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Thursday, 26 January 2012


I have maintained that our paternal great-great-great grandmother, Agnes Levelet, was a descendant of the Lavalade family, her name having been phonetically transcribed in the First Presbyterian parish register of 1846, following the baptism of her son, Edward Wilson. This post details what I’ve uncovered so far about this.

I have been keeping a close eye out for variations of the name ‘Levelet’, both in the Irish and the French records, and will continue to look out for any evidence of a Huguenot refugee family with this family name.
In ‘Irish Pedigrees, Volume 2’, John O’Hart published a detailed list of French refugee families who ended up seeking refuge in Ireland, so below is a list of all those names which bear a similarity to ‘Lavalade’, or those with a combination of the letters ‘L’ and ‘V’:
La Vallade/Lavalade
De Laval
Villette ( Villette was a minister of the French church in Dublin.)

The most compelling reason for Levelet being a corruption of Lavalade is the existence of Peter Lavalade who was farming in Donacloney parish south of Dromore in 1791.

Freeholders List from PRONI website

Below is a map showing the proximity of the townland of Lurgantamary/Lurgantamry, where Peter Lavalade was recored as a freeholder in 1791, to Ballygunaghan townland where Agnes Levelet and her husband, Reid Wilson, reared their family in the 1840s.  There is less than a mile between the two places.

The townland of Monree is located right inbetween Ballygunaghan and Lurgantamry

Ballygunaghan and Lurgantamry are about five miles away from the town of Dromore where the only other reference to the Lavalade/Levelet names is to be found in the online records.  On the LDS site, I found two baptisms, both from the same era (ie: 1790 to 1846) as the Agnes Levelet and Peter Lavalade records.   A Mary Lavelet, daughter of John Lavelet and Elizabeth Stephenson, was christened on 18th July 1790 in Dromore Parish. A later Mary Lavelett, daughter of Richard Lavelett and Mary Beard, was christened in Dromore Parish on 19th June 1797.  Both of these earlier baptisms have spelt the name differently, this time as LAvelet, rather then Levelet, and the latest variation has two ‘T’s on the end.
The double ‘T’ seems to suggest that the name is pronounced as ‘Lavalette’ rather than ‘La Valet’.   I found the burial record for an Anne Catherine Delavalette, who died on 2nd July 1699, and was buried by the minister M.Saurin in St.Patrick’s, Dublin. She was the 47-year-old wife of M.Daniel Descury, a captain major in Galway’s Regiment.  Apart from this one record, I can find no other mention so far of the name Delavalette or Lavalette in relation to Ireland.

Following this cluster of four Lavalade/Levelet references in the Dromore area from 1791 - 1846, there are no other variations on this theme anywhere else in the country.
(I intend scouring the Tithe Applotment Books for the Lisburn/Dromore soon, on the lookout for other landholders with a similar name.)

I have also scoured the Geneanet website for references in France to the Levelet/Lavelet name and there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that the family name Levalet, which is prevalent there, is a modernisation of the Normady name Le Valet.
There are no records of any member of the Le Valet family entering Ireland as a refugee from Catholic France, although ‘Irish Pedigrees’ lists the name Valet.
The name Le Valet, however, immediately brings the daughter of the Huguneot pastor, Isaac Dubourdieu, to mind.
This was Andrée Le Valet, who had been born to Isaac Dubourdieu (of Bergerac, Montpelier and London) and his first wife, who was most likely a member of the Le Valet family from Normandy,  in about 1622. Andrée was the mother of the famous preacher Armand Dubourdieu Boybellaud de la Chapelle.   Her brother, Jacques, had been married to the older sister of the Rev. Charles Lavalade, and Jacques’ grandson was the Rev. Saumarez Dubourdieu, the third pastor of the French Church in Lisburn.

I very much doubt a connection between the Le Valet family of Andrée Le Valet and the cluster of Levelet/Lavelett names in southern Dromore.  I've scoured Geneanet for information on Huguenot refugees with the name Le Valet, or for members of this family with a Protestant history who may have left France in the 1680s, but have found nothing.

As regards references to the Levalet/Lavelet name, I have scoured two publications looking for mention of the name in relation to Ireland or the UK but with no success.  'Foreign Protestants, and Aliens, In England. 1618 - 1688' shows up lists of refugees and their denization/naturalisation, but no Levelets/Lavalets were mentioned.   A James Vallett is named as a French Huguenot refugee to England in 'Protestant Exiles From France In The Reign of Louis XIV' by David Agnew, but no Levelets/Lavelets.

I've also been scouring the British History Online website which has made public the English state papers from the 17th and 18th centuries, but have found no mention of the name Levalet/Lavelet etc - there is only the one mention of our ancestor Charles Lavalade and his sister Magdalen who were granted travel passes to go from England to Holland.  In other papers, references to the French minister of Lisburn is mentioned.

Someone by the name of La Vallée was buried in the Huguenot cemetery in Dublin.

Update:  I have spent a few days in Dublin scouring the Tithe Applotment Books on microfilm in the National Library in Kildare Street.  I was looking both for other members of the Lavalade family in the Lisburn and Dromore areas and also for any evidence of a Levelet/Lavelett family.
I discovered no Levelet/Laveletts or possible variations of this name.  I did, however, discover another member of the Lavalade family -  in 1834, an Edward Lavalade was farming 7 acres of land in the Donaghcloney townland of Monree, which is wedged directly inbetween the townlands of Lurgantamry where Peter Lavalade had been noted as farming in the 1790s and where he made his will in 1805,  and Ballygunaghan where Reid Wilson married Agnes Levelet/Lavalade in the 1820s/1830s. The same Tithe Book of 1834 shows Reid Wilson already in Ballygunaghan, farming 4 acres of land.
  Because all three Lavalades were clustered together in such a small geographical area,  I am happy to assume that the Levelet/Lavelett/Leviolett name was indeed a corruption of Lavalade, and that Edward Lavalade of Monree was the father of our great-great grandmother Agnes Lavalade of Ballygunaghan. She, of course, named her son, Edward Wilson, after her own father who was living a few fields away from her in Monree.
Edward Lavalade was a member of the Masonic Lodge 777 between 1793 and 1822.

Another update:  I consulted the book 'Marriage Licence Bonds - Down, Connor, Dromore, 1721 - 1845' during a recent visit to the Dublin National Archives in Bishop Street and discovered yet another Lavalade reference in the same area, although an exact address wasn't given.  This was Richard Lavalade who married Isabella EZDAL (?) in 1808.

The PRONI website shows up two members of this Esdaile/Easdell family farming in Monree - their searchable records for freeholders indicates that John and William Esdaile were farming in the same townland as Edward Lavalade, but earlier, in the 1780s.  They were noted together in 1785; by 1790, only William Easdell was mentioned.   The name - of Huguenot origin - has no definitive spelling, which makes tracking this family difficult.
(John Esdale of Donaghcloney married Hannah Dick in 1767.)

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