This blogpost about the Jersey Parish Church Records was written by Online Development Manager, Michele Leerson. Michele is responsible for the development of online resources at Jersey Archive. Online resources available through the Archive’s online catalogue – include wills and testaments, funeral directors records and hospital admission registers. Michele has worked as part of the public services team at Jersey Archive since 2005.
The Church of England baptism, marriage and burial records for Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, have been digitised for the first time and are now available on Ancestry.
The hundreds of thousands of images digitised from registers covering the 12 parishes of the island date from 1540 to 1940. People who are keen to discover more about their Jersey family history are now able to search and view this unique collection of records online.
Searchable by name, birth date, parish, baptism, marriage and burial date, name of spouse and name/s of parents, these records contain vital information for anybody looking to find out more about an ancestor who lived in Jersey. The records are predominantly recorded in French, this being the written language at that time, but they follow a standard format and, with some French knowledge, they are relatively easy to interpret.
A number of famous names can be found in this important collection from philanthropists and artistes of the 20th century to well-known sporting figures. These include:
Jesse Boot – 1st Lord Trent, of Boots the Chemist, businessman and philanthropist, who transformed the small business founded by his father into an international retail company. Jesse came to Jersey to convalesce after an illness in 1886 and met his future wife, Florence Rowe. The couple were married at the St Helier Town Church on the 30th August 1886 and on their marriage record Jesse’s occupation is described as a ’wholesale druggist’. The couple retired in Jersey, where they continued their very generous donations to help improve the lives of islanders.
Lillie Langtry – actress, renowned beauty and mistress of King Edward VII. Lillie, who was born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, was baptised in the Parish Church of St Saviour on the 9th November 1853, by her father Reverend William Corbet Le Breton. Lillie married her first husband, Edward Langtry in this same parish church on the 9th March 1874 and was eventually laid to rest in the cemetery on the 23rd February 1929, following her death in Monaco.
Harry Vardon – golfer, 6 times winner of the British Open. Henry William Vardon was baptised in the Parish Church of Grouville on 12th June 1870. Harry did not take up golf until his late teens, as he needed to work from a young age to help support his family. When he decided he could make a career from the sport his natural talent shown through. It was not long before the young man from Jersey who had been too poor to buy his own golf clubs went on to become acknowledged as the world number one. He won the British Open Championship six times, which is a record that still hasn’t been broken. He also toured America, winning the US Open in 1900, and becoming golf’s first international superstar.
The earliest church register dates from 1540 and it seems likely that most parishes would have begun recording at the same time, so those that start at later dates indicate that the earliest records have not survived.