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Petty Harbour Anglican Cemetery Analysis


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Based on a handwritten analysis of the Old Anglican Church at Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, by Edward Vincent Chafe in 1977 at the time from Andover, Massachusetts and now residing in Newfoundland.  A copy is kept in the Petty Harbour Museum.

St_Georges1.jpg (68991 bytes)In my analysis of the old Anglican Church at Petty Harbour, I shall present a history of the church and cemetery, give an account of all the descriptions from the surviving gravestones, and then attempt to examine the background information for each of the departed.  My emphasis shall be placed on the Chafe family because they were, and still are the largest family in Petty Harbour.  From the evidence I have uncovered they appear to be batter that binds the community together.

The chart below supports the funnel theory that over a period of time, money from the Chafe family filtered down to various related surname lines.  The chart also measures the levels of prosperity to an extent of Petty Harbour over a span of years from the period 1830 to 1894.  Even at the time of the building of a new church, there was apparently a low level of prosperity which explains why it took about a year to build it.

Surname 1810-20 1820-30 1830-40 1840-50 1850-60 1860-70 1870-80 1880-90 1890-99 Total
Chafe 3 1 1   1   6 1 4 17
Tremills       1   1 1 1 1 5
Bishop           2 1   2 5
Williams       1 1 1     1 4
Ruby               2 1 3
Lee   1             1 2
Peirce           1 1     2
Allen           1 1     2
Whitten             1     1
Satterley             1     1
Bulley                 1 1
White             1     1
Searle   1               1
Daspher 1                 1
Hudson                 1 1
Easterbrooke           1       1
Merry 1                  1


Number Name Date of Death   Number Name Date of Death
1 Williams, Ambrose     26 Tremills, John  
2 Easterbrooke, James     27 Tremills, William  
3 Merry, Wm + Wills, Wm     28 Satterley, Mary Ann Allen  
4 Williams, Benjamin     29 Chafe, Jacob 1878
5 Chafe, Philip 1879   30 Ruby, Stanley  
6 Chafe, George 1875   31 Chafe, William 1871
7 Chafe, Henry 1832   32 Whitten, Edward  
8 Chafe, Henry + Ann 1801   33 Chafe, Henry G + Caroline 1884
9 Daspher, Susanna     34 White, Theodore  
10 Searle, William     35 Chafe, Emmeline 1875
11 Chafe, Annette 1823   36 Ruby, Ann  
12 Hudson, Mary Ann     37 Bishop, Mary Elizabeth  
13 Chafe, Fanny 1878   38 Wren, Sarah Bishop  
14 Chafe, Amelia 1812   39 Bishop, Susanna  
15 Chafe, Samuel+Mary 1856   40 Bishop, Susanna  
16 Lee, James     41 Bishop, Jacob  
17 Williams, William     42 Bishop, Emma  
18 Allen, Richard + Sarah     43 Chafe, Amelia 1890
19 Allen, MaryAnn + Willis, Harry     44 Bulley, Richard  
20 Chafe, Henry 1814   45 Chafe, Elizabeth 1891
21 Tremills, Nathaniel     46 Chafe, Henry 1894
22 Peirce, Mary Ann     47 Lee, Edward  
23 Peirce, Richard     48 Williams, Valentine  
24 Tremills, Ralph     49 Ruby, Matilda (Chafe) 1897
25 Tremills, Elizabeth     50 Chafe, Elizabeth Grace 1899
        51 Unmarked grave  

According to the Chafe family tradition, the first thing that the first families did when they settled in Petty Harbour was to erect a small church.  the Chafe family had been settled in Petty Harbour since about 1708 and due to the lack of clergymen in Newfoundland at that time, it is doubtful that the divine worship service was ever held there at such and every period.  The nearest clergymen was at St. John's in 1742, and S.P.G. (records London 1893 pg 91) missionary there at St. John's.  Rev. Thomas Walbank reported back to England that he was able to conduct proper services because a poor fisherman of Petty Harbour had given to the church of St. John's a decent silver platten and chalice with gold.

The planters of Petty Harbour maintained a fairly civilized way of life.  Several of the men there could read and write.  In 1749, George Efford had a friend in London buy him a bible for one pound and one shilling, in which he and his family recorded important events (kept by Herbert G. Chafe, Ottawa).  The people went regularly to the church at St. John's for baptisms and marriages.  Burials were without the benefit of clergy and a specific burial site.  The dead were buried beneath stages and flakes.  To the present date, some of the remains of graves are still discovered along the shoreline.  Probably by the prosperity of the 1780's, the community of Petty Harbour plotted out a site for a cemetery and built a church.  By 1829 a minister was assigned to Petty Harbour, and what had before been referred to as just the Church of England, was now called St. David's church.

On May 23, 1835, a parish meeting was held to discuss the erection of a new church.  It was agreed that the new church would be built upon the success of the fishing season and each parishioner would pay in fish toward its contribution.  On Sept 13, 1846 the new church of St. Andrew's was consecrated. During the next years, the church had a long secession of ministers who would come just for a year or so.  The parishioners dearly loved their church and planted lilacs about it and kept it in good repair.  By the 1890's the churchyard was overcrowded so a new cemetery upon the outskirts of the town was established.  The year 1899 was the cut off date for the burials in the churchyard.  A possible explanation as to why a minister was finally assigned there could have been the fact that the Roman Catholic church was growing in strength, and many of the parishioners had married out of the religion.  The Church of England people kept to themselves and let the rapid stream dividing the town in two become a boarder between them and the Roman Catholics.  Children were forbidden to go over to the "Catholic side" on the north side of the harbour.  By 1850 the Catholic cemetery originally on the site of St. Edward's School, was moved into the hills and the Catholic Church was built. Having no steady minister there tended to undermine the faith when contrasted with the fact that there was a steady R.C. priest for the people to turn to for leadership.

In the winter of 1934, just before the Sunday service, a chimney fire burn a large section of the backside of the roof.  The people made a bucket brigade from a nearby brook and managed to have kept the fire from spreading.  However at a parish meeting it was decided that a new church should be built, one that would be bigger.  The old church was razed and everyone pitched in to build a new one.  The church bought one of the gardens of the Chafe family for a dollar and expanded the churchyard westward.  The new church was named St. George's.  When the new church was built, it was expanded into the graveyard so that some of the gravestones had to be removed.  They were placed under the basement floor and were cemented over.  I was informed by Mr. Edgar A. Chafe of Petty Harbour that he remembered some of the gravestones that dated back to the 1700's in that churchyard, which are no longer there.  Some of the headstones were also destroyed in a landslide from the mountain above the church, which swept them into the harbour.  The house of Solomon Chafe was east of the location of St. David's Church and it was totally buried in the landslide.  Solomon Chafe and his wife survived.   When the road was built to the homes on the south side of Petty Harbour, part of the lower cemetery was taken along what had been a footpath and the shoreline was filled in.  A retaining wall was built across the lower half of the cemetery.  Due to the growing population in the Gould's area, the minister moved his house there.  Besides the Petty Harbour Church, he was to serve two other churches.  


If one may draw conclusions from the surviving gravestones at the old Anglican cemetery, the first conclusion I would make is that it was those parishioners who related to the Chafe family that had the best chance of having a gravestone erected over them.  

There are about 32 other family surnames represented in the parish records between the period between 1824 and 1899, other than those surnames represented in the cemetery.  Of the 32 un-represented family surnames, only about four of these surnames are known to have married into the Chafe family. Out of the 20 family surnames represented in the cemetery, 15 surnames belong to either to the descendants of Chafe's, to those who married Chafe's, or to those who were in-laws of Chafe's.  

Being related to a Chafe was no guarantee of having a stone erected for you.  Within the Chafe family itself only certain lines maintained the tradition of erecting a headstone over the departed.  Between 1836 and 1899, there were 164 Chafe's listed in the burial records of which 93 were adults over the age of 18 years.  Of these adults, 47 were male and 46 were female.  These lines of the Chafe family that erect gravestones, seem generally to be the descendants of Henry Chafe and Ann Efford.  Henry Chafe was supposedly a fairly wealthy planter and perhaps over a period of time this wealth trickled down thru the family.

Another conclusion I've found is that there is no set area put aside where certain families were buried.  Of course if it were possible, the people chose to be near an immediate relative, but no matter where you were buried, you were near someone who was kin somehow to you.  The exception to this conclusion is the Bishop family. They were outside to this close-knit community.  They purposely chose that remote corner of the cemetery as their area so that even in death they might maintain their family unit.  As the cemetery filled up, the dead were buried anywhere there was room.  As time progressed, burials gradually took place further up the hill.  Those buried at the utmost extremes of the cemetery were the last burials.  

Among other interesting things I noticed about the cemetery was the fact most of the headstones have a slight backward tilt backwards.  This might be the result of the wind and storms blowing off the sea, year after year.  Another thing that interested me was the white marble stones has a coat of whitewash flaking off them.  It seems to have been some sort of protection for the stones. 

From the symbols adorning the tympanum of the stones one may gather that Petty Harbour favored the use of flowers or a cross type design.  Poetry also stands out clearly as the public's favourite opposed to the use of religious verses.  The name of the erector is very important to a town such a Petty Harbour.  Almost every Chafe family had a daughter named Maria or a son names William or Henry.  How was one to know which William Chafe was buried where?  Erecting a stone had sort of prestige about it for the erector.  Only a few could afford to erect a gravestone.  It also served as an emotional outlet for the bereavers.  By the erection of the gravestone the bereavers could establish a final contact with the buried one.  They could give them something as though it were a gift.  In support of this is the poem on the gravestone of Henry Chafe (# 20). 

The average gravestone was erected in memory of her husband or child who was male.  Most gravestones were erected by choice although a few might have been put there by the instructions of a will.  I know of a least one such case for a Williams family gravestone which has since disappeared.  The will could not be settled until a proper gravestone was erected over the deceased.  Of the gravestones erected by choice, it was those adults who left a large family, or who died in their prime that got a gravestone.  A spinster or old bachelor never got a gravestone nor did infants.  Although it is not mentioned in the parish records, one of the big killers of people in their prime was consumption.  The horrors of diphtheria were not the major cause until the 1870's.

I found this paper rather hard to research in the short space of time allotted.  I would have liked to have time to research until I found something about everyone buried in the Harbour, then figuring out who was related to who.  I was very frustrated and if I weren't for my own personal interest I probably would have given up.  I spent a lot of time hitch-hiking back an forth because in the afternoon the best time to work it was the best angle to view the gravestones in the sun.  

The difficulties increased when I tried to uncover a history of the graveyard and the people buried there.  The parish burial records at Petty Harbour begin in 1836 and the birth records about 1824.  Before this period, the parishioners went to St. John's, whose records for the early 1800's were destroyed.  Thus the only record of Annette Chafe ever living is contained solely in her gravestone.  I tried to find out the causes of death by searching thru records at the Vital Statistics.  The problem there was the fact that records began about 1892, and every old person had their cause of death listed as old age.  The will's at the court house on Duckworth are very interesting but the courthouse is so busy that it was impossible to check more than a few wills for information.  As for the history of the graveyard, I went to the archives, to Queen's College, and the Anglican Synod office but was unable to find much out.  Most of the sources come from talking to the people of Petty Harbour.  

I truly enjoyed writing this paper.  I go a real sense of accomplishment when I revealed the last gravestone inscription.  It is great to know that you have approached a topic in a way no one else has done before.  I also like the feeling I am able to give to Petty Harbour a piece of its history back that it would have otherwise lost.

Shape Inscription Text
In Memory of
Philip Chafe
died Aug 12th 1879
Aged 66 years
died May 7 1878
Aged 22 years
died May 9, 1878
Aged 20 years

He took them from a world of care
in everlasting bliss to share
5. Philip Chafe was the husband of Mary Jenkins and they were married Nov 28, 1843.  Their daughter Sophie was born Jan 29, 1856 and their son Philip Henry was born Aug 19th 1858.  All of the above died at St. John's of diphtheria.  According to the burial records, Sophie died May 16th, Philip Jr. died May 19th, and Philip Sr. died on Aug 27th, 1879.  Philip Sr. was 66 yrs of age.  By the time this stone was erected, Philip's daughter Sarah Ann died, on May 27th, 1880, aged 26 years.  She does not have a stone.

Stone color is white

In Memory of
George Chafe
beloved husband of
who died 8th Dec 1873
Aged 68 years
died 30th June 1851
Aged 1 year and 3 months
Levi Frederic
died 14 July 1853
Aged 3 years and 10 months
sons of the above
6. George Chafe was born in 1807, and on Nov 9th 1833 he married Elizabeth Chafe.  There is no mention of the causes for the above in the burial records.  All the dates are the same as those recorded in the burial records.

Stone color is white

to the memory of
Henry Chafe
who departed this life
the 13th of March, 1832
Aged 36 years

Who do you mourn dear wife on earth
And shed now tears for me:
For God t'was please to call me forth
And take me hence from thee
In prime of life, I was cut off
I could no longer stay
Because it was my saviours will
To call me hence away
Farewell dear wife, I must away
The Lord doth call, I must obey
As I am now so all must be
Therefore prepare to follow me
7. Henry Chafe was born about 1796 and on Nov 22, 1824 he married Mary Ann Chafe.  After his death, Mary Ann married Benjamin Williams. 

Stone color is white

Sacred to the
Memory of
Henry Chafe
who died in Nov. 1801
Aged 78 years.
Also in memory of Ann wife of the 
above Henry Chafe, who died in July, 1813
Aged 80 years.
8. Henry Chafe was born about 1723, probably the son of John Chafe.  On Feb 1, 1761 he married Ann Efford, the daughter of George and Anne Efford, who was born in Petty Harbour Oct 1, 1735.  They had four sons and three daughters.  Henry Chafe was the wealthiest of the Chafe's in Petty Harbour.  He rented out his extra fishing rooms to others.  Henry had brothers William, Edward, Samuel and Richard.  The Chafe's at Petty Harbour today, are thru intermarriage descended from these five brothers.

Stone color is grey

Sacred the memory
of Annette Chafe, daughter
of John and Elizabeth Chafe of this 
place who departed this life the 17th Sept 
1823 Aged 19 Years

The early fate of her we mourn
Would claim a kindred sigh
A warning lesson too we learn
Prepare, for death is nigh
With prayer the chart of God explore
You'll find the compass true
The Anchor on the heavenly shore
If Christ the Rock you view

11. Annette Chafe was one of about seven or eight of John and Elizabeth Chafe.  Annette had a sister Elizabeth, born Oct 23, 1815.  Elizabeth married July 18, 1838 to Mathew Mony, and died two days later on July 22, 1838.  John Chafe had died April 14, 1838 aged 66 years and Elizabeth's burial was listed directly below.  Their cause of death must be left up to the imagination

Stone color is grey

the memory of 
Fanny Chafe
who departed this life
 May 16th, 1878
Aged 16 years

Her sun is gone while it is yet day 
Behold the western evening light
It melts in deepening gloom
So calmly Christian's sin'd away
Descending to the tomb
But soon the mornings happier light
Its glory shall restore
And eyelids that are sealed in death
Shall wake to close no more

13. Fanny Chafe was one of many who died in a diphtheria epidemic.  Fanny Chafe was the first born child of Frederick Chafe and Ann Pearce, who were married Dec 10, 1860.  Frederick was the son of David Marshall Chafe and Susan Williams, and was the grandson of Samuel Chafe and Mary Marshall, who's gravestone is two places away from Fanny's.  Ann Pearce was the daughter of Richard Pearce and Mary Ann Chafe who were married Dec 27, 1825.  Fanny Chafe was born May 1, 1862.  A year after Fanny's death, Frederick and Ann Chafe had their eighth child, born June 20, 1879 which they also named Fanny.  The second Fanny did not survive into the autumn.

Stone color is white

the memory of Amelia, the
daughter of Samuel and Mary
 Chafe who was unfortunately
killed by a rock which fell from
the cliff as she was walking on
the  18th of Sept 1812   Aged 4 years

Suffer the little children to come unto
me said the Lord and forbid them not
for of such is the Kingdom of God 
14. Amelia Chafe was born on Sept 5, 1808, the daughter of Samuel Chafe and Mary Marshall, the third out of twelve children.  On May 3, 1813 Samuel and Mary had another daughter Amelia who also died.  On Mar 5, 1817, Samuel and Mary had another daughter, Amelia who lived unto adulthood.

Stone color is grey

Samuel Chafe
died February 23rd 1856
Aged 80 years
His wife
died Aug't 24th 1856
Aged 70 years

Though in the paths of death I tread
With glowing horrors everspread
My stedfast heart shall fear no ill
For thou O Lord art with me still
Thy friendly crook shall give me aid
And guide me through the dreadful shade

15. Samuel Chafe and Mary Marshall were married Jan 29th, 1802.  Samuel was born Sep 15, 1776, the son of William Chafe and Mary Angel.  Mary Marshall was born Nov 1, 1786 probably the daughter of David and Amy Marshall.

Stone color is grey

to the Memory of
Henry Chafe
who departed this life on the
7th day of July 1814
Aged 58 years

Farewell dear peaceful partner of my life
Take this last tribute of thy faithful wife
Who loved thee dearly living and who
mourns thee dead
But little thought thou wouldst so soon
have fled

20. The identity of Henry Chafe remains a mystery to me.  If he died at age 58 years he would have been born in 1756.  His age is probably incorrect.  He might be the son of Henry and Ann Efford Chafe who was born Feb 1, 1763.  More likely this Henry was the spouse of Elizabeth who had five children between the years 1796 and 1805.

Stone color is light grey

Erected by
In Memory of her
Beloved Husband
Jacob Chafe
who died May 31st, 1878
Aged 81 years

Be ye also ready

29. Jacob Chafe was the father of ten children all of which lived to adulthood.  Jacob was possibly the son of Henry Chafe (who died July 7th 1814) who was born Jan 28, 1798.  I could not find no record of Jacobs marriage but he married about 1825 to Harriet Alan or Harriet Chafe.  Jacob was the father of Matilda Ruby and Henry George Chafe.

Stone color is white

In Memory of
William David Chafe
son of
Samuel & Charlotte Chafe
who departed this life
Sept 20th 1871
Aged 21 years

I came to Jesus as I was
Weary and worn and sad
I found in him a resting place
and he has made me glad

He that overcometh shall inherit all
things and I shall be his God and he
Shall be my son

31. William David Chafe was born Dec 23rd 1849, the third of the seven children of Samuel and Charlotte Chafe.

Stone color is white

Sacred to
the memory of
Henry George Chafe
who died June 23rd 1884
Aged 58 years
Also his beloved wife
who died Sept 12, 1884
Aged 55 years

There remainith therefore a
rest to the people of God

While in this world we still remain
We only meet to part again
But when we reach our heavenly home
Those who once meet will part no more

33. Henry George Chafe married Caroline Whitten on Nov 17th 1853.  He was the brother of Matilda Chafe Ruby.  Henry and Caroline had four children.

Stone color is white

In Memory of
the beloved wife of 
Emmanuel Chafe
who died
June 23rd 1875
Aged 43 years

Blessed are the dead which
die in the Lord

Help ye bright angelic spirit
Bring your sweetsest noblest day
Help to sing our Saviors ment
...p to chart Emmanuel's praise
35. Emmeline Chafe married Emmanuel Chafe.  She was born Oct 17th 1832 the daughter of Robert and Martha Chafe. Robert was possibly the son of George Henry Chafe (who died July 7, 1814).  Emmeline was the mother of ten children, two of which died six months after her of diphtheria.  Emmanuel was the son of Jacob and Harriet Chafe.

Foot and headstone color is white

Beloved wife of
Thomas Chafe
who died
Aug 30, 1890
74 years
43. Amelia Chafe was probably the spouse of Thomas Chafe who married Nov 30, 1837.  She was the third Amelia born to Samuel and Mary (Marshall) Chafe on June 14, 1818.  If this is so, the above age is incorrect.  Amelia and Thomas had four children, three of who died as infants.

Stone color is white*

to the memory of
Elizabeth Chafe
who departed 
this life
June 19 1891
Aged 82 years
45. The identity of Elizabeth Chafe remains a mystery to me.  She might possibly be the second wife of Samuel David Chafe.  Samuel D. Chafe and Elizabeth Chafe married May 15 1857.  There were three children resulting from the union all of whom reached adulthood.  Samuel David died Dec 25 1892 aged 76 years

Another possibility is that Elizabeth was the wife of George Chafe.  George Chafe married Elizabeth Chafe on Nov 9th, 1835.  George and his sons Levi and Theophillius are buried in the lower part of the cemetery.

Stone color is white

Erected by
Ann Chafe
In memory of her
Beloved Husband
Henry E. Chafe
who died
Feb 21st, 1894
Aged 78 years

46. Henry Edward Chafe married Ann Doyle on Oct 19, 1830 at the RC Basilica of St. John's.  Henry Edward was likely the son of Edward and Sarah (Williams) Chafe born on July 22nd 1821.  He possibly also was the grandson to Henry Chafe (who died July 7th, 1814).  Ann Doyle, the daughter of Luke and Margaret (Williams) Doyle, died on Dec 11, 1902 and there is a similarly designed stone erected in the Roman Catholic Cemetery in Petty Harbour.  Ann Doyle and Henry E. Chafe were the parents of five sons, of which three died in adulthood and were buried with their mother.

The stone color is white

In Loving Memory of 
beloved wife of George Ruby
who died July 17th 1897
Aged 53 years
Gone but not forgotten

My wife how fond shall thy memory
be enshrined within the chambers of my heart
Thy virtuous worth was only known to me
And I can tell how sad it is to part

Also her grandson
George Alexander
darling child of William and Anne Viguers
who died June 16, 1898
Aged 3 months and 3 weeks
49. Matilda Chafe married George Ruby on Dec 14th 1866.  She was born Aug 14, 1843, the daughter of Jacob and Harriet Chafe.  A few years after her death, the Ruby family had a falling out with the church of Petty Harbour, so to spite them the Ruby's built their own church on the Goulds - Kilonick line.  To this day the church still stands, though unused. 

Stone color is white

In memory of
Elizabeth Chafe
beloved wife of 
Robert Chafe
who died March 16th 1899
Aged 65 years

Tis hard to break the tender chord
When love has bound the heart
Tis hard, so hard to speak the words
We must forever part

Dearest beloved one, we have laid thee
In thy peaceful graves embrace
But thy memory shall be cherished
Till we see thy heavenly face
50. Elizabeth Grace Pearce married Robert Chafe on Nov 22nd 1855.  Elizabeth was the daughter of Richard and Mary Ann (Chafe) Pearce born Nov 22 1832.  Robert and Elizabeth had three children.  According to the records of the vital statistics, Elizabeth died of heart failure. 

Stone color is white

* In the Family Tree on this webpage, the " * " besides the name indicates those found in St. Georges cemetery.

Additions by Ed Chafe, June 2005
# 7 - Henry Chafe: Henry Chafe was born about 1796 and on November 22, 1824. He married Mary Ann Chafe, the daughter of Samuel Chafe and Mary Marshall. After his death, Mary Ann wed Benjamin Williams in 1834, and then later married a third time to Matthew Hudson of Pouch Cove.

# 11 - Mary Ann Hudson: Mary Ann Chafe was born March 11, 1806, the daughter of Samuel Chafe and Mary Marshall. Mary Ann was the widow of Henry Chafe and Benjamin Williams when she remarried in 1865 to Matthew Hudson of Pouch Cove.

# 52 - Richard Cook, aged 12 years, who died in June 1813. The headstone was imported from Teignmouth, Devon.

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April 20, 2020