Cupids, or Cupers Cove, was first settled in 1610 by the London and Bristol Company.

Drawing by J.W. Nichols. From D.W. Prowse, A History of Newfoundland from the English, Colonial and Foreign Records (London: Macmillan, 1895) 97.

John Mason compiled the information for his map during his time as governor of Cupids Cove. Like many maps of the period, it was printed with north at the bottom (courtesy Centre for Newfoundland Studies, Memorial University Libraries).

Cuper’s Cove, Newfoundland (now Cupids) was England’s first attempt at organized colonization in Canada and the second plantation in North America (Jamestown, Virginia being the first in 1607).  One of the first settlers in John Guy’s colony at Cuper’s Cove was Thomas Willoughby. He was the black sheep of his family and at age nineteen, he was sent along with his guardian Henry Crout to Cuper’s Cove to “reform himself.”

Between September 1, 1612 and May 13, 1613 Henry Crout kept a journal while on Cupids colony. Although his entries deal mostly with weather conditions, Crout also recorded important events including the cutting of a trail from Conception Bay to Trinity Bay and the voyage of the Indeavour into Trinity Bay.

To commemorate the 400 anniversary of Henry Crout’s journal, the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation has been posting each entry from Crout’s journal on the 400 anniversary of the day it was written.

You can find the journal entries to date at Baccalieudigs. Click on Henry Crout’s Journal icon at the bottom of the page to access his entries. A new entry will be posted each day until May 13, 2013.

Visit The Canadian Encyclopedia for more on Canada’s first English settlement at Cuper’s Cove.

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. It appears that statements contained in this article are incorrect and exclude important historical facts. For example, this article states: “John Mason compiled the information for his map during his time as Governor of Cupids Cove.” Historical documents show that John Mason was NEVER the Governor of Cupids Cove. In their letters and journals John Guy and John Mason, as the Governors of the Cupers Cove Plantation, NEVER mentioned a place called Cupids Cove. Some claim that the name Cupers Cove was changed to Cupids Cove but offer NO CONCLUSIVE PROOF of that unfounded claim other than the erroneous and discredited Mason map. Maps of the Avalon Peninsula from the 1600′s and 1700′s clearly show that Cupids Cove was located a number miles from Salmon Cove where Cupers Cove was located. It is clear that both Cupids Cove and Cupers Cove existed as separate locations in the early 1600′s. John Mason was the Governor of the Cupers Cove Plantation NOT the Cupids Cove Plantation. In fact, there is NO reference to a place called the Cupids Cove Plantation in the entire historical record of Newfoundland. John Guy, the first Governor of the Cupers Cove Plantation, stated in his letter of October 6, 1610, that Cupers Cove was located near a place named Salmon Cove. Numerous maps from the 1600′s and 1700′s including the Thornton Map show that Salmon Cove was NOT located anywhere near Cupids Cove in the early 1600′s when John Guy and his colonists arrived. In his 1895 book “A History of Newfoundland” author D.W. Prowse completely discredited the accuracy and authenticity of the so called Mason map referred to in this article. In his book Prowse stated: “A close examination of this map shows that it was not constructed by Mason, all its feature being traceable in much older maps.” In the so called Mason map, the name “Cuperts Cove” appears where Cupids Cove is located. As Governor of “Cupers Cove” it is highly improbable that Mason would have improperly spelled the name “Cupers” as “Cuperts” which lends credence to the conclusion that the purported Mason map was not drawn by Mason. The placement and misspelling of the name of Cupers Cove on the map was done in error by someone other than Mason who had no direct knowledge of where Cupers Cove was located or how it’s named was properly spelled. Despite unproven claims that Cupids Cove is the modern name of the former Cupers Cove, numerous maps, letters and the description of the boundaries of the Colony of Avalon clearly show that Cupers Cove was located near Salmon Cove mentioned by John Guy in his letter of October 6, 1610. The documents and maps show clearly that Cupers Cove was located near where the modern town of Avondale is located now and NOT at Cupids. It is a mistake to assume that Cupers Cove and Cupids Cove are one and the same place. The historic documents, letters, maps and Royal Charter of Avalon clearly show that Cupers Cove is NOT Cupids! It appears that misinterpretation of historical documents and maps has led to the erroneous conclusion that Cupids is the site of Cupers Cove. A letter written in 1622 by Edward Wynne to George Calvert the owner of the Colony of Avalon stated that there were cattle located at: “..our Northern Plantation.” This statement shows that there was a Northern Plantation located inside the boundary of the Colony of Avalon which extended from Ferryland to Salmon Cove but did not extend as far as Cupids Cove. Accordingly, the Northern Plantation which Wynne wrote about must have been the Cupers Cove Plantation which was NOT located at Cupids Cove!

    Reply
  2. In response to the comments posted by Don II

    FIRST: There is absolutely no doubt that Cupers Cove and Cupids Cove are variants of the same name and it is incorrect to say that “there is no reference to a place called the Cupids Cove Plantation in the entire historical record of Newfoundland”. While John Guy refers to the colony as Cupers Cove, other early documents refer to the same place as Cupids Cove. The earliest of these that I’m aware of is a letter written by Bartholomew Pearson from the colony on April 11, 1613. Like Henry Crout, Bartholomew arrived at Renews in Newfoundland in the spring of 1612 and stayed there until August of that year before sailing on to Cupids. Sir Percival Willoughby had given Bartholomew a number of domesticated birds, or fowls, to transport to the new colony. In his letter, written to Sir Percival, he states that, “I brought the fowls which you sent to Renouse [Renews] which was our first landing place and from thence to cupids kove.”. Sir William Alexander, a good friend of John Mason’s, also referred to the colony as Cupids Cove. In his book, An Encouragement to Colonies, published in 1624, Alexander says, “The first houses for habitation were built in Cupids Cove within the Bay of Conception …”.

    To suggest that Cupers Cove and Cupids Cove are not the same place based on variations in spelling indicates little understanding of 17th century documents and maps. Spellings were not standardized in the 16th and 17th centuries. In many cases people spelled words the way they pronounced them or the way they thought they should be spelled and it was not unusual even for the same person to spell the same word or name a number of different ways. During a time when many Newfoundland place names were just being established and when the Avalon was frequented by fishermen and colonists speaking any number of dialects, it would only make sense that the name would be pronounced and written in different ways by different people.

    SECOND: Taken out of context, it may appear from the quote from Prowse’s “ History of Newfoundland” about the Mason’s map that Prowse believed that the map wasn’t created by Mason but this is not the case. In his first reference to the map on page 10 of his history, Prowse states that it is “a map of Newfoundland made by John Mason, a distinguished captain of the Royal Navy of England …”. Prowse’s point, which is in a footnote on page 106 of the History, was not that Mason didn’t create the map or that the map was inaccurate but that much of Mason’s map, like many others maps from the period, was based on the work of other earlier map makers, “all its features being traceable in much older maps”. However, Mason did add certain new and relevant details to the map including the location of George Calvert’s colony of Avalonia established in 1621, the colony of Bristol’s Hope established at Harbour Grace around 1617, and the first English colony established at Cupids, or Cuperts Cove as he called it, in 1610.

    THIRD: It is true that a number of documents related to the colony state that it is located near a place called Salmon Cove. However, there is no evidence to indicate that the Salmon Cove referred to in the documents is the Salmon Cove that was later renamed Avondale. Indeed there are a number of Salmon Coves in Conception Bay including one just over the hill to the north of Cupids. And the Salmon Cove mentioned in the Charter of Avalon is clearly not present day Avondale. The Charter states that the Salmon Cove it refers to is west of Petty Harbour “on the south side of the Bay of Conception” (The charter is published in Gillian Cell’s “Newfoundland Discovered” and the quote is on page 259).

    A FEW OTHER POINTS:

    1. In his letter dated October 6, 1610, Guy states that the colony is three leagues, or roughly nine miles, northeast of Colliers as is Cupids.

    2. In his letter of May 16, 1611 Guy states that the lake located a short distance from the bottom of the harbour at Cupers Cove is “two miles in length and the sixt part of a mile broad”. Cupids Pond, located a short distance from the bottom of Cupids Harbour is, on average, 1/6 of a mile wide. Today Cupids Pond is about 1.6 miles in length but railway construction in the late 19th century and in-filling since then has reduced its length considerable.

    3. In his journal, Crout refers to the headland at the entrance to the harbour as ‘the Spectacles’ Today the headland at the entrance to Cupids harbour is called Spectacle Head.

    4. In his journal Henry Crout tells us that the colony was within walking distance of Brigus, Salmon Cove and Burnt Head as is Cupids.

    5. Any number of 17th century maps show ‘Cupers Cove’, ‘Cuperts Cove’, ‘Coopers Cove’, ‘Cupits Cove’, ‘Cupids Cove’ or some other variant of the name exactly where the town of Cupids is located today.

    (Bill Gilbert, Chief Archaeologist, Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation)

    In response to the comments posted by Don II

    FIRST: There is absolutely no doubt that Cupers Cove and Cupids Cove are variants of the same name and it is incorrect to say that “there is no reference to a place called the Cupids Cove Plantation in the entire historical record of Newfoundland”. While John Guy refers to the colony as Cupers Cove, other early documents refer to the same place as Cupids Cove. The earliest of these that I’m aware of is a letter written by Bartholomew Pearson from the colony on April 11, 1613. Like Henry Crout, Bartholomew arrived at Renews in Newfoundland in the spring of 1612 and stayed there until August of that year before sailing on to Cupids. Sir Percival Willoughby had given Bartholomew a number of domesticated birds, or fowls, to transport to the new colony. In his letter, written to Sir Percival, he states that, “I brought the fowls which you sent to Renouse [Renews] which was our first landing place and from thence to cupids kove.”. Sir William Alexander, a good friend of John Mason’s, also referred to the colony as Cupids Cove. In his book, An Encouragement to Colonies, published in 1624, Alexander says, “The first houses for habitation were built in Cupids Cove within the Bay of Conception …”.

    To suggest that Cupers Cove and Cupids Cove are not the same place based on variations in spelling indicates little understanding of 17th century documents and maps. Spellings were not standardized in the 16th and 17th centuries. In many cases people spelled words the way they pronounced them or the way they thought they should be spelled and it was not unusual even for the same person to spell the same word or name a number of different ways. During a time when many Newfoundland place names were just being established and when the Avalon was frequented by fishermen and colonists speaking any number of dialects, it would only make sense that the name would be pronounced and written in different ways by different people.

    SECOND: Taken out of context, it may appear from the quote from Prowse’s “ History of Newfoundland” about the Mason’s map that Prowse believed that the map wasn’t created by Mason but this is not the case. In his first reference to the map on page 10 of his history, Prowse states that it is “a map of Newfoundland made by John Mason, a distinguished captain of the Royal Navy of England …”. Prowse’s point, which is in a footnote on page 106 of the History, was not that Mason didn’t create the map or that the map was inaccurate but that much of Mason’s map, like many others maps from the period, was based on the work of other earlier map makers, “all its features being traceable in much older maps”. However, Mason did add certain new and relevant details to the map including the location of George Calvert’s colony of Avalonia established in 1621, the colony of Bristol’s Hope established at Harbour Grace around 1617, and the first English colony established at Cupids, or Cuperts Cove as he called it, in 1610.

    THIRD: It is true that a number of documents related to the colony state that it is located near a place called Salmon Cove. However, there is no evidence to indicate that the Salmon Cove referred to in the documents is the Salmon Cove that was later renamed Avondale. Indeed there are a number of Salmon Coves in Conception Bay including one just over the hill to the north of Cupids. And the Salmon Cove mentioned in the Charter of Avalon is clearly not present day Avondale. The Charter states that the Salmon Cove it refers to is west of Petty Harbour “on the south side of the Bay of Conception” (The charter is published in Gillian Cell’s “Newfoundland Discovered” and the quote is on page 259).

    A FEW OTHER POINTS:

    1. In his letter dated October 6, 1610, Guy states that the colony is three leagues, or roughly nine miles, northeast of Colliers as is Cupids.

    2. In his letter of May 16, 1611 Guy states that the lake located a short distance from the bottom of the harbour at Cupers Cove is “two miles in length and the sixt part of a mile broad”. Cupids Pond, located a short distance from the bottom of Cupids Harbour is, on average, 1/6 of a mile wide. Today Cupids Pond is about 1.6 miles in length but railway construction in the late 19th century and in-filling since then has reduced its length considerable.

    3. In his journal, Crout refers to the headland at the entrance to the harbour as ‘the Spectacles’ Today the headland at the entrance to Cupids harbour is called Spectacle Head.

    4. In his journal Henry Crout tells us that the colony was within walking distance of Brigus, Salmon Cove and Burnt Head as is Cupids.

    5. Any number of 17th century maps show ‘Cupers Cove’, ‘Cuperts Cove’, ‘Coopers Cove’, ‘Cupits Cove’, ‘Cupids Cove’ or some other variant of the name exactly where the town of Cupids is located today.

    (Bill Gilbert, Chief Archaeologist, Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation)

    Reply
  3. To the Editor of the TCE BLOG: Please publish the following comments in response to comments by Bill Gilbert and Davina Choy: On January 2, 2013 Davina Choy posted the following comment: “Hi Bill, Thanks so much for bringing your professional expertise to the issue. We appreciate it.” It appears that Davina Choy has dispensed with any pretense of journalistic impartiality as the author of the “Occurrents in Newfoundland” article which Bill Gilbert was commenting on here.The promoters of Cupids history claimed that the Sea Forest Plantation owned by John Guy was located in Cupids and got away with that misrepresentation of historical fact for decades before it was exposed as being a misrepresentation of historical fact! It appears that Bill Gilbert has erroneously interpreted the historical record regarding the location of Cupers Cove and has attributed historical events to Cupids which actually occurred in Cupers Cove! The promoters of Cupids history have erroneously assumed, based on the similarity of the two place names and the fact that a place called Salmon Cove is located near to Cupids, that Cupids Cove and Cupers Cove are one and the same place. However, those assumptions are wrong! The historic documents show that John Guy wrote in 1610 that Cupers Cove was a “branch of” or located near to Salmon Cove. Batholomew Pearson wrote a letter in 1613 in which he mentions a place called Cupids Kove. It is clear that Guy and Pearson were referring to two separate and distant places. It should be clear to any objective researcher of the historic documents and maps that both Cupids Cove and Cupers Cove existed in 1610 and that both were separate and distant places from each other. Neither John Guy nor Henry Crout ever stated that they were living in Cupids Cove but both stated they were living in Cupers Cove. It appears that the promoters of Cupids history have based their claim that John Guy landed there because there is a place called Salmon Cove located near Cupids. The facts are that numerous maps of Conception Bay from the 17th century and the Plantation Books from the 18th century show that there was no place named Salmon Cove located near Cupids in the 17th century. The Plantation Books show that Salmon Cove near Cupids was not inhabited until around the 1780′s which is more than 150 years AFTER John Guy arrived at Cupers Cove near Salmon Cove. It should be clear to any objective researcher that John Guy was not referring to the Salmon Cove near Cupids in his letter of October 6, 1610 because it was not named or inhabited in 1610. The Salmon Cove which was located near to Cupers Cove is now known as Avondale which is NOT located near to Cupids.The Salmon Cove (now Avondale) to which John Guy referred served as the boundary between the Sea Forest Plantation and the Colony of Avalon. The historical documents and maps show that neither the Sea Forest Plantation nor the Cupers Cove Plantation were located near Cupids Cove. The Salmon Cove located near Cupids did not exist in 1610. The objective researcher must empirically conclude that the historical documents show that Cupids is NOT Cupers Cove. No documentary, physical, scientific or empirical evidence has ever been produced which conclusively proves that Cupids and Cupers Cove are the same place.The facts show that Cupids Cove and Cupers Cove both existed in 1610 at separate an distant locations from each other. It appears that the promoters of Cupids history claim that the name Cupers Cove ceased to be used in the early 17th century and that Cupers Cove became known as Cupids Cove. That claim is NOT factually correct. The fact is that a map by John Senex made in 1719 clearly shows “Coopers Cove” located near where the town of Avondale is located now and that the name Coopers Cove had not ceased to be known and was in fact in use in 1719 over 100 years AFTER John Guy arrived at Cupers or Coopers Cove! Claims have been promoted that a cemetery containing the remains of the early colonists at Cupers Cove has been found at Cupids. However, it appears that two headstone grave markers which have been unearthed are dated 1720 and 1780 and are clearly not marking the remains of early colonists who died between 1611 an 1613! Anyone who continues to claim that Cupids is Cupers Cove and that the Cupers Cove Plantation is located in Cupids is simply perpetrating a myth which is predicated on blatant misinterpretation or misrepresentation of historical fact. It appears that anyone who promotes Cupids as the site of the Cupers Cove Plantation is ignoring or misinterpreting the content of historical documents and maps and is promoting myth, folklore, theory, conjecture, imaginary scenarios, fictionalized accounts and a misrepresentation of the historical record which borders on the practice of pseudo-archaeology. John Guy described the soil in Cupers Cove as rich and deep and the trees as being very large. The soil in Cupids is thin, of poor quality, rocky and not suitable for farming and the trees in Cupids are certainly not large or suitable for logging. The location of the purported Cupers Cove Plantation site is so near to the harbor in Cupids that it could have easily been attacked and was virtually impossible to defend against hostile cannon fire from ships stationed in the harbor. Hostile ships armed with cannons could reduce the fort to rubble. Advancing hostile armed troops or pirates could have easily overrun the meager defenses. It is clear that no competent person would construct a fort or habitation so near to a harbor in 1610 at a time when hostile foreign national ships armed with cannons and Pirate ships roamed the seas freely. It appears that the purported site in Cupids contains the remains of the site of an early Planter homestead. Numerous such Planter homestead sites can be found practically anywhere along the shores of Conception Bay. The Government of Newfoundland chose not to designate the purported site in Cupids as the Cupers Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site but chose instead to designate the purported site as the Cupids Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site to commemorate the fictional Cupids Cove Plantation. It appears that the Government of Newfoundland knew or ought to have known that a place called the Cupids Cove Plantation is NEVER mentioned in the entire historical record of Newfoundland and Labrador! It appears that the Government of Newfoundland designated the purported site in Cupids as a Provincial Historic Site in an attempt to justify expropriating several privately owned lands in Cupids. It appears that the Government of Newfoundland knew or ought to have known that Cupids is NOT Cupers Cove!

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  4. In my hunble oppinion the documents speak for themselves,but after digging in the ground for app. 15 years anyone would think there’d be enough proof dug up to prove it to be John Guy’s site. Artifacts(broken dishes),grave sites,this could belong to any resident.

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