Keith Matthews Name Files, Abbreviation Guide
Dr. Keith Matthews (1938-1984), was professor of history at Memorial University. He initiated the establishment of the Maritime History Archive in 1971, as a repository for documents and collections of material relating to maritime history and culture in the North Atlantic region. His own research was focussed on the Newfoundland fishery and settlement from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Dr. Matthews began his research for the geographical region of the West of England, specifically in Devon and Dorset, collecting information on individuals, families and businesses involved in the Newfoundland trade. The Name Files contain information on those people and businesses. Dr. Matthews later expanded the scope of his research to include trades other than the fishery and people outside the West country who had Newfoundland connections. Thus, the Name Files also include information on people from London and Bristol, England, Ireland and the Channel Islands, as well as residents of Newfoundland. These files contain a wealth of information which is valuable to people tracing their Newfoundland ancestry, and for that reason the files are open for research.
In order to collect this information Matthews consulted a vast range of archival and published material. From this material he transcribed the information on any name or business associated either with the Newfoundland trade, or in some cases, the town which supplied the crews for the Newfoundland fishery. Each item of information is contained on a small strip of paper, which is filed by surname and subdivided by given name. For example, the name file on John Pike contains all the references identified by Dr. Matthews relating to anyone by the name of John Pike, between the years 1600 and 1850. The Name File collection consists of information on 7,300 surnames and occupies sixteen filing cabinets. Ideally, the Name Files should be entered onto an electronic database, but thus far, finances have not been available for this.
The format of the Name Files can be rather confusing. Matthews had developed his own form of abbreviations and syntax. This guide provides explanations for the majority of the abbreviations, some of which are references to the original sources which Matthews used in gathering the data.
Information in each name file entry is arranged in a more or less standard format. Matthews listed the surname first, followed by the date, then the source of information, the first name of the individual if known and finally the text of the entry.
The following are samples of original entries taken from different types of records followed by their interpretation:
Click on a letter below to find the abbreviation you need to decifer.
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