Researching family in Jersey, part 9: photos, newspapers and books

To wrap up the series, there’s a miscellany of other potential avenues that are worth exploring.

First of all, there are photographs. If you have family photos you will almost certainly have cursed the elderly relatives who put them in an album and then never got round to labelling who, what and where they were. But… there are some useful tricks to use.

First of all, scan the photograph at the highest resolution you can. If you can be sure the photo was taken and developed in Jersey, you may be able to identify the firm who developed it. A gentleman by the name of Richard Hemery has put years of work into this, and for some of the better known photographers his efforts will allow you to pin the photograph’s date down quite well.

Halkett Place, St Helier, JerseyThis particular photo is a neat example. Richard’s work tells us there were only two firms who put reference numbers on the front of prints, both operating in the 1930s. But there’s more: a high-res scan picks up the name Le Riche over the shop awning behind and left of the lady, and also makes the colonnade on the right clearer. That pins the location down to Halkett Place by the Central Market, and the date has to be after 1932, when Le Riche’s (a long-established island grocer) opened their shop there.

 

“Ah,” you say, “but I don’t have that depth of local knowledge”. But other people do. The Société Jersiaise run an online photographic archive: two of their members are currently going through the massive task of cataloguing every Jersey picture postcard in existence. Talk to them: they could have the information to fill in some gaps. Or use the libraries (see below)

In addition, there’s what the newspapers may have said. The first newspaper on Jersey was published in the late 18th Century, and there have been a number of different publications since, right down to the Jersey Evening Post (usually referred to just as the JEP) of today. The JEP has always been a very parochial paper in the better sense of the word: it reports everything and anything that goes on. If your relative was a prominent member of a local church or a schoolmaster or a farmer, it’s quite possible that they’d get a respectable tribute from the JEP when they passed away.

The central Library in Halkett Place has a very comprehensive collection of microfilmed newspapers – they’re up on the first floor. You need to book a reader – it is worth doing this in advance, particularly if you want the one that will print to paper. E-mail je.library@gov.je and they will sort things out.

While we are talking about libraries, there are collections of reference books at the Coutanche Library (the NoseyGenealogist will be releasing a film guide to what they have shortly) and smaller collections at both the Archive and the Central Library to supplement your knowledge of Jersey’s history and culture.

This is of necessity a scratch at the surface of family history research. I hope you’ve found it helpful. Happy hunting, and – À bétôt!

 

Guest blog by James McLaren from the Channel Islands Family History Society

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ConnectedHistories.org, a Usefull Tool For Research.

Here is a new resource that would seem to be quite a useful tool for doing historical research.

www.conectedhistories.org on screenwww.connectedhistories.org brings together several important resources to search from one place. I can see how it could be used to track down records and to also fill in some background knowledge for people researching their ancestors, even though some of the records are not specifically aimed at family historians.

Including more than two billion words that have been recorded in documents ranging from the 1500s and the start of the 20th century, it has been created by the universities of Hertfordshire, London and Sheffield, taking them 18 months to complete.

While it doesn’t provide online access to any new records, it does allow a researcher to make connections
between multiple data sets that were previously only available separately. One of its good points is that it
makes it easier to track down the names and locations of people who are in records and who, previously,
would have needed to search for using keywords on the websites that it now accesses.

Connectedhistories intends to grow with a major update scheduled for later in the year when the British
Library will upload 65,000 books and thousands of 19th century pamphlets. Currently, with a single search, you gain access to… British History Online, British Museum Images, British Newspapers 1600-1900, Charles Booth Archive, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera, John Strype’s Survey of London Online, London Lives 1690-1800, the Origins.net and The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online 1674-1913.

While some of the providers are subscription sites, you do get access to brief extracts from them without
needing a subscription and so this is a useful feature. I shall be looking forward to the update later in the year from Connectedhistories.org.

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One in 20 of us Brits use MyHeritage.com, the Online Family Network

When I was at Olympia I had a chat to Mario Ruckh from MyHeritage.com, one of the most popular family networks on the web. They had just announced that they has surpassed the 3 million registered user milestone in the United Kingdom, which is some figure! So with more than one in every twenty people in the UK now using MyHeritage.com, online family history would seem to be becoming a part of the fabric of internet life for the mainstream.

So what is it? Well they say it is a mix of social networking and genealogy, where MyHeritage.com provides a free and private place online for families to explore their history and keep in touch.

When the camera stopped rolling they gave me one of their press packs and from this I can report that there are currently over 3,176,905 registered users of MyHeritage.com out of a total UK population of approximately 62 million. More facts, for those that like them, are that the Global membership of MyHeritage.com has risen steadily since the website launched in November 2005, indicating a rising trend for researching roots, and collecting and sharing family memories online.

I always knew that this hobby was growing, but now I know that I’m not alone here!

When measured by the number of registered users for MyHeritage.com, there is more interest in family history in the UK than any other European country.

“Our phenomenal growth in the UK and around the world indicates that family history is transforming into a popular mainstream activity”, said Laurence Harris, UK Genealogy Manager at MyHeritage.com and a researcher for the BBC’s WDYTYA (Who Do You Think You Are?) programme. “By enabling people to explore and share their family histories on the web for free, MyHeritage.com is helping drive this trend. We’re delighted to provide the British people with the tools to discover their rich and diverse family histories”.

With one of the longest and most celebrated histories, and as a nation rich in multiculturalism, the British Isles present fertile conditions for the genealogy market.

For people wishing to trace their past, MyHeritage.com’s free Smart Matching™ technology has already helped hundreds of thousands of people discover ancestors and locate long-lost relatives, reuniting families whose ties have been broken by time and fate. The technology matches between the people in a user’s family tree and more than 700 million people in 17 million other family trees on MyHeritage.com.

With over 54 million users, huge global reach and support of 36 languages, MyHeritage.com helps users find and reunite with family members all around the world. Several dozen user stories can be found on the MyHeritage Blog, including some exciting stories from the UK. People wishing to begin tracing their roots can visit www.myheritage.com and start filling out their family tree today.

A completely free basic site comes with Smart Matchingâ„¢, Family Tree Charts, social networking features for family members and more. A premium subscription can help take family history research one step further with enhanced features for finding, documenting and sharing family history.

MyHeritage.com were exhibiting at the WDYTYA (Who Do You Think You Are?) show at Olympia, London, between the 25th-27th February at stand 505 in the National Hall and that was where I recorded this interview.

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Researching family in Jersey, part 8: Military Records

Being rather close to the continent as it is, Jersey has had more than its fair share of unwelcome visitors. The French invaded in 1781 and the brave Major Pierson beat them back but died before the end of the battle: the artist John Singleton Copley painted the scene (some years after the event) and the resulting picture is one of Jersey’s iconic images.

 

The years that followed this were uncertain ones, and the uncertainty became worse after the French Revolution. There was a real concern that the French would try again. But at the start of the 1800s, General George Don was appointed as Jersey’s Governor-General.

 

General Don put in place a massive programme of fortification works and new roads, and alongside that he carried out two censuses in 1806 and 1815 to track where the able bodied fighting men were. In addition to this, the censuses recorded the sizes of the households and the number of women, girls and under-aged boys.

 

Transcripts of both censuses are kept at the Archive. They were originally transcribed in the original format, names by parish and vingtaine, but there is also a single combined list of names for the 1815 Census. It gives an indication of the position of the listed man of the household and whether he was an ordinary soldier, or a drummer, or providing a horse.

 

Alongside the local militia forces, the British army maintained a significant garrison in Jersey right up to the Second World War. Its main sites were at Elizabeth Castle and Fort Regent, and regiments rotated in and out regularly. The Army doesn’t maintain a single definitive list of which regiments served when in the Jersey garrison, but there are partial lists compiled by CIFHS members in the Archive. There are also a small number of baptism, marriage and burial records which were kept specifically by the garrison rather than the parish of St Helier – and these may be worth a look.

 

Nearly at the end. The next post looks at what you can get from books, newspapers and photographs – until then,  à bientôt!

 

Guest blog by James McLaren from the Channel Islands Family History Society

 

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Researching family in Jersey, part 7: Property Records and PRIDE

A Jersey Property Deed by Nick Thorne
A Jersey Property Deed

Establishing who owns land or a house on it is important, and pretty well every country has a land registry. Jersey’s is small but perfectly formed because every property transaction goes before one single body, the Royal Court. Apart from a small number of mid-17th century transactions, records are complete back to 1602. The first 150 years of records are on paper, but everything subsequent to about 1800 has been scanned and indexed into a computer system called PRIDE. There are two terminals at the Archive. One is upstairs in the reading room, the other is downstairs in reception – which is exceedingly useful as it can be used between 1pm and 2pm when the reading room is shut. You will need a member of staff to log you on.

PRIDE has a very simple search interface, and for most purposes you need a name to investigate, but it can be a hugely useful tool. Not only do you find sales of property, but after 1841 you will also find wills and details of partages – arrangements which exist to deal with the complexities of Jersey’s Norman-based system of inheritance.

You will also find details of rentes. Rentes are a little like a mortgage – you agree to long-term instalment payments in return for a capital sum – but unlike modern mortgages they are theoretically perpetual, and they can be inherited or traded between individuals, although there are very few left today. Also on PRIDE you will find details of procurations – in other words, appointments of attorneys to act on behalf of an individual – for more recent times.

If you start in modern times – after about 1980 – you can search properties. Any sale contract has to include a recital of title – in other words, who the seller acquired the property from and when. If you are fortunate it is then possible to work back up the chain…

Even if you don’t understand all of the legal niceties, PRIDE can still be hugely informative. A search for Philippe Du Feu threw up a document dated 1826. It didn’t actually concern Philippe so much as his wife Elizabeth Amy: the Amy family had created what we call a partage des heritages to ensure that the five daughters were provided with money for homes by their brother who had inherited the estate. In doing so the document gives us the names of all of Elizabeth Amy’s siblings, the names of their husbands (if they were married at that point), her parents, her brother’s grandparents and several aunts and cousins. None of that detail is on the Du Feu family tree. And study of the contract itself could give a great deal more information to the family historian – how generous the settlement was (or wasn’t) could indicate the social standing of the family.

Next time we’ll be looking at military records. Until then – À bétôt!

Guest blog by James McLaren from the Channel Islands Family History Society

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Society of Genealogist Put More Online For Members.

Society of Genealogists

I’ve recently received my copy of the Society of Genealogists’ magazine Vol 30 No 5 and read in the Library Update section that in 2010 they added a total of 1,800 new items. Now for anyone that knows the building at 14 Charterhouse Buildings in the City of London, you probably wonder how they manage to keep on fitting it all in.

In the past quarter the SoG has  acquired, for those members with North American ancestors, the latest supplement to the Passenger & Immigration Lists Index. If you have forebears from Cheltenham, then you will probably be pleased to consult the Court Books of the Manor of Cheltenham, that covers from 1692-1803. While the parish of Burnley in Lancashire’s registers have been purchased with sponsorship from The Halsted Trust and a quantity of Somerset registers have also been added to the shelves.

When ever I am in London I really look forward to a visit to EC1 to do a bit of research at the SoG among the books, manuscripts, collections and microfiche readers. But belonging to the Society also allows members to have access to some of the data from within a special Members Area of the SoG website. Recently this section has been renamed SoG Data Online and newly uploaded are the Vicar-General and Faculty Office marriage licence indexes, the PCC will index for 1750 to 1800, the Shoreditch St Leonard burials and the St Andrew Holborn marriages.

More records are promised online, including those data collections that were previously hosted by the British Origins websites and have now become available on FindMyPast.com website in a new deal with this operator who, it would seem are sponsoring the SoG as it celebrates its Centenary year.

I can not recommend more highly this organisation and wish it a happy hundredth!



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More Data Released by TheGenealogist.co.uk

I like to keep you informed about new releases in the British Isles family history niche and so today I was looking to see what was new at TheGenealogist.co.uk.

Of interest to me was the fact that they have added over 3,000 individuals to their Parish Transcripts for Devon, expanding their coverage and bringing the total to over 66,000 individuals. The date ranges are different for baptisms, marriages and burials and are:

Baptisms: 1594 – 1944
Marriages: 1538 – 2009
Burials: 1593 – 2009

For those of you researching other parts of the UK, I also noticed that they have recently released hundreds of thousands of other parish record transcripts, for several counties of England, which has got to be good for those of us trying to get back before 1837 in England & Wales.

While for family historians, who are looking to do some research in the opposite direction and trying to find ancestors later than the 1901 census, TheGenealogist.co.uk has now launched the first county of the 1911 Census on their site. They say that their colour images are of a higher quality and higher resolution than those that have been available online before, so this could be interesting when looking at the handwriting of our actual ancestors.

In a recent news update, that I had from them, I see that they are now also making available pre-1841 census records and various Scottish Census records for 1851. The pre-1841 census in question is for Marylebone in London for both 1821 & 1831. The details only include the surname of the head of household and street name, unlike the later census. None the less, this could be of great help to some researchers trying to find their ancestors. To search these new records, simply go to TheGenealogist.co.uk, log in and select the London census from the research view and then change the year to 1821 or 1831. (Disclosure: I am a Compensated Affiliate of The Genealogist.co.uk)

Yet another data set, announced by the site, is the release of the Australian transportation records. These records take the form of transcripts, but with access to images of The Convict Transportation Registers 1787-1867. Covering details of over 123,000 of the estimated 160,000 convicts who were transported to Australia during the 18th and 19th centuries, the records mainly include those convicted in England, Wales and Scotland, but also include a small number of Irish convicts.

The database also includes soldiers who had been court-martialed and sentenced to transportation. These ‘soldier convicts’ may have been convicted in various British colonies, including the West Indies, Canada, India, and Pakistan. You’ll find these records in the British & International section of The Genealogist.co.uk’s research view.

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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