View Full Version : William WALLIS born Le Havre de Grasse, France

07-06-2009, 6:23 AM
I have an ancestor, William John WALLIS born in 1845 at Le Havre de Grasse in France according to the 1871 British census. In 1871 he is living at Thomas Street, Limehouse with his mother Mary and 2 brothers. How would I obtain a birth certificate or any other clue as what the family were doing in France? He married in 1874 in Bow, London and said he was the son of William WALLIS, boilermaker. He gave his own occupation as blacksmith. Kind people have previously checked the 1851 and 1861 census for me and not found the family in England. Can anyone help please. Thanks, Desley

07-06-2009, 7:42 AM
The family were in England in 1861

15 Ann Street, Stepney

William Wallis b abt 1817 Wendover, Iron Foundry Labourer
Mary b abt 1825 Monmouth
Matilda b abt 1844 France
William b abt 1845 France, Blacksmith's Labourer
David b abt 1847 France
Ann b abt 1853 Stepney
Richard b abt 1860 Stepney

Peter Goodey
07-06-2009, 8:09 AM
Many British citizens in France returned home in 1848 so it may be worth searching the 1851 census.

Red Kite
07-06-2009, 9:10 AM
Le Havre de Grasse

I reckon this is the port of Le Havre on the Normandy coast (original name Le Havre de Grace). Grace and Grasse would sound alike when pronounced the French way.

07-06-2009, 10:16 AM
Class: HO107; Piece: 1551; Folio: 23; Page: 38


Thos Wallis 35 Scotland, Glasgow Forge Labourer
Mary Wallis 25 Monmouthshire
Matilda Wallis 8 France, Havre British Subject
Willm Wallis 6 do
David Wallis 4 do (Guinea?)

Looks like Thomas died and Mary remarried - need to look for death & marriage

07-06-2009, 10:43 AM
Possible death for Thomas
Thomas William Wallis Stepney 1854 Mar quarter 1c,376

But marriage is a bit more difficult

nearest I can find is Stepney 1860 June quarter William Wallis 1c, 968
but no Mary
and Mary WallER Stepney 1860 June 1c, 950 (but no William) there would have to have been a couple of errors for this to work.

It is always possible that they did not marry - odd that William has the same occupation and similar age to Thomas but totally different place of birth - both are quite clear on the originals.

07-06-2009, 11:14 AM
Thankyou for all your help. I'm absolutely bowled over. It's very strange that Mary's 2 husbands/partners would have the same surname. It's not such a common name. They probably wouldn't be brothers being born so far apart. I think Mary's maiden name was DAVIS or DAVIES and born Newport, Monmouth. I think I found son David on the 1881 census but his name is spelled WALLACE. He's living in London. Mary is a widow in 1881 and living in Tonbridge, Kent with her son Richard. Her name is spelled WALLACE. Richard and a son Charles born in 1863 are called WALLACE in later census'. Its very confusing. Thankyou once again, I'm very grateful. Desley

07-06-2009, 12:26 PM
Hello Lesleys,

I forgot to ask where they were living in 1851.

07-06-2009, 4:12 PM
9 Alfred Terrace - Stepney

My Wallis family also got put down as Wallace in later censuses, luckily I found them because I knew all the childrens' names. I couldn't fid a birth for William of Wendover - maybe he was a Wallace?

07-06-2009, 4:26 PM
But I did find a death for William Wallace Stepney 1868 age 51
right age and place so probably him

08-06-2009, 4:09 AM
I am very grateful to you and Sue for looking at the 1851 and 1861 census' for me. I'd been told previously that the family weren't to be found in England at that time so was doubly delighted when you both were able to find them.

The name change is a curious thing. You'd expect the Scotsman to be WALLACE, not the other way around.

I also have WALLIS family in another line in Cornwall. Is that where yours are from? My line there also suffered name changes - WALYSHE, WALLISH. They were around Egloskerry, Sheviok, St. Just, St. Mabyn, St. Mewan and Mousehole. Perhaps we have a connection there? They were mostly tin and copper miners.

My Cornish WALLIS line emigrated to Australia in 1857 where their descendants married into the London WALLIS line who emigrated in 1876 (William John WALLIS b. Le Havre). i.e my grandparents were both WALLIS's. It causes a lot of confusion when a distant cousin contacts me with a query about the family.

Once again, thanks. Desley

08-06-2009, 8:11 AM
My Wallis family are probably from the same line as yours but the furthest back that I am prepared to accept at the moment is about 1754. (from a gravestone)

Because the families had a habit of using the same few names, John, Thomas and Robert, it is almost impossible to be certain which is which without reference to wills and property(leases etc). I am still working on trying to untangle them!
For example I have seen people claim that the same John was married to three different wives all having offspring in the same period!
And they would live in one parish but marry in another just to confuse things!

We are however luckier than many in that so many Cornish Records are online.
Good luck with your search.

08-06-2009, 9:46 AM
You're right about the names of John, Thomas and Robert. I also have a Digory and a Jakeh.

A few years ago, I was in touch with a chap who is conducting a one-name study of Cornish WALLIS's. His email address then was kwallis (at) picknowl.com.au
He was very friendly and was able to help me to sort out the different lines.
I was just looking through his tree and found another spelling - WALYS. I'll try to find out if he has a webpage in case you're interested, and let you know.

My ggrandmother was a LAITY from Helston and Germoe.

10-06-2009, 12:44 AM
The chap I mentioned who is studying the WALLIS name in Cornwall doesn't seem to have a website of his own , but his tree is online at
You've probably seen his tree before. It's very hard to read in the form he's put it online. From memory his research seemed thorough with primary sources quoted.

10-06-2009, 12:25 PM
Thanks deeree, Yes I have seen that one. And that e-mail address is out of date.

11-07-2009, 9:12 PM
I put a request on a French website for a volunteer to look up the Wallis family births in Le Havre; I didn't say anything about it as I haven't had too much luck with finding French ancestors for people lately.

However, the volunteer in Le Havre has found Mary Mathilde in 1843 and David in 1846 and has sent me photos. She also said in her message that she had found all three certificates, so presumably she has found that of William as well. They were born in Graville, which is a district of Le Havre.

Unfortunately the photos were taken off microfilms of the originals and are practically impossible to read. But Martine, the volunteer, reserves a different kind of machine on Tuesdays and will take photos from that machine which will be much better, so she assures me, on Tuesday 21st. The library will, of course, be closed next Tuesday with it being Bastille Day. http://www.smileygenerator.us/smileyflags/europe/France.gif

Do you speak/read French or would you like me to translate the certificates for you? You can send me a PM to tell me what to do and give me an email address where I can send the photos.

11-07-2009, 10:12 PM
I forgot to say that, on the photos Martine has sent me, the surname is spelt Wallace, and William, the father, has signed them clearly as William Wallace.

17-07-2009, 7:06 AM
Hello pottoka,

I sent a PM to you, I hope you received it. I have a little more information about the family.

The 1851 census has the family (indexed as WALLAS) living at Stepney. The father is Thomas, forge labourer. Sharing the house is a Michael DAVIES, iron moulder, born Monmouth, his wife Margaret, born Risca, South Wales and their children. The eldest, aged 7, born Havre, France.

As Thomas' wife Mary is born Risca, Monmouth, and I believe her maiden name to be DAVIS, I wonder if Michael DAVIES and Mary are siblings. I don't know how this helps, if at all. I've had no luck looking for marriages using DAVIS/DAVIES to WALLIS/WALLACE.

Best wishes, Desley

18-07-2009, 11:54 PM
Yes, I received your PM alright, deeree, and it's been on my list of things to do to reply, but we've been suffering from an excess of living in a place that people like to visit during the holidays, and I'm afraid I haven't been able to get near the computer, except for very short periods.

What is the name of the child born in Havre to Michael and Margaret? I can try to ask Martine to see if she can find him in the birth records, and that would give you more information about him and also his mother's maiden name. French certificates are usually quite detailed.

19-07-2009, 10:32 PM
Hello pottoka,

The name of Michael & Margaret's child is Catherine DAVIES. She is aged 7 on the 1851 census, so born about 1844. Birthplace given is France, Havre, B. Subject.

It would be wonderful if Martine could look for her birth. Would you also be able to ask Martine to look for a marriage of Thomas/William WALLIS/WALLACE to Mary DAVIS/DAVIES in France please.

Thankyou both very much.

I've never been to your part of the world, in fact I had to look it up. I understand that it's a lovely place to live (except for the tourists).

Best wishes,

02-08-2009, 2:00 AM
Hello Desley,

Yes, it's a lovely place to live, although the tourists can be a pain, but they help to keep the region going - there's no industry to speak of. We're in the middle of the Bayonne fiesta at the moment, which is rather like the Pamplona Sanfermines, but without the bull-running (they have a watered down version with young cows, but they still have horns!). Everyone gets dressed up in white and red, and the town doesn't sleep for a week. Personally, I avoid it like the plague, but then, I'm anti-social!

Martine has sent me the photos of the Wallace births which are a definite improvement on the other photos. The writing is still a bit ... curly and might take some working out in places.

But, I thought you might like to know the essential - if I've got it right!

http://freesmileyface.net/smiley/Babies/future-baby-girl.gif (http://freesmileyface.net/Free-Babies-Smileys.html) Mary Mathilde was born on Wednesday, I2th July 1843 at 3 a.m. to William Wallace, blacksmith, aged 26, and Mary Davies, housewife, aged 20.

http://freesmileyface.net/smiley/Babies/future-baby-boy.gif (http://freesmileyface.net/Free-Babies-Smileys.html) William was born on Saturday 14th September 1844 at 1 a.m. to William Wallace, blacksmith, aged 28, and Mary Davies, housewife, aged 22.

http://freesmileyface.net/smiley/Babies/future-baby-boy.gif (http://freesmileyface.net/Free-Babies-Smileys.html) David was born on Tuesday, 17th March 1846 at 2 a.m. to William Wallace, blacksmith, aged 29 and Mary Davies, housewife, aged 24.

On each certificate, it says that the parents were married in Newport (England*) on the 12th June 1842.

*The French still don't understand the difference between England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, so back then, it was even less likely. Wales? never heard of it.

I'll get the translations done and sent to you asap if you PM your email address.

02-08-2009, 11:14 AM
I'll send you the photos which Martine took, and my transcriptions in French, along with the translations.

Tomorrow, I'll ring up the Town Hall in Le Havre and ask them about getting photocopies of the originals. It should be possible, although it will probably take a long time with Le Havre being a big place. It's a free service in France.

The only thing I want to check is that they will send proper copies; I once contacted Rouen for copies, and they sent a modern document with a minimum of detail. I suppose that it's understandable that they want to preserve the originals, but I was really disappointed - luckily I'd got photos from a volunteer like Martine.

02-08-2009, 5:51 PM
How were you able to get the info of the Folks in France, I so do need and English site

03-08-2009, 4:55 AM
How were you able to get the info of the Folks in France, I so do need and English site

Hello dianenbabe,

Would you like to start a new thread about the people you are interested in on "County Forums including Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British Islands. > Across 'The Pond(s)' Forums > Europe Genealogy" and we'll try to sort something out for you from there?

Please give as much information as possible, with names and dates and places.

You could also read this which is helpful: http://genealogy.about.com/od/france/a/french_ancestry.htm

03-08-2009, 5:47 AM
Thankyou pottoka,

You are very kind. Please thank Martine for me also.

Best wishes,

11-08-2009, 10:05 AM
I finally got round to contacting the Town Hall in Le Havre yesterday and, of course, the bit that I wanted was already closed. I rang again this morning, and they do send proper copies of the certificates asked for, so the letter is on its way.
I still forgot one thing, http://bestsmileys.com/doh/2.gif and that was to ask about how long it'll take - especially as France tends to close down in August. Maybe everyone will think that and not apply for certificates, so they'll come quickly, and it'll be a nice surprise. If you'll believe that, you'll believe anything!

11-08-2009, 11:02 PM
I'm afraid the tension got too much for me, not knowing how long it might take (R***n said up to six weeks, and it took three months) so I rang them up again to find out - actually so that I would be able to sleep tonight! http://www.easyfreesmileys.com/smileys/sleep-027.gif (http://www.easyfreesmileys.com/Free-Tongue-Smileys/) The lady I spoke to said that it would depend on the amount of work that the person who opened the envelope had, but that it would be quite quick.

I persisted in wanting to know what quite quick meant, and explained about the above town; she was horrified and said that I should get them by next week. Fingers crossed! http://bestsmileys.com/fingers/1.gif

12-08-2009, 12:08 AM
Thanks for the update, pottoka.

Like you I'm also keen to see the proper copies of the certificates.

I hope I'm not being offensive, but I would like to reimburse you for your costs. What you have done is invaluable to me, and I can't repay you for the effort and commitment you have put into finding the registrations, transcribing, translating, phone calls etc etc etc, but I wouldn't like you to be out of pocket over this. Please keep track of your expenses and let me know.

12-08-2009, 12:26 AM
http://freesmileyface.net/smiley/Happy/happy-131.gif (http://freesmileyface.net/Free-Happy-Smileys.html)

08-10-2009, 10:33 PM
Martine has found the birth registration for Catherine Davies! She has sent me several photographs, but they are all very difficult to read, especially if you try to make them bigger. Then they just go fuzzy. But she says that she is going to make a photocopy for me next Thursday.

What I have managed to make out is that the father was Michael Davies, a smelter or metal-founder, aged thirty four, and the mother was Margareth (sic) Davies, aged twenty four, a housewife. There is unfortunately no detail about when and where they were married.
http://freesmileyface.net/smiley/Babies/baby-girl.gif (http://freesmileyface.net) The baby was born at 8 o'clock in the morning on Tuesday 2nd January 1844 and was given the names of Catherine Marie.

08-10-2009, 10:59 PM
That is good news!

Is it likely that the photocopy will be easier to read?

It's disappointing that the marriage location isn't on the birth certificate given that it was on the WALLACE birth certificates. I guess the system fell down there.

Was the birth in Le Havre?

Looking forward to hearing more when you get the photocopy.

Best wishes

09-10-2009, 12:16 AM
I certainly hope that the photocopy will be easier to read, even if I need a magnifying glass!

The registrar doesn't mention the name of the town, like on the Wallace certificates. However, as he proudly says that he has the Légion d'Honneur, it might well be the same chap - although his writing has taken a turn for the worse; all the words are squidged up together. With a bit of imagination, his signature could be the same name, but I can't open two jpeg files at once to compare them properly. Also, I think I can make out that the Davies family were living in the "section de Tourneville" which is in Graville and was where the Wallaces were for David's birth in 1846.

I was more than a bit disappointed not to find William Wallace as one of the witnesses, but one of them is Pierre Simon, a weaver, who witnessed the birth registration of Mary Mathilde Wallace.

12-10-2009, 5:57 PM
Martine has confirmed on the forum that Catherine was born in Graville.

08-11-2009, 2:52 PM
I hope that you hadn't thought that I'd forgotten you! One of Martine's daughter has just had a baby, so she briefly suspended her family history activities so that she could be a doting grandma instead.

However, she sent the photocopy of the certificate to me yesterday. It's quite clear: enough to see that the father's name is Richard, not Michael! I hope that this won't be too much of a disappointment. Mum is certainly Margaret Davies, née Davies, so either Richard died and Margaret remarried afterwards, or there was a mistake in the certificate, but, as it says at the bottom that the witnesses sign it after it has been read to them, that seems rather unlikely. Unfortunately the father did not know how to sign his name, so there's no looking for an 'M' or an 'R', either.

I'll get to work on it asap and then put it in the post to you.

08-11-2009, 10:25 PM
Thanks for the update, pottoka. I'm really looking forward to having a look at the photocopy of Catherine's birth.

I've had another look at the 1851 census printout to see if I can make the husband's name into Richard. The name is shortened into what looks like
Michl. So in 1851, I think the hubby was definitely Michael.
I wonder if the wife's former name as DAVIES is a clue and as you've suggested, Richard died and she married Michael, both surnames DAVIES.

Actually, this information might prove useful, as I haven't been able to find a DAVIES family with offspring of Michael and Mary (born 1826) born either Risca or Myrthyr Tydfyll. Perhaps I'll have more luck looking for Richard DAVIES, as Mary's brother.

However, the more I think about this, it's beginning to look rather strange. Mary WALLIS (nee DAVIES and possibly a sister to Michael/Richard), is on the 1851 census with her husband Thomas WALLIS, forge labourer, born Glasgow. In 1861, her husband is called William WALLIS, iron foundry labourer, born Wendover, Bucks. Both men born about 1816/1817.

However, as you'll remember, the 3 children, Matilda, William & David who were born in Le Havre (1843 - 1846), were the children of William WALLACE.

It seems very odd that 2 women living at the same address on the 1851 census, should each have married a second husband with the same surname and age as the first husband.

I really don't know what to think.

Thankyou for your continuing help. It's always wonderful to hear from you.

31-08-2010, 10:29 PM

I've just subscribed to the forum. This is my husbands family-so I would be very happy to exchange any information with you.


31-08-2010, 11:09 PM
Hello Helen,

Welcome to Brit-Gen.
I received your private message before this posting and have replied to you by PM.

Looking forward to hearing from you again.