Thomas Cleasby [Captain HMS SAPHIRE, 1696, Captain HMS LIME, 1697, Captain HMS MARY GALLY, 1699]; 23 March, 1708
Great Britain, PRO, Colonial Office,
CO 194/4 (63), 212v.
CNS microfilm. Transcribed by P.E. Pope.
Thomas Cleasby - maketh oath that in the year 1696 he, this deponent, being then Commander of His Majesty's Ship the SAPHIRE and sent convoy to Newfoundland, where this deponent continued cruising from time to time and rendezvousing at Caplin Bay and Ferryland till September in the same year, at which time the French attacked the English settlements both by sea and land, and burned and destroyed all of the country, some few places to the northward excepted. And this deponent saith that Ferryland, his place where he this deponent then was, was all consumed to ashes and in particular diverse houses, stages, cookrooms, tenements and other conveniences built by and belonging to Mr. David Kirke [II]. And the deponent farther saith that he, this deponent, was carried prisoner to France. All, or the most part, of the inhabitants of Ferryland were taken and carried prisoners to Placentia, in which number were Mr. David Kirke [II], his wife and family. And this deponent farther saith that in the year 1697 he, this deponent, being then Commander of His Majesty's Ship LIME, was sent again to Newfoundland, in company of a squadron of men of war [warships] and land forces, to recover the country out of the hands of the enemy. But before they arrived the enemy was retired, after having made all the spoil they should. And this deponent further saith that sometime in the summer of the year 1697, Mrs Kirke, now Mrs Benger [Mary Kirke = Mary Benger], came into the harbour of St. John's, where this deponent saw her, and she told this deponent her husband died a prisoner and that she herself could not, nor indeed could any of the rest of the inhabitants, as this deponent believed, return to their settlements at Ferryland sooner, the country being in sad confused and lamentable a condition. And this deponent further saith that in the year 1698, to the best of this deponent's remembrance, the Parliament passed an Act to Encourage the Trade to Newfoundland ["King William's Act"], in which act the commanders of the men of war [warships] are empowered to determine all differences concerning fishing rooms etc., which act this deponent refers. After the passing of which act this deponent was, in the year 1699, as this deponent remembers, again commanded to Newfoundland, being the Commander of His Majesty's Ship the MARY GALLY, with directions to put the said act of Parliament in execution, which he did together with Captain Andrew Leake, Commander of His Majesty's Ship the HAMPSHIRE. And amongst the rest of the matters determined there, Mrs Kirke, late wife of Mr David Kirke [II], now called Mrs Benger, prayed relief against one Cade, a master of a ship, who had unjustly possessed himself of a fishing room at Ferryland called Pool Plantation, which for many years together and until the aforesaid attack of the French, had belonged to her late husband, Mr David Kirke [II], and was left to her by her said husband. And thereupon a court was held and witnesses summoned, sworn and examined; and after full inquiry and searching into the matter, it was found, by undeniable evidence, that the said room did belong to the said Mrs Kirke. Upon which, Captain Leake ordered him, this deponent, to go or send to Ferryland, to give the possession of the said fishing room, which he this deponent did, accordingly. And as he, this deponent, was informed and did verily believe, hath ever since peaceably enjoyed the same and thereon yearly built all necessary houses, stages, cookrooms, train vats and other conveniences, till the last year , when she was interrupted, as this deponent hath therein been informed, in the enjoyment thereof.
Jurat 23 die martii 1707 [signed] Thomas Cleasby
[Sworn 23 day of March 1707 old style, 1708, new style]
Coram me [Before me] [signed] Robert Downer