Beginning in 1729, naval governors were selected to oversee Newfoundland's political, legal, and military affairs. They were appointed by the British government to represent its interests and enforce its authority within the colony. Initially governors only lived on the island for part of the year – usually from about July until November. It was 1817 before an appointed governor actually stayed in Newfoundland over the winter. These naval governors were officers in the Royal Navy so they also commanded the naval squadron safeguarding British fleets fishing along the Newfoundland coast and on its offshore fishing banks. To assist the Governor, a number of junior naval officers were appointed as Deputy Governors or Surrogates to oversee affairs in various Newfoundland districts. These Surrogates acted as judges to settle disputes and presided over autumn quarter sessions - termed a surrogate court - usually with the assistance of civil justices of the peace. About 1825, naval governors and surrogates were phased out and replaced by resident civil governors assisted by local magistrates, judges, and justices of the peace.
Various records pertaining to colonial government from the early 1700s onward have survived and provide a glimpse of the day to day affairs of early Newfoundland. Most of those references are contained within a primary collection which is generally referred to as The CO194 Papers supplemented by a secondary collection known as The Colonial Secretary's Letterbook. The items below have been transcribed from these collections.
Colonial Office Records.
Documented land transactions at, or pertaining to residents of, Caplin Bay.
Colonial Secretary's Letterbook (1771 - 1774) - GN2/1/A - Volume 5, Pages 180 - 181: Land Grant to Thomas Nash & Roger McGraugh
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© Kevin Reddigan (2002 - 2017)
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