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Jersey, Channel Islands, Great Britain: The island of Jersey is a British Crown dependency off the coast of Normandy, France.

As well as the main island of Jersey, it includes the nearly uninhabited islands of the Minquiers, Écréhous, the Pierres de Lecq and other rocks and reefs.

Historically, the islands have been under the control of Brittany, Normandy and France. The government, the Assembly of the States of Jersey, came into existence in the 16th century but its origins go back to much earlier times.

The capital is St. Helier. The population of Jersey at the 2011 Census was 97,857.

Together with the Bailiwick of Guernsey it forms the Channel Islands.

Jersey is not part of the United Kingdom. Its membership of the  European Union is governed by Protocol 3 of the UK’s Treaty of Accession to the European Community. In general terms, the effect of Protocol 3 is that EU rules on customs matters and quantitative restrictions apply to the Islands, but provisions relating to free movement of persons and services do not.

Getting Started with Jersey Research

Update:  Transcripts to most of the parish registers up to 1842 available here: http://jerripediabmd.net/  Now also includes the index to BMD from 1842 - ??.

Update:  http://catalogue.jerseyheritage.org/ This site has recently added the Channel Island Family History Society transcripts and most importantly these can now be viewed online currently for a fee of £30 a year. It is the most complete set of vital records for Jersey available. The records are mostly in French.

Please be aware that the early records for the parish of St John are partly missing. The original records were lost and the CIFHS transcript was copied from the original records a few decades ago. However before the original records went missing an early transcript was made in the late 1800s, known as the Messervy Transcript and this can be viewed at Jersey Archive in book form. Hopefully one day this will be digitised or transcribed as it leaves a huge gap in the early records of St John.

There is census data: both Ancestry and Findmypast have copies of censuses from 1841 to 1911 online. Having said that, the OCR systems that they used to index the censuses do not cope terribly well with the rather unique challenges of Jersey personal and place names, so be prepared to think quite laterally about how you approach name searches.

A rather different (and later) form of census exists in Jersey Archive’s online public access catalogue (hereafter the Jersey OPAC). The largest document set in it is the 30000-plus identity cards issues by the German occupation forces in 1941 – these have addresses, names and dates of birth.  Update: the identity cards, often with photos,  can now be viewed at http://catalogue.jerseyheritage.org/ as are included in the £30 yearly sign up fee.

Searching for a name in the Jersey OPAC is a lucky dip exercise – you can’t be sure what you will find. You might find records of a will – and that will have a date when it was enacted, which is a helpful guideline to where to start looking for a death. You might find property transactions, or names entered in school logbooks, or possibly baptisms. Definitely worth a try.

There are military records. If you’re looking at Channel Island relatives who served in the First World War, it’s well worth investigating the website of the Channel Island Great War Study Group. Their list is rather more complete than transcripts of what’s in the National Archives simply because Jersey residents served not only with the British armed forces but also with the Canadians and Australians. There were also at least a couple of thousand French nationals who joined up with the French military, but records for them are rather scanty. But it could be worth taking a look at the French government's Memoire des Hommes website.

If you are looking at other periods (and bear in mind Jersey had a garrison to protect it from the French right up until the 1930s), you may find references to service in Jersey on the military records of Chelsea Pensioners kept on FindMyPast, or on the GRO Regimental Indexes of birth marriage and death.

There are scanned copies of Channel Island postal directories that may help to link a name to an address.

You may also be fortunate enough to find online family trees. Ancestry host them, as do Genesreunited, and there are also numerous independently-produced web sites. The general rule of thumb is to treat these as a guideline: they may be inaccurate, or they may tell the truth as far the researcher knows it – but not the whole story.

Jurisdictions

Jersey is divided into twelve parishes. All have access to the sea and are named after the saints to whom their ancient parish churches are dedicated:

Transcripts to most of the parish registers up to 1842 available here:  http://jerripediabmd.net/

  • Grouville
  • Saint Brélade
  • Saint Clement
  • Saint Helier
  • Saint John
  • Saint Lawrence
  • Saint Martin
  • Saint Mary
  • Saint Ouen
  • Saint Peter
  • Saint Saviour
  • Trinity

These parishes are further divided into vingtaines (or, in the case of St. Ouen, cueillettes).

Research Tools

  • (helpful tools and resources, gazetteers)
  • (language dictionary, handwriting guide or tutorial, etc.)

Featured Content

Did you know?

  • Until the nineteenth century Jèrriais, a variety of Norman French, was the language of the island, although French was used for official business. Although today Jersey is predominantly English-speaking, Jèrriais survives and there have been efforts to revive the language in schools.
  • The French writer Victor Hugo moved to Jersey in 1852 to escape the French government. He and his family lived near Le Dicq until he was expelled from the island in 1855 and sailed to Guernsey, before eventually returning to France.
  • The famous actress and socialite Lillie Langtry (1853-1929) was born at St Saviour where her father was the Dean. She is buried in St Saviour's churchyard.

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  • This page was last modified on 4 May 2015, at 00:03.
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