Origins of surname
This surname almost certainly indicated someone living beside a stream 'beck', from the Old English Bekke and the earlier Norse bekkr. It may also come from the Norman French bec, also meaning a stream.
The name first appears in Jersey church records in the 1830s, when William Richard and John James, the sons of William Beck and Mary were baptised in St Helier. This family only had a brief stay in Jersey because William and Mary came from Somerset and appear to have returned to England while their children were young.
Samuel Beck, who married Ann in 1831, was born in England about 1803, as confirmed by the 1851 census, not Jersey, as shown in some online trees. Samuel and Ann had eight children baptised in St Helier between 1833 and 1850, six of whom are shown living with their parents in the 1851 census.
There is some mystery about Ann's identity. The census, as was the practice, shows her under her married name, Beck. The baptism records for the couple's first four children show her as Ann, or Nancy, without a surname. The records for the last four children show her as Ann, or Nancy, Renouf.
But the baptism record for the third child shows the godparents as 'grandparents Thomas Ahier and Ann, suggesting that the mother may have been born an Ahier. The mystery deepens with the marriage record of Samuel and Ann in 1831, which names her as Ann Coutanche. This is supported to an extent by the 1851 Channel Island census, which shows Samuel as head of household, and, in addition to six surviving children, the household includes Francis Coutanche, shown as step son. Another member of the household, Servan Renouf, is shown as father-in-law of Samuel.
All of this tends to suggest that Ann was born Renouf, had a son by a first husband called Coutanche, and after he died, was married to Samuel Beck with her name recorded as Coutanche. The Ahier connection is unexplained, but seems to be a red herring.
Update, November 2023
The following has been supplied by a Beck researcher. We have not yet had the opportunity to check all the details, but are presenting the information for the benefit of fellow researchers:
- William Beck (shoemaker, from Chard, Somerset) and Mary Moles (from St Helier) married on 18 July 1829. Their first son William Richard was born in St Helier, 1831. Their second son, Thomas James also born in St Helier (incorrectly entered as John James) was born 1833.
- William Beck probably arrived in Jersey in 1820-1821 and several of his siblings established themselves in St Helier. Sometime between 1833 and 1841 William Beck appears to have died as Mary Moles appears to be the wife of George Lavis (a shoemaker) in the 1841 Jersey census. Two children are living with them, Thomas Beck and John Beck (name incorrectly entered).
- Maria Jane Lavis was born in 1851 in St Helier. The sponsors for Maria were William Richard Beck (her half brother) and Jane Moignard, his wife. Mary Moles and George Lavis had seven children. The first, Elizabeth Jane Lavis born in 1841 in St Helier was married on 13 April 1868 in Brixton, London, to George Thomas Anglish and the marriage witnesses were William Richard Beck and Jane Moignard (her half brother and sister-in-law).
- William Richard Beck, Thomas James Beck and their mother Mary Moles and step-father George Lavis, all seem to have left Jersey around 1854-1855 and settled in Newington, London securing employment as shoemakers.
- There were other Beck family members, siblings to William Beck, who left Chard, Somerset. They settled in Jersey for a time before emigrating to America on 13 June 1833. They are as follows:
- His sister Sarah Beck and husband John Thorn and their children who were born in St Helier.
- His brother John and wife Mary Ingram whom he married in St Helier
- His sister Ann Beck who married John Barnecott in St Helier and their children. John died two months before the family emigrated.
- Beck baptisms in Jersey
- Beck marriages in Jersey (groom)
- Beck marriages in Jersey (bride)
- Beck burials in Jersey
Great War service
- Arthur Beck (1891- ) (St Mt) son of John George and Kathleen Isabel, Lieutenant, Canadian Infantry
- Arthur Bartlett Beck (1881- ) (St H) son of John and Mary Ann Torevell, RSM, RE
- Henry Clifford Beck (18790- ) son of Henry and Mary Summers, Leading Seaman RN, HMS Blenheim
- John le Landais Beck (1899- ) (Gr), Air Mechanic RAF
- Thomas Helier Beck (1882- ) (St My) son of John and Mary Ann, Stoker RN, HMS King George
- Thomas Nathaniel Beck (1880- ) (St H) son of Samuel and Susan Nother, Stoker RN, HMS Bramble
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