Planter was an English term for people who were "planted" abroad in order promote a political, religious cause or for colonization purposes. The term was very popular in England during the early 17th century. The settlement was called a "plantation" as in the Plantation of Ulster and the Virginia Plantation. Interestingly, the term "planter" often held different nuances depending on the locale. (see below)



Apart from the obvious meaning, the word planter also meant "colonist or new settler" and was derived from "Middle English word plaunter c. 1350-1400" [1]

Ancient Planters

This term was typically used for colonist who migrated to the Plantation of Virginia from 1616 to 1620. Ancient Planters were granted large farms upon their arrival in the Colonies, land that had before belonged to Native Americans.

"All the Ancient Planters being sett free have chosen places for their dividends according to the Comyssion. Which giveth all greate content, for now knowing their owne landes, they strive and are prepared to build houses & to clear their groundes ready to plant, which giveth great encouragement and the greatest hope to make the Colony florrish that ever yet happened to them." [2]

Planters of Newfoundland

"In the Newfoundland context the term planter has several meanings, but was used most often to refer to the owner of fishing premises (a "plantation" ) or a vessel. In the early 1600s a resident fisherman (as opposed to an English migratory fisherman) was considered a planter." [3]

In the 1600s, Newfoundland and Labrador was the hub of fishing in North America, but most of the population was migratory, there for the summer months returning in the fall. The term "planter" was found in records from the 1600s through the mid 1800s in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Planters of Labrador

"A planter could be any Newfoundland fisherman who came to Labrador for the summer fishery, operating from a "station" or "room" (premises) on the coast." [4]

A point of clarification is needed: a "station" or "room" was in fact a dual purpose "premise." "Room," originally a "ship's room" was an English term that dates back to the English fishing admirals in the early 1600s. At that time, all fishermen were forbidden to build permanent dwellings. So, as each vessel arrived they would have a ranked choice of location to build their "room" in order of arrival. Well to-do fisherman built a two storey building built with an attached pier, the bottom storey housed a fish plant that was used to clean the fish and stored the fish for transport later in the season back to England. The upper storey was often used for more storage of stores, sheds, flakes, fish and nets or in many cases, a home for the fisherman. Stations or rooms can still be seen and are still used throughout the outports of Newfoundland and Labrador today.

Plantation of Ulster 

The Plantation of Ulster was for very different reasons than the above. This plantation was solely done as an attempt to ensure that the Cromwellian Invasion of Ireland did not have to be repeated again, essentially an attempt to prove to the conquered Irish people that more of their lands and holdings were to be forfeited should they attempt to rebel again.

See Also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Kingsbury, Susan Myra (ed), Records of the Virginia Company of London, vol III, pp.245
  3. ^ Poole, Cyril F. (ed) Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador St. John's: Robinson-Blackmore Printing, 1993. Print vol 4, pp.332 (ISBN 0-9693422-4-1)
  4. ^ ibid, pp.332
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