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Keith Matthews Name Files, Abbreviation Guide

Dr. Keith Matthews (1938-1984), was professor of history at Memorial University. He initiated the establishment of the Maritime History Archive in 1971, as a repository for documents and collections of material relating to maritime history and culture in the North Atlantic region. His own research was focussed on the Newfoundland fishery and settlement from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

Dr. Matthews began his research for the geographical region of the West of England, specifically in Devon and Dorset, collecting information on individuals, families and businesses involved in the Newfoundland trade. The Name Files contain information on those people and businesses. Dr. Matthews later expanded the scope of his research to include trades other than the fishery and people outside the West country who had Newfoundland connections. Thus, the Name Files also include information on people from London and Bristol, England, Ireland and the Channel Islands, as well as residents of Newfoundland. These files contain a wealth of information which is valuable to people tracing their Newfoundland ancestry, and for that reason the files are open for research.

In order to collect this information Matthews consulted a vast range of archival and published material. From this material he transcribed the information on any name or business associated either with the Newfoundland trade, or in some cases, the town which supplied the crews for the Newfoundland fishery. Each item of information is contained on a small strip of paper, which is filed by surname and subdivided by given name. For example, the name file on John Pike contains all the references identified by Dr. Matthews relating to anyone by the name of John Pike, between the years 1600 and 1850. The Name File collection consists of information on 7,300 surnames and occupies sixteen filing cabinets. Ideally, the Name Files should be entered onto an electronic database, but thus far, finances have not been available for this.

The format of the Name Files can be rather confusing. Matthews had developed his own form of abbreviations and syntax. This guide provides explanations for the majority of the abbreviations, some of which are references to the original sources which Matthews used in gathering the data.

Information in each name file entry is arranged in a more or less standard format. Matthews listed the surname first, followed by the date, then the source of information, the first name of the individual if known and finally the text of the entry.

The following are samples of original entries taken from different types of records followed by their interpretation:

Court Records
1816 30 may st jns surr ct Pat sued for 108/-/- by trustees SHANNON/CO debt to pay
INTERPRETATION OF THE ENTRY: Surname: KEOHOE; Date: 30 May 1816; Source: St. John's Surrogate Court Records; Notes: Pat Keohoe was sued for 108 pounds sterling (no shillings or pence) by the trustees of Shannon & Co. and has to pay the debt.

Parish Registers
1784 hg church wm married mary d of fra shepherd spaniards bay
INTERPRETATION OF THE ENTRY: Surname: GAWSE; Date: 1784; Source: Harbour Grace Church Records; Notes: William Gawse married Mary Shepherd, daughter of Francis Shepherd of Spaniard's Bay.

Shipping Records
1753 mar adm 7/87 Chas "Union" 120/9/3/- guns jersey at lond - lis/nfld.
INTERPRETATION OF THE ENTRY: Surname: CHEVALIER; Date: March 1753; Source: Great Britain. Admiralty and Secretariat (Series 7). Miscellanea, volume 87; Notes: Charles Chevalier is the captain of the vessel Union. She is 120 tons and is carrying 9 British men and 3 foreign men. She has no guns. She sailed from Jersey, is currently at London, and will depart for Lisbon and then for Newfoundland.

Click on a letter below to find the abbreviation you need to decifer.

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