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The Acorn Archive

Family Genealogy


The Fry Family


Sir Humphry Davy


In the consideration of the connections between Mary Ann Gilbert, Mr. Fry, Davies Giddy ( Gilbert ), the Millett family ( in particular, later, Captain John Lester Vivian Millett ) and Davies Giddy’s part in the advancement of Sir Humphry Davy’s career …..


Humphry Davy was born Penzance 17th December 1778

Schooled at Latin School l787

Truro Grammar 1792-3

Left for Bristol in 1798

Fellow of the Royal Society in 1803

Secretary to Royal Society in 1807

Received Knighthood in 1812 at age 34

President of the Royal Society in 1820.


1758 Apothecary Mr.Tonkin lodged with a couple called Millett. Illness took the Milletts, the father died then the mother. Mr.Tonkin then cared for the 3 daughters. One married a watchmaker, another married a cousin from Marazion, Grace Millett married Robert Davy. Robert's ancestors were from Ludgvan and he had inherited Varfell Farm.


1778 Humphry Davy was born at Nr 4, The Terrace, Penzance.


1787 Aged 9, Humphry lived with "Grandfather" Tonkin.

Mr.Coryton was the headmaster of the Grammar School, which was then in Queen Street.


1794  Robert Davy died Dec 1794, leaving heavy losses in tin mining shares. Humphry left school to be apprenticed to Bingham Borlase in 1795 to help his mother.


1797 The fear of invasion led to the Corps of Sea Fencibles being raised. Humphry Davy signed up for duty, but gave up soldiering after 2 months.


1797 Gregory Watt ( son of James Watt ) spent winter and spring of 1797-8 with Mrs.Davy, for health reasons.


1798 Bingham Borlase’s shop, in Penzance, is now Peasgood’s Pharmacy. One day, whilst Humphry was pulling faces through the shop window at passers by, Davies Giddy returned the gesture and taken with Humphry’s spirit, went into the shop. He soon struck an acquaintance. Davies Giddy was impressed by Humphry's knowledge and began to advance Humphry’s education and standing.  Humphry Davy was given access to Davies Gilbert's Library at Tredrea, near St.Erth.


A friend of Humphry Davy and Davies Gilbert ( Giddy ) was Robert Dunkin ( a Quaker ), saddler, instrument maker. He was born in Penzance in 1761 and died in 1831. He lived close to Mr. Tonkin. Visited the Larrigan River to test the melting of ice.


Humphry rose through society and scientific ircles. He became friendly with Southey, Wordsworth, Coleridge-Taylor and Count Romford ( Benjamin Thompson, son of a wealthy American) was instrumental in Humphry's progress. He also knew and worked with Trevithick, Watts and Telford.


There has been a tradition in the Fry family that there was some family connection with the Millett family. I have yet to find it.




Raymond Forward