Burnt Head

Burnt Head Newells

Burnt Head, Newfoundland is a historic village (now part of the Town of Cupids) situated on the North West coast of Conception Bay. Burnt Head is approximately 2 miles from ‘The Dock’ by boat.

A survey of Fishing Rooms conducted in 1805 (see note below) shows that Isaac Noel (Newell) was established in Burnt Head by 1790 (see Return of Possessions held in Conception Bay 1805 below)

Isaac Noel 246 yds. from N.E. to S.W. bounded on the N.E. by Wm. Bryan on the S.W. by the woods, 200 yds. from H.W.M. to the westward, bounded on the W. by the woods 1 Stage 1 Flake 1 House 2 Gardens. Burnt Head I. Noel Cut and cleared agreeable to Act Wm.3 Chap.25.Sec.7 I Noel Not leased or sold 1790

Re above: On August 21, 1804, in an effort to help avoid frequent disputes regarding possession and rights of Fishing Rooms, Beaches, Flakes and land, Governor Erasmus Gower issued an order directing his Surrogates around the Island of Newfoundland to take an exact account of all Fishing Rooms, Wharves, Beaches, Flakes, etc… within 200 yards from the High Water Mark and register them in a book. The claims of every Merchant, Planter, and Boat Keeper to the land he occupied were to be clearly defined. This official Register of Fishing Rooms was to be admitted as evidence in all land claim disputes.


Isaac’s grant for Burnt Head was dated four years after Philip Noel (Newell) of ‘The Dock’ and both families were identified as Noel in the 1805 survey but in later records are recorded as Newell. My family tradition suggest that the Newells of ‘The Dock’ are related to the Newells of Burnt Head and given the proximity in time and space of  Philip and Isaac establishing their plantations  this would seem logical; perhaps they were brothers or cousins.

The next record we have for Isaac comes from a survey of the inhabitants of Conception Bay conducted in 1817.  Burnt Head was included with Cupids in this survey (see below).

Inhabitants in Cupids of September 1817

Housekeeper Name Man Woman Children M Servants W Servants Suppliers Name Means of Providing
Isack Nule 1 1 5 1 W Kemp Distressed


At the time of this survey Isaac was well established with a wife, five children and one man servant. Planters like Isaac generally employed servants to assist with the fishery. In the survey he is described as “Distressed” which is not surprising since the previous year 1816 (known as the Year without Summer in New England) was an especially difficult time (noted for a poor fishery and riots in St. John’s). Assuming that Isaac was at least 20 at the time of his grant in 1790 then he would have been 47 or older in 1817. Isaac’s oldest children were likely born at the time of the survey in 1805 (children were not recorded in 1805) and by 1817 would have been old enough to help with the fishery which may be why he only had one servant.

A voters list compiled in 1835 provides our next snapshot of the residents of Burnt Head. This list has two Newells (William and George) listed for Burnt Head. This same Voters List for ‘The Dock’ lists James and John Newell who were the sons of Philip so these are likely sons of Isaac (among the 5 children noted in 1817). Assuming that Issac was at least 20 in 1790 would have made him over 65 in 1835 so we can assume he was no longer alive or perhaps living with one of his children.  If William and George were born prior to 1805 then they would be in their thirties.

NEWELL, William Burnt Head
NEWELL, George Burnt Head

Lovell’s Directory compiled in 1871 lists the following Newells in Burnt Head:

  • Newell Isaac, fisherman
  • Newell John, fisherman
  • Newel Robert
  • Newel George, fisherman


Based on the previous assumptions regarding the age of William and George (1835 voters list) we can assume that Isaac, John an Robert were their sons and George might be either a son or possibly the George from 1835.

McAlpine’s 1894-97 Directory Port De Grave District


NEWELL John fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL George fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL George fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Isaac fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL William fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Jacob fisherman Burnt Head


McAlpine’s 1898 Directory

NEWELL John fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Geo fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL John jr. fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Isaac fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Edward fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Jas fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Archibald fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Wm. fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Jacob fisherman Burnt Head
NEWELL Mrs. wid Burnt Head


Note John 1894-97  and 1898 is likely the John listed in 1871 (1832-1904) while 1898 John Jr. likely John of WWI born 1876 and married 1897.

McAlpine’s 1904 Directory

NEWELL Archibald fisherman
NEWELL Edward fisherman
NEWELL George fisherman
NEWELL Isaac fisherman
NEWELL Jacob fisherman
NEWELL Wm James fisherman
NEWELL John fisherman
NEWELL Wm fisherman


Following photo shows the Coastline in Burnt Head

To Be Continued