Robert Newman and Company and related companies

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection of primarily bound volumes comprises the business documents of Robert Newman and Co., and related companies, 1774-1955. The documents themselves include letter books, journals, ledgers, account books, memorandums and ship registers, and relate chiefly to trading in Newfoundland, Canada. Many of these internal working documents were originally intended to serve as permanent records. They can provide the researcher with a general overview of the financial and statistical history of the firm, giving a record of transactions as they occurred. In addition, they offer a degree of descriptive information, showing the development of codes and ciphers used by the firm, an insight into labour relations, and a detailing of the raw materials used for trade.

The records relate to the following company names; Hunt Newman Roope and Co; Hunt Roope and Co; Hunt Roope Teage and Co; John Newman and Co; Newman and Co; Newman Hunt and Co; Newman Hunt and Lyon; Newman and Land; Newman Land Hunt and Co; Newman and Roope; Robert Newman and Co.

Volumes 2 and 102 are missing from the collection and number 91 was not originally used when the items were acquisitioned.

Administrative / Biographical History

Newfoundland and Labrador form Canada's most easterly province and in the sixteenth century a strong fishery trade developed along its western side of the North Atlantic. It served as a commercial trading output for the Basque, French, Spanish, Portuguese and the English, who became the superior power in the trade hierarchy through naval dominance. The demand for salt fish in Europe reached its height during the Napoleonic War after which time there was an economic slump in Newfoundland fishery until the outbreak of World War Two.

The Newman family, who were based in Dartmouth, began their association with Newfoundland in the fifteenth century with the import and export of cloth and wool. The trade extended in the early 1500s with the import of European wine in exchange for fish and salt. The seventeenth century saw the company establishing trading centres in Newfoundland, including one at Harbor Briton, and developing its own fleet of shipping vessels. By the late seventeenth century the firm began what was to become a three hundred year old tradition of sending shipments of port wine to mature in Newfoundland. This century proved to be a highly successful one for the company, now known as Robert Newman and Co., and it resulted in the growth of trading branches in Newfoundland, including St.John's and Little Bay. On an annual basis, the company sent skilled workers from Devon and Dorset to Newfoundland for an eighteen month apprenticeship, some being given the option of staying there or returning to England. By the mid-nineteenth century the company was effectively operating in two distinct areas, namely the wine business and the fishery trade. The latter began to suffer from competition and doubts over the quality of the produce. In 1907 this culminated with the sale of the firm's last fishery office in Newfoundland, which effectively ended the Newman family's involvement in the Newfoundland fisheries. However, the family's association with port wine continues to this day at St.John's and Vila Nova de Gaia, the latter under the guise of Hunt Constantino-Vinhos, SA. Indeed over the course of its history the firm had several name changes, in response to family deaths and expansion through partnerships. Notably, the company expanded with the Roopes family of Dartmouth in 1679 and with the Holdsworth family of Dartmouth in 1739.

Arrangement

The collection mainly is divided into sections dependent upon the type of business document, namely: Cash Books; Journals; Account Books; Memorandum Books; Clothing Sales Books; Ledgers; Receipt Books; Letter Books; Bill Books; Ship Registers. This ordering is not concretely adhered to towards the end of the collection. In general each section is in chronological order (although not all of the dates are inclusive).

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Unknown

Other Finding Aids

Detailed catalogue available from Archives staff

Archivist's Note

Sources: Copied from LSE Archives CALM database by Anna Towlson

Conditions Governing Use

Bound volumes may not be photocopied. No material may be published without the prior permission of both the copyright holder and the Library. All applications for publication must be made to the Archivist in the first instance, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user.