The Kidds

The Deboards (de Bordes)

To begin the category of Family Stories I have picked one of the oldest that I can remember. This story has been passed down for five or six generations and I first heard it from my grandmother when I was a small boy.

My mother’s maiden name was Kidd. Her mother’s maiden name (my grandmother) was Williams. Her mother’s maiden name (my great grandmother) was deBoard. Her mother’s maiden name (my great great grandmother) was Richardson. Eliza Richardson married Joseph Deboard and they had a daughter Clara Deboard. Here are two photos of my great grandmother Clara Deboard:

Clara deBoard
Clara Deboard

(click on image for larger view)

Clara de Bourde 1870-1880 (yet another spelling)

Clara de Bourde 1870-1880 (yet another spelling)

To have this much information about one’s female ascendancy is somewhat unusual. The story of how this came about is unique in itself, and forms a kind of sub-plot to the story of the Deboards. When I was growing up my grandmother Miriam Phoebe (Williams) Kidd  lived in Santa Cruz, California. She was a British subject and was trained as a registered nurse. She never became a naturalized US citizen because she received a pension from the British government as a WWI widow. Here is a photo of my grandmother:

Miriam Phoebe (Williams) Kidd

Miriam Phoebe (Williams) Kidd

(click on image for larger view)

At one point, while living in Santa Cruz, she met another English woman (Mrs. Watson) about her same age (late seventies) and they often observed the English tradition of tea in the afternoon. During one of these tea-time sessions they started discussing their ancestors and discovered that they probably were related. Sometime after that Mrs. Watson took a trip back to England and promised my grandmother that she would check the birth and death records to see if, in fact, it was true. As promised she came back with a page full of notes which are hard to decipher. I have a copy of these notes and after studying them for some time I came to the conclusion that the two of them were probably second cousins.

The French revolution was a rather messy affair compared to the American revolution. It went on for about ten years (1789-1799) and passed through several phases. Various factions gained the upper hand at various times only to fall later. At certain times you were just as likely to lose your life for being a Protestant as for being a royalist. The Huguenots were one of the largest denominations of French Protestants. A good feel for the situation can be gained by reading The Rover by Joseph Conrad. When persecution of the French Protestants reached a fever pitch there was a large exodus to other neighboring countries, particularly the Netherlands and England. This is where the family story picks up:

The Deboards (de Bordes) were an aristocratic family and apparently some portion of them were Huguenots. Some of the de Bordes emigrated to London where they went into business. Upon arriving in England they either made the conscious decision to Anglicize the spelling of their name to Deboard, or it was something that happened at the immigration office and they decided to live with it. The way it was told to me was that after they had been in London for a couple of generations the patriarch of the family back in France died and left a substantial fortune to be distributed to his heirs. But, alas, the Deboards in London were unable to prove their status as heirs, at least in part, because of the change in spelling to their name. This circumstance tramatized the family to such a degree that the tale of it has rattled down through the generations now for over a hundred and fifty years.

For more Deboard (de Borde) history click here.

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Saturday, April 10th, 2010 The Deboards (de Bordes) 2 Comments