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Alan Goodridge & Sons Limited fonds, 1840-1909

0.5 metre of textual records

Administrative history

Henry Goodridge (1762-18-) of Paignton, Devon founded the Goodridge business at Renews by 1807, but probably ran it from home, which was the custom for many West Country merchants in that era. In 1828, Alan Goodridge (1808-1884), Henry's youngest son, arrived at Renews in his schooner, the Viola, and stayed on to run the business from there, although he appears to have spent many winters in later years at Paignton. Goodridge was a typical outport merchant in that period, acting primarily as an intermediary between the local planters who supplied the fish, and the merchant houses of Water Street who imported goods and exported the produce.

In 1839, Goodridge had a 179 ton brig named the Gratia built at his shipyard in Renews and began using the vessel to export fish and import goods on his own account. For a while, he was in partnership with a John Goodridge, possibly his brother, under the banner of Alan Goodridge and Company. John ran the newly opened Fermeuse branch of the firm but the arrangement terminated a few years later and John entered into another partnership at St. John's with Frederick Lash. In the mid 1850s, Alan shifted the headquarters of the firm to St. John's. Two years later, Alan's youngest son, Henry Churchward, joined the firm, prompting a name change to Alan Goodridge & Son. In 1862, a second son, Augustus Frederick, joined the firm followed soon after by third son, John Richard. With the new additions, the principal changed the firm's name to Alan Goodridge & Sons. Alan retired from the business in 1878.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Alan Goodridge & Sons was one of the most successful firms in Newfoundland. The firm expanded, eventually opening branches in Placentia Bay, Trinity Bay, Green Bay, St. Mary's Bay and Labrador. These included branch operations at Bay Bulls, Witless Bay, Tors Cove, Ferryland, Calvert (Caplin Bay), Fermeuse, Renews, Nipper's Harbour and New Perlican. In 1901, the company purchased waterside property at Port de Grave, known as "Kenny's Property", from the estate of the late Peter Butler, likely with the intention of opening a branch there. The Registry of Newfoundland Vessels reveals that the Goodridges were one of the largest vessel owners in that era, registering 197 vessels between 1834 and 1917. The firm was Newfoundland's second and third largest exporter of codfish in 1894 and 1895 respectively - 63,800 and 55,300 quintals. The firm's St. John's premises occupied an entire block, bounded on the east by Beck's Cove and Codner's Cove on the west.

The high export figures for these years belie the firm's financial situation, however. The December 10, 1894 Bank Crash sounded the death knell for many Newfoundland firms that were indebted to the Union Bank and the Commercial Bank, including Alan Goodridge & Sons Limited, which succumbed to insolvency on December 31. Augustus was a central figure in the political crisis of 1894 leading up to the bank crash - having become Prime Minister earlier in the year but resigned on December 12. Despite the financial setback, the Goodridges quickly re-organized the business. Augustus returned to the firm in 1912, and his sons, Richard Frederick and Alfred John became partners in the incorporated company known as Alan Goodridge & Sons Limited. In 1917, the company liquidated and re-emerged as Goodridge & Company Limited with George Carter, who was married to Elizabeth Goodridge, added as a partner. Goodridge & Company Limited liquidated again in 1922, after Augustus' death, and re-emerged as the Renews Trading Company Limited with Alfred J. Goodridge, William P. Goodridge (Alfred's brother), and Avalon T. Goodridge (a cousin) as partners. The Renews Trading Company became the Tors Cove Trading Co., Ltd. in 1926 and continued under that name, with Avalon Goodridge and two of his sons at the helm, until the 1960s when it was sold to other parties.

Sources: Registry of Newfoundland Vessels, Maritime History Archive; Alan Goodridge, Port de Grave, Nfld. Estate Collection, Maritime History Archive, MF-0183; The Book of Newfoundland. St. John's: Newfoundland Book Publishers Limited, p. 498; Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, Vol. II. St. John's: Newfoundland Book Publishers Limited, p. 588.

Scope and content

The collection consists of five ledgers for 1840, 1858, 1894, 1900 and 1909. They contain accounts of the fish business originally established by Henry Goodridge (b.1762) at Renews. The 1840 ledger gives accounts of the fishery, smithery, cooperage, shipwright and schooner operation, as well as personal accounts. The ledgers for 1894, 1900 and 1909 are probably from the St. John's office, but they include business accounts relating to the Southern shore.

Notes

The supplied title is based on description.

The ledgers were acquired in the early 1970s, before the MHA kept an accession register. Our office files indicate that in 1970 and 1972 contact was made with Mr. Avalon Goodridge concerning family records.

Copyright is held by the creator or his/her heirs.

Maritime History Archive finding aid 2.

Other materials relating to the fonds include the Diary of John Richard Goodridge, 1872-1913, Maritime History Archive, MF-0042; Alan Goodridge, Port de Grave, Nfld. Estate Collection, Maritime History Archive, MF-0183; Goodridge, Alan & Son, Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, MG 473.

Location Bank 34, shelf 4



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