** I am aware from my site stats that there are many disappointed people searching for ‘Sexy Butts’ (and in one bewildering instance ‘sexey ass julry’) being directed to this post. If you are one of those people I do apologise. Also – brush up on your spelling. **
So… This is one of those names where the evolution of language really becomes quite apparent.
Think of meeting someone with this name now – someone who hadn’t changed it by deed poll for their own personal(ity) reasons – you would assume that their parents were perhaps a bit unusual to say the least.
However our Sexey Butt was born in 1803 in Somerset. She was born Sexey Pool, also her Mother’s name, and marries a Mr Thomas Butt on 02 Feb 1828 in St. James Parish, Bristol, Gloucester. However by the 1841 census she is living in Northwick with 5 sons, already a widow as Thomas sadly dies of Tuberculosis, and listing her occupation as ‘Farmeress’, which sounds rather nice, but I imagine was actually very hard work.
By 1851 she is back closer to Bristol, her place of marriage, in a house called Westfield in Hanham, now on Domestic Duties whilst her sons are farming. 1861 finds her down as a visitor to William and Nancy Ford, with occupation housekeeper, in a small village called Queen Charlton.
In 1871 she is living with her son Joseph, in Brentry cottages – not far from Blaise Castle of Austen’s Northanger Abbey fame – although she wrote it as Blaize;
“Blaize Castle!” cried Catherine. “What is that’?”
“The finest place in England–
worth going fifty miles at any time to see.”
“What, is it really a castle, an old castle?”
‘Truth is it’s not an old castle – well, it is now – but it was built in 1766 for a wealthy Bristol merchant, and remodeled in 1796, making it at most 51 years old when the Novel was published, which is of course Austen’s joke. Despite it often being referred to as a ‘Folly’, it was inhabited into the 20th century and ‘sumptuously furnished’ to boot, and John Harford, the wealthy merchant in question, was wealthy enough to build Blaise Hamlet specifically to house his servants and tenants.
Her son’s occupation is down as “Coachman and Domestic servant” and although Blaise was seemingly the largest estate in the immediate area, there are many ‘annuitants’ in the village, meaning that as he was living in his own home he may have been coachman to more than one household. Finding out who owned Brentry cottages would make it clearer who he may have been working for.
Unfortunately Sexey dies in 1877, and although I would hope she continued to live with family, it’s a possibility she died in the Clifton workhouse, as the death is registered in Clifton, on the west side of Bristol, and as far as I know she did not have family there..
So, why ‘Sexey’?
There is a Sexey’s School in Bruton, Somerset, named after Hugh Sexey, baptised on 18th November 1556, the son of poor parents living in the Bruton area, he rose to an important government position when in 1599 he was appointed as a Royal auditor to Elizabeth I and later James I, becoming a rich man in the process. Although the school wasn’t around until 1891, it was built on the site of ‘Sexey’s hospital’ – Hugh Sexey established a Trust in his Will to establish a place, Almshouses, to care for impoverished elderly people.
Yet Bruton is some 30 miles from Dundry, the place Sexey gives as her birthplace and where her Mother is still living in 1841.
All I am left with is guesswork, as her Mother’s baptism doesn’t seem to be anywhere under any spelling (although as Sexey Butt is down as Lucy Bull on one census it’s not hard to imagine I may have missed it) and she is a widow in 1841, and I can’t find any of her children’s baptisms, despite one having the rather unusual name of Marmaduke, and their marriages are not available online – only the index which doesn’t give a Father’s name. This means I can’t find a marriage for Sexey Pool senior and therefore any other possible leads.
So, all things considered, I would have to hazard a guess that her Mother was named after a maternal line’s surname, perhaps a descendant of Hugh Sexey himself! But whatever the reason, it’s not something I think many people would choose to name their children these days, no matter what their family history might be.