Trinity & Bonavista

Newells of Bonavista & Trinity, Newfoundland


Some of the earliest records of the Newell family in Newfoundland are from Trinity and Bonavista, Newfoundland which are approx 100 km north of  ‘The Dock’ (see map below).


Newells first started settling in this area in the late 17th century, a century before Philip Newell settled in “The Dock”. A census conducted in 1675   enumerated two Thomas Newells: one at English Harbour [Trinity Bay] was married with a son and a daughter, nine men servants, two boats, a stage and a trainvat [for processing oil]; the other at Bonavista with five men, one boat and a stage was not married (see Francis  I. W. Jones, Summer 1999 issue of the Newfoundland Ancestor). 

A list of Shipps Makinge Fishinge Voyages  to the area between English Harbour, Trinity Bay and Bonavista compiled in 1678  list a Nicho Newole (Nicholas Newell?) as master of a ship from Brixsom [Brixham, Devon].
ffrom English Harb to Port Bonavista is 14 leaugs and from thence to Cape Bonavista 2 leaugs:
Master Ship Port Country
Nicho Newole Brixon mar? Brixsom England.


1678 Thomas Newell not listed instead there appears a Thomas Newman, clearly written and without a family. Thomas Newell is listed in English Harbour with a wife, one son and one daughter.

Bonavista Story’s List, 1681 (CO 1/47 f. 113 – 122)

Ship Home Port Master or Planter [TC Notes]
Thomas Newell. Planter /Thomas ?Jr?

Letter from Wm Coch of Bonavista to Col. Norris 7 Sep. 1698.

I think it my duty to acquaint your Honour that to the north side of this bay are many extraordinary harbours and better fishing; one William Wyng has fished there some years (it being 14 leagues NWN from this place) who has still increased the inhabitants of this place very considerably, and this year one Nowill(Newell) has been that way who has more fish for his two boats than they have for shallops, so that next summer severall of the inhabitants of this harbour design to remove thither and their masters of ships that have fished there this year intend to be likewise, for it is certain the fewer boats are kept in a place the better the fishing.




This type of evidence makes this area a prime candidate for the origin of the Newells of “The Dock”; however, none of the researchers who have researched this area have identified a link.  My father (John Robert Andrews Newell) did suggest that there might be a connection with the Newells of Trinity; however, this might have been through a later marriage.



The generalized comparison and intercensal changes of surnames in
Figure 5.3 illustrate that six surnames out of twenty-two for the
period 1675-77 bridged the interval to 1708 when Bonavista Bay had
twenty-three planter surnames; but only four of the latter were
represented among seventy-nine surnames recorded in 1805
(Newell, Skeffington, Shambler, and Walkham). Two of these
(Newell and Shambler) appear to be of seventeenth-century origin.

A few surnames disappear from some settlements and were established elsewhere later.

The Rowe family moved from Trinity (1750s) to
Hearf s Content (1801). The only snrnames in 1801 which were found
across the bay were Ash (Trinity, Oíd Perlican), Green (Trinity, Oíd
Perlican, Hearfs Content), Moores (Trinity, Hearf s Content), Newell
(Trinity, Hearfs Content), Pinhorn (Trinity, Silly Cove), Piercey and
Read. None of these surnames, however, match those disappearing
from the Trinity area between 1753 and 1801. 

In Bonavista Bay the interval survivals from twenty-two
listed in 1675-77 to twenty-three in 1708 included six surnames
(Brent, Gantlett, Knight, Newell, Shambler, and lilley). According to
the súmame evidence, inter bay movements account for only a small
proportion of these changes, such as the Tavemer family moving
from Bay de Verde, Conception Bay, to Trinity Bay in the 1677-1708
interval, and the migration of Thomas Newell from Trinity Harbour
and George Talbot from English Harbour, each to Bonavista 1675-77;
but only Newell was recorded at Bonavista (Green Island) in 1708.


Source: Hancock 2009.



Hopefully, I will get an opportunity to revisit this topic in the future; however, here are some links to the early history of Bonavista and Trinity with Newell references:

Here are some links to the Newells of Trinity, Nfld.

see also: Francis I. W. Jones, “The Newell Family,” Newfoundland Ancestor, XV, (Summer 1999), 61-65. (see following fr more info: