Donnell Family Genealogy Forum
I am a descendant of Henry Donnell who was born in 1602, and who as a master fisherman from Barnstable England. I have seen that many people are confused on when henry arrived in Maine. there are several dates between 1631-1635, this is very easy to explain. Here it goes in a nut shell. there are 4 questions you have to ask and research What is a master fisherman. 2: why come to the new world 3: why come to maine: and why so many dates: first of a Master fisherman was not just a fancy moniker to add to your name. it ment that a boy had gone into the apperticeship system that governed much of middle and lower middle class england at the time. to become an apprentice you where given over to a master trades man at age twelve. and for 12 years he would teach you the skills to become a master trades man. ther where a few conditions. the tradesman would provide basic room and boards, and the boy was not allowd to marry until after he completed his appprenticeship, you will find very few marrieages in england of working class males under 24 for this very reason. after the apprenticeship was over there where a few options that the tradesman had to selct one of. one would be to retire and the new master would take over and provide some sort of percentage of the buissness to the old master. or the new master would buy out the old over a set time. there was also the option a partnership. and the option that even the apprentice would resign his apprenticeship and go his own way. another option , and this seems to be what Henry Donnell did, was use the credit of his master to purchase a boat thru the government, which at the time was trying to promote the fishing buisness thru the fishing laws. one good deal to a new masterfisherman who did not yet own his own boat, was to have the old master co-sign and you would receive at boat with the agreed contrat that over the next 4-5 years you would basically split the profit with the crown, and thus through part of that pay off the boat. and you where given rights to fish on crown fishing areas (Maine for one). dried herring was the main stay of the maine to bristol,barnstable area trade. Henry would catch the fish, dry it on land, pack it up and transport back to england, then do it over and over a few times a year until he had paid off his dept. where it seems he ran an inn, which didn't must of helped pay things off. Henry is listed as a "Freeman" this means, he was free to conduct his own buisness, with no attached obligations to his old trade master. He was free and clear of his apprenticeship, a master fisherman on his own. the several dates are when he signed in at the local area for purposes of taxes,deeds etc. he was doing his buisness as a
tradesman on the ocean. I reseached this info from the other side , I think we often reseach only from the american point of view, and we don't understand what was going on where they came from. And as to his name being DONNELL, it may have been DUNWELL, since henry could not spell. and mad his mark as a capital "HD" up against each other. Also many people think henry was of irish descent. Possible very far back before his. but not his parents, the reason being, to be in the apprenticeship program you had to be of native stock and native parents.
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