CAMPBELL, COLIN, H.M. sub-commissioner for prizes and one of his brother James Campbell’s agents in Newfoundland; fl. 1699–1710.
Colin Campbell first visited Newfoundland in 1699 on behalf of his brother to investigate the trading potentialities of the colony. In 1700 he settled at “Pontegarve,” in Conception Bay, as agent and factor. When the War of the Spanish Succession began and the French attacked Carbonear in 1702, Campbell, Thomas Edwards, and others moved to an island in Conception Bay; Campbell then returned to England to petition the government for military protection. By 1704 he was back in St John’s as a sub-commissioner for prizes, presumably captured French ships or colonial vessels contravening the navigation acts. Some traders complained of his irregularities – selling three prizes “clandestinely” and transferring timber reserved for the navy from the fort to his house.
On 28 April 1705 Colin Campbell was ordered by John Moody to return to England on the commandeered New England sloop Friendship to carry a report to the Board of Trade on Auger de Subercase’s attack on St John’s on 21 Jan. 1704/5, and a complaint against the engineer John Roope. Campbell was captured by a French privateer and arrived in England in June 1705.
He reported to the board that Subercase, with 600 men, including 150 Indians and Canadians under Testard de Montigny, marched to Bay Bulls, Petty Harbour, and then to St John’s. There they destroyed 120 houses and all stages and flakes. They laid siege unsuccessfully to the fort, commanded by John Moody and Robert Latham. On 23 February the French marched south to Fair Ellens, ravaging the coast, and carrying to Placentia (Plaisance) 200 male inhabitants of St John’s, including Campbell. Colin Campbell apparently obtained his release at Fair Ellens. According to this report, the French lost 200 men but the English only three.
Richard Sampson, one of Campbell’s servants who had accompanied him to England, reported to the board in June 1705 that the French had spared four houses in St John’s, one of them being Campbell’s. With this unfavourable report, the matter rested for a number of years. On 20 March 1710 John Moody contradicted Sampson’s report in front of the board. He stated that Campbell obtained a truce of four or five days from Subercase during which time Campbell undertook the hazardous trip to the “South Castle” to give encouragement to Latham. Because the fort then refused to surrender, Subercase forced Campbell to travel five days on foot carrying part of his plunder. He then left Campbell alone to make his way back to St John’s. Moody’s statement was supported by Archibald Cumings and James Campbell.
The next month Campbell presented to the Board of Trade and Plantations a petition from Poole merchants asking that the commodores and fishing admirals have power to appoint J.P.s, constables, and militia during winter, but only to bind over cases for settlement by the commodores in the summer: a slight modification of the old West Country appeal against civil government. In February 1705/6 Colin sailed from Plymouth and was again captured. After being prisoner at Saint-Malo until 1709, he returned to England. He joined his brother in reporting to the board – which had been investigating for several years the cases of Moody and Lloyd – Moody’s heroic defence of St John’s in 1705, and Lloyd’s negligence and his oppression of the inhabitants. It appears that Colin Campbell did not return to Newfoundland.
James Campbell’s operations in Newfoundland were large: he claimed his losses in 1705 and 1708 were £10,737. From 1702 he was active in petitioning for men-of-war to capture Placentia, adequate convoys for the fishing fleets, and the fortification of Trinity Harbour and Ferryland. He was considered by the board an important informant on colonial matters. From 1713 on, he acted as agent for Moody and Taverner*, and it would appear that the preventive officer in Newfoundland, Cumings, reported to him.
PRO, C.O. 194/4; Acts of P.C., col. ser., 1680–1720, Unbound papers; B.T. Journal, 1704–1708/9, 1708/9–1714/15, 1714/15–1718; CSP, Col., 1702–3, 1704–5, 1706–8, 1708–9, 1709–10, 1711–12, 1714–15. Lounsbury, British fishery at Nfld.