‘The life of a stonemason was generally one of hard graft and uncertainty’
(Daniel Cossins – My ancestor was a…stonemason – Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine April 2010)
The art of stone masonry has been crucial in the finish of all traditional buildings throughout history and in Jersey there is much evidence of this in the old granite buildings you see as you travel around the island. There are many different aspects and roles to stonemasonary and these can be seen in the following quote:
’19th Century Channel Island census returns speak of quarrymen, stone cutters, stone dressers, stone crackers, and stone miners, as well as stone merchants, and as the demand for stone grew so labour had to be imported. Normandy and Brittany were obvious sources, but so too were England and Ireland, and even Scotland. In 1886 the Stone Crackers’ Union was formed to defend the interests of quarriers and in 1911 it was superseded in Guernsey by a branch of the United Union of Quarrymen and Settmakers. In 1937 it was incorporated into the General and Municipal Workers Union which was active through out the Channel Islands’.
My great grandmother’s father Albert Gallienne (1870) was a ‘mason’. In Albert’s case this is not a profession that has been passed down the family as his father Alfred Gallienne (c.1840) was initially a ‘Sailor’ and later on in life became an ‘Agricultural Labourer‘ .
1904 - The first record of my ancestors occupation is in 1904. Albert, aged 33 is recorded as a ‘Mason’ on the baptism records of his son Albert Gallienne.
1905 - Albert (age 34) is recorded as a ‘Mason’ on the birth certificate of his daughter Florence Anna Gallienne . But now he is living in Jersey not Guernsey. Why, was there more work on the larger Island?
1911 - In the 1911 Census Albert (age 44) is still recorded as a ‘Mason’.
I know very little about what the job of a ‘Mason’ entails and even less about where they would have worked.
ROLES OF STONE MASONRY
- stone cutters
- stone dressers
- stone crackers
- stone miners
- stone merchants
WHAT THE JOB ENTAILED
- Carving Memorial stones (eg: Boer War memorial in St Julian’s Gardens, St. Peter Port, Guernsey)
- carving headstones
- carving archways (of which there are many)
- grinding stone to the required shape/size
- putting the finishing touches on building work
STONE MASONRY - GUERNSEY
‘Newbury and Son’ – a firm of stonemasons in operation circa 1890s.
STONE MASONRY – JERSEY
Jersey Granite Company – they commenced operations in 1869 when the Ronez Quarries were established.