Early Newfoundland Colonizers and the Beginning of Permanent Settlement on the Island

Designated in 2017 as an event of provincial significance.

Nominator: Carol Osmond, Sir William Vaughan Trust

In 1608 John Guy visited Newfoundland, returned to England, and began promoting settlement of the island. In 1610 Guy and 47 London and Bristol merchants formed the Newfoundland Company, were given a Royal charter for the entire island, and made plans to establish colonies here.

Guy was made governor of Newfoundland. He arrived at Cupids Cove in August of 1610 with colonists and set about building the first colony. Guy left Newfoundland in the spring of 1613 but the Cupids Colony remained.

Following in Guy’s footsteps, Sir Percival Willoughby, William Payne, Sir William Vaughan and Lord Falkland sent colonists to Carbonear, St. John’s, Aquaforte and Renews respectively. None of these colonies found lasting success. And all were surpassed by the colony established at Ferryland.

In 1621 George Calvert sent colonists to Ferryland.  By 1625 it boasted 100 inhabitants. The Calvert’s moved there in 1628 but left after a harsh winter.  In 1638, David Kirke claimed Ferryland. Kirke, and later his wife Sarah and their 4 sons, ran a prosperous business at Ferryland until 1697.

Both the failed and successful colonies established prior to 1630 were the basis for the settlement of the island. By 1675, the English Shore had 28 settlements.  The French raid in 1696-97 devastated the settlements but many rebuilt. 2 years later there were 3099 English settlers on the island.  But settlement would not have begun as early as it did without the efforts of early colonizers and settlers.