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The Three "Original" 17th C. Durfee Immigrants
Posted by: Rick Durfey Balmer (ID *****8955) Date: September 14, 2012 at 11:03:40
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Most of us are concerned with the descendants of Thomas Durfee (1643-1712) of Portsmouth, but I thought it might be of interest to sketch in what I know of two other early immigrants to the Americas. I'm no expert on the other two, and there may be more, so feel free to contribute!

IMMIGRANT ONE Thomas Durfee (1643-1712).
He left England and settled in Portsmouth RI right around 1660 at about age 17. He came apparently by himself. His parents are unknown; some presume a Job Durfee (b.1613 in England) was his father, but this appears to be total speculation. Likewise his place of origin is unknown, despite speculation it might be Exeter. Whether his family was connected in any way with the French d'Urfe family is unknown. These brick walls may never be breached unless more English parish birth records are put online in searchable databases and we're lucky enough to find him someday.

IMMIGRANT TWO (Francis Durfee)
A Durfee family in Holburn, London sent another immigrant to America, at almost exactly the same time our Thomas Durfee came over. Severinus (notably a very Catholic name) Durfee of London with his first wife Ann had a son Francis Durfee, born 1634, then a son Edward (1637), and with an apparently French second wife, Magdalène Feron, a daughter Elizabeth in 1642. The son Francis emigrated, settling in Bruton Parish, Virginia about 1660. His descendants can be traced at least into the 18th century, and one of them was undoubtedly the Severinus Durfee whose tailor’s shop is today part of Colonial Williamsburg.

The emigration of our Thomas and this Francis at about the same time makes one wonder if there could be a connection, but it would be somewhat unusual for close relatives to go to two widely separated places such as Rhode Island and Virginia.

IMMIGRANT THREE (François d'Urfé)
In 1668 the Marquis de Bauge, François-Saturnin Lascaris d'Urfé, went to Quebec (where the village of Baie d'Urfé near Montreal is named for him). He specifically was said to be a son of a Marquis d'Urfé and member of the same prominent family from which Thomas D’Urfey the English dramatist derived. As he was also a Catholic missionary, we know not all French members of the family were Huguenots.

19th century U.S. census records indicate there were a small number of people with the surname Durfee/Durfey coming over at much later dates. Starting with the 1850 census (the first to capture place of birth) there were a substantial number from Ireland, plus a handful of English, Scots and Germans. Interestingly, a small group of French Canadian Durfees made an appearance in the U.S. in 1900. But, it does appear that there were possibly no other Durfee immigrants between the 1660s and the 19th century.

P.S. Sources for the above are buried somewhere amidst all my others, but I'll try to dig them out if someone is interested.

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