My Channel Island Ancestry

My family history in the Channel Islands and beyond!


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Granny Smith Festival

Did you know that the commonly known ‘Granny Smith’ apple came from Australia? I didn’t until recently seeing an advert in the local paper advertising the Granny Smith Festival on the 16 October. Apparently, a Maria Ann Smith (nee Sherwood) accidently grew the first batch of green apples sometime in 1868 on her farm in Ryde, Sydney, Australia.

How did the apple come about?

  • ‘Granny Smith’ was born Maria Ann Sherwood in Sussex, England, in late 1799.
  • At the age of 19, she married Thomas Smith, a farm labourer from the neighbouring parish of Beckley.
  • Maria and her husband lived in Beckley for the next 19 years, during which time Maria bore 8 children.
  • In 1838 they emigrated to New South Wales, Australia as part of a recruitment incentive  by government agents looking for people with agricultural and trade skills sorely needed in the colony
  • Maria and her family arrived in Sydney on 27 November 1838 aboard the Lady Nugent.
  • About 1855 Thomas Smith Snr bought  land totaling around 24 acres.
  • In 1868 a local fruit grower who had been invited by Maria to examine a seedling apple growing by a creek on her farm recalled how she explained that the seedling had developed from the remains of some French crab apples grown in Tasmania.

To find out more about this interesting history of  ‘Granny Smith’ and her apples go to the following link:

Granny Smith and her apples

 


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Channel Islanders in Australia

The route sailed by clipper ships from west to east in order to make most of the westerly winds. The clipper route fell into commercial disuse with the introduction of steam ships.

I have been watching the Australian version of  ‘So who do you think you are’ every Sunday night at 7:30pm for the last couple of months. Last nights programme was about the Australian actress Sigrid Thorton and her ancestors from the Hunter Valley. On showing a map of this area in New South Wales a few names struck out at me. St. Heliers Estate, St. Aubins Estate, Samaurez  Station (a vast property of about 100,000 acres) and Samaurez Creek.

So feeling quite intrigued I did a little research via the internet and discovered two brothers William and Henry Dumaresq.  Henry Dumaresq, a former army officer and brother-in-law of Governor Ralph Darling, arrived in New South Wales in 1825. He claimed a squatting station for himself in 1835 and he named it in memory of his family connections with the Seigneur de Sausmarez in the Channel Isles. To quote Reverend John Dunmore Lang, the fiery Presbyterian preacher and political activist, described Henry Dumaresq’s St Heliers estate in the following terms:

One of the best- regulated estates in the colony is that of Colonel Dumaresq . . . The law on his estate is the law of kindness, and incitement to industry and good conduct are rewards, not punishments. The convict labourers reside in whitewashed cottages, each having a little garden in front. Prizes are awarded to those who keep their cottages in the best order . . . The result of such a system is just what might be expected; the men are sober, industrious and contented.

(Source of quote from: thetreeofus.net )

His brother William who was also spoken of favourably,  received a free land grant in the Hunter Valley shortly after arriving in Australia. Both men had been allocated convicts to work on their land for them and both seemed to have treated their men and  their families well providing good living conditions.

To read and find out more about Captain Henry Dumaresq go to the following link: Hunter Valley Settlers – Map 7

To read and find out more about Captain William Dumaresq go to the following link: Hunter Valley Settlers – Map 8

Jersey has many connections to Australia throughout history (eg: Jersey Cows have been imported out here for a long time) and there are many more names, people and places that I have not mentioned here, but it is an interesting topic that I am sure I will look into time and time again. Here are a few place names in Australia that have a familiar ring to them:

Dumaresq Dam Road, NSW

Guernsey Street, Scone, NSW

Jersey Road, Sydney

Saumarez ponds, Armidale, NSW

St. Aubins Street, Scone, NSW


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Headstones & Graveyards

Headstones are a great source of information - here lies my great grandmother Florence in St. Saviours Churchyard, Jersey, Channel Islands.

Headstones in graveyards are a great source of information as long as you don’t find these places too spooky. My mother loves grave yards and she has passed this fascination onto me. Wherever I find myself in the world I always take a wander through the local graveyard or cemetery. My son has just started a school which has a huge cemetery right next to it. It’s a lovely old one and the local council have leaflets which support guided walks through the gravestones pointing out the deceased with interesting histories be they happy or sad! I think this is a great idea, and have already booked myself to go to the next one.

Amazingly enough I came a cross a headstone with a familiar Jersey surname on it: Poingdestre. On reading the details on the headstone I find that the person inside did indeed emigrate from Jersey to Australia. How about that! So if you think it might be your ancestor contact me.

The Poingdestre Headstone I found in a Sydney cemetery.

If you are going to visit a graveyard take your camera to make a record of the information on the headstone and a reminder of the type of headstone used. The type of headstone in itself could give you some idea as to the wealth of the person or religion.  Also check the graves close by as you may find some more with the same surnames on!

This is the headstone of my great grandmothers sister, Violet Lozuet 1888-1892

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