What happened to the Davis Family?

What happened to the Davis Family?

Levi Davis and Sarah Sophia Davis née Adams had three children, in addition to two illegitimate children of Sarah

Levi Davis married 4 July 1851 Sarah Sophia Adams

  1. Henrietta Best Smith Adams [18 August 1845 - 2nd qtr 1886 Stourbridge RD]
  2. James Adams [born 29 February 1848, alive in 1911]
  3. Elizabeth Davis [1852 - 2nd qtr 1906 Dudley RD]
  4. Henry Davis [11 January 1854 - 1 March 1899]
  5. Joseph Davis [born 7 September 1856, alive in 1901]

For some as yet unknown reason, the family disintegrated by 1857. Speculum Gregis shows the children, except Joseph, living in various households in Cradley. Levi and Sarah are not listed.

Tyes Lane
church seldom
No church, ill
2: Mary Elizabeth, 4,
Sophia,2, unbaptised
A niece, Henrietta Adams, 12, scholar (Henrietta does not, in fact, appear to be the niece of either William or Eliza)
Back Lane
was New Connexion
Jane 2: Janetta, 25. Jemima, 14.
2 Grandchildren, Elizabeth Davis, 6. Henry Davis 4. (Elizabeth and Henry were actually grandchildren of Henry and Elizabeth Adams, next door)
church seldom, pew
No church or seldom
4: Joseph, 25, carpenter, no church
Lydia, 21, baptised by JHT, has Joseph, 2, Sep, unbaptised
Martha, 18, March, baptised by JHT.
Jane, 16, Nov, school, night school, baptised by JHT.
A grandson, James (no surname is given, but ‘Adams’ is implied. The age and relationships are consistent with this being the correct James Adams), 10, Feb, work, church, no school, night school

The birth of Joseph in September 1856 was registered by Sarah on 26 September. Therefore, Levi must have been alive circa December 1855, Sarah in September 1856. There appears to be no record of them after these dates until 30 March 1873, when Levi is listed on the Marriage Certificate of his daughter Elizabeth (although this does not imply he was still living at that date). Levi is described as ‘Dead’ on Henry's Marriage Certificate dated 25 December 1875, which may imply he died in the period 30 March 1873 - 25 December 1875. None of the family appear in the 1863 volume of Speculum Gregis, suggesting they had left Cradley by that date, possibly as the reformed family. But this is not definite: the 1863 volume is incomplete.

Two questions arise: why did the family fragment? And what subsequently happened to Levi and Sarah?

Joseph does not appear in the Speculum Gregis, but does in the 1861 census, living in the household of his grandparents Joseph and Elizabeth Davis (RG9/2040 f55 p15). Henry does appear in the Speculum Gregis, but not the 1861 census. It is tempting to suspect that Joseph was with Levi and/or Sarah in 1857, and Henry with Levi and/or Sarah in 1861, but there is no evidence for either.

Possible Explanations


It is possible that Levi and Sarah died before the 1861 census. But I can find no record of this. Rowley Regis and Cradley were in the Stourbridge Registration District, and no Levi Davi(e)s is recorded as dying in Stourbridge District between 1854 and 1861. Several Sarah Davi(e)s were, but none were the wife or widow of a Levi Davis. And even if Levi and Sarah had died, the whereabouts of Henry would still be a mystery.

I have searched for Levi and Sarah, without success, in the Burial registers from 1856 to 1875 of

  1. Dudley St Edmund
  2. Dudley St Thomas
  3. Lye Christchurch
  4. Pedmore
  5. Ravenfield
  6. Wingham St Mary
  7. Brierley Hill


It is possible that Levi and Sarah emigrated, perhaps to Australia or America.

Henry Adams Jr, Sarah's brother, emigrated to Australia, an unassisted passage on the “Donald McKay”, arriving Port Phillip 3 March 1857. His wife Priscilla and their two eldest children left Liverpool on the “Beechworth” on 21 December 1858 and arrived at Port Phillip 11 April 1859. Levi and Sarah have not yet been found on any passenger list.

Flora and Harry, two children of James Adams, are listed in the 1881 census (RG11/3015 f128 p43) as being born in Pennsylvania USA. But his youngest son George is listed as born Worcestershire. So presumably James emigrated, and returned. But Levi and Sarah may have emigrated with him.

But why would Levi and Sarah have emigrated leaving their eldest children behind?


We know that Levi Davis had been in trouble with the law, at least for dog fighting. It is possible that he and Sarah had been imprisoned for some (presumably, more serious) offence. Joseph would presumably have been with his mother in prison.

But no account of their imprisonment has been found in local newspapers.


It is possible that Sarah married, so is listed on eg the 1861 census under another surname. But I cannot find any record of such a marriage. There is a Sarah Sophia Davis marrying 1st qtr 1860 Newington RD, but she can be shown to be the Sarah Sophia Davis who was baptised 13 July 1828 at Saint Mary, Lambeth.

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