Conception Bay North Region - Northern CBN District
The Descendants of Robert TraversResearched by William G. Travers.
Please Note: William can be contacted by email or by snail mail. Snail mail info at the bottom of this page.
There is also a pdf version of the descendants of Robert Travers. Click here to download.
The following is a genealogical history of Robert Travers of Newfoundland and his descendants. Having researched the Travers name for a number of years, making two visits to St John’s Archives, utilizing the Latter Day Saints (LDS) Family History Center, using internet genealogical websites, corresponding with family members and other descendants of the Travers family, I have concluded that the first Travers of my family line in Newfoundland was Robert Travers who married Mary King in 1825 in a place called Upper Small Point, Conception Bay.
In the course of the research, there were four (4) different spellings found of the surname: Travers, Traverse, Travis, and Travess. These variations were generally the result of how the priest/pastor, or recorder felt the name should be spelled. I have chosen Travers for this narrative, as Robert’s name was spelled this way in his marriage to Mary King, as were their children’s name when baptized in the Anglican Church. However, the records and descendant charts included with the narrative will have the individuals’ names spelled as they were generally recorded.
A compact disc (CD) is accompanied with the narrative that includes photographs, and electronic copies of available baptisms, marriages and death records of those Travers individuals, and spouses which help to confirm the writer’s findings.
The following sections were chosen to assist in understanding the records, and hopefully provide some clarity to the reader of the family history of Robert Travers and his descendants.
Section I: Church and other Records
Section II: Family Records and Oral History
Section III: Conception Bay, Newfoundland
Section IV: Upper Small Point, Conception Bay, Newfoundland
Section V: Robert Travers, Mary King, and their Children
Section VI: Conversion to the Roman Catholic Church
Section VII: Second and Third Generation-Upper Small Point
Section VIII: The French Shore-Coachman’s Cove, Fleur de Lys, and Goose Cove
Section IX: Immigration to the United States through Nova Scotia
Section X: Poole, Dorset, England
Section XI: Other Travers Families in Newfoundland
Section XII: Summary
SECTION I: CHURCH AND OTHER RECORDS
In the course of the research, eleven (11) churches in Newfoundland, including Anglican, Methodist and Roman Catholic; and the available Newfoundland death registers from 1891 forward were researched to obtain the information that would assist the writer in reaching his conclusions. Unfortunately, some church records have not survived, mostly because of fires, in particular the Roman Catholic records of Harbour Grace 1845-1849.
The earliest records can be found in St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland, followed by Harbour Grace, and then Carbonear. A good aid in locating the timeline flow of church records can be found at the archives in St John’s. Understanding which church recorded the event is invaluable. Without knowing which church had responsibility for that timeline, one could be researching the incorrect records. Also, to further aid the researcher, it is important to understand the mode of travel in the 1800’s.
Small fishing villages (outports) where most of our ancestors resided did not have churches. Priests and pastors traveled by boat to these outports for the baptisms and marriages, and in some cases months or up to a few years could pass before their arrival. Determining when someone was born can be difficult by the baptism record date alone, i.e. a death record shows the person died at the age of 80 years in 1905, indicating a birth date of 1825. However, if the recorded baptism date is 1827, this may cause some confusion as to whether or not one is researching the appropriate individual.
Other records researched were the Crown Land Grants, Land Deeds, and Wills and Administrations. These records are available in St John’s Land Office, or through the Family History Centers of the Latter Day Saints. No deeds, wills or administrations were found that were relevant to the writer’s research.
SECTION II: FAMILY RECORDS AND ORAL HISTORY
Family records for the most part were scarce. Oral history, however, did assist the writer to some degree. Paul Hoven of Cornerbrook, NL sent the following: “The original John Travers came from England and met his wife a Murphy from Ireland on the boat over. This wife died and he married again in Brule, Bonavista Bay, research shows that Bruley is in Placentia Bay”. This information gave the writer a good starting point. Although Placentia Bay on the south side of Newfoundland turned out to be the incorrect location, a John Travers did marry a Murphy, though they did not meet on the boat.
William Henry Travers, my grandfather, made a number of notes in his bible that helped to provide additional information on his children, not otherwise known to me or other family members.
Julie Coombs (nee Bailey), of Coachman’s Cove, provided the writer with an excellent history of the Cove, critiqued my findings, and in general assisted in keeping my interest in the research.
SECTION III: CONCEPTION BAY, NEWFOUNDLAND
The lower section of Conception Bay is about a 1 hour drive west from St. John’s, and another hour or so to the head of the bay. On the west side of the bay there are two larger towns, Carbonear and Harbour Grace. Harbour Grace has a rich history and was a rival to St. John’s during the 1800’s as a major seaport for maritime trade with England. Following is an excerpt from the Harbour Grace website. “By 1815, shipbuilding yards were producing vessels in excess of 300 tons. During this time, cod and seals were being caught in increasing numbers. The growth of the sealing industry resulted in changes in social customs, provided additional winter work in building the boats, and added to the wealth of Harbour Grace. Using a newly developed method of rendering seal oil in boilers over heat, Harbour Grace soon excelled in the production of this oil. An influx of Irish immigrants in 1825 added to the town's population and commerce. By the mid-1800's there was once again considerable merchantile activity. Cod was still seen as the only real source of wealth, the seal hunt and shipbuilding became sources of pride and rivalry. In 1857 Harbour Grace's population totalled 5,095 residents.”
Five (5) kilometers north of Harbour Grace is Carbonear and 25 kilometers (15 miles) further north is Upper Small Point, which today is named Kingston.
SECTION IV: UPPER SMALL POINT, CONCEPTION BAY
Upper Small Point, a small fishing outport was similar to others during the early 1800’s. Homes were close to the shoreline, and most every family made their living from cod fishing. According to the 1835 voting census, there were seven (7) families registered for Upper Small Point, Robert Travers being one of those. The others named were: Maurice Hurley, John Hurley, Richard Hayden, John King, Jeremiah Leary, and John Squires. I mention these names, as some of them were a key in assisting the writer in his research. By 1871, there were 19 families registered to vote. But, in most cases they were descendants of the original families. The surnames in 1871 were: Clare, Faley, Hayden, Hurley, King, Leary, Short, and Travers. In 1894, the voting census showed no changes in the surnames.
Today there are approximately seven (7) Travers families residing in Upper Small Point.
SECTION V: ROBERT TRAVERS, MARY KING, AND THEIR CHILDREN
From all the records the writer researched, it appears that Robert Travers arrived in Newfoundland sometime in the early 1820’s, established himself as a fisherman, and then married Mary King on March 3, 1825 in Upper Small Point. The marriage is recorded in the Blackhead/Bay de Verde Methodist Church Records, Provincial Archives Volume 52B.
Following their marriage, Robert and Mary had five (5) children.
John was born November 20, 1825, baptized June 4, 1826, as recorded in the Church of England, Anglican Church, Carbonear.
Elizabeth was born August 29, 1828, baptized the January 18, 1829, as recorded in the Church of England, Anglican Church, Carbonear.
Sarah was born January 19, 1831, baptized June 12, 1831, as recorded in the Church of England, Anglican Church, Carbonear.
William was born July 27, 1833, baptized November 27, 1833, as recorded in the Church of England, Anglican Church, Harbour Grace.
Thomas was born November 2, 1835, baptized June 26, 1836, as recorded in the Church of England, Anglican Church, Harbour Grace.
Sometime after the last child was born in 1836, and before May of 1841, something tragic must have occurred to Robert, Mary, and their third child William. For, on May 13, 1841, the four surviving children were baptized in the Roman Catholic Church.
SECTION VI CONVERSION TO THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Four entries are made in the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Harbour Grace on May 13, 1841.
“John Travers Protestant adult baptized.” John would have been 16 years of age.
“Elizabeth Travers Protestant baptized.” Elizabeth would have been 13 years of age.
“Sarah Travers Protestant baptized.” Sarah would have been 9 years of age.
“Thomas Travers Protestant baptized.” Thomas would have been 6 years of age.
As mentioned in the previous section, both parents and son William most likely died, and the four children were taken in by a catholic family. Just above and below the baptisms for the children are the following entries: Above-“Baptized, John of Thomas King and Rachel King, Sponsors, Timothy Hayden and Alice McDonald.” Below-“Baptized, Charles of William Southwell and Mary King.” Both of these families are from Upper Small Point, and one of them may have taken in the Travers children.
SECTION VII SECOND AND THIRD GENERATION-UPPER SMALL POINT
Records for the St Patrick’s Catholic Church of Carbonear are only available after 1849. For earlier records, the Immaculate Conception Church of Harbour Grace are required, and no records of Harbour Grace exist between 1845 and 1865 because of fire. As a result, there is no surviving record for the marriage of John Travers to Sera Murphy, or the birth of their first child, Robert abt. 1845.
Following are the marriage records of the second generation.
John Travers married Sera Murphy, abt. 1845.
Elizabeth Travers- no marriage record found
Sarah Travers married John Reardon March 8, 1861
Thomas Travers married a Bridget, last name unknown. The only record I found on this Thomas is a baptism recorded in Goose Cove on The French Shore in 1880, where a Thomas Travers and Bridget Travers were sponsors to the baptism of a John Thomas Travers, parents Robert Travers and Ellen Ward.
Records for the third and future generations the writer researched in detailed were only for the descendants of John Travers and Sera Murphy. A cursory research was done on the other siblings of John, but further work is required.
John Travers and Sera Murphy had 12 children. When Sera died sometime after 1867, John remarried in 1869 to Elizabeth Cotter and they had 6 children.
John and Sera’s children were all born between the years 1846 and 1867. To the writer’s knowledge, John and Sera resided in Upper Small Point along with their children during this timeframe. When Sera died, John married Elizabeth Cotter and their children were born between the years 1869 and 1879, again all from Upper Small Point. The writer did find the death record for John. He died September 12, 1905, at the age of 80 years, and is buried at the Gussett’s Cove Cemetery, which is just north of Upper Small Point. Elizabeth Cotter died July 2, 1892 at the age of 51. No cemetery was listed in the death register. No death record was found for Sera Murphy.
The names of the children by both marriages are included in the CD as an adjunct to this narrative.
SECTION VIII THE FRENCH SHORE-COACHMAN’S COVE
FLEUR DE LYS AND GOOSE COVE
John Travers, along with his wife Sera Murphy, and second wife Elizabeth Cotter remained in Upper Small Point their entire lives. One child by John’s first marriage, a William, and a child by the second marriage, Michael, are the only children recorded in later years 1894-1935 in Upper Small Point.
Five brothers Robert, Peter, Richard, John, and Thomas, from the marriage of John Travers and Sera Murphy, left Upper Small Point sometime in the late 1870’s for the French Shore of Newfoundland. The earliest record found there was Robert’s marriage to Ellen Ward in 1877 at a place called Goose Cove. A daughter Elizabeth, was baptized in 1878 in the same location, along with a son John Thomas in 1880. Later, Robert, and a brother Peter resided in Fleur de Lys, raised their families, and lived out their lives at this outport. Robert the oldest, died in 1914 at the age of 69 from stomach cancer. Peter the second oldest died in 1899, at the age of 49 from consumption (TB).
Richard, John, and Thomas located in Coachman’s Cove, a few miles to the south of Fleur de Lys. The writer was unable to find any record of marriage for Richard. John married Clara Downey of Coachman’s Cove, and Thomas married Margaret Condon of St John’s. Both Richard, and John remained in Coachman’s Cove. Thomas, along with his wife and all six children and their families left for Nova Scotia and arrived in the town of Stellarton on December 10, 1909.
SECTION IX: IMMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES THROUGH NOVA SCOTIA
Thomas and family spent three years in Stellarton, Nova Scotia. Their oldest son William Henry Travers, my grandfather, worked at the mines in Stellarton after receiving his miner’s competency certificate on June 2, 1910. The other family members of Thomas, age 57, residing in Nova Scotia at this time were his wife Margaret Condon, age 47, oldest son William Henry, age 26, and his wife Bridget Woodford, age 23, and Thomas’ other children, Patrick, age 25, John age 22, Hugh, age 17, Cecilia age 15, and Ellen age 12.
In 1914, the family left Nova Scotia for the United States, where they took up residence in Dorchester, Massachusetts, a town adjacent to Boston on April 6, 1914. Most of the men in the family worked in the shipyards throughout the Boston area, and raised their families. Daughter Ellen died a few years after arriving in 1917. Cecilia married a Joseph Nicholson. According to the 1930 census, the family continued to reside in Dorchester. Thomas died in 1945 at the age of 90, his wife Margaret Condon died in 1924. Both, along with their daughter Ellen are buried at the New Calvary Cemetery in Mattapan, MA.
SECTION X: POOLE, DORSET, ENGLAND
From the history books;
“What Cabot found in June 1497 was not only a "Newfoundland" but also one of the largest fishing grounds ever discovered by man. The seas were teeming with cod, so much so, that the passage of ships was impeded. The news of the abundant fish stocks tempted some of the more adventurous mariners of Poole and by 1528 records show that large quantities of salt - an essential ingredient for the salt-fish trade was being landed at Poole. Over the next fifty years the trade with Newfoundland steadily grew to meet the demand for fish from the catholic countries of Europe.
From the late 1600's until about 1815 Poole enjoyed a period of unprecedented prosperity. The recognition of Newfoundland as British territory made possible the development of the cod fisheries and the associated Newfoundland trade.”
Poole, England on the southwest coast of England was most likely the seaport from which Robert Travers left on his journey to Upper Small Point. Poole is in Dorset, which is the county having the largest concentration of the Travers name in England. The Netherbury Parish is about an hour’s drive west of Poole, and it is there the writer will continue his research for Robert’s parents and earlier family members. Netherbury has the closest fit for our Robert. On Jan 15, 1795, a Robert Travers was baptized in the Parish of Netherbury, whose parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Travers. This seems a good place to start as both parents’ proper names were used in the naming of Robert’s children.
Another reason to consider Poole a likely location is an obituary in the local newspapers of Newfoundland in 1869 for a William Travers of Harbour Grace. The notice states William was a native of Poole, Dorset, England, and gave his age as either 58 or 83, depending on the paper.
SECTION XI: OTHER TRAVERS FAMILIES IN NEWFOUNDLAND
In Harbour Grace, during the early 1800’s there resided a Travers family. It could well be they are connected to Robert Travers of Upper Small Point. However, the writer did not find any records that could verify a family tie. The Harbour Grace family was Anglican, with some descendants still residing there, while at least one member of the family, a John Charles Travers located to Prince Edward Island.
Also, two (2) additional families with the name Travers resided in Newfoundland during the time of Robert Travers. One is on the east side of Trinity Bay in a place called Hant’s Harbour, and the other in Placentia Bay, on the south side of Newfoundland. I found no connection between the families. The Trinity Bay Travers’s have proper names such as Gideon and Jabez; the Placentia Bay family were Catholic and most likely from Ireland.
SECTION XII: SUMMARY
The writer looks forward to hearing from those that receive this narrative and the documentation that supports it. If there is sufficient interest in the Travers family, the writer plans to build a website for all to enjoy and add new and interesting information about the family as it becomes available. A package will be mailed to those who I know, or believe are in someway connected to Robert Travers and his descendants.
As you review the descendant charts in the compact disc (CD), you will find a sizable number of missing descendant names. Hopefully, we’ll be able to fill some of that in as information is gained from the recipients.
There is a Table of Contents for the CD included to aid the reader in the review of church and other records, and a list of individuals to whom the writer sent the package. The documents should be easily opened with any photo viewing software on a computer. If one is not available, please contact the writer and I will mail paper copies of the documents.
© William Travers & NL GenWeb