James MacBraire, soldier, merchant, shipowner, justice of the peace (b at Enniscorthy, Wexford, Ire 1760; d at Berwick on Tweed, Eng 24 Mar 1832). He is first recorded in Harbour Grace, Nfld, in the 1780s working as a clerk for a Bristol firm engaged in the cod fishery. A judicious marriage to the daughter of a Bristol merchant who had ships and property in Harbour Grace helped him launch an independent mercantile career. Following the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars MacBraire rejoined the army and was appointed a commissioned officer of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, based in St John's. MacBraire acquired extensive premises on the St John's waterfront in 1799 and, as captain of his regiment, he procured houses and land which he leased to soldier families. As prices for cod rose rapidly in the European markets, his trade expanded rapidly along the shore south of St John's, westwards to Burin and north to Trinity and Bonavista Bay.
Apart from the wealth he accumulated, MacBraire is best remembered for his role in the creation at St John's of the Benevolent Irish Society in 1806 and the Society of Merchants in 1807. He was treasurer and president (1807-17) of the Irish Society, a charitable organization which helped immigrants in distress. He made major efforts to secure better terms of trade for the local mercantile community and the redress of economic grievances. An Anglican and staunch loyalist, his popularity among the Catholic Irish community was unique and his humanitarian exertions earned him a permanent place in Newfoundland mythology.