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PYNNE (Pynn, Pyne, Pinn), WILLIAM, member of one of the leading families of Harbour Grace and Carbonear, Newfoundland, during the period of the French wars, 1689–1713.

Of the 22 inhabitants of Harbour Grace in 1677, John Pynne (father of William?) claimed to be the oldest resident, and was nominated as collector there for a proposed tax to maintain a governor in Newfoundland. He and Robert Pynne, who followed him, tended to act as leaders of the little community in dealing with the commodores of the convoy. William Pynne and, later, his son William acted in a similar capacity at Carbonear, where the population in 1677 was 55.

These two settlements were strongly defended by their inhabitants throughout the period of the French wars. Carbonear successfully resisted an attack by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville late in 1696. When raids began again in 1702, Robert and William Pynne (the elder) were among those who organized the fortification of Carbonear Island, and petitioned on 1 Dec. 1702 for official assistance. Captain Michael Richards, in command at Fort William, St John’s, complained of the irregularity of their action, suggesting that they had panicked. Though the inhabitants dispersed to their homes, they kept their stronghold as a place of refuge. It served them in good stead when, in February 1704/5, Testard de Montigny led a band of Indians – part of Auger de Subercase’s force which was besieging Fort William – to raid the English settlements on Conception Bay. William Pynne was one of those who distinguished themselves in the defence of Carbonear Island, where the enemy was repelled, though much damage was done in the region. By November more normal conditions were restored, and William Pynne, with others, signed a letter to thank the bishop of London for providing a new minister, Jacob Rice, for St John’s.

The fall of St John’s in December 1708 had no immediate effect on the more northerly English settlements, but in 1709 a militia was at last organized under John Collins, acting governor at St John’s. Eight local governors were named, with subordinate officers. William Pynne emerged as governor at Carbonear, with his son, William, as one of his lieutenants. At Harbour Grace Robert Pynne was one of the two captains under the governor there, Henry Edwards. This system was confirmed by Josias Crowe in 1711 and was continued until the end of the war. The Pynne family were pioneers in organizing the outlying English settlements for local defence and gave the lead to other areas.

D. B. Quinn

PRO, CSP, Col., 1677–80, 1702–3, 1704–5, 1708–9. La Morandière, Hist. de la pêche française de la morue, I, 456–58. Prowse, History of Nfld. (2d ed., 1896), 194, 245. Rogers, Newfoundland.

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Cite This Article

D. B. Quinn, “PYNNE, WILLIAM,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed February 26, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/pynne_william_2E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/pynne_william_2E.html
Author of Article:   D. B. Quinn
Title of Article:   PYNNE, WILLIAM
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1969
Year of revision:   1982
Access Date:   February 26, 2024