Profile: Archibald Munn, 1814-1877

Archibald Munn gravesite, 2019

Archibald Munn gravesite, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Cemetery, Feb. 15, 2019. Author photograph.

Archibald Munn, of Rothesay, Scotland, came to Newfoundland in 1844 to work his uncle, John Munn, at his mercantile firm, Punton & Munn. On November 29, 1845, he married Elizabeth Ellis, daughter of Rev. William Ellis, at Harbour Grace.

In 1859, after gaining the requisite experience, Archibald went into business with Michael Carroll, establishing a fishing supply firm, Munn & Carroll, on the south side of King’s Cove, Bonavista Bay. Their business was extensive, and they had significant interests in Labrador herring.

The firm declared insolvency ten years after its founding, in 1869. J.T. Lawton and P.K. Devine summarized the failure in A History of King’s Cove (1944): Archibald had “an unwarrantable faith in people’s honesty,” Carroll “too many irons in the fire at one time to give proper attention to the business.” After bankruptcy, the firm owed John Munn & Co. $120,000. According to Lawton and Devine, King’s Cove suffered greatly that winter, due to the firm’s failure: “No flour could be had in King’s Cove. The supply of flour was short in Trinity also, and those King’s Covians who went to Trinty for flour had to be satisfied with Indian meal.”

In either 1871 or 1873 Munn purchased the Harbour Grace Standard and Conception Bay Advertiser, a popular newspaper, from the estate of its founder, William Squarey. After Munn’s death at Harbour Grace on February 21, 1877, his two sons, James T. and John D. Munn, continued to publish the paper. He is buried at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Cemetery, on Military Rd, along with other prominent members of the Munn family.

Archibald Munn headstone

Archibald Munn headstone. Photo by Anne Gosse. (Source: findagrave.com)

This post is part of the Harbour Grace Notebook series. Follow the updates on social media with the hashtag #hgnotebook

Sources & Further Information

Devine, P.K., and J.T. Lawton. A History of King’s Cove. 1944.

“Munn, Archibald.” Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1981. pp. 650.

 

— Written by Matthew Gerard McCarthy (Communications Officer) for the Conception Bay Museum, Harbour Grace.

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