Date of Award

Fall 12-10-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Kirstin Lawson

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Childers

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian Moots


The island of Newfoundland is conspicuous in colonial British and North American histories, most particularly and paradoxically, in its absence, a state of affairs which this study aims to help address. Multiple factors, including a paucity of documentary sources and various historiographic trends, have traditionally contributed to Newfoundland’s marginalization within colonial historical narratives. However, developments in recent years have made Newfoundland’s potential integration into the broader colonial dialogue more feasible including the advent of the Atlantic perspective, the expansion of available sources, and the work of multiple regional historians who have challenged enduring historiographic trends characterizing Newfoundland colonial settlements as marginal, failed, or backward. This study seeks to affirm the island’s historical importance within the Atlantic basin between the sixteenth century and the nineteenth century by highlighting that colonial Newfoundland settlements actually had far more in common with those of their European settler counterparts in North America than the traditional historiography suggests. The surprising similarities and unique differences between the island’s settlements and continental or Caribbean ones, largely unexplored by any but regional scholars, help make the case for Newfoundland’s fuller integration into colonial histories. Among these unique differences, the social and economic advantages available to working-class immigrants to Newfoundland are particular areas of interest, as such advantages were uncommon to many of their counterparts elsewhere in the colonial Atlantic basin.



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