JERSEY and my family history

by James Brannan

Victoria College - attended by my great grandfather Charles Philip Renouf

I am researching the following Jersey names
(all direct ancestors - most immediate ones first):

RENOUF (St Mary) 15-19C (St Peter, Georgetown) 19C
BLAMPIED (St Lawrence)
DU PRE (St Mary, St Lawrence, St Peter) 16-19C
BERTAUT (St Lawrence) 1800
LUCE (St Lawrence) 18C
GIBAUT (St Lawrence) 17-19C
HUE (St Mary) pre-19C
LE HARDY (Jersey) pre-19C
RENAUT/RENAULT (St Mary, St Lawrence) 16-18C
LE MAISTRE (St Peter) 18C
ARTHUR (St Mary, St John) 17-18C
DORET/DOREY (St John, St Helier) 17C
LE CORNU (St Helier) 17C
NICOLLE (St John) 17C
GODFRAY (St Clement) 1700
LE GROS (St Lawrence) 17C
LE GALLAIS (St Lawrence) 17C
MAHIER (St Mary) 16-17C
D'AUVERGNE (Jersey) pre-18C
ROBIN (Jersey) pre-18C
DE CARTERET (Jersey) pre-18C


My RENOUF ancestors:
Family Tradition
Civil Registration
Census Returns
Houses and Datestones
Parish Registers
Legal Records
(my direct line of Renouf ancestry)
Language in Jersey
My DU PRE ancestors
My HUE and LE HARDY ancestors
NB Information on Merchant Seamen has been moved to my "Jersey Mariners and Ships Page"

My RENOUF ancestors

Family tradition

The starting point for my research was inevitably family tradition - the stories passed down through the generations. I knew that my great grandfather Charles Philip RENOUF had been educated at VICTORIA COLLEGE (his name appears in the admissions register for 1871) and then arrived in London to work for the Civil Service in about 1875, at the age of 19. He passed on his pride in his origins to his children - my grandmother was given the name Ethel Annie de Jersey RENOUF. Another daughter had the middle name BLAMPIED (pronounced "Blompy 'ed" with a London accent!) - this was the maiden name of Charles' mother. That clue proved essential for tracing his birth certificate, as RENOUF is a relatively common name in the Channel Islands. Other stories have yet to be proved: there's one about the Renouf "who came over with William the Conqueror" but I'll probably never get back that far! (it must be said however that there were five knights called Renouf at the Battle of Hastings). My father reckons he once saw a family tree dating back to that era - if so, it seems to have disappeared without trace. Another more recent story is that of Charles' grandfather Henry Renouf, who not only served at Trafalgar but claimed to have shot the French sharpshooter who shot Nelson - that's being investigated! Henry does not actually appear on the Trafalgar lists (which can be found on the web via the link below) but they are probably incomplete...

Civil Registration

As in mainland England, the first archive source for family historians is civil registration. The Jersey registers however are not "centralised" at St Catherine's House - one has to contact the States Registrar. Once the certificate is found, the Registrar gives you the choice between the English version or the French version. I opted for the French version of my great grandfather's birth certificate and discovered that his father Charles John Renouf was a "Capitaine au long cours". Since then (see Jersey Ships Page) I have found out about some his travels, mainly to North America (cod trade with Newfoundland) but also along the Mediterranean and as far as the Black Sea and the Danube delta (bringing back reapseed).

There is no general island index like those at St Catherine's House. The public can consult (on microfiche) the Registrar's indices to each parish for 1842-1900 at the Société Jersiaise. There are separate fiche for each parish but not necessarily for each sub-period. For example, a single fiche for St Helier might contain the index for 1890-93, then 1894-96, then 1897-99, so you have to be careful to check all three sub-periods. Using the fiche I found the reference for the death of Charles John Renouf at St Helier in 1897 (Renouf is a common name, but I was lucky with the combination of Christian names). If you apply to the States Registrar, he may spend a long time searching through the various parishes if you are unable to provide a precise location, especially with common names, as in the case of the marriage certificate of Charles John Renouf and Mary Ann Blampied in 1851. He was from St Peter, she was from St Lawrence, but they got married in St Clement, on the south coast of the island. The bridegroom was back in Jersey for a few months between two voyages. If you do know the parish, however, you can always try calling on the parish registrar who may well have the original registers in his house - that's how I traced the 1881 death of my great great grandmother Mary Ann Blampied. I actually went round on a bank holiday and spent a couple of hours looking through the registers in the registrar's kitchen! (The registrar, Mr Egré, has recently passed away - early 1999 - and I will certainly remember him for his hospitality).

Census Returns

The Jersey census however, is fortunately available on microfilm at the PRO, although any indexes would probably only be available locally (the 1851, 1871 and 1891 Jersey census indexes have been published by the Channel Islands FHS, and 1881 is available on microfilm from the FFHS). So with the address from my great grandfather's birth certificate I searched the census for "Coin Motier" in St Lawrence's parish. I found the Blampied family in 1851 - Mary Ann had not yet married. Her elderly grandmother was still alive - Susanne LUCE (her maiden name in accordance with Jersey tradition - but Mary Ann's mother was shown with her married name). In 1861 my great grandfather was living there, at the farm of his Blampied grandparents, with his mother - the father was away at sea. That would explain why only a couple of children were born during the first ten years of marriage! After his career as mariner and ship's captain, however, Charles John Renouf returned to the land and had three more sons. In 1871 he is described as a "Master Mariner" but never went to sea again. His father Henry had also been a seaman and had also "retired" to the family farm as a "grower" (presumably of cider apples and cereals - potatoes came later in the century). The 1851 census confirmed Henry's parish of birth as St Mary - another vital clue as he had moved by that time to the neighbouring parish of St Peter, where there were other Renouf families.

There are also a number of pre-1841 "censuses" for Jersey. I found my Blampied ancestors for example on a 1788 list of parishioners of St Lawrence which was published by in the Journals of the Channel Islands FHS in 1981 (divided according to each "Vingtaine" of the parish). The Jersey militia lists for 1806 and 1815 are also worth consulting as is the Jersey Oath of Association Roll of 1696 (now transcribed in a book by Alex Glendinning, available from the CIFHS). The Roll contains signatures of Jersey men for each parish - however, when the name is very common in a particular parish, like Renoufs in St Mary, it can be difficult to identify your direct ancestor.

Houses and Datestones

To trace the locations of the two family farms (the Blampied farm and the one run by Henry Renouf) in addition to the census, I used the valuable Godfray Map of 1849 showing the owners of all the properties in the island's country parishes. As a follow-up one can then go to Joan Stevens' work "Old Jersey Houses" (vol.2) which refers to the owners on the Godfray map (useful confirmation) and often gives a detailed description of the house (vol.1 deals with earlier history). I thus learnt that Henry Renouf's farm was called "La Chaumière du Chêne" in St Peter's parish (now within a stone's throw of the airport!). I managed to find my way there by comparing the Godfray Map with a modern OS map. The farm still has a number of historical relics, pre-dating Henry Renouf, for example a stone (no. 70 on datestones page - follow link below) with the initials of Clement Le Montais and the letter "R" underneath for his wife Rachel, sister of Sir George Carteret, who may himself have been born and brought up in this very house. Henry purchased the property in 1820 and the contract (see Public Registry below) states that he paid 2,400 pounds. His son Charles John was still living there in 1881.

La Chaumière du Chêne, St Peter

The Blampied farm in St Lawrence (Coin Motier) was the birthplace of my great grandfather Charles Philip(pe) Renouf - his mother's ancestors had been farming there for centuries. This century, however, a major development has changed that part of the island - the farm is located at the upper end of "Waterworks Valley" to the west of the Handois Reservoir, which used to be a China clay quarry (old photograph in "Jersey Through the Lens" by Mayne and Stevens). According to a family legend, the quarry was given to an ancestor in return for services to the Crown (Philippe Blampied certainly sold land to Vatcher who started the quarry in the 1870s). The farm itself was bought up by the Jersey Waterworks and since their bailiff left there in the 1950s the building has become derelict. I managed to find the farm, even though it must be one of the most secluded spots on the island, and it was a strange experience to wander round the empty rooms where my ancestors lived from 1806.

As was the custom in Jersey one can see the initialled stone (photo below) of the farmer and his wife who had the new farm built: IBP - SL (with entwined hearts in the middle) i.e. Jean Blampied and Susanne Luce. There is an indexed list of initialled stones, including this one, in vol. 2 of "Old Jersey Houses" by Joan Stevens, and an updated list is being made available on the net (use link at end of this chapter).

An even earlier farm, dating back to the seventeenth century, had become used as an outbuilding. When I visited in 1992 I discovered that part of the outbuilding had been demolished but the neighbours told me that it was not due to vandalism! The National Trust were restoring another farm in the same parish, called Hamptonne (since opened as a rural life museum, which is certainly worth a visit), and they found that my ancestors' farm had been built with the same stone...

Another aspect of "field work" on Jersey are the churchyards, especially if you know the parish where your ancestors lived. I visited St Mary's churchyard in search of the Renoufs and found the 1817 gravestone (picture below) of my ancestor Elisabeth Du Pré, wife of Charles Hugh Renouf (the wife's maiden name was used, as was the custom, until the end of her days). A large number of the MIs have now been transcribed and/or indexed (the CIFHS research room has a good collection).

I have managed to locate a couple of other houses inhabited by the Renoufs in St Mary. One is "La Préférence", bearing two datestones with the initials of Clement Renouf and Rebecca Le Gros, one 1699 and the other 1707 (pictures of these stones can be seen by following the link below, at nos. 904/905). This house was in the family until about 1840. The other one is called "La Pompe" and has a 1690 datestone with the initials of Jean Renouf and Elizabeth Piquet (no. 480), although these are not my ancestors. This house was exchanged by Jean Renouf in 1719 (apparently over a game of cards!) with a house belonging to the Arthur family.

Parish Registers

Jersey parish registers have a number of advantages for tracing family history: the baptism entries always give the maiden name of the mother, as well as the godparents who were often close relatives, and sometimes even indicated as being the grandparents, aunts or uncles etc. Most of the Jersey registers have now been transcribed and indexed. Using the transcripts of the St Mary's registers (at the Société Jersiaise) I traced the Renoufs back to Mathieu Renouf and Elizabeth Doret. I thought I had found Mathieu's baptism (see below) but the public register proved this wrong - the late 17th century register for St Mary appears to be incomplete and sometimes erroneous.

Unfortunately, not all of the transcripts/indices show the godparents, which is the case for St Lawrence, and it is then necessary to contact a researcher who has access to the original registers, or the rector of the parish. The original records might also contain other details not given in the transcript, as in the case of Mathieu Renouf's baptism at St. Mary in 1673/4 (original spelling):

"le 14e de Febvier 1673 Mathieu fils de Jean Renouf fs Phle et baptisé le Mercredy suivant à St Jean dans la Maison de Venerable homme Clement Le Couteur Dojen de cette Isle de Jersey le quel fut Parrain avec Jeanne Renouf veuve de Jean Bellin Junior, le dit enfans est fuible"

The transcript does give the godparents in this case, but not the fact that the child was baptised in the Dean's house in a different parish and that he was "weak". This is a case where the godfather was an important local personality - Clement Le Couteur is mentioned in Balleine's "Biographical History of Jersey".

The registers for St Mary only go back as far as 1647, so it is impossible to trace the baptism of the Jean Renouf mentioned in the above entry. However, we know the name of his father, Philippe Renouf, as this baptism record for Mathieu gives "son of Jean, son of Philippe". From the burial transcript there is a probable entry for Philippe, buried in 1670 aged 67. The entry even shows that Philippe was the son of Pierre Renouf, and another entry indicates the burial of Jeanne Le Mottez, widow of a Pierre Renouf, in 1648 aged 70. It is thus possible to trace a couple of earlier generations before the registers began, although relationships can be difficult to confirm, especially with common surnames (there were many Renoufs in this parish), and if possible they should be checked using property records (see below) or other sources. The rule for research in Jersey must surely be "never take things for granted"!

The parish registers sometimes indicate positions in the parish. Philippe Renouf is described (on the baptism of one of his grandchildren) as a "lecteur" which roughly corresponded to a parish clerk who would have read aloud in the Church.

Finally, if you are looking for a marriage in the eighteenth century, you can try using the Gottlieb Index (available at the Société Jersiaise and CIFHS room).

Legal Records

The Public Registry (Registre Public) consists of "Partages", legal documents concerning the division of land between heirs and successors, as well as other contracts between people who were not necessarily related. It is often (but not always) a very useful source of genealogical information, especially for establishing relationships, which are not always obvious from the parish registers alone, due to inter-marrying between families and the use of the same Christian names. These records (like parish registers) often refer to a person as "fils X fils Y etc." indicating both father and grandson, as well as other members of the family. The land contracts are written in "normal" French (see "Language" below) and there are over 700 indices, so it can take time to wade through them all! But this source was the only way, for example, to confirm my Du Pré line of ancestry as being through the second wife of Edouard du Pré (b.1673) as opposed to his son Edouard junior: "Mse Esther Renaut Veuve en Secondes Noces du dit Edouard du Pré".

When tracing my Renouf ancestors, the Public Register filled in the gaps of the St Mary's parish register before 1700 (see above), and enabled me to trace the family back 2 or 3 generations. The baptism of Mathieu Renouf who married Elizabeth Doret was apparently not recorded, but his parents and grandparents are shown in "partages".

These records are also available outside Jersey as they have been microfilmed by the Mormons. At any LDS family history centre you will be able to order both the indices and the land records themselves - it is obviously advisable to consult the former first! But as you have to pay, it would be far too expensive to order them all at the same time...when you have found the most interesting-looking references in the indices you can then order the registers. It's a question of time and money and it might be worth planning a few days in Jersey instead! You would actually save a lot of time if your interests are post-1798 because the indices to those registers are now on computer - only in St Helier...

There are other categories of legal records in Jersey, including the "Cour d'Heritage" which settled succession problems. From this source I found that Mathieu Renouf (junior) was the heir in right of his wife Marie Hue to part of the estate of his mother-in-law Rachel Le Hardy - the other heir being Marie's nephew Jean Hue, as his father Charles Hue had died. This was confirmation that I had traced the right antecedents of Marie Hue.

Cour d'Heritage 1758

My RENOUF ancestors - direct line

- Ethel Annie de Jersey RENOUF 1882-1969, married Sydney BRANNAN in 1906
- Charles Philippe RENOUF 1856-1940, married Harriet CAMPBELL in 1877.
- Charles John RENOUF 1817-1897, married Mary Ann BLAMPIED in 1851.
- Henry RENOUF 1780-1866, married Anne DU PRE in 1815.
- Charles Hugh RENOUF 1749-1837, married Elizabeth DU PRE in 1773.
- Matthieu RENOUF 1711-1785, married Marie HUE in 1736.
- Matthieu RENOUF (?)-1745, married Elisabeth DORET.
- Clement RENOUF, married Rebecca LE GROS (datestones at "La Préférence")
- Pierre RENOUF, married Esther MAHIER
- (probably) Clement RENOUF

Language in Jersey

Certain terms in the parish records can also provide interesting clues for further research. For example the marriage of Henry Renouf (1815) described his bride Anne Du Pré as "demoiselle" (Dlle) suggesting that she came from an upper-class family, the daughter of an "écuyer" or "seigneur". Otherwise the title "Maîtresse" (Mse) was more commonly used for a woman. A knowledge of French is of course useful for research, although many Jersey terms would not be found in a modern French dictionary! Jersey patois is still spoken and a "French" pronunciation of place names may be more appropriate than an "English" one. Surnames also have different spellings and/or pronunciations in Jersey French, for example the name Renouf becomes "R'non" and Blampied "Bliampid" in which the second letter is mute. I gleaned this information from local people and then found a useful list in the book "Lé Jèrriais Pour Tous" by Paul Birt. An early 19th century work on Jersey gives the following description of "Jersey French" at that time:

"The vernacular language is French. Divine service, and preaching, the pleadings at court, and the public acts, are all in good French; though, in legal documents, some obsolete forensic terms are still retained. The upper ranks understand and occasionally speak it; but, in compliance with custom, and to avoid the appearance of an affected superiority, over the lower classes, they, too frequently, converse in the provincial tongue, or, as it is called, Jersey French. This is a heterogeneous compound of antiquated French, intermixed with modern expressions and gallicised English words, so that it may be termed a kind of lingua franca and it is pronounced, especially in the country districts, with a most abominable patois. The different parishes even vary in these respects, so that there are more dialects in the language of Jersey than in the ancient Greek. This medley is really disgraceful to the island, and it is extraordinary that no efforts have yet been made to remedy the defect. English is, however, becoming daily more and more prevalent; the necessity of comprehending the soldiery has made it understood, even by the market women..."

An Account of the Island of Jersey, by William Plees 1817

Finally, be prepared to encounter both French and English versions of Christian names (depending on the source). Philip and Philippe are obviously the same name, but less obvious are Jane and Jeanne, Elias and Elie etc.

My DU PRE ancestors

Two of my direct RENOUF ancestors (see above) married into the family of DU PRE (St Mary's). From this family came a number of Jersey celebrities - Connétables, Lieutenants, Rectors, Lawyers, a Dean and an Attorney General....

From an old bulletin of the Société Jersiaise I discovered a complete history of the family (in French) with a tree, starting with Richard du Pray, whose son Charles settled in St Mary's in about 1555 and was appointed Prévôt of the parish in 1561. Charles' descendants became prominent citizens and earned the right to be buried inside the church. Jean Du Pré (1662-1733) was an "Avocat de la Cour Royale", fined in 1695 for reading unauthenticated acts. His son Jean Du Pré (1725-1783) was the rector of St Clement and St Helier, and his three sons followed him into the clergy: Jean was the headmaster of Berkhamstead College and the Rector of Mentmore, Edouard was Rector of St Helier and "Doyen" of Jersey 1802-1823, Michel was Rector of St John. A son of Dean Edouard Du Pré was John William Du Pré (1790-1866) who, after being a POW in France during the Napoleonic wars, became an "Avocat" 1815, "Greffier" of the Church Court 1816, "Avocat Général" 1824 and "Procureur Général" 1848. He was also a writer, founded a newspaper, and drew up the Law on Criminal Procedure, as well as supporting the French exiles (the most famous "proscrit" being Victor Hugo) but this was apparently frowned upon and cost him his promotion to the position of Bailiff.

John William Du Pré, attributed to P.J.Ouless

My HUE and LE HARDY ancestors

By using the card index of family trees at the Société Jersiaise, I found an existing tree for my HUE ancestors in a bulletin of the Société, like that of the DU PRE family (above). The trees and articles from this source are in French. Another source of existing trees (this time in English) is Payn's "Armorial of Jersey" (1859), which contains a section on my LE HARDY ancestors. The "Armorial" is known to contain mistakes, one reason being that families actually paid to have their pedigrees included and the information was not always checked properly!

The Societe Jersiaise bulletin allowed me to trace the HUE line back to Jehan HUE, mentioned in a document of 1453. Nicolas HUE, a few generations later, was a "Connétable" of Jersey and died about 1560 over 80 years old. The most famous ancestor in this family was the Royalist Helier HUE who joined George de Carteret at Elizabeth Castle during the siege by the Roundheads.

(Through my HUE ancestry I am also a descendant of the following families: Robin, Dauvergne, de Soulemont, Journeaux, Hamptonne, Lemprière, Sarre and du Pont).

The LE HARDY family were also staunch royalists. The mother of Mary HUE (see above) was Rachel LE HARDY, sister of Sir Thomas (Le) Hardy, Rear Admiral of the Blue, who has a monument in Westminster Abbey (and also happens to be the ancestor of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York). Rachel's father, grandfather and great grandfather were all Solicitors General of Jersey. The earliest ancestor in Payn's "Armorial" is Clement LE HARDY, a "Jurat" (judge) of the Royal Court in 1369. His great grandson, also called Clement, was appointed Lieutenant Governor and Bailly of the island by Henry VII in return for sheltering and assisting him, as Earl of Richmond, after the Earl's first and unsuccessful attempt to take the throne of England from Richard II before the Battle of Bosworth. Despite the danger, my ancestor helped the future king to cross over to safety in Normandy, and thus possibly changed the course of history!

(Through the LE HARDY family I am also a descendant of the families of Dumaresq, de Beauvoir and de Carteret - with further royal connections as a result of the latter!).


If any readers have any connections with the above-mentioned families I would very much like to hear from you. I would especially like to continue my research on the DORET line (also spelt "DOREY") in 17th century St Helier. I still have not traced the marriage of Matthieu RENOUF and Elizabeth DORET, probably about 1700 (it does not appear in the Gottlieb index). And any confirmation of Henry Renouf's exploits at Trafalgar would be most welcome!

Genealogy Links

My Pages