Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Allen line: Foulk Davis 1615-1687 Immigrant and interesting

It had to happen.  I had to find an immigrant who had real problems in his life.  At first glance, we can't be particularly proud of this ancestor, we may even want to turn away, but nevertheless, he is in our line and he must have been an interesting, if somewhat unsavory, character.

He is another one of our "little is known of" this man, as far as his early life in concerned.  So far I'm not finding a claim of parentage for him, although it appears that he probably came from Glamorganshire, Wales.  He is recognized as a founder of the city of Hartford, Connecticut but by the end of 1639 he was on Gardiner's Island, and working as a gardener for the Gardiner family.  (The Gardiner family was wealthy and became wealthier, and a descendant of that family still owns the island.).  Fulk's status as gardener probably meant that he also farmed for the family, and probably worked to establish whatever fruits and vegetables were grown there. 

Probably sometime about 1639, he married, but the name of his wife has not yet been found.  She was known as "Goody Davis" and at first was known as a serving woman, and also taught neighbors the art of making flax and spinning it into linen.  Perhaps it was one of these neighbors who charged her with witchcraft, which may have been one of the reasons the family left town.  Another reason was that Ffulke himself, along with a son, was convicted of improper behavior with other men (to put it politely).  Still, he was allotted land in East Hampton, so the town may have forgiven both behaviors, if there was anything at all to either charge..  Fulke's first wife must have died in the late 1650's, for in 1660 he married for a second time,to Mary, who was twice a widow.  The couple later lived in Brookhaven, and finally in Jamaica (what was then called Newtown.)

During this time, while Fulke was having a hard time of it, the colony was also suffering.  Although Gardiner's Island had been kept a separate entity, it eventually joined with Connecticut and then when Long Island was made part of New York, the government changed again.  There was also a considerable Dutch influence here, so it wasn't easy, just keeping track of who was in charge on a particular day. 

Fulke must have made some improvements in his economic standing, because in 1671 he allowed his son Joseph the use of his team of six oxen, and in 1670 he had given or sold his dwelling house to Joseph.  No will has been found for Fulke, which is not surprising given the economic class he was in.  He is believed to have died in 1687, with his widow Mary living until 1699.

One interesting part of Fulke's story is that at one time he was appointed to a committee in Southampton.  Their job was to watch the beaches for whales that washed ashore, and to cut them up and presumably dispose of them.  This was not a part of life for most of our ancestors, and emphasizes the differences between towns that were really only a few miles apart.  I wonder how often this occurred, what kind of whales they were, and whether the whale deaths were natural or were part of the whaling industry.

I'd sure like to know more about this family.  As members of the working class, or even lower, their world must have been very difficult.  With sexual and witchcraft charges being whispered about, I wonder how the family was able to go out and about their business, and how they prospered as much as they did.  Maybe there is more to the story...

The line of descent is:

Fulke Davis-first wife
Samuel Davis-Mary Mather
Hester Davis-John Finch
John Finch-Sarah
Nathaniel Finch-Hannah Scofield
Jesse Finch-Hannah
Hannah Finch-John Bell
Hannah Bell-Thomas J Knott
John Wilson Knott-Harriet C Starr
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook (who were married 69 years ago today!)
Their descendants