Encyclopedia Britiannica 2002 defines a cooper as "one that makes or repairs casks or tubs"
Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador says "coopers or barrelmakers were
likely among the earliest craftsmen to arrive in Newfoundland" and that
they accompanied ships here as far back as the Fifteenth Century. It says that
in the outports coopers cut their own timber to make the staves and often made
their own hoops. In addition to making 'slack' barrels for fish and
'tight' barrels to hold berries, rum or other wet substances, they also made
buckets, churns, dippers, bailers, trawl-net tubs and other products for the
home. In St John's, coopers specialized in barrels for fish and rum.
Most large merchant ships carried their own craftsman, coopers and ship joiners (carpenters). Much of the food and drink consumed onboard were carried in barrels, and most of the cargo as well. Barrels required maintenance since they were reused and would eventually need repair. When a barrel was finished with being useda barrel it was knocked down, cleaned, stored and prepared for use again later and when needed the cooper fashioned it into a usable state.
This is a work in progress and if you see a Captain KENNEDY here that you may be related to please make an
inquiry so that I can find out further details on the vessel registered to Captain KENNEDY or perhaps where he
was born or resided. I believe those Captain Kennedys of Crocker's Cove and Carbonear to all be the ancestors of my
grandmother. Both my ggggf Captain Nicholas and his wife Julia (married 1831) were both Kennedys and as the
story goes his line was from Wexford and his father put in at Harbor Grace after he was born at sea in 1807 en route
to New Bedford, Massachusetts (they had heard the fishing in the States was good) and Julia's KENNEDY line had
already been in Crocker's Cove, Newfoundland since before 1755.
The union of Nicholas and Julia was not the only Kennedy to Kennedy marriage in Carbonear. During the same
decade, a William Kennedy married an Ellen Kennedy (1820), a John Kennedy married a Mary Kennedy (1828) and a
Terence Kennedy married a Jane (Kenny/Kennedy) in 1818. It is my own supposition that the Kennedy family which
arrived from Wexford, Ireland in 1807 married into the Crocker's Cove line through more than one union in an effort to
secure land and fishing premises. All marriages were sanctioned by the Roman Catholic church in Harbor Grace and no
record of Consanguinity has been found to indicate a blood relation between the two families. I believe that all of the
Captain Kennedys from Carbonear in the above Index are related thru one Kennedy line or the other and ultimately
trace through blood or marriage to the Terence Kennedy whose Crocker's Cove house was razed in 1755 after having
mass said publicly and being married by a Catholic priest. I am less certain of the connection between Crocker's Cove/
Carbonear Kennedys and the Kennedys of Harbor Maine/Holyrood (Avondale). Alhough any of the Kennedy to Kennedy
marriages could represent the joining of Kennedy families between Carbonear and the Avondale area as they all had early
connections as parishioners of the RC Chapel of Harbor Grace. Information on the earliest Captain Kennedys has been
extracted from the Keith Matthews Name Files of the Maritime History Archives at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
I have no doubt that there were more Kennedy Master Mariners in Newfoundland than are listed here and that each
Captain Kennedy had Kennedy crew aboard his vessel. Those Captain Kennedys last listed, William J. and Nicholas J.
Kennedy were brothers and first cousins to my great grandfather John Kennedy. John's father was Skipper Terrence of the
Flying Mist 1896 and I suspect that vessel as the one on which he may have sailed 4 of his sons to Boston. Skipper
Terrence's brothers were Captain Nicholas (father of the above Capt.WJK and Capt NJK) and Captain John Kennedy
(of the Bounty and who had sons Nich, WJ, and Stan). They all worked the Labrador fishery during the second half
of the 19th century but as this livelihood began to wane most of the family was moving from Carbonear to St. John's,
Canada, and also the US. They were considered the last of Carbonear's Great Sea Captains. The last of 4 generations
of Captains (at least that I know for certain) but I suspect their seafaring tradition goes back for many more generations
and spans more than the three hundred years recorded here. They have thousands of descendants. Many of whom I feel
certain are most at home when nearest to sea.
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