Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Character by Katherine Pym

Due To Release July 2017
Due to release July 2017

Lady Sara Kirke (b. 1613 d. 1683-1684)

When I began researching a good heroine for our Newfoundland story, I didn't think I'd find someone like Sara Andrews, later Lady Sara Kirke.

From the few historical texts that mention her, they confess she was one hell of a lady. Historians say after the arrest and subsequent death of her husband, Sara took the bull by the horns and for a good thirty years ran a very successful plantation (farm) in Ferryland, Newfoundland Labrador. 
Old map of Ferryland
I haven't found any portraits of Sara Kirke. If there are any, they are locked away somewhere and off the internet grid. A pencil drawing of her husband exists but it's considered a modern rendering of what he may have looked like.

In 1638 David Kirke moved his family to an abandoned plantation named Province of Avalon, Ferryland, NL. (The term plantation was originally known as a colony, a settlement in a new land.) At the time, Ferryland was a bleak, hilly land with poor soil and no trees. It is located on the coast southeast of St. John's, not to be confused with Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada. It has a natural harbor that kept ships afloat during storms. 

Ferryland, NL today
The Kirkes settled in a nice stone house (only rubble now) previously built for George Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore. He moved to Ferryland thinking he could establish a Roman Catholic utopia, but after one hard winter and trouble with pirates, the myriad of fishermen who showed up on his shore, Baltimore threw up his hands and ran for the exit.

It took a lot of work to sustain a plantation household, that of their servants and fishermen who worked the sea, but Lady Sara Kirke was up to the task. She partnered with her husband and turned their plantation into a fishery. They owned several boats, salted fish and produced cod oil. They traded their products for wine and other sustainable goods with England and the Europe. Once the colonies of New England gained a footing, the Kirkes obtained goods from warmer climes down the Atlantic Coast.

After Sir David Kirke was arrested and returned to England, Lady Sara raised their sons, and aided her sister who was in exile due her support of King Charles I.

Based on historical facts, Sara was a strong woman. Even today she’s considered North America's first and foremost entrepreneur, so no mewling babe there. 

I did not want to make her weak and humble, then after years of trials and setbacks have her become a strong woman. Nope. Couldn’t have it. I made her a force to be reckoned with from the get-go.

She came from a wealthy merchant’s family and married into another. I made her a partner in the Kirke’s wine business, had her outfit ships for sail to the New World, had her stand up to her husband’s gruff and stubborn ways. This made her capable for anything when she single-handedly ran the Ferryland plantation, a single mother with children (there’s no record of her remarrying), where she had to contend with fishermen from so many nations who felt they could do what they wanted, when they wanted.

I came to like and respect Lady Sara Kirke, and am happy to have been a part of her story. 


  1. 1 really admire Sara. She's a woman everyone should know about.

  2. 1 really admire Sara. She's a woman everyone should know about.

  3. I love strong female characters and am looking forward to reading Lady Sara's story.

  4. I am so thrilled to be part of this story, it's one of the most interesting historical stories I've ever read, and even the research part that I've helped with has been fascinating, I had no idea about the early settlement of Newfoundland, or in fact anything about Newfoundland, it's fascinating. Jude

  5. Looking forward to reading Sara's story! :)

  6. Tweeted and shared--looking forward to this one!

  7. This story looks so exciting, especially as it's based on a a real, historical person. I can't wait to read it.