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Englishman hopes to fill Newfoundland portion of family tree

Harbour Grace, seen here from Veterans Memorial Highway, served as a home to some of Peter Corbin’s relatives in the 19th century.
Harbour Grace, seen here from Veterans Memorial Highway, served as a home to some of Peter Corbin’s relatives in the 19th century. - Chris Lewis

Finds traces of relatives in Harbour Grace, Carbonear, Port de Grave

HARBOUR GRACE, NL — A man from Salisbury, England has begun to trace his family roots, and is now looking in small-town Newfoundland for some more clues.

Peter Corbin, 49, has spent his life in Europe under the impression that most of his family would hail from the region as well.
However, Corbin has recently taken it upon himself to track his family’s history.
To his surprise, his research brought him across the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to Carbonear and Harbour Grace, where he believes his great, great, great grandfather and other family members of that generation held fairly prominent positions within the community.

Corbin can trace his family back to the town of Poole in Dorset, England, where his great (x4) grandparents, Thomas and Christian Corbin, lived in the early 19th century.
Their only son, also called Thomas, emigrated to Canada, where records show that in 1846 he was married to Sarah H. Sweetland. The couple lived in Carbonear, Newfoundland and had six children together, three of whom (Cora Elizabeth, George John and Frederick Ambrose Corbin) were baptised in Port de Grave.

“Thomas was an upstanding member of the local community, completing jury service in 1852 and becoming a member of the Port de Grave Road Board in 1866,” Corbin wrote to the Compass via email. “It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, as his business, Thomas Corbin & Sons, was declared insolvent in 1861. Sarah (by then a widow) passed away on LaMarchant Street, Carbonear in 1888.”

Corbin’s research did not stop there, however. He also discovered hat George John Corbin married a young woman from Harbour Grace named Elizabeth Rebecca Martin in the late 1860s. He maintained a position in the Buckland Masonic Lodge in Harbour Grace, as well as the Christ Church.

Corbin’s lineage comes back to Canada from there, with one of George and Elizabeth’s six children, Henry Tweedy, emigrating to Halifax.
However, beyond a marriage and registration indicating Henry Tweedy fathered a son bearing his own name, all records of Henry Tweedy’s life in Canada have managed to escape Corbin’s research, save for records indicating that his children later emigrated back to England in the early 1900s.

Now, nearly 200 years after his initial findings into his family’s history, Corbin finds himself living with his family in Poole, making a complete circle for the travels of the Corbin family name over the last two centuries. With that in mind, he hopes to fill the gaps in his family tree as much as possible, with a specific focus on some blank spaces in the Newfoundland portion of the Corbins’ history in Harbour Grace and surrounding communities.

“Peter would love to learn more about the Newfoundland/Canadian branch of his family tree, not least of all to solve the mystery of what happened to Henry Tweedy Corbin,” said Carl Jacobs, a family friend of Corbin’s who also spoke with the Compass on the subject.

Jacobs hops to aid Corbin in his endeavours, and urges anyone with any further information on the Corbin family name in Newfoundland to reach out via email, and can be contacted at

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