my possession. It states:

 “Philip Newell 175 yards from NE to SW bounded SW by Samuel Dawe on the NE by Thomas Sullivan 68 yards from HWM [High Water Mark] to the N by W bounded N by the woods. 1 stage 2 flakes 1 home 1 garden 1 meadow_____

          Cut and cleared agreeable to the act of Wm 3.  [King William III]  Chap. 25, Sect 7 ____________ date of Entry 1785 ________

The foregoing is a true Copy taken from the records this 28 day of Jan 1820 by me

                                                                             For Matthew Stevenson

                                                                             Registrar &  C.S.C

                                                                             Michael Kelly”


The Act refereed to in the grant was put forward in 1698 by King William III to encourage the trade to Newfoundland. Section 7 of the Act states “Provided always that all such persons as since the 25th of March 1685 have built houses and stages that did not belong to fishing ships since 1685 shall peaceably enjoy the same without any disturbance from any person whatever” (Prowse, 1895, p. 233). The date of entry of 1785 relates to a date when the claim was registered in some fashion. Unfortunately, we are not told where the grant was recorded or by whom [few records have survived from this period].

Philip Newell (Noel, Nule)  married Amy Batten

In November 1784 a Philip Noel married Amy Batton at St. Pauls’ Church, Harbour Grace, Nfld. (Church of England).  At that time this was the closest Church of England (C of E) church to ‘the Dock’ (~20 km north ) and many people from other communities in Conception Bay were married there.

Nov 5, 1784 Harbour Grace NOEL, Philip

On the same day that Philip and Amy were married a William Button (Batton) married a Mary Noel at St. Paul’s.

Nov 5, 1784 Harbour Grace BUTTON, William [Batton]
NOEL, Mary

The Harbour Grace marriage records currently available on the Internet come from Government files which were transcribed from the original parish records in the 1940s; however, in the original church records there was additional information not in the Government files (source for online versions). This additional  information included the names of the brides parents; which for Mary Noel were James and Anne. When I was conducting my original research in 1971 one of my sources was Harold Newell (at that time a retired teacher and Liberian). Harold, had done extensive research on the Newell and Batten families of ‘The Dock’ and pointed out that this was almost certainly a case of brother and sister marrying another brother and sister.  At the time of this wedding the Battens were an established family in Port-de-Grave and Bareneed  (communities near ‘The Dock”). If Philip and Mary were siblings then this would mean that Philip’s  parents were James and Anne.  The fact that Philip named his first son James provides additional support for this conclusion. In addition, William and Mary Batten named their daughter born 1776 Anne.

The conclusion that  Philip Noel married in Harbour Grace in 1785 was Philip Newell from ‘the Dock’ is based on strong circumstantial evidence:

  • in the late 18th century the closest CofE church to The Dock was at Harbour Grace so it would not be unusual for Philip Newell to be married there;
  • there is no further evidence of a Philip Noel living in Harbour Grace after this date;
  • Philip Newell of ‘The Dock’ was recorded as Philip Noel in some other 18th century documents;
  • Philip Newell received a grant for his land in ‘The Dock’ the year after this marriage and
  • a census of Conception Bay conducted in 1817 list both Philip ‘Nuel’ and William Batten as residing in ‘The Dock’.

Based on the census of 1817, Philip and Amy had four children.

Housekeeper Name Man Woman Children Servants Suppliers Name Means of Providing
Phillip Nule 1 1 4 1 Natale & Cawley Well Off

See Merchant Connections section of this Site for more information on this census.

We know two of these children, James and John, since they inherited part of Philip’s ‘Plantation’ and had sons who inherited land from them.   Philip’s other two children  were either girls, who normally did not  inherited land, or sons that died early, before inheriting land, or sons that settled outside ‘The Dock’.  We can estimated when James and John were born from their age at death, recorded in Port-de-Grave burial records. Bareneed was in Port-de-Grave Parish and both towns would have shared a minister. Unfortunately, very few early  church records survived from Bareneed or Port-de-Grave;  however, there are Port-de-Grave Parish CofE burial records for 1828-1869 .  These list the following burials:

Surname First Name Date of Death Age at death Date of Burial
NEWELL James Mar. 31, 1849 63 years Apr. 2, 1849
NEWELL John Mar. 8, 1855 62 years Mar. 13, 1855


Based on these records we can reliably estimate that James was born c. 1785 and John c. 1793.

The early Port-de-Grave Parish burial records have one other entry that  relates to the Dock:

NEWELL Emma , Dock Aug. 28, 1840 76 years

This Emma Newell from ‘The Dock’ would have been born c. 1774 which is is too old for a child of Philip or the wife of one of his sons. Assuming that the age at death is correct and not a transcription error then there are two possibilities. Either that she was the wife of a younger brother of Philip, who possibly died before inheriting land, or ,more likely in my opinion, Philip may have remarried after John was born (she would only be ~ 19 when he was born).  This assumes that Amy died some time after John’s birth. There is no burial records for Amy after records started  in 1828 which suggest she died before this date.  If this is correct then it raises a new possibility. Up to this point I have assumed, based on Amy being approximately 18 when she married, that Philip had no children born after c. 1800. If Emma was a second wife then it extends the window for Philip’s children; this might include Martha Newell who married Simon Curlew in 1830 since based on the date of her marriage she was  likely born before 1814.  However, Martha is more likely to be a child of Philip’s son James who was a witness to the marriage or possibly even his younger son John  (more on James and John and their children below) .

Nov. 18, 1830 Simon CURLEW Bearneed Martha NEWELL Bearneed Charles Blackman James NEWELL, Edwd. FRENCH


Unfortunately, we have no burial records for either Philip or Amy which is not surprising since the earliest burial records start in 1828.  It is likely that Philip was buried in the old burial ground in the Dock which was located at the base of the hill east of the Newell land.

Photo of French Family Cemetery in Bareneed [Dock], Newfoundland from This burial ground was also used by the Batten and French families of the Dock (see:

As  I stated earlier, Philip and Amy had two sons (James and John)  that inherited land in ‘The Dock’. My 1971 research focused on these two sons and their descendants.  Philips son John (born c. 1793) was my gg-grandfather and because of this I had access to more family history and key documents like his Will so my research on this side of the family was more complete (more on this side later).

 James son of Philip (1785-1849) married  Margaret ?

I had much less information for Philips’ eldest son  James (born c. 1785) but I was able to establish the names and a few dates for some of his children.

Photo of my original 1971 tree for James son of Philip showing his children (see updated information below)

Given this my tree for James and his children was much less reliable than the one for his brother John (my gg-grandfather). The information for James’ grand children is even less reliable since most members of this side of the family had left the Dock before the end of the 19th century. Some subsequent research suggests that I may have missed some generations or mixed up ancestry for James’ grandchildren. The following discussion outlines and updates my research on his children.

As I indicated earlier Port-de-Grave Parish burial records indicate that James died in 1849 at which time he was 63 years old.

Surname First Name Date of Death Age at death Date of Burial
NEWELL James Mar. 31, 1849 63 years Apr. 2, 1849

Based on information from the baptism records of his children (see following) we know that James’ wife’s name was Margaret and that they were likely married sometime before 1816.

Richard son of James (1816-1893) married Wilmot Daw

The next documented reference we have for James is the baptism of his son Richard at St. Pauls’  Church, Harbour Grace in July 1816.

3 July 1816 Bear Need NEWELL James & Margaret Richard M

This son Richard married Wilmot Daw (Dawe) in 1841 (see below, note James as witness).

Dec. 16, 1841 Richard NEWELL Bachelor Bareneed Wilmot DAW Spinster Bareneed J. Vicars John DAW, James NEWELL

Richard and Wilmot had a daughter Mary Jane in 1861  and this was the only child I could find for them.

Sept 29, 1861 The Dock NEWELL Richard & Wilmot Mary Jane F Jas C. Harvey Dec 22, 1861 C of E Fisherman

However, in later research my cousin Ted identified several other children born prior to 1859 (start of Port de Grave baptism records); these were: Susanna b.1843; Margaret b. 1845; b. 1853 died age 17; Amy b. 1850 and Elizabeth Ann b. 1857.

Richard died in 1893 but I could not find a burial/death record for Wilmot.

June 8, 1893 Dock Old Age NEWELL Richard Church of England 78 years Bareneed Bareneed


Abraham son of James (1820-1878) married Ann Morgan

James and Margaret registered the baptism of another son Abraham at St. Paul’s in July 1820.

22 July 1820 Bareneed NEWELL James & Margaret Abraham M

We have a record of Abraham’s marriage to Ann Morgan in 1843 but no record of his death.

Nov. 23, 1843 Abraham NEWELL Bachelor Bareneed Ann MORGAN Spinster Port de Grave J. Vicars Philip NEWELL, Richard NEWELL, Joseph MORGAN

Based on my original tree Abraham had at lest two children: Abraham (father of Vera and William) and Robert.  In my original research I indicated that Abraham inherited the eastern most part (1/4) of  the land  that James inherited from his father (James son of Philip inherited the eastern half of Philip’s grant); this was likely based on information from my father John Robert Newell (b. 1908).

My cousin Ted indicates that Abraham died in 1878.

Both Richard and Abraham were in my 1971 tree but there is one other documented son for James and Margaret that I missed.

Isaac son of James (1822-1840)  never married

In January 1840,  Isaac Noel, son of James and Margaret, was buried at Bareneed; based on his age (17) when he died we know he was born c 1822 which would make him a younger brother of Richard and Abraham.

NOEL Isaac, son of James & Margaret NOEL Jan. 13, 1840 17 years Jan. 15, 1840

The remaining children I ascribed to  James  in my 1971 paper are based on indirect evidence.

 Philip son of James married Ann Butler

I had included Philip as a son of James in my original research; however, we have no direct evidence for this so we must rely on  indirect evidence . One of the few sources that document  aspects of the lives of James son of Philip and his children are the Annual Reports of the Newfoundland Church Society . These reports started in 1840 but the earliest I could locate was for 1847. The Society was intended to allow Newfoundlanders to contribute to the support of the Church since before this time the Newfoundland Church was considered as a Mission.

The report list subscribers (people who donated to the society)  by community. It should be noted that Bareneed had one of the first CofE churches in Conception Bay after Harbour Grace (see Decks Awash, Vol 15, No.2, 1986).  The Newfoundland Church Society Report of of 1847 list the following contributors in ‘The Dock’ :


Note: The Scrape is a beach just west of ‘The Dock’ in what is now known as Otterbury  and ‘The Ponds’ is an adjoining community just north of ‘The Dock’.

At this time the Newell family was the major contributor to the Church Society from ‘The Dock”.   We can assume that John Newell (15 shillings) was  John son of Philip (my gg-grandfather) and James (8 shillings 6) was James son of Philip (the two largest contributions for the Newell family).  I am assuming that the second John (5 shillings) must be John son of John (my g-grandfather) since he was the only John that we are aware of in this time period. This is a bit surprising considering this John would only be 19 at this time.  Richard could be Richard son of James (see above) born 1816 or Richard son of John born 1824 but I am guessing the son of John since the 1848 report only list one Newell in ‘The Dock’ referenced as ” Newell, R. (John)” who was likely Richard son of John. .  However, the person we are most interested in is Philip (5 shillings).  This is not Philip son of John, who was only a child at this time, so it was likely a son of James.  Reports for subsequent years are sporadic (available for 49, 50, 53, 54 & 55) but there were no further references to Philip in any of these!  One general comment is that John son of Philip and his sons appear to be either more dedicated to the CofE or better off financially.

During this period we do get a few other references to  Philip Newell as a witness to various marriages:

A Bareneed marriage 1842:

Nov. 22, 1842 John GARDINER Bachelor Bareneed Susannah CURLEW Spinster Bareneed J. Vicars John CURLEW, Philip NEWELL

a Clarkes Beach Methodist marriage 1843

July 27, 1843 John CORLUE Bearneed (sic) Adam Nightingale John Corlue
Port de Grave Ann GARDNER Bearneed (sic) Philip Newell

Perhaps the most telling evidence is a marriage record for Philip Newell of The Dock from 1844 which list James Newell as a witness.

Nov. 26, 1844 Philip NEWELL Bachelor The Dock Ann BUTLER Spinster Clarke’s Beach Johnstone Vicars James NEWELL, John BUTLER

Based on the date of his marriage this Philip would have almost certainly have been born prior to 1826  so definitely not Philip son of John.  The fact that Philip was a witness to a Methodist marriage in Clarkes Beach and married a girl from Clarles Beach suggest that his leanings might have been more Methodist than C of E. My original research list Philip’s children as John and George.  In my original research I indicated that Philip inherited the western most section (1/4) of the land his father had.


James son of James (c.1814-1896)

James Newell who died in 1898 at age 82, which indicates he was born c, 1814 (2 years before Richard), is another good candidate for a son of James.

Sep 14,1896 Dock Old Age NEWELL James Church of England 82 yrs Dock Bareneed

I have ascribed this James to James son of Philip based on his birth date and other information (land inherited); plus, even if Philip had a second wife it is unlikely that he would name another son James.  This is another case where reports of the Newfoundland Church Society can fill in some details. The James who contributed to the society in 1847 (see above) is likely James Sr. ; there was no data recorded for Port-de-Grave in 1848 and in 1849 (the year James Sr. died) the only Dock Newell recorded was likely Richard son of John (see earlier). However, starting in 1850 we have a James Newell contributing 3 shillings and 5 shillings in 1854. The last edition I could find with data for Bareneed was 1857 and this also had a James Newell.

James Newell was also a witness to a number of weddings in the 1860s:


Nov. 29, 1868 Bareneed Isaac NEWELL Bachelor The Dock Sarah MORGAN Spinster Coley’s Point Jas. C. Harvey James NEWELL, Sarah NEWELL


Dec. 8, 1868 Bareneed Jacob FRENCH Bachelor The Dock Sarah NEWELL Spinster The Dock Jas. C. Harvey James NEWELL, Emma BATTEN


Dec. 18, 1869 Bareneed John SNOW Northern River Mary FRENCH Widow The Dock Jas. C. Harvey James NEWELL, Mary NEWELL

In my original tree, based on information from my father and/or Harold Newell, I had two children for James. these were Joe (who married as Susie) and a Jane; it also shows Joe and Susie having two children Jake (Jacob) and William. In my original 1971 paper I indicated that James son of Jame inherited the center part of the land passed on to James son of Philip (between Philip to the west and Abraham to the east).  I also show Joe inheriting part of this land from his father.

In McAlpine’s 1894 Directory there is a listing for  James Newell, fisherman at the Dock.

There are several other family trees that include this James on the Internet.

One of the best documented was developed by Tina Newell (we corresponded in the past but I lost contact several years ago).  Tina has a well documented tree with roots leading to James Edward Newell (born Bareneed, 1874, died Bell Island, 1937).  This is the Edward Newell and family recorded in Bell Island census of  1921 who is listed as being born in Bareneed. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries many people from Conception Bay moved to Bell Island (located in the center of Conception Bay) to work at the Iron Mines.  Tina indicates that this James Edward had earlier lived in Mackinsons (10 km inland from ‘The Dock’). The move to Mackinsons might be related to work on the Conception Bay branch of the Newfoundland railway or might be some how related to the Coveyduck family of Port-de-Grave that had moved there in the 1880s (see:  Tina identifies James Edward as a son of Isaac Newell  (b. 1844, d. Cape Breton N.S. in 1915)  and grandson of  James Newell Jr. (1814-1895).

Another tre





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