The Bermuda Royal Gazette printed many advertisements from the brothers Edward and William Dunscomb and from John Dunscomb, son of Edward. Edward died in 1790 and it looks like William and John conducted some business together. Published lists of compensation for former slave owners indicate his mother Christian and John both had owned slaves.

Bermuda Royla Gazette, Dec. 31, 1808:

Notice: Wheras the mercantile connexion hitherto exilting and condufted under thr Firm of W and J Dunscomb has expired by the death of Mr. Williaim Dunscomb. The subscriber requests all persons having open accounts wirh saiid firm to furnish the same for adjustment ; and moft earneftly requefts fuch persons as are indebted to make as speedy payment as possible. He notifies such as have demands that he is prepared to liquidate the same. ' John dunscomb December 30 1808.

John sold the family home, St. John's Hill, Bermuda in 1816 (Wilkinson, Henry. Bermuda from sail to steam : the history of the island from 1784 to 1901. London : Oxford Univ. Press, c1973, pg. 298-299). He went to Newfoundland and founded Dunscomb & Co. (St. John's Newfoundland Dept of Tourism letter from Don Morris to (Cecil) Edward Dunscombe 4/4/1977). St. John's Newfoundland may have been named after his Bermuda home (Zuill, William. Bermuda journey, p. 74). He was a Lt. Colonel of Militia & Aide de Camp of the first Governor of Newfoundland, John Cochrane. (Bermuda Royal Gazette, 1/11/1848). Also a member of the Legislative Council (correspondence from Don Morris, Researcher, Dept. of Tourism, Provincial Archives, St. John's, Nfld., April 4, 1978). Co-partner in business with Joseph J. Dill of Pembroke Hall, Bermuda, who directed the West Indies branch of the firm in Grenada (Ibid). John went to Liverpool, England for an eye operation and died there (Ibid). One source indicates his father's name was John, but all other sources give it as Edward (Matthews, Keith. Profiles of Water Street Merchants, 1980. Memorial University of Newfoundland). "Profiles" also states that John left Newfoundland with his wife in 1845 for Montreal, then for Liverpool in 1847.

An 1825 appraisal of his proerty includes a two story house and cottage worth 400 pounds on the south side of Pitts Bay (likely "Olive Hill") late of William Dunscombe (his brother). Also two dwelling houses beloning to the estate of Squire Godfrey (his mother's family) at Pitts Bay worth 360 pounds and a note saying these properties are now under mortgage with a bond dated 1825. Also Devonshire and Smith's with details - 33 acres & house in Devonshire, 20 and 18 3/4 acres and small house in Smith's (Bermuda National Trust Dunscombe file taken from Mercer/Zuill records.

John's residence in St. John's was called "Castle Rennie." After he left the city in August 1845 it was used as a school called the General Academy until 1850 ((O'Neill, Paul. A seaport legacy : the story of St. John's Newfoundland. Don Mills, Ontario, Canada : Musson Book Co., c1976, p. 778). St. John's Hill in
Bermuda was located at Spanish Point in Pembroke Parish. The site is now a park known as Admiralty Park as the property was sold by John to the government and used as the Admiralty House (Zuill, William. Bermuda journey). Most of the house was burned on purpose by the Bermuda government in January 1974 though part remains. A history is contained in a pamphlet prepared by the Bermuda Dept. of Information Services titled "Admiralty House Park." Wilkinson's "Bermuda from sail to steam..." and Fodor's Bermuda travel guides (1993 and other editions) also give histories of the home, with Wilkinson providing a sketch by Lord Mark Kerr dated 1845.

John was also a member of the Newfoundland Legislative Council. He began business in Newfoundland in 1809 and in 1844 the premises was destroyed in a $40,000 fire (Don Morris letter). He met his wife Elizabeth Magill while in Connecticut visiting his brother Josiah William who was a student at Yale ((Cecil) Edward Dunscombe notes).

His surname appears with and without the "e" but usually without.

In 1816, with HM Dockyard taking shape (eventually to exceed Halifax in importance as a Royal Navy base in the mid and late 19th century), the Bermuda Government decided that the colony should invest in a permanent residence for the resident Royal Navy Admiral. It purchased the Dunscombe estate at St. John's Hill (renamed Clarence Hill in 1822 in honour of His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence - and, later yet, known as Admiralty House) for three thousand pounds sterling and made it a gift to the Crown. John Dunscombe, the owner of the property prior to the transfer, emigrated with his funds to Newfoundland and became such a prominent citizen there that he was eventually appointed Lieutenant-Governor. During his administration, the brick and stone foundations that replaced the old timbered structures were laid of Newfoundland's capital city, St. John's, named after his former Bermuda home (www site: Bermuda's links with Canada (

Obituary of Hon. John Dunscombe names him as a merchant of Newfoundland, as well as Lieut. Colonel, and previous Aide-de-Camp to the first Governor of Newfoundland. He was a co-partner in business with Joseph J. Dill of Pembroke Hall, Bermuda, who directed the West Indies branch of the firm in Grenada. John Dunscombe had gone to Liverpool for an eye operation and died there. John Dunscombe sold land in Spanish Point to the Bermuda government, and it became the Admiralty House property (Bermuda Royal Gazette, Jan. 11, 1848).

The book Bermuda from sail to steam : the history of the island from 1784 to 1901, by Henry Wilkinson (London : Oxford Univ. Press, 1973) contains information on the formation of the company which led John to Newfoundland (pg. 250) along with information on the sale of his St. John's Hill estate to the Bermuda government. It also includes a circa 1845 sketch of the Admiralty House (former Bermuda residence of John Dunscombe).

Married at Cheshire, Ct. by Rt. Rev. Bishop Abrham Jarvis (Frank Farnsworth Starr papers, Middlesex County Historical Society, Middletown, Ct). Ziebarth, John. Direct connections. NY : Ziemag Publishing has their marriage location as Chester, Ct.

Related document: There was a schooner named "John Dunscombe" belonging to New South Wales, Captain's name "McLean."

Related document: John's name appears on a list of Grand and Special Jurors dated 1833 for St. John's, Newfoundland.

Related document: Atlantic ports, gulf coasts, & Great Lakes passenger lists, roll 2: 1820-73. Document lists John Dunscomb, age 40 in March 1822, merchant, port of arrival Charleston, S.C., Country of origin, U.S., Destination, U.S., Ship: Schooner Industry, port of embarkation: Bermuda, sex: male.

Related document: A "Shipping index" showing a schooner named "John Dunscombe," Master: McLean, Country to which belongs: New South Wales; Where from: Sydney; Cargo: Merchandise. A second reference has the Master as "Hampton."

Related document: Will of William Branscomb, 7/11/1834, probate 7/11/1839. Water Street (St. John's Newfoundland) premises (South side of) which is between Thomas Williams & John Dunscomb's..."

Related document: St. John's, 1833. A list of the names of prominent people in the time Newfoundland was granted representative government, a project of the Provincial Archives. The name John Dunscomb appears on a list of Grand and Special Jurors, 1833.

The government opened a non-denominational academy in St. John's in 1845 with John Valentine Nugent as Principal. The General Academy, as it was called, opened in Castle Rennie on Signal Hill Road, a site occupied by a Sisters of Mercy convent for most of this century. Castle Rennie had been the home of the Honurable John Dunscomb whose business near the foot of Cochrane Street, begun in 1809, was burned out in 1844 in a forty-thousand dollar fire. In August of the following year Dunscomb left Newfoundland, and Castle Rennie became the General Academy a few months later. It was never a popular institution, with an enrollment of never more than sixteen students (O'Neill, Paul. A seaport legacy : the story of St. John's, Newfoundland. Erin, Ontario, Canada : Press Porcepic, c1976, p. 778).

Dunscomb, Hon. John: merchant at St. John's for nearly 40 years, and a member of the Legislative Council, left Newfoundland in August, 1845 to reside in England (Mosdell, H.M. When was that? : a chronological dictionary of important events in Newfoundland down to and including the year 1922. St. John's, Newfoundland : Trade Printers and Publishers, Limited, 1923, reprinted by Robinson-Blackmore Printing & Publishing Ptd., 1974, pg. 32).

Related document: Letter from Joan H. Mowbray, Acting Head, Still & Moving Images Collection, Government of Newfoundland & Labrador, Dept. of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, June 14, 1991 indicating she has been unable to locate any portraits of John Dunscombe either in her collection or at the Newfoundland Museum.

Dunscombe, John (1777-1847): b. Bermuda: member of the Executive Council 1833-42; d. Liverpool, England Nov. Dunscombe came first to Newfoundland in 1808, as agent at St. John's for a group of Bermudian businessmen trading between North America and the Caribbean. He later established a number of influential partnerships with other merchants in the Newfoundland-Caribbean fish trade and encouraged a series of Bermuda-Newfoundland trading partnerships, including a 1842 partnership with Eugenius Harvey that was the forerunner of Harvey & Co.
Dunscombe was also involved in the political life of Newfoundland and served as a member of the Governor's Executive Council from 1833-42, although his political influence appears to have been diminished by his frequent absences from the colony. He sold his St. John's premises and moved to Montreal in 1845 (Cuff, Robert H., editor. Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador Biography. St. John's, Newfoundland : Harry Cuff Publications Ltd., 1990, pg. 93-94).
Letters of Administration for John's estate were granted on June 9, 1855 to James Crowdy (his daughter Caroline's husband). Apparently there was no will (correspondence from Marilyn Warren, Probate Office, The Registry, Supreme Court, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, August 13, 1990).
John was the second St. John's agent of the firm of A.E. Harvey and Co. The first was N. Gill (notes from Newfoundland Historical Society, St. John's, Newfoundland).

The web site "Bermuda genealogy and history" has the following note: "Richard Wood ran an import firm with brother Joseph until Joseph fell ill. Firm dissolved and new partnership formed, "Richard Wood and Co" with partners John Dunscomb, Joseph Dill, Jeremiah Leaycraft, and Thomas Seon Jr. and became the richest mercantile house in Bermuda (Biography of a Colonial Town by Sir Kennedy,p.97)(

June 10, 1809

"St. John's Hill" Will be let for one or more years. Ppleasantly situated on North Side of Pembroke - 2 miles from Hamilton. Commands view of Great and Little Sounds. Different signal posts - Muray's Anchorage - the Ferry part of St. Geo., etc. Dwelling house and 8 acres. For terms apply to Mr. Isaac Cox, St. Geo. at the Counting House of the Patriotic Co. Hamilton or on the premesis to John Dunscombe. The estate may have been sold to Hon. Henry Tucker in 1814 - notes are illegible.

A revealing passage from Moses Beach's "The Ely ancestry...", page 311:

The father of John W Dunscomb was Mr John Dunscomb of Bermuda and later of Newfoundland where he built the old Cathedral at St Johns now burned In it was his large Memorial Chancel window St Johns the town was named for him He was a man of great wealth and generosity A photograph of this window is preserved in the family with the memorial inscription indicating the love and veneration in which his memory was held.

The following article reference the schooner "John Dunscombe" which I can only assume was named after our John:

Article appeared in The Argus, Melbourne, page 10.
7 July 2015

The death of Captain James Liddell, at Queenscliff was recently
announced. Captain Liddell, who was born at Alloa, Scotland in
the year 1807, where his relatives held a prominent mercantile
position, arrived when only 19 years of age in Sydney, New
South Wales, as chief officer of a brig.

In 1830 he had charge of the brig "Admiral Gifford", bound on a
trading voyage to New Zealand. She was one of the first vessels
sent on such an expedition from Sydney, and from his kindly
disposition he succeeded so well with the natives that he was
induced to undertake several other voyages thither in a vessel
called the "Hannah".

Towards the end of 1832 he arrived in Launceston as Sailing
Master of a vessel called the "Jolly Rambler" and it was there
he first made the acquaintance of the Messrs. Henty, who gave
him charge of their schooner "Thistle", engaged in the trade to
Swan River. It was whilst prosecuting one of these voyages that
he put into Portland Bay, and was so much struck with the
beauty and fertility of the soil that he strongly recommended
the place to his owners as a desirable locality for settlement.

After making other voyages to Portland the "Thistle" was sent
on a trading voyage to New Zealand. Just prior to starting news
came to hand that Captain McLean and the crew of the "John
Dunscombe" were in the hands of the natives there, and Captain
Liddell had Orders from the Messrs. Henty to rescue them at all
cost. A copy of their letter of instructions to him may prove
of interest:-

"Launceston, May 26, 1834 -To Captain Liddell brigantine
Thistle. Sir,- you are aware of the unfortunate condition of
Captain MCLean, of the John Dunscombe schooner, and his crew,
we believe prisoners in the hands of the natives of New
Zealand. We hereby authorise you to use every exertion to
ransom the whole of the party, and if the articles put on board
your vessel by Messrs Campbell and others, which we authorise
you to receive are not sufficient for the purpose, you are
hereby authorised to make use of any article on board belonging
to us, and if you cannot succeed without the loss of the voyage
to the Thistle, we would prefer that, provided so desirable an
object as the rescuing so many unfortunate people from the
hands of savages can be effected

(Signed) HENTY and Co."

He succeeded in relieving the crew and supplying them with
articles for trade.

About this time he purchased the schooner "Industry", and
amongst other ventures she was chartered by the late Mr J P
Fawkner to bring stock to this port.

In the year 1838 the subject of this sketch was whaling out of
Hobart Town, and amongst his successes in that time maybe
mentioned one voyage in which he filled his vessel up in less
than six weeks with whales killed between Cape Schank and
Wilson's Promontory.

Being very much impressed with New Zealand, he determined,
about the year 1842, to go and live there so taking his wife
and family he settled at Kawhia, where he cultivated a tract of
land purchased from the natives, with whom he soon established
friendly relations, and built himself a small vessel called the
"John Whitely" to convey produce to Taranaki, Auckland and
other ports. The loss of this vessel caused him to build the
"Cicely, or Sicily", to replace her, and he resumed his trading
voyages on the New Zealand coast. After some time his homestead
was destroyed by fire and that event induced him to break up
his New Zealand home and come to Melbourne, where he eventually
joined the Victorian pilot service.

The loss of a vessel at the Heads, some two years afterwards,
gave rise to an inquiry which resulted in the dismissal of
himself and three other members of the service. On subsequent
inquiry, however it was found that the judgment of the court
was in error as far as Captain Liddell was concerned, for he
was reinstated in the Government service, and appointed in 1854
pilot at Portland, whence he was subsequently removed to
Warrnambool in the same capacity. The trade of the port not
justifying two officers, his duties dissolved on the
harbormaster, and he came up to Port Phillip to take charge of
the "Swan Spit"-then a lightship. The remainder of his time in
Government employ was spent as master of the Geelong and West
Channel lightships, and in 1870 he retired upon his pension.

In 1829 Captain Liddell married his first wife, by whom he had
four sons and three daughters, all of whom are married. Before
his death, indeed, he became a great-grandfather. In 1860 he
married his second wife, by whom he had four sons and two
daughters, the youngest of whom is only two years of age.

Having spent a very rambling life and met with many
misfortunes, he never amassed much wealth, and in his later
years the pension he received was his sole support. If that
small pension be not continued to the widow of this old
colonist, she and her family will be sadly pinched, as no
provision has been made for them.

Link to this article, accessed 3/21/2017:

Apparently the schooner "John Dunscombe" was a prize captured during the War of 1812 ("A history of Newfoundland from the English, Colonial and foreign records" by Daniel Woodley Prowse, via Google Books):

Some sources have his date of death as Nov. 29, but I have gone with the Nov. 28 date on his tombstone.