Buffalo Bill Cody

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Buffalo Bill Cody


William Frederick Cody (1846-1917), better known as 'Wild Bill', or 'Buffalo Bill' was a descendant of a long-established Jersey
family, the Lecaudeys

Misleading histories

To read some of the published histories of 'Buffalo Bill', both in print and on the web, you would be forgiven for suspecting that he had no connection with Jersey whatsoever, and was perhaps descended from Irish royalty or French Huguenot refugees.

An online history of William Cody which we have added to the site because it contains much valuable information about the family in America, states unequivocally that his ancestor Philippe Lecaudy, who emigrated to the USA in the 1680s, was a Huguenot refugee from France.

But St Ouen baptism records show that there is no question that Philippe was born in Jersey, as was his father, and their dates make it impossible that any of the family came to Jersey in the first or second wave of Huguenot refugees.

Probably the most accurate ancestory of 'Buffalo Bill' is given on the Cody family website and that states that his ancestors back to Guillaume in 1480, shown in our comprehensive family tree, were all from Jersey.

But even this generally accurate website appears to err when it comes to the depature of Philippe Lecaudey and his wife Martha Le Brocq for Massachusetts. They are said to have arrived in America in 'about 1698', but their first child, John, who was born in 1695, was not baptised in Jersey, so it would appear that he was baptised in the USA.

Sister's confusion

But even 'Buffalo Bill's' own sister, Helen Cody Wetmore, in her book Buffalo Bill, last of the Great Scouts, published in 1899, creates some of the greatest confusion by claiming that she and her brother were descendants of Milesius, king of Spain, and his son Heremon, who founded the first Royal dynasty in Ireland.

Subsequent research has shown that and other mythical episodes in the biography to be well wide of the mark, but this is a good indication of just how unreliable seemingly authoritative histories can be when it comes to family background.

It was Don Russell's The lives and legends of Buffalo Bill which firmly established the link to the Jersey Lecaudy family, although he called Philippe 'Le Caude', and said that his wife Marthe Le Brocq was from Guernsey, something we believe to be unlikely.

He says that the surname that Philippe and his descendants adopted in America appears in surviving records as Legody, Lagody, McCody, Mocody, Micody, Codie, Gody, Coady and, finally, Cody. It had arrived at Cody by the time William Frederick's father Isaac was born.

Unresolved mysteries

Several mysteries remain unresolved.

  • Where did the supposed Huguenot refugee connection originate?

There is even a section in the Cody family website devoted to Huguenots, with no explanation as to why it has been included. Having established that the Lecaudy family was established in Jersey two or three generations before the second wave of Huguenot refugees after 1685, that only leaves the possibility that they were in the first wave in the 1570s. But the Cody website claims that the Lecaudey lineage can be traced back to Guillaume, born in 1480, and that he and his descendants to Abraham, whose son Philippe (Philippe the emigrant's father) is the first baptism record in St Ouen, were all born in Jersey.

  • Were the Lecaudeys in Jersey as early as 1480?

This may or may not be so, but the names of some of the spouses which the website gives for Abraham's ancestors are suspicious to say the least. Guillaume's son Raulin is supposed to have married an unknown 'Kiles', a name which we have failed to find anywhere in Jersey family history. Raulin's son Jean is shown as marrying an unknown Lefebvre, which is quite possible and would strongly hint to a Jersey connection.

Jean's son Nicollas Lecaudey's wife is given as Sara Tecque, a surname which has not existed in Jersey but we have found in French records, including Normandy. There is one reference in Geneanet to this Sara Tecque as wife of Nicollas Lescaude, but that may be copied from the Cody website or from the same source.

Abraham, the son of Nicollas, and father of the first Philippe, is shown as married to Rachel S'Gret, a name unlike any we have found in Jersey. Gret, however, is a common name in French archives.

  • Does all this point to the Lecaudey family arriving in Jersey some time later than the 15th century, possibly as Huguenot refugees? Not if Abraham was the first to arrive, because he was born half way between the two waves of refugees. If it was his father Nicollas, why did Abraham then marry someone from France?

The simple answer is nobody will probably ever know, unless the family name can be found in records which predate the 16th century baptism registers.

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