The seventeenth-century English cod fisheries of Newfoundland and New England, circa 1600-1713: an archaeological and historical comparison

Clausnitzer, Arthur R., Jr. (2018) The seventeenth-century English cod fisheries of Newfoundland and New England, circa 1600-1713: an archaeological and historical comparison. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (8MB)


This dissertation presents the results of a comparative study of English colonial-period fisheries sites from the Gulf of Maine and the English Shore of Newfoundland. Through a combination of archaeological and historical analysis, this dissertation sought to answer questions about the role of early resource-extraction industries in colonial societies, especially regarding the transition from a migratory to a permanent European presence in North America, and the construction of new social structures and identities. The expansion of Europeans into North America was motivated by a desire for new sources of wealth; the Atlantic Cod was one of the most important of these resources. The lightly salted and dried flesh of the codfish possessed not only economic, but also social, political, and strategic value. European exploitation of North American cod began at the start of the 16th century in Newfoundland; within the century it expanded southward to the Gulf of Maine and the adjacent New England territories of Massachusetts Bay and Maine. European exploitation in both regions originated with the cod fishery, yet by the end of the 17th century, differences had appeared in the social structures of English settlements in each region. Newfoundland remained largely dependent on the health and success of the cod fisheries to maintain its social structures. Maine was similar, yet with enough differences to be considered a distinct culture in its own right; Massachusetts Bay was an aberration in colonial history, quickly developing a relatively stable social, political, and economic structure which earned the colony a degree of independence not seen elsewhere in the English colonial world. This dissertation examines archaeological collections from six colonial fishing sites, three each from Newfoundland and New England, in an attempt to understand how the inhabitants lived and worked within the confines of the fisheries and the attendant socio-economic structures. Combined with a critical reevaluation of the existing historiography, this answered not only the research objectives of this dissertation but also allowed the construction of a novel research framework intended to help create a new and unified way of looking at all early resource-extraction industries.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 13234
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 377-420).
Keywords: Archaeology, New England, Newfoundland, Material Culture, Fisheries, 17th Century
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Archaeology
Date: May 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Atlantic cod fishing--Newfoundland and Labrador--History--17th century; Atlantic cod fishing--Maine, Gulf of--History--17th century; Archaeology--Newfoundland and Labrador; Archaeology--New England; Great Britain--Colonies--America--History--17th century.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics