Author Topic: Genealogical query: FRESHVILLE / FERSEN.  (Read 6593 times)

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Offline Matthew Wilde

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Genealogical query: FRESHVILLE / FERSEN.
« on: March 04, 2012, 05:34:13 AM »
Hello.  I wonder if any of the knowledgeable people on this website can assist me with a genealogical query – which primarily relates to the name FERSEN.

My surname is WILDE.  My great-great-grandfather of the same surname married Sarah FRETWELL; both families being from Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.  I have recently learnt that Sarah’s eldest brother James (1815 – 1898) changed his name from James Fretwell to James Fretwell FRESHVILLE; and was the representative of the Sheffield steel-makers Thomas Firth and Sons, at St Petersburg (where he was presented to the Tsar, according to an old family letter held by a cousin).  James Fretwell Freshville lived in St Petersburg – as best I can calculate – from about 1847 – 1870.  The first five of his children were born there, including his two sons.  It seems likely that he married in Russia, and that his first wife died.  In 1856 he married, in Sheffield, Anne Elizabeth TOWNEND.  James’s sons were James junior (who is not mentioned in his father’s will – so probably pre-deceased him) and Thomas Frederick.

The last surviving of James Fretwell Freshville’s children died in 1940 as Marguerite Ada de Freshville HOWLEY-SIM, in Bath, Somerset, England.  In her will of the same year, she leaves a small annuity to “Countess Alexandra Fersen of Number 25 Suisi Bolzano Italy” – without specifying their relationship.  After Countess Alexandra’s death, the will specified that her daughters should receive the annuity – if they were still under 21 years old.  They were “Countess Sophia Fersen” and “Countess Maria Fersen”.  I think it likely that Countess Alexandra Fersen was a grand-niece to Marguerite, by being a granddaughter of Marguerite’s brother Thomas Frederick Freshville – but I have not been able to confirm this, as yet.

I have read on this website of the Count Fersen who was evacuated from Yalta, with his wife and daughters; and that he disembarked in Italy.  The names (and subsequent history) of his daughters might provide a clue to my search.  I would be grateful for any help or advice, relating to any of the people or facts described above.  Thank you.

Matthew Wilde.

Offline Matthew Wilde

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Re: Genealogical query: FRESHVILLE / FERSEN.
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2012, 02:17:29 AM »
This is to update my earlier query, with the latest information that has been uncovered – partly with the help of people on this site, for which my thanks.

The marriage certificate of Alexandra Fersen shows that she was aged 26, the widowed “Princess Wiasemsky”, daughter of “Count Paul Schouvaloff deceased”.  She married Alexander Fersen, aged 24, “Ex-Officer Russian Army”, son of Count Nicholas Fersen.  They married at the Registry Office in St Marylebone, London on 15 July 1920; and the witnesses were “Lucy Beatrice King” and “Dorothy Cursons”.

I believe that Alexandra’s mother was Countess Alexandra Illarianovna Vorontsov Dashkov; and Alexander’s mother was Princess Sophia Alexandrovna Dolgorouky.

The groom’s address is given as 46 Gloucester Place, St Marylebone.  I have now read the autobiography of Sofka Skipwith, and the biography by her granddaughter – from which I learn that 46 Gloucester Place was the address of Sofka, in the household of her grandmother Princess Olga Dolgorouky nee Schouvaloff, when they lived in London from (I think it was) 1919 – 1922.  The household included Sofka’s governess, who is identified in the books as Miss L King – so perhaps she was one of the marriage witnesses.  Sofka and Alexander Fersen were first cousins.

The bride’s address is given as 60 Gloucester Place – and I wonder if that was the home of Princess Olga’s sister, Countess Sophy Benkendorff, who I understand lived nearby.

The children of Countess Alexandra Fersen were Sophia (1928 Paris) and Maria (1933 Rome); and I understand that Count Alexander Fersen died in Italy, in 1934.  The family thus comprised the three Countesses Fersen who were left an annuity in the 1940 will of a niece of my great-great-grandmother.  It now seems unlikely that my Fretwell/Freshville ancestors had a connection by marriage to any of the people mentioned above – although James Fretwell Freshville and his son Thomas Frederick both married Russian women whose names I have not yet discovered – so perhaps they were just friends, from their St Petersburg days.

Matthew Wilde.