St. Lucian Greats – Edward Devaux
The famiiy name in former days was spelt R-0-L-L-A-N-D or R-O-U-L-A-N-D, and in many other ways. The Rolland family owned lands in the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy. There were three estates in this area adjacent to each other; one was called La Valle, another was called Les Vaux, and the third was called La Rocque. The owner of these properties was khown as ” Le Sieur de la Rocque.” The property was divided among various members of the family; it is from one of these that the St. Lucia branch of the family descends, namely the owners of La Vaux.
The first of the family that came to the West Indies was Guillaume Francois Rolland Sieur Devaux. He came first to Guadeloupe, as a captain in the militia – “Captaine de Milice.” After a short while there he went to Martinique and qgain served in the militia. He became a land-owner and owned lands in the area of St. Pierre. He married a Mademoiselle de Jehame DeVerpre. He had extensive lands and after marrying Mademoiselle de Jehame DeVerpre, his son, also called Guillaume Francois Rolland married Mademoiselle Rabot de Beaulieu. The family gradually became known as DesVaux or Devaux, although it was originally Rolland, but the name Devaux came from their property in the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy.
The term “Sieur Devaux” meant Mr. Owner, or proprietor of Les Vaux . However, gradually the name of the family came to simply Devaux, although for a short time in Martinique they were called “Rolland Devaux”. However, when the three sons of Guillaume Francois Rolland and his wife, Mademoiselle Rabot de Beaulieu came to St. Lucia the name Rolland was forgotten, and they were now Devaux.
The name has been spelt in many ways: “Desvaux,” “DeVaux,” “Devaux,” etc., but in those days, one was not careful about the spelling of words. William Shakespeare spelt his name in seven different ways!
Well, in St. Lucia these three brothers arrived , and they were granted concessions at Soufriere. The land they owned stretched from Soufriere right up to Terre Blanche, including the volcano area , Ventine. One brother, the one from whom they are descended, owned Morne Coubaril Estate. His brother, Guillaume Bellefond owned ‘L’Habitation”, Soufriere, and the third brother’owned Terre Blanche and the volcano.
The present branch of the family descends from Phillipe Devaux of Morne Coubaril Estate, who married Mademoiselle Classe Van Schalwyck of Dutch descent, although French. Their son was Sieur Phillipe Devaux. Now I will say here that Phillipe Devaux, the one who first owned Morne Coubaril, was buried in the church of Soufriere.
His son, Sieur Phillipe Devaux, continued and married Mademoiselle Anne Marie Felicite Cornibert DuBoulay. Their son was DesRiviere Devaux. This is a second DesRiviere, not the original one who owned Terre Blanche. This DesRiviere married a Mademoiselle Recour, and one of their sons was Emile Devaux, owner of Morne Coubaril Estate, whom Edward remembers. He married Mademoiselle Burcher. Emile’s eldest son was John Devaux, who is Edward’s father. So you see that they have been in the West Indies for many years. They started for a short time in Guadeloupe, went over to Martinique for two generations, then to St. Lucia.
The arrival of the three brothers in the Soufriere area was before the French Revolution. The family was now Devaux, but some members, such as DesRiviere Devaux, were properly known as Devaux DesRiviere, because the French custom, if there was to be a doublebarrel name, was to use the second name, that was the name of the mother or someone from the female side, after the surname, whereas the British system is to do the reverse; so DesRiviere Devaux was really Devaux DesRiviere, but he was the same man.
Now, Emile Devaux’s son was Edward’s father. I must explain here that Emile Devaux, Edward’s grandfather whom he knew, married a Miss Boucher de la Guerre, who was descended frOm the Chevalier de Micoud, who is known as one of the contributors to St. Lucia’s history. Now Emile Devaux and Mademoiselle Boucher de la Guerre had several sons, John being one – indeed, John is Edward’s father. One of his sons was Leonard, the second was Edward, the third was Harry, the fourth Joe, and there was a daughter Marie.
Edward Devaux has one son named John Devaux,after his father, that is, his grandfather. Edward, the second son of John Devaux, left St. lucia and read law at Cambridge. He took a degree in Law at Cambridge, and was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn. Soon after this, he went out to the Gold Coast in the Administration, and he became a District Commissioner, then Magistrate. He held various posts, and ended up as Deputy Boundary Settlement Commissioner, settling the boundaries of lands which were in conflict between the different tribes.
When Ghana became independent, he retired, but then he was offered – and accepted – a post in Northern Rhodesia as a Magistrate. He remained there for two years and then he is now a pensioner, living in England.
At Cambridge, he became the President of the Cambridge Law Society for Undergraduates. This was a club, and they used to invite various important people to come and give talks on various subjects. He left St. Lucia in 1924 as the Island Scholar for that year.
It will be seen that one of the relatives of the Devaux family, namely Devaux St. Phillip, was one of those who was presented to General Prevoste when he decided to continue his services as the Civil Governor of St. Lucia in 1800. The other signatories or the other persons who joined in this presentation among others, were Pierre de Glapion, Cornibert DuBoulay, the Marquis de Marsanges, and A.M. Fayolle.
Author: V.A. Cooper