A history of the Fruing family and its Canadian business

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A history of the Fruing family and its Canadian business


Fishermen at Grave Fruing (Fruing Bay)

This history of the Fruing family was deposited in the family history section of the Lord Coutanche Library of La Société Jersiaise. It's author is not known so permission could not be sought to use the article here. It is believed to be such an important record of a very prominent Jersey family that we have done so, with our apologies to the unknown author, who will be credited if his or her identity becomes known to us


William Fruing was the son of William Fruing and Elizabeth Trachy. He was baptised in St Brelade Church on 3 August 1788 and his godparents were William Brine and Douce Laurent. His brother Philippe was baptised in St Brelade on 26 October 1791 and his godparents were Philippe Nicolle and his wife Susanne Le Vesconte.

On 16 November 1822 William Fruing married Jeanne Elizabeth Alexandre in St Brelade's parish church and their eldest child, Mary Ann, was born on 25 November 1823. She was baptised on 4 January 1824 and her godparents were James Robin, Marie Gosset and Anne Madelaine Gosset.. Their second child, Louisa Jane, was baptised in August 1825 and her godparents were Jean Piton and his wife Anne Alexandre and Jane Elizabeth Hamon. The couple had at least another five more children, all daughters, three of whom died in infancy

  • Ellen Jane died August 1830 aged 10 months
  • Anne died September 1831 aged 10 weeks
  • Harriet died September 1834 aged one year seven months

The others were Amelia Elizabeth 1827, and Mary/Margaret who married J Macintosh a merchant from Caraquet, New Brunswick.

In 1835 William bought 36 Colomberie from Marie Elizabeth Le Vesconte, the wife of Advocate Francois Godfray.

Statistics of trading in Canada produced by Fruing in 1895

Robin Company

Both William and his brother James worked for the Robin Company. In 1814 Philip Robin returned to Europe leaving William Fruing in Paspebiac in charge of the company's operation in the Bay of Chaleurs. This was the first time the Robins had left a non-family member in charge of the company in Canada.

From 1820 the company directors in Jersey decided that it would be better for their chief agent in Gaspe to return to the island each winter so that they could review the past season's performance and plan the next year's work. When he returned to Gaspe the following spring, Fruing carried the written directions of James Robin detailing the company's plans for the year. These orders were supplemented throughout the year by further instructions sent by both company vessels and by timber ships. The increased marine traffic in Chaleur Bay allowed the Robins in Jersey to keep in more up-to-date contact with their manager at Paspebiac.

As the Robin's chief agent he also supervised the Paspebiac shipyard headed by James Day. In 1830 Philippe had left Robins and was working for a Captain Duval on the island of Miscou just north of Shippagan in New Brunswick. In the same year William was chief agent for Robin Paspebiac in Gaspe.

Company founded

In 1830 he also set up his own company William Fruing and Co over the Bay of Chaleurs in Miscou, New Brunswick with his brother- in-law Captain Joshua Alexander as partner and as the first manager. In 1831 they employed Captain Jacques Hamon to pick up a cargo of cod from Caraquet much to the annoyance of the Robins, who had a base there. Despite this the two companies worked together the following year and were able to employ 200 boats from that place.

This station (La Pointe) was in a place called Old Point or Alexandre Point and comprised a dock with drying racks - flakes, stores for salt, stores for 'green' cod and stores for salted cod; a pier and a shipyard with carpenter's shop, a forge and a foundry. There was also a house for the Jersey employees. The Fruings had 80 boats at Shippagan and 200 at Port Misson, New Brunswick.

Once he bought the Janvrin store at Grande Greve in 1852 he became established in the Forillon area and began to expand his newtork of stores to Riviere-au-Renard, Saint¬ Maurice, Cloridorme, Grande-Vallee, Madelaine, and Mont Louis. By 1861 he was exporting 18,000 quintals of dry salted cod and over 450 men worked for his company.

Benefitting from the years they worked with the Robins, the Fruings exported their cod to the Mediterranean ports of Naples, Bari and Messina and to Opporto in Portugal. They also traded haddock and cod with Brazil, where it was sold by the company FS Nicholson. They exported brill to Cork in Ireland and any second grade cod was shipped to Barbados to Gardiner, Austin and Co. The return leg carried rum, molasses, brown sugar and tobacco. William Fruing and Company operated from 8 Caledonia Place, Jersey.

By 1855 Fruings had an office agent in London. William's daughter Louisa Jane had married Frederick Warne of Frederick Warne and Co. The directors of the company were Walter Langrish, Harald Edmund Warne, Louisa Jane Fruing, John Philip Tocque, Thomas Ahier, Alfred William Dolbel and Philippe Luce (later general manager). Philippe died about 1857 William died, aged 79, on 25 April 1868 and was buried in St Helier. His wife Elizabeth had died two years earlier in January 1866 aged 74.

In 1874, the Fruing company was announced en desastre (bankrupt) and was transferred into the name of J P Tocque, a director of Fruing and Co, and a shipowner in his own right. The company continued to trade under the name of W Fruing for many years after this. Both the Fruing company and the J P Tocque company used the same house flag, a triangular shaped flag with a red background and a white circle in the middle.

The company was declared bankrupt by the Court in Perce, Gaspe in June 1917 and in September Robin, Jones and Whitman bought all the Fruings property in Gaspe for $20,000.


The 1894 prospectus seeking funds for the Fruing Company was deposited with the library of La Société Jersiaise in 2019


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