|Province||Newfoundland and Labrador|
|Time zone||Newfoundland Time (UTC-3:30)|
|• Summer (DST)||Newfoundland Daylight (UTC-2:30)|
Distant from the best fishing grounds further out the Bay, no settlement was recorded at Pilley's Island until the opening of the pyrite mine in 1887. The island is known to have been frequented by Dorset Eskimo and the Beothuk. Some early boat-building had taken place at Spencer's Dock, to the west of Pilley's Island Harbour. The island is thought to have been named for one of the seasonal visitors. While some have been known to spell it as "Pelley's Island", this is an inaccurate rendering of the correct name.
In the 1860s Captain Philip Cleary staked a mineral claim at Bumblebee Bight, hoping to develop a copper mine. The island's orebody was chiefly pyrite. In 1885 Maine and Lewis Mills of New Brunswick bought the claim and the next year the company began mining. Local tradition says that prior to the opening of the mine there were at least two families living on the island, however, church records have no record of births, deaths or marriages at Pilley's Island until 1887. By 1891, when the mine was in full production, the population was 411.
Earliest settlers of Pilley's Island were from Twillingate, Change Islands and Herring Neck. Some of these families had earlier come to the western part of the Bay to work at the copper mine in Tilt Cove.
In 1889 the mine was acquired by the Pyrites Company Ltd. of England. Under new management the mine was modernized. For example, it became the first Newfoundland mine to be equipped with electric lights. With the mine's prosperity, the community developed into the area's major employment and service center, with a hotel, courthouse, six merchant establishments, and the area's only hospital, set up by Sir Wilfred Grenfell. In 1899 the mine went into trusteeship. Three years later it was reopened by Newfoundland Exploration Syndicate. The mine closed for good in 1908 when it was discovered that a large fault had displaced the main ore body. Even though, the community lost its major employer the town survived as a fishing and lumbering community. Its population, which was 699 in 1901, steadily declined to 405 by 1945.
The first clergyman to serve Pilley's Island was Methodist James Pincock. In 1896 the Methodist built the community's first church. Later the Salvation Army, Church of England and Roman Catholic Church built churches. After the mine closed, the Church of England disappeared and only a few Roman Catholics remained. The Methodist and Roman Catholic churches operated schools, and after 1903 the Salvation Army also operated one. The United Church and Salvation Army continued to operate separate schools until 1960. In 1967 high school students began to attend the Integrated Central High School at Roberts Arm. In 1977 Dorset Collegiate was opened on Pilley's Island, near the causeway to Triton.