Newfoundland Office of Ordnance record 1790-1791
The British first explored Newfoundland in 1497, when John Cabot claimed it for the Tudor monarchy, but did not settle a significant population there until the late-18th century. Before 1760, only a few small planned communities and groups of seasonal fishermen populated the island, and even as the population grew and settlements became more permanent, fishing retained its supreme importance for Newfoundland's inhabitants. During the late-18th century, Newfoundland was governed by a naval governor and district magistrates. The Office of Ordnance guarded and distributed the government's military supplies, most of which had to be imported from England.