French household: members

After leaving New York in October 1814, William settled in France for the rest of his life. In 1821 he bought the château at Draveil from Daniel Parker, and he also maintained a residence in Paris at the Place Vendôme.

In his English will of 1831 (section 4) and the final codicil of 1835 William named several members of his French household. The witnesses of the first codicil in 1831 included two more (together with a visiting relation of William) and a further two (as well as another visiting relation) are mentioned in other texts of the time. For a list of relevant entries in the registers of the British Embassy in Paris, see William’s French household: traces.

Although the members of William’s household dispersed after his death in 1835, the Smith and Woods families as well as Richard Pethybridge were residents of Kenton parish in Devon at the time of the 1841 census.

  1. John Ballander, ‘jardinier de lord Courtenay, propriétaire du château de Draveil’, mentioned in the 1828 Annales de l’Institut horticole de Fromont. This very unusual surname may be an error for the respected botanist John Bellenden Ker – the life partner of William’s sister Anne and a likely visitor to Draveil. His Statics of Statû-quo Permanency, or The Maximum of Taxability was published in Paris in 1831.
  2. William Charles Clack, Rector of Moretonhampstead Devon. Born in 1782, a cousin of William who presented him for the living at Moretonhampstead in 1808, granted him the living at Wolborough in 1813, and may also have made him one of his domestic chaplains. He performed the baptisms in France of Henry George Pethybridge and Mary Smith in August 1828, and of Elizabeth Emma Pethybridge in August 1830. (Perhaps William had set aside part of the château at Draveil as a Church of England chapel.)
  3. Henry Corbyn, tenant. Probably tenant of la ferme seigneuriale, the ‘home farm’ of the château at Draveil: in 1821 William had purchased from Daniel Parker the château, ‘son parc, la ferme et ses depéndances, les bois et les prés‘ but the rest of the estate was sold to Denis Delaunay. That year Henry Corbyn discharged a couple of apprentices from the Kenton overseers of the poor ‘as he is going to settle in France’.
  4. John Linter, tutor to the young children of Mr George Woods. Probably related to the John Linter who was park-keeper at Powderham in 1804, and likely to be the same John Linter who played a prank on the prophetess Joanna Southcott from Kenton and Powderham in 1809.
  5. Charles Courtenay Locke, nephew. Born in 1804, the elder son of lord Courtenay’s sister Matilda and their cousin John Locke. William promised to grant him a Church of Ireland living at Newcastle or Mahoonagh in succession to his uncle, John Locke’s older brother Thomas.
  6. John Victor Perot, servant.
  7. Richard Pethybridge, butler. Born in 1799 at Moretonhampstead where in 1824 he married Hannah Martin who was born in Teignmouth in 1793. They had three children born in France: William Richard, Henry George and Elizabeth Emma. Richard had a brother Jonathan and two married sisters, Grace Weakley and Mary Alford, all three resident at Exeter; Jonathan Pethybridge’s will is available online at Genuki.
  8. George Smith, coachman. George Smith was probably born in 1794 or 1795 at Kingston-upon-Thames (Surrey, England); he may be the George Smith who was born on 11 November 1794 and baptised on 7 December at All Saints church, Kingston-upon-Thames, the son of Hannah and Isaac Smith. George was William’s coachman in France from 1819 at the latest. He married Jane Woods in Paris in 1818. Several of their children were born in France: Jane (born 1819 but died as an infant), George (born 1821), Mary (born 1822 but died as an infant), Esther (born 1826, baptised 1827), Mary (born 1828), Henry (born 1831) and Eliza (born 1833, baptised with Henry in 1834).
  9. George Smith, the son of my Coachman George Smith who has been brought up in my Family with his Cousins. Born in France in January 1821, he was baptised on the same day as his cousin George Henry Woods who had been born a few days earlier in December 1820.
  10. George Woods, my faithful servant; his wife Hester and their four children: Hester, Jane Frances, William George, and George Henry. George Woods was probably born in 1785 or 1786; his wife Esther/Hester was probably born in 1790 or 1791. By 1810 George was already a servant of William in London. He and Esther had married some time before 6 August 1812 when their daughter Esther was born in Bloomingdale, New York; they may be the George Woods and Esther Clarke who married at St. Marylebone, Westminster (England), on 5 February 1810. Their son William George was born in North America (December 1813, baptised February 1814), but their younger son George Henry was born in Paris in December 1820 and baptised on the same day as his cousin George Smith (#9) in January 1821. Their younger daughter Jane Frances was probably born in France too, perhaps in 1816. Esther Woods the daughter died unmarried at Draveil in June 1833 and her remains were buried at Powderham.
  11. ‘a ci-devant butler of Lord Courtney’ who, according to The European Magazine, and London Review of May 1823, ran a brewery in the Champs Elysées producing English ale. This is probably William Furse from Exeter or William Frost of Kenton, both described as brewers in registers of the British Embassy in Paris. In 1822 William Furse married Elizabeth Woods in Paris; Elizabeth signed the register and William made his mark. Their child Esther Ann Furze was given a half-baptism in February 1823. In 1824 William Frost of Kenton married Elizabeth Ponsford from ‘Dunsford Dunnery in the county of Devon’; both partners made their mark. Two of their sons were baptised together in Paris in 1828: William, born in August 1824 and George, born in September 1827.
  12. Another married couple with the same names were living in the area around the same time: Elizabeth and William Frost of Powderham, a mechanic, whose marriage does not seem to be recorded in the embassy registers. They lived at Petit-Mont-Rouge, described in 1828 as ‘deux longues rangées de maisons qui, au sortir de Paris, bordent la grande route d’Orléans, et s’étendent depuis la barrière d’Enfer jusqu’auprès du bourg de Mont-Rouge.’ Their son, another George Frost, was baptised in December 1827, a few days before his mother was buried. William Frost of Powderham remained a widower until 1830 when he married a widow from Soissons (Picardie): Elise Antoinette Michelle (veuve Moubière) who was buried in 1832 at the age of 34.



After William died in May 1835, the Woods family settled the business of his French will and sold the property that he had bequeathed to them (The Kerry Evening Post of 26 September 1835 reported that ‘The produce of the sale of the late Earl of Devon’s plate, bijouterie, furniture, stud, &c., on the Place Vendome, at Paris, is expected to realise the enormous sum of £120,000.’). These affairs took two years to complete: ‘Le 3 juin 1837, un jugement de l’audience des criées adjugea aux sieur et dame Dalloz partie de la terre de Dreveil et le château de ce nom. Plus tard, les sieur et dame Dalloz se rendirent acquéreurs du surplus de l’immeuble.’

  1. John Bellenden Ker survived his partner, William’s sister Anne who had died in Hampshire (England) in January 1835. He published An Essay on the Archaeology of Popular Phrases and Nursery Rhymes (1837 & 1840) before his own death in Hampshire in 1842.
  2. William Charles Clack remained rector of Moretonhampstead until his death in 1865 when his son William Courtenay Clack succeeded him.
  3. If he was still living, Henry Corbyn may have remained as tenant of the home farm at Draveil.
  4. John Linter was still resident at Draveil when he died in 1836 and was buried at Paris.
  5. Charles Courtenay Locke became rector of Newcastle in county Limerick from 1846, he died at Paris in 1848 and was buried there. His widowed mother, lord Courtenay’s sister Matilda Locke, died at St Germain-en-Laye later that year but her burial is not recorded in the Paris embassy registers.
  6. John Victor Perot will probably be difficult to track. His bequest was to be paid in francs which suggests that William expected him to remain in France.
  7. George and Hannah Pethybridge returned to Devon where Hannah became a shopkeeper at Exeter. She lived in the city with their three children and her mother-in-law Elizabeth while George became butler for lady and sir John Duntze who had a house at Staplake in Starcross (Kenton) and another at Malmesbury in Wiltshire. George died at Exeter in 1866 and Hannah in Lancashire in 1875. All three of their children married and had children of their own. William Richard died at Exeter in 1870; both Henry George and his sister Elizabeth Emma Featherstone died in 1900, he in Lancashire and she at Exeter.
  8. Jane and George Smith also came to Devon with their family. At first they took up farming at Southbrook in Starcross where two more sons were born (William and Walter) but then in 1850 they sailed to Adelaide in the Pestonjee Bomanjee. Their children Mary, Eliza and Walter emigrated with them, as did Ann Smith (probably born in 1820 or 1821, Ann may have been a younger sister or sister-in-law of George). The family settled at Gumeracha in South Australia where Mary and Eliza may have married nephews of their sister-in-law Martha: Thomas George Randell and his younger brother Elliott Charles Randell. George drove the local mailcoach until a serious accident forced his retirement in 1861. Jane had died in 1859 at the age of 59, followed by Eliza in 1868 and Mary in 1870 before George himself died in 1871. Walter Smith’s first wife, Margaret, died in 1867 and was buried with her mother-in-law at Salem Baptist Church Cemetery in Gumeracha. In 1868 Walter married Elizabeth Lowe and lived on at Gumeracha until his death in 1912 at the age of 73. (Esther, Henry and Walter are not listed at Southbrook in the 1841 census returns; Esther, Henry and William are not listed among the passengers from the Pestonjee Bomanjee who arrived at Port Adelaide.)
  9. George Smith junior stayed in Devon. In 1847 he had married Martha Maria Elliott Bear, a younger sister of Mary Ann Elliott Bear who had married William Beavis Randell and emigrated from Kenton to South Australia in 1837. George and Jane took on the tenancy of Bridge Farm in Kenton before becoming millers and moving to Dawlish. They had six children, all daughters, none of whom married. By 1909 the surviving sisters, known as ‘the Misses Smith’, were running a boarding-house: Kinellan, ‘splendidly situated’ in Babbacombe Road, Torquay.
  10. William George Woods was born on 13 December 1813 (baptised Bloomingdale, 6 February 1814), died on 9 June 1836 (probably childless and unmarried) and was buried in Paris. His sister Jane Frances Woods married Auguste Bernard de Vignerie, a doctor of medicine, at Draveil on 14 June 1837 when she was 21. According to René Fontaine, Jane Frances (or perhaps a child from the marriage who died as an infant) was baptised at the church of Saint Remi, the parish church of Draveil, on 31 October 1838. She is not mentioned in her father’s will of 4 November 1847 and had died (as had all her children if she had any) before 8 August 1857. By 6 June 1841 (census date) the other members of the family – George, his wife Esther and their son George Henry Woods – were living at Holwill near Powderham in the parish of Kenton as tenants of the Courtenay estate. They had probably been in residence since 1835 when, as William mentions in the third codicil of his will, their tenancy of North Holwill began. (Auguste de Vignerie was perhaps on his way to visit them when he arrived at Southampton with a French passport on 20 October 1836, having crossed la Manche from Le Havre in Camille.) All three died in Devon: Esther between October and December 1845; George in April or May 1848; George Henry on 7 March 1881 at the age of 60 and probably unmarried, with his personal estate valued at under £3,000. (For more on the Woods family, see below.)
  11. Elizabeth and William Furse may have returned to Berkshire or Devon after February 1823 when their child Esther Ann was given a half-baptism in Paris. William Frost of Kenton’s wife Elizabeth died in 1836 at the age of 30 and was buried in Paris, as was their son William who died in July 1843 at the age of 18; he may be the William Frost who was buried at Montmartre in 1844 at the age of 44.
  12. After the death of his wife Elise, William Frost of Powderham remained in Paris, where in 1836 he married another widow, Amelie Eléanore Josephine Bever from Antwerp. He may be the William Frost who was buried at Montmartre in 1844 at the age of 44. Amelie Frost died in Paris in 1885.


  • Jane Woods was probably born in 1800: when she married coachman George Smith in Paris in June 1818, she was a spinster under the age of 21 and so needed the consent of parents. The marriage was witnessed by George Wood [sic] who would have been her father or her older brother.
  • Jane was probably a sister of William’s faithful servant, George Woods: William mentions in the final codicil to his will that her son George Smith ‘has been brought up in my Family with his Cousins’. (There is the possibility that George Woods’ wife Esther was a sister of either Jane or George Smith.)
  • Jane certainly had a brother Henry. In his will of June 1837 Henry Woods, ‘a British subject now residing at No. 2 Rue Favart in the City of Paris‘, left a bequest to Jane’s son Henry Smith who was baptised in Paris in 1834: ‘my nephew Henry Smith now living at Star Cross in England’. Henry Woods was probably born 1790-92; he may be the Henry Woods who is listed in the British Army muster for Paris 25 March to 24 June 1815 (44th Regiment of Foot, 2nd Battalion). Henry married Mary Winn from Hampshire (baptised at Heckfield on 29 June 1788) in Paris on 13 December 1820 with George Smith and Elizabeth Woods as witnesses. He ran a Parisian eating-place that was popular with English visitors to the city; after the death of his wife Mary Woods in 1836, he took on a business partner, William Byron who continued to run the tavern after Henry died in 1839.
  • Elizabeth Woods was born before 13 December 1799; as a spinster, she married William Furse from the Exeter parish of St Edmund’s in Paris on 22 April 1822 (see #11 above and below).
  • There was also a Caroline Woods living at Draveil who died in 1828 at the age of 18 and was buried at Paris.
  • There were obviously close connections between Caroline, Elizabeth, George, Henry and Jane Woods, even if they were not all siblings.
  • In the Paris embassy records Elizabeth, Henry and Jane Woods are all recorded as coming from Wingfield/Winkfield in Berkshire. Winkfield lies between Bracknell and Windsor; the parish used to cover a much larger area than it does now, including Ascot with its racecourse. In the 1841 census returns for Winkfield there are several families with the name Woods.
  • The wills of George Woods and Henry Woods are transcribed on another page of this website: Wills of other people.


Carte postale: Draveil – Le Château.

Carte postale: Draveil – L’Avenue du Château. Copyright: (c) Région Ile-de-France – Inventaire général du patrimoine culturel

Page history

  • 2019 August 23: first published online.
  • 2020 April 3 & 10: information about birth and baptism of William George Woods added to #10.

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