The Willis family intermarried with the de Laval family of Picardy and Portarlington.
On May 14th 1790, Thomas Willis (1747 - 1828) married his third wife, Mary Anne Newcombe, the daughter of Francoise Newcombe, née de Laval, and of Benjamin Newcombe. (Mary Anne’s sister was Hariet Newcombe.) Francoise de Laval was the daughter of Daniel David d'Ully, Vicomte de Laval.
Children of the Thomas Willis- Mary Anne Newcombe marriage were Louisa Henrietta Eliza Willis, born 1796 and Henry Willis, born 1798.
We descend directly from Thomas Willis’ first marriage to Betty Foster - their daughter,Eliza Willis, married Rev.David Hill Creighton and they had Geraldine O’Moore Creighton.
Eliza’s younger brother was Thomas Gilbert Willis, the son of Thomas Willis and Betty Foster, who married another member of the de Laval family, Deborah Charlotte Newcombe, the daughter of Frances/Fanny de Laval and Benjamin Hall Newcombe and who was said to be the stepsister of Thomas Gilbert's father's third wife, Mary Anne Newcombe. Deborah Charlotte Newcombe was the great-granddaughter of the first of the Laval family to come to Portarlington from Picardy, Henri Robert d’Ully, Vicomte de Laval.
The Laval Family:
Benjamin d'Ully de Laval, seigneur-vicomte de Laval and Nouvion Vigneulx, and his wife, Madeleine de Harmant, were the grandparents of the Henri Robert d'Ully de Laval who settled later in Portarlington with his wife Marie de Schelandre.
Benjamin d'Ully de Laval and Madeleine de Harmant had two children - a daughter, Madeleine-Roberte d'Ully married, on 24th July 1625, Valentin de Flavigny; she died on 31st December 1644.
Madeleine's brother was the vicomte, Corneille d'Ully de Laval who married Suzanne de Gouart or Génart. He succeeded his father in 1660, becoming one of the foremost proponents of Protestantism in Laon, going so far as to hold services in his chateau of Fontaine. These assemblies at Fontaine-les-Vervin, were outlawed on 22nd September 1664. Nonetheless, although Protestants had been barred from public office by now, in 1666 it was recorded that the same Cornil-Robert d’Ully de Laval had been appointed as ‘maitre d’hotel ordinaire du roi’,a role that, as a Protestant, he could not have been legally offered. The following year, Corneille-Robert represented the Protestant church of Gercy at the Synod of Clermont - this has never been explained, although it seems that the family drifted between the two religions, both before and after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
The two sons of Corneille Robert d'Ully de Laval were Benjamin Robert d'Ully de Laval of Fontaine-les-Vervins and Henri Robert de Laval of Portarlington.
Benjamin's wife was Anne Robert d'Ully de Laval. Benjamin Robert d'Ully, vicomte de Nouvion and governor of the citadelle of Courtray, was appointed commisaire by the king on 15th April 1661 to investigate contraventions of the Edict of Nantes in the Soissons area. He died, aged 80, in 1686; although he had earlier converted to Catholicism along with his wife and two daughters, on his death-bed he had reverted to the Protestant faith; accordingly,his body was dragged along on a hurdle before being tossed into the street.
The eldest daughter of Benjamin Robert d'Ully and of Anne d'Ully was Louise d'Ully who married in Rouen in 1677 David de Gosselin, chevalier, seigneur of Martigny, Lussé, La Graverie and Compeinville. This couple had a daughter, Catherine-Susanne de Gosselin or Goselin.
(The Gosselin family originated in the Rouen area. David de Gosselin's parents were Gabriel de Gosselin, baron de Caule and Matigny, and his first wife, Isabeau Raye. David's brother was Gédéon de Gosselin, sieur de Mesnil-Matigny who married Catherine de Saravilliere. David's sister was Marie de Gosselin, who married in Rouen in 1643, Guillaunme Dericq. David's father, Gabriel de Gosselin, would marry as his second wife, the widowed Catherine Dericq. Gabriel de Gosselin and first wife, Isabeau Raye, had other daughters, who, following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, were locked in a convent. )
This was the Lussé family who was of help to Henri Robert d'Ully de Laval of Portarlington who follows....
The Viscount’s full designation was Henri Robert d’Albret d’Ully, Chevalier, Seigneur Vicomte de Laval. The Laval family claimed descent from Henri IV. Henry Robert was married to Magdaleine de Schelandre. Their family seat was Gourlencour (although the correct name seems to be Goudelancourt-les-Pierrepont, a village north of Laon) and Fontaine-les-Vervins near Laon north of Paris.
Henri Robert's wife, Magdaleine de Schelandre was the daughter of a captain in the King's cavalry, Charles de Schelandre, and of Marie d'Averhoult. A Calvinist family with their origins in, firstly Germany, and then Verdun, Normandy, Charles grandfather was the Normandy poet, Jean/Jehan de Schelandre, who was himself the son of Robert de Schelandre, the governor of Jametz.
Following the death of Charles de Schelandre, his widow, Marie d'Averhoult, married again on 3rd April 1656, her second husband being Charles Louis de Pavant. By her first husband, Charles de Schelandre, Marie had two daughters - Magdaleine the wife of Robert Henry d'Ully de Laval, and Anne de Schelandre.
Magdaleine de Schelandre’s younger sister, Anne de Schelandre (1623 - 24th July 1704) , having been twice widowed young (her first husband was Charles Louise du Fay d'Athies), converted to Catholicism and married a member of the Dragonnades, Louis de Montguyon, seigneur de Gineau, the Dragonnades being the Catholic military force used to intimidate Protestant families in the 1680s. Her engagement, marriage contract, conversion and marriage took all of three days. Louis de Montguyon/Montguion also died young, and Anne de Schelandre married a third and final time, to Gedeon de Conquerant.
Magdaleine and Anne de Schelandre, also had a half-sister, Madeleine de Pavant, born to their mother, Marie d'Averhoult, and to her second husband, Charles Louis de Pavant. This half-sister married a distant cousin, Louis de Pavant.
Being Protestant, the family of Robert Henry d'Ully and Magdaleine de Schelandre suffered much persecution. Henri Robert was imprisoned at Verneuil, and his wife at Sedan. Their eldest son, Louis (later known as Louis Fontaine), was kept in the dungeons of Laon between 1688 and 1705.
Henri Robert and Magdaleine de Laval emigrated to Portarlington via England with six of their children - two of whom had been born in jail - in 1691. Prior to leaving France, Henri Robert sold his title to his cousin, David de Guillelain, whose wife was Louise Robert d’Ully. This cousin was also named in the genealogies as David de Gosselin.
Henri Robert cut a striking figure in Portarlington...
From ‘Ireland’s Huguenots and their Refuge’ by Raymond Hylton: ‘His rank, coupled with sufficient wealth to acquire tracts of land within the town itself, soon marked him as a community leader...De Laval was a church elder from 1697 to 1702; he comes across as a somewhat aloof figure, aware of his unique status among his fellow colonists and proud of his putative kinship to the House of Bourbon. He lived in a relative degree of grandeur, intent on preserving the past. Folk memories of the proud Vicomte endured for over a century. According to a well-quoted description, he was fond of sporting “knee buckles...sword...shoe stock buckles...of silver, with diamonds...a cloak of scarlet trimmed with ermine” and always walked with his hat carried under one arm.’
Although living in the Huguenot stronghold of Portarlington, the family had close associations with St.Patrick’s & St. Mary’s in Dublin.
His daughter’s marriage was recorded there - Marianne d’Ully de Laval married Abraham de Courteille Ardesoif of Normandy on 18th July 1694. Abraham was the son of Pierre de Courteille Ardesoif and Jeanne Le Comte. Present at the wedding were the minister Savarin, Mr.Du Bois Taquet, M.de Romagnac, M.des Moulins, M.Des Ste.Maisons, M.de Questebrune, Bostaquet, Dumont.
A son, Abraham Charles Courtel/Courteille, was born prematurely to Marianne d'Ully de Laval and Abraham de Courteille in Portarlington on 10th December 1696 and an emergency baptism was performed at the Courteille home. The godmother was the baby's maternal grandmother, Madame Magdalen de Schelandre. The baby son died on 29th December 1696.
The daughter of Marianne d'Ully de Laval and Abraham Courteille was born on 15th August 1699 and baptised in Portarlington. They named their daughter after Marianne's mother, Magdalen de Schelandre, ie, Magdaleine Courteil.
(The same church register records children born to a Pierre de Laval and Elizabeth de Laval, Pierre being, perhaps, another of the Viscount’s relations?)
On 23rd July 1709, Henry Robert Doeuly (ie. D’Ully), vicomte de La Val was buried there by Monsieur Quartier one of the ministers. Also present were what seems to be the Vicomte's eldest son, M. Daniel De la Fontan (Fontaine?), and M. De St.Gabriel.
The eldest son of the Viscount de Laval was Louis, known as M.de Fontaine, named for the Laval’s secondary estate in Picardy north of Paris, the primary estate being Gourlencourt or Goudelancourt.
Robert Henri had five sons, but only Louis/Lewis and David de Laval survived. All five joined the English army during the reign of Mary. Three died during the French wars 1706 - 1713. One of them, Joseph d’Ully de Laval, died at sea during a battle involving a British transport ship and a French warship, although French records note a Joseph Dully de Laval of Sedan returning from England in 1714, aged 25. On 6th May 1718, the same Joseph Dully de Laval stood as godfather for the infant Joseph-Louise, daughter of Nicolas Dupre and Anne Fransquin. The baby's godmother was Joseph's wife Louise-Alexandre Pidou of Saint-Olon.
Joseph's brothers, Louis and David, were taken as prisoners to France where they were held for some time at Dinan.
The Registry of Deeds in Henrietta Street, Dublin, hold a number of property documents relating to a Henrietta Dully deLavall/deLaval, all between 1749 till 1769. This woman is always referred to in each of the deeds as a spinster, and, given the dates and her links to Portarlington, I'm assuming that she was another daughter of the Vicomte Henri Robert d'Ully de Laval:
Deed 137-310-93440, dated 23rd May 1749, was between Jane Louisa Henrietta de Laval, spinster of Dublin, and sole executrix of Gabrielle Villeneuve, late of Portarlington. The deed concerned the release of a house to Edward Lely of Dublin, and was witnessed by Samuel Beauchamp and John Micheau.
Deed 174-5-114962, dated 10th November 1754, was between Mrs. Henrietta Dully deLavall, spinster of Portarlington, and Loftus Hogan a chandler of Portarlington, whereby Henrietta demised a new house in Portarlington to Hogan. The witnesses to this were the widow, Ann Micheau and her daughter (name illegible), the merchant Samuel Beauchamp and Allen Kelly, gentleman.
Deed 184-421-123606, dated 22nd January 1757, whereby the spinster Henrietta de Laval leased land at Deerpark, Portarlington to the shoemaker Abel Micheau. Once again Samuel Beauchamp acted as witness, along with Benjamin Goff who was clerk to Adam Williams of Dublin, and something illegible like Ally Feaughan.
Deed 213-481-142330, dated 26th and 27th September 1760, whereby Henrietta de Laval, spinster of Portarlington, leased a property, once owned by Abel Micheau in Deerpark, Portarlington to John Lyster, Esq., of Portarlington, for the lives of Lewis Deully, David Douilly and the said Henrietta de Laval. The two witnesses to the lease were Samuel Beauchamp and Patrick Brown of Portarlington. The Lewis and David referred to were the two surviving sons of the Vicomte de Laval, and most likely Henrietta's brothers.
Deed 265-288-175141, dated 29th March 1769, was a memorial between Henrietta de Laval of Portarlington and William Burrell of Portarlington, and was signed in front of Edward Geoghegan and Theophilus Beauchant, son of the merchant Samuel Beauchamp.
Mademoiselle Henrietta de Laval was godmother in Portarlington to Henriette Cassel who was born on 10th March 1739/40. Mademoiselle Henriette Laval stood as godmother to Henriette Duron who was born in Portarlington on 16th August 1744, and also as godmother to Henriette Du Clo, born 20th March 1747/8.
Henriette D'Ully de Laval died, aged 86 on 25th November 1772. (1686 - 1772).
Another daughter of the Vicomte de Laval and of Magdaleine de Schelandre was Gabrielle d'Ully de Laval who makes endless appearances in the register of the Portarlington French Church. On 6th October 1695, she was present at the baptism of the newborn twins of Daniel Le Grand, Seigneur du Petit Bosc. On 2nd March 1713/1714 (both dates are given for the same event, Gabrielle Robert Louy de Laval was godmother to Gabrielle Lasalle, the infant daughter of Anthoine and Esther Lasalle.
On 5th February 1698/9, Jeanne Marie Laussan was born in Portarlington to David de la Font, Sieur de Lossan, and to Dame Marie Pouiols. The register noted that the baby's aunt was Jeanne de la Font, demoiselle de Laval. Was this woman another relative of the d'Ully de Laval family, I wonder? The baby's grandfather was named as Jean Pouiols, a merchant of Bergerac.
Another possible daughter of the Vicomte de Laval was the Marie Laval who died in Portarlington on 21st March 1735.
The Portarlington register also records the death of an Angelique Laval who died on 29th January 1734/5.
Daniel David Robert d'Ully, Vicomte de Laval:
Daniel David d’Ully de Laval/aka David Robert, the youngest son of the Vicomte Henri Robert d’Ully and Magdeleine de Schelandre, was baptised in Portarlington on 7th November 1695.
David Robert d’Ully de Laval, the son of Henri Robert, went back to France from Portarlington and was there from about 1721 till 1753. He lived at the family’s chateau of Fontaine near Vervins. His title was the Comte de Nouvion.
He married, in 1732, the widowed Marguerite de Paravicini, the daughter of Colonel Paravicini of the Swiss regiment.
Marguerite de Paravicini had previously been married to Isaac de Cobreville, Sieur de La Motte, of the Courlandon regiment, who had been born in 1672 to Jean de Cobreville, Sieur de l'Annois of Picardy. Both father and son were devoutly Protestant. At the time of the revocation, on 9th December 1685, the entire village of Annois converted to Catholicism. The elder Jean de Cobreville refused and was imprisoned in Noyon. Despite declaring his intention to convert a few years later, no one could find any evidence of him practicing the Catholic faith. Son Isaac de Cobreville refused pointblank to convert at any stage.
Isaac de Cobreville, Sieur de la Motte, had died aged about 52 in about 1725 having had his estates confiscated. His widow, being pregnant at the time of his death, gave birth to a daughter, Marie Louise Charlotte in 1725 or 1726. Aged only 27 months, the child, Marie Louise de Cobreville, was taken from her mother by orders of the king, and imprisoned as a heretic in the Convent of the Visitation in Compiegne.
The maternal uncle of Marie Louise de Cobreville was Colonel Jean-Baptiste de Paravicini, lieutenant-colonel of the Swiss Waldner regiment, having succeeded his military father to the post in 1722. On 9th April 1734, Colonel Paravicini wrote to appeal for Marie Louise's release.
(Marie Louise's uncle, Colonel Jean-Baptiste de Paravicini was married to Marianne Bouverie de Puget. He lost his life at the Battle of Dillenbourg in January 1760. He had succeeded his father in the same regiment, and left three sons to succeed him in the military. A daughter was Madeleine-Louise Paravicini, born on 16th March 1749 at Foucaucourt, who was schooled at La Maison Royale de Saint-Louis at Saint-Cyr, graduating on 3rd February 1769. The Paravicini family had their origins in Valteline on the Italian/Swiss border, but settled at Foucaucourt in Picardie.)
On 31st May 1738, the girl's stepfather, David D'Ully de Laval, now the "tuteur ad hoc" of the child, also wrote requesting that she be allowed to gain possession of her family lands at Jonquieres, which had been left to her late father by his uncle. This request was denied by the Catholic authorities, the validity of her parents' marriage being brought into question.
Another noble, the baron d’Eppes de Proissy, attempted to marry off his Catholic 12-yr-old son to Marie Louise de Cobreville, aged 6, in order to gain her ancestral property of Jonquieres, but this offer was rejected.
The ‘Bulletin de la Société de l’histoire du Protestantisme Francais’ records that Marguerite-Madeleine de Paravicini wife of David d'Ully de Laval, died in 1744 - he had to pay off the local Catholic priest and several others from the locality in order to get permission to bury her on his private property at Fontaine-les-Vervins. Permission was again applied for in 1753 upon the death of the couple’s 19-year-old son, Louis Robert d’Ully.
Earlier in 1751, David Robert had brought his three daughters back to Portarlington to stay with an aunt and it was here that David Robert would eventually die on 10th November 1771, aged 61.
The son of David Robert d'Ully de Laval and of Marguerite Madeleine de Paravicini was Nicolas-Benjamin-Robert d'Ully de Laval, who married, on 28th June 1767, Marie Anne Jeanne Sophie Nordingh de Witt, the daughter of Gustave Nordingh de Witt, the Danish Consul in Bordeaux. The marriage ceremony accordingly took place in the Danish Embassy in Paris. Nicolas-Benjamin-Robert d'Ully was a captain in the Swiss Waltener or Waldener regiment, which was linked to his mother's Paravicini family. Nicolas was noted in the Laon archives as resident in Laon in the 1730s; he was noted as the Vicomte de Laval, seigneur de Goudelencout-les-Pierpoint, ex-infantry captain.
I can find no further trace of him after this.
The 'Bulletin - Societe de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Francais' of 1926 commented on the family's disappearance:
'The head of the family then disappeared into a darkness which nothing can dissipate..the houses of Cobreville and Leval were extinguished, stripped of their goods, crushed beneath the weight of edicts, enclosed by the hostility of their surroundings and deprived of their children...anonymous victims, their memory has disappeared...two centuries later we greet them with respect.'
The title of Vicomte de Laval passed into the Gosselin family, and ended up as the title of Richard O'Ferrall, a member of the Catholic Irish Brigade of the French army, who had sided with James II in Ireland. Defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1691, the brigade left Ireland for France where it became a branch of the French army. The O'Farrells/O'Ferralls settled in Laon, Picardy; they had their origins in Annaly, Longford and in Mayo. Three of the sons of Ceadagh O'Ferrall of Annaly, Longford, who was killed at the Battle of the Boyne, joined the French Brigade, one of these was most likely the Richard O'Fferell (sic) who settled at Laon.
The lordship/title of the Viscounts of Laval was finally terminated by the Revolution.
David d’Ully de Laval's stepdaughter, Marie Louise Charlotte (de Cobreville), following the family’s return to Portarlington in 1751, would marry Gilbert Tarleton of Portarlington.
On 20th February 1764, the Register of the French Church recorded the baptism of Edouard Tarleton, son of Gilbert and Marie Tarleton. David de Laval, the child’s grandfather, was recorded as the godfather. Also present at the baptism was a second Gilbert Tarleton, noted as the uncle of the baby's father. A Miss Anne Tarleton was also there. The older Gilbert Tarleton, born 1732, died in Portarlington aged 78 on 15th April 1810.
The register of the French Church in Portarlington also records the death in Dublin of another elderly Tarleton family member, Elizabeth Tarleton, aged 68 on 15th January 1797.
(In 1801, Wilson's Dublin Directory noted an Edward Tarleton, tea merchant of 88 Great Britain Street.)
On August 1767, the couple had another son, David Tarleton. Present at the baptism were Samuel Beauchamp, merchant of Portarlington whose daughter, Martha, was the second wife of Thomas Willis, and Miss Francoise de Laval, aka Frances or Fanny, the daughter of David Daniel de Laval.
Marie Tarleton, née Laval, the adopted daughter of David Robert d'Ully de Laval, died on 4th February 1814.
The grandson of Marie and Gilbert Tarleton of Portarlington, and son of Edward Tarleton, was the Rev. John Rotheram Tarleton, Rector of Tyholland, Co. Monaghan, whose 4th son was the solicitor, Francis Alexander Tarleton, called to the Bar in 1868.
|Frances D'Ully Newcombe (née de Laval) and Mary Louisa Charlotte Tarleton (née de Laval)|
Another daughter of David Robert d'Ully de Laval was Francoise/Frances/Fanny de Laval who married Benjamin Hall Newcombe, (she was his second wife - his first had been her close friend, Mary Beauchant/Beauchamp). Francoise Newcombe, née Laval, born in 1740, died at Portarlington on 11th July 1780 - her daughter, Deborah Charlotte Newcombe (1778 - 1857), would go on to marry the son of Thomas Willis, the Rev. Thomas Gilbert Willis.
The Bird Family:
Deborah Charlotte’s sister, Henrietta (born 1777) or Harriette Newcombe, the daughter of Benjamin Hall Newcombe and Frances de Laval, married James Bird of Birdville, Offaly - Harriet Bird died aged 78 in October 1855, and was noted as the granddaughter of David d'Ully, Vicomte de Laval. A son, Benjamin Bird, died in childhood, but a second son, also Benjamin Bird, was known to have emigrated to Australia in the 1850s. Before he left, however, he married, at the Royal Barracks in Dublin, on 23rd July 1856, Mary Kelly, the daughter of Richard Kelly and granddaughter of John Kelly. Benjamin Bird was noted as the fourth son of the late James Bird of Birdville in the King's County/Offaly. (Earlier, on 14th August 1772 in St. Bride's, Dublin, a Benjamin Bird married a Jane Kelly.)
A deed of 14th February 1804 (560-207-374565), which dealt with the execution of the will of a John Brewster, mentioned a James Bird, of the City of Dublin, who was married to Elizabeth Brewster. Benjamin Bird of Ballycumber, King's County, was also mentioned, as was Richard Clarke, apothecary of Portarlington, Maurice Kelly, doctor of physic in Portarlington, and his wife, Mary Kelly, née Brewster. It's unclear to me how all these different Birds inter-relate.
A later deed (766-324-519259) of 17th October 1820, was between James Bird of Birdville and Harriott bird, otherwise Newcombe, his wife, and James Shewcraft of Portarlington. The Birds gave, granted, assigned, confirmed, transferred and made over to James Shewcraft and his heirs a plot of Portarlington land, lately occupied and tenanted by Captain Richard Newcombe, deceased. They also passed on land in Whitefields, Portarlington, which had formerly been in the possession of Mr. Thomas Willis and which lately had been in the possession of Captain Richard Newcombe.
(Mary Anne Newcombe who married the schoolmaster, Thomas Willis, was supposedly the step-sister of Deborah Charlotte Newcombe who married Thomas' son, Thomas Gilbert Willis, and of Harriette/Henrietta Newcombe - this may well be incorrect however.)
Deborah Charlotte Willis may be the Mrs.Willis, great-granddaughter of Henry Robert d’Ully de Laval, who was known to be in possession of the Laval heirlooms such as a picture of the chateau, a token bearing the profile of Louis XIV, and a letter written to the family from the Vicomte while in Guise prison.
Deborah Charlotte Willis’ mother, Frances de Laval Newcombe (the daughter of David Robert d'Ully de Laval), would return from time to time to France to visit her brother, Robert d’Ully de Laval (another son of David de Laval) who, having converted to Catholicism, had regained the family estate in Picardy. Being back in the good books, Robert d’Ully de Laval was invited to the coronation of Louis XVI. Robert was noted in 1777 as Robert d’Ully, vicomte de Laval.
In 1774, it was recorded that a Messire Nicolas-Benjamin-Robert d'Ully, chevalier,was the current vicomte de Laval, living at Goudelancourt-les-Pierrepont.
(All images in this post were kindly supplied by Jo Carter, a descendant, like me, of Thomas Willis - her grandfather was the eldest son of Newcombe Willis, who was one of the sons of Thomas Gilbert Willis. )