Newhook Master Shipbuilder
By N.C. Crewe
Research Officer, Newfoundland Archives, St. John’s
The Newhook family are the greatest family of shipbuilders in the
history of Newfoundland.
In this monograph, are listed the eleven of them that I have
established to have been “master shipbuilders” from either reliable
traditions or written records, or both.
There was evidently, a Committee of the House of Assembly in 1858 on
local shipbuilding. In its issue of 25 January 1858, “The Patriot,” a
St. John’s newspaper, reports the evidence given before the Committee by
Hon. John Munn, merchant and ship owner of Harbour Grace, ending with
this sentence: “…..No Country can offer such an exhibition of genius and
native talent, as cur Kearney’s, Stevensons, Newhook's, Curtises,
Pittman's, etc., have already produced in the science of shipbuilding.
When I was a small boy at Elliston, Trinity Bay, the grand old lady
of the place was Mrs. Robert Tilly. Her husband, the first resident
supplying merchant, had died as far back as 1872. I recall her speaking
to me about three times; I had even then come to know that she used to
say three things about herself. First, that she was born at New Harbour,
Trinity Bay, to the name of Catherine Newhook; secondly, that her
father, and his father were shipbuilders in Newfoundland; thirdly, that
her paternal grandfather was a Frenchman.
Mrs. Tilly died in 1912 at the age of 88, and I attended her funeral.
The officiating English-born curate said, in a shirt address, that her
soul was now in paradise. This doctrinal statement was seriously
questioned by my foster-father and his fellow Salvationist, Bobby Hobbs.
They were of opinion that the clergyman ought to have said Heaven, not
Paradise, which latter place us unknown to them as a country eternal.
In 1928 I married her grand-daughter. Ever since then, I have been
gathering data on the Newhook stock, for compiling the family trees of
my wife and children. It is my opinion that I now have, on file or in my
head, more information about the Newhook's, from their origin in this
Province down to the present time, than is known to any other living
person, and more than has been known to any other person in the last
In the course of research, I have contacted several elderly Newhook's,
but all of generations younger than Mrs. Tilly’s.
(3) Charles Newhook (the first), 1752-99
I call him Progenitor Charles Newhook (first ), because he is the
immigrant from whom all subsequent Newhook's in Newfoundland have sprung,
and to distinguish him from those of them also named Charles. He was
brought out from Europe to Newfoundland about 1777, by the mercantile
firm of Benjamin Lester, to be its master shipbuilder at Trinity,
Trinity Bay. Rev. George Lester-Garland, of England, has told me that
Newhook is mentioned in the surviving Lester letter books of the
eighteenth century. He was a young man when he came to settle at Trinity
church register, and he must have brought his wife with him, as the
Trinity church register has no entry of his marriage. His wife’s maiden
surname us unknown to-day. He was the grandfather of Mrs. Robert Tilly.
This Charles Newhook (first) was of French extraction, but whether he
was a native-born Frenchman is now unknown. But I am inclined to think
that he was a native Englishman if French near extraction. It would be
very unusual for a firm to being out to Newfoundland, either as a
fishery youngster or as a tradesman, anyone except of English or Irish
At Trinity, or elsewhere in that bay, there were born all his now
traceable eight children, between 1778 and 1799 six sons and two
Of the sons, three became master shipbuilders in Trinity Bay, Charles
( second),William and James. Of them, the elder two, Charles and
William, were old enough at their father’s death to have received some
building training from him.
Whether Charles Newhook ( first) resided and worked at Trinity
continuously, or wintered occasionally, for timber cutting and/or
shipbuilding, at New Harbour or elsewhere in the bay, is not known
to-day. The Trinity Anglican baptismal register, in which all his
children’s entries are found, records “Trinity Bay” as the birthplace or
the elder and Trinity for the others. But one must not assume from this
“Trinity Bay” recording that these two children were not born at
Trinity, seeing that the term “Trinity Bay” was often used by the
registering officiants to include both Trinity and other places in the
extensive parish. I myself assume that all eight children were born in
Trinity, and that Charles Newhook ( first) resided and worked only at
Charles Newhook ( first) died at Trinity relatively young. The
epitaph on his headstone, in St. Paul’s churchyard there, reads as
follows “In memory of Charles Newhook, who departed this life the 18th
of November 1799, aged 47 years. Also of his daughter, Sarah Newhook,
who departed this life the 7th of November 1798, aged 2 years and 9
About the year 1800, the Lester firm was succeeded in name by the
Garland firm, on the same premises, at Trinity, a Garland having married
a daughter of Benjamin Lester, the founder. The premises are owned
to-day by the Ryan family.
No names, or other particulars, survive, either in traditions or in
records, available to me, of the vessels that Charles Newhook ( first)
must have master-built or repaired at Trinity or elsewhere during his
more than twenty years of work.
(4) Charles Newhook ( second), 1778-1839
Born at “Trinity Bay,” assumedly Trinity, in 1778, eldest child of
Charles Newhook ( first).
This man probably succeeded his father as master shipbuilder at
Trinity for the Garland firm, either immediately after the father’s 1799
death or after a lapse of years. He married his first wife, nee
Catherine Newell, of Trinity, at that place in 1804.
About 1806, he moved to New Harbour, where he resided, as master
shipbuilder for the Garland firm and leading inhabitant, until about
1832, when ( with his second wife) he moved back to Trinity, to be again
Garland’s master shipbuilder there.
He had four children by his first marriage, one being a son named
Charles Newell Newhook, born at New Harbour in 1806.
Pages 155-6 of “ The Methodist Magazine,” London, for February 1819,
carry a long extract from the diary of Rev. William Ellis, then
Methodist minister at Trinity, describing his missionary visitation of
places in the bay in 1817. Mr. Ellis records that, on arrival of Mr.
Garland’s boat at New Harbour, in which he had taken passage from
Trinity, “….we were met in the harbour by Mr. Newhook, in his pleasure
boat, and conducted to his house, where we were hospitably entertained.
In 1815 the inhabitants built a neat little church….”
At that time, Charles Newhook ( second) was a widower. His large,
plastered house stood near the middle of the south shoreline or New
Harbour, opposite the present house of Mr. Robert Walter Ellis Newhook,
his great grandson.
The church stood for many years, predecessor of the present Anglican
church. Its notice board is preserved in the Anglican Cathedral’s
museum, St. John’s. The end portion of the board that carried the name
of “Charles Newhook, Architect” is broken off the lost. Years ago, I saw
a photograph of the board, ending with these three signature words,
which indicate that Charles Newhook ( second) was the church’s designer
and, no doubt, master carpenter.
In Accession no. 253, at the Newfoundland Archives, there is a
manuscript “List of all Ships surveyed in the Port of Trinity, between 4
February 1835 and 17 December 1841, by Robert Bayley, Surveyor of
Navigation.” There are listed five vessels, built or re-built at
Trinity, with the name if C. Newhook given as the re-builder of one, the
cutter Bee, of 40 tons, and that of C. Newhook, Senior, listed as the
builder of three new brigs and a schooner, named George Robinson,
Garland, Victoria and Dart, allowed by the Garland firm and of the
average size of 146 tons.
The foregoing C. Newhook, and C. Newhook, Senior, are obviously
Charles Newhook (second).
In some St. John’s newspaper of 8 November 1907, probably “The
Evening Herald,” there is a lengthy article, evidently composed in 1893
when the narrator, Captain Andrews, was eighty-seven, and now reprinted,
entitled “Biography of Capt. Henry Andrews, of Port de Grace.” He was a
noted sealing master, and lived for some years in Trinity about 1835.
Paragraph 5 reads: “The next year, 1830, I went to the ice in a brig
called the Beaver, built at New Harbour by John Newhook, 150 tons
Now, there was no John Newhook as a master shipbuilder in or before
the year 1830, and the above name is a mistake, in Andrews’ memory, for
Charles Newhook ( second) or William Newhook (Trinity).
Charles Newhook (second) was in St. John’s in the spring of 1839,
when he fell from a vessel’s mast and was killed. “The Times,” a city
newspaper, in its issue of 15 May 1839, has the following news item:-
“Died. At this place Monday last, of concussion of the brain,
occasioned by an accidental fall whilst engaged in the duties of this
profession, Mr. Charles Newhook, aged 65 years, for upwards of 30 years
master shipbuilder in Trinity and neighborhood or Messrs John Bingley
Garland & Co. Mr. Newhook was a most skillful, active and preserving
man, and his death is sincerely regretted by all who had the pleasure of
The issue of 14 May 1839, of “The Royal Gazette,” reports the death
more fully, thus:-
“In the afternoon of yesterday the coroner was called in to hold an
inquest on the body of Mr. Charles Newhook, Sr., of Trinity, who was
accidentally killed by falling from the mast of a wrecked vessel at the
South Side of this harbor; a verdict to this effect was returned by the
Jury. The deceased Mr. Newhook was well known and much respected both in
this community and in Trinity Bay.”
He was actually in his sixty-first year, and was buried in the
Anglican cemetery at Trinity.
No names or particulars are known to me of other vessels that Charles
Newhook (second) master built or repaired.
(5)Charles Newell Newhook ( third), 1806-71
Born at New Harbour in 1806, eldest son of Charles Newhook (second).
He must have been educated at Trinity or Harbour Grace, or some other
place with a better school than would have been found at New Harbour. He
wrote a fine hand, and was for many years, down to his death, the
Justice of the Peace, and the leading inhabitant, at new Harbour. I feel
he was the best educated of all the Newhook stock in Newfoundland, until
the emergence of his grand-nephew, the late Doctor William H. Newhook,
M.D., who died at Whitebourne about 1963.
About 1830 Miss Sarah Lander, daughter of the deceased sea captain
Thomas Wise Lander, came out from Poole, England, to visit her
re-married mother, then Mrs. William Davis Cross, at Trinity. A
fortune-teller had told the young lady that the first man she would meet
in Trinity would marry her. Sure enough, Charles Newell Newhook ( third)
was the first to help her off the vessel in Trinity, and in 1831 they
were married there, where their first child was born next year.
Then he moved from Trinity to New Harbour, where he succeeded his
father as Master shipbuilder, presumably for the Garland firm or its
successor in business, and his father moved back to Trinity.
In New Harbour, Charles Newell Newhook ( third) took over the
plastered house, and some of his fifteen children were born in it. But
about 1845 he purchased, from its then owner, the large house that the
Garland firm had built for their agents’ residence, together with the
extensive land and premises, on what is now called Newhook’s Point. This
house was occupied in our day by his son, Postmaster John Newhook, whom
I first met there one Sunday in 1928; it was taken down by its last
owner, John’s daughter, about 1958.
Charles Newell Newhook ( third) was both a master shipbuilder and a
merchant, or merchant’s agent, during his life at New Harbour. Phillip
Tocque refers to him, on page 138 of his book “Newfoundland as it was
and as it is in 1877’ as “merchant and shipbuilders.” His grandson, Mr.
Robert F. Newhook, of 29 Amherst Heights, St. John’s, tells me that he
had some connection at New Harbour with the St. John’s firm of Charles
Fox Bennett & Co.
Archdeacon Edward Wix, in his book “Six Months of a Newfoundland
Missionary’s Journal,” relates on page 18, first edition, that he walked
from Spaniard’s Bay across to Trinity Bay one day in February 1835. He
goes on to day, “….by half past seven, p.m., I reached the house of Mr.
Charles Newhook, junior, of New Harbour, a late worthy parishioner of
the Reverend William Bullock at St. Paul’s Church, Trinity, whose father
is of French Huguenot extraction.” This Charles Nieuhook, junior, was
Charles Newell Newhook ( third), and his father, then living at Trinity,
was Charles Newhook ( second).
On page 82 of volume one of his book “Excisions in and about
Newfoundland,” John B. Jukes relates that the small ketch in which he
was journeying anchored in New Harbour on 17 July 1839, and that next
day “…..Mr. Newhook of New Harbour treated us very kindly, and piloted us
out in the morning…..” This was Charles Newell Newhook ( third).
A letter, written from new Harbour and signed A Rambler, in “The
Patriot,” a St. John’s newspaper, on 8 October 1853, speaks of Charles
Newell Newhook ( third) thus: “ …. It is but justice to say of Mr.
Newhook that he is a double honour and a double credit to this little
settlement, a man justly respected and esteemed by all who know him. Mr.
Newhook is the father of twelve children, and I question whether a
family of more exemplary moral training is to be found within the
precincts of our country. ….”
In an obituary of John Newhook ( Postmaster at his native New Harbour
and last surviving son of Charles Newell Newhook), in the St. John’s
“Evening Telegram” of 12 December 1934, H.F. Shortis writes in part as
follows: “Charles Newhook built the brig Charles for C.F. Bennett & Co.,
St. John’s. She left St. John’s at 4 o’clock one Friday evening in 1834
and on Sunday week Mrs. C. F. Bennett attended morning Divine Service in
Bristol Cathedral. There are scores of other vessels built by the
Newhook's that were noted for their great sailing qualities.” Mrs.
Bennett was obviously a passenger on the short crossing.
A page-long column in an old St. John’s newspaper, entitled
“Memorable Springs and other information, Seal Fishery,” has this to say
concerning the year 1833: “Celebrated for the loss of the schooner
Union, Capt. Jno. Delaney, with a picked crew of 28 men from Trinity;
built by Charles Newhook of New Harbour for Jno. B. Garland, merchant;
capsized while under full sail. April 23rd, the schooners Active and
Avon took some of her seals and towed her for 2 days, but had to let her
The forgoing builder of the Charles and the union was, I assume,
Charles Newell Newhook ( third), although he might have been Charles
Lawrence O’Brien, merchant of St. John’s, advertised in ‘The Public
Ledger” of 8 December 1840 as follows: “ On sale a new Brig ( not yet
registered ) of about 150 Tons Burthen, built at Trinity Bay, of the
very best materials, by that established Ship-Builder, Mr. Newhook, and
under inspection of the owner; having extra BREAST HOOKS and FASTENINGS,
BEAMS, & c, and is of a superior description, being intended for the
Seal Fishery and the general trade of the country; was launched in June
last, and now laying at the wharf of the Subscriber (advertiser).”
The forgoing builder of this new brig was, I assume, Charles Newell
Newhook ( third), although he might have been either of his two uncles,
William Newhook (Trinity) and James Newhook ( Norman’s Cove), for whom
Charles Newell Newhook ( third) died at New Harbour in 1871, and his
body was taken across the bay to Trinity for interment in the family
vault in the Anglican cemetery.
No names or particulars are known to me of other vessels that Charles
Newell Newhook (third) master built or repaired.
(5) Charles Newhook (fourth), 1834-1915
Born at New Harbour in 1834, second son of Charles Newell Newhook (
third), died there in 1915. He learnt the shipbuilding trade at his
native place, largely from his father’s half brother, Robert Penny
Newhook ( see below).
Charles Newhook ( fourth) was the latest of the full time Newhook
master shipbuilders in Newfoundland. He practiced in the Newhook
building dock at Cat Cove, New Harbour.
His son, Mr. Robert Frederick Newhook (78), of 29 Amherst Heights,
St. John’s, tells me that when he was a boy his father, year after year,
would have from one to three vessels in his charge for repairs. He
recall the names of five of them, belonging to the Rorke Mercantile
firm of Carbonear, namely, Jessie, Margaret, Orion, L. and S. and
Sophia. He has a certificate, written and signed by his father, to the
effect that the latter had rebuilt and enlarged the schooner Flying
Arrow in 1884, for George C. Crosby of Brigus. Charles Newhook ( fourth)
also built at New Harbour the schooner Shamrock for the Rorke firm; she
was burnt at Emily Harbour, Labrador, while loading fish. Another
schooner he rebuilt was the Czar, later lost on the Funk.
No names or particulars are known to me of other vessels that Charles
Newhook ( fourth) master re-built or repaired.
(6) John Newhook ( Postmaster), 1852-1934
Born at New Harbour in 1852, a younger son of Charles Newell Newhook
( third) died there in 1934. He inherited the old dwelling house and
extensive premises on Newhook’s Point.
While he was a merchant most of his life, and also succeeded his
oldest brother as Postmaster, he told me that he had master built a
schooner on Newhook’s Point, which was recently confirmed to me by his
son-in-law, Mr. Reginald Woodman.
(7) Second Marriage, 1820
In 1820 Charles Newhook (second) married, at Carbonear, his second
wife, Miss Martha Penny of that Place ( Carbonear Methodist Register).
Evidently the Anglican groom must have shared a doubt of that period of
the legal competence of a Methodist minister to perform marriages, as
the couple were re-married next year, by the Anglican rite (Trinity
Two of the three sons of this marriage, Robert Penny Newhook and
Jonas N. Newhook, became prominent master shipbuilders. They were old
enough at the time of their father’s accidental death in 1839 to have
received some training under him.
(8) Robert Penny Newhook, 1821
Born at New Harbour in 1821, eldest child of the second marriage of
(second). He was twice married, his second wife being Elizabeth
Thorne of New Harbour, and there were children by both marriages.
During his adult life he is known to have lived in new Harbour,
Trinity, Carbonear, New Perlican, Harbour Grace, and, perhaps, Bay
Roberts. Harbour Grace is the place of his lengthiest abode; he was
established there in 1864, and it was very likely his permanent home
thereafter. He also worked at shipbuilding in Connecticut, U.S.A., and
in Retchibucto, New Brunswick. His grandson, Mr. John Peddle of Harbour
Grace, says that he used to travel around working at his trade, and that
he spent at least one year in White Bay.
In his 1934 obituary of Postmaster John Newhook quoted in section (5)
above, H.F. Shortis states that Trinity Bay had been famous for
shipbuilding for over 200 years ( an exaggeration in period, I feel),
and that none of the places in that bay ever came up to New Harbour when
extra good foreign-going vessels were required. He mentions the Barque
Queen, as beating all competitors on foreign voyages.
I have a framed painting of this barque, obviously based on some
older picture of her. There is a printed card inside the glass, reading
as follows: “Barque Queen, 240 Tons. Built at New Harbour, Trinity Bay,
1856, Robert Newhook, Master Builder.” She was built for the Harbour
Grace firm of Punton and Munn. Shortis also says that the Queen is
mentioned in an old record as having made two trips from Harbour Grace
to Brazil in twenty days ( each trip). He further says that the Queen’s
fir voyage was to Liverpoole, England, and that there were several
passengers, including Postmaster John’s brother ( who, I find, was
Thomas Lander Newhook).
An anonymous article entitled “The Old Ships,” in the St. John’s
“Daily News” of 31 January 1959, states that the Queen made trip in 1858
from Liverpoole, England, to Harbour Grace in ten days.
Robert Penny Newhook built at Harbour Grace the brig Maggie. “The
Newfoundlander,” a St. John’s newspaper, in its issue of 21 January
1867, reprints the following news item from the Harbour Grace
“The launch of a new and very handsomely modeled brig took place
yesterday from the building yard if W.J.S. Donnelly, Esq…. amid the
cheers of the assembled multitude and the music of the band of the
Benevolent Society….she was named the Maggie by the lady of the owner,
Mr. Donnelly. The Maggie is a beautifully modeled and substantially
built brig, coppered and copper fastened, and is intended for the
foreign trade. Her builder , Mr Robert Newhook, is favourably known to
the trade, as a builder of some of the finest and fastest vessels
sailing from the Island, and we feel certain that this ship is equal if
not superior to any hitherto built by him….” The builder’s working model
of the Maggie is now on display in the Newfoundland Museum. She was lost
with all hands in the Mediterranean in 1868.
Rev. Arthur Pittman, a native of New Perlician, Trinity Bay, wrote an
article on that place in “The Newfoundland Quarterly” of December 1935,
when about 75 years old; it has this sentence: “I can remember the firm
of Bemister & Co. having two brigantines docked and repaired by Robert
Newhook at New Perlician.
W.A Munn’s article in “The Newfoundland Quarterly” of Autumn 1937
erroneously gives Charles Newhook as the Queen’s builder, page 24.
In a list of vessels built in Newfoundland, appended to the Journal
of the House of Assembly ( or of the Legislative Council) about 1865 \,
there is named a schooner built at Bay Roberts with Robert P. Newhook as
Besides the Queen and the Maggie, Mr. Peddle recollects that his
grandfather built a vessel at Carbonear, presumably for the Rorke firm
there. He died suddenly about 1885 while walking to Harbour Grace from
Bay Roberts, where he was building or repairing a vessel. He is buried
in Harbour Grace.
In my Slade Monograph, published in the St. John’s “Evening Telegram
in 1963 ( August 29th, page 20), there is listed a Servant’s Agreement,
made at Trinity in 1841, whereby Robert P (-Penny) Newhook agrees to
serve the Slade firm as dockman, i.e. Shipwright; he was then about
twenty years old.
No names or particulars are known to me of other vessels that Robert
Penny Newhook master-built or repaired.
(9) Jonas N. Newhook, 1823-1901
Born at New Harbour in 1823, second child of the second marriage of
Charles Newhook ( second). He married Rachel Knight of St. John’s. Early
in adult life, he settled in Jackson’s Cove, Green Bay, where he was a
master shipbuilder, and where he died in 1901 and is buried. His
grandson, Mr. Chesley Ralph Newhook of that place only recalls the name
of one of the vessels he built, the Fleetwing.
In his salty autobiography “When Ships were Ships,” sea-captain
William Morris Barnes, born in St. John’s in 1850, tells on page 9 of
the building of this vessel for his family firm of supplying merchants
and ship owners, and of her first foreign voyage. He writes, “….this
beautiful bark, the Fleetwing….she was the fastest thing ever sailed
salt water. She was built down in a place called Green Bay, built by a
man called Newhook; he was a smart carpenter….” Of her first voyage,
Barnes writes, “She started out for Brazil and she made a very quick run
down, thirty-two days to Pernambuco from St. John’s…..the captain said
that he saw nothing on the whole trip that he didn’t come up with and
pass, and nothing every came up and passed him.”
In his article “Storms and Ships,” page 270 of volume one of
Smallwood’s “Book of Newfoundland, ‘; Captain John P. Horwood writes,
“The barque Fleetwing, 249 tons, was built at Green Bay by Jonas Newhook
and launched in 1856….she is said to have made three different passages
from Harbour Grace to Pernambuco in twenty-one days each passage. An
average passage would be about thirty days.”
Messrs. J.B. Barnes & Co., Captain Barnes’ family firm, advertised
five vessels for sale for sale by auction in “The Telegraph” of St.
John’s on 22 September 1858. The advertisement thus describes his
vessel: “The well-known Barque Fleetwing, 248 tons, coppered high to the
ends, of very superior build, all juniper frame, topsides, trails and
covering boards of Baltimore white oak, keelson of white oak and
Demerara greenheart, with greenheart treenails. This vessel will bear
the strictest examination, and is, without exception, the fastest vessel
in the Trade.”
She came to be owned by Punton and Munn, and a news item in “The
Star” of Harbour Grace, 10 December 1872, reads as follows: “Messrs.
Punton and Munn’s barque the Fleetwing arrived here yesterday from New
York. This fine vessel, now under command of Captain James Pike, made
the passage in six days and four hours; the quickest run we believe on
record made by any sailing vessel from thence to this port. Captain Pike
has of late made some very fast voyages.
In the 1934 obituary quoted in section (5) above, Shortis states that
the Newhook's also built the Tasso for the firm of Stabb, Row, and
Holmwood, St. John’s, the great rival of Kearney’s barque Rothesay (
meaning that Michael Kearney was the master-builder of that vessel).
In his book “Sea Stories from Newfoundland,” Michael F. Harrington
devotes most of a chapter to a neck-and-neck race between the Rothesay
and the Tasso from Demerara, British Guiana, to Cape Spear,
Newfoundland. Both barques left Demerara the same day. On the fourteenth
day out, August 27th, the Tasso sighted Cape Race and soon afterwards
saw another ship nearby, which proved to be the Rothesay and which won
the race to Cape Spear by a very few minutes. The author states that he
Tasso was then about three years old, being “the crowning achievement of
the lifework of Jonas Newhoo, of New Harbour.” This is, of course, Jonas
N. Newhook, and he evidently built the Tasso in his native place before
moving north to Jackson’s Cove.
Captain Barnes also writes that there was only one bark that “ever
did anything with the Fleetwing,” and that was the Tasso. He goes on to
say that the captain of the Tasso said that the fleetwing was the only
thing that could ever beat the Tasso.
To sum up, the credit for producing these two masterpieces of
shipbuilding are, the Fleetwing and the Tasso, belongs to Jonas N.
Newhook of Jacksion’s Cove.
No names or particulars are known to me if other vessels that Jonas
N. Newhook master built or repaired.
(10) William Newhook (Trinity), 1782
Born at “Trinity Bay,” assumedly Trinity, in 1782, second child of
Charles Newhook (first). He married Marty McGrath of Trinity in 1808.
For distinction, I affix the word Trinity to his name, as he was the
only son of Charles Newhook (first) to spend almost his entire adult
life in that place,. His first child was born at New Harbour in 18069,
where he therefore must have lived for a short time.
I have a Servant’s Agreement, made at Trinity in 1819, whereby
William Newhook (Trinity) agrees to serve Robert Slade, merchant there,
for one year in the capacity of master shipwright, for the wages of
fifty ponds for the whole period, plus an agreed list of provisions each
In Bayly’s “List of Ships Surveyed,” quoted in section (4) above,
there is listed the brig Black Prince, 132 tons, built in Trinity in
1841, with the name of Wm. Newhook as builder.
In accession no. 253, at the Newfoundland Archives, there is a
manuscript “List of Mr. Robert Slades’s Servants at Trinity, Fall 1811.”
In it, William Newhook is listed as master shipwright from October 1811
to May 1812, at the wages of 110 shillings per month.
No name or particulars are known to me of other vessels that William
Newhook (trinity) Master built or repaired.
(11) William Newhook ( Catalina), 1823-1902
Born at Trinity in 1823, son of William Newhook (Trinity). Died in
St. John’s in 1902. I affix Catalina to his name, as that is the place
where he was a master shipbuilder. A grandson is Mr. William T. Newhook,
of Churchill Square Apartments, St. John’s.
He married Mary Ann Jeans of Catalina in 1850, and lived most of the
next twenty years of his life there, where sic if his nine children were
born. He was both a shipbuilder and a house carpenter, and he helped
build an Anglican church at Catalina.
He master built at Catalina the banking schooners Cactus and
Hyderangea for Benjamin Snelgrove, supplying merchant; I myself have
seen both vessels.
He moved to St. John’s to live about 1890, accompanied by his
brother, Charles Newhook ( bachelor). He brought with him some old
family letters, written in French, which confirms the French extraction
of the Newhook family. The letters were lost in the Great Fire of 1892.
No names or particulars are known to me of the other vessels that
William Newhook (Catalina) master-built or repaired.
(12) Charles Newhook (bachelor), 1817-95
Born at Trinity in 1817, son of William Newhook (Trinity). Died in
1895 at St. John’s, where he is buried. He never married.
In Hutchinson’s 1864 Directory, he is listed as a shipbuilder at
Messrs. Archibald, and Gilbert G., Christian, of St. John’s, men in
their eighties, recall him as an old, small, bearded man at Trinity when
they were boys there. They know he built a schooner called the Lizzie,
for their grandfather, George Christian. They say the last vessel he
built at Trinity was the Hiawatha, which I myself have seen.
Of his skill, Mr. Archibald Christian relates two anecdotes. First,
he shaped a new stem for a vessel under repairs; when brought to be
fitted in place, not a shaving had to be pared off it. Secondly, when a
shipwright who had built vessel in Prince Edward Island got nervous
about the launching of her, Charles Newhook was brought there from
Trinity and did the job.
Mr. Gilbert G. Christian, when about seven, was launched in the new
schooner Alberta, which Charles Newhook master built in Slade’s Cove,
Trinity, for the local firm of Robert S. Bremner.
In “The Enterprise,” a Trinity newspaper, of 4 December 1909, Rev.
Walter R. Smith, who spent a number of years of his youth at Trinity,
writes as follows: “I saw the new Dart launched in February 1859. She
was a handsome craft, and designed and built by that Al shipbuilder, Mr.
Charles Newhook, who died at St. John’s only a few years ago….she was
not a very fortunate ship…In the future, I may speak of the Isabel,
Thomas, Trinity and Henry Thomas; all these brigs I saw launched. They
were all designed and built by Mr. Charles Newhook.”
A letter signed Rambler in “The Enterprise’s’ issue of 27 November
1909 speaks of “…..a little house in which Mr. Charles Newhook,
shipwright, used to keep the models of the vessels Trinity, Henry Thomas
and many others which he built.”
In the 1934 obituary quoted in section (5) above, Shortis says that
the Newhook's built “…also the famous Henry Thomas, in which Capt. Joe
Houlahan brought in 11,000 seals one spring.
An anonymous article entitled “Harbour Grace History, The Old Ships,
etc., “in the St. John’s “Daily News” of about 19 May 1959, reads in
part as follows:-
“The Henry Thomas, one of the best known ships of those years, was
built by Charles Newhook at Stoneman’s Dock at Trinity, and was launched
on the 8th February 1858. She went to the seal fishery in March that
year under Capt. George Stoneman, and was also employed in foreign ports
with Stoneman as master….. Capt. Field was in charge of her on a voyage
to Sydney, and on her way back she was wrecked St. Pierre. The St.
Pierre merchants bought her and her repaired, and made her the clipper
of the French banking fleet. It was said that she could go through ice
where other ships would get jammed and that she could run 18 knots.”
A news item in “The Courier,” in St. John’s, of 17 January 1855,
reads as follows:-
“On the 4th of January there was launched from the dockyard of
Messrs. R. Slade & Co., Trinity, a fine new brigantine named Isobel, of
the burthen of 151 tons, new measurements. She was built by Mr. Charles
Newhook, is intended chiefly for the seal fishery, and by competent
judges is pronounced a handsome vessel, and as strong as wood, iron and
good workmanship can make her. The launch was witnessed by a crowd of
spectator all wishing success to the good ship and to her long
established and highly respectable owners.
Mr. Andrew Horwood, of 140 Campbell avenue, St. John’s, tells me that
on her first voyage sealing voyage, the Isobel was dismasted in a gale,
that she worked into Trinity under jury rig, was re-rigged as a brig and
went out to the ice again the same spring.
No names or particulars are known to me of other vessels that Charles
Newhook (bachelor) master built or repaired. He was the last Newhook
master shipbuilder to practice that calling in Trinity, T.B.
(13) James Newhook (Norcove), 1788
Born at Trinity in 1788, fifth child of Charles Newhook (first). His
adult life was spent partly at Trinity, partly at New Harbour, perhaps
partly at Dildo and certainly finally at Norman’s Cove, Trinity Bay, at
which last place he appears to have settled about the year 1835. He was
the first progenitor in Norman’s Cove of all the subsequent Newhook
people there. He married first Elizabeth Green, of New Perlician, in
1811, and one of their children as Mrs. Catherine Tilly, of section (2)
above. I affix the abbreviation Norcove to his name, because of his
final residence at Norman’s Cove. He is said to have had twenty-one
children by his two wives.
In Bayly’s “List of Ships surveyed,” quoted in section (4) above,
there is listed the brig Mary, 109 tons, built in Chapel Arm, near
Norman’s Cove, in 1841, with the name of Jas. Newhook, Senr., as
builder. This is obviously James Newhook ( Norcove).
His great-grandson, the late Charles Newhook (died at Norman’s Cove
in 1962, aged 86) knew that he had built one ice-hunter on the beach at
Norman’s Cove, but was of opinion that most of the vessels he built were
On page 82 of volume one of his book “Excursions in and about
Newfoundland,” John B, Jukes mentioned that when he sailed by Norman’s
Cove in July 1839 there was a small schooner on the stocks there.
No names or particulars are known to me of other vessels that James
Newhook (Norcove) master built or repaired.
Newhook descendants, and others, who have helped me with information
about the family are too numerous for listing in this monograph, and I
hereby express my thanks to them all.
(15) Other Shipbuilders
It seems inevitable that other members of the numerous Newhook family
should have been shipbuilder. Such a one was John G. Newhook, who was a
shipbuilder at Trinity for most of his adult life, and all his children
were born there. He moved to love in St. John’s about 1874. His obituary
notice in “The Royal Gazette” of 3 February 1891 reads: “Died on the
25th ultimo, John Newhook, shipbuilder, of Trinity, aged 73 years.” A
grandson is Mr. Samuel J. McNeil, 5 James Lane, St. John’s. He was the
oldest son of James Newhook (Norcove), and a brother of Mrs. Catherine
Tilly. We are unable to say whether or not he was a master shipbuilder
during his career.
(16) Comparison with Kearney
The most prominent master shipbuilder in Newfoundland history is, of
course, Michael Kearney, born in Ferryland in 1811, died at St. John’s
in 1885. This prominence is certainly due in part to the fact that he
worked mostly in such places as Carbonear and St. John’s, within the
reach of newspapers which occasionally recorded his doings. But whether
Michael Kearney was a competent a craftsman as Charles Newhook (second),
Robert Penny Newhook, Jonas N. Newhook or Charles Newhook (bachelor),
who mostly worked in the newspapers more northerly parts of the Island,
is a question that will never be answered.
28 May 1965
Source: Trinity Historical Society