Prints in the Public Record Office

Public Record Office, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Surrey, England TW9 4DU

In 1859 there was a diplomatic enquiry into disputes involving the French fishery in Newfoundland. The two British commissioners were Captain Dunlop of the Royal Navy, and John Kent, Colonial Secretary in the government of Newfoundland. The French commissioners were the Marquis de Montaignac, another naval officer, and Gobineau, a writer and diplomat. That enquiry took the commissioners over the entire length of the shoreline where the French had fishing rights as well as to St. John's to look into disputes between the two sides. The French commissioners also visited St-Pierre and Nova Scotia separately. The French commissioners presented their British counterparts with three photographs of different areas of the treaty shore: one of St. George's, one of St. John Island, and one of Conche.

In 1859 Miot was still stationed in Newfoundland, and it would be highly surprising if the photographer were anyone but him. However, the identity of the author of the photographs is in no doubt when one compares the prints of St. George's and Conche (see the first and third thumbnails below) in the Public Record Office with two others that we know to be by Miot, now in the possession of the National Archives of Canada: PA-195498 and PA-188225. This is clearly all the work of Miot.

The reason the French presented the British commissioners with these photographs would appear to be that they were evidence to support the French claim that English settlement along the treaty shore was a hindrance to the French fishery. They were considerably more than mere souvenirs, and represent an early application of photography to diplomatic uses.

Click on the thumbnails below to go to a larger version of any of these photographs.

C.O. 194 160, f. 169

[thumbnail: view of Sandy Point]

C.O. 194 160, f. 170

[thumbnail: view of Conche]

C.O, 194 160, f. 171

[thumbnail: view of St. John Island]

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