There is this amazing mansion in Salt Lake City called “Devereaux House.” According to various websites which discuss this historic building, it was built ( or heavily modified) in 1867 by William Jennings. (My great-great grandfather’s brother)
“William Jennings purchased the property in 1867 and developed the present Devereux House, incorporating Staines’ original cottage in the expanded structure. Jennings was also an English convert to the Mormon Church. Arriving in Salt Lake City in 1852, he entered the mercantile business. Taking advantage of the business opportunities of a rapidly-growing regional center, Jennings branched out into freighting and banking, becoming Utah’s first millionaire. In 1864 he founded the Eagle Emporium, which was later sold to the Mormon Church and became the forerunner of the present-day ZCMI department store. In 1882 Jennings was elected Mayor of Salt Lake City, serving one term. A hospitable and gracious host, Jennings entertained the famous and influential of the day. Devereaux House was the scene of lavish dinners and accommodated such prominent guests as Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes, and General William T. Sherman.” [http://history.utah.gov/apps/markers/detailed_results.php?markerid=2671]
“He named the half-block after his birthplace, Devereaux estate at Yardley, near Birmingham, England.” [http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705337698/Devereaux-House-Salt-Lake-Citys-stately-estate.html?pg=all]
Well, there is no Devereaux estate near Yardley, so what to make of this? And what to make of the generations of Thorntons (William’s mother’s family) who named their sons Samuel Devereux?
I have gone over the family trees as far back as I could go, and consulted some work some of my distant Mormon cousins have posted on the Family Search Website to try and confirm any relations to a Devereux, and nada.
Here are my ruminations, and it sounds a bit far fetched, but with no evidence to actually link them to a Devereux family it is the best I can come up with.
First of all there are Devereux in Yardley in the period that my family actually lived there. There is also the Devereux family, which owned Castle Bromwich Hall [http://billdargue.jimdo.com/placenames-gazetteer-a-to-y/places-c/castle-bromwich/] until 1657. A Devereux family also became the Earls of Essex. Pretty posh name – and with local connections. Now are the Devereux in Yardley in the late 17th and 18th century connected to the Devereux of more exalted birth? No idea.
It is entirely possible that one of the Thorntons married a Yardley Devereux, or were good friends and named one of their children after them, or because they were godparents. Records cannot be found to confirm this however. The first Samuel Devereux was born in 1755.
Immigration is often used as an opportunity to reinvent oneself, and I think that William Jennings, who had enjoyed much success in his adopted Salt Lake City used the Devereux to shine his image. He even changed the spelling to Devereaux make it more exotic sounding.