Stukely Farm:1767-2002

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Submitted by Juanita Rossiter - [email protected]

Stukely Farm:1767-2002

Presentation, Havre St. Pierre Historical Conference
Morell Regional High School
23 November 2002

Juanita Rossiter

Opening Comments:

The first owner of Stukely Farm after the deportation of the French settlers in 1758 was Major George Burns of Middlesex, England. Burns was given several lots in Townships 38, 39 & 40 on St. John�s Island, containing by estimation 40,000 acres. Burns was one of several officers of the 78th Regiment to whom land was allotted or surveyed to on the 6 August 1767.

George Burns was born in 1738. A year before he was allotted his land in St. Peters Harbor, he married Mary Stukely on the 29 May 1766, at St. James Church in Piccadilly. Piccadilly was then encompassed within Middlesex, the both of which are now encompassed within London. It was of course his wife�s maiden name that was given to their new home in St. Peters Harbor one year later in 1767. Two hundred and thirty-four years later, it is often still referred to as simply "Stukely."

In addition to the land conveyances, there are other primary and secondary source records which document Burns existence on the Island. Two different newspapers in 1773 state that "George Burns, a settler on St. John�s Island, had mail waiting for him in the post office in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Burns was elected to the first Legislative Assembly on P.E.I. in 1773, and in James Pollard�s Historical Sketch of the Eastern Regions of New France & P.E.I., he states that Burns was one of the first men to be appointed a Justice of the Peace for P.E.I.

George and Mary Burns had at least three children: one son William and two daughters, Mary and Phoebe. Mary married Robert Gray but died on the 6 December 1813, at 38 years of age. Robert Gray was Treasurer of the Island. He and Mary had five children, one of which they called "Mary Stukely Gray." Another daughter, Phoebe Maria married Edmund Fanning who was Lieutenant Governor of the Island from 1786-1805. Unlike her sister, Phoebe lived a long life and died in Bath, England on the 7 May 1853 at 85 years. Two of George�s daughters had married two very influential men on P.E.I. at that time.

By the 1790s, Major Burns had owned this rather large estate for over thirty years and had managed to acquire for himself some very serious debt during that time. He owed money to Island Merchant John Cambridge, the Lord Chief Baron of the Scottish Exchequer, a fellow proprietor James Montgomery, as well as two merchants in Halifax. Robert Shuttleworth, esquire, who arrived on the Island in 1793, and agreed to pay off Burn�s debt in exchange for one half of lots 38 & 39, and one third of lot 40.

How these two people were connected is interesting. David Webber�s article in The Island Magazine entitled"Robert Shuttleworth: The Opulent Gentlemen from Morell" explains that when Robert Shuttleworth and his family came to the Island in May of 1793 aboard the Brig Lewis, they were accompanied by Robert Gray. In addition to being a member of Council and Secretary to Edmund Fanning, Mr. Gray of course was soon to be the son-in-law of George Burns, and was certainly aware of Burns� financial trouble. So Burns left the Island under a dark cloud in the 1790s. The only other documentation of him that I came across after this was his death, which occurred on the 21 August 1801, in Dublin, Ireland.

Robert Shuttleworth was the next owner of Stukely farm. He was born in 1743 to James Shuttleworth and Mary Holden. He grew up on his parent�s estate in Forcett, Yorkshire, a member of a very affluent family. His father was a politician and owned many estates in northern England. Robert attended Oxford University. He married Anne Desaguliers, daughter of Lieutenant General Thomas Desaguliers, Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery. David Webber�s article in the Island Magazine is a very detailed account of Mr. Shuttleworth�s life and I encourage you all to read it, especially those of you that are here from Morell and the surrounding area.

As I have mentioned, Robert arrived with his family aboard the Lewis in the Charlottetown harbor in June of 1793 after a five-week journey across the Atlantic. The Royal Gazette announced this arrival: "Robert Shuttleworth, Esquire, a gentlemen of great opulence and fortune, lately became a proprietor in the Island. He had chartered the Lewis and had sailed from London with his family. Later that month, another newspaper article reported that he had brought with him the necessities for a house that he planed to build on land near the Morell River. These necessities included furniture, a master carpenter to build his mansion, 11,000 London bricks for his chimney for this mansion, and a quantity of wine for his cellar. All was near lost, however, when the Lewis almost went aground at the entrance to St. Peters Bay. Can you imagine coming all the way from England, with all of that stuff, and getting stuck at the mouth of St. Peters Bay?

Although Shuttleworth owned Stukely Town, he did not live there. This carpenter that he brought with him built Robert a mansion, which he called "Morell House." It was one of the grandest homes on the Island (before the construction of Government House in 1834.) David Webber describes this house as having being situated "Just to the west of the present road from Morell to Red Head, overlooking the Gulf and St. Peters Bay from the eastern slope of a little hill called Mary�s Mount." It is surprising that after all Shuttleworth went through to have this house built, that he only lived it in for two years, for on the 28 June 1795, he set sail to return to England. Was it concern for his estates back in England? Was it the cold Maritime winter? I am more apt to think it was probably the latter.

Many commended Shuttleworth for coming to manage his estate, which of course put him in a minority as the majority of the Island was managed by absentee landlords at that time. Although he did little to attract new settlers, and simply collected rents from his tenants in Stukely Town, he did, however, build a Grist Mill on the Bristol Stream. When all was said and done, Robert controlled 23,496 acres, for which he had paid Major George Burns �1,500, the release of this mortgage having been registered on the 19 April 1794. Although Shuttleworth left the Island in 1795, it was nine years before he found a buyer for his property.

In 1804, a land conveyance instrumented on the 23 April 1804, and registered almost exactly a year later on the 18 April 1805, documents the lease and release of part of township #39 and 1/3 of Lot 40 from Robert Shuttleworth and his lawyer William Frogatt in London to Jonathan Worrell. Jonathan and his wife Catherine had eight children and had lived a great deal of their lives in the Barbados where Jonathan owned estates and plantations. Simply said, Jonathan had bought this property for his sons, Charles and Edward, to settle on.

In addition to Charles and Edward, Jonathan and Catherine had six other children: William Bryant (who resided in France), Jonathan jr. (who resided in Barbados and predeceased his father), Septimus/Septimas, and three daughters, Harriet, Bridgetta and Celia Maria, the three of whom are listed as living at �Juniper Hall� in Surrey, England). Jonathan Worrell died on the 28 January 1814. In his will, dated the 19 November 1811, his eldest son William inherited his father�s estates in Barbados and the West Indies. Charles and Edward were allotted their father�s land in Prince Edward Island. On the 14 December 1814, this land was officially registered to Charles and Edward, including St. Peters Harbor and Stukely Farm.

Many of you here today have heard of the Worrell Estate. My grandmother, who just turned 92 said that she remembers her parents, who lived in Cable Head, talking about the "Worrells." Charles and Edward maintained this "Worrell Estate" from 1814 until 1854. During the time they lived here, the brothers bought more land and added to what their father had purchased in 1804. They were also very active in Island life, especially Charles. Various newspapers of the day reported this activity:

Charles Worrell:

- Justice of the Peace (1806) (1845)

- High Sheriff of King�s County (1808)

- Commissioner of the Peace (1829-1830)

- Member of the House of Assembly (1833)

- On the "Board of Health" (1833)

- Judge (1834)

- Member of the Legislative Council (1839)

- Member of the Royal Agriculture Society (1847)

Edward did not seem as active in Island life as his brother Charles, although he is listed as a "Troop Captain in the King�s County Regiment in 1809." Both Charles and Edward are listed as being Merchants, and Storekeepers, as well as having a tavern and license to retail spiritous liquors in the greater St. Peters area throughout the 1830s.

An article in the Examiner indicates that Charles left the Island to return to England in July of 1848. This is a very interesting article, which reveals varying opinions of Charles Worrell:

The owner of one of the largest landed Estates on the Island - about 100,000 acres - which is most extensively settled, presenting in many places attractions to the admirer of nature, and facilities to the agriculturist, that cannot be excelled in any other part of the Colony - Mr. Worrell did not, unfortunately, enjoy that competency and comfort which his property was capable of affording had it been managed upon a different system from that which he pursued. But influenced by the most peculiar opinions in the letting of his lands - allowing his tenants but short leases, or no leases at all, and demanding high rents, which he was well aware they could not pay, he kept them in a state of uncertainty and disquietude, and so deterred them from extending their improvements and thus enhancing the value of the Estate, leaving himself ultimately in a condition not superior to that of his poorest tenants.

In the same article, in a more favorable light it states:

But it was not official rank, nor intellectual acquirements, which won for Mr. Worrell the respect of his fellow colonists and the attachment of his tenantry: it was his quiet unobtrusive character - a heart "open as day to melting charity," and a hand oftener lifted to assist, than to strike the poor and distressed. These are the qualities which will find for him a resting place in the memory of many who, while laughing at his whims and eccentricities, cannot but confess that his unbounded good nature has never been, nor is likely to be, imitated by any other Land Proprietor.

So, we know that Charles Worrell left the Island in 1848. It is uncertain when Edward left, but we do know that both brothers returned to England. Charles died ten years after his return to England on the 6 January 1858, at 88 years of age. A P.E.I. newspaper, The Examiner on the 15 May 1865, reported news of Edward�s death in England:

At 71 James Street, London, on the 27 February last, from an attack of Bronchitis, in the 81st year of his age, Edward Worrell, esq., 4th son of the late Jonathan Worrell, esq. of Juniper Hall, Mickleham, in the County of Surrey, England, formerly of the Island of Barbados. The deceased gentleman was brother to the late Charles Worrell of Morel House, and second cousin to John Edward Worrell Alleyene, Esquire, of Hillsborough Castle in this Island.

In 1854, the Worrell Estate was purchased by the Government of the day to promote its Land Purchase Act. Now, as I have mentioned, the Worrell Estate had expanded immensely from the time it had been purchased in 1804. Bought for �14,000 by the government of the day, the estate in 1854 comprised the entire Parish of St. Patrick�s in King�s County, and five full townships: Lots 38, 39, 40, 41 &42. This 1854 purchase by the government provided residents in the area the opportunity to purchase their farms. Some individuals, however, had purchased their farms before this 1854 sale. One such individual was Mr. Edmund Barry, the next proprietor of Stukely Farm.

On the 11 September 1852, Mr. Edmund Barry purchased 214.5 acres of he Worrell Estate, which included Stukely Farm. Nine years later, Mr. Barry is recorded in the 1861 Census for P.E.I. as living in Lot 39. He was Roman Catholic, a farmer, and had seven people living in his household in 1861. Edmund had been born in Ireland circa 1792. He owned Stukely farm for twenty-five years from 1852 to 1877. It was during this time of course, that one, if not the most important artifact of the St. Peters Bay and Morell area was unearthed. Circa 1870 or 1871, Edmund discovered the church bell from the St. Pierre du Nord Parish Church while plowing a field at Stukely. Buried for over 100 years, the bell had been slightly cracked. After a brief stay in the Catholic Church in Morell, the bell was moved to St. Alexis Roman Catholic Church in Rollo Bay. In 1882, the bell was sent to Meneely & Co. in West Troy, New York where it was recast. This bell hangs today in the church in Rollo Bay and has the following inscription:

+ Jesus + Mary + Joseph P. Crosse made me - Mechlin 1723. In
1870. I was retrieved from the ruins of
a church of an old Acadian village,
P.E.I. In 1882, the Parishioners of Rollo
Bay had me recast by Meneely & Co.
of West Troy, N.Y., in souvenir of their
Ancestors of Acadia.

Mr. Barry sold Stukely farm in 1877. The 1881 census for P.E.I. reports Edmund, ninety years old that year, as living with his son Gerald and wife Bridget. His son Gerald�s place of birth in the 1881 census is listed as "Newfoundland" which means that after immigrating from Ireland, Edmund had lived in Newfoundland before settling on the Island. Edmund died on the 18 March 1882 at ninety years of age.

It was John Sinnott who purchased 123.5 of Edmund Barry�s original 214.5 acres, which included Stukely Farm. This land conveyance, registered the 27 April 1877, documents that John Sinnott purchased the 123.5 acres for $1875.71. Born the 17 October 1824, John married Jane MacAulay of Kingston, now Rexton, New Brunswick, and they had eleven children. Although John was one of the �Morell Rear Sinnotts,� he is documented as living in Crapaud at the time of the birth of his youngest child, Alfred. These 1881 census lists John Sinnott�s occupation as a wharf builder, so I believe he moved around building wharves and bridges. By 1901, the census return indicates that John, Jane and their daughter Hannah were the only people living at Stukely farm.

In 1883, when John Sinnott had been living at Stukely for six years, an interesting article was published in the Weekly Examiner and Island Argus which was entitled "Ye Olden Time:"

Stookley Farm, St. Peter�s Harbor, is historic ground. John Sinnott, esquire, is the present proprietor and occupant, in laying the foundations for a dwelling house upon the supposed site of the French Church of the olden time. The supposition is evidently correct. The position is a commanding one: the location about one quarter of a mile from the shore.

Two peculiar inequalities of the ground are suggestive. A church bell was found forty yards away, due north - between it and the shore. A walled cellar is within forty or fifty yards from the supposed church site, the two in line parallel with the shore, answering to that of the clergy house. The old bell was again used as the St. Peters Church bell and for some years till exchanged with the Rollo Bay parishioners for another at their particular request, they being French. It got cracked some time ago, and has been sent to the United States to be recast. It bore the date, A.D. 1723. Bishop McIntyre learned from records in Rome that at a certain time, two hundred and fifty French troops were quartered at St. Peter�s Harbor - that the first French child born at St. Peters (or in P.E. Island) was baptized in the St. Peter�s Church, in the presence of the Governor, and the latter was the child�s god father.

Six years later, in 1889, another article appeared in the same paper (The Examiner):

One hundred and fifty years ago, one of the principal settlements of the Acadians in Prince Edward Island was located on the point of land at St. Peter�s Harbor, King�s County; now occupied as a farm by Mr. John Sinnott. Here can be seen signs of the French occupation. The large cellar near the sandhills is where the principal store was located. On a knoll of land some distance away stood the church of the settlers, where God�s Acre was situated, a grove of fir now forms a shelter for Mr, Sinnott�s Homestead.

Now, community history has the church and cemetery having been located on property today known as Stukely Farm. As I have mentioned, in searching through primary documentation, there have been no references located to prove this. Tradition is strong, and these newspaper articles, well, do back up the oral tradition of the location of the French cemetery. An article written by John Caven entitled "Settlement at St. Peter�s Harbor" that was published in the Prince Edward Magazine in October of 1901 further promotes this belief:

On the south where the land first begins to rise from the shore level, half way up a very gradual slope, stood the houses of the fishermen. Two rows of cellars, each extending about a hundred yards, and separated by a wide street, still mark the spot. Other dwellings were scattered up and down athwart the declivity, while among the dunes and sand mounds the wind at times clears out some spacious foundations, where probably stores and warehouses may have stood. On the crest of the eminence, a few yards from where now stands the dwelling of Mr. Sinett, rose the church. Franquet says of it, that it was a large and solid building. On this same eminence, that observant engineer recommended the four-bastioned fort to be placed, which he had designed for the protection of the settlement. A few paces from the site of the church, a square plot of land carefully fenced in, is preserved by the reverential owner from all contact with the plough; for tradition says that there, in scared burial, repose the bodies of many a toilworn settler. A cluster of dark firs casts a somber shade over the hallowed spot.

John Sinnott died in 1918, and Stukely farm was given to his youngest son Alfred. Alfred, who was born in Victoria on the 22 February 1877, was forty-one years old when he inherited Stukely farm.

Alfred, or His Excellency Archbishop Alfred Arthur Sinnott, entered Prince of Wales College at thirteen years of age, and later graduated from St. Dunstan�s College with his Bachelor of Arts degree. After this, he entered the Grand Seminary in Montreal and after five years, graduated with a Bachelor of Theology and a Bachelor of Canon Law. He then went to Rome where he was ordained in 1900. In 1901, Alfred received a Doctorate of Canon Law. Returning to Canada, Alfred taught at St. Dunstan�s College for two years, before he moved to Ottawa where he worked at the Apostolic Delegation from 1903 to 1916. In September 1915, Revered Sinnott was consecrated Archbishop of Winnipeg. He maintained this position until 1952 and on the 18 April 1954, Reverend Alfred Sinnott passed away and is buried in St. Mary�s Cemetery in Winnipeg.

Alfred Sinnott actually only owned Stukely farm for a few months. His father, John, who had died in 1918, had left the farm to Archbishop Sinnott in Winnipeg. In March of 1918, land conveyances reveal that he sold Stukely and the 123.5 acres that went with it to his sister Hannah for $10 on the 22 March 1918. A land conveyance registered the 16 March 1935, relays that Bishop Joseph P. O�Sullivan, of the Roman Catholic Episcopal Diocese of Charlottetown conveyed the 123.5 acres of Stukely Farm back to Hannah Sinnott, who I thought had already owned the property.

The land conveyances would not reveal the answer to me, so I decided to ask Father Frank Alyward, formerally of Morell now residing in Charlottetown, the answer to this question. He told me that after John Sinnott�s death, the Archbishop and Hannah gave the farm to the Diocese of Charlottetown as a summer home or retreat home for Island Priests. The Bishop arranged for a young married couple to go out and take care of Stukely, but according to Father Alyward, this young man "knew as much about farming as he did about flying a jet plane." They only stayed a few years when they left. Father Alyward also told me that the Archbishop Sinnott had a chapel at Stukely Farm that he used to say mass while he was home on holidays. Father Frank recalls the "square hat that the Bishop used to wear" which was stored in a box. When he was a teenager, he and a few pals used to go down to the Sinnotts and try the hat on and I dunno, pretend to be Archbishop for a day! The Bishop decided that having this property was not worth the hassle, and deeded it back to Hannah Sinnott in 1935.

That same March in 1935, another land conveyance revealed that Hannah Sinnott was documented as "a single woman, formerly of Morell, now residing at Camp Morton in Manitoba." In this conveyance, Hannah sold Stukely Farm to Francis Cairns of Souris West, P.E.I. Francis, and his wife Maud legally owned this property from 1935 until 1949, when they conveyed the property to their son Roy. Thus, we are brought to present day, when Stukely has become more commonly known as the Cairns Residence.


Thank You:


1. Land Conveyance: Liber 21, Folio 39-40 (PEI Land Records Office)

2. The Nova Scotia Chronicle (19 January 1773) & PEI�s Weekly Advertiser (5 July 1773).

3. Lorne Callbeck, My Island, My People (Charlottetown: PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation, 1979), p.21

4. James B. Pollard, Historical Sketch of the Eastern Regions of New France & P.E.I., Military

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