Terre Neuve was the original French name for the island of Newfoundland. In 1655, the French, who controlled more than half of the island of Newfoundland, made Placentia (French: Plaisance) their capital while the English were based in Conception Bay and St. John’s (see map below).
The French built Fort Plaisance in 1662 and up until 1713 Placentia was the largest and most prosperous French settlement in Terre Neuve. In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht forced the French to abandon their Placentia Bay settlements and migrate to Louisbourg in Cape Breton and Placentia became a British possession. Many of the French fishermen who had to abandon the fisheries in Placentia ended up at the fisheries in Isle Royale, otherwise known as Cape Breton Island. The Treaty of Utrecht also allowed the French to fish (but not settle) along the north coast of Newfoundland between Cape Bonavista and Point Riche This area known as the French Shore had been frequented by fishermen from Brittany since the early 16th century. In the 1783 Treaty of Versailles, the boundary points of the French Shore were changed to Cape St. John and Cape Ray (see Map below). In 1904 the French relinquished their rights on the French Shore.
In the first half of the nineteenth century Acadian and Scottish residents of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia moved to the southwest coast of Newfoundland. This migration left it mark on the culture of Newfoundland and the highest proportion of the people in Newfoundland with French roots is found in area around St. George’s Bay on the west coast of Newfoundland .
The publicatin Excursions In and About Newfoundland During the Years 1839 and 1840 by Joseph Beete Jukes desceibes St. George’s Bay as follows:
St. George’s is a very fine bay, rapidly narrowing towards the head, with two straight shores, each of which affords good anchorage. … The population seemed to be about half French, and the rest English, Jerseymen, and a few Indians. There might be perhaps 500 or 600 people at this time, but these are mostly transitory inhabitants. The French leave in November to return in May, and most of the others retire either to more distant settlements or to houses in the woods on the opposite shore during the winter. There were three or four schooners at anchor, and an old brig, waiting to take fish to St. Pierre.
While researching DNA links for Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (home of Captain James Knowles,)I started noting a number of matches to the le Jeune / lejeune (AKA Young) name. D’Entremont in his “Histoire du Cap-Sable, 1763”, states the first Lejeune (Pierre) plus his French wife and children arrived in Acadia before or during the time of Isaac de Razilly (1632-1635). Pierre Lejeune had a son, Pierre Lejeune dit Briard, who in 1689 was a fur trader in the Cape Sable region (near Barrington). This Pierre married a Mi’maw woman and his descendants settled in La Heve Nova Scotia (near Lunenburg). The family was dispersed following the fall of Louisbourg in 1758. One branch of the le Jeune / lejeune family moved to Little Bras d’Or, Cape Breton, NS and then (c 1820s) to Sandy Point, on the west coast of Newfoundland. Some of these later changed their name to Young (see: Family names of the Island of Newfoundland – Young and ).
Searching my matches for Sandy Point I find names like Picot, Messervey (Meserve), Renouf, leRoux and Lefillatre which are all names associated with the Channel Islands (Channel Islanders were early settlers of Conception Bay). I also get a number of matches to Lejune (aka le June and Young) from Sandy Point, Newfoundland. My Newell cousins also get a large number of matches to this town. What makes this unusual is that Sandy Point was a small (now abandoned), isolated, community on the opposite side of Newfoundland from where my relatives lived! However, in the 1700’s and 1800’s, Sandy Point was the commercial center of the West Coast of Newfoundland. Sandy Point is described as having a small population of multi-cultural and multi-lingual residents including Mi’kmaq, English, Jersey, and French residents (Wiki).
I get over 50 DNA matches to the Lejeune name and Nova Scotia many leading back to Germain LeJeune (son of Pierre Lejeune dit Briard) born in Port Royal or Pisiguit, Acadia (inland from Halifax, see map below).
The Picot family of Bareneed (home of my Newell ancestors) may also be related to the John Picot (1820-1860) who lived and died at Sandy Point, Newfoundland, and married Amelia Amy Haynes (1822-1875) from Somerset, was almost certainly a Jersey emigrant. John and Amelia had six children between 1848 and 1860.
Channel Islanders may have also played a part in linking Placentia and Acadia. In the 18th century there were also a large number of settlers from the Channel Islands, at Placentia from which , Jerseyside, a prominent section of the town, derives its name (Wiki). In a study of the “Anglo-Normans” [Channel Islanders] the author, Frenette, states that: from their base in Newfoundland, the Anglo-Normans moved quickly into the Gulf of St. Lawrence following Canada’s final cession to the English in 1763, taking advantage of their knowledge of French to form alliances with the Acadians.
In my discussion of Ancestry DNA links to Newfoundland I researched the family of William Freeman of Newfoundland. One possible branch of this family, the Freeman family of Placentia, Newfoundland, may be a link between the New England settlers, the Acadians and Newfoundland.
Placentia, Newfoundland 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 abandoned their Placentia Bay settlements and migrate to Louisbourg, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and Placentia became a British possession. Many of the French fishermen who had to abandon the fisheries in Placentia ended up at the fisheries in Isle Royale, otherwise known as Cape Breton Island (see Wiki).
In my research on William Freeman (see earlier discussion) I mapped out some key events related to the Freeman name including:
- 1726 a Nat Freeman; Capt of Pelican from Rhode Is. was at Ferryland, Newfoundland;
- May 1727 there is a reference to a “Nath. Freeman” in Colonial Office Records (CO 194/ 8) at Placentia (in the same set of records there is a petition from Merchants of Bideford and Barnstaples [UK] trading to Placentia signed by Richard Newel);
- 1748 Isaac Freeman; Master Boston Privateer at St. John’s
- 1757 Moses Freeman received a license for Public House at Placentia and was appointed Constable;
- 1761 Elisha Freeman, moved his family to Liverpool Nova Scotia from Massachusetts;
- 1762 Edward Freeman and Joseph Newell from Newfoundland travel to Boston (see earlier discussion);
- 1766 Moses Freeman protested a tax on liquor at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia;
- 1768 Moses Freeman was recorded as a resident of Louisbourg.