Jersey has a very long history in fishing. My father was a fisherman in the 1970’s to 80’s, and of course, living on an island surrounded by water we have a significant maritime history.
There are many stories, myths and legends about fishermen. One that I liked whether it was true or not is the story of the ‘guernsey’ or ‘Jersey’ fisherman’s jumper. As a child I recall my father constantly wearing one until the elbows were threadbare. It wasn’t that they weren’t well made. he just wore his forever and all the time! I also remember that they were quite stiff and scratchy to touch.
They could come in quite a few colours but I only really remember ever seeing Navy or Grey ones being worn. They were made to last and knitted in a particular way so that the water would rush off it rather than sink in and become heavy like ordinary woollen jumpers. Apparently, a particular emblem or crest would be knitted onto the chest area of the jumper which would later come in useful when trying to identify drowned fishermen. The emblem would represent Guernsey or Jersey. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I first read this fact, but if you know more about this then please fill in the details or correct me!
A local historian on the island has written a book called ‘Chasing the Cod‘, which tells the history of Jersey fishermen and their strong connection with Canada, particularly the Gaspe peninsula of Quebec. I have been told that I have relations in Canada today that had ancestors involved in the fishing trade with Canada. My Le Marquand relations in particular.
Here are some more surnames that were involved in this episode of Jersey’s history: