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…