Disproven Existence Notice - Elizabeth Mildred Daux - pre-1700

+2 votes
209 views

I am suggesting that Elizabeth Mildred Daux, supposed wife of William Witt, did not exist. It is certain that William had a wife, several children are named in his will. However, a wife is not named in his will or in any records found to date. Evidence supporting the claim of Disproven Existence can be found on Elizabeth Daux's profile. I am requesting here, and in a comment on her profile, that anyone having evidence to support her existence contact me or place that documentation on her profile.

I would like to see Elizabeth Daux removed as wife of William Witt and see no necessity to add an Unknown as wife, since there is absolutely no evidence for her possible name or birth/death information.

WikiTree profile: Elizabeth Witt
in Policy and Style by Shirley Dalton G2G6 Pilot (475k points)

5 Answers

+6 votes
I definitely understand the logic of your suggestion.  If there's no wife attached though, it might increase the chance that someone will come along and create another one.  I like the fact that there's a profile of his wife and it's nicely written up in explaining the myth behind her.  The other option would be to change her to Unknown Unknown, but I'm not sure that helps much.
by Kerry Larson G2G6 Pilot (132k points)
This seems to be a reasonable option given that there are no parents or siblings attached to her profile. It seems to me that her maiden name may have been confused with that of her mother in law.

I also seem to recall that those early Huguenot Society records show her given name as simply Mildred. The addition of Elizabeth to her given name seems to be a more recent modification. Of course, both proper names may be just as wrong as her maiden name.

Bill - I checked the Huguenot Society list of qualified ancestors - a link at http://www.huguenot.netnation.com/general/ - & neither Witt nor Doux are listed. The Huguenot-Manakin.org site appears to be down. Do you know of another online listing? (Not just qualified ancestors.)

Google Search found an entry with myth/sources mixed together, including this statement for William (Guillame) de Witt: "Buried beside wife in St. Ann's Parish Churchyard. Name and records of wife are not known." (St. Anne's Parish in Albemarle County, but no apparent source for the statement). The entry quotes wills to give William's sons (Benjamin, Charles [m Lavinia], and Lewis):

The Will of William Witt, probated 13 June 1754, Will Book 2, page 20, Albemarle County, Virgina, bequeathed personal items to his beloved son Benjamin Witt, etc., " ...... All the rest of my estate, household furniture, cattle, horses, hogs, etc., " I desire it may be equally divided among my children except my son Benjamin Witt ........" In 1756, Land Deeds of Benjamin Witt, Prince Edward County , Virginia, included his brothers, Charles Witt and Lewis Witt was witnesses.

Charles Witt Will was signed on 30 Jan. 1771, probated 21 June 1781 and recorded 15 Aug. 1782. Deed Book 1, page 414, Halifax Co., Virginia. After listing his children, Charles wrote, ".......... I lend unto my beloved wife, Lavinia Witt, during her natural life or widowhood the land and the  plantation whereon I now dwell, with all my live stock of every kind, also all my household furniture of every kind whatsoever."

+4 votes
There really are two options and each has merit:

1) Change her name to Unknown, keep her as the wife, and use ==Research Notes== to describe the various unsourced things she has been called.

2)  Keep her named the way she is, separate her from the husband and keep her on the path to disproven existence.

To me, the criterion for choosing between options is how much of a presence she already has on the internet in geni, ancestry, etc, under the fake name.  If she has a significant presence, people may be looking for her under the fake name and then it's useful to have her shown under the fake name in disproven existence, with an explanation of why it's fake -- there are no sources.  This is an important educational function.

If she has no significant presence under the fake name, then people won't be looking for her that way, and the scales are shifted to just changing her name to unknown and keeping her as the unknown wife.
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (345k points)
I did a quick search on Ancestry and found over 10,000 variants of Elizabeth Mildred "Mary" Daux Witt married to some variant of John William Guillaume Archer Witt.  This makes me favor keeping her profile as is, otherwise, I suspect that she will reappear shortly.  It's a pragmatic answer, not one that's entirely satisfactory.
yikes! Thanks for looking Kerry! That definitely argues for continuing on the path to Disproven Existence. And thanks Jack for a great explanation of considerations for having a Disproven Existence profile.

I think I'd like to see an option 3: Keeping/correcting her as Mildred Unknown wife of Witt & creating a new profile to be the Disproven Existence magnet for those looking for Elizabeth Mildred Daux as his wife (with a link to the Unknown Mildred attached as his wife and a link from the Mildred Unknown to Elizabeth Mildred Daux).
Liz, the effect would be the same, but the process is important here --

first of all, it would be an honor code violation to deliberately create a profile for someone that we know never existed -- so it is the current Mildred profile that would need to be marked Disproven Existence.

secondly, when you change an LNAB you are actually creating a new profile anyway, so changing Mildred's LNAB to unknown is actually the very same thing as creating a new profile for MIldred with a last name of unknown.  

Because some of the discussion and links would be the same, I would recommend polishing the profile first in its Disproven Existence form, and then copying the content to a new Unknown file for Mildred, then editing it to reflect what we know and don't know about the actual wife of Witt.

I don't think I'm following the argument regarding disproven existence.  As Katherine Patterson said, No proof of name is different from "disproven existence."  I think we're reasonably certainly that he had a wife (or wives) who was the mother of his children.  It seems to me that the only question is what to call her profile, as is vs. Unknown.  Since she's not linked to any parents, my preference is to leave her name as is so that when the next person who comes along that wants to add a Elizabeth Mildred "Mary" Daux as William Witt's wife, they'll hopefully get a warning that a profile already exists.  Otherwise, a new profile will be created and we'll be right back at it.  Again, I'm trying to be pragmatic rather than purist.  Mrs. Witt is my 7th GGM, so I have a little bit of a stake in this.

alrighty then. I withdraw option three and go with Kerry & Katherine - she's not disproven, just misnamed, and since the world (according to Ancestry) thinks she's Daux, it's better to leave her as she is but with disclaimers.
We go around around on the title "Disproven Existence".  It's the best we could come up with, but as anyone knows, it is technically impossible to prove the non-existence of anything.  So if anyone can come up with a better one or two word title meaning "we can find no evidence that a person by this name existed," I'm sure we'll entertain it.

It appears to me there are two facts here that we are pretty sure of:  (1) William Witt had a wife, whose name is Unknown.  (2)  There is a profile for a woman named Daux for whose existence we can find no evidence, but there are profiles for her all over the internet.

So I still favor ending up with (1) a Disproven Existence profile for the woman named Daux, for whom there is no evidence that she ever existed, or married William Witt, and a (2) second profile for an Unknown woman who married Witt and bore his children.  The profile for the woman named Daux will educate people who believe she exists, or who would try to re-create her profile if there weren't one already, and the profile for the Unknown woman will hopefully keep people from adding a fake wife to William Witt.  In addition, I would suggest Project Protecting PPP William Witt's profile, if it is not protected already, once he is linked to a wife Unknown.
I don't think anyone will question the prevalence of Mildred/Elizabeth Daux as the assumed wife of William Witt. The articles referenced below by Robin Lee which use these names are from 1997 and 2010. The earliest reference so far found to the name of William's wife as either Mildred or Elizabeth can be found in publications in 1924 by The Huguenot Society of the Founders of Manakin in the Colony of Virginia. In one article she is named Mildred, in another Elizabeth. The theory that William Witt was Huguenot was strongly pressed by the founder of the Huguenot Society, Mary Latham Norton. She was a descendant of William Witt and really wanted him to be a Huguenot. Where she came up with the wife's name is not known. It is possible the surname "Daux" came from the fact that William's mother was Ann Daux, daughter of Walter Daux. This is the only known Daux family in the area at the time and Mildred/Elizabeth Daux is said to also be a daughter of Walter Daux. Which would mean William married his mother's sister. I don't think so.

I really don't want to create another profile for William's wife with no known name and keep Elizabeth Mildred as a disproven profile. Buy if the consensus is that we should have both profiles in the interest of preventing people from adding Elizabeth Mildred back as wife, then I suggest we create a profile for Mary Unknown as wife of William Witt. Some early sources do name her Mary. We can then link her profile to Elizabeth Mildred with a full explanation of the non-relationship to William Witt.
(Note: I apologize; this was meant for Kerry's post above.)

Kerry, like you, I descend (6th gr-grands) from William and his wife (whatever the heck her name is) with lots of DNA support. My brother, Ron Witt, is the Y-DNA ancestor listed on Wm's profile and he matches male descendants of the 3 other John Witt sons (John II, Edward, Richard); so, there's no question that William had offspring with an unidentified woman. My only hope is that we can help end the spread of her fallacy names (and Huguenot myth), and ultimately have a great (free!) link to an authoritative source on the subject.
So far as the first name of Wm's wife, I like going with something disassociated with the Daux surname but with a published source. I propose "Mary" based on 3 sources (I have copies of all): 1) Robert Witt's book (updated 2006), pg. 4. Robert also showed her death and burial as 1741 in Albemarle County. 2) David Whitt (2004, pg. 54) also says "according to chronicles her name may have been Mary" with the other names also added. 3) Jane Chapman Whitt in a 1988 Huguenot publication of which I have a copy. I know all of these authors worked closely with Wayne Witt Bates on their research, so IMHO, if it's good enough for Wayne, it's good enough for me.

Question for everyone, why does it not work to change her surname to "Unknown" and then add Daux to her profile in the "Other Surnames" field? Is it because "Daux" is a known fallacy surname, so best not to perpetuate it? Or does it risk the creation of future Daux wives because it won't come up in the search function? I apologize if this is a "dumb" question.

I'm happy to help in any way I can as this all gets resolved.
I honestly have no horse in this race, but I don't like the idea of keeping Daux as Last Name At Birth. It is just repeating the fallacy, even with warnings. If she was not born Daux it should not be her last name.
+2 votes
I concur with Shirley's assessment. I've never found a primary source for Elizabeth's name. Her name is given as Mary ? and died 1741 in Albemarle County on page 4 of: Witt, Robert W. 2006. Descendants of John Witt the Virginia immigrant. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books. The primary source for that info is unclear; it may have been from Mary Latham Norton (the Huguenot Society author) or the research of Wayne Witt Bates. Author David F. Whitt (2004, page 54) said William's wife is unknown and her name is variously given as Mary, Elizabeth, and Mildred. I uploaded onto William's profile a copy of the 2007 email of the Huguenot-Manakin society in which they definitively state they no longer accept that William (Guillame) Witt and his wife were French born and a Huguenot. The society's Fall 2006 bulletin (in which the Wm. Witt investigation was detailed) stated that William's wife was Ann Daux, so Mary Latham Norton was clearly the likely origin of the Daux surname. I'll upload that bulletin on William's profile to capture the inquiry committee's conclusions. I definitely think there's enough information to say the name of William's wife is unknown. I'll leave the best path forward up to Shirley and other capable hands.
by Holly Witt G2G3 (3.5k points)
+3 votes
No proof of name is different from "disproven existence."
by Katherine Patterson G2G4 (4.7k points)
+1 vote
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (664k points)
Another family tree that indicates a number of sources.

http://www.hctgs.org/Families/Descendants_of_Guillaume_Witt.pdf
Robin, both of these sources repeat the Witt fallacies which have been thoroughly disproven by the best and most recent Witt family authors and researchers: Wayne Witt Bates (deceased), David F. Whitt and Robert Baird. Any John Witt genealogy without those authors cited is usually worthless (in my three decades of experience). I know our Witt fallacies will never go away entirely, but I am hopeful WikiTree will be instrumental in helping to educate.

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