Overview - Lannons

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The Lannons of Fortune Harbour

Fortune Harbour is a small community in the north east of Newfoundland, Canada.  The map on maps web page indicates the position of Fortune Harbour.  Newfoundland, itself, is an island of some size but with a small population.  When visiting there in 1984 I discovered that it was considerably larger than Scotland but only about 500,000 people lived there.  Most inhabiting the capital, St. Johns, and the rest in the main being settled in numerous small coastal settlements.  The few exceptions to this latter point on population distribution occurred due to the existence of a small number of slightly larger settlements associated with either the lumber/paper making industries or the mining industry.

Fortune Harbour is a very pretty community spread out along an arm of water stretching in from Notre Dame Bay.  It has a number of coves and sub-settlements named after the principal families who lived in the area.  Some of those names are still evident on maps today while others only live in the minds of the families who lived in their immediate vicinity. 

In 1984 the church was in a very good state of repair but the adjoining burial ground, where many Lannons and other related families are buried, was in a very overgrown state.  I was told that there were two other burial grounds across the Harbour but as I was only visiting for a day and had not made arrangements to cross a visit there could not be made.

Everyone in Fortune Harbour was very pleased to see myself and my family and many clearly remembered my father.  They talked was pride and affection of those who had left to join the war effort in Europe.  I am sure their departure, though a sad one, must have created great excitement for them and those seeing them off on their adventure.  An adventure probably precipitated almost as much by the quest for a new life away from the relatively difficult fishing and lumbering life and the threat of unemployment as by the attractions of war or doing their duty.

Though I had an interest in family history before 1984 the main incentive was to obtain and record details of family members for the planned holiday to Canada.  It was necessary to know who was to be visited and how they fitted into the scheme of things.  The starting point in obtaining this information was my father with his very clear memory of past and present close and more distant family relationships.  His contribution was enhanced and extended by Canadian relatives and the records in Colonial Building in St.  Johns.  Most of the relatives that were met on the 1984 visit were able to add to my knowledge of the family but the contribution of Uncle Peter Lyver, with his excellent memory, was invaluable. 

In addition the research assistance of Ella Lyver and her introduction to various connected people around Newfoundland greatly help to build up the overall picture of the Lannons, Glavines, Roberts and other associated families.

Archival material is available at Colonial Building from the early 1820s to the present day.  However, the important baptismal and marriage records for Fortune Harbour stop at 1880.  The records for the period after 1880 are probably held at some other place in the present parish, possibly Grand Falls or at Norris Arm where my father's birth was registered.

The records for the period 1820 to 1880 record baptismal date rather than birth date and registration date rather than marriage date and death entries of interest are few and far between.  No doubt the later death records will be more useful in throwing light upon family connections as the early generations of Lannons and Glavines in Fortune Harbour began to die off.

At Colonial Building the Trades Directory Information, the census records and the voters rolls are all useful.  They confirm the existence of particular individuals at particular places and times and in the case of the census records for 1921 onwards there is additional information of various kinds.

There are many more records of early families available in the archives but time did not permit their examination.  I would have liked to have spent more time looking at the lists of immigrants and where they came from.  In addition, I believe, there are records held at Confederation Building, including passenger lists for ships travelling from Southern Ireland,  which might prove worthwhile should the opportunity present itself again.

It must, at this point, be acknowledged that the information collected, while in general correct, will contain mistakes.  Some will be the fault of the researcher and others because memory or records have been faulty.  The records of last century and the early part of the 20th century are by no means entirely accurate.  Dates in official records, on gravestones and in family documents may all be at variance.  In tracing the Canadian connections, for instance, I found my Grandfather's birth date to be given as 1880 in the 1921 census records and my father's birth date as being in January in the same records.  However, birth certificates show Grandfather's birth as being in 1881 and father's birthday in February.  It is worth noting at this point that census records up to 1935 were available in Colonial Building for Newfoundland whereas in Britain there is a one hundred year rule restricting examination of census information.

Another contradiction is in the age of great grandmother Mary Lannon (nee Roberts).  Her gravestone gives her age at death as 92 years in 1938 but in the census of 1921 she is aged 70 giving a discrepancy of 5 years.  This age of 70 was entered, and it appears to have been changed, by the census enumerator on the basis of a stated birth year of 1851.  It is likely that Mary's age was given as 75 to the enumerator and the year of birth as 1851 but when the details were being checked and it was seen that there was an error then the age was changed.  It is, of course, possible that some confusion has been caused by the birth and baptismal dates being separated by a number of years.  As yet the birth record has not come to light and unfortunately the marriage record for Mary did not give her age.  Should the birth or baptism record be found then the puzzle may be solved. 

Those contradictions are not the only ones.  No doubt there are many but hopefully they are small and in mere detail rather than in major important fact.  What is most important in a family record is not absolute accuracy, though it is to be hoped for, but the production of a family history which tells 'who is who' and gives some idea of ancestors lifestyles.

Since my family tree is spread over a number of countries complications arise out of this diversity.  Research in Ireland has not as yet hardly taken place though it would appear that the Lannons probably originated in County Kilkenny in Southern Ireland and sailed to Newfoundland, and elsewhere, from Waterford and other southern ports at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries.  The English research is also in its infancy and restricted access to records presents some difficulty.  Though some work on the Linekar connections in England has borne fruit the English ancestors who went to Newfoundland are much less clear and a starting point in research of this area is not apparent at present.

A further drawback with the English records, making them not unlike the Newfoundland material, is the severe limitation on the information obtainable because dates and places have to be reasonably exact before requests for records can be made and links traced with ease and certainty. In this respect Scotland is a much easier country in which to do research because more information is given on birth, marriage and death certificates and because the certificates themselves may be consulted before a purchase is necessary.  

The first Lannon (Lannen) found in the Fortune Harbour area was David described in 1871 as a planter.  He was in the Harbour as early as 1842 when he appeared as a sponsor, along with Mary Murphy, at the baptism of Mary the daughter of Henry Beaker and Catherine Budding.  He probably arrived there between 1830 and 1840 as prior to 1832 there are references to Glavines but Lannon's appear not in Fortune Harbour but on Fogo Island at Fogo and Tilting.  The spelling of Lannen as opposed to Lannon continues well up towards the end of the 19th century and when the change took place is not clear.

Patrick Lannen and Anastasia Sargent of Fogo had a family recorded in the King's Cove register which looks very much as if there could have been a connection with David and the Lannons of Fortune Harbour.  The family names are correct, the ages are near enough what one would expect and the move from Fogo to the Harbour is not an unlikely one.  The finding of a David born to Patrick would be a very strong indication of the validity of this suspected link.

It is worth noting that the Lannon name is uncommon enough to make the finding of the name and the tracing of lines easier than for many of the other Newfoundland names.  In the Fortune Harbour area and in the registers for Tilting and King's Cove, which in the early days covered the Catholic settlements around Notre Dame Bay, Bonavista Bay and the area between, this relative rareness makes informed guessing at family connections reasonably acceptable provided the family notes state what is fact and what is speculation.  For instance it is interesting to note that there is a Patrick Lannon married in Tilting in 1856 which is just one generation after the birth entries for the family of Patrick Lannen and Anastasia Sargent.  Further research might show a connection here.

The Glavine (Glaveen) line proved more difficult to disentangle than the Lannon one later in the 19th century because of the very large families and the number of side branches appearing.  However, in the early 1800s my Glavines also appear to have come from one Fortune Harbour ancestor, David Glavine, who married Anastasia Brown.  Their family record in Colonial Building corresponds with the known heads of Glavine lines and as further evidence it has been said by a number of very reliable sources that Skipper Matt Glavine's father was called David.

At this stage in the family tree the Lannons and Glavines are separated by a generation in age.  David Lannon was probably born in the early 1820s while Matt Glavine was born in 1834.  David is a great, great grandfather while Matthew is a great grandfather.

Not a lot is known of the wives of those male ancestors other than their names and so there is scope for more research in this area.  David's wife, Mary Ann Bath, could have come from Fortune Harbour but it is more likely that the family moved there from the Twillingate area or possibly the French Shore.  There is little mention of the Baths in the records save the finding of a Laurence in the Harbour in 1846 and an Ellen, the Wife of Thomas Quirk, in 1847 and 1862.

Matthew Glavine's wife, Ann Davis, came from Fortune Harbour and was the sister of Sam Davis.  Further research, it is hoped will reveal her father and mother.  It is always easier to make connections when there are two leads and even if Ann's baptism is not recorded there is the hope that brother Sam's might be.  Davis was a common name in Newfoundland and it crops up at various times in the family connections.  Study of the charts will indicate a number of family inter-connections including those with Davis families.

David Lannon and Mary Ann Bath had at least ten children.  James, my great grandfather, is recorded as being born in 1845 but there is no record of a marriage prior to this.  However, as Mary is mentioned as a sponsor, using her maiden name in 1842 and in her married state in 1845, the marriage almost certainly existed and took place between those dates.  If they had not been married in 1845 the records would have referred to James as being illegitimate or legitimised but such references are, in fact, absent.

There are no records to be found in the baptisms of a Mattias or a Thomas and yet they are reported to have existed and both appear at the appropriate time in the records as sponsors at baptisms.  This lack of information is, as has already been indicated, annoying but by no means unusual.

There are entries for six of David's other children.  Mary, Patrick and Elizabeth were triplets born in 1859, Joseph was baptised in 1862, Bridget in 1851 and a child with no designation other than an initial was baptised in 1869.  This initial could be an M or a W.  The reason for the lack of a clear name is uncertain but it could have been carelessness on the part of the priest at the time of recording or because the child died and no name was properly given.  What became of Joseph is also unclear as he does not appear again prior to 1880 and neither does the remaining triplet - apparently only one survived but unfortunately I have no indication at this stage which one lived.  Here we have two good reasons for wanting to take a look at the post 1880 records.

The families of great grandfather James and his sister Bridget are well documented.  James fathered the main existing branch of the Lannon family while Bridget married Denis Dunne and had at least ten of a family of her own before she had to adopt the family of her daughter Mary.  John and Bridget Quigley were brought up by her after the death of their parents.

The one other known member of David's family is a bit of an enigma.  John appears in 1877 marrying Frances Roberts, there is a record of a son, David, in 1879 and John appears in Trades Directories.  However, there is no record of his birth or baptism so his exact age is unknown.  One indication of his year of birth is given on a recently found death record which indicates that he died in the Poor House in St.  John's in 1920 at the age of 65.  If this age is correct then this means that John was 10 years or so younger than his brother James.  This may indicate an error in his age at death as a John  Lannon appears as a sponsor at a baptism in 1854 and no other John has been identified at this time.  It is also worth noting that John was described as a General Dealer in Trades Directories and it is not clear if he took over a family run business as the oldest son, as a younger son or if he developed his own business.  I am told it was quite common for younger sons to inherit the family business.  How ever the succession took place in employment terms it is clear that while John engaged in general dealing his brother James fished using the schooner called the Wild Rover.  Later family members talk of this schooner as family property.  It may have been or it may have come to them through a lease from one of the big fishing companies in St.  John's who had somewhat of a stranglehold on the fishing industry of Newfoundland.

It is said on good authority that after the death of Frances there was a second marriage to someone Polly (Mary) who was either from St.  John's or made frequent visits there.  To Polly he had four children, Angus, Ettie ,  Alan and Michael and it is interesting to note that the names Angus, Ettie and Alan were new to the family and may have come from Polly's family line.

While not much is known of John's life it seems clear that he was a man of means with a relatively thriving business.  It is said that his children were very well dressed compared with many of their peers and that the household probably contained some servants.  His demise in business terms seems to have been swift and when he disappeared from the Harbour his remaining business interests were said to have been left in James's hands.  Whether this means that any material goods were left by him or simply that the business contacts and customers were picked up by his brother is unclear.  Whatever the circumstances of John's departure, however, there appears to his been a fall from grace caused either by Polly's ruinous lifestyle or by his own over generosity to those around him.  Either theory is possible or both have been put forward by older family members who received the information from their elders.

James married Mary Roberts in 1870 with the registration date being 20th September.  The sponsors were 'someone' Roberts  (the Christian name is unclear) and Tom Spruhan - was this the Tom born in 1842 whose godmother was Mary Ann Bath?  This marriage was quickly followed in 1871 by the baptismal entry for Michael Lannon and this record includes the word 'legitimised' after it.  It is not clear if this means that Mary Roberts was pregnant before she married or that she had Michael and then married to legitimise the birth - the latter is the more likely and his baptism was probably delayed until after the marriage.  The delay in a wedding could easily have been caused by James's absence at sea on one of the long fishing trips to the Labrador coast on schooners like the family vessel, the Wild Rover.

A least nine other children followed Michael including a set of twins, Bridget and Margaret, and one child, Ellen-Frances, who died young though I am uncertain at this time as to her actual age at the time of death.

As can be seen from the charts, Michael was married twice and had family to both wives.  He went to the U.S.A.  with four children and his fifth, Michael Jnr., was born there.  Also in the States one son, Arthur, when he was a young man, went for an errand to buy cigarettes and did not return.  He was later located in Oregon and died there.

Other marriages of interest of children of James and Mary are those of John and Margaret Lannon who married Margaret and John Glavine  and Mary Lannon who was the second wife of John Hamilton who had a store in Fortune Harbour and also had cows and supplied milk to members of the family.  John Hamilton came from Hamilton's Cove across the Harbour where the early graveyards for Fortune Harbour are situated and where early ancestors are probably interred.

The Roberts connection, introduced through Mary, is a complicated one.  There were Roberts in Newfoundland, and particularly the Twillingate area, and probably Fortune Harbour,  from the time of the earliest settlements in those places.  Thomas Roberts and Mary Byrne probably came from the Harbour area but to date I have no idea as to where their parents came from.  Thomas had a large family and there may have been other related Roberts in the vicinity.  Not only did Thomas have at least eight children, and he very probably had more, but those children also appear to have had very large families themselves.  I have managed to identify five to Luke, two to James, nine to John and others to daughters Frances, Elizabeth, Margaret and Ellen.  Later census records of the Roberts families indicate that many of those children in turn had large families and many existed in the 1921 census despite deaths from T.B.  which, I am told, particularly afflicted the Roberts.  I am reliably informed that almost complete families were wiped out by this and various other illnesses.

As I mentioned earlier, the Glavines are difficult to follow at a later stage in the research due to the size of the families and the lack of full information.  Also a further complication is in the number of people with the same name in each line of the family.  For instance, John, David, Thomas, Patrick, Mary, Anastasia and Matthew all appear more than once and in the case of some names they appear a number of times.  The Davids, in particular, at first created problems as the first three generations had at least seven closely related members of that name.  However, the branches eventually fell into place and I think that the final charts are probably not too inaccurate though they may contain some omissions.

Skipper Matt (Mattias Glavine) is the important one as far as the family is concerned.  Born in 1834, he married Ann Davis and had six children.  As stated, two of those children married Lannons.  John married Margaret Lannon and, of course, grandmother Margaret Glavine married John Lannon.  The fact that the Lannons and Glavines lived in almost adjacent plots accounts in part for the linking of the families.  Matt lived to he ripe old age of 92 years and appears to have worked on up towards the time of his death.  In the census of 1921, at the age of 87, his occupation is given as fisherman.  At that time he was, in fact, still operating a canning plant for lobsters on his jetty in Glavines' Cove.  My father tells me that they used to sneak into the canning area and help themselves to toes and claws when Grandfather Matt was not looking or otherwise engaged.

Further description of the Glavine lines is not necessary and, indeed, could be confusing.  It is easier to follow their complicated family structure from the charts than in any outline that could be given here.

I don't suppose we will ever be absolutely clear how those families lived last century.  In general terms it is clear that in Fortune Harbour the sea was the dominant influence but other important elements were also present.  The vast woodlands played their part and most families though depending on the sea for a livelihood had other strings to their bow, namely planting and later mining in the Harbour and beyond.

David Lannen, as I have pointed out, was a planter in 1871 but later research showed that he had disappeared from the scene in 1877 – either retired and unable to work, away from the area or dead.  Assuming his date of birth was circa 1820 then his age in 1877 would only have been around 57 and so one can only speculate as to his whereabouts or his fate.  Maybe he had indeed died or possibly he had moved either temporarily or permanently from the Harbour.  Examination of the later death records might be a worthwhile starting point in the search for him.

As the century progressed fewer families appear to have depended on planting for a living and more were concerned with fishing even though all did grow some fresh vegetables for their own consumption.  In the case of the Lannons the change in emphasis was probably brought about by the fact that as families expanded the amount of planting ground available was not large enough to provide more than a supplement to the fishing.  Only a cursory glance around the area of Fortune Harbour is required to see that the area of good land for cultivation is very limited.  A narrow strip between the sea and the rugged and forested interior is all the suitable land that was available.  The present burial ground is situated on a very rough hillside and in the early days it is possible that burial took place over the Harbour in Hamilton's Cove as it has the only really suitable ground available.  This present burial ground was literally dug out of the rock strewn hillside by voluntary labour which include my father.  He tells me that he help remove boulders using the family horse and cart.

A further indication of the need to diversify was the movement of men, young and old, to the mining industries in the Harbour and in Buchans and the pulp and paper making in small towns like Grand Falls, Bishop's Falls and Botwood.  My father moved to Grand Falls to work in the paper mill there and lived in lodgings.  His father, my grandfather John Lannon, left the fishing to work as a carpenter in the mill in Bishop's Falls.  Both would work for some week or months before returning home by steamer.

The main mode of travel at this time, in the 1920s and 1930s, from Fortune Harbour was by the steamers which called two or three times per week.  The Kyle, the Carrick and the Clyde were well known around the coast and the Kyle can still be seen lying beached at Carbonear.  The steamers took workers from Fortune Harbour to Lewisporte from whence they travelled by train to Grand Falls, Bishops Falls and other places of work.  It was by this route that my father and Tom Davis, Jim Mitchell and Tom Croke travelled on the first leg of their journey to Scotland in 1940.  The subsequent Atlantic crossing was made on the HMS Ettrick in a convoy which had to run the gauntlet of U-Boat attacks.

In Scotland the Newfoundlanders who came to help the war effort by working in the woods as lumbermen were placed in camps from the Borders to the Highlands.  My father worked in places as far apart as Lockerbie,  Boath in Easter Ross and Dunrobin Glen near Golspie.  The latter site, a camp of prefabricated type, is now hidden by trees which have been planted on the slopes of Ben Bhraggie.

After my father, Matthew Lannon, married Annie Isabella Fraser Melville in 1945 in Dingwall he worked for many years as a concrete moulder with James Sutherland and Son.  He was involved in the production of concrete blocks, kerb stones, lintels, mile stones etc. and this work only came to an end after many years with the demise of the company and its absorption into the rival business of Alexander Sutherland and Sons.  The Golspie section of this business was later taken over by Morrison Construction of Tain.

James Sutherland and Son operated from an extensive builder's yard situated behind Main Street in the area that is now the High School car and bus park.  The Alexander Sutherland premises were at the other end of what are now the ‘new’ High School grounds in an area presently the site of an industrial estate.


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