Pickmore, Francis (c.1756-1818)
Francis Pickmore was born circa 1756, probably in England. He was acquainted with
Newfoundland early in his naval career, being stationed there as a lieutenant in 1777. By 1814 he
had reached the rank of vice-admiral, and he was appointed governor of Newfoundland in 1816,
arriving in September that year.
Pickmore's term coincided with a period of economic and social crisis. A severe economic
depression had hit the island following the Napoleonic wars, and a large number of immigrants,
mainly from Ireland, placed a great strain on available resources. Fires in St. John's further
aggravated the situation, and provisions were short. Pickmore only stayed for two months in
1816, and his second-in-command, Commander David Buchan, remained to take charge.
Pickmore did not return until the autumn of 1817, and became the first governor of
Newfoundland to stay the winter. The seal and cod fisheries had been poor, and he faced a
Conditions were probably worse than the year earlier, and the season that followed became
known as the "Winter of the Rals" (rowdies). There was a severe frost from November onwards.
Fires during the same month destroyed houses and stores of provisions, and left about 2,000
people homeless. Vandalism and social disorder followed.
Pickmore did what he could to alleviate the situation, but he was not in good health. His residence
at Fort Townshend, built for summer use, was cold and uncomfortable. The combination of hard
work and harsh living conditions killed him. He died in St. John's on 24 February, 1818. Captain
John Bowker, a senior officer under Pickmore's command, acted as governor until Governor Sir
Charles Hamilton arrived in July.
<< Previous Governor |
Next Governor >>