Town Petition from Merchants

Illustration from Historical and Topographical Description of the Channel Islands (1840) by Robert Mudie – “St. Helier’s, Jersey”

On the 29th March in 1871 a petition was rased in Jersey, Channel Islands. The crowd gathered in the streets of St. Helier (the Capital main town) and the harbour. On that day 343 signatures were collected on behalf of the merchants and seafaring men. The cause was a much needed harbour development in St. Helier.

In 1871 I had the following ancestors around at the time:

Isaac William Davey – age 49 – Shipwright

Isaac William Davey jr (son of above) – age 20 – Shipwright

William Davey (son of above) – age 18 – Shipwright

I do not see any of my ancestors names on the list of the petition. Does it not concern them? Are they happy with the size of the harbour as it is? Or have they been warned by their employees not to get involved maybe at the jeopardy of their jobs?

Maybe your ancestor is on the list, you can check it out here:

It is a great list and shows you a variety of people and their different professions that were involved including blacksmiths, drapers, merchants, ship builders and solicitors, etc.

Tip: The list is not in alphabetical order, bu tif you want to search for  a particular name hold down ‘command’ and ‘F’ on your Mac computer and a box will open up on the right handside at the top of your screen. Type in the surname and it will tell you how many there are on that page.

As a result of this petition a break water was built. I’m sure the event caused quite a stir in town on the day!


Census Dates

Screenshot of my Davey ancestors Isaac W. Davey and his wife Ann (nee le Breton) and their 7 children living at 14 Lempriere Street (AKA The Eagle Tavern)

One of the most useful sources of information when I am researching my Channel Island Ancestry is the  population census taken every ten years. What we don’t always know is the exact date that the census was taken on.


Here is a website which gives you the date of the UK Census dates: UK Census dates.


1891 Channel Island Census – 5th April 1891


1901 Census – St. Peter Port, Guernsey – 31 March 1901

Useful information found in Census records:

  • Name of head of household
  • occupants of household
  • address
  • occupants age – occupation/living means – marriage status/school attendee – years married – nationality of occupants (and father’s nationality)
  • who their neighbours are (they could be more relations!)

Here are some interesting Census records for you to browse:

1841 Census Channel Islands

1881 Census: Residents of Jersey General Hospital (Also known as The Workhouse at the time – information includes: inmates, nurses, cooks, boarders, domestic servants and so on.)

Note: I will update this post if I come across the further dates for when the Jersey census was taken every ten years.

100 years Anniversary of the Titanic

Today is the hundred year anniversary of the tragic sinking of the passenger liner RMS Titanic.

As usual, when I read about these kind of events, I wonder to myself, were there any Jersey people involved. According to the records on there are a few Guernsey and Jersey people on the list. Here they are.

From Jersey:

UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912 – Name: P Ahier – Birth: abt 1892 Jersey – Residence: Southampton

From Guernsey:

UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912 – Name: H Ingroville – Birth: abt 1891 Guernsey – Residence: Southampton

UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912 – Name: A Whitford – Birth: abt 1875 Guernsey – Residence: Southampton

From Channel Islands:

UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912 – Name: Harry Williams – Birth: abt 1884 – Residence: Channel Islands


I also wonder what kind of coverage the local Evening Post (first publishing in 1890) would have written about this awful event.

Jersey and it’s locals with its seabaring history would have been no stranger to tragedy at sea. Even so, such a momentous trip held a lot of hope and sense of achievement, which was lost in an incredibly quick amount of time.


To find out more about the Titanic visit the link

Mary DeFrance

According to the research myself and my friend Kelly have been doing, our ancestor, my great, great, great, great grandmother, Mary DeFrance died on the 6th February 1858. One hundred and fifty four years ago today. For me, researching our female ancestors is really exciting, for they can be hard to trace. This is mainly because the females adopt their spouses surnames. They are therefore quite hard to find in the records if you do not know who they marrried. In this case Marie  married William Davey. How they met is unknown, but from the pieces I have managed to unravel I have created my own story which may one day be proven to be true or incorrect.

  • Marie DeFrance was born in St. Peter Port, Guernsey about 1782. Her father may be Thomas DeFrance born circa 1765.
  • In 1789, the start of the French Revolution takes place. I wonder how this affects the islanders, as thousands of French aristocrats apparently flee to Jersey, expanding the size of St. Helier dramatically.
  • In 1804, Marie marries William Davis/Davey in Guernsey. William, I believe has sailed over from England (he was born in West Coker, Somerset). Maybe for work? I do know that at some time William’s occupation is that of a ‘Carter’. This is not a job that was seen as doing well in the world.
  • Unusually for those days, they do not have a child until 1811 (7 years after marriage), Thomas Davis/Davey. Maybe she had given birth to earlier babies but I have not found any record of them.
  • In 1813, Rachel Mary Davis/Davey is born in St. Helier. So we now know they have left Guernsey for Jersey, Channel Islands, UK. Only the baptism records have been found regarding Rachel, so I do not know what becomes of her.
  • In 1816, William George Davey is born in St. Helier, Jersey (notice the spelling Davis is no longer used).
  • In 1819, Mary Ann Davey is born. She goes on to marry a George Le Breton.
  • In 1821, my great great great grandfather is born, Isaac William Davey. His godparents are William Leto and Catherine De France (later she is Catherine Leto)
  • In 1832, their is a cholera epidemic which sweeps through the town and outskirts. Marie’s husband writes his Will & Testament at this time, as I am sure do many others. In the record Marie’s name is spelt Mary. This english way of spelling their names was sometimes purposely done to blend in with the locals.
  • the rest is unknown..

Then at 2am on Saturday 6th February 1858 Mary dies at her home at 14 Lempriere Street. Fanny Sampson was present. I do not know who Fanny Sampson is yet. She died of ‘vieillesse – old age’ at 76 years old, which suggests to me that she was a tough old girl!

Where she is buried is unknown at the moment, but it is on my ‘to find out’ list.

If you think you are connected to Marie DeFrance or know more about her life, I would love to hear from you!

British subjects are evacuated from Jersey to Germany

Sixty nine years ago today, on the 16th September 1942, many Jersey residents were evacuated and transferred to Germany. Last year I discovered that one of my relations was ‘Transported to Germany on 16. 9.42’. (source: Identity card). Violet May Davey was an older sister to my great grandfather George Davey. She was 49 years old when she was transported with her son and husband.

Violet Bryant (nee Davey)

At first I was a bit confused as to why she was transported there. I still don’t have the exact answer, but one theory is that she went because her husband Wilroy Joseph Bryant was English, and not Jersey. This made quite a difference during the 2nd World War. Wilroy’s and Violet’s oldest son went with them, he was 20 years old. There is a photo of him standing in a group of men  in the prisoner-of-war camp ‘Laufen’ (the photo is in the Jersey archives). There was a younger son who would have been 10 years old at the time, but I don’t know if he went with them as well. As you will see in the notice below, only men of the age 16 to 70 had to go. Maybe he was left behind with other family members. Below is an extract from the evening post on the 16th September 1942:

Notice put in The Evening Post on the 16th September 1942

Laufen was a castle in Germany that was initially used as a prisoner-of-war camp during the war. Then in 1942 it was reused as an internment for hundreds of men deported from Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands, as well as some American civilians. It was an incredibly brave decision to go, although there really wasn’t much choice in the matter. Her husband and son had to leave. They were going into the unknown and leaving family and friends behind and noone knew for how long for.

What happened to Violet and her family after the war? At Christmas I went home to Jersey to visit family and do some more research on my family tree. On a visit to the archives there was a display of children’s family trees for a project at one of the islands secondary schools. I recognised one of the names on the tree. I had taught this young lady when she was 5 years old and to my amazement Violet Davey was on her tree! Violet was her great, great grandmother, who had survived the war.

Note: The Evening Post was founded in 1890. Now known as the Jersey Evening Post or J.E.P.

“From 1940 to 1945, the Channel Islands were occupied by the German armed forces, and although publication of the paper continued, it was produced under the supervision and strict censorship of the occupying forces”


W. Davey on the SS Stella

On this day, 30th March in 1899, the passenger ferry SS Stella sank within minutes of crashing into rocks on the casquet reef, west of Alderney. One of the crew members that went down with the ship that foggy Thusday afternoon was a W. Davey, son of Captain Davey of the Brig Union. Sadly W. Davey left a wife and five children behind. In my research I have been unable to find a link to my Davey family, it may be that there isn’t one.

The ship wreck would have affected many families within the Channel Islands as well as England, and this disaster would have felt even more painful due to the lack of communication at the time. The first inkling that something was wrong to the people of Jersey was by way of a telegram put up in the window of the General Post Office. The day after was also ‘Good Friday’ and therefore no newspaper had been written or published. This resulted in the Evening Post staff going in to the office to print off a special edition with the words ‘The Stella gone down…’

Missing lists continued to be published days after the ship went down. Identifying who went down with the ship was a difficult process, it was mainly down to family and friends asking around if their loved one had been seen. People not turning up for their booked hotel rooms was another way of identifying those who drowned. Click on this link to see the list of  Passengers and Crew Lists, Saved and Drowned.

As usual in times of disaster there were many stories of bravery, but the sadness must have had a huge affect on such a small community. Captain Davey loses his son W. Davey. But that doesn’t appear to be the only tragedy that has occurred to this family. If you look at the photo below you will see another member of the family has been lost at sea. Something I feel was a sign of the times and a hazard of the job.

Headstone of the Davey family in St. Saviours Churchyard, Jersey.

The 19th century was Jersey’s busiest time for it’s shipbuilding industry, and if the men of the island weren’t building the ships than many were sailing, fishing  or working on them. So Captain Davey loses his son in 1899 at the young age of 35 years old, he himself dies in 1912 at the age of 69. Then there is another Captain in the family, William Davey who is ‘lost on a voyage from Spain’ in 1915, aged 73 years. The women of the family had a lot to deal with in those years.

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