Introduction to Genealogical Search of an Elvy Family (ca. 1570 - present)

This genealogy of an Elvy family originated in an effort to try to find the ancestors of my wife Barbara Mary Elvy. With much help from various sides we were at last able to find as her oldest ancestor Edmund (Edward) Elvey. He was a tailor, living in the parish of Throwley in the county of Kent. He married there in 1593 Ann Cowland, who was born in Throwley in 1572. Once we had found this, the main problem with genealogy turned up: "Once you have started, it is difficult to stop." As a result the next thing that I had to try to find was - Who are the other descendants of this Edmund Elvey? Only with much help from many sides it has been possible to gather so much information and I specially have to thank Mr. David Wright from Whitstable, Mr. Peter Eward from the Canterbury Archives and dear Kate Jarvis, born Elvy from Lenham, who had gathered all the information on the latest generations living in Kent.

Right from the start it was clear that around 1600 this Edmund Elvey (Elvy or Elvie) was not the only Elvy living in Kent. Many other Elvy families were living in Kent, mainly in Aldington, Ashford, Elmsted, Willesborough and Canterbury. We have not been able to find any family connections between our Edmund and these other Elvy families, as only few documents from before 1600 have survived. No further research in that direction has been done.

It seems that around 1600 two third of the people with a family name Elvey / Elvie / Elvy were living in Kent and most of them in the area between Sittingbourne, Faversham and Ashford. The Elvy families living outside Kent were mostly in Cambridge, the London area or in Sussex. This seems to indicate that the name Elvy is probably of Kentish origin. The meaning of the name is not known to us.

The genealogy we have compiled only includes the descendants of the above named Edmund Elvey. We have found 12 generations and more then 280 members of this family. The average time lapse between the generations is more then 35 years, which is rather long.

Without any doubt there are many members of this Elvy family, which we have not been able to find. For instance, if we could not find children of a person who moved far away from the place where he was born. Fortunately up to the last century most of the families stayed in the same area where they were born.

Many members of the Elvy family we have found, were called in documents "Yeoman" or "Husbandman". In rural areas the social classes below the gentry were indicated in those days as: Yeoman, husbandman, cottagers and labourers. The yeoman were village elders, who in general owned sufficient freehold land to be fully independent. A husbandman also owned his own house but possessed less land. Like the gentry the yeoman were involved in local government, performing most of the day-to-day tasks as constables, juries etc.

R. Backer Dirks.