Newfoundland and Labrador

Norse Viking, Leif Erikson, is recorded as the first European to arrive on the island of Newfoundland. He arrived there in the year 1000 and established L'Anse aux Meadows, the only known Viking settlement in North America outside of Greenland. This remains a historical site in Canada and it is located on the north coast of the island. Almost 500 years after the arrival of the Vikings came the Italian explorer, John Cabot. Cabot was commissioned to sail to North America by King Henry VII of England.

Newfoundland and Labrador quickly became one of the best known places for fishing in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, and throughout the 17th century thousands of European settlers, mostly from Basque Country (Spain), Normandy, and Brittany (France), became employed on the fishing vessels in this area. France lost their political power in Newfoundland after the Siege of Port Royal in 1710 and Britain had total control over the province and Acadia after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

Around this time the province went through a period of political turmoil and the Great Upheaval, or the Expulsion of the Acadians began on August 10, 1755 and lasted for almost a decade. While the Acadians were being expelled from what are now the provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, the majority of the French population in Newfoundland migrated to Île-Royale, now Cape Breton Island, and remained there until the second wave of the expulsion, at which point they were either deported or imprisoned.

Throughout the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), there was, yet again, another battle between Britain, France, Spain over the land of Newfoundland, eventually leading William Pitt, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, to establish that only the British would have access to the province. At the start of the 1800's, Lower Canada, now Quebec, and Newfoundland fought for the rights over the land that is now Labrador. In 1927 it was declared a part of the Dominion of Newfoundland, which had been established 20 years prior in 1907.

On March 31, 1949, Newfoundland officially became the tenth and final province to join Canada and Joey Smallwood became the first premier of the province the following day. On December 6, 2001 Newfoundland became Newfoundland and Labrador and the change was made in the Constitution of Canada.

Immigration to Newfoundland
The family names of Newfoundland are part of the great European inheritance of the island, deriving from those races which over the last three to found hundred years have contributed to its settlement: English, Irish, Scots, French and Channel Islanders in the forefront, followed by others Welsh, Germans, Scandinavians, Spanish and Portuguese not forgetting further afield Lebanon and Chinese Maronites.

Studies in the work occur in the Official List of Electors 1955, it presented a comprehensive list of names and the localities with which they were linked before the massive resettlement in the 1960’s. Occasionally a name has become extinct by death or migration since 1955.
National Origins of names in Newfoundland.

An attempt to provide statistical information of national origins of the names presents some difficulty many names belong to more than one national group, like those with the prefix O or Murphy and Hogan are indubitably and solely Irish, but a seemingly Scottish name like Campbell having been introduced to Ireland may also have an Irish origin.

With it in mind the following estimates may be made: some 3,000 surnames in Newfoundland 2,130 or 71% of the total are surnames of England and Wales. 1,200 or 40% of Ireland, 530 or 17.66% Scotland, 300 or 10% of Channel Islands and 260 8.7% of France. In addition, over two hundred variants of surnames apparently not recorded elsewhere appear in the Dictionary, some of which it would seem are peculiar to Newfoundland.
Rank Country or Region Number of Surnames Percentage of 2130 English and Welsh Surnames in Newfoundland
1 Devon 468 21.9
2 Dorset 119 5.6
3 Somerset 88 4.1

North Wales - 18

South Wales - 20
Monmouth - 22
5 Cornwall 55 2.6
6 Northumberland 47 2.2
7 Wiltshire 41 1.9
8 Yorkshire WR 38 1.8
9 Gloucestershire 36 1.7
10 Derbyshire 35 1.6
Lancashire 35 1.6
12 Hampshire 33 1.5
13 Cheshire 31 1.5
Kent 31 1.5
15 Sussex 30 1.4
16 Nottinghamshire 27 1.2
Suffolk 27 1.1
18 Warwickshire 25 1.1
19 Leicestershire and Rutland 24 1.1
Worcestershire 24 1.1
21 Durham 23 1.1

Cumberland and Westmoreland (Cumbria) 22 1.0
Norfolk 22 1.0
Staffordshire 22 1.0
Yorkshire ER, NR 22 1.0

The remaining have counties each have less than 1% contributed.
There are many accounts of the connection between the West Country and Newfoundland as to be seen in the chart above with 34.2% of Surnames from the region. Most of the English surnames have remained unchanged in Newfoundland with only minor variants in some observed.

Surnames from Ireland

In Newfoundland 1,200 names have been traced, the repetition of some names in more than one country or province gives a gross total of 1,339:


Rank Country or Region Number of Surnames Percentage of 1,339 Irish Surnames in Newfoundland
1 Cork (Munster 120 9.0
2 Tipperary (Munster) 64 4.8
3 Clare (Munster) 58 4.3
4 Kilkenny (Leinster) 57 4.3
5 Galway (Connacht) 56 4.2
6 Wexford (Leinster) 54 4.0
7 Kerry (Munster) 50 3.7
8 Limerick (Munster) 48 3.5
9 Waterford (Munster) 47 3.5
10 Dublin (Leinster) 44 3.3
11 Donegal (Ulster) 37 2.8
12 Antrim (Ulster) 35 2.6
13 Mayo (Connacht) 31 2.3
14 Down (Ulster) 30 2.2
15 Tyrone (Ulster) 29 2.2
16 Armagh (Ulster) 28 2.1
17 Fermanagh (Ulster) 23 1.7
18 Sligo (Connacht) 22 1.6
19 Monaghan (Ulster) 21 1.6
20 Offaly (King’s County), (Leinster) 20 1.5
Derry (Ulster) 20 1.5

Leix/Laoighis (King’s County), (Leinster) 18 1.3
Meath, (Leinster) 18 1.3
Roscommon (Connacht) 18 1.3
Westmeath (Leinster) 18 1.3
26 Cavan (Ulster) 17 1.3
27 Louth (Leinster) 16 1.2
28 Kildare (Leinster) 14 1.0
Leitrim (Connacht) 14 1.0

The number of surnames from Ulster is perhaps unexpectedly large, but not single country in the provinces ranks in the first ten of all the counties.

Ranking by Province
Rank Province Number of Surnames Percentage of 1,339 Irish Surnames in Newfoundland
1 Ulster 414 30.9
2 Munster 329 24.6
3 Leinster 301 22.5

Connacht 174 13
General 66 4.9
Unspecified 55 4.1

All counties have contributed with the remaining having provided less than 1%.

Surnames from France
French surnames (excluding the Channel Islands) contribution to Newfoundland has come from many parts of the country, apparently in no great numbers from any particular area. As with many immigrants to other countries they have lost their diacritical marks (accents, cedilla, diaeresis), they may have undergone a change to make it easier on the English (or Irish) tongue or phonetically changes spellings. About half of the two hundred have undergone this change with examples of: Benteau for Beneteau, Brockerville for Broqueville with many more.

A few have been translated into English or Irish: Aucoin to O’Quinn, Benoît to Bennett, Le Blanc to White, which when looking at the 1955 Official list of Electors is ranked number 1 with 1835 families using this spelling.

The South and West coast of Newfoundland have been the main areas of French settlement, the South Coast receiving settlers form metropolitan France and St. Pierre, the West Coast also from Acadia and the east coast of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, a part of what was once the French shore.

Surnames from the Channel Islands
As far as it is known, no comprehensive study has been conducted of the surnames of the Channel Islands, through various sources a list has been compiled, it is to be noted that the names are both English and French origin, some also have acquired Newfoundland variants.

Charts and much of the data provided by Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E. R. Seary, corrected edition retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)