Fogo Island was first inhabited by the Portugese in the sixteenth century when they set up a seasonal fishery. They named the land , “Ye de Fuego”, which later evolved into the name Fogo Island. When these settlers arrived they saw the extremely rugged and barren land with little plant life. It appeared to them that the land was swept by fire, hence the name Fuego, meaning fire in Portugese.
The French followed the Portugese to Fogo Island and fished here throughout most of the 1600’s. There is evidence of theses settlers throughout Tilting, but the most concrete would be the two French Cannons that lie on Garrison Point of Tilting. One cannon is believed to be buried in the rocks, the other however, has been preserved, restored, and mounted for display. The French abandoned Fogo Island in the late 17th century, and resettled in an area further North, that is today known as the “French Shore.”
The British where then the next to seasonally reside in Tilting. They began as a ship fishery and proceeded through several stages before disappearing. Beginning in March and April the men would set sail for Newfoundland. Upon arrival they would repair/build flakes and stages needed for the fishery. In July and August they would begin fishing and catch their fill, returning to Europe in September. Having off-loaded in the Mediterranean, they would market their fish, purchase wine, salt and other Mediterranean goods, then return to their home countries for the winter.
The fishery continued to thrive and over time the migratory fishery eventually evolved into a by-boat fishery and then later into a planter fishery. By-boat keepers were those men who deserted the fishing ships and decided to build or purchase their own boats, allowing them to fish as independent men. They sold their catch of fish in Newfoundland to already established merchants. The by-boat fishers eventually began to realize the advantages of staying in Newfoundland year round, and set up permanent residence. This group was known as “planters” — they planted themselves on the land permanently. It was those planters who established the community of Tilting in the early 1700’s. The name came from the word “tilt” which means to either head, split and salt fish, or temporary wooden structures, that were often built as shelters before permanent settlements were established. However, it is unsure as to which meaning gave Tilting its name.
In 1752 the first Irish settler arrived in Tilting. His name was Thomas Burke and he was born in Dungarvan, County Waterford in 1722. Many Irishmen followed suit and began to settle in Tilting. Eventually the number of Irish settlers surpassed the number of English settlers. At one point only 3 surnames, Chalk, Dominey, and Waterman, represented the English planters. Eventually the Irish were the only remaining settlers/planters in Tilting, and are the ancestors of today’s residents. The Irish surnames that still exist in Tilting include Broders, Bryan, Burke, Dwyer, Foley, Greene, Hurley, Lane, McGrath, Mahoney, Keefe, and Reardon.