Thomas Davy and Family: Dedicated Grocers

English immigration is prevalent in the 19th century, even in Alexandria, Virginia. Occupations vary among these immigrants and high salaries were not common because agrarian work was the most prevalent job. Therefore an English immigrant grocer claiming thousands of dollars was an interesting find. The 1860 United States Census lists Thomas Davy, a seventy-year old, white, male grocer in Alexandria. Davy was born in England and married to Susan who was born in Virginia.[i] His assets total around $20,000.[ii] It is interesting to discover an English immigrant with that amount of money in Alexandria, living off of a grocery business. The image below names the members of the Davy household: Thomas Davy, M. Lagecubell, Susan Davy, E. Lagecubell, Davy Slave A, and Davy Slave B.[iii]

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(Photo Courtesy of Don DeBats, “Voting Viva Voce,” The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, n.d. Web, <http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu)

This image also names Davy was an active voter in Alexandria, usually voting for candidates in opposition to the Democrats.[iv] Davy is listed as a dedicated member of the Trinity Methodist church.[v] From his headstone, it is known that he had been a member of the Methodist Church for sixty-three years.[vi] This demonstrates Davy’s dedication to his community; he probably had no intentions of returning to England.

In the 1850 U.S. Census of Alexandria, it names Martha Lugenbille and James Lugenbille, the daughter and son-in-law of Thomas Davy, shown in the image below.[vii]

1850-alexandria-census

U.S. Census Bureau, “Alexandria Census 1850.”

James Lugenbille was a thirty-year old white, male born in Massachusetts who was a physician. Lugenbille lived in the home of the Davys.[viii] Lugenbille, however, did not appear on the 1860 U.S. Census for Alexandria. According to his headstone, Lugenbille died on September 22, 1857, but the cause of death is unknown.[ix] His wife Martha remained living in her father’s home, and she acquired all of her husband’s assets as shown in the 1870 U.S. Census for Alexandria inserted below.[x]

1870-alexandria-census

U.S. Census Bureau, “Alexandria Census 1870.”

Two more Davy household members listed in the 1870 U.S. Census are, “Caroline Jackson” and “Virginia Jackson.” These women are labeled as “Domestic Servants” and demarcated as “M” meaning of “mulatto.”[xi] Davy was known to own and rent slaves prior to the Civil War.[xii]

English immigrants to the United States in the nineteenth century consisted mostly of farmers operating on land purchased with money brought from England.[xiii] The main goal of these English immigrants was to gain economic independence and expand their wealth.[xiv] The Davys fit this model. Many other English immigrant families working in Alexandria were financially successful in the 19th century, but the Davy family was especially interesting.

thomas-davy

Thomas Davy’s Headstone. (Photo Courtesy of findagrave.com)

Notes

[i] U.S. Census Bureau, “Alexandria Census 1860.”

[ii]Ibid.

[iii]Don DeBats, “Voting Viva Voce,” Search for Individual People in Alexandria (as of 1860), The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, n.d. Web, <http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu/node/14?name=Davy+Thomas&sex=&race=&bg=&data_set=alex_people&contains=1>.

[iv]Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Brian S., “Thomas Davy (1791-1876),” Find a Grave , N.p, 7 Jan. 2015, Web, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=141033263.

[vii] U.S. Census Bureau, “Alexandria Census 1850.”

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Brian S., “James Lugenbille (1819-1857),” Find a Grave, N.p, 7 Jan. 2015, Web, http://www.findagrave.om/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=141033263.

[x] U.S. Census Bureau, “Alexandria Census 1870.”

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Don DeBats, “Voting Viva Voce,” Search for Individual People in Alexandria (as of 1860), The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, n.d. Web, <http://sociallogic.iath.virginia.edu/node/14?name=Davy+Thomas&sex=&race=&bg=&data_set=alex_people&contains=1>.

[xiii] Charlotte Erickson, Invisible Immigrants: The Adaption of English and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth-century America (Coral Gables, FL: U of Miami, 1972), 25.

[xiv] Ibid, 27.

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