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The Hefford Plantation


Thomas Rowley to Sir Percival Willoughby, Cupers Cove, Winter 1619-1620

I think best to fish this year where we are and in spring settle 5 or 4 to build at new pernican. ... Seeing your desyre, and such is myne allso to settle near harts content, I hold this the best for us to liue this winter att kebbyes kove ... and Fitt ... what boards I can for our building next spring; and; then the first of the yeare; fore Fishing come I may goe ... taking with me a carpenter... my owne masson; and 2 more ... that there may be building in sumer against winter; for my purpose is to builde our dwelling house with stone: then shall we be ready being so neare to them among the savages to see what good beginning we may haue with them the end of the next fishing.

Middleton Manuscript, MI x 1/56 and 1/60, University of Nottingham


English settlement in New Perlican, on the south side of Trinity Bay, dates from the seventeenth-century. One of the first references to a place called ‘Parlican’, comes from a letter written by Captain Charles Leigh in 1597 in which he mentions a Spanish ship, probably Basque, anchored in that harbour. However, this is almost certainly a reference to Old Perlican located roughly 22 miles (35 km) farther out the bay. By at least 1612, ‘Parlican’ was known as Old Perlican (or Old Pernecam). On his 1612 voyage into Trinity Bay, John Guy makes several references to this place by that name. Since the very name Old Perlican suggests the exists of a New Perlican, it seems likely that New Perlican was named by at least this time.

The earliest known documentary references to New Perlican come from the letters of Thomas Rowley. Rowley had been involved with the plantation in Cupids since at least 1612 and had accompanied John Guy on his voyage into Trinity Bay in the fall of that year. In the fall of 1619 Rowley was living at Cupids and making plans to establish a plantation near Heart’s Content at a place he called ‘New Pernican’. The last letter that has survived from Rowley was written at Cupids on 8 February, 1620 and in it he states his intention to leave in the spring with four or five others and settle at New Perlican.

  Whether he actually did or not we do not know. However, it seems clear that Rowley remained in Newfoundland until at least 1628. Certainly, New Perlican was settled by 1675. The Berry census, compiled in that year, lists two planters residing there and a list of planters compiled in 1693 records 18 men, 1 woman and six children living at New Perlican along with 12 servants. Father Jean Baudoin, who accompanied D’Iberville during his assault on the English Shore, reported that there were “nine houses and stores” at New Perlican on 9 February 1697. Over a six day period between October 15 and November 6, 2001, the BTHC’s archaeology crew spent six days surveying New Perlican looking for evidence of a seventeenth-century occupation.

Images (left to right, top to bottom) 1. View of New Perlican Harbour, October 2002. 2. An excerpt from Thomas Rowley’s letter written at Cupids on October 16, 1619 in which he described his plan to settle at “New Pernican”. University of Nottingham, Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections. Used with permission.