Origins of our branch of the Debes Family According to family legend, the Debes (pronounced 'De Besse') family escaped from La Rochelle, France, shortly before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Huguenots fled La Rochelle at the time of its siege and capture by royalist, Catholic troops. Their destination: Protestant countries such as England and Holland. The Huguenot Society in London, England, has records of indigent French Huguenot émigrés from the late 17th century whom they helped. More research may dig up a clue there. There are Debeses in Texas and Kentucky, but they trace their roots to the Debeses concentrated in the Strasbourg area of France/Germany. The Debes name seems only to be found in protestant-sympathizing areas such as Holland, the Bas-Rhin, and England. In Holland, the name appears as "De Bes". In France, though there may be as many as 250 Debes households, the form "de Besse" is more common. The name translates to 'birch tree', and the surname may refer to a small village, Besse, south of the Loire.
The above information courtesy of A. Debes, England, 1999.
Davies of Liverpool The first Debes ancestor we have evidence of, John Debes (1724-1789), is said to have been 'press-ganged' in Liverpool, and escaped into Wales, where he changed his name to Davies (a very common name in Wales) in order to avoid recapture and transportation or hanging. John Debes died in Wavertree, Lancashire, England, June 16, 1789. The Debes/Davies were nurserymen in Wavertree, Liverpool, England, for at least 150 years. The family owned Thomas Davies and Co., nurserymen and seedsmen, Wavertree (See Thomas Davies II Biography).