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18 January 2013

The Family of Lewis Davis of Plumstead, Kent

Lewis Davis, was born on 19 Jul 1807 in Woolwich,  Kent, England, the son of Israel Davis and Rosetta Levy. In 1829 he married Anne Jacobs, and they became the parents of 11 children, Frank Israel (1830) Hyman (1831) Benjamin (1833) Julia (1835) Fanny (1837) Emma (1838) Rosetta (1842) Lewis (1843) Anne (1845) Robert George (1846) and Richard Abraham (1848) before Anne died in 1848.
By all accounts, Lewis was a very successful man. In the 1851 census, FHL Film #174827 (shown below), taken at Plumstead, Kent, England, he lists his occupation as a Landed Proprietor, Brick maker, Auctioneer and Builder. All of his children, with the exception of his oldest, Frank Israel were living with him, as were 6 servants.

At the time of the 1861 Census, FHL film #542555(shown below), taken in Paddington, he had added Brewer and Farmer to his occupation. However only 4 children were still with him, but a cousin Rosetta Sampson had joined the household.

By most accounts the records build the story of a traditional Jewish English family, however, a further searching of records for this family, adds some some very intriguing details to the story. Details that not only add greatly to the record but also raise more questions.
From the fact we find him in the 1861 census, we know that Lewis the father died after 1858, but because of the fact we don't find him in the civil registration indexes, we don't know when exactly he died. However, dying after 1858, would place any probate under the Principal Probate Registry. Searching the indexes to the Principal Probate, which can be found at, we find an entry to a 14 November 1868 probate for Lewis Davis, Esq.

In the record above we can be sure this is our Lewis, for a couple of reasons. First, the two addresses given for him are the homes we he was residing at the time of the census records above. Second, the son listed here is indeed his oldest child, Frank Israel. Also, the fact that his is listed as dying in Paris, France, would help explain why his death is not registered in England. This record does however add a new question, who is Henry Meyers, who is listed as an executor?
Index, in hand I was able to look at the original probate, which was in on Film #1850503, in the collection of the Family History Library. That document, a 3 page will with 4 codicils, quickly answers that question. In the probate various people are mentioned. They are;

Jane Lewis, my present wife
Frank Israel, my son
Hyman, my son
Lewis, my son
Robert George, my son
Richard Abraham, my son
Julia, my daughter, the wife of Henry Meyers
Fanny, my daughter, the wife of David Joseph
Emma, my daughter, the wife of Hyman A. Abraham
Rose, my daughter, the wife of Bennett Levy
and my daughter Anne.

He further adds;
Joseph, my brother
Elizabeth, my sister 
and Rose Samson, my cousin.

After the mention of family members, Lewis is very gracious and leaves remembrances to his clerk as well as the St. Alban's Synagogue. Using the names of the spouses, it is possible to also follow the daughters through the various census records. Not surprisingly many of the children and grandchildren can also be found in the records in France. Perhaps, Lewis died their while visiting family.
Perhaps, the most intriguing questions involves Lewis, the son. He was not as easy to follow through the records and I also had a hard time finding his death being registered. The answers, and more questions seem to take us to Japan.
Finally after much aggravation in trying to find him, I resorted to the most basic of genealogical searches, Google. I didn't real expect to find much, with the name Lewis Davis not exactly an uncommon name, however I was very surprised with one entry.
Located in the Jewish section of the Yokohama, Japan Foreign General Cemetery is a burial with the following inscription;

Lewis Davis
Fourth son of Lewis Davis of Plumstead, Kent, England.
Born 16 May 1843
Died 4 Jun 1895.
Aged 52
As with most of the research we find, one answer leads to many questions. Why was Lewis in Japan? what was his life like? etc. Maybe the search will continue.

1 comment:

  1. Lewis Davis (senior) was a member of the Metropolitan Board of Works from 1855-57, representing Woolwich.