Bette Davis

studio portrait of Bette Davis c. 1940s, Alexander Kahle, for RKO Radio

Birth Name: Ruth Elizabeth Davis

Date of Birth: April 5, 1908

Place of Birth: Lowell, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States

Date of Death: October 6, 1989

Place of Death: Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France

Ethnicity: English, remote Scottish and Welsh

Bette Davis was an American actress. She twice won the Academy Award for Best Actress, for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938).

She was the daughter of Ruth Augusta (Favor) and Harlow Morrell Davis. Her family had lived almost exclusively in New England for several hundred years. Her ancestry was English, except for some remote ancestors who were Scottish (in the 1600s) and Welsh (in the 1500s).

She had three children: two with her former husband, actor Gary Merrill, and a daughter with her former husband, artist William Grant Sherry, who was later adopted by Gary. Bette was married to innkeeper Arthur Farnsworth, until his death.

Bette’s patrilineal line leads to a James Davis/Davisse, who was born, c. 1583, likely in England.

Bette’s paternal grandfather was Edward Elwell Davis (the son of Calvin Harlow Davis and Anne/Ann Permelia Matthews/Mathews). Edward was born in New Hampshire. Calvin was the son of Mark Davis and Abigail Stevens. Anne was the daughter of John Mathews/Matthews and Pamelia/Permelia Kimball.

Bette’s paternal grandmother was Eliza Jane Morrell (the daughter of Alexander Hatch Morrell and Eliza Seavey). Eliza was born in Maine. Alexander was the son of Josiah Morrell and Sarah Quint. Eliza was the daughter of Thomas Burnham Seavey and Kezia/Keziah Hinckley.

Bette’s maternal grandfather was William Aaron Favor (the son of Jacob Gordon Favor and Augusta Freeman). William was born in New Hampshire. Jacob was the son of Cutting Favor and Hannah B. Gordon. Augusta was the daughter of Peletiah Freeman and Mary.

Bette’s maternal grandmother was Hariett/Hariot/Harriet Eugenia Thompson (the daughter of Charles Otis Thompson and Harriet Jane Bailey). Hariett was born in Massachusetts. Charles was the son of Moody M. Thompson and Harriet A. Keys/Keyes. Bette’s great-grandmother Harriet was the daughter of Benjamin W. Bailey and Latta Hopkins.

Sources: Genealogies of Bette Davis –

Genealogy of Bette Davis (focusing on her father’s side) –

Marriage record of Bette’s patrilineal ancestors, James Davis/Davisse and Cecily Thayer –


Curious about ethnicity

6 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    according to Wikipedia her mother was of French-Canadian descent

  2. Angel Syrene says:

    She’s look Very Welsh

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