Saturday, 3 February 2018

A Norwegian in Haiti in 1845

My great-great-great-grandmother Anne Marie Gesine Hansen (1824-1912), from Vanse parish on the extreme southwestern tip of Norway, was married twice. Her first husband was William Printzlau Urbye, who was born in London in 1817 as the son of a Norwegian sea captain named Gabriel Lund Urbye (1768-1828) and his English wife Mary or Maria Galliers (c. 1784-1858). William later moved to his father's home country, Norway, where he married Anne Marie on December 10, 1843 in the busy port town of Farsund. The couple had one child together, a son called Gabriel Urbye, who was born on October 13, 1844 and later became a very successful sea captain, shipowner and shipbroker.

I don't know much about the life of William Printzlau Urbye except for what we can glean from a notice accompanying Anne Marie's second marriage record from November 9, 1848:

Brudens forr. Mand, Styrmand William Urbye døde paa en Sørejse i Port au Prince, og hans Bo er taget under Skifteretten Behandling af denne Att. af 16/10 1848.

Translated into English:
"The bride's previous husband, first mate William Urbye, died on a sea voyage in Port au Prince, and his estate has been distributed by the probate court; for details, see attestation dated October 16, 1848."

I find the latter part about the probate court a bit difficult to read, and my transcription might not be perfect. However, the part about William dying in Port au Prince is perfectly clear and legible.

There seems to be some controversy as to exactly when William died, but it seems likely that it happened on February 11, 1845. One book claims that William was 33 years old when he died, which would mean that he died in 1850, which is impossible since his wife was already remarried by then. (This thread on the Norwegian National Archives forum discusses William's life and death. There is also a second thread about William on a different forum.)

The notice talks about a Sørejse, a sea voyage. In other words, it's somewhat difficult to say for sure whether William actually died in Port au Prince or if he died at sea before reaching port. But since the name of the city is explicitly mentioned in the Norwegian records, and since the notice states that William died in Port au Prince (and not "on his way to"), I believe it is likely that William was in fact in Port au Prince when he died.

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