A timeline of Jersey's involvement in the Newfoundland and Gaspe cod fishing industry

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Dates in connection with the fishing industry at Newfoundland, Labrador and Gaspe.

15th century

  • 1497 Newfoundland discovered

16th century

  • 1504 Small Norman fishing boats visited the coasts of Newfoundland.
  • 1509-1547 Henry VIII commenced trading there. Turned the French out. Spaniards also reported, both withdrew from Newfoundland.
  • 1530 By that time there is no doubt that Jerseymen had been to Newfoundland
  • 1536 J Hore, a Londoner, established a colony in Newfoundland.
  • 1562 Channel Islands boats noted on Grand Banks.
  • 1582 An early reference to Jerseymen at the Newfoundland fisheries. Extract from a will "Jersey owned vessel unloading from Newfoundland".
  • 1583 Newfoundland taken over by Queen Elizabeth. Early settlers from Jersey, The Clements at Burgo also at Sablon (Labrador): Les Fruings at Blancs Sablons (Labrador): Nicolles at La Pouile and Jersey Harbour: de Quettevilles at La Pouile and Sablan (Labrador): Le Feuvre at Burin: Syvret at Ile Vert; it would appear that Fruing was only at Labrador.
  • 1591 Jean Guillaume of Jersey obtained a licence to sail to Newfoundland from the Governor of Jersey. On his return he was actioned by the Jersey Royal Court for selling his cargo of fish at St Malo instead of Jersey. Fined 300 crowns. This date shows that the fishing industry had commenced in the early part of the 16th century, as Sir Walter Ralegh when Governor of Jersey is quoted as stating that at the end of the sixteenth century islanders were saved from starvation by the arrival of a cargo of fish from the colony

17th century

  • 1600-1603 Sir Walter Ralegh Governor of Jersey. At the Tercentenary of Ralegh's death, the following extracts were quoted from official letters "He certainly encouraged the trade nascent between Jersey and Newfoundland". "Assisted very materially" in its "Carrying and shipping trade with the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries".
  • 1600 Sir Walter Ralegh obtained a "grant of application" in Newfoundland, and induced seamen from Jersey to start a fishery in that part of the colony he had been granted. As Governor he not only encouraged trade with Newfoundland, but also with Virginia, New England States and Caribbean Islands. Jersey seamen braved the ocean to bring back cod fish and oil, skins, furs, sugar, tobacco, etc. The following three families are named as "master traders": d'Auvergne (St Ouen), Lempriere (St Helier), Le Breton (Lily Langtry branch)
  • 1611 St Brelade and other parishes had fishermen who sailed to Newfoundland
  • 1618 Privy Council ordered Governor not to allow "stores from the Castles" to be sold to the fishers
  • 1625 Pierre d'Auvergne captured by pirates on his way to "Terre Neuve"
  • 1650 Two Actes des Etats regarding the impoverishment of St Bre1ade by "the numbers of men who sail to Newfoundland. In future a licence must be obtained from the Governor or Captain of the Parish. Also no cod liver oil imported in the island must be sold out of it without the express permission of the Governor
  • 1667 Hudson Bay Company, one of the founders was Sir George de Carteret. His share was £600-£700.
  • 1699 There were Seigneurs in Gaspe. A Mons Rivers in Mont Louis in 1699 set the industry on a permanent basis, but lack of government support led to failure. Finally a Mons Maillet circa 1750 got the fishing industry profitable.

18th century

  • 1700s Ships built in North America and Newfoundland for fishing trade and registered in Jersey
  • 1713 Newfoundland ceded to Great Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht. 1717 John Janvrin established on Magdalon Island
  • 1723 Ile Royale (Novia Scotia) employed 14,000 sea people in the fishing industry, value 3,212,900 livres per annum
  • 1758 Gaspe became British property
  • 1763 Canada became British property
  • 1764 Charles Robin aged 21, youngest son of Philippe and Anne, nee d’Auvergne, of Robin Pipon and Co, sailed as their agent from Jersey in Seaflower, a 41 ton brig to explore the possibility of establishing a fishery there.
  • 1765 Mr Munn , a Newfoundland historian, writes "But they ceased to occupy the prominent positions held by their forefathers, merchants of Jersey origin, during the eighteenth century when Jersey firms dominated at Havre de Grace up to the year 1765 when the Canadian fisheries commenced.
  • 1765 onwards. As the French and Quebec merchants moved away from the Gaspe coast, Jersey firms moved to the probably more profitable fisheries off the Gaspe coast.
  • 1766 Charles Robin returned to the coast with 41 ton brig. About this time Robin, Pipon and Co established at Bay des Chaleurs,
  • 1767 Charles Robin describes himself as agent for John Robin at Arichat, Coast of Acadia and Paspebiac. Agent for Coast of Canada for Robin, Pipon and Co. 23 years, salary £150 per annum.
  • 1767 Charles returned with Recovery, the Seaflower and shallop Neptune.
  • 1768 Jersey Chamber of Commerce makes provision to "relieve distressed families of seamen"
  • 1766-1809 "The building of a commercial monopoly by this family (Robin) during that period is such that they can be called the biggest exploiters of this coast
  • 1769 Chamber of Commerce takes successful action to relieve Jersey vessels requiring British Customs Clearance (Navigation Act)
  • 1770 Jerseymen began to settle on Gaspe Coast. Janvrin arrived at Grande Greve
  • 1771 Charles Robin and Co established about this date.
  • 1778 Charles Robin (then aged 36), returned to Jersey in the Bee, 16 guns, with 40 crew and 40 passengers.
  • 1783 Charles Robin forms new firm Charles Robin and Co
  • 1785 59 vessels left Jersey for Newfoundland with 957 seamen and 743 passengers.
  • 1789 Ship Elisha Tupper, 280 tons, built at Bel Royal for Janvrins, She was named after a Guernsey merchant.
  • 1798 Janvrin worked first for Robin and then started his own business at Grande Greve, North Coast. Admiral P d'Auvergne proposed that naval vessels convoy Jersey ships for Newfoundland trade to Longitude 300 West

19th century

  • 1806 4,000 tods of wool were imported into Jersey
  • 1820 William Fruing in Gaspe with C Robin and Co. Fruing married Jane Alexandre at Miscou. Fishermen signed against the Americans.
  • 1829 Philippe Robin wrote of W Fruing that "his valuable presence" was replaced by my nephew John Gosset
  • 1830 Recorded that "a Jersey company Les Fandouines was formed which would dominate the fishing industry at Shippagan for a long time". W Fruing signed a petition.
  • 1830-32 William Fruing and Co formed at Miscou. A brother-in-law Capt Joshua Alexandre was manager at Caraquet.
  • 1830 William Fruing (Robin's orphan protege) chief agent for Robin at Paspebiac.
  • 1835 William Fruing, son of William bought 36 La Colomberie, St. Helier
  • 1836 Janvrins owned three branches, plus Grande Greve
  • 1837 1,200 vessels used the port of St Helier to carry the trade of the Island.
  • 1842 The Robin monopoly finally ended with the death of Philippe in Berne.
  • 1766-1842 Jersey profited by the British conquests in Canada. It almost transformed the Gaspe coast between these years into a Jersey colony.
  • 1850 William Fruing, a man of great ambition left Les Robins and was taken on by Janvrin, married the only daughter and founded his own business from the Janvrin base.
  • 1857 Death of Philippe Fruing.
  • 1860 Firm of Le Boutillier founded.
  • 1880 Frederick Janvrin retired to near Bath, and sold to Fruing and Co to J Perree and others.
  • 1821 First permanent shipyard Geo Deslandes, set up in Jersey.
  • 1841 1,541 ships, tonnage 95,200 arrived laden. The total movement was 2,582 ships with a tonnage of 192,997. Trade was with Newfoundland, Gulf of St Lawrence, Honduras and London.
  • 1846-1916 End of monopoly by Jersey-named partnerships on the Gaspe Coast: 1889 Charles Robin and Co amalgamated with Collas.
  • 1895 Firm of Le Boutillier bought by Fruing (late Janvrin) including five branches.

20th century

  • 1906 Fruing (Janvrin) sold out to Jacques Alexandre.
  • 1914 Robin and Collas sold out to Robin, Jones and Whitman with HQ in Halifax.
  • 1916 Jacques Alexandre, bankrupt, sold to Hyman Robin and Millen. 1917 W Fruing and Co properties sold.
  • 1916-1977 Jersey-named company survived by transforming into a Canadian company, Robin, Jones and Whitman Ltd.

It would appear that the first fisheries were established in Labrador, later Newfoundland and then moved to Gaspe in 1765, though at least one firm , de Gruchy, Renouf and Clement continued to trade in Newfoundland shipping animal skins to London, but Fruing continued in Labrador and Gaspe, as shown.

It is documented in St John's Newfoundland, that Robin Pipon was reputedly the first Jersey settler in the Bay des Chaleurs.

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