William Freeman Newfoundland

My Ancestry DNA results suggest a distant DNA connection to people with the Knowles and Freeman names from Barnstaple, Mass. and Southern Nova Scotia (see My DNA Web Page). Both of these families were connected in Barnstaple and moved to Nova Scotia from the Barnstaple, Mass. area in the 1760s .  This paper presents my research into the Freeman name in Newfoundland.

My Ancestry DNA data suggest possible connections to people with the Freeman name in Salmon Cove, Trinity Bay (AKA Champneys West), Twillingate  and Fogo.   All of these families trace their roots in Newfoundland back to individuals who arrived in Newfoundland from the south coast of England (Devon, Dorset, Hampshire)  in the early 1800s.  There is also some research that suggest these families may be connected.  However, my research (see below) indicates that individuals with the Freeman name were in Newfoundland from the early 1700s and at least one family was established there by the mid 1700s. I have started developing a family tree for one of these early families centered around William Freeman  (see my Ancestry tree for William Freeman of Newfoundland)  who was baptized at the Congregational Church  in St. John’s ,Newfoundland in 1785.  In my tree I put William and several other possible siblings baptized at the same church in a similar time frame as children of William Freeman who was baptized in Newfoundland in 1755 (Anglican Church St. John’s).  The baptismal records for this 1755 William indicate that he was the son of Edward and Hannah. I also speculate that this Edward was a son of  Moses Freeman who was living in Placentia, Newfoundland in the mid 1700s. However, there is evidence that there were a number of other individuals with the Freeman name  living or visiting Newfoundland (Placentia, St. John’s and Harbour Grace) throughout the 1700s; for more information see the Appendix  Freeman Chronology Newfoundland 1700-1799  at the end of this Report.

I based my tree around William Freeman (b. 1785) since:

  • there was more documentation on him and his children;
  • William had strong connections to Port de Grave through his two wives; and
  • my research into this family (see below) has identified numerous possible connections between this family and people with possible ancestral connections to me.

I have not found any DNA connections to William, unless he is connected through the Freeman families of Salmon Cove or Twillingate  (see my research on the Wells family for  more information on John Freeman of Twillingate).  From my perspective one of the most interesting aspects of the lives of William and his ancestors is how they connect to people with the Newell name and other families connected to me. The following discussion outlines some of these connections.

The earliest reference to the Freeman name in Newfoudland is in Colonial records (CO 194/4 ) from 1706. It was a letter from the Inhabitants of “Consumption” Bay and was addressed to The Queen and is as follows:

They [the Inhabitants] beg that Major Lloyd be placed in the command of troops to be sent to Newfoundland against the Enemy. Here are some of the names, every fifth name was picked: William Boyes, James Ta??ell, Henry Edwards, John Freeman, Jonathon? Fanyon, Rielord? Gatrett?, Richard Stephens, Johnathon? Garbut?

Note #1: The publication Family Names of Newfoundland list a reference to Edward Freeman of St. John’s for 1706 in CO 194/22  but I can’t find this reference in published summaries of this document .

Note #2: In the late 18th century William Freeman and his family is mainly connected to St. John’s but also had strong connections to Conception Bay (Porte de Grave and Harbour Grace).

In May 1727 there is a reference to a “Nath. Freeman” in Colonial Office Records (CO 194/ 8) related to Placentia. In the same set of records there is a petition from Merchants of Bideford and Barnstaples trading to Placentia signed by Richard Newel.

Notes from Wiki: Placentia was first settled by Basque and French fishermen in the 16th century but in 1711, a British fleet almost annihilated the French at Placentia. In 1713 the French to abandon their Placentia Bay settlements and migrate to Louisbourg, and Placentia became a British possession. In the 18th century there were also a large number of settlers from the Channel Islands, from which , Jerseyside, a prominent section of the town, derives its name. During the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), control of Newfoundland once again became a major source of conflict between Britain, France and Spain who all pressed for a share in the valuable fishery there. The Battle of Signal Hill took place in Newfoundland in 1762 when a French force landed and tried to occupy the island, only to be repulsed by the British.

In 1753 and 1757 there were several references to a Moses Freeman at Placentia in Newfoundland Colonial records:

  • 13 Sept 1753: Petition of Moses Freeman requesting that John Barrett pay the debt he is owed.
  • 13 Sept 1753: Petition of Moses Freeman against Elish Roland regarding the rights to build on a certain piece of ground.
  • 17 Sept 1753: Moses Freeman obtained a license for keeping a public house.
  • 13 Sept 1757: Moses Freeman and Richard Spragg had their licenses for keeping a Public House renewed.
  • 16 Sept 1757: Richard Spragg, Moses Freeman, and Richard Allen were appointed Constables for the ensuing year

This Moses may well be the same Moses Freeman who was living in Louisbourg,  Nova Scotia in the 1760s (see  Freeman Chronology in Appendix below).  In 1758, near the start of the Seven Years War 1758, the French fortress of Louisbourg (main French stronghold in Nova Scotia) was captured by the English. Immediately after the defeat of the French in Nova Scotia the English started deporting  French Sellers (Acadians) opening up opportunities for English settlement in Nova Scotia.  It was during this period that families from Barnstaple, Mass (including Knowles and Freeman) moved to Nova Scotia.  In 1762, near the end of the War, a French fleet from France attacked Newfoundland and did considerable damage to the English settlements but were driven out in October. During 1762 many English settlers fled Newfoundland (see next section) and it would not be surprising if Moses moved to Louisbourg. It is noteworthy that both were involved in the liquor trade.

Perhaps the most interesting reference comes from a meeting  of the Selectmen of Boston, Mass. held on October 25, 1762. One topic of this meeting was a discussion of a group of new arrivals who lately came from Newfoundland Your Memorialists have accordingly made the enquiry and find they are truly necessitous Persons, and as they cannot meet with employ here are desirous to return but are not able to pay the passage of themselves and Familys, they therefore request some assistance. The list included the following:

  • Edward Freeman, and 3 children
  • Joseph Newell, his wife and a child.

Note: In June 1762 the French captured St. John’s  and attacked settlements in Conception and Trinity Bays. The French were driven out in Sept. which likely explains why the 19 families involved fled to Boston and wanted to return in October.

In my Freeman tree I made Edward a son of Moses but they may represent different lines; however, it is likely that that this Edward Freeman was the father of William Freeman Sr. of St. John’s and Joseph Newell was likely the Joseph Nowel/Newel who married Hannah Hoggins at St. John’s in 1759 and that same year was petitioning the Governor seting forth that he has a right to plantation / by his wife / situate in St. John’s Harbour.  Joseph and Hannah had a son Thomas Newell Baptized at St. John’s in 1763 (either born after Boston or Baptized after returning to Nfld.) who inherited to property in St John’s which he sold c 1820. See my  St. John’s Newells Web Page and my Ancestry tree  Joseph Newell of Newfoundland  for more info.

On 8 Oct. 1780,   Edward Freeman [poss son of William Sr.] was granted a specified plot of land on which to build a house with a garden, for having voluntarily taken up arms last winter for the defense of Nfld.  (See D’Alberti transcript, Vol. 1, p. 279.)

In December 1781 William Freeman Jr was married (C of E) in St John’s

Dec 22 1781 St. John’s William FREEMAN Mary THOMAS none given

and in 1783 “Old Edward Freeman” was buried at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist (St. John’s, Anglican).

Old Edward ?FREEMAN Aug 27 1783

In 1787 Edward Freeman (Son William Sr. ?) operated a school in Harbour Grace for the SPG:

In 1778-79 we hear of Edward Freeman, schoolmaster, with a salary of £ 10, who stayed two years (Newfoundland Quarterly 1977).

During the last two decades of the 18th century Edward and William Freeman were actively involved in the Congregational Church in St. John’s. Several Freeman children were baptized in the church during the 1780s (no parents given but poss children of William Sr, ?) and Edward Freeman was a trustee of the Church in 1790.  This church had strong connections to the Congregational Church in Massachusetts and John Jones, formerly of the Royal Artillery stationed in St. John’s, was ordained by a presbytery of dissenting ministers in Plymouth in 1779 and returned to St. John’s in 1779 as the first minister of the Church.  During the ministry of the Rev. W. J. Hyde, 1813 to 1816, a Missionary Society was established with branches at Carbonear, Brigus, Port de Grave, Grates Cove and Twillingate. Following the departure of some prominent members to the United States after the fire of 1817 the Meeting House was without a minister for two years and the congregation dwindled.  Church records show that the Freeman family were involved with this church from the start  up to 1813 (last record with Freeman name was the birth of John son of William [Jr] and Hannah in 1813). Several names associated with this Church have possible connections to my family.

In 1807 a Robert Andrews (my father’s mother was Clara Andrews from Port de Grave) married Ann Freeman at St. John’s (C of E).  William Freeman was a witness to the wedding and Ann was likely a daughter of William Freeman Sr..  This marriage was held in the Anglican Church in St. John’s but a year later their son William was  baptized in the Congregational Church:

William ANDREWS Robert & Ann FREEMAN not given St. Johns bap Feb 13 1808 Married 1807 Anglican Cathedral (Misc. Box 6)

During this period there were several Andrews associated with the Congregational Church in St. John’s and later with the Methodist Church. For example, in 1810 Henry Andrews and Elizabeth Andrews conveyed land to the Congregational Church and Jane Andrews is identified as a  pioneer Methodists in St. John’s in 1815 (see  Pioneer Methodists).    Several clues point to a link between several of the Andrews associated with the Congregational Church any my grandmothers ancestors.

In my Newell Family of Bareneed tree I identify Henry Andrews of Ship Cove, Port de Grave as my 4X great grandfather. Henry died in 1811 and a of his death was published in St. John’s Royal Gazette of October 1811:

HENRY ANDREWS, of Port de Grave, Newfoundland, but late of St. John’s, Shipwright, deceased. ALL Persons having just demands against the Estate of HENRY ANDREWS, of Port de Grave, Newfoundland, but late of St. John’s, Shipwright, deceased apply to John MASTERS or John FRY.  

The John Masters referenced in this document was a witness at the wedding of Robert Andrews and Ann Freeman in 1807 (see Pioneer Methodist  for more information on him). John Fry (see Henry Andrews Doc. above) married Mary Andrews at the Congregational Church in 1897 with William Andrews as a witness.  John Parsons, a witness at Robert Andrews wedding, was from Port de Grave (home of Henry Andrews) and owned a property there adjoining property of William Freeman (see 1830 Will of Anne Batten, sister-in-law to William Freeman).  In Feb. 1812 Ann Andrews married Robert Searl at the St. John’s, Congregational church with William Freeman and John Parsons as witnesses. This looks like Robert’s wife remarrying;  if so Robert Andrews died sometime between 1808 and 1812 (the death of a Robert Andrews recorded at Harbour Grace in 1811). This suggest that this Robert is the son of Henry and Mary Baptized at Harbour Grace in 1778; however, there are several other candidates for this Robert. In my Newell Family of Bareneed Tree I  also identified another Robert (2) who married Jemima Rossiter in St. John’s as a candidate for  Henry’s son! Other Ancestry trees put Robert (2) as a son of Henry and I get DNA links to him but I think there is a better case for Robert (1). I considered the possibility of the same person with two wives but this does not fit the facts. In the same time period (1809) a 3rd Robert Andrews married Jane Andrews (maiden name Andrews which might give another DNA link) at Harbour Grace.

28 Dec 1809 Harbour Grace ANDREWS Robert Bachelor Harbour Grace L.A. Auspach William Andrews
ANDREWS Jane Spinster Harbour Grace Charles Garland

It is clear that not all of these are children of Henry who died in 1811.  Some might be close relatives (e.g. nephews) of Henry. There were a number of other Andrews in Port de Grave and Harbour Grace  around that time.

There are also Andrews links to the Knowles of Shelburne, Nova Scotia. In 1828 a William Andrews  of Wood Harbour, Shelburne, Nova Scotia transferred land to Jonathan Knowles and Harvey Doane (another Barnstaple family), his brother-in-law.  This does not establish a connection; however, it might be possible that there was a connection between my Andrews ancestors and the Freeman and Knowles families of Nova Scotia. I do get a significant  number of Andrews DNA links that point to Massachusetts and Nova Scotia but these could reflect later migration from Newfoundland.

Another member of the early Congregational church in St. John’s  with potential links to me was Daniel Noel/Newel of St. John’s and Grates Cove. Apart from the name there are a number of DNA links that point to his descendants; however, there is a possibility that these might be through my Snelgrove ancestors (see My DNA page).  Daniel married Elizabeth Benson in the Anglican Cathedral in 1799 with John Jones as a witness.

Oct 10 1799 St. John’s Daniel NEWEL Elizabeth BENSON John Jones, Mary Moors

One month later, on November 18 1799, Daniel Newel witnessed the signature John Jones, the founding minister of the Congregational Church, placed on his Will.  In 1802 Daniel (now Noel) and Elizabeth had their daughter baptized in the Congregation Church.

Rachel NOEL Dan. & Elizabeth BENSON not given St. Johns bap May 23 1802

Some time after this Daniel and Elizabeth moved (or returned) to Grate’s Cove.

There was one other Newell family associated with the early Congregation Church in St. John’s. This was Nicholas and Frances Newell who had a son George baptized in 1803.

George NEWEL Nicholas & Frances b Dec 20 1803 St. Johns bap Jan 15 1804

There are no other references in the Congregation Church records but in 1819 a Frances and George witnessed a marriage in the Anglican church (Ann poss a Newell before marriage to Brown).

Nov 1 1819 St. John’s Henry BELLAMY, bach, St Johns Anne BROWN, widow, St Johns Frances Newell, George Newell

Nicholas was almost certainly the Nicholas Newell, St. John’s Planter, who married Frances, the eldest daughter of the late Robert Mugford of Port de Grave, Planter deceased.  Robert Mugford’s Will of 1772 left his land in Port de Grave to his wife Ann and then, after Ann’s death, to his daughter Frances. Mugford died about 1794 and Ann, his widow died in 1813,  but she had leased the property for 31 years to John Walsh who assigned it to Pete MacPherson [Port de Grave Merchant 1817, poss from Bareneed in 1825 , links to Congregational Church and  related to William Freeman via his 1st & 2nd wives].   In 1817, Nicholas Newell, a St. John’s planter, testified that he was married to Frances, the eldest daughter of Robert Mugford, a deceased Port de Grave planter, and that by Mugford’s 1793 Will Frances  was the rightful owner of Mugford’s property in Port de Grave.  Chief Justice Tucker returned the property to the Newells. From the above we can speculate that Nicholas and Frances may have been married in Port de Grave (or Harbour Grace) some time before 1802.

The connection between William Freeman and the family of Nicholas and Francis Newell relates to the Newell property in Port de Grave.  In 1836 William Freeman applied to the courts for letters of administration of the estate of Frances Newell who had died two years earlier. This request was based on the sum of five pounds owing to Freeman from her estate which included property in Port de Grave.

To the Honourable the Chief Justice and the Assistant judges of the Supreme Court.

The petition of William Freeman of St. John’s Carpenter humbly sheweth
that Frances Newell late of St. John’s aforesaid widow died about two years hence, without having made and published any last will or Testament, and being possessed at the time of her death of a piece of ground with a house and improvements thereon situate at Port de Grave in the Northern District of the value of about one hundred pounds.

That the said intestate left her surviving four sons and three daughters, all of full age and residing within the Central District – That the estate of the said intestate is indebted to your petitioner in the sum of about five pounds, and in order to obtain payment of which your petitioner frequently applied to the said sons of the intestate and requested them to file for letters of administration of the estate of the said intestate, but that they have always declined and refused so to do.

That the names of the sons of the said intestate are severally, John – Robert – Nicholas and George, and the names of the said daughters are Ann – Margaret and Abigail, all of whom are married –

Your petitioner therefore humbly prays that your Lordships will be pleased to grant him letters of administration of the said estate, upon his ??? the necessary security, and as in duty bound he will ever pray &c.
Wm. Freeman

Sworn  at St. John’s , tenth day of July 1836.

While some researchers have speculated that Nicholas Newell was related to both the Newells of Pouch Cove and the Newells  of ‘The Dock’ I have not found any direct evidence for the latter connection.  Up until recently I did suspect a DNA connection through his daughter Margaret who married Richard Cross but after more in-depth research I now suspect that this connection comes from Grace Crummey from Western Bay who married John Minchin Collins, a Cross descendant, and ancestor of my DNA matches. One of my great grandmothers was Harriett Comby /Cumby and based on numerous DNA connections her ancestors were likely Crummeys from Western Bay.

In 1806 William Freeman  Jr. married Hannah Butler of Port de Grave (b. 1786).  The Butler family was established in Port de Grave by 1675 and at that time had had 20 servants, boats, stages, 50 cattle and 20 sheep.  The Will of Anne Batten nee Butler (sister of Hannah wife of William Freeman) dated 1830 indicates that William Freeman had a plantation in Port de Grave adjoining the Butlers (see my working family tree for Anne based on this Will). Anne Batten’s husband represents another potential connection to my family since her Will suggest he was related to Samuel Batten and John Batten Sr. of Bareneed. Anne was also connected (through nieces and nephews since their son died) to many Port de Grave families with potential connections to me. When Thomas Butler died  William Freeman was an executor to his estate:

THE ROYAL GAZETTE AND NEWFOUNDLAND ADVERTISER 1810-1814: Claimants against the estate of Thomas BUTLER, late of Port de Grave, Newfoundland, Planter, deceased, apply to John BUTLER or William FREEMAN.

Some time around 1813 William Freeman [Jr] became involved in the Wesleyan Methodist Church in St. John’s (see: Pioneer Methodists).

Methodist theology had arrived in Newfoundland in 1766 with Laurence Coughlan, a priest and missionary in the established church (SPG), but one influenced by Wesley (he had worked for Wesley in Ireland).  Coughlan had been invited by people from Harbour Grace, Mosquito, and Carbonear and preached in Conception Bay North. Over the next five decades a series of SPG missionaries with Methodist leanings were missionaries in this area. By 1815 the Methodist were already established in Conception Bay North (e.g. Carbonear, Island Cove, Blackhead and Port de Grave) but had not made significant progress in St. John’s. Around that time several Methodist from Harbour Grace reportedly moved to St. John’s and in that list was William Freeman  (see Newfoundland and its Missionaries, 1866).  It is likely that at this time William Freeman was operating in both Conception Bay North (Port de Grave)  and St. John’s  and simply shifted his religious allegiances (the Methodist described the Congregational Church in St. John’s as “Ultra Calvinistic“).  In 1816 a Methodist chapel was built in St. John’s with the Rev. John Pickavant as minister.

William Freeman’s first wife Hannah died in 1831 and in 1834 William married Amelia Frederica Furneaux of Port de Grave (b. 1798).  Amelia Freeman nee Furneaux  was involved in the Methodist Church at the time of her marriage to William but well before that a James Furneaux  was  an officer in the Congregational Church and left it to join the Methodists (see Pioneer Methodists).

In 1834, Jane Furneaux, a widow in Port de Grave wrote he Will in which she references her daughter Amelia Freeman.  Janes’s husband (Amelia’s father) was Joseph Furneaux who  came to Newfoundland in 1783 from Dartmouth, England, representing an English fish company [Newman and Roope] for 7 years then going into the fish business himself. He married Jane Sheppard in 1791 and they had 8  children see http://www.govhouse.nl.ca/news/2008/feb4-speech.html.

Court cases from the late 1700s indicate that my GGG Grandfather Philip Newell  (AKA Noel) had dealings with Newman and Roope and as a result with their agent Joseph Furneaux . During this period there was also a Joseph Furneaux (this Joseph or his Father) who was a Ships Captain associate with John Newall, a Bristol merchant operating (up to his bankruptcy in 1805) out of Harbour Grace  (see my paper on him under UK Newells).


Freeman Chronology Newfoundland 1700-1799

1706 Conception Bay; John Freeman; in list of Inhabitants of “Consumption” Bay (CO 194/4)

1712 Nfld.; Edward Freeman; inhabitant of Nfld.  (KM Files MUN)

1726 Ferryland; Nat Freeman; Capt of Pelican from Rhode Is. at Ferryland (KM Files MUN)

1727 Placentia; Nath. Freeman; Likely New England Master (CO 194/8)

1729 Poole, Dorset; John Freeman; married Rebecca Moors

1748 St. John’s; Isaac Freeman; Master Boston Privateer at St. John’s

1753 Placentia, Moses Freeman; said John Barrett encouraged his servant to desert

1753 St. John’s NL; John Poss Freeman; Baptized (Ang) son of Edward & Hannah

1755 St. John’s NL; William Freeman; Baptized (Ang) son of Edward & Hannah

1757 Placentia; Moses Freeman; license for Public House & appointed Constable

1759 St. John’s; Edward & Peter Freeman; granted land for cultivation

1760 St. John’s; Old Mrs Ann FREEMAN; Buried Ang

1761 Liverpool NS;  Elisha Freeman, moved his family to NS from Massachusetts

1762 Boston-Bristol; Jonathan freeman, Master ship registered Boston

1762 Boston; Edward Freeman & 3 children; In Boston returning to Nfld.

1762 (Nov) St. John’s; Peter Freeman; on Jury for Rape trial after French left

1766 St. John’s; Ensign Freeman; walked to Torbay

1766 Louisbourg, NS; Moses Freeman; protest tax on liquor

1767 Halifax-Quebec; William Freeman; Master Sloop  DEFIANCE

1767 Labrador; Isaac Freeman; Master New England whaling vessel Speedwell

1768 Louisbourg, NS; Moses Freeman; Resident Louisbourg

1769 St. John’s; Peter Freeman; disobeyed Gov. (died 1775)

1770 Boston- St. John’s , John Freeman; Master ship ‘Marg’

1770 Louisbourg, NS, Moses Freeman, Owner ship ‘Marg’

1771  Boston – Quebec; Constant Freeman;  Master Sloop Dove

1772 Louisbourg, NS; Moses Freeman; Resident Louisbourg

1775 St. John’s NL; Peter Freeman; buried Ang.

1775 Nova Scotia poss Liverpool; William Freeman; Oath of loyalty to crown

1778 Harbour Grace; Edward Freeman; Schoolmaster for SPG school

1780 Harbour Grace; Edward Freeman; no longer teaching at school

1780 St. John’s NL; Edward Freeman; granted land for having voluntarily taken up arms

1781 St. John’s; William Freeman; married Mary Thomas

1783 St. John’s; Old Edward FREEMAN; buried Anglican Cathedral

1783 St. John’s; Edward Freeman; Baptized Congregational Church

1784 St. John’s; Edward Freeman; had son Felix Baptized Ang.

1785 St. John’s; William Freeman; Baptized Congregational Church

1785 St. John’s; “Elenor” FREEMAN; buried Ang.

1787 St. John’s; John Freeman; previous owner of land for Congregational Church

1787 St. John’s; Peter Freeman; Baptized Congregational Church

1788 St. John’s; Edward Freeman; gave £10 to Congregational Church

1789 St. John’s; Ebenezer Freeman; Baptized Congregational Church

1790 St. John’s; Jacob Freeman; Baptized Congregational Church

1791 St. John’s; Edward Freeman; transferred land to Congregational Church

1799 St. John’s; William Freeman;  jailor and [town] crier