Boxing Day marriage of Mary De France and William Davy – 1804

Davey marriage

On Boxing Day in 1804 my great great great great grandparents were married. The above image says the following:

‘William Davy, the son of John Davy of the Parish of West Coker in the County of Somerset, & Mary De France, the daughter of Thomas De France, of this Parish (Guernsey), were married together on the 26th of December 1804.’

In this day and age, Boxing Day seems an odd date to marry but there was method in their madness. In the 1800′s, Christmas Day and Boxing Day were official holidays which was quite a big deal in a time when most people were working 6 days a week and more than likely going to church on the 7th day.

Times were hard and with families saving up for the big Christmas celebrations and with the rare opportunity of a few days off many couples took the opportunity of getting married. Family and friends would be gathering together so they could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

William and Mary didn’t stay  in Guernsey, as they were in Jersey by 1813 when their daughter Rachel Mary was born. They went on to have 6 children, that I am aware of and both lived till a grand old age.

Questions:

  • Why was William in Guernsey? This was at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. William came from West Coker, a town  which had a long history of growing hemp and flax for sailcloth manufacture, which made “Coker Canvas” highly prized by naval captains. (Thank you Kelly for this info.)
  • Why did they move to Jersey? Jersey had it’s own rope walks. Was there a shortage of ropemakers in the islands?

If you know the answer to either of these questions or you are related to William or Mary I would love to hear from you.

Happy Boxing Day and if you are getting married today, ‘Congratulations!’

Mary DeFrance

According to the research myself and my friend Kelly have been doing, our ancestor, my great, great, great, great grandmother, Mary DeFrance died on the 6th February 1858. One hundred and fifty four years ago today. For me, researching our female ancestors is really exciting, for they can be hard to trace. This is mainly because the females adopt their spouses surnames. They are therefore quite hard to find in the records if you do not know who they marrried. In this case Marie  married William Davey. How they met is unknown, but from the pieces I have managed to unravel I have created my own story which may one day be proven to be true or incorrect.

  • Marie DeFrance was born in St. Peter Port, Guernsey about 1782. Her father may be Thomas DeFrance born circa 1765.
  • In 1789, the start of the French Revolution takes place. I wonder how this affects the islanders, as thousands of French aristocrats apparently flee to Jersey, expanding the size of St. Helier dramatically.
  • In 1804, Marie marries William Davis/Davey in Guernsey. William, I believe has sailed over from England (he was born in West Coker, Somerset). Maybe for work? I do know that at some time William’s occupation is that of a ‘Carter’. This is not a job that was seen as doing well in the world.
  • Unusually for those days, they do not have a child until 1811 (7 years after marriage), Thomas Davis/Davey. Maybe she had given birth to earlier babies but I have not found any record of them.
  • In 1813, Rachel Mary Davis/Davey is born in St. Helier. So we now know they have left Guernsey for Jersey, Channel Islands, UK. Only the baptism records have been found regarding Rachel, so I do not know what becomes of her.
  • In 1816, William George Davey is born in St. Helier, Jersey (notice the spelling Davis is no longer used).
  • In 1819, Mary Ann Davey is born. She goes on to marry a George Le Breton.
  • In 1821, my great great great grandfather is born, Isaac William Davey. His godparents are William Leto and Catherine De France (later she is Catherine Leto)
  • In 1832, their is a cholera epidemic which sweeps through the town and outskirts. Marie’s husband writes his Will & Testament at this time, as I am sure do many others. In the record Marie’s name is spelt Mary. This english way of spelling their names was sometimes purposely done to blend in with the locals.
  • the rest is unknown..

Then at 2am on Saturday 6th February 1858 Mary dies at her home at 14 Lempriere Street. Fanny Sampson was present. I do not know who Fanny Sampson is yet. She died of ‘vieillesse – old age’ at 76 years old, which suggests to me that she was a tough old girl!

Where she is buried is unknown at the moment, but it is on my ‘to find out’ list.

If you think you are connected to Marie DeFrance or know more about her life, I would love to hear from you!