In Attics And Archives
Volume 4-Issue 9, page 3
By Lara Maynard
A couple of months ago I wrote about the history of the Howlett family in Torbay, particularly in the Gallows Cove area. This month I’m writing a little more about the area, which is my personal favourite part of the planet.
Over the years I have heard many explanations about how Gallows (usually pronounced "Gallis" in neighbourhood circles) Cove got its name. The first explanation that I became acquainted with as a child, was that a Chinese man had been hanged in the area for the crime of stealing a loaf of bread. Jack Dodd’s book The Wind in the Rigging claims that twelve pirates were tried and hanged, or that pirates hung people who witnessed the burial of treasures.
But a senior resident of Gallows Cove Road told me that it was named after "seine gallows", which were constructed from starrigans. These platforms were used for drying fishing nets. Bob Codner, author of The History of Torbay, might agree with this explanation. He notes that although the Governor of Newfoundland issued an order in 1794 for public hanging gallows to be built in some districts, there are other Gallows Coves in this province. He goes on to say that this name might come from a type of fishing stage.
In the early part of this century M.F. Howley described a "seine gallows" as "a sort of ‘horse’ or trestle made of rough rails or starrigans" that was used for drying nets. And Art Scammel’s song "Caplin Haul" contains the following lines: Put the seine on the ‘gallis,’ one hand share the bait, "Hurry up there, my lads, for ‘tis now getting late".
In the wake of the recent visit of the Major and Mayoress Davis of Torbay, County Devon,
England to our Torbay, I like to entertain another possible explanation of the name Gallows Cove. I have seen a map of Torquay in England which was based on an ordinary map from 1907 of the Torquay district. It gives the names of two areas there was Gallows Gate and Gallows Green. It is usually accepted that our Torbay was named by Devonshire men from the area of that name in England. Could it be that these early Torbaymen from Devon may have also named Gallows Cove after places in their home country?
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As I finish my last column for the year 1997, I would like to say thank-you to everyone who took the time to pass on some information to me or mention that you enjoyed the article. Your interest is appreciated. Merry Christmas and I hope to meet you all back at this page in 1998.
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