My Channel Island Ancestry

My family history in the Channel Islands and beyond!

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Were your Breton ancestors from Nobility?

I subscribe to a great blog called The French Genealogy Blog. Today their post is about The Beleaguered Nobility of Brittany. In short, it describes how Louis XIV wanted to establish who in his realm was truly of the nobility and who was not. Apparently, nobility did not pay many forms of taxes, which meant that there was obviously a financial incentive for many to become what were known as “false nobles”. This problem was particularly severe in Bretagne. I was unaware of this until now.

Within the post, other links to very useful websites are provided which may or may not help you with your research into your Breton ancestors, but they are never-the-less all worth a look at.

Tudchentil – which has pages on 18 Breton Knights in a Tournament in 1238 or An Armorial Breton


Ploeuc Genealogy – which is about the history, genealogy and heritage to ploeuc and its surroundings, including Notaries of Ploeuc from 1739 – 1907


I doubt I have any nobility in my Breton ancestors, the Rabet’s. So far their statuses have been:

Laboureur – which has a variety of meanings including ploughman/ peasant or small tenant farmer rich enough to own their own plough (p228 – Soldier and Peasant in French Popular Culture, 1766-1870)

Cowman – herder of cows


Agricultural Labourer – a person who tills the soil for a living.

laboureur image



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Tracing Your French Surname

I have the following French/Jersey surnames in my ancestry:









Therefore, I have to do a lot of research amongst French records and websites. I have subscribed to a great website called The French Genealogy Blog.

I can’t recommend it highly enough for it’s value and substantive knowledge about researching your French ancestry. One of the posts focuses on French surnames and all the books and resources out there that may help you with your research.

A website they suggest that might be of great use to you is:

Good luck with your research!


Summerland Factory

Summerland Factory staff photo – Grace is sitting in the front row 4th from the left.

At some point during my grandmothers teenage years she was employed at the Summerland Factory in Rouge Boullion, Jersey, Channel Islands. I know that according to her identity card , on the 16th January 1941, Grace was employed as a machinst.  Jersey was being occupied by the Germans at this point.

I haven’t been able to find out much about the factory, unfortunately. I did send the photo to the J.E.P. a few years ago in the hope that they would put it in their Temps Passe section. I never heard back from them, which is a shame and not the first time they have failed to reply. It is a shame on the grounds that I sent it when  two of my grandparents were still alive, and therefore so would have been more of their generation. It is possible quite a few locals might have written in to give some very useful feedback and memories. So, I use my blog, this website to share these resources with you.

On the website there is a little section about the conditions of everyday life during the Occupation, here is an extract from their page about shopping and a mention of the Summerland factory:

Shopping hours were reduced to 10 am – 12.30 pm, and 2 pm – 4 pm, as goods became scarce. Textile shops were open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. They received limited supplies from France, the Summerland factory in Rouge Bouillon, and from local residents. Textile factories were re-opened to provide employment for local women, as well as supplying much needed raw materials.

So these women in the photo above would have had an awful lot of work on their hands. I do not know what work they did exactly although there is a possibilty they made the ‘Jerseys’ and the ‘Guernseys’ jumpers that were often seen worn on the local fishermen. I would love to hear from someone who is more knowledgeable than me in this area, so please fell free to contact me.

The fantastic thing about this photo is not only the image itself, but on the back my grandmother had written down everyone’s name!

My grandmother’s sister Barbara Rabet is also on the photo in the 2nd row, second from the left. I even think that Betty Boucherie that is in the photo is the sister of my other grandmother Edith Bouchere.

Here is a list of the names I could decipher:

Nina Steptowe

Muriel Windsor

Mary Frane

Freda Hutchings

Miss Mallet

Edna Druby

Miss Le Marquand

Mavis ?

Doris Holley

Bessy  ? Moyse

Betty Boucherie

Doreen White

Dorothy Wiverl ?

Jose L’affoley

Mrs Sleep

Emmie Hall

Evelyn de Gruchy

Barbara Rabet

Margaret Hunt

Jone Moyse

? Smith

Rhoda Smith

? Lane ?

Grace Rabet

Winnie Norman

Irene Bisson

Mrs Perchard

Joan Labou

Joan De La Cour

UPDATE: Since writing this post, I have since discovered that Sumerland Factory was opened next to Sacre Coeur Orphanage. According to the factory would provide ‘lessons in housekeeping, sewing and knitting for the older girls in the orphange.’

I know that my grandmother lost her mother when she was only 9 years old and that at some point she and most of her siblings went into orphanages. I have not been able to find out which ones exactly or the dates but it makes sense that she is working for Sumerland Factory which is right next to Sacre Coeur Orphange.

Check out this photo, maybe your grandmother or another relation is in the photo somewhere?

Did they come from the Orphange too?

If so let me know, I would love to hear from you.


Henry Rabet marries Florence Gallienne

Henry and Florence in 1933, nine years after their marriage.

On this day 23rd June 1924 my great grandparents Henry Yves Rabet and Florence Anna Gallienne were married in the Parish of St. Saviour, Jersey, Channel Islands.

  • Henry was 22 years old, a bachelor, living in St. Saviours (I don’t know where exactly). He was working as a Labourer, maybe with his father Yves Rabet, also a Labourer, who is on the marriage certificate.
  • Florence was 18 years old, a spinster, living in St. Andrew/St. Helier. Her father Albert Gallienne is on the certificate working as a mason.

Screenshot of marriage certificate.

Henry and Florence married in the presence of Peter Le Vannais and Hilda Maud le Vannais. Hilda is one of Henry’s sisters. How Henry and Florence met is unknown, and in the next six years they start a family and have four children together. My grandmother told my mother that she was brought up in a place called Paul Mill Cottage as seen in the photo below, in Mont de la Rosiere Lane.

Mont de la Rosiere – where Florence and Henry lived in the late 1920, early 1930’s.


Certificates are always an exciting purchase and in my eyes are always worth it for the extra details they record.


  • professions of both fathers of the bride and groom
  • residence of bride and groom at time of marriage
  • witnesses at the marriage

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Liberation Day

On the 9th May 1945 members of my family living in Jersey, Channel Islands, experienced something I have been fortunate enough never to have lived through. They were finally liberated from a five year occupation by the German Forces during World War 2. The mixture of feelings must have been incredible: happiness at being free, sadness for those who didn’t make it, anger that they had to endure such conditions in the first place. These are just to name a few…

During 6th form I was lucky enough to be part of a project at Hautlieu school where we made recordings of our Grandparents experiences through that time.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to get hold of a copy. Now that my grandfather has passed away I feel that it would be a great thing to have in my possesion and to be able to share his memories. (I will let you know if I manage to obtain the recording).

Something I was lucky enough to get hold of was a poster from a show held in Jersey in 1995. In the photo is a family member.

Henry Rabet amongst the celebratory crowd on Liberation Day in Jersey

On the left side of the poster is a young boy hanging off a moving vehicle. He is Henry Rabet my grandmother’s younger brother. I would love to know who’s caring hand  is holding onto Henry just to make sure he doesn’t fall off the vehicle and get trampled in the crowds. Henry is 17 years old and has been living under German occupation from the age of 12. It is likely that he would have had to learn some German in school, the cinema had German movies and money in the new form of the Reichmark had been introduced.

Relief must have been a huge emotion on this day, especially for those older generations like my Great grandfather George Davey. George had already been through World War 1 as a teenager and was lucky enough to get through World War 2.

If the Germans had been the victors of World War 2, I would be writing my blogs in German, the stories my grandparents would have passed down to me would have been quite different and the photo above would not have been taken. I would never want to experience war, but I admit I would love to have been their on Liberation day!


Muratti Final 1933

My great grandparents watching Jersey and Guernsey play football.

Seventy eight years ago today, on the  20th April 1933  my great grandmother Florence Anna  Gallienne (sitting at the top) and her husband Henri Yves Rabet (to her right) watched the Jersey football team play against Guernsey for the annual Muratti Final.  Florence is 28 years old and Henri is 30 years old when this photo is taken. By this time they have been married  for 9 years and have had five children. Florence is to have sadly died only 3 years after this photo was taken.

What is great about this photo is that it gives you an insight into your ancestors leisure times and social activities. The fact that they both went to watch football together shows a shared social interest (although I am presuming that Florence enjoyed watching football, I may be wrong!) It also makes sense that later on in time their son Henry (who was 3 at the time of the photo) was mad about football and played well in the school team.

New St. Junior 1940 - 1941

Henry Rabet Jr. is sitting in the front row, first on the right. Notice the date on this photo, I wonder if it was taken just before Jersey was occupied by the Germans during World War 2? It is likely that this may have been New Street Primary’s football team (the school no longer exists). Henry was living at 45 New Street, Jersey with his father the time this photo was taken.

Anyway, I know very little about the Muratti football games and therefore had to do a little research online. The Muratti is the annual men’s football competition which began in 1905 and is between Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney. The only years where the Muratti did not go ahead was during World War One 1915 – 1919 and World War Two 1940 – 1946.  The teams wear their island colours of green and white (Guernsey) and red and white (Jersey) and blue and white (Alderney).  I came across the website: Guernsey  FA and amazingly enough they have a History section which includes the Junior Muratti Guernsey Team and results:

Date & Place: 1933 April 20 – Jersey

Score: Jersey 4 Guernsey 2.

Team players: R Le Tissier, E Sauvage, W Breton, N Brouard, C Guilbert, G Taylor, H Duquemin, W Stevens, R Martel, S Robert, E Le Flocq.

These are the Guernsey players and I don’t recognise any family names. I couldn’t find the list of players for the Jersey team, but I will try and find them. The website was a great find as it confirmed the date of the Muratti, plus Florence’s grandfather was born in Guernsey so maybe she had family playing in one of the teams???

If you recognise anyone else in either of the photos, I would love to hear from you!

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Mystery person in photo is identified – photo 4

Yesterday a reader identified the person in the photo below from my selection of photos on my  Mystery people & places page. It is so great when this happens!

We now know that this young lady in the photo above is Barbara Rabet, my grandmother’s older sister. Her age and the outfit she is wearing is still unknown. I know that my grandmother joined the Wrens for a very brief time, but from my research on the web, Barbara’s outfit does not match the wrens uniform, in particular the hat. Unless Jersey Wrens wore a slightly different hat?

Anyway my thanks goes to the reader for identifying one of my mystery photos, and I look forward to sharing this information with my family!

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Hunting for the Jersey Herdsman

In a previous post I wrote about  Another Ancestor in Australia. I had come across in a record for the list of passengers aboard the ship ‘Hobsons Bay’. The ship had arrived in the port of Southampton on the 19th October 1929, having been to Australia via Suez. On it I discovered was my Great Grandfather Henri Yves Rabet. He was travelling as a ‘Herdsman’ along with many other people and their variety of professions. A couple of ‘Tea planters’ from Ceylon, a ‘General labourer’ from Wales, a ‘Driller’ from Scotland, a ‘Stationer’ from England, an ‘Orchadist’ from New Zealand and ‘Banana Grower’ from Australia, amongst many others.

This led me to asking myself a few questions:

  • Had he just delivered Jersey Cows to Australia?
  • did he have any involvement in transporting the cows from the ship to the farms once in Australia?
  • was he employed to help Australian farmers to rear this beautiful breed of cow?
  • or was he there merely to transport them and look after their welfare on the long journey from Jersey to England to Australia?

After quite a bit of unsuccessful online research to try and find more about the transportation of Jersey cows to Australia I decided to go and look around the various Archives, Society and Library records in Sydney city.

My first stop was the two locations for the Society of Australian Genealogists – SAG Library / Shop and the SAG Primary Records Archive on Kent Street.

Once I had explained what I was looking for to the lady on the Reception of the SAG Primary Records Archive  she directed me to their other location, the SAG Library / Shop. I know I could have telephoned and asked my questions but I actually wanted to visit and see these places for myself. You have to pay to enter the Library and then their are volunteers inside who were very helpful. They had very little resources on the Channel Islands and even less on cows, so they directed me to the State Library of New South Wales on Macquarie Street.

Public Library of New South Wales

Once I had arrived at the library I joined up and explored the lovely building which apparently has an old and a new part. It was in the Mitchell Library where an incredibly helpful and enthusiastic member of staff  guided me to a selection of books about the Jersey Cow. He was a little surprised at my request and admitted that he had never been asked to look up information about Jersey Herdsman and Jersey cows before!

The books I looked at were the following:

  • Jersey Jubilee - published to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Australian Jersey herd Society

A lovely Jersey cow

A Jersey Bull.

  • Jersey Stud Book of Australasia V.XVI 1929 – published by The Australasia Jersey Herd Society (Federal Council) Bulls – 5837 to 6439, Cows – 24,820 to 28,050
  • Jersey Lactation Test Records 1912 – 1947

According to the Jersey Jubilee Book the history of the Jersey breed of cow is rather obscure. The first cattle bought to Australia were onboard the ‘Sirius‘ on the 8th November  1787. This was meant to have contained one bull, one bull calf and seven cows in it’s cargo, although the breed of cow was not stated.

The ships that came after the famous first fleet, carried the following breed of cows: Devons, Durhams, Longhorns, Ayreshires and Alderneys. Apparently the term “Alderney’ was given to any animal that came from the Channel Islands and was used for many years.

“Surviving records of Jersey Importations into South Australia and Victoria suggest in these 2 colonies the foundations of the breed were laid”. (Jersey Jubilee, p5)

I never did find any record of my great grandfather, but it was all very interesting never-the-less. What I do know is that Henri’s wife gave birth to a son in the September of 1928, Henri went to Australia in 1929, and then his wife gave birth to a daughter in 1930. A very busy couple of years for them both!

The very helpful librarian also gave me  a link to a  website that I was unaware of:

And finally I leave you with a delightful poem from the book Jersey Jubilee called ‘I’m a Jersey Cow’ by L.L. Hunt


Who is Francois Demoy?

I have mentioned only once before a Francois Demoy. He is living as a ‘boarder’ with my great great grandparents Yves Marie Rabet and Jeanne Marie Rabet in the 1901 Census. The address is Ponterrion/Pontession Mill, Trinity, Jersey, Channel Islands. (Unfortunately I have not been able to confirm or decipher the census writing for the correct spelling of the mill).

Here are the details from the 1901 census:

Island: Jersey

Civil Parish: Trinity

No. of schedule: 23

Name of house: Ponterrion Mill

Name of person: Francois Demoy

Relation to head of Household: Boarder

Condition as to marriage: Single

Age: 23

Proffession: ? on farm (than scribbled on top are the possible words ‘ag horse’)

Where born: France

What has sparked a further interest in me about Francois is that I found him in the same cemetery as some Rabet’s. During my trip back to Jersey at Christmas I did quite an extensive search around the graveyards with my mother to find the graves I have not yet been able to find or weren’t aware of. At first I looked in Trinity graveyard in the hope of finding them there, when (rather slowly) it occurred to me that being of French origin my ancestors were highly likely to have been catholics. So we made a quick diversion to the next parish and nearest Catholic church and cemetery and ‘BINGO!’

I am a little familiar with this church through various family occasions. It isn’t very large and therefore didn’t take too long to look around. The next photo is of Francois Demoy’s grave and headstone;

Grave of Francois Demoy.

The Francois in the 1901 census was 23, this makes his birth date 1878. The headstone has the birth date of 1874. He died at the age of 72.

Looking at some archive records at the Jersey Heritage Trust website for Francois Guillaume Demoy, the details show that he was born on the 10th September 1874, in Plaintel, Côtes du Nord, France. Plaintel is about a fifteen minute drive from Ploeuc where my Rabet family came from in France. Maybe they came over on the boat together when they heard there was workers needed in Jersey at the turn of the century 1900.

Is Francois Demoy a family friend or relation to my ancestors or just a stranger who needed work and somewhere to stay? Another mystery on my list of ‘Things to find out’.

If you know more about this person, I would love to hear from you!


Well would you believe it, the moment I press ‘PUBLISH’ for this post I find another Francois Demoy on Here are the details from the 1901 census:

Island: Jersey

Civil Parish: St. John’s

No. of Schedule: 76

Name: Francois demoy

Relation to head of household: Servant

Condition as to marriage: Single

Age: 28 (which would make his birth year 1873 and more accurate with the Francois in the cemetery!)

Profession: Ordinary Agricultural labourer

Where born: France

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Another ancestor in Australia

I have been back to Jersey for the Christmas holidays, partly to see family and friends I hadn’t seen for 2 years since I moved to Australia, secondly for my middle sister’s wedding in France and thirdly to do lots more family history research! Being back in Jersey gave me lots of new opportunities to collect resources, archive records, photos and family tales to add to my already huge collection. It was all very interesting and exciting.

When I arrived back in Australia I was had no idea where to start until I slowly went back through my notes and  came across a record linking my family history with Australia! So my first blog since I’ve returned is about that.

I have written about a possible family connection to Australia before, one that I have been unable to solve so far: World War 1 soldiers in Jersey on Agricultural Training. However, another piece of evidence has been found of  an ancestor arriving in Australia, and this time I have found proof!  This new discovery will give me  good reason to explore the archives in Sydney! Just before I went to Jersey I was frantically tying up loose ends so I could present my family history story to my family as it is so far. I came across a record for the list of passengers aboard the ship ‘Hobsons Bay’ which had arrived in the port of Southampton on the 19th October 1929, having been to Australia via Suez.


On the list was my my great grandfather Henri Yves Rabet:

Port of embarkation: Sydney

Proposed address in the UK: 22 St. Peter’s Street, St. Helier, Jersey c/o Caledonian Club

Class: 3rd

Profession, Ocupation or calling: Herdsman

Age: 27

Country of last permanentt residence: AUSTRALIA

Country of Intended Future Permanent Residence: other parts of the British Empire

This was a very surprising find, but not half as surprising to find out that my great aunt Sylvia (of whom I had had many family history chats with before) had already knew this and never thought to mention it!!! ‘Why, I asked her in friendly disbelief?’…’Oh, because, I thought you already knew that!’ So she proceeded to tell me how he used to take the Jersey cows over to Australia.

Note to oneself: always ask, and ask again all family relatives about anything they remember, and having props (photos, records,etc) always helps prompts the memory a little bit.

She also mentioned how her father Henri was a member of the Caledonian Club. This is a place I do not know much about myself and therefore it will go on my ‘Future blog topics  to write about’.The good thing about this was that my great aunt could confirm my find and that the details in the record match with my great grand father. The right name, age, and residence.  It is not a surprise that Henri was a ‘herdsman’ as the following image shows that Henri’s father Yves Rabet is recorded as a ‘cowman’.

The Jersey cow is a famous icon for the little island and has been transported to Australia for possibly nearly 200 years now.

The journey would have taken approximately 40 days taking the following route:

Southampton – Malta – Port Said – Colombo – Freemantle – Adelaide – Melbourne – Sydney

(Then the reverse route would be taken to get back to the UK)

Go to the following link to find out more about:

All I need to do now is  find out more about Henri Rabet’s stay in port, if he travelled with the cows to the farms and so much more…


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