Caplin Bay

 

Caplin Bay in the early 1900s Much as it would have looked when the Morrys arrived in the late 1700s

Caplin Bay, which was renamed Calvert in honour of George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) in 1922, was in use as a seasonal fishing harbour before the time the Morrys arrived in the mid to late 1700s. Considering its obvious advantages as a tidy little harbour from which to fish, it is somewhat surprising that it was considered a secondary harbour next to Ferryland. It had deep water, broad beaches on which to set up fishing rooms and stages, an excellent source of fresh water as well as a freshwater pond in which to shelter boats at the head of the bay. What it lacked, however, was any easily fortified defence positions to stave off what were then incessant attacks by the French, by pirates like Peter Easton, and even the occasional raid by the Dutch. Ferryland had this advantage, despite the difficult approach through the rock strewn harbour mouth, and the lack of protection from prevailing winds and storms. On the other hand, the difficult approach made it hazardous to attack and thus formed part of Ferryland’s natural defences.

For these reasons and others, the early fish merchants and fishing admirals failed to capitalise on the excellent fishing amenities in Caplin Bay by securing them in their name. Each year when the vessels arrived from England in search of cod there would have been a “first come, first served” rush for the best positions for shore installations. In the meantime, in neighbouring Ferryland, large tracts of land had been granted to favoured merchants since the time of Lord Baltimore, and with them came the assumed right to use the adjacent shoreline as they saw fit. No one challenged this system, for the merchants were the law. The well-known system of law enforcement on the Newfoundland coast, whereby the first captain to arrive in a port at the start of the season became the “Fishing Admiral”, with powers to settle disputes, and for that matter with the power of life over death, still prevailed in those days. But he would have been more the agent of the merchant class, rather than a threat to their assumed rights. The general rule was that no one, with the exception of these chosen few who held ancient land grants from the Crown, was entitled to set up permanent premises along the shore, and this rule was firmly enforced by the Fishing Admiral.

Matthew Morry may well have been the first person to challenge that rule by applying to the Governor, John Campbell, for a grant to have the right to establish permanent fishing premises in Caplin Bay in 1784. His petition was supported by an influential businessman from Ferryland, Robert Carter. There can be no doubt that there were excellent business reasons for his offering his support, though later there would have been reasons connected to inter-marriage, since Matthew took Robert Carter’s daughter as his second wife when Mary Graham died.

Here is a photocopy of the original petition of Matthew Morry to Governor Campbell in 1784. That document is now protected in the Morry papers at the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador and Fredris Mercer Caines holds a certified original copy made at the time of the granting of the original request.

Here is an account, published by Gerald L. Pocius, a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, on how Matthew Morry came to acquire his property in Caplin Bay (now Calvert). It puts in context the issue of land tenure and ownership in the Newfoundland of the time. (Matthew Morry’s Land Grant – MS Word). Dr. Pocius is mistaken in saying that Matthew had to wait until 1790 for his petition to be granted. In fact in 1790, Jacob Waller, Captain of the HMS Rose, and Surrogate for the Southern District, granted Matthew a larger piece of property in the same location for the purpose of expanding his fishery operations (see Morry Papers).


The foremost authority on the early settlement and the families of Caplin Bay (Calvert) is Kevin Reddigan of Manuels, Conception Bay South, Newfoundland. Kevin was born and raised in Calvert and has made it his life’s work to unravel the convoluted trail of evidence and often contradictory lore and published “history” of this part of the Southern Shore. His website (http://www.calvertweb.ca/) absolutely must be visited by anyone who is truly interested in the people, the land and the significant events that form the history of Calvert.


The Pocius book also contains a reproduction of a post card showing the family home of Matthew Morry III in Caplin Bay, known as Athlone, which eventually passed to his daughter Elizabeth Morry (Miss Lizzie — see Photo).

 


Miss Lizzie died a spinster and the property wound up going to the family of Alfred Canning who had been unofficially adopted by Miss Lizzie’s parents. On his website, Kevin Reddigan gives this account of the relationship that seems to have existed between the Morry and Canning families:

The Cannings of Ferryland and Calvert (Caplin Bay), Newfoundland

The Cannings of Calvert are descended from Alfred Canning who was born at Ferryland about December 1865; however, at an early age Alfred was taken in and raised by Mrs. Eliza Morry, widow of Matthew Morry who lived at Caplin Bay. The exact details of relationship between the Morrys and the Cannings are very obscure. All of the Morrys at that time were still Anglican, owners of many properties and operators of several business. Alfred’s family was Roman Catholic and quite possibly worked as servants or labourers employed by the Morrys.

Amongst some old surviving documents there are some rather curious references that may explain the Morry/Canning relationship. In one archived collection, The Carter Papers, housed at The Rooms in St. John’s there is a song called the Motley Maggot Song (see page on The Morrys in Ferryland for the full poem and another also by Anne Carter), which obviously is a rather scathing attack on the character of the Morry family. This insulting poem/song is believed to have been written by Anne Carter Tessier in the 1840s, but the reasons for its contemptuous nature is unknown. One verse of interest reads:

Poor orphan cannons they took in
Oh what a cruel crying sin
The cozening robers ought to hang
The tyrant motley maggot gang

The first line is believed to refer to the Cannon (later known as the Canning) family of Ferryland and seems to refer to an event involving the Morrys and the Canning that began at least one generation before Alfred was born. While the event mentioned, for all appearances, seems to have been a good and honourable deed, the second line, for reasons unknown, decries it as being anything but, and gives the impression that the Morrys had an ulterior motive for taking in the “cannon orphans” Maybe the author felt that the Morry’s had found a way of getting free labour i.e. the Cannings orphans became their servants.

A generation later, Alfred Canning, parents unknown, became a member of the Morry household at Caplin Bay. There he was raised along with some of the adult children of Matthew Morry and Elizabeth Coleman. When he was about 27, he married Mary Swain, grand-daughter of Robert Swain of Stone Island. After his marriage, Alfred and his family continued to live with Miss Elizabeth (Lizzie) Morry (spinster daughter of Matthew and Eliza) in the old Morry house. This house, called Athlone Cottage, was located on the north side of Caplin Bay. The Canning family looked after Miss Morry until she died in 1930. It appears that Miss Morry did not leave a will [Editorial Note: she did leave a “deathbed” will written out a number of months before her death; it was written by the Cannings and witnessed by their friends; it was never contested] and after her death there was much disagreement between Alfred’s family and Miss Morry’s relatives about who had rightful possession of the old Morry property. While Alfred Canning regarded himself as an adopted son, the contrary view was held within the Morry clan. This view is expressed in one letter that was written by a niece of Mrs. Eliza Morry which read:

“Aunt Eliza was a foolish woman. When she took Alf Canning she did not adopt him or give him her name. He was left without a mother and none of the neighbours wanted him.”

Alfred’s only surviving son, Leonard, had a family of six daughters, but he had no sons to carry on the family name.

From website: Family Names of Calvert (Caplin Bay) Newfoundland

URL: http://www.calvertweb.ca/next_gen/getperson.php?personID=I37&tree=Calvert


The Morrys lived, or at least conducted business out of, Caplin Bay for about half a century before essentially moving down the shore to Ferryland. When in that period they actually took up permanent residence is a matter of some conjecture, but it would appear likely this occurred after the death of Matthew’s wife Mary Graham in 1796. During that time, family members owned land on all sides of Caplin Bay and similarly occupied many residences there. Their business partners included the Sweetlands, who may or may not have predated them somewhat in residing in Caplin Bay. As was usually the case among the merchant class in Newfoundland in those days, there were numerous intermarriages between the sons and daughters of these two families, as there were between the Morrys and their other major business partners, the Le Messuriers, Carters, Windsors and others. When the Sweetlands departed this area, first for parts further west in Newfoundland and then for the United States and as far away as Australia, their houses and lands reverted to the Morrys, whether through purchase, inheritance or simply to act as agents for the sale of the property is unclear.

Sweetland House, which may also have been occupied by Morrys for a short while (From Gerald Pocius’ book)

Caplin Bay wasn’t completely abandoned by the Morrys. One family, that of Matthew Morry III, the grandson of the emigrant Matthew, stayed on in a house known as Athlone on Caplin Bay’s north side until the death in 1930 of his eldest daughter, Elizabeth Ann (Miss Lizzie mentioned above). She remained a spinster until she died. At some time during the last years of her mother’s life (Elizabeth Coulman), a neighbours child, Alfred Canning, who was somewhat younger than Lizzie, was taken in as an unofficially adopted son. His descendants eventually inherited Athlone from Lizzie but the structure itself was soon taken down. Their own home was built nearby on the same property and they would have had no use for this large and probably difficult to heat old building.

Though the house itself is long gone, as noted, the Cannings built on the same property and still live there. In fact, one of the great granddaughters of Alfred, Anita, built a cottage in Calvert with her husband, Ken Kelland, and called it Athlone II.

Anita Canning and Husband Ken Kelland with Kevin Reddigan in front of Athlone II


Family Group Record for Matthew MORRY II JP

 

Husband Matthew MORRY II JP

AKA: Jonathan MORRY
Born: 27 Mar 1790 – Dartmouth, Devon, England
Christened: 8 Apr 1791 – St. Saviour’s, Dartmouth, Devon, England
Died: 19 Jun 1856 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried: 29 Jun 1856 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Father: Capt. Matthew MORRY (Bef 1750-1836)
Mother: Mary GRAHAM (1750-1796)
Marriage: Cir 1811 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Wife Anne SANDERS

Born: 17 Mar 1790 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 4 Jun 1790 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 6 Jun 1867 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Cause of Death: Unknown but ill for a long while
Buried: 9 Jun 1867 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Father: Daniel SANDERS (Cir 1752-1834)
Mother: Mary CARTER ( -Bef 1800)

Children

1 M Thomas Graham MORRY II

AKA: Thomas Graham MOREY
Born: 24 Jun 1812 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened:
Died: Bef 18 Jan 1879 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried: 18 Jan 1879 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: Eliza Shirley Hutchings LE MESSURIER (Cir 1809-1892)
Marr: 25 Nov 1840 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

2 M Matthew MORRY III

AKA: Matthew MOREY
Born: 24 Aug 1813 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened:
Died: Bef 30 Jul 1854 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried: 30 Jul 1854 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: Elizabeth CHAFE (1815-Bef 1838)
Marr: 18 Jul 1838 – Petty Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: Elizabeth COULMAN (Cir 1813-1884)
Marr: 19 Feb 1844 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

3 M Capt. William Sweetland MORRY

AKA: William Sweetland MOREY
Born: 8 Sep 1814 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened:
Died: Bef 20 May 1892 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried: 20 May 1892 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: Jane WINSOR (1819-1868)
Marr: 29 Apr 1845 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

4 F Mary MORRY

AKA: Mary MOREY, Eliza Mary MORRY
Born: 10 Jun 1816 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 29 Sep 1818 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 19 Jan 1857 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried: 24 Feb 1857 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: Peter Paint LE MESSURIER (Cir 1812-1884)
Marr: 7 Feb 1843 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

5 M John Henry MORRY

AKA: John MOREY, John MORRY
Born: 23 Feb 1818 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 29 Sep 1818 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 15 Apr 1897 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried: 18 Apr 1897 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: Elizabeth Sarah WINSOR (1827-1879)
Marr: 12 Dec 1848 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

6 M Benjamin Sweetland MORRY

Born: 11 Nov 1819 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 27 Sep 1823 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 17 Feb 1895 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried: 19 Feb 1895 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: Sarah Weston CARTER (1827-1893)
Marr: 2 May 1850 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

7 M Henry Sweetland MORRY

Born: 1 Jun 1821 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 27 Sep 1823 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 11 Aug 1897 – Shores Cove, Cape Broyle, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Cause of Death: Old Age
Buried: After 11 Aug 1897 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: Mary DEVEREAUX (Cir 1831-1870)
Marr: Cir 1850 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

8 M Capt. Arthur Kemp MORRY

Born: 9 Feb 1823 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 12 Oct 1823 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 16 Dec 1907 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Cause of Death: Old Age
Buried: 18 Dec 1907 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: Mary Oxenham CARTER (1829-1895)
Marr: 5 Nov 1852 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

9 F Priscilla Anne MORRY

Born: Bef 4 Oct 1825 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 4 Oct 1825 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: Bef 1832 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried:
Spouse: Did Not Marry

10 M Frederick Clift MORRY

AKA: Frederic Clift MORRY
Born: 10 Jan 1827 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 28 Aug 1827 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: After 15 Mar 1858 – Indian Ocean
Cause of Death: Drowning – Lost at Sea
Buried:

11 M George MORRY

Born: 25 Sep 1828 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 1 Oct 1828 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 4 Oct 1828 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried: After 4 Oct 1828 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

12 F Priscilla Anne MORRY

Born: Bef 4 Oct 1828 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 4 Oct 1828 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: Bef 1832 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried:

13 M Robert MORRY

Born: 21 Nov 1829 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 10 Jun 1831 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 6 May 1898 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried:
Spouse: Maria Victoria Matilda WINSOR (1834-1906)
Marr: 19 Jun 1858 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada\

14 F Priscilla Ann MORRY

AKA: Priscilla MORRY
Born: Bef 5 Dec 1832 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 5 Dec 1832 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 12 Jan 1868 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Cause of Death: Effects of childbirth
Buried: 25 Jan 1868 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Spouse: William Warner LE MESSURIER (Bef 1819-Cir 1897)
Marr: 20 Jan 1858 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

15 F Esther Graham MORRY

Born: 7 Apr 1837 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Christened: 30 Sep 1837 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Died: 25 Nov 1849 – Calvert, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Buried: 2 Dec 1849 – Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Last Modified: 23 Aug 2017


 

Find Us

Address
4-160D Edwards St.
Rockland, ON, K4K 1H9
1-613-219-9193

Site Information

You are visiting the website of the Morry family of Newfoundland, ex Devon

Our Purpose

We hope that this site will serve as a link and a gathering place for the scattered remnants of the Morry Family, whose ancestor, Matthew Morry, came from Stoke Gabriel via Dartmouth Devon, England, to Newfoundland to make a living in the fishing trade some time before Sept. 1784. At that time we know he was granted land for a fishing room in Caplin Bay (now Calvert) near Ferryland, a tiny fishing village on Newfoundland’s Southern Shore that we, his descendants, think of as our family seat.

All information on this website is © Christopher Morry 2003-2018
Home

Where to find me

Click to open a larger map

Scroll Up