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Daniel Thevou

The Dafoe Family starts in the new world with Daniel Thevou, born in the 17th century in Switzerland and emigrates to the New World in the early 1700's.

Born Born c. 1665 probably at Missy, Vaud, Switzerland
Died Died after 7 Jan 1717 probably at Germantown, New York State
Married Married c. 1699 probably to Marianne Delcour


  • Father: unknown
  • Mother: unknown


  1. Maria Anna Devoe; b. c. 1700 in Europe
  2. Abraham Devoe; b. c. 1703 in Europe

Daniel and Marianne

The origin of the Dafoe family goes back to the early 18th century, when husbandman Daniel Thevou, his wife, and two children Maria Anna and Abraham, emigrated from central Europe as part of the Great Palatine Migration. Our best information at present (not confirmed) is that his wife was born in Switzerland c. 1669 as Marianne (or Mary Ann) Delcour.

Palatine camp It took from four to six weeks to sail down the Rhine to Rotterdam, where the British government employed three Dutch merchants to supervise the loading and sailing of the immigrants to England. They camped outside of London in tents and were given food, clothing, money, ships and supplies to go to America. The camp at Deptford is shown in a woodcut made at the time.

Our Thevou family's names appear in the first four London and New York City provisioning lists, but starvation and disease killed many during the passage. By the time they reached America in July 1710, Marianne must have taken ill, because she died by August 5, 1710. Daniel was left with two children to care for in a foreign land. The next year, the Palatines were moved to camps hacked out of the forest at Livingston Manor along the Hudson River: Daniel and his children lived in the East Camp, then nearby at Tarbush on the river. Their job was to tap the pine trees; the pitch from these was to be used as caulking on the sailing ships of the British Navy.

In September of 1715, Daniel Thevou and his son Abraham were naturalized in Kingston, New York. This is the last time the surname appears with that spelling. After that it occurs as Deffu and also Deffou, Defou, Diefuh, etc. The records have nearly 50 different spellings. Abraham used Devoe, and that is still the spelling of the descendants who did not come to Canada. In Canada it became Dafoe, which is closer to the original pronunciation.


For information on Daniel Thevou and his line, see The Beacon; 2002 Annual Issue No. 5, page 11.

For information on how the name Thevou changed to Devoe and Dafoe, see Dafoe-Defoe Dynasty, issue no. 2, Seattle, Dec. 1983.

-- JimBenedict - 29 Dec 2005
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