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John Avis & Alice Backwell of Devon, England. 1815 - 1901

Journal by Julie07

John Marshall Avis & Alice Backwell

John Marshall AVIS of Kingswear, Devon, married Alice BACKWELL, not of Kingswear, on 28th December 1836 in the Parish of Kingswear, Devon. Both signed their names.
Witnesses were Richard Backwell and Sarah Backwell. (Possibly brother and sister of Alice.)

Alices parents were Richard Backwell & Mary, according to her christening record found on LDS. Alice born 12th July 1814 at Dartmouth, Devon. Christened a few years later in Saint Petrox, Dartmouth, Devon on 26th November 1823 at age nine. Sarah, Alices sister, born 27th April 1811, was also christened on that date and in that place. They could have had a sister, Mary born about 1801, and a brother, Richard born 1799.

The 1841 census of Devon shows John and Alice living at St Mary Church, Torquay, Devon. John was 26 years old and Alice was 25. They were living with their two children, George, age 2 years and an unnamed daughter, 1 week old. This would have been Emma.
John was a JOINER. A Joiner/Joyner is a skilled carpenter capable of finer work than a plain carpenter eg. Making joints for furniture.

Neither John, nor Alice, can be found in the 1851 census.
Emma and Eliza, their daughters, are boarding with Mathew Easterley & family at St Mary Church, Torquay.

Emma Avis born May 30th 1841 at St Mary Church, Newton Abbot, Devon.
Elizas birth (sister of Emma)birth registered Newton Abbot, Devon,
Sept qu 1843.

In the 1861 census Alice is shown to be a widow. John passed away between 1841 and 1861.

Emma Avis married Frank John Milne in 1862.

In 1871 census Alice is living in Wales. At Llanvedw, Monmouthshire, Wales. She is the Housekeeper of a mansion belonging to Charles K. Kemeys Tynte.

Eliza Avis married Thomas Husband in 1876.

1881 census finds Alice living in 27 High Street, Towcester, Northhampton with her daughter, Eliza, and Elizas husband, Thomas HUSBAND. Thomas born abt 1847 at Aston, Shropshire, (census transcript has this down as Sheeps Aston). He is a butler and house steward. Eliza stated as being born at Babbicombe, Devon.
They have children: Reginald HUSBAND age 3, born at Ford, Devon, and Edward HUSBAND age 2 born Yealmpton, Devon.

Eliza Husband nee AVIS dies 9th February 1886 at Towcester, Northhampton. Age 38 she dies of a carcinoma. Thomas was present at her death and was the informant on the death register. She is buried and registered as LISLE HUSBAND.

1891 census finds Alice Avis alone with her 3 three grandsons. Thomas Husband must have been away working. He was alive in 1900 and living at Towcester when Alice died.
The census record shows Alice to be a widow, age 76, born Dartmouth, Devon, living by her own means at Woodbine Cottage number 3, Towcester, Northhampton.
Her grandsons are:
Ernest R. Husband, age 13, a scholar, born Ford, Devon.
Edward V. Husband, age 11, a scholar, born Yealmpton, Devon.
Albert T. Husband, age 9, a scholar, born Towcester, Northhampton.

Avis, Alice; Description: "Widow." Died on April 26th 1900 aged 86 years. Buried on April 30th 1900 in plot A-73. The body came from Towcester.
Source:- Ref. 1, Page 95, Number 759. Death reg. Number: vol 3. page 8.
Alice died of senile decay and bronchial catarrh. Thomas, her son in law, was present at the time of her death and the informant for the registrar. Thomas was living at Lodge Farm, Laughan (?) at the time.

Kingswear history mentions Aviss in historical records and in the census.

The oldest Avis people found in the census for Kingswear were:

William born about 1771
Sarah born about 1771
Sally born about 1774 (she could have been Sarah)
Elizabeth born about1788
Thomas born about 1814
Robert born about 1816

I am inclined to think that Thomas (1814) and Robert (1816) were brothers to John.

Various Census show Kingswear AVIS families as (birth years are approximates):-

William (1771), a shipwright. Possibly died about 1846.
Sarah (1771), his wife.
Living at Higher Street, Kingswear in 1841.


William (1841), Grandson, Ships Carpenter, born Kingswear. (Could have been
the son of Robert & Elizabeth).
Living with:
John Thomas (1786), Marina pensioner, born Bristol, Somerset.
Mary (1792), wife, born St Mary Church.
William Clackstone (1837), Ships Carpenter, born Kingswear.
This family were living at the Square, Kingswear, in 1861.

Sally AVIS (1774), Shipwrights Widow, born Kingswear. (Could have been Sarah, wife of
William). She was living at Trust House, Kingswear in 1851.

Robert (1816), Shipwright, born Kingswear.
Elizabeth (1817), wife, born Kingswear.
Mary Elizabeth (1843), Dressmaker, born Gillingham, Kent.
All following children born Gillingham as well.
Sarah M (1846)
Harriett (1848)
Ellen (1853)
Robert (1855)
The family moved to Kent and appeared to remain there.

Thomas (1814), Chair Maker, Postman, Boat Builder,born Kingswear.
Elizabeth 1812), wife, born Dartmouth.
Ellen (1840), possibly registered 1838.
Thomas (1842)
Fanny (1844), Drapers assistant, born Kingswear.
Mary W. (1849)
Bessie (1851), Teacher of Music, born Kingswear.
Living at Alma House, Kingswear in 1871.


Thomas (1841), Marine Engineer, born Kingswear.
Henrietta (1839), wife, born Bradninch, Devon.
Ida E, (1869), daughter, born Kingswear.
Living at 2 Harbour View, Kingswear in 1871.

Also of Interest:-
A child named John Marshall Avis was born in 1846 to Thomas, a chair maker, of Kingswear. This child died in 1847 of Bronchitis.
This makes me think that the naming of the child John Marshall was in honour of John Marshall AVIS, born about 1815, who married Alice Backwell.

In 1850 the directories show Thomas Avis to be a chair maker, and in 1856 through 1866 boat builder and postmaster.
The first post office, with Thomas Avis, was on the corner of the sea wall at the south-west of the ferry slip, in Longford.

The following extract is from
MARITIME SOUTH WEST 12 1999 -THE DARTMOUTH HARBOUR PAPERS

From October 1865 the Kingswear Ferry was leased to Messrs. Avis & Son of Kingswear,
the local postmaster. Three boats were worked by Avis, two pulling boats for passengers and a third as a luggage boat, or horse boat which was supplied by the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway.

This ferry was converted to steam operation in 1869 when Tom Avis new steam launch Pioneer came into service. This boat was built by J Samuel White at Cowes. Unfortunately, when on passage to Dartmouth the boat struck a rock at the entrance to Weymouth Harbour and had to be beached for repairs.

In October 1877 the lease was transferred to G.A and J.W Casey Brothers.

The River Dart opens into the English Channel. This leads directly across to France and to the Channel Islands Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey and Sark. Emma AVIS, daughter of John AVIS and Alice BACKWELL married Frank Milne, whose parents lived in Jersey for many years.

Surnames: AVIS BACKWELL HUSBAND MILNE
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by Julie07 Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2008-12-12 21:29:33

Julie07 has been a Family Tree Circles member since May 2008. is researching the following names: SEMMLER, MUHLNICKEL, KRAUSE and 7 other(s).

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