Family history researchers seeking family who lived in Jersey during the WW2 German occupation can now download their registration card, including a photograph of their ancestor in this fantastic new online resource from Jersey Heritage.
This is a unique pictorial record contains over 30,000 people who lived on Jersey during the Nazi occupation.
The collection has been recognised by UNESCO for its importance and has now been digitised and added to the Jersey Heritage website by Jersey Archive. To take a look at this very exciting collection, which includes 90,000 images that can be searched for free take a look here:
It is free to search, although there is a fee of £5 to download a card. Researchers with Jersey family may wish to take out an annual subscription for £30 to make the most of other resources, including thousands of historic photographs, many with named individuals.
Jeremy Swetenhan, Commercial Director at Jersey Heritage said, “This is the culmination of several years’ tremendous work by the staff at Jersey Archive to digitise records and catalogue our collections online. The result is a fully searchable and very valuable resource that will enable people to discover more about their, and the Island’s heritage at the click of a mouse.”
With a little time on my hands this week I’ve been researching my late Godmother’s family, the Kerdals who ran a very successful shop in St Helier that went under the name of Maison Kerdal from at least the year 1893.
Monsieur and Madame Kerdal were French nationals who moved to Jersey, met and married in St Thomas’ church and set up a general grocer’s shop in St Helier. They then had several children including my godmother, whose nickname throughout her life was “Mimi”, though it bore no relation to her given names of Julia Marie Felicite.
Mimi, I can remember, had many tales to tell of her family and its business and at the time she was living I paid only a passing interest. It is so often the lament, of family historians, to claim that they wished they had taken more notice of these stories told by their seniors when alive, and in this case I can confirm that I again fall into this category.
So starting from my hazy recollections of Mimi’s remembrances I thought it was time to take a look at what records survive.
One of Mimi’s stories, that I recall, was of her saying that as a girl she was not at all interested in working in the shop and was once left in charge of it, in her parent’s absence, and simply threw the money given by the customers onto the shelf under the counter for her parents to account for on their return! This was recounted with a wicked grin on her elderly face as she felt sorry for the trouble she caused her parents.
Another memory was that her father moved the business, in the late 1800s, to a corner opposite the General Post Office in Grove Place, St Helier and then, when the GPO moved to Broad Street, he moved the family to live above a grander shop on the King Street/New Cut corner so as again to be close to the footfall that the Post Office provided.
My investigation, this week, began online at TheGeneoligist.co.uk to use their master search and found Julien Kerdal in the 1889 Kelly’s Directory of the Channel Isles at 7 Burrard Street in the trade of Wine and Spirit Merchant and in the 1911 Kellys listed as a Grocer at 45 King Street and again in 1939 as Wine and Spirit Merchant.
In the 1901 census, on TheGeneoligist, M.Kerdal has been listed as a Potato and Butter Merchant and in the 1911 in his own handwriting he has stated that he is simply a Grocer.
Mimi, meanwhile, was a boarder in 1911 in a convent school in Wales run by a group of French Nuns.
I then took a walk to the Jersey Archive. Here I looked at the parent’s Aliens Registration Cards (the children, being born in Jersey, were British and had no need for cards), the rates books to determine when each move was made, the death indexes – provided by the Channel Island Family History Society – to find when they died and where they were buried and the actual will testaments.
Armed with the information, I had gleaned, I was able to visit the sites of their various shops as they moved from Bath Street, to Burrard Street and then to King Street – the main high street of St Helier. I was able to pay a visit to the Almorah Cemetery, above St Helier, to find their graves and notice how so many are unloved and damaged by the years of rain and growth of holly and ivy.
Family history is an absorbing pastime when you mix together the dates, names and information that you obtain from a data collection, with a visit to the actual places where your forebears tread. It is then that it comes to life.
Check out the powerful Master Search tool that is a particularly different feature of TheGenealogist.co.uk where all the records on their site are easily accessible at the click of a button.
Allowing you to use one simple form to search across millions of records, including Parish Records, Wills, Newspapers, Census, Non-Conformist Registers, and more, I used this to research the Kerdal family online.
The simple to use interface allows you to search for a person, family, or an address, incorporating the previous searches such as the Family Forename Search, House & Street Search, and Keyword Master Search.
Disclosure: The above links are compensated affiliate links.
I’ve received an up date from TheGenealogist.co.uk to say that we can now search a newspaper containing Births Marriages and Deaths from the time of the Occupation of the Channel Islands on their site.
A selection of issues that cover the period 1941-1945 are available from the time when some evacuated from their homes to England. To keep in touch the refugees produced this journal.
The background is this. In 1940 German forces were threatening the Channel Isles as they advanced across France and the British government consulted the Islands representatives. It was decided then that the islands were not defensible and so they would be demilitarised. A massive evacuation was carried out during late June 1940 and those residents of the islands that wanted to leave, boarded a flotilla of ships to the UK where they settled.
It is a matter of history that the Channel Isles were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied during WWII and by the 1st of July 1940 they had surrendered to the German Army.
During the war ex residents kept in touch with ‘The Channel Isles Monthly Review’. These journals listed Births, Marriages and Deaths plus allowed islanders to keep in contact with friends and family. TheGenealogist has now included pdfs that can be searched in their newspaper section of the site and they promise that it will grow as new issues become available.
Just read the following excerpt for a flavour:
Nov 1941 issue “A young Jerseyman has escaped from Jersey. Three days and three nights in an eight foot boat without food.” This was his third attempt and he had previously spent four days on a rock that featured in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” . This attempt he managed to evade two German E-boats that nearly swamped his boat.
Conditions in the island weren’t good as the Jerseyman reported:-
“The food supply is not the best. Fuel is short. Income tax is 4/6 in the pound to pay the expenses of the army of occupation.”
He also said to the Times that food is rationed and very scarce with Jersey butter, cream and other products exported much against the will of the population.
“There is a total absence of fats on the island so there are no cakes or pastry etc. The curfew is at 11pm”
People used the review to publish excerpts from letters about relatives on the islands and give news of family members.
The selection of issues covers 1941-1945 and are available to Diamond subscribers.
When we consciously decide to do Family history, as opposed to Genealogy, we set out to flesh out our ancestors lives a bit. We do this by seeking to understand what they did for a living, what the environment in which they lived and worked in was like and the social conditions that prevailed on them at the time.
My Devon ancestors are a mixture of Agricultural Labourers, Mariners, Small Businessmen and the like. Their work is very often dictated by where they lived. The countryside dwellers in and around Bigbury and South Huish worked on the land. Those that inhabited Dartmouth made a living on the river and at sea while those from Plymouth ran shops and small businesses. Not surprisingly none of them were coal miners or textile mill workers.
At the Society of Genealogists (SoG), in London, there is a good amount of material to help family historians research ancestors occupations and much of it is to be found in the Upper library at 14 Charterhouse Buildings. Although not all the material is exclusively on that floor, it is a good place to start as Else Churchill, the Genealogist at The Society of Genealogists pointed out in a talk I attended there last year.
With the “Ag Labs”, as we have come to call our Agricultural Labourers after the 1841 census introduced this shorthand way of describing them, there is a book that can be purchased from the SoG shop called My Ancestor Was an An Agricultural Labourer which explains what their lives were like and points the reader towards some source material that could be used apart from the census data.
Returning to the question in the headline of this article: What Did Your Ancestors Do? Finding the answer to this question will probably depend on what status they were and what and when they carried out their trade, profession or calling.
As some professions and crafts became more regulated then lists of those qualified to make a living from the activity will have thrown up records. Family historians can have recourse to Trade Directories, Apprenticeship lists and so on to try and find their forebears. Professional men, such as Medical men and Lawyers are going to be better documented than others. The SoG have extremely good runs of lists for these professions as well as those, such as Chemists and Apothecaries, who modelled their professional standards on the former class of practitioners, with the sanction of being struck off from the register to practice.
The Law list’s at the SoG include Barristers, London Attorneys and Provincial Attorneys back into the eighteenth century. The medical directories only really start in the 1850’s with the formal registration of these professions but I did find in their catalogue A directory of English country physicians 1603-43.
Men who were Officers in the Army or Navy can be found in the run of military lists on the upper library floor along with a great collection of Regimental Histories and Medal Rolls.
Some enlisted men can be located by using the Findmypast Chelsea Pensioner 1760 to 1913 data set and the Militia Service Records 1806-1915. Look in the county record office for the Ballot Lists of those men eligible to serve in the local militia from the 1750’s to Napoleonic times (1799 to 1815).
What if your ancestor went into trade by serving an apprenticeship? Else Churchill, explained that apprenticeship records are better documented before 1800 than after. A tax levied in the 18th century caused records to be kept and they are to be found today at the National Archives IR1 series and they are indexed by the SoG and can be found in books in the upper library. Another database is on Ancestry. The SoG has another excellent book called My Ancestor was an Apprentice which may help.
If your ancestors served an apprenticeship in one of the larger towns, or boroughs, in order to become a freeman and gain the entitlement to vote, then look for the records for the town/borough at the county record office. Ms Churchill pointed out that the more likely scenario would be that your ancestor would have served their apprenticeship within a family and there would be no record as the tax was not applicable within a family apprenticeship.
A possible record that may be found is where a child is apprenticed by the parish to make them less of a burden on the parish. Typically the age of the apprentice is much younger (7 or 8yrs old) and husbandry or housewifery. If the records survive they will be in the Parish Chest material.
This is only a short look at this subject and I will return to it in a further article here.
Take your family history further by considering a subscription to these websites:
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I was doing a bit of research, this week, on a person who had been part of an Army family that moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands, at the end of the 19th century from England.
From the 1891 census I could see that this young girl, aged 14, was listed as a Daughter and was living in the household of a Colour Sergeant and his wife in the Parish of St Saviour. By the time of the next census, in 1901, they had moved a few miles further east, within the island, to the Arsenal in the Parish of Grouville. The head of the household would seem to be listed as a Quarter Master Sergeant, on the permanent staff for the Royal Jersey Militia Infantry and his daughter as a Music Teacher.
Using the various online databases at The Genealogist.co.uk, Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk, the next time that the daughter appears, in any of their records, was in the probate records for her mother back in England in the 1930s. From this we see that the daughter has married, revealing her new surname. But there seems to be no record for the marriage in any of the countries that make up the United Kingdom. Jersey and the rest of the Channel Islands are British Islands that are not, of course, part of the U.K. and they have their own administrations and their own marriage registers.
None of the Jersey marriage records are online and so on one of my visits to the Lord Coutanche Library at La Societe Jersiaise, in St Helier, I took the time to consult their copies of the indexes to the island’s marriages. If you have read the guest post by James McLaren on this blog on Jersey BMD records after 1842 as part of the Jersey Family History Section, you will know that this is a somewhat lengthy affair as they are not kept quarterly, like in England, but are simply run until they are filled up. Indexing is alphabetical by the first letter of the surname only, being added to the list in the order that the marriages take place. Each parish runs indexes for Anglican and non-Anglican marriages and in St Helier, the town parish, each C of E church has its own index.
I was faced with the prospect of going through thirty or so indexes, looking for the chance marriage of this couple at some unknown date after the 1901 census. My best guess was to start with the Parish of Grouville, where she had been resident in 1901. Sadly, I had no luck and so I began the trawl through the different parish indexes until I hit St Helier.
There, in 1902, at the main Parish Church of St Helier, married by the Dean of Jersey, G.O.Balleine, was my research targets! It had taken me hours of persistence to find them and, with quite some satisfaction, I now noted down the details on my pad. I would need the Parish, the dates between which the index ran, the Page number and the bride and grooms names to obtain a certified extract from the Superintendent Registrar’s Office in the island, on payment of the required £20. The time it had taken me to find them, however, meant that this office was now closed for the day. They are only open to the public on weekday mornings and then only when no civil weddings are taking place at the office.
The next day, however, I was able to request the certificate and collect it the day after. A speculative search had revealed the Jersey marriage of this couple in September 1902. A good result and another piece in the puzzle of this family’s research.
Following on from the series earlier in the year on researching family history in Jersey, we turn our attention south to France.
Over the centuries there has been considerable immigration into Jersey from France. The principal waves of immigrants arrived firstly as a result of Huguenots fleeing around the time that the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685; secondly as a result of political uncertainty during the period after 1789; and thirdly as a result of famine and rural poverty in Brittany and western Normandy from about 1850 onwards. The last wave was the largest of the three, with some thousands of people arriving and settling â€“ and consequently there are a substantial number of Jersey families who have a French connection.
Aliensâ€™ registration cards (those issued under legislation passed in 1920 are in the Archive catalogue in series D/S/B, and the registers that accompany them are in series D/S/C. Those relating to French nationals present during the Occupation are at reference D/S/A/24)
If available, records of public bodies such as the courts, the prison and the hospital (all of whom would want this information for accounting purposes). These could be your best bet if your ancestors arrived in the early part of the third wave
French law set a series of benchmarks in 1803 as to what needed to be recorded to legalise registration of births, marriages and deaths, much as England did in 1837. Part of this was that every commune had to keep a book recording births marriages and deaths. The book would cover ten years: there would be an index to every year and an overall index for the whole ten year book. While the entries are numbered one-up each year and include births, marriages and deaths in a single numbering sequence, the indexes for birth, marriage and death are separate.
We are looking at the book covering 1843 to 1852 so we find it among the 17 books listed and click the image, then we click the image on the right-hand side of the page. This launches the viewer software.
We actually need to start not at the first page but at the last page â€“ the tables decennales covering all ten yearsâ€™ worth of entries are there. Working backwards we start with the deaths, then come to the marriages, then the births.
A more typical entry is that for the marriage of Jean-Pierre Le Gentil in 1844. There is a format to entries: each entry always begins with the date (and indeed the hour of day), and is followed by the name of the official and his credentials (usually the mayor). In the case of a marriage we then have the prospective husband, his date and place of birth, where he is living and the names of his parents. In this case his mother has died and the necessary papers have been presented to prove it. At the end of that you spot the phrase dâ€™une part; this means that what follows is the same details for the prospective wife. The rest of the documentation is the legal wording affirming that the marriage has been notified and legally witnessed, and also gives the names of the witnesses.
To wrap up the series, thereâ€™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. Butâ€¦ 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 photographâ€™s date down quite well.
This particular photo is a neat example. Richardâ€™s work tells us there were only two firms who put reference numbers on the front of prints, both operating in the 1930s. But thereâ€™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 Richeâ€™s (a long-established island grocer) opened their shop there.
In addition, thereâ€™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, itâ€™s quite possible that theyâ€™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 â€“ theyâ€™re up on the first floor. You need to book a reader â€“ it is worth doing this in advance, particularly if you want the one that will print to paper. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Jerseyâ€™s history and culture.
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!
Establishing who owns land or a house on it is important, and pretty well every country has a land registry. Jerseyâ€™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 â€“ 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 â€“ arrangements which exist to deal with the complexities of Jerseyâ€™s Norman-based system of inheritance.
You will also find details of rentes. Rentes are a little like a mortgage â€“ you agree to long-term instalment payments in return for a capital sum â€“ 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 â€“ in other words, appointments of attorneys to act on behalf of an individual â€“ for more recent times.
If you start in modern times â€“ after about 1980 â€“ you can search properties. Any sale contract has to include a recital of title â€“ 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 chainâ€¦
Even if you donâ€™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 didnâ€™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 Amyâ€™s siblings, the names of their husbands (if they were married at that point), her parents, her brotherâ€™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 â€“ how generous the settlement was (or wasnâ€™t) could indicate the social standing of the family.
There are not many places where the contribution you make to property rates is public knowledge, but Jersey is one of them.
In Jersey rates are paid in two parts: one part is paid by the owner of the property (the foncier rate) and the other is by the occupier (mobilier rate). There are sets of rate books in both the Archive and the Coutanche Library covering about a century up to 1965, plus some more recent data as well (ask for Taxation du RÃ¢t)
These arenâ€™t the easiest of documents to use, because the listing is an alphabetical list of ratepayers in each vingtaine (a vingtaine is a subdivision of a parish; the smallest parish (St Mary) has two, while St Helier has seven).
Ideally you need a detailed map of Jersey and a lot of patience â€“ but the listings can be very rewarding. They will indicate whether someone owns a property or not: they can also indicate something about the condition or size of the property (someone paying 5 quartiers of mobilier rates a year is going to be living more modestly than someone paying 20 quartiers a year. Itâ€™s also indicative, at least to some degree, if the person you are researching is not on the list of ratepayers â€“ that would indicate someone who was probably in a shared tenement and fairly low down the pile (because this became a lot less common as slum housing started to be replaced in the 20th century). Some of the parishes also published lists of people with dog and/or gun licences alongside their rates.
The existence of the rates books is also very handy in tying movement down. I knew that my wifeâ€™s family moved from one address to another between the 1891 and 1901 censuses: the fact that they suddenly started paying rates in 1896 or so pinpoints the move more exactly. Equally, my second cousins had a hotel in Grouville, but they disappear from the rate books in about 1905 â€“ only a year after the owner (to whom one of them was married) died.