The family of William Robert Warren, Surgeon of Bow:

                 Emma Warren, the Bussells and Berbice

William Warren’s wife Emma was born Emma Bartlett de Mey in about 1814 in Berbice, then part of British Guyana in South America. Her mother was Frances Bartlett Bussell of Exeter, daughter of Alderman John Bussell. Emma’s father was John James de Mey. According to the records of the Church of All Hallows on the Walls in Exeter her parents were married there on 14th September 1811, by licence. The marriage licence had been obtained the previous day by Frances’s older brother John, an Exeter solicitor (who was later to marry de Mey’s daughter from a previous marriage). Mr de Mey was not present at the licence application which was made by John Bussell alone.

The bridegroom claimed to be John James de Mey esquire of Alphington (a parish in the south of Exeter). His real name was Jan Jacob de Mey, a Dutch resident of the British colony of Berbice. (The signature on his marriage record is written “de Meij” in the Dutch style.)


After the wedding JJ de Mey and his new wife returned to Berbice. There they had two daughters, born between 1814 and 1816, named Emma Bartlett Bussell and Frances Delia. As children even they owned slaves, called James and Betty, according to an 1817 Slave Register.


But by 1819 the girls’ parents had both died. The Kortberaad coffee estate, which the girls inherited, was put up for auction and they were sent back to Exeter with their older half-sister Christina. They would probably have lived with the Bussells or the Bartletts.

Her sister, Frances Delia de Mey, never married and lived in Barnstaple, North Devon until her death in 1902. Christina Bussell lived to the age of 82. She died in Topsham in 1882. Her husband John, the solicitor had died 25 years earlier.


The Bussells of Exeter and Honeylands


Emma’s English grandparents were John Bussell and Mary Bartlett. John Bussell had been a grocer who rose to be mayor of Exeter in 1782 and who acquired properties in Exeter and Alphington. The Bartlett family had made their fortune as sergemakers.

John Bussell’s son (Emma’s uncle, also called John) was a wealthy solicitor and had dealt with the conveyancing of “Honeylands”, the Bartlett family estate in Whipton to the East of Exeter. In about 1828 he bought part of the estate where he built himself a mansion which is still called Honeylands.

In 1822 John Bussell married Christina Susanna Jacoba de Mey, the half-sister of Emma his niece, when she was just 21 and he was 40. She too was born in Berbice, the daughter of Jan Jacob de Mey and his first wife, Henriette Buse. Christina went on to have 9 children. The family lived at Honeylands, and Emma his niece was living there at the time of her marriage in 1841.



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