These agents, such as
Thomas Bulley Job who, in 1852 represented the estate belonging to
Martha Ann Kean of East Teignmouth, County of Devon in England, (2)
were also responsible for the collection of ground rents from
leaseholders. The amount of annual ground rents the absentees
received from their St. John's properties is not known, but according
to an 1882 report of the legislature on land tenure in St. John's,
they earned annually $65,610 from the rental of land on the south
side of Water Street alone. (3) Government leaders of the day
estimated the total at between one and two hundred thousand dollars
for all of St. John's. (4) What is not clear is the extent to which,
especially in the area above Water Street, agents merely acted on
behalf of the absentees, or to which the agents themselves acquired
land on which to build. Since they were often prominent merchants and
lawyers, they were probably able to serve their own interests as well
as those of the absentees they represented. Certainly many were men
of substance active in commercial and political circles. As examples,
we might cite the case of Newman Hoyles, who in the 1830s was
Colonial Treasurer, member of the House of Assembly for Fortune Bay,
and local agent for the West Country Newman interests (5); or that of
Premier William Whiteway who with his law partner represented the
Clapp estate. (6) In 1890 the mercantile agents and their absentee
clients included Henry J. Stabb (the Brooks and Bulley estates), R.
H. Prowse (the Stripling, Taylor, Twysden, Robert Keen, and McLea
holdings), and George T. Rendell (the Studdy, Kean, Tucker, and Adams
1. Melvin Baker, "The
Government of St. John's, Newfoundland, 1800-1921" (Ph.D.
Thesis, The University of Western Ontario, 1980), 16-33, 43-6.2.
Newfoundland District Central Court, 1844-1888, Registry of Deeds,
"Martha Ann Kean to Thomas Bulley Job et al," 1924 (located
in the Newfoundland Registry of Deeds and Companies, Confederation
Building, St. John's).