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


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…

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


WW1 soldiers in Jersey on Agricultural training


Article cut out from the Jersey Evening Post - 16th July 2009


The image above is from the local paper in Jersey, Channel Islands. it is about a local historian who is trying to find out more about the little known subject of soldiers based in Jersey at the end of WW1. This is something I am very interested in too.

The trouble with researching family trees is that there can be an awful lot of ‘hearsay’s’ and ‘apparently’s’. This is a post about my great grandfather who ‘apparently’ was an Australian soldier during World War One and at some time was based in Jersey, Channel Islands (which is how he met my great grandmother).

This is not a subject that many people seem to know a lot about if anything at all. So I thought it was time to put it out there in the hope that one day a reader will know what I am talking about.

This is the little I know:

Apparently there were not enough boats to send soldiers back to their home countries once the war had ended. So in the meantime a project was set up ‘through the efforts of a Lieutenant benest’, according to the article above,  in order to train these men with skills they would be able to take back with them, such as agricultural training. This incentive was not just set up in Jersey but in England too. There was an Australian group of soldiers in the Island at the time.

That is all I know for the meantime, but should more information come my way then I shall write more about it. Unless you know more!

Jersey convicts sent to Australia

Print of the ship the Charlotte from the First Fleet. The image was of the ship at Portsmouth (England) prior to departure in May 1787. (Image from Wikipedia)

Since I have moved to Australia I have taken a great interest in the country’s history. One of the most interesting events from the past was the decision to send convicts from the UK to Australia.

Britain in the late 18th Century was experiencing a great rise in crime, huge population growth due to the industrial revolutiuon and the prisons were hugely overcrowded. The result being that great ‘hulks’ or ships were turned into floating prisons. This didn’t solve the problem. The hulks became overcrowded too and an alternative solution had to be found.

A penal colony was thought to be the best solution and it could also serve as a strategic outpost! Therefore on the 18th January 1788 the First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay.

This got me to thinking about whether or not there were people from Jersey that were sent out to Australia as convicts. I hadn’t as of yet heard of any Jersey  history connected to this topic. So I decided to search the web and came across a few interesting sites:

Convicts to Australia – a guide to researching your convict ancestors.

This website contains a list of convicts transported to Western Australia, including 4 men who were trialed and convicted in Jersey:

Samuel Bryant – age 22 – sentence: 10yrs – crime:  burglary – date: 7 Nov 1864

John Connolly – age 26 – sentence: 10yrs – crime: assault & highway robbery – date: 21 Sept 1866

Peter Connolly – age 22 – sentence: 10 yrs – crime: assault & highway robbery – date: 21 Sept 1866

Henry Gordon – age 23 – sentence: 10yrs – crime: burglary – date: 7 Nov 1864

It would be interesting to find out what happened to them and if they ever returned to Jersey once they were free men.


This web page displays a list of female convicts aboard the ship ‘Harmony’ that arrived in Hobart, Tasmania on the 14th January 1829. On this list is a female native of Jersey:

Harriet Williams – age 24 (born 1805) – crime: unknown

Harriet was ‘Free by servitude’  by the  29th May 1835. I wonder what happened to her too? Did she stay and marry a fellow convict or a free man? Did she return to Jersey to family she had left behind?


I am sure there are many more out there, but these are the few I have found recently. It’s a fascinating subject and I would love to hear anyone’s stories of their Jersey relations sent to Australia’s penal colony.

NOTE: A new prison was badly needed in Jersey at the turn of the 19th century and in 1812 one was built and referred to as Newgate Prison.  This may have been where these Jersey criminals of the time were kept while awaitng trial and then starting their  long and difficult 8 month journey to England and onto Australia. Click on the following link if  you are interested in a little history about  Jersey and it’s Prisons.

I hope you have found this as interesting as I did!

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: )

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