Jersey Mariners and Ships Page

by James Brannan

The aim of this page is to provide information on how I traced my mariner ancestors from Jersey (mainly Renouf, Blampied and Dupré) and the ships they sailed on. Particular reference will be made to the following Renouf Captains:

Henry Renouf (1784-1866) and his sons Charles John Renouf (1817-1897) and Elias Renouf (b. 1834).

Gravestone of Captain Jourdain Blampied (1799-1864), St Lawrence

Jourdain worked for the De Ste Croix company, especially on the Honduras run. In 1845 as Captain of the vessel "St Croix" (a 480-ton barque), he was reprimanded by the Registar of shipping for not having his ship's articles endorsed by the Consul in Honduras. The Registrar's letter, threatening him with a fine of 10 pounds, and his reply in defence, can be found attached to the crew list at the PRO (BT98/678).

His first cousin Philippe Blampied was the father-in-law of my great great grandfather Charles John Renouf (see below).

Jersey Merchant Seamen's Ledgers

After finding out that my Renouf ancestors were mariners and then reading an article in a CIFHS Journal (winter 1984/5), I spent one afternoon at the library of the Société Jersiaise going through the dusty ledgers of the Jersey Merchant Seamen's Benefit Society. Beginning in 1835, their purpose was to record the service of each seaman to decide how much he was to contribute to the welfare fund. They contain the names of ships and their crew, the length of service in each ship and information of genealogical interest such as the parish where each seaman was born and his age (this information is not always accurate however). I thus have a list of 17 of the ships that Charles John Renouf sailed on mainly before 1850 (see below). Once he had the Captain's certificate that came into force about then, his ships can only be found in the Lloyd's Captains index (see below). The work "Jersey Sailing Ships" by John Jean is a useful follow-up as it gives details of many ships, as well as lists of captains, ship-owners, etc. (other sources are mentioned on this page). Another ledger gives details of pensions: Charles John received two pounds a year until his death in 1897 (another way of tracing the year of death). 1837, when the records begin, was almost the end of his father Henry's career as a seaman but I found the last few ships Henry served on: the "Twig" and "Dean" 1836-7, and when he last went to sea in 1844, the "John" of which his son Charles John was the Captain. I also discovered that another of his sons, Henry, served on a few ships before "running away" in 1839 at the age of 19.

Here is the list of ships recorded for Charles John Renouf in the Merchant Seamen's Ledger:

Eliza 1836 (118-ton Brig)
Britannia 1837 (103-ton Brig)
John 1839 (46-ton Schooner)
Medusa 1839
Sibyl 1841-2 (84-ton Schooner)
John 1844-6 (48-ton Schooner)
Lord Anson 1846 (124-ton Schooner)
Apparition 1848 (137-ton Schooner)
Isabella 1850 (176-ton Brig)
Betsey and Jane 1851 (102-ton Schooner)
Richard Cobden 1853-4 (58-ton Schooner)
Messenger 1869 (119-ton Schooner)

The Lloyds Captains Register (see below) fills in the gap between 1855 and 1868. The Claim for his Certificate of Service (at Greenwich) dated 1851 gives the above-mentioned ships, albeit with inaccurate dates, up to the "Betsey and Jane", with two others at the very beginning of his career, the "St Aubin" and the "Ebenezer" (1832-34).

Henry Renouf, 1784-1866, my great great great grandfather

Henry served at Trafalgar, according to family tradition. He was the captain of at least one merchant ship (the "Britannia") and last went to sea in 1844 (see above). He spent the last years of his life in Georgetown, living with his younger son Elias, also a Captain. The 1861 census shows that he had been blind for four years.

Henry's neighbour in Georgetown was the widow of Captain Francis Anley, who had been poisoned with arsenic placed in his pea soup by one of the sailors on board the "Isabella" in 1851. Henry's son Charles John had been the captain of the very same ship, a 59-ton schooner owned by Edward Jean & Co. The unhappy incident is mentioned by John Jean in "Stories of Jersey's Ships".

Lloyds Register and List

The Lloyds Register provides information on ships, which in the case of Jersey-registered vessels can also be found in the local shipping register (see below). The Lloyds List is the journal of shipping intelligence to which there is an index from 1838 onwards (on microfilm at Greenwich and Guildhall Library, London). The useful thing about the index is that it usually gives the name of the captain - vital when the ship has a common name like "John" - but not always helpful when the captain changed during the year.

In one case, for the "Lord Anson" 1845, it gives Renouf in the index but by the second reference a few months later the ship had already changed captain! It looks as if something happened to my ancestor between leaving Jersey in September and arriving in Barbados in November, when Captain Rowan is shown in the Lloyds List. Unfortunately I failed to find any crew lists, perhaps because the ship sank in the following March (1846). The Jersey shipping register (see below) confirms the wreck and gives yet another captain called Queripel!

The Lloyds List provides information on arrivals, sailings and speakings, but also mentions any incidents during the voyage. An entry for the Jersey vessel "John" (Capt. Charles John Renouf) in 1845 reads as follows:

There is also a list of Captains published by the Lloyds and Jersey Captains can be found among them with their register numbers. Using the latter you can trace the certificate of service or competency held at Greenwich. The following information can be found on Charles John Renouf (NB only the first two and last two ships in the list below are Jersey-registered):

Certificate of Service S52528.
Born Jersey  1818.

 'Atrevida' 1856 (Mate)
 'St Helier'  23968 1857-8 (Master)
 'Francis Barclay' 7015 1861 (Mate)
 'Glasgow' 42721 1861 (Mate)
 'Red Coat' 4094 1861 (Master)
 'Red Coat'  1862 (Mate)
 'Dauntless' 19078 1862 (Mate)
 'Blenheim' 45863 1863 (Mate)
 'Eliza' 46841 1864 (Master)
 'Rose' 24639 1865  (Mate)
 'Exact' 26287 1866-7 (Mate)
 'Fairlina' 45283  1868  (Mate)

The numbers are the official ship numbers, which are needed to find crew lists during this period (when they are no longer archived alphabetically). This source also gives a rough indication of the ship's destination (e.g. North America) but is far from precise, and the Lloyds List should be used to find out the exact ports of call.

The Guildhall Library (London) has all the Lloyds Captains Registers from circa 1855 to 1947.

PRO shipping records

Further information on Jersey ships (you have to know the name) can be found at the PRO in Kew, London.

Crew lists are generally available from 1835 onwards but for the first 10 years there are only 2 boxes for Jersey ships: BT98/ 318 for ships named A-J (1835-44), BT98/319 for ships named K-Z (1835-44). The collection of lists is more complete from 1845 onwards - the PRO has one whole box of Jersey ships for just that year, 2 boxes for 1846 etc. However I checked the whole of the 1845 box and failed to find any mention of my ancestor, Charles John Renouf, even though we know from the Lloyds List that he was a Captain during that year (of the "John" - see above). So not all lists have survived. From 1857, crew lists are no longer arranged alphabetically but by official number. From 1860 onwards, crew lists are kept elsewhere (Greenwich and Newfoundland), and these sources will be dealt with separately. It should be noted that the ship's log book can sometimes be found with the crew list.

Here is an extract from beginning of the Log Book of the Deslandes Schooner "Saint Helier" of Jersey, bound for Galatz on the Danube, via Constantinople and the Black Sea (kept at PRO along with crew lists):

"June 24th 1857 Swansea Road: I this day log J. Romeril for desertion - who took the boat at six o'clock this morning and left the ship in Swansea dock and I had to employ a boat and two men to find the boat and to assist to get the ship down to the dock gates. At 8 a.m. took the steam tug and towed the ship down to the Mumbles Road and I return to Swansea in the steamer to look for the said John Romeril and I got a warrant and a policeman and found him about 4 o'clock in the afternoon when the policeman took charge of him - who put him in confinement until Thursday 10 am when the magistrate would attend to try the prisoner. By his desertions he has detained the ship two days and put me to the expense of towing the ship to the Mumbles Road, and also extra pilotage and steamer and my expenses this day of asking after him, warrant and policeman. - Charles John Renouf, Master - Witnesses James Wigg, Mate - Wm Coward, Second Mate"

The "deserter" John Romeril (age 20) was ordered by the magistrate to return to the ship and pay the Captain's expenses but for the rest of the voyage he was to make life hell for Renouf. The Shipwrecked Mariners Society journal contains a reference to a John Romeril, earlier in 1857, winning a silver medal for saving the crew of a steamer. It seems unlikely that this is the same man who refused to work and threatened to kill my ancestor a few months later! John Jean in "Jersey Sailing Ships" however mentions a Captain John Romeril some time later who could have been the rebellious seaman in his youth - so perhaps he preferred to be a leader rather than led!

A later log book for the same ship (Saint Helier) records that Captain George Jeune, during a voyage to Africa from London (2/2/1860) back to London (26/9/1860), died of African fever off Cape St Paul (on 8/5/1860) and was buried at "Quittah Fort".

Jersey Brigantine "Diton" in a gale off the Gaspé (Canada) 1872

The Master, as indicated in the inscription, was Elias Renouf (b. 1834), younger brother of Charles John, and the painting was in the possession of his daughter until the late 50s. The artist is unknown but it is not uncommon to find paintings of ships in stormy seas. The inscription gives the precise latitude and longitude but erroneously describes the vessel as a Brigantinine (sic!) when it was in fact a Schooner. This is evident from the ship's official number given on Elias Renouf's application for a Certificate of Competency (see below). The Diton, owned by Robin, was in fact around for some time: built in 1831 it was still going strong in 1896 when transferred to Dublin - it obviously survived the gale, even though it looks in a sorry state in the painting! The Lloyds shipping intelligence book shows that it was off the Gaspé and had to cut its masts.

Greenwich Maritime Museum and Library

Greenwich is the source for certificates of service and competency for Masters and Mates (1850 onwards), as well as crew lists for 1861-2 and years ending in -5. They also have a picture archive, to which the index can be consulted on their website. Contact details are given below.

National Maritime Museum
Greenwich, London  SE10 9NF.

Telephone: 0181 858 4422.
Fax: 0181 312 6632

Here are a few practical comments about research at Greenwich. Firstly, if you intend to look at their sample of Crew Lists you have to call them about 10 days in advance because these are kept at another location.

On microfilm they have the index to the Lloyds lists of "shipping intelligence", which means that if you know the name of your ancestor's ship and approximate year you can find out its movements and any incidents quite easily. You do not even need to know the official number or port of registration.

When you know the number (from the Lloyds Captains register) of a certificate of service/competency for a master or mate, the archivist can find it for you on the spot (manuscripts are however only produced 3 times during the day). If you want a copy, however many pages there are, it will cost you ten pounds per reference and they may have to send it to you by post.

If an applicant has already been a Master, at the time the certificates were first delivered (1850), you will only find the claim, a list of ships on which he previously sailed (in various capacities) and the certificate itself (just 2 pages, but still ten pounds!). For Charles John Renouf the list of ships corresponded more or less exactly to the information in the ledgers of the Jersey Merchant Seamen's Benefit Society - the latter is more accurate as far as dates are concerned, but the claim for the certificate also gives the following information on the ships, which does not appear in the ledgers: tons (useful for tracing the ship in the shipping register), the capacity in which he went to sea and in what trade (e.g. fruit trade, foreign, coastways). It even shows two earlier ships on which Charles John began his career (1832-34) before the Jersey ledgers were started.

If you want copies of pictures, orders are placed at the library (for the time being there is no separate picture room). Once you know the reference (from their microfiche catalogue) you can view a black and white copy on microfilm. If you want a photographic copy, the cost depends on whether a negative has already been made. If not, a colour copy size 10 x 8 will cost around fifty pounds.

They do not allow photocopies to be taken from the Lloyds Lists (only the microfilm indices) or the Lloyds registers (lists of ships). Other libraries, however, such as the one at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, allow you to make copies from these sources.

Newfoundland Maritime History Archive

For crew lists in 1863-4, then 1866 onwards, except years ending in -5 (at Greenwich) you should contact the Library in Newfoundland. They have an efficient service for those enquiring by e-mail - in return for a charge, they supply photocopies of crew lists and any corresponding log-books. Contact details can be found below.

Maritime History Archive
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Tel:  709-737-8429
Fax:  709-737-3123

When enquiring about 4 ships, I received the following advice on charges and availability: "We require a deposit of $35.00 to initiate research unless you are paying by Mastercard or Visa. Our fees are based on 1 hour to complete a search of 2 years of crew agreements for 1 vessel (or 2 vessels for 1 year), $0.50 per copy page and postage.

The Maritime History Archive holds approximately 75 percent of the surviving crew agreements and official log books of British registered vessels for the periods 1863-1938 and 1951-1976.

It is essential to note that crew agreements are filed by the year in which a voyage terminated. And although the existence of crew agreements for any indicated year is confirmed by our indexes, records for all of a vessel's voyages for that year may not be part of the collection. Thus despite holding the documents of a vessel for the desired year, we may not have the particular voyage you require. Unfortunately there is no way to determine the existence of records for a particular voyage until we begin the research process."

The "Fairlina", a 190-ton brig, built 1862 - PJ Ouless watercolour dated 1863

The Lloyds Captains List shows that my ancestor Charles John Renouf was the Mate on this ship in 1868, so I ordered the crew list from Newfoundland. The Captain was Thomas Hamon, 53, and the only other Jerseyman among the crew was Charles Querée, 23 (second mate). I was also sent a copy of the log book for the voyage from Liverpool to Sagua La Grande. However, my ancestor is only mentioned on the first page as having been discharged! The entry, for September 4th 1868 reads as follows: "Charles John Renouf fell on going out of the river whilst rigging out the gib boom and ruptured himself therefore was unable to proceed in the voyage and (I) have been under the nepity (sic) to send him ashore with his certificate" (signed Hamon and Querée). When the ship arrived at its destination, several crew members were put in gaol for refusing to work and "finding fault with their meat"!

Jersey Shipping Register

The official Jersey Register of Shipping, prior to the 1960s, was run by the British Office of Customs. These records have recently been entered into a database by the Friends of the Jersey Maritime Museum (contact c/o Société Jersiaise) who are willing to provide information from it in return for a donation. This is mainly interesting for the description of the vessel, although some Captains are also mentioned (but not all, especially where they changed frequently).

Henry Renouf is mentioned as the Captain of the "Britannia" (1819) in John Jean's book "Jersey Sailing Ships" and so I used the database to find information on this ship: it was a 107-ton brig, built in 1816 by "British Plantations", Hilsborough River, Prince Edward Island, and owned by De Quetteville (first David, later Philip and brothers). The register entry for 1819 gives Henry Renouf as Master, but not the exact dates of his service. Henry's son Charles John was to serve as an ordinary seaman on the same ship in 1837.

Miscellaneous sources

If you walk round a churchyard or cemetery in Jersey, you will often see stones with ships carved on them, such as the one at the top of this page for Jourdain Blampied, which even records that he worked for the De Ste Croix company.

The Jersey Public Register (Registre Public) can also provide clues as to whether your ancestors went to sea. The very fact that a person was away from the island and is represented by virtue of a "procuration" can suggest this. I found a contract dated 1812 that had been drawn up in Canada but entered in the Jersey register later. It showed that when the contract was signed my ancestor Henry Renouf and his brother John were "Navigateurs" in the province of Lower Canada (Quebec) and one of the witnesses was John Dupré, "second" on the Brig "Princess Royal", who was probably Henry's brother-in-law and cousin. During a visit to Quebec I traced the original contract in the Quebec Archives among the notarial records, and as a bonus I also found the will of Henry's brother John Renouf. The will states that John was the Captain of the "Recovery" (a Quebec-registered ship owned by Peter Bréhaut) on a voyage to the West Indies - using the Lloyds shipping intelligence books I discovered that this ship had been plundered by a French privateer on the way out to Quebec, and subsequently, on the way to Jamaica it was captured by an American brig-of-war and taken into Newport.

I initially presumed that Henry was a crew-member of his brother's ship "Recovery", but then found from the Lloyds List that at exactly the same time a ship called "Three Sisters" (Quebec-registered and owned by Jerseyman Philip Dean) was in the port of Quebec and its captain was also a Renouf! Unfortunately, Lloyds only gives the surname so I have not yet proved that Henry was a captain himself at this time (I still hope to find the first name in some shipping register). The "Three Sisters" is listed by John Jean as a Jersey-owned vessel a few years later from 1817-19.

For ships in the port of Quebec, the Quebec Customs Register can be found at the PRO (CO47/82-83), along with registers from other colonial ports. This gives the following information on the above-mentioned vessel "Princess Royal":

Inwards, 21 Aug. 1812, from Cork
"Princess Royal", Captain Nicolle
Brig of 101 tons
Built Dartmouth 1792
Reg. Jersey 1810
Owner Clement Hemery
39 pipes cyder
14 casks (bottled)
40 tons of salt
33 boxes/cases

Further on in the register it records the ship being cleared outwards on 23 Oct. 1812, bound for Jersey. What then became of it is recorded in the Lloyds List for Jan 1st 1813:

"The Princess Royal, Nicolle, from Quebec to Jersey, was captured to the westward of that island on the 22nd ult by the Courier French Cutter Privateer of 14 Guns and 140 Men: she had captured the Eliza, of Jersey, which she gave up to the Crews, who carried her to Jersey".

Books on Jersey ships

The key reference work, mentioned several times on this page, is "Jersey Sailing Ships" by John Jean, Phillimore 1982 (ISBN 0-85033-464-0).

Other books by the same author have been published by La Haule Books of Jersey, including "Tales of Jersey's Tall Ships" (with references to Capt. Jourdain Blampied), "Stories of Jersey's Ships" and "Ships and Railways".

Sadly, Mr John Jean passed away on 30th July 1999. I happened to visit St Lawrence's church on the day of his funeral.

La Haule have also republished "Jersey Sea Stories" by Philip Ahier.

A more general book has been written by Roy McLoughlin under the title "The Sea was their Fortune" (Seaflower Books 1997).

The latest book on the subject (published in 2001) is "From Sail to Steam" by Caroline Williams (Phillimore)

Jersey Museums Service

Mention has already been made of the Greenwich picture collection, but the main source of pictures of Jersey vessels is that of the Jersey Museums Service. Appointments can be made to see pictures that are not on display in one of their museums (mainly the Jersey Museum or Maritime Museum in St Helier) but are kept in store. A database is available for public consultation at the Jersey Museum, but this requires entering the key word "Ships" and then wading through several hundred picture entries (some are illustrated on the screen). I spent about an hour monopolising this facility, and fortunately it was a quiet day at the museum! It is located in the Art Gallery on the second floor, which has a few paintings of maritime interest.

The Jersey Maritime Museum was opened in 1997 and is obviously worth a visit. In one area there are several ship paintings with an audio commentary pointing out the various features of interest. Portraits of some of the important figures of Jersey's Maritime History are also on display, such as Admiral of the White Charles (Le) Hardy....

The well-known Jersey ship painter Philip John Ouless left a number of sketch-type watercolours (some of which are reproduced in "Jersey Sailing Ships") and I traced two for ships on which Charles John Renouf served: the "Fairlina" and the "Atrevida". The former can be seen further up this page. Newman was another artist who painted a series of local ships.