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Jason Counsel - A recording of the Basque Will Commemoration.

Placentia Historical Society

This is advance notice the Placentia Area Historical Society plans to hold a ceremony on May 15, 2014 to commemorate the unveiling of a Basque Will that was written in Placentia, Newfoundland 451 years ago on May 15 in 1563. The will was written for a Basque sailor from the Spanish Basque port of Fuenterrrabia (modern Hondarribia) , who was ill, and asked that he be buried in Placentia “in the place where those who die here are usually buried.”

The will is the oldest original civil document written in Canada. It was found in an archive in Spain by Dr. Michael M. Barkham, PhD, and has been translated by Dr. Barkham into English for the historical society.

An image of the two-page will is to be framed and hung in the O’Reilly House Museum in Placentia. At that time the image and translation will also be displayed on the website of the museum at

The unveiling ceremony will be held in the Placentia Bay Cultural Arts Centre, Placentia, on the evening of May 15. Further details will be issued in the near future.

Tom O’Keefe


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Page last modified on May 15, 2014, at 10:17 PM