Home / Accueil

Old Cemetery

Renews-Cappahayden, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2005/12/06

The oldest intact headstone in the Old Cemetery, dated October 16, 1772 in memory of John Limbrey of Devon, England; HFNL/Andrea O'Brien 2005
Old Cemetery, Renews, NL
View of the Old Cemetery overlooking Renews Harbour, NL; HFNL/Andrea O'Brien 2005
The Old Cemetery, Renews, NL
Head stone in memory of Irish settlers to Renews, NL; HFNL/Andrea O'Brien 2005
The Old Cemetery, Renews, NL

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/01/26

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Dated to the eighteenth century, the Old Cemetery is the burial ground to many of the original settlers of Renews, NL. The cemetery overlooks Renews Harbour from a gentle slope located on the north side of the community. The designation is confined to the area enclosed by the cemetery fence.

Heritage Value

The Old Cemetery has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Renews/Cappahayden because of its historic, cultural and aesthetic values.

The Old Cemetery has historical value as one of the older grave sites in one of the oldest settlements in the Southern Shore region. A sponsored English settlement was attempted in Renews during the early 1600s but met with little success. However, Renews remained a prosperous seasonal fishing station and served as a stopover point for boats travelling from England to the New World, the Mayflower being one of the more well known vessels to have stopped there. While many of the gravestones in the Old Cemetery date from the mid-1800s, the oldest stone dates to 1772, around the time when seasonal fishermen began to settle at Renews in great numbers. In particular, the nineteenth century gravestones serve as witness to Irish settlement in the community, as well as outlying settlements such as Cappahayden, and are a partial genealogical record of the founding families in these two communities. These include the Conway, Foley, Fowler, Jackman, Murphy, O’Leary, Power, Shannahan and Sheehan families. Most of the surnames betray their Irish origins and other markers name Irish hometowns of the deceased, a lasting testament to the influence of Irish settlement on what had been known as the English Shore.

The Old Cemetery has cultural value as a physical reminder of the ethnic composition of the community and the greater region. From as early as the sixteenth century the Southern Shore was frequented by migratory fishermen from the Iberian peninsula, France and England. Later, English agents were sent to the community by West Country merchants to oversee seasonal fishing operations. The oldest stone in the cemetery, that of John Limbrey of Devon, England, may well mark the resting place of such an agent. A John Limbrey was listed in Colonial Records from 1752 as being present at a survey of fishing rooms in Renews and a William Limbrey, perhaps a relative, was a member on a committee to improve the defence of Renews in 1778. The Limbrey’s were most likely engaged in the management of English operations in the town rather then being fishermen, as the later were rarely mentioned by name in official documents. Permanent settlement increased during the eighteenth century when Irish fishing servants began to overwinter in the fishing stations along this stretch of coast. This cultural background is a source of pride for residents along the Southern Shore, even though little physical evidence of their forefathers remains intact. The cemetery serves as a tangible witness to eighteenth century Irish immigration and its lasting effects on expressive cultural forms in the region.

The Old Cemetery has aesthetic value due to its unique environmental setting. Located on a gentle slope on the north side of the settlement and overlooking Renews Harbour, the cemetery is nestled between the shoreline zone to the south, what would have been the site of initial settlement, and the area most heavily populated in the present day. Cemeteries of this period were typically placed a distance away from settled areas, on the outskirts of what would have been considered living space. Over the centuries, the community grew around the cemetery and the main area of settlement now lies behind the cemetery.

Source: Town of Renews/Cappahayden Regular Council Meeting December 6, 2005

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements which represent the age, cultural significance and aesthetic value of the cemetery, including:
-variety of carved headstones and nondescript stone markers;
-original memorial stones and monuments with their surviving inscriptions;
-positioning of grave markers;
-location, orientation and dimensions of the cemetery.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador 1 Springdale Street St. John's, NL A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places