History of the Colony of Avalon

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Ferryland names





Documents relating to Ferryland: 1597 to 1726

1 February, 1710; Archibald Cumings
"The Memorial of Archibald Cumings in relation to the fortifying of Ferryland in Newfoundland..."

Great Britain, PRO, Colonial Office, CO 194/4 (118), 482.
CNS microfilm. Transcribed by P.E. Pope.

Subjects: Pool, Downs, forest, fish, ship, boats, fortification, plan.


The Memorial of Archibald Cumings in Relation to the fortifying of Ferryland in Newfoundland for the Reasons following, viz.

1st Ferryland for the situation most convenient for fortification, it being a narrow neck or peninsula not above 20 or 30 yards from sea to sea, which may easily be made an Island if needful.

2ly The Down [Ferryland Downs] is a rising ground and no part nigh to annoy it being all clear of woods [forest] and having a prospect to the landward and a vast prospect north, south and eastwards and no ship can come nigh within seven or eight leagues but must be seen, it being the easternmost point of land.

3ly When fortified it protects every ship, stage, house and storehouse anywhere to be built there and the Downs is proper for a town, that it can contain 7 or 800 families.

4ly A garrison there protects the fishing boats when fishing for they seldom go farther from the Down but that a cannon shot can reach them.

5ly The narrow entrance of the harbour, it being not above 100 fathoms, over which the garrison, if any be, can fully command that no ship dare attempt coming in and a chain or cable may be easily fixed.

6ly There are two extraordinary large harbours adjoining, one called Caplin Bay, within a mile to the northward, and another, called Aquafort, about a mile to the southward, and the vast conveniences those harbour have for fish and bait in the Caplin scull above others.

7ly There is a Pool in Ferryland, where ten or a dozen sail of ships lie as in a wet dock and so convenient for careening ships that I saw in the year 1708, Her Majesty's Ship LOO (carrying 42 guns), Captain Harland commander, heaved down within two stakes of her keel, as well as in a wet dock in Britain, without the assistance of another ship but only by fixing his capstan in the beach, which Captain Harland, now in town, can justify.

8ly That the harbour can contain 50 sail of ships, which is more than is generally in any harbour until the fleet is making up, which Caplin Bay being nigh is most proper for making fleets up in and extraordinary good grounds, it being the bay that fleets were formerly made up in.

9ly That the harbour of Ferryland, for fish, bait, and good conveniences for making fish, excels all others in the country and for making winter voyages extraordinarily good.

10ly That Caplin Bay, being so situate that if men of war [warships] lies there a signal can be given from Ferryland Down or Head to them immediately to slip in pursuit of the enemies ships, who generally make Cape Broyle Head, or to protect our own ships in coming in, who generally make the same land.

[signed] Archibald Cumings

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