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Historical Information

Conception Bay North Region - Harbour Grace District

The Harbour Grace Affray

This was a conflict between the Irish Catholics of Riverhead and the Southside of Harbour Grace and the Orangemen who came from Harbour Grace, Carbonear and other towns.

There were between 400 and 500 people gathered for the Orangemen and between 100 and 150 people for the Irish Catholics.
It was on December 26th, 1883 that the Orangemen formed up at the British Hall and attended a Divine Service at the Methodist Church on Water Street and paraded around Harbour Grace before returning to their hall.

When they were near Pippy's Lane, they were stopped by the Irish Catholics from Riverhead whose objective was to prevent the Orangemen from passing through a lane from Harvey Street to Water Street as they felt the Orangemen were encroaching on their territory.

Tempers were aroused, shots were fired and the serious disturbance which followed resulted in the death of five people and injuries to seventeen.

Twenty-seven people were arrested for the deaths of those that died at the scene in which all were later acquitted.

A court case was held at Supreme Court in St. John's. All transcriptions were placed in a book by Mildred Howard which is available to view at the Queen Elizabeth II Library, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Newfoundland Studies section. Mildred Howard's grandfather, Charles Taylor, gave sworn testimony at the court case for what he saw on December 26th.

Bill Taylor
Feb 21, 99

Killed in the Affray:
  • William Jeans, aged 21, Carbonear
  • William French, 40 years, Courage's Beach, Harbour Grace
  • Patrick Callahan, 56 years, Southside Harbour Grace
  • John Bray, an aged man, Courage's beach, Harbour Grace
  • Thomas Nicholas, Oterbury, Harbour Grace
Wounded in the Affray:
  • John Webber, Death Hill, HG, wounded in the shoulder and leg - nine shot holes in shirt; three in leg and shoulder
  • William Henry Anthony, Death Hill, HG, wounded in shoulder, one shot
  • William Brown, (son of Frederick), Mayne's Brook, HG, wounded in face
  • Moses Nicholas, Mayne's Brook, HG, 26 shots in him
  • Solomon Martin, Martin's Brook, HG, wounded in back and lungs, very bad, spitting blood
  • Reuben Courage, Courage's Beach, HG, shot in arm
  • James Bray, Courage's Beach, HG, wounded in back, two shot holes, one in lungs, spitting blood
  • John Bray, Courage's beach, HG, beaten about the head with sticks; stupefied from it; insensible
  • Thomas Luffman, of Noad Road, HG, shot in neck
  • Patrick Dormody, River Head, HG, Wounded; one shot in back, and two scalp wounds, not deep
  • Henry Noseworthy, Bryant's Cove, shot passed through face
  • William Cleary, Carbonear, wounded in back, two shots in body, badly wounded, spitting blood
  • Two Vatcher's of Carbonear
  • Edward Callahan, River Head, shot in left side of neck
  • Thomas Walsh, River Head, wounded in head
  • William Best, Harvey Street, wounded in back
  • William George, Southside, wounded in Back
  • Robert Lilly, "the Marsh", wounded in leg
Fatal Accident:

"An accident, which terminated fatally during the course of the present week, occurred at Caplin Cove on St. Stephen's Day. It seems that a man named William Webber of the above place was engaged in firing a few du joie as the Orange procession was passing along the neighborhood. Having fired several rounds, he was in the act of reloading when a charge, which was partly down the barrel exploded owing to the gun having become heated from too frequent use. The thumb, with some of the sinews of the right hand, were badly lacerated. We hear that the wound was progressing favorably, but that the unfortunate man incautiously ventured out of doors and caught a severe cold. Lockjaw speedily ensued, followed on Wednesday last by his death. The deceased leaves a wife and two children to mourn his sad and untimely end."
The Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser, 5 Jan. 1884


William Janes (Jeans); Patrick Callahan and William French, took place Saturday. The whole proceedings on the occasion were conducted in the most orderly manner. (The Newfoundlander, 1 Jan. 1884)

Arrested and Charged

with the "willful murder" of Patrick Callahan (of the River Head Party), were Constable Edward Doyle, Josiah Bray, Edmund Butt, Edward Ash, Ambrose Williams, James Courage and Charles French. The Solicitor General, Hon. J.S. Winter (who was also Grand Master of the Orange Society at that time), appeared for the Crown and Messrs G.H. Emerson and P.J. Scott appeared for the defense, while Mr. W.O. Wood held a watching brief on behalf of Doyle. The Magisterial inquiry was held before Judge Bennett at Harbour Grace, and the prisoners were later acquitted. Doyle was arrested on January 7th and the other defendants on the 8th by a detachment of Mounted Police under Head Constable John Sullivan. Head Constable Doyle was suspended from the Force because of his alleged involvement in the shooting of Callahan. He was reinstated 21 May, 1885."

Alan O'Neill

© Bill Taylor, Al O'Neill, and NL GenWeb