HomePort S.S. Neptune which was
              first Captained by Hon. Edward White
Bemister Ships 
Search HomePort
Where actual images of specific ships are unavailable, images of Newfoundland ships of the same period and rigging have been used to illustrate this article. 
Brigantine Among the Bemister family of Newfoundland, four related individuals registered thirteen ships between 1822-1872. Despite a loss-free record from 1822-1843 there were four ships lost at sea between 1843 and 1856 no losses for thirteen years then - two ships lost within three years. 

Despite these losses, their average length of ownership was twenty years, not including the two ships which were quickly sold within the first three years of purchase. Most of the ships were constructed in Newfoundland although two were from Prince Edward Island and one was from Nova Scotia.

Schooners were the vessels of choice varying in size from 52 to 77 footers (41-143 ton).  Three brigs (64-65 foot) and one brigantine, the 85 foot Orient built in Prince Edward Island, were the largest ships owned.  Despite the extra size the Orient had a tonnage of 133  which was less than the largest schooner, the 77 foot Mary & Ann, which was built in New Perlican, Newfoundland, but lost to fire in 1853.  Images of these ships are not available thus substitute images of Newfoundland ships of the same period and rigging are used instead, to illustrate.

Success, a 57 foot schooner was the first ship purchased by William Willis Bemister at the age 33. She was owned from 1822 to 1839. She was built in Carbonear, the first base of Bemister operations in Newfoundland, and had a registered tonnage of 60.

Fox, a 57 foot schooner was lost at sea off Labrador in 1856. For some reason she was never taken off the official register until 1869,  possibly through an oversight.  She was built in 1804 in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland, but not registered to William Willis Bemister until 1825, thus a 21 year old ship on acquisition and a 52 year old ship upon sinking. For some reason she was re-registered in 1853 three years before the sinking which would suggest she may have been refitted,  at that time or there may have been financial or legal reasons that necessitated the second entry in the registry records.
Lark, a brig was first registered by William Bemister the son of William Willis Bemister in 1823. A 64 foot brig, she was already 12 years old, having been constructed in Petit Riviere, Nova Scotia in 1811.  After three years she was sold.

Brittania, a schooner built in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland - 63 feet in length had a respectable tonnage of 94. She was owned by William Willis Bemister from 1826-1852.  She was lost at sea.

Corfe Mullen, was named by William Willis Bemister for the town in England where he was born,  she was constructed in 1832 at Carbonear, and was a 60 foot schooner that would serve him until 1859.  She was the longest serving schooner in the Bemister fleet tying the brig Victoria for long service, at 32 years.

Benjamin, was constructed in Heart's Content, Newfoundland in 1829, a 62 foot schooner, she was owned by William Bemister, son of William Willis Bemister and continued into service until 1850.

Charlotte, was the first Prince Edward Island ship bought by the Bemister family.  Built at Yorke Point, which is located within Charlottetown harbour, she was a 59 foot schooner constructed for William Willis Bemister in 1834.  She was lost at sea in 1843.

Victoria, was a comparatively big ship and not the familiar schooner rigging that had been the mainstay of the family fleet.  A ship that would outlive its owner William Willis Bemister, the 65 foot brig was built for him in New Perlican, Newfoundland in 1837. She would serve for 32 years before she was lost at sea in 1869.

Elizabeth Ann, was a likely choice to replace the loss of the Charlotte, which William Willis Bemister faced in 1843.  The schooner Elizabeth Ann appears to be the replacement as she was purchased the same year.  Built in Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland, possibly she was already an older ship.  In any case, she served him for 26 years before she was broken up in 1869. 
Mary and Ann, like the name, was a joint venture between three owners - William Willis Bemister, and his sons John Bemister and Willis Bemister.  Built in New Perlican in 1843, a massive schooner at 77 foot and 143 Ton, she lasted ten years for the owners.  Her documents indicate that she was destroyed by fire in 1853.

Rising Sun, was registered to John G. Bemister.  A schooner built in New Perlican NFLD in 1846.  John managed the New Perlican branch of the Carbonear-based firm William Bemister & Co., until he entered politics in 1852.  He would continue to be re-elected and serve 18 years as a Member of the House of Assembly. When he left politics, he accepted an appointment as Sheriff of the Northern District for Newfoundland.

Orient, an 85 foot brigantine built in St. Peter's, Prince Edward Island would be the last ship that William Willis Bemister would buy.  Purchased in 1853 she was registered in his name for just three years until 1856.  The Orient appears to be a replacement for the Mary and Ann,  yet was registered in only the father's name.  Son John, had entered a political career the year before, being elected to the provincial government.

Maria, was registered in John Bemister's name from 1857 to 1872.  She would be the final Bemister ship, outlasting the rest of the fleet,  until lost at sea in 1872.  Although the New Perlican operations (Reuben Bemister & Sons) were managed by John's brother Reuben when John entered politics, the ship's registration remained in John's name.  
Information derived from Newfoundland Ship Registry records, contained on a CD-ROM published by Memorial University of Newfoundland called Ships and Seafarers of Atlantic Canada.
Do you have information that could be helpful in correcting or adding to the contents of HomePort ?  We appreciate your comments, suggestions and additions.
HomePort Quick Finder Bemister@HomePort Search HomePort Send e-mail to: HomePort