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.


  • 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!’


  1. Did William have any military connections? If he was a rope maker maybe he’d gone to the Channel Islands to make rope for the military… The Channel Islands were seen as a an obvious target for Napoleon to invade, after all, he invaded just about the whole of Europe by the early 1800s, and Britain was standing alone following their victory at Trafalgar. Britain sent a strong military presence to both Jersey and Guernsey during the 1800s following a recruitment drive primarily aimed at the poorer areas of the mainland – just a though.

    1. Hi Adrian,
      I am currently unaware if William had military connections. Thank you for this more detailed information about this period in time, it helps with putting the clues together! 🙂

  2. My own great grandfather was a recruit from Fulham. He signed up for the 57th Regt of Foot and was sent to Jersey as a part of their defence force and also to undergo his training before being sent to Spain to fight in the Peninsular Wars a few years later. He then retired to Jersey after he was pensioned out of the army.

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