John Peyton (fisherman)

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John Peyton (1749–1829) was an English-born fisherman and trapper in Newfoundland, and the father of John Peyton Jr, who was tried for the 1819 murder of Nonosbawsut[1] and later awarded a prize for his role in wiping out the last of the Beothuk people.

He was born in Christchurch, Dorset and came to Newfoundland in 1770.[2] He lived in Fogo, where he was employed in cod fishing, until around 1775.[3] He later spent his summers at Exploits and then his winters at Lower Sandy Point on the Bay of Exploits. He fished for salmon and was involved in the fur trade; he also owned his own schooner. In 1788, Peyton married Ann Galton. His wife and children remained at Dorset in England until 1812. Both his wife and daughter died that year and Peyton subsequently brought his son John to Newfoundland to join him as a partner in business. In 1819, he took part in an expedition led by his son John Peyton Jr., which ended with the abduction of a Beothuk woman named Demasduwit and the killing of her husband Nonosbawsut who was attempting to negotiate her release. The last known living Beothuk, Shawnadithit, spent five years as a servant in the Peyton household.[1] Peyton's son, John Peyton Jr., was awarded 100 pounds sterling for his service to the settlers in eradicating the last of the Beothuk.

Peyton Sr. was accused of persecuting the Beothuks in retaliation for the theft of supplies from his fishing stations; John Bland, the magistrate at Bonavista, recommended that he be expelled from the Bay of Exploits.[1]

Peyton died in Exploits.[1]

His grandson Thomas Peyton later served in the Newfoundland assembly.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Handcock, W. Gordon (1987). "Peyton, John". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. VI (1821–1835) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  2. ^ a b "Peyton family fonds". Archives Canada. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24.
  3. ^ Marshall, Ingeborg (1998). A History and Ethnography of the Beothuk. McGill-Queen's Press. pp. 243-. ISBN 077351774X.