Wills

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In addition to the wills that are included in the various volumes at the Registry of Deeds, there is a separate collection of wills that may be researched at The Rooms Provincial Archives, 9 Bonaventure Ave., St. John's, NL. These wills, which are on microfilm, consist of an index and six volumes. The index is an alphabetical surname listing, covering the years from about 1824 to 1962. The six volumes, which contain will transcripts from about 1824 to 1900, are accessible to the general public and may be searched free of charge. Will transcripts, for years after 1900, are held at the Probate Office, Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Court House, Duckworth Street, St. John's, NL. These wills are not directly accessible to the general public, but searches can be carried out by the staff. A fee is charged for each search, based on information given to the staff by the researcher.

Quite often in Newfoundland, wills were never probated. Some wills were just passed down from generation to generation and left in possession of a member of the family, or in the old house of its deceased owner. These wills are valuable resources that shed additional light on the structure of the family at the time they were written. Of course, they also provide clues to land ownership, kinships, marriages, etc.

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Wills 1824 - 1962

Probated wills pertaining to Caplin Bay.

  • Will of the Very Rev. Thomas Anthony Ewer - Volume 1 - Folio 149.  (Courtesy of Newfoundland's Grand Banks Site.)
    Father Thomas Anthony Ewer served as parish priest at Ferryland from 1789 to about 1806. He was later transferred to Harbour Grace Parish, where he served until his death in 1833. While at Ferryland, he had purchased, at public auction, the farm of a bankrupt Ferryland dealer, James Shortall. Apparently when he left Ferryland, he held on to the property, but allowed it to be used by members of the Roman Catholic clergy there. In his will, he gave specific instructions as to what was to be done with this property; "I do now also particularly order and request that my executors shall without delay enter upon or take possession of the farm of Scoggins situated near Ferryland, and sell the said farm now in the possession of Revd. Timothy Brown. The money so realised after the sale of said farm of Scoggins be also converted with what may be found here for the purpose of educating one or more students for the Catholic priesthood of this Island. The papers appertaining to said farm of Scoggins when it was purchased by me are still in my care & can be examined by my executors." It is obvious that Father Ewer regarded this farm as his own personal property, however, it appears that the land was retained for use by the Roman Catholic clergy of Ferryland Parish. This property, in more recent times, was usually known as "The Priest's Farm". In the 1870s, a new RC cemetery was enclosed at the western end of the property, and Baltimore High School was built there in the 1960s. Throughout the years, the farm has also been used for sporting events and as a campground for cadets from the RC school system in St. John's.
  • Will of John Morry - Volume 1 - Folio 273.  (Courtesy of Newfoundland's Grand Banks Site.)
    On Christmas Eve of 1828, John Morry wrote a letter at Caplin Bay, informing his uncle Matthew Morry (the second) of what business arrangements he had already made for the winter, as well as, what agreements were in place, with various people, for the start of the following fishing season. He relates that he will shortly leave for England, and states that if an accident should happen to him, this letter was to be regarded as his last will and testament. His wish was to leave all of his money to his first cousin, John Morry, son of Matthew, and all his business property to his uncle Matthew. John Morry actually survived this voyage (and probably many more) but when he died in 1837, at the young age of 37, this letter was presented as the only known will for his estate. After some legal delays, the document was accepted by the courts as the valid last will and testament of John Morry.
  • Will of Andrew Keough - Volume 10 - Folio 310.  (Courtesy of Newfoundland's Grand Banks Site.)
    This is a transcript of the will of Andrew Keough, son of Edward Keough from Co. Wexford, Ireland, one of the early Stone Island settlers. Although Andrew had been married twice, his only living heir was his son James O'Connell Keough, from his second marriage. Another son and a daughter, from his second marriage, had died when they were very young.
  • Will of Patrick Power - Volume 11 - Folio 127.  (Courtesy of Newfoundland's Grand Banks Site.)
    This will was written on October 30, 1911 and probated on June 12, 1918. According to the Vital Statistic records, Patrick Power died on April 9, 1918. His wife Sarah (Keough) Power, who had been left everything in the will, died three days later on April 12, 1918. The Michael Power mentioned in the will was Patrick's brother and Patrick Joseph Power, Catherine Mary Power, Mary Alice Sullivan and Margaret Ann Delahunty were Patrick's nephew and nieces respectively. The two Sister of the Poor who are mentioned (Sr. Lucy Shallow and Sr. Benedict Shallow) appear to be nieces of Patrick's wife, Sarah and her sister, Catherine Power (wife of Michael). Sarah and Catherine had two sisters (Mary and Ellen) who married Shallows from Fermeuse. Both of these families appear to have moved to the USA.
  • Will of Robert Power - Volume 1 - Folio 467.  (Courtesy of Newfoundland's Grand Banks Site.)
    This will was written on the 23 of November 1844, and probated in 1845. In his will, Robert Power identifies himself as being a resident of Caplin Bay in the Island of Newfoundland, but formerly from the parish of Killea in Co. Waterford. The parish of Killea, is located near the mouth of Waterford Harbour, along the south shoreline. It is not known how long Robert had been at Caplin Bay, but in 1828, John Morry mentioned him in his will, leaving the impression that he had had a fairly long business association with Power. Morry directed his uncle to "let Robert Power have his fish as soon he likes to take it in the spring, never mind weighing it as I always trust to his receipts." It appears that Robert was not married, so he left his remaining money, boat, and fishing property to his nephew, also named Robert Power. He left his house and cow (sow?) to Martin Cullinan (aka Cullen), with the stipulation that they too should revert to his nephew, Robert Power, when Cullinan passed on. Ironically, Cullinan may have outlived the nephew, since Robert Power (Jr.) never appeared in any of the Caplin Bay voter's lists. Cullinan was listed on all voter's lists from 1846 onward, but is not shown in the 1859 list.
  • Will of Philip Tree - Volume 2 - Folio 317.  (Courtesy of Newfoundland's Grand Banks Site.)
    This is a transcript of the will of Philip Tree, written on July 19, 1848 and probated in 1858. Philip was born in Boston about 1772, but moved to Ferryland with his parents and siblings about the time of American Revolution. My research indicates that his mother was Bridget Murphy, possibly born at Ferryland. An old land claim by Francis Tree (brother of Philip) indicates that his grandfather was James Murphy who owned property at Ferryland. Philip later moved to St. John's but held onto his property at Ferryland and Caplin Bay. The land at Caplin Bay had been granted to Francis Tree, Sr. in 1773 and described as being “from the Quay to the Ponds and 300 yards behind the same". In this will Philip also left his land at Ferryland to his sister-in-law Ann Tree, the widow of his brother Francis. The property at Caplin Bay was left to Ann (Munn) Hart. Ann appears to have been a niece, since Philip also mentions a nephew, John Munn. It is likely that they were the Ann and John Munn baptised at Ferryland in 1825, children of John and Susanna Munn. Although the mother's surname is not given in the baptism record, I concluded that she was Susanna Tree, the daughter of Francis and Ann (Cox) Tree, who was born at Ferryland about 1798. The land at Caplin Bay was being occupied/leased by John Power, Michael Hearn, and Thomas Ryan at the time the will was written.

Unregistered Wills

Unprobated wills pertaining to Caplin Bay/Calvert.

  • Will of Richard Reddigan - April 1872
    This is the transcript of the unprobated will of Richard Reddigan. It was never registered, but left in the old family house at Calvert. It is not known how old Richard Reddigan was at the time of his death, however research indicates that he was born in Ireland, likely Co. Kilkenny, and may have lived Aquaforte with relatives in the first decade of the 1800s. It is believed that he settled at Caplin Bay when he married Catherine Evoy Walsh (or Evoy), in the 1820s. It is interesting to note that this will identifies that there was a second branch of the Reddigan family. They were related, but obviously not closely, since the "cousin Martin Reddigan" mentioned in the will married Richard's daughter, Bridget Reddigan, in January 1875. It is believed that Martin was born at Fermeuse, the son of Michael Reddigan and Bridget Coady, who married at St. John's in November 1833.
  • Will of John Joseph Swain - 10th May 1932
    This is the transcript of the unprobated will of John Joseph Swain. John Joseph Swain is buried in the Reddigan family plot in Holy Trinity RC Cemetery and the contents of the will explains why Mr. Swain was always included in commemorative Masses along with deceased members of the Reddigan family. The will, which was never registered, was found in the old family house after the death of Anne Reddigan in 1990.

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