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Re: Lydia Dunscombe and Wm. Butterfield
Posted by: Sen Pl Creachmhaoil (ID *****1059) Date: September 14, 2006 at 19:02:59
In Reply to: Lydia Dunscombe and Wm. Butterfield by Bess Gamble of 897

Hallo Bess,

I just made two respondes to your similar post here:

They're lengthy posts, but I'll copy them here:

Hallo Bess. I can tell you're not actually from Bermuda as, although the proper name is "The Islands of Bermuda, alias The Somers Isles", Bermuda is always used popularly in the singular, and it's always 'the Island', 'the Rock', and so on.

The Dunscombes appear to have once been a prominent family in Bermuda. The graveyard Christchurch, as I mentioned, is full of them. I'm fairly certain there is no one of the name in the local telephone directory, today, though.

The Butterfields were, and remain, a prominent Bermudian family. The best-remembered was Colonel Nathaniel "Nat" T. Butterfield, whose commission was in the colonial militia, who also gave his name to The Bank of NT Butterfield & Son Ltd( in 1858.

from the Bank's own page:

"Butterfield Bank is Bermuda's first bank. Originating from a merchant-trading firm founded in 1758, it became The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son in 1858, and was incorporated in 1904. Our long and stable history parallels Bermuda's development. We provide banking services to local individuals and businesses and facilitate the island's commercial links to the rest of the world."

Unfortunately, I live in Scotland, these days, and my ability to provide assistance is limited. What I'd suggest is ringing the Bermuda Book Store ( ) and speaking to the current owner, Hannah Willmott (the Zuill's no longer own it...though you may ask her about William Zuill's long out of print "Bermuda Journey", also), and ask if she has, or can provide, the "Bermuda Parish Records", a modern publication, compiling the Island's church records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths, by Parish, which lists records well into the 20th Century (the end date depends on the Parish). That one book will allow you to track down your family tree, probably.

Curiously, She has a 'Than' (Nathaniel) Butterfield working with her. Maybe he's your cousin:

Tell her a friend of Miriam sent you.

I'd also suggest getting a look in a Bermuda telephone book and seeing if you cannot locate some of your cousins....Butterfields, if not Dunscombes. Just make sure its the snobby, shall we say, less-complected members of the Butterfield clan...

If you'd like to contact me, click on my name and it should take you to a page with my hotmail address...


I'm just skimming through "Bermuda From Sail To Steam: A History of the Island from 1784 to 1901", by Henry C. Wilkinson, The Oxford Press, 1973 (my edition).

It mentions a few Duncombs and Dunscombes.

John Dunscomb

Page 25: "On the other hand John Dunscomb, as a merchant interested in the Newfoundland trade, had the reverse in mind when he advertised for 'twenty Bermuda bred ponies'. They would be smaller than the American horse and probably tougher. It was the last attribute which was needed for Newfoundland."

Page 298 (but, I'll start on 297): ""Incidentally, an irate mother from that fast-growing republic wrote the Admiral a sharp note that two of her sons had been impressed by H.H.S. Guerriere, and he sent the boys back to her.
Two years earlier, when the naval hospital at St. George's was disputing the Mussons' difficult bill, a doubt must have arisen over the desirability of keeping such a growing establishment at the East End. At any rate, John Dunscomb advertised his property of St. John's Hill. [sic] with eight acres enclosed, on the shore near Spanish Point, to let, adding that its 'salubrity was not excelled by any site on the island', [sic] The hint was not accepted directly but it is likely that Sawyer rented the building for himself, though he had little opportunity to use it since Halifax continued to have more pressing demands.Moreover {sic], he was to remain on the station for a shorter time than was planned. However, soon after he left the island, the navy's sick men and invalids from the West Indies were moved into St. John's Hill house at a rental of 60 a year. This was increased to 100 the next year, as a result, presumably, of excessive damage by them. But after eighteen months the building was reserved for officers, under a young surgeon, and the men were put in the hulk Romulus, formerly of 30 guns, which was pulled into Spanish Point, or strictly speaking Whale Point."
Just a bit of background: The time frame seems to be between 1795 and 1809. The Royal Navy began its permanent establishment in Bermuda in 1795 (following the loss of US mainland bases-and ended its establishment in 1995, interestingly), but, due to no known channel, at the time, to allow larger vessels beyond Castle and St. George's Harbours, it operated out of St. George's until 1809, when it began relocating onto land at the West End, which it had been buying up for some years prviously, in anticipation) where the core of the naval infrastructure would be the HM Dockyard on Ireland Island. The Admiralty and the North America & West Indies Squadron initially used Bermuda as a winter headquarters, operating from the Maritimes during the summer, but eventually Bermuda became the HQ year rouns. During the American War of 1812, the Admiralty House was still Mount Wyndham, over Bailey's Bay, at the East End, though the fleet operated mostly from the West End. Mount Wyndham was rented, however, and following the War (during which Mount Wyndham was where the 1814 attack on Washington DC - that led to the US President's Mansion being redubbed the 'White House', after it was necessary to paint over the burn marks...the Capitol was also burned - was planned), after the navy failed to negotiate a price it could afford to pay for the property, Admiralty House relocated Westward. Wether immediately or eventually to Spanish Point, I don't recall. In anycase, Spanish Point was the location of the Admiralty House til the Admiral was withdrawn in the 1950s. But not Mr Dunscomb's property...St. John's Hill is near Spanish Point, but not in it. Lot's of useless asides, there... :)

1798 - 1810

Captain Sam Dunscomb

Page 222 (but starting on 221): "But she had both liquor and dry goods. So the controller seized her, and the vice-admiralty judge condemned her. He did the same to an American schooner for unloading cordage at night. He also confiscated the sloop Ulrica, Captain Sam Dunscomb, from Anguilla with sugar, rum and yams, but with a faulty certificate. On further investigation and second thought, however, it seemed that Dunscomb had erred unintentionally, so he was forgiven two-thirds of the total condemnation. But for correctness and discipline's sake he was held for the remaining third, together with the cost of the prosecution."

1798 - 1810

Edward Dunscombe

Page 206: "Late in 1797 two French privateers had captured Edward Dunscombe, in his sloop Content, off the Caicos Bank, only themselves to be sunk by the frigate Pelican setting forty-two Bermudians and others free in the water. Obviously the French were aggressive. So the Turks Islanders formed a sturdy volunteer group, and set up several 32-pounders on the shore to repel their enemies."

Bermuda's involvement with the Turks Islands (Turks & Caicos would take too long to set out here, but, if you're curious, I've been adding material on wikipedia: and ).


John Dunscombe

1808 - 1812

Page 250: "Newfoundland was within the company's ambit, and this extension was soon facilitated by taking over two of the Dunscombes' vessels, the Linnet, of 76 tons, together with the Lamprey, of 133 tons, and with them their part owner, John Dunscombe, as a partner. He took the office at St. John's."

The Company was the "Patriotic Company", set up by Stowe Wood and his brothers on Front Street, Hamilton, with the support of Governor Hodgson, who had recommended the Wood's plan for diverting Bermudian shipping from US to Canadian trade, and when Canadian ports were closed with ice, to sail directly for London, to the Secretary of State (for War?)

1819 - 1830

Page 445: "(refering to Governor, Captain Sir Thomas Cochrane, RN, who had spent much of his youth in Bermuda, and appointed Governor in 1825) In 1826 he opened Tucker's 'supreme court' with high pageantry. He made his A.D.C.s 'colonels of militia' with uniforms to match their importance. Among them, in full favour, ws John Dunscombe, the councillor, whose daughter had married the able Colonial Secretary, James Crowdy."


William Dunscombe

1785 - 1794

Page 53: "James Tucker returned to tell the Assembly how their best effort had been postponed and 'perverted as well to the detriment of the Crown as to the mischief of the subject'. But there were royal instructions for a second and similar bill to be forwarded. This was no sooner done than it was followed by another petition from St. George's. Nevertheless, Colonel Henry Tucker of Somerset pushed on and had the Assembly appoint, as a committee, William Hall, jun., Captain Daniel Tucker, Lieutenant-Colonel John Jennings, William Dunscombe, Richard Jennings Penniston and the seaman, Benjamin Cox, to examine the terrain for the proposed new centre of trade, advise on the value of the land, the acreage required, and the title of the existing owners to their holdings. The scheme was for the government to acquire the land needed for the township by voluntary conveyance, as far as possible, and then take up the remainder after an empanelled jury had appraised it."

Note: This refers to the creation of the town, now the City, of Hamilton, named after the Governor under whom it was created in 1790, Henry Hamilton ( and

1795 - 1806

Page 155: "Ten weeks after these surprises a different attachment was extended to William Dunscombe as an owner, with six others, of the privateer Hawk, of 110 tons, which had been in commission from 1795-7 under Ephraim Paynter. But Dunscombe was now sued for 3,086C. The Court of Appeal's local agents were James and William Perot, both of them assemblymen and respectable merchants at the eastern end of the front street in Hamilton, and only slightly involved in shipping. This last attachment was more tangible than the others, and the sum reversed not impossible, in view of the joint resources. A writ was accordingly given to John Fisher, marshal of the vice-admiralty court, to execute. He declined to do so, but asked Judge Green about it. Green was now too old and worn. However, in due course the Chief Justice opened proceedings in the Court of the King's Bench, and the vice-admiralty marshall served the writs. But little, perhaps nothing, was accomplished. Green died the same year, 1802, and his wife followed him within six months.
It was generally felt that as soon as an able governor was at hand to corroborate the sincerity of the effort, the Legislature should petition the throne explaining the destruction which must ensue if the decisions of the Lords of Appeal were not circumvented. But when the Legislaure tried this, an answer was returned that the Court's decisions must stand, and Bermuda could remember that the same state of affairs existed in several other colonies. Thus the Bermudians learned to appreciate some mercies in the tardiness of the law, and the poor sea captains, as the latest victims, could but hope for the balm of time.
In the diplomatic aspect of the wider contest, however, Rufus King, the United States minister in London, pressed hard to gin compensation for his injured shipowners at the very time when his government was raising money to pay for Louisiana. Thus Britain, uncertain as to how long the French truce could last, wished above all things to keep the U.S.A. as a friend and not to drive her into the arms of the tough general of the French Republic when he struck again...."

Footnote: "Other owners of the Hawk were Thos. Gilbert, Richard Prudden, John Dalzell, Thos. Jones, Thos. Godet, and Hinson Gilbert."

Note: This all concerned the pressing of the USA, in British courts, of a claim for damages due to British privateering against American vessels. Jay's Treaty fixed the indemnity to be payed by Britain for 'the unlawful depredations on American ships and cargoes" as $4,704,654 (at $4.44 to 1), less 600,000 for American debts. This affair came to a head in 1802, but was not the last of the issue. On this occasion, rather than follow prvious legal practice in holding the usuall several owners of a privateer accountable in the case of a reversal of a decision by a prize court, which had complicated and delayed the courts in extracting damages, the decision had been made to hold the privateers' captains responsible. The US subsequently demanded that the new decision be applied more widely to claims for damages, advancing a claim for $3,000,000, including "prodigious sums for Bermuda alone". An Act of Parliament ultimately led to the serving of "delinquent owners, masters, and sometimes agents, to pay the claims" (Page 279).


That's probably not a lot of help to you in learning about your particular forebears, but might give you an idea of the prominence the Dunscombes once had in Bermuda.

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