Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Working on Wednesday: William Davis (About 1597 - 1643/44): Locksmith

When researching an early immigrant ancestor it's great to find an entry for him or her in one of the Great Migration Study Project's volumes as is the case with this maternal 10-times great-grandfather whose daughter Abigail (by his first wife*) is in my direct line. The information below comes from there.**

However, as the comments explain:
"The records in this sketch present an unusual problem. The reason for including a William Davis in this volume is the birth record for Abigail in Boston on 31 October 1635 (followed by several other births to the same couple). But there were several men by the name of William Davis in early New England; to which do these birth records belong?
We need to consider three William Davises, who are distinguished by their occupations: William Davis, locksmith, who died in late 1643 or early 1644; William Davis, gunsmith, who moved to Barbados; and Captain William Davis, apothecary."
And after sifting the evidence:
"We have concluded that the children born in the late 1630s belong to William Davis Sr., the locksmith."

William is believed to have arrived in New England in 1635 with four children from his first marriage and probably his second wife whose given name was Mary. We don't know the name of his first wife or when and where she died. Nor do we know anything of William's antecedents.

Perhaps he was inspired to leave his homeland by William Wood's book "New England's Prospect."

[[Woods's New England's Prospect on Open Library]

[The south part of New-England, as it is planted this yeare.... William Wood, London, 1634.
Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University]

On April 16, 1638, "William Davisse, the locksmith, a houseplot near unto the new mill..." in Boston and as far as we can tell he stayed in that town, eventually owning three parcels of land including two houses.

On March 7, 1643/44, General Court records show that he had died intestate and orders were given for the division of his estate to his widow and children, two of whom were minors.

If you want to read more about the history of locks and keys, the Lock Museum of America is a good place to start.

*He had another daughter named Abigail (the one born in 1635) by his second wife.
**Great Migration 1634-1635, C-F. (Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume II, C-F, by Robert Charles Anderson, George F. Sanborn, Jr., and Melinde Lutz Sanborn. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001. pages 316-320

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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