The Basilica Cathedral Bells

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

January 1906

Basilica Bells on the steps of the Basilica Cathedral 1906.

Basilica Bells on the steps of the Basilica Cathedral 1906.

If you were walking past Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica) in St. John’s during this week in January of 1906 you might have been curious enough to approach the steps of the church to take a close look at the Joy Bells that sat on the steps of the Cathedral awaiting shipment to Ireland. They were being sent to the famous Murphy foundry on James Street, Dublin, where they were originally cast.

The bells in their day were considered some of the best in the new world.

The bell known as “St. John” built in 1850 was the largest ever cast in Ireland at that time, and won a Gold Medal at the Dublin Exhibition of Irish Manufacturers. The bell, a massive piece, weighs nearly two tons. Upon its arrival in St. John’s in February, 1851, it was hauled by hand to the Basilica, and installed in the East Tower.

The bells sitting on the steps of the Cathedral in January 1906 were made by Murphy, the celebrated Bell maker at Dublin in 1854.

Basilica Bells 2In the tradition of the Catholic Church each of the bells was christened and named before being installed.   In addition to having its own name each bell when originally installed had its own sound or personality.

The bells are:

Mary – 1854 – octave D

Patrick – 1854 -octave E

Bonaventure – 1863 – F sharp

Michael -1906

Matthew – 1906

Anthony – 1906

Francis – 1906

James – 1906

These five bells completed the peal, viz.:  G A B C (sharp) and D (octave)

Following their installation in 1906 the bells rang without interruption until 1988 at which time the cluster of bells was removed from the west tower of the Basilica because of structural weakness in the tower. The bells were placed in storage on site at the Basilica Cathedral. Following years of silence, the bells were again re-installed ringing out on (June 9, 2009) at noon, the first time in over twenty years.

Today you can hear the bells being rung on special “feast days” or special occasions like a wedding.  The largest bell “St. John” rings at noon every day.

Recommended Reading: Tour of the Basilica Cathedral, St. John’s:  http://www.thebasilica.ca/index.cfm?load=page&page=186

Recommended Website: After 21 years, the bells have been reinstalled in the bell tower of the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in St. John’s.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n-ht7bQ8zA 

A rosary was distributed to each man

Archival Moment

January 28, 1915

Mass in the trenches

Mass in the trenches

There was a ritual in Newfoundland throughout the First World War (1914-1918) whereby the young volunteer soldiers gathered under the banner of their own denomination for lectures, prayers and blessings from the priest or minister of their church.

Those of the Roman Catholic faith typically gathered at St. Bonaventure’s College, Bonaventure Ave (directly across the street from The Rooms) for a series of lectures and prayers.

The Evening Telegram reported on January 28, 1915:

“The first of a series of lectures to the Roman Catholic members of the volunteers before their departure for England was given in the oratory of St Bonaventure’s College last night by Reverend Father Joseph Pippy who eloquently portrayed to his listeners the new duties they were entering upon.”

Father Pippy urged strongly the young volunteers:

“to conduct themselves as true men, to uphold the best traditions of their religion and to act as true soldiers in the observance of military duties in order that they might bring credit on themselves, their regiment the colony and the empire.”

The Reverend lecturer exhorted the young men above all toL:

“resist the temptations of intemperance; a righteous cause was being fought. He continued and it behooved every volunteer to do his duty as best he knew how”

The local newspaper correspondent reported “The lecture lasted nearly an hour and was impressive and beneficial to the large number of volunteers present.”

The evening concluded with “Benediction, imparted by Reverend Father Thomas Nangle after which a rosary was distributed to each man.

The men gathered were told that there would be one more token of their faith,

“Prayer books will be given out later before their departure …. the members will (also) attend confession and communion in a body.”

The distribution of the rosary was significant, the rosary would have been a prayer that all of the Catholic volunteers would have known by heart. There was a time when it was a prayer that would have been recited in every Catholic home.

These young me clung to their faith, they especially clung to their rosary beads. Richard A. Howley of St. John’s whose ship the H.M.S. Irresistible had been blown out of the water wrote from his hospital bed in Plymouth, England in 1915:

 

“It was terrific, my legs felt as if they were both broken, and my back as if it had been flayed. I fell on the spot and thought that I was done for. I had a little Rosary … I took it out, kissed the Crucifix and crossed myself, I immediately experienced an extraordinary change , something forcing me into action …”

In the service records of many of the Newfoundland volunteers, they reference turning to their faith.

During the Great War the United States government produced and issued special “combat” rosaries for the spiritual welfare of Catholic soldiers. These rosaries were made to withstand the rugged reality of life in the trenches. Made of brass, washed in silver, and blued to darken the metal (to prevent them from making the soldiers easy targets) these rosaries were made to last. Instead of a traditional chain, the combat rosary featured a significantly stronger “pull chain” from which they are sometimes named.

We have no description of the rosaries that were issued to the Newfoundland volunteers but if you know of or hold a pair that have a connection to the First World War I would love to talk to you about them.

Recommended Archival Collection:   From your home visit the website, The Great War: http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part1_entering_the_great_war.asp

This site contains the military files of over 2200 soldiers ( we have another 4000 on microfilm) from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who served in the First World War. These files are searchable by name or by community and will therefore provide invaluable information for all viewers, but will be of particular interest to those who are conducting either family or community research.

Recommended Exhibit: Pleasantville: From Recreation to Military Installation. Level 2 Atrium Pleasantville before the First World War was the site of the St. John’s cricket grounds. With the declaration of war, Pleasantville quickly emerged as a tent city, the home of the storied “First 500”. It was here that the First Newfoundland Regiment recruits began preliminary military training during the months of September and October of 1914. This exhibition highlights some of the activities and training of the Blue Puttees up to their embarkation on the SS Florizel for overseas service.

Recommended Museum Exhibit: Flowers of Remembrance: Level 2 Museum Vitrine: A number of flowers are associated with the First World War by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, including the familiar forget-me-not and poppy. Such commemorative flowers and their role in the collective memory of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are profiled. Using artifacts and period imagery relating to The Great War commemoration, The Rooms staff explore the significant role these flowers played across the last century.

The Prophet from Placentia

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

January 25

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: VA 130-66.3 Placentia from Castle Hill

On January 25, 1824,  Richard Brothers originally from Placentia, Newfoundland died in the home of a family friend in England.  During his life time the Placentia native stirred much controversy gathering about him critics and disciples.

Richard Brothers was born in Placentia,  25 December 1757. His father was a gunner at what we now call Castle Hill

At the age of fourteen he entered the royal navy. He became a  lieutenant with seniority in 1783, he then asked to be discharged.  Brothers, resigned his majesty’s service on the ground that a military life is totally repugnant to Christianity

In September 1787 Brothers went to London. Here he lived very quietly on a vegetarian diet, and worshipped at a baptist chapel.

In 1790 he began to garner the attention of the public, he began his prophetic career by declaring he had a divine mission to announce the fulfillment of the scriptural prophecies in the Book of Daniel Dan. vii.

He  is credited with proposing a theory now called the Anglo-Israel theory which maintains that the English and their ethnic kinfolk throughout the world are descended from the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.

Brothers described himself as the “Nephew of the Almighty,” because he considered that he was descended from one of the brothers of Jesus, and claimed that in November 1795, he would be revealed as the “Prince of the Hebrews” and “Ruler of the World”.  When this date passed  he was abandoned by many of his disciples,  despite the fact that some of his earlier political predictions (e.g. the violent death of Louis XVI.) had been fulfilled. Brothers had also proclaimed that as a descendent of King David he was the rightful heir to the British Throne. King George III was not amused; in March, 1795 Brothers was committed to a lunatic asylum.

His ideas continued to flourish even from his hospital cell. He wrote his “Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies” (1794),  “A Description of the New Jerusalem” (1801), and “The New Covenant Between God and His People” (a posthumous work, 1830).

He had many influential disciples. In the British House of Commons, Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, M.P.  was his advocate. William Sharp, the engraver, was so fully persuaded of the claims of Brothers that in 1795 he engraved two plates of his portrait. His most faithful disciples was John Finlayson, he removed Brothers from the lunatic asylum and invited him into his home where he later died.

The believers in Brothers theory are not yet extinct, and those who adopt the Anglo-Israel theory regard him as the earliest writer on their side.

It is likely that descendants of this family are still in the province, children of his brothers and a sister who settled on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland.

Recommended Archival Collection: Archives and Special Collection, Memorial University of  Newfoundland. MF 351. Collection consists of seven images of the likeness of Richard Brothers. http://www.library.mun.ca/qeii/cns/archives/cnsarch.php

Recommended Web Site: http://olivercowdery.com/texts/brot1797.htm

Recommended Reading: Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies” (1794), A Description of the New Jerusalem” (1801), and “The New Covenant Between God and His People” (a posthumous work, 1830).

The first time that the “Ode to Newfoundland” was sung

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

January 21, 1902

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives  MG 596 -110 sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives MG 596 -110 sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland.

On January 22, 1902, the local St. John’s newspaper, The Daily News, reported that on the previous evening at the Casino Theatre in St. John’s  that the      “Newfoundland “ now known as ‘The Ode To Newfoundland’ was sung for the very first time.  The new song was greeted enthusiastically.

The newspaper article reads:  “Miss Frances Daisy Foster rendered with exquisite feeling a new song entitled “Newfoundland.” It proved a pleasant surprise and the general appreciation of it was marked by the audience joining spontaneously in the chorus.”

The “Ode to Newfoundland” was composed by Governor, Sir Cavendish Boyle, the music for the Governor’s poem was arranged by Professor E.R. Krippner.

The Daily News reporter knew that he had heard something very special, he observed “he has given us a poem which may be chosen as the Colony’s own anthem.”

The words have since become etched in Newfoundlanders’ collective memory.

When Sunrays crown thy pine clad hills,

And Summer spreads her hand,

When silvern voices tune thy rills,

We love thee smiling land,

We love thee, we love thee

We love thee, smiling land.

When spreads thy cloak of shimm’ring white,

At Winter’s stern command,

Thro’ shortened day and starlit night,

We love thee, frozen land,

We love thee, we love thee,

We love thee, frozen land.

When blinding storm gusts fret thy shore,

And wild waves lash thy strand,

thro’ sprindrift swirl and tempest roar,

we love thee, wind-swept land,

We love thee, we love thee,

We love thee, wind-swept land.

As loved our fathers, so we love,

Where once they stood we stand,

Their payer we raise to heav’n above,

God guard thee, Newfoundland,

God guard thee, God guard thee,

God guard thee, Newfoundland.

Recommended Archival Collection:  At the Rooms Provincial Archives Division take some time to look at  MG 956.110  this item consists of sheet music, lyrics, and illustrated cover for patriotic composition, Newfoundland.

Recommended (Academic) Reading: The Newfoundland Journal:  Volume 22, Number 1 (2007) Imagining Nation: Music and Identity in Pre-Confederation Newfoundland: Glenn Colton: Lakehead University. http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/nflds/article/view/10096/10349

Recommended (Children) Reading:  Ode to Newfoundland – Geoff Butler an illustrated book celebrating the land, seascapes, people, and traditions of Newfoundland.

Recommended Activity: Sing your heart out – sing along.   http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/01/anthem.htm

“Dunning” his neighbor and friend leads to fistcuffs and assault.

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

January 20, 1885

Dunning - 17th century verb dun, meaning to demand payment of a debt.

Dunning – 17th century verb dun, meaning to demand payment of a debt.

Many people trying to manage debt problems have unfortunately experienced the added stress of dealing with persistent calls from collection agencies. Today, the collectors harass by phone but there was a time when it was much more personal, much more “in your face.”

In January 1885 Charles Coveyduck of Upper Gullies was determined to get his friend and neighbor Edward Corbett to repay  £5 that he had loaned him, so determined  was Coveyduck that he harassed Corbett day after day. This relentless pursuit was known as “dunning”, the word stems from the 17th century verb dun, meaning to demand payment of a debt.

Edward Corbett was fed up with the “dunning” and told his neighbor in no uncertain terms.  The conversation got rather heated, Coveyduck shouted that “he had something better to do than dancing attendance upon Corbett”  and “called Corbett out of his name.”

Their animosity had grown such that the local St. John’s newspaper, The Telegram reported on January 20, 1885:

“Thereupon Coveyduck caught Corbett by the collar of the coat and administered what the spruce young chap on Prescott Street would term “condign punishment.”  However, it was a square game of fistcuffs on both sides, a mode of settling disputes that has a certain recommendation, in itself in these troublous times. They departed bad friends and as Coveyduck wadded through the evergreen glades of the pleasant village of Upper Gullies he vowed that he would make his antagonist “sweat for it in Mr. Prowse’s Court.”

True to his word Coveyduck with his lawyer, Mr Carty at his side and Corbett with his lawyer,  Mr. Emerson at his side stood before Judge Prowse.

His worship, Judge Prowse heard the case fully but as there were certain mitigating circumstances in favor of the accused, (the excessive dunning) he fined Corbett only fifty cents and costs.

The smile was soon wiped off Corbett’s face, in the subsequent civil action for recovery of the £5, judgment was given to Coveyduck in the full amount claimed.

The two friends, Coveyduck and Corbett, should have heeded the words of Shakespeare:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be,

For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 75–77

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to explore  GN 170 Newfoundland and Labrador court records collection. (microfilm) The collection  of court records looks at  decisions of the court s predominantly  involving debt,  forgery, manslaughter, murder, property disputes,  assault, smuggling, noise complaints, larceny, damages, judgments, casting away of vessels, indecent assault, rape, arson, drunkenness,  etc.  http://www.therooms.ca/archives/

Old Word:  “Dunning” is the process of methodically communicating with customers to ensure the collection of accounts receivable. Communications progress from gentle reminders to almost threatening letters as accounts become more past due. The word stems from the 17th century verb dun, meaning to demand payment of a debt.

Luckless compounder of “sugar and spice…”

Archival Moment

January 18, 1886

Chef-Drinking-Wine-Bottle-HolderCooks have a reputation of being temperamental, they have been known to burst into fits of rage and walk out of the kitchen. Such, was the temperament of Henry Laneman, one of the pastry cooks at the Atlantic Hotel in St. John’s.

The Atlantic Hotel, located at 102 Water Street was the most prestigious hotel in the city at the time. It was opened in 1875 by J.W. Foran.

There was the practice in the larger kitchens of St. John’s in the 1880’s that allowed for “hotel cooks to be given a liberal allowance of pale brandy” it was “one of the perquisites of hotel cooks.”

In January 1886, Henry Laneman was angry, on this occasion the pastry cook got a sufficiency of liquor to make him saucy enough to ask for “more.” He felt that his employer John Foran, the proprietor of the Atlantic Hotel had “stinted” the supply of pale brandy, he was so angry that assaulted the proprietor of that establishment.

The police were quickly on the scene and marched Mr. Laneman, described in the local newspapers as “the luckless compounder of sugar and spice and all that’s nice,” off to prison.

Mr. Foran did not press the charge of assault  but because of the police interference  the case went before the courts, Judge Daniel Prowse looked down compassionately at the prisoner.

The local St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram reported:

“Judge Prowse was inwardly imagining, no doubt, what the pastry cooks feelings would have been on suddenly finding himself transferred from a luxurious discussion of “soups, roasts and ragouts” to the stern realities of “hard tack and cold water”.

Judge Prowse decided that, in view of the pangs already suffered by the pastry cook, imprisonment would not be the proper course to serve, but he “insisted that the cook pay a fine of three dollars to appease the angry wraith of justice.”

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives take some time to read GN 1/16 this collection includes Daily Programs, Government House Dinners, seating, plans, menus etc. 1913-1922. Take a look at how the upper crust of St. John’s lived and dined.

“Genealogy, sex, finance, and sports …. and the place of archives.“

 

Archival Moment

January 16, 1888

“Genealogy, sex, finance, and sports ….  and the place of archives.“

newfoundland-bookIt has long been recognized that people are passionate about their family and their family origins, in fact genealogy (genea comes from the Greek word for family, thus genealogy translates as the study of family origin) is considered one of the most popular hobbies in the world.

Time Magazine in an April 1999 cover article named genealogy as one of the four most popular topics on the Internet. (sex, finance, and sports were the other three.) Genealogy has remained high on the list ever since.

There was a time in Newfoundland when genealogists were frustrated; there were no official institutions in place to help them to build a family tree. One of the first residents of the colony (now province) to recognize this reality was James Murray a St. John’s, Water Street merchant.  In January 1888 Murray wrote to the St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram:

“I cannot but express my regret; even at this late day, no effective steps have yet been taken in this colony by which genealogical records may be kept in a public, official and systematic way. As we may fairly assume that the colony has now a definite future before it, I think that no further time should be lost in supplying this lack of vital statistics, the last, but not least, distinguishing mark of civilization.”

Another decade was to pass before the recommendations of Murray were to be heeded. Civil registration started in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1891. Beginning at that time, all clergy were required to register with the government, all baptisms, marriages and burials conducted within their jurisdiction. Prior to 1891, no such central registry existed, so the only records of baptism, marriage or burial were the ones held by the churches.

It was not until 1956 that a grant from the Carnegie Foundation of New York allowed a group of academics at Memorial University of Newfoundland to begin to collect organize and describe various collections of historic government records which included marriage, birth and death registers.

In 1959 the Provincial Government of Newfoundland  passed the Historic Objects, Sites and Records Act which established the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL). At that point the records were transferred to PANL located in the Colonial Building on Military Road.

In 2005 the Provincial Archives Division was established in The Rooms.

It was ironic that Murray who was so passionate about keeping records in a “public, official and systematic way’ in the Great Fire of 1892, which razed much of St. John’s, lost all that was dear to him.  While the Murray premises were spared, the records (that he held so dear) were destroyed when the safe in which they were stored was opened too quickly after the conflagration.

Recommended Archives: Vital Statistics Division, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have birth, marriage and death records from 1892 to the present. For records PRIOR to 1892, please contact the Rooms Provincial Archives at (709) 757-8088  or archives@therooms.ca

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives: http://www.therooms.ca/archives/family_history_collections.asp

Recommended Reading:  Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland E.R. Seary (Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1976). Corrected edition by William J. Kirwin. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998