Patrick Delaforce & Ken Baldry

'The Delaforce Family History'- Chapter 5
18th Century English Families

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Chapter 5

"How many saucy airs we meet
from Temple Bar to Aldgate Street"

18th Century English Families

This chapter covers the period 1700-1840. From 1840 the Public Records Offices, with their efficient index system, make life relatively easy for the family researcher. Before 1840 is altogether another matter. One needs, like a good detective, to consult very many totally different sources and then piece all the fragments together. Luck of course is necessary too!

The clues to be followed were (1) John Delaforce born somewhere in London in 1781 and (2) the significance of the Silk Weavers (which is covered in chapter 12).

The Mormon Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints of Salt Lake City, Utah have produced a marvellous source of information for family historians. Over the last two decades they have spent large sums of money in many European countries whose emigrants sailed over the centuries to America in search of safety and work). Their research into baptismal and marriage records are mainly for the period 1600-1840. Their coverage varies enormously from country to country, and from county to county. The Mormons encourage people to trace their ancestors so that they can be posthumously baptised into the faith. Their records now on microfiche, are known as the CFI or International Genealogical Index and covers worldwide 68 million names (see chapter 1 for UK sources). There are 6 Mormon Genealogical libraries in the UK. In addition such libraries as the Guildhall in the City of London and the Society of Genealogists (members only) have total coverage of the UK. Certain enterprising Family History Societies have also made local arrangements for viewing with local libraries. This is one of the most important sources for all family history researchers.

Consultation of the CFI Index produced 230 names of baptisms and about 25 marriages for the ever increasing permutation of names - Delforce, Dellforce, Dalforce, Dulforce, Delafosse, Delfosse being also recorded because of the likelihood of these names being related. In the 17th century a family of seven Delaforces had seven different spellings to contend with! All the references were in the London area. Searches in other counties were fruitless. Many earlier names in the 17th century were French, Jean, Jacques, Etienne (Stephen), Antoine, Marie etc. The location of the churches was interesting. They were mainly grouped together in the East End of London and the City. The two exceptions were St. Martins in the Fields and St. Saviours, Southwark, south of the river Thames.

The Index produced several entries for John Delaforce - a baptism of 7 March 1778, another of 9 December 1781, both at St. Saviours, Southwark. In neither case were the names of the parents mentioned (this is most unusual on the CFI Index). Norman Graham's excellent booklets on the whereabouts of all London parish registers showed the Southwark registers to be available at the Greater London Record Office, then at County Hall on the South Bank, now moved to Clerkenwell. The microfilm registers of the original parish records showed that both Johns were the sons of Samuel, a cabinet-maker and Elizabeth Fleurriet. The first son evidently died young before 1781. The second was undoubtedly the original John of the Port Wine family. The name Fleurriet has been used by many generations (including the author, his father and uncle) as a given 'middle' name. Now the mystery of the derivation of this unusual name had been cleared up. (Subsequently it was discovered that Elizabeth's father, John was a silk weaver and was a witness at Samuel's grandfather's death in 1779).

It was then easy to track down (1) Samuel's marriage date in 1770 and baptism by his parents John & Elizabeth on 24 April 1749 at St. Leonard's Church, Shoreditch. The excellent (2) John Harvard library in Southwark has a special section dedicated to Southwark's history. They produced evidence that Samuel was a man of property, died wealthy and endowed a Delaforce Charitable Foundation in Southwark based originally on the church of St. George's. (3) As a cabinet-maker he was found to be a member of the Carpenters Guild (records at the Guildhall library) and made Free in 1770 when he was probably aged 21. His father who sponsored him was shown to be John Delaforce, Musicianer of St. Botolphs, Bishopsgate. (4) His will of 1805 was tracked down at the PRO Chancery Lane and showed him to be a Stockbroker when he died. (5) The Corporation of London Records Office in the Guildhall building maintains early records of stockbrokers, showing Samuel's partnership and dates. (6) later on his grandfather's will of 1779 showed Samuel to be the favourite grandchild and inherited money and a pawnbroking business. (7) The St. Savours parish register also recorded the birth to Samuel and Elizabeth of an older son called Samuel born in 1770/1 who in turn became a cabinet-maker and pawnbroker.

To summarise the sources used CFI Index; parish registers; local (archive) library; two Wills; a Guild reference; the association of Stockbrokers (they were not a Guild).

Samuel's father John the Musicianer was initially traced through his membership of the Musicians Guild kept at the Guildhall library. He was a fascinating man (the Card) and his short biography (and that of Daniel his great uncle and Samuel his son) have been in included in chapter 8, this link for John, this link for Daniel and this link for Samuel.

The Card's father, John, died in 1779 and left a will which is a family historians dream and left a plethora of splendid clues!

(1) His will gives two alternative spellings of his name "John Delaforce alias De La Fors".

(2) It mentions his trade - that of pawnbroker.

(3) It mentions where he lived - the parish of St. Botolphs, Bishopsgate.

(4) It mentions his wife's name - Mary who gets five shillings per week for life.

(5) It mentions his sister Susan who gets a legacy and was thus alive in 1779.

(6) It mentions his elder son John (legacy of £5) and younger son William (legacy of £20).

(7) It mentions many grandchildren (legacies of £5 each); his favourite Samuel was left the business and money to run it. Others named were James (co-executor with Samuel), Thomas, Daniel, Mary (Walker), Mary (Coffee) William's wife and Ann (Quanion). His will was witnessed by John Fleurriet, Samuel's father-in-law.

It does show how valuable wills can be for the researcher!

Many of the Delaforces in the last five hundred years left wills, not because they were necessarily rich, but mainly because it was a custom. From 1858 all wills are kept at Somerset House in London and searches are comparatively easy. Before 1858 wills or a grant of administration are to be found among the records of the court where probate was granted i.e. where the will was given an official stamp of approval empowering the executor to act. The proving of wills and the granting of administrations lay with the ecclesiastical courts and some manorial courts. The Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) was the most important from 1383 to 1858 and their wills are deposited at the Public Record Office. The London Commissary Court and Archdeaconry Courts of London for roughly the same period are kept at the Guildhall library in the manuscripts section. The Public Records Office in County Hall also has some London wills. Copies of the most important old wills are held by the Author of this book.

Some wills gave information about two or even three generations. Incidentally the phrase 'cut off with a shilling' meant that the person concerned then had little or no right to sue the estate for more money. No mention at all in a will could be a cause for litigation.

(See Appendix I on sources). With these various clues it was again possible to track down John's father (1702-1779). It was not easy because by a quirk of fate there were four silk weaver John Delaforces alive in the period 1700-1725 and living within the proverbial square mile of the City (see chapter 10 silk weavers).

Other clues were (8) his son John was also a tailor, a dealer in coals, a soldier, a pawnbroker as well as being a Musicianer! (9) William the younger son, who married Anne Bowers in 1750 at St. Peters Le Poer church was a jeweller working in Broad Street in the City. Although there were pawnbroker societies in London there do not seem to be the equivalent of Guild records. The Goldsmiths Guild mention John Delaforce the Card. It looked as though there was a money-making-lending strain in the family which in the event proved correct in the next search.

The next table covers the sources used to discover John's father's name, marriage, trade etc. To clarify the various Johns they have been coded as follows: The Card 1728-1788 is shown as John (4). His father as John (3) 1702-1779. His grandfather and great-grandfather are discovered to be John (2) and John (1). There is a little overlap with chapter 16 as the emphasis shifts to France.


March 1685 Sieur (Sir) De La Force (1) was witness at death of Mr Thomas Coxe, "Docteur en Medecine" in Guines, near Calais.


In 1702 Sieur (Sir) Jean Delafous (2) jeweller of St. Martins in the Fields married Suzanne Massienne of Paris at Crispin Street French Church in Stepney. Jean was shown to derive from Chatel Heraud (modern Chatellerault


29 November 1703 John Delafons or Delafors (3) baptised to John (2) and Susanna, St. Martins in the Fields church. A daughter Susanne was baptised in 1711 but evidently died before 1716 when a second daughter was baptised (and likely to be still alive in 1779). Other children were Peter Paul and Mary Anne who probably died young.


16 December 1705 Daniel Deforce baptised to Daniel and Susanna at the same church of St. Martins in the Fields. The Daniels were son and grandson of Daniel De La Force (Le Beau Chevalier, chapter 8).


1712 London trade directory shows 'Lafosse a jeweller in Broad Street in the City' probably Jean (2).


1714 John Delafours (2) jeweller of St. Martin in the Fields was Master to Robert Charles Guillet, gentleman for the fee of £16 (a large sum in those days). It seems that John (2) lived and worshipped at St. Martins in the Lane but practised his trade of jeweller in Broad Street.


22 October 1726 John Delafous (3) was married to Hester Gales of Dunestable by Mr Dubourdienne. John lived at 'St. Marteins in ye Fields'. The church was St. Vedast, Foster Lane.


In 1730, Chancery Lane proceedings Cl 1/2035/6 showed John de la Fous or Fons (2) Jeweller in the Parish of St. Martins in the Fields as executor for Charles Barbe, 'a French minister of the Holy Gospel' and for his wife Margaret Barbe (then Margaret Martell, a widow), concessing a 61 year leasehold messuage (property in Litchfield Street, Parish of St. Annes, Westminster. Barbe did not behave at all well, cheated Margaret out of her possessions and money and returned to France.


In 1731 John Delafous (3) married again to Mary Dory in Chelsea, probably at St. Lukes. She would have been alive in 1779 to receive 5 shillings a week for the rest of her life.


In 1741-49 John Delaforce (3) lived in the parish of St. Dunstans in the West.


The Gentlemans Magazine records, sadly, that in Sept. 1743, John Delafors, Jeweller, of Westminster, was made bankrupt, and presumably took up pawnbroking.


In 1744 and much later in 1793 William Lafosse was a jeweller at 52 Old Broad Street, City. This was likely to be John (4)s brother.


In 1756 John Delaforce (4) owned the Golden Bell pawnshop in Widegate Street, Bishopsgate but lived most of his life at 39 Norton Folgate nearbye.


In 1779 John (2) died aged about 78, alias De la Fors.


It is possible that Samuel De La Fosse married to Dinah Beosu in 1690, was a brother of Sieur Jean (1). Samuel was an Orloguer of Faubourg St. Antoine, Paris (a clock-maker) who lived at Riders Court, St. Annes, Westminster. He worked in Spitalfields, Stepney. Parents of Samuel, Elisabeth. Jacob, Jeanne and Anne. In 1698 a mysterious news snippet says 'Three cousins named Delfosse were left money in a will": one or more was a goldsmith. Why did John (4) the Card call his first son Samuel? Perhaps after an uncle of that name.


9 April 1699 Francis de La Fosse married Susann Buoys at St. Martin in the Fields church. Perhaps the three cousins were John, Samuel & Francis.


St. Martins in the Fields, Poor Laws Rate Books (Victoria Library, Buckingham Palce Rd.) reveal more movements of the grandfather, father and son John Delaforces. In 1691 'John Laforce poore' lived in Salisbury Court, was assesed at 0-10-0 but was unable to pay. A wealthy man in France in 1685 living in Guines near Calais, a few years later he was a penniless immigrant living in London. His cousin Stephen lived in Long Acre and paid 0-12-0, and his cousin Daniel lived in Hewetts Court. In 1694 John was living in Exchange Court (a suitable name for a jeweller and pawnbroker), and was joined by his father John Fossa, or Laffors, who lived in the Strand and Exchange Court. Their rates went up (inevitably). In 1707 John Delafour of Charing Cross East paid two guineas in rates. The Duke of Buckingham in the same parish paid £15-0-0 (but was totally in arrears). The Duke of Queensbury was rated at £10-0-0 (but was £7-10-0 in arrears). The Earl of Peterborough paid his £4-0-0 promptly. About 1725 John senior died and his widow Mary continued to live in Exchange Court and pay rates. The John Delaforce born in 1702 was living off St. Martin's Lane in 1722 and paid £1-0-0 a year in rates. Each year's rate books balance income from the relatively affluent who pay rates, with expenditure in the back of the book which is itemised by individual recipient and specific payment. From the family historian's point of view these books show a wealth of interesting material, from 1598 when the original Act was passed. Each parish was responsible for its own poor and the vestry elected Overseers of the Poor. In this forty year span three generations of John Delaforce were shown arriving in the parish of St. Martins in the Fields from France.

This tableau of clues derives from the (a) Huguenot Society records (b) CFI Index (c). Wills (d) Chancery Lane proceedings at PRO in Chancery Lane (e) local London trade directories (f) Society of Genealogists Apprentice Index (g) Boyds Marriage registers (h) Parish registers, (i) the Gentlemans Magazine, (j) Poor Law Rate Books - ten different sources.

It was an exciting moment when the links with France were proved. No-one in the family had had any idea of when or whence the Huguenot connection would appear.

The 18th century produced a score of Delaforce families who were mainly silkweavers (chapter 12) and a few members of other Guilds (chapter 11) and linked by their churches (chapter 16). Towards the end of the 18th century, weavers as a trade fell on hard times for a variety of reasons. Many became despondent and then desperate. The weaver Delaforces were well-off. The Huguenot volume LV has a survey on 1739-1741 listing the Spitalfield weavers in dire straits. There were no members of the family amongst them.

Nevertheless a Stephen, father and son, were transported in 1718 to America as convicts. James followed in 1767 and Joseph in 1770. William a young convict was transported to Australia in 1834. Isaac, a fugitive from Dublin in 1776 went to Wood Street prison for 1 year. In 1817 the respectable James Moses family emigrated to America. Two young Delforce brothers sailed for Australia early in the 19th century for brighter opportunities the other side of the world.

A few news items to end this chapter.


About 1800 Jacob Delaforce kept the Flower Pot in Islington where the Linton Club of Huguenot emigres met regularly.


Charles and Elizabeth De La Force, grandchildren of Daniel the Chevalier sailed for India and at Fort St. George, Madras married respectively Elizabeth Pain in 1710 and Thomas Bellysis in 1719.


Susanna Delaforce aged 47 lived in Barbadoes BWI with her 5 children in 1715.


Jonathan Delaforce from 1790-1810 was a manufacturer of Straw hats at 1 Lambs Conduit Passage in London.


William Delaforce was a butcher in Mile End New Town in 1788.


James Delaforce kept a shop called the Portobello at 20 St. Martins Lane in 1795-1805.

Last Will & Testament of John Delaforce, alias Delafors 1702-1779
Courtesy of the Public Record Office, London S PROB 11/1057 IC/411

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Contact: Ken Baldry for more information, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 but best to e-mail him
©1980-2005 Patrick Delaforce & Ken Baldry. All rights reserved Last revised 19/10/2005