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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS THIRTY SIX: George and Ann Davis

Eric Trudgill    -    4 May 2016

The George Davis in question witnessed the wedding of Thomas Sherriff and Mary Butler in Alderminster, Wks in 1759, married an Ann around that time, and baptised the following children each as a Davis: Ann jun in Wolford, Wks in 1768; William in Wellesbourne, Wks in 1772 “of the parish of Wolford”; Lettice in Woodford Halse, Northants in 1775, travellers, and Charles in Priors Hardwick, Wks in 1778. Even with, I’m sure, several children as yet undiscovered in George’s family and in the family of the Tabitha Davis I discussed last month, who married Joseph Butler in 1763, I’m convinced George and Tabitha were siblings.

First, there’s the evidence of topography: all the parishes we see them in, with one exception, are in an area about 20 miles wide and 10 miles deep, and we see Tabitha and George christening children in the very same church, in Wellesbourne, Tabitha in 1770 and George in 1772. The one place outside their joint patch, Wolford (about 12 miles south of Wellesbourne), was clearly of some significance to their families: Tabitha married in Wolford in 1763 “of this parish”, while her groom was “a sojourner”; George christened Ann jun there in 1768, was “of Wolford” when christening William in 1772, who himself was “of Gt Alvort” in 1801 when christening a child in Rutland, christened three sons in Wolford 1807-17, and had in addition a Jeremiah who both married a Sarah Davis there and christened ten children there; similarly George’s son Charles married a Martha and christened a daughter in 1799 calling themselves “travelling people of Gt Woolvurt near Shipton, Wks”.

Second, there’s the evidence of inter-marriage: George’s daughter Lettice, baptised in 1775, was clearly the Letitia Davis who married Tabitha’s son, Joseph Butler jun, in Boddington, Northants in 1794; William and Comfort Davis had christened a daughter in Boddington the previous year (and christened their next known daughter Lettice in 1800), which means this William, the one so strongly identified with Wolford, was clearly the first Lettice’s brother, baptised in 1772. So we have a typical Gypsy cousin-marriage in 1794 between Tabitha’s Joseph Butler junior and George’s Letitia Davis (and another one in 1828 between George’s grandson George Davis, christened in 1810 son of Charles and Martha, and Joseph and Letitia’s daughter Amelia Butler, christened in 1807), but also a third one (in 1794 like the first) between George’s William Davis and the Comfort Butler, baptised in 1772 parents unnamed, who I argued last month had to be a daughter of Joseph and Tabitha.

I trust Comfort won’t be the last undiscovered child of Tabitha to emerge, and I’m certain we’ll find as yet undiscovered children of George. We’ll also find, I’m sure, as yet unknown siblings for both of them. It’s possible, for example, George’s William was named after an uncle, plausibly the William Davis who married a Sarah and sired a Lazarus and a Charles, the Lazarus Davis, baptised in Wolford in 1785 who married Priscilla Loveridge in Banbury, Oxf in 1809 and travelled mostly in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, like his probable brother, the Charles Davis, husband of Mary, whose son Joseph had a Lazarus Davis witness his wedding, and named a son Lazarus, like his definite brother James and probable brother Noah. Lazarus, husband of Priscilla, was of Wolford, Wks when christening a Charles, and the fore-mentioned Charles, husband of Mary, probably sired the Charles, husband of Ann, who was “of Woolford, Wks” when christening a child in 1813 and christened two others in Wolford.

Interestingly eight years before Lazarus Davis married Priscilla Loveridge in Banbury Joseph Loveridge in the same church married an Ellen Davis, who claimed to be of Wolford: Joseph and Ellen had a Priscilla themselves, and christened two children in Chipping Norton, Oxf, like Lazarus and Charles, and another in Wolford. So it’s possible Ellen, who was said to be 46 when gaoled in Gloucestershire in 1829, was born about 1783, between Charles and Lazarus, and was another child of William Davis, brother of George and Tabitha. It certainly gives us something to validate or disprove.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Trudgill