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Census records in Jersey
A census is a statistical count of the population of a country taken for the purpose of accurate government representation, tax collection and military purposes.
Census records in Jersey fall into two broad groups: those censuses carried out in line with the rest of the UK, and censuses which were purely local.
Jersey Census records, 1841-1911
Jersey Census records broadly follow the pattern of UK Censuses during this period, although technically they had to be done under separate legislation.
Local Census data
Local census records fall into three groups:
The 1788 Census was a statistical survey of population much like the 1801-31 censuses in England. Most of the Island simply provided returns of numbers of people residing in each vingtaine. However, the Parish of St Lawrence provided a complete listing of every name in the parish.
The census takers followed Jersey legal custom and recorded wives in their maiden (not their married) names. If you have relatives in amongst this relatively small community it can provide significant leads into family history. The Census was reproduced in early issues of the CIFHS's Journal, and it is hoped that these records will go online during 2013.
General Don's Censuses were taken in 1806 and 1815. General George Don was the island's Governor during the Napoleonic wars, and at his initiative a major programme of works was undertaken to strengthen the island's defences against possible invasion from France, a mere seven miles away at its nearest point. The Census was taken primarily to establish the numbers of males eligible to serve in the Jersey Militia, and as a consequence it records the names of men, but only the numbers of women and children in the same household. Copies of the census listings exist in the Jersey Archive.
The final group isn't technically a census; however, during the Occupation of Jersey between 1940 and 1945 all those resident on the island were required to register at their local parish hall and receive an identity card, which then had to be carried at all times. The registration forms were blue, and local family historians refer to them as blue cards.
Identity cards were issued to everyone over the age of 14 years in January 1941, and carried names, addresses, dates of birth and photographs. The details of children under the age of 14 were written on the back of a parent's card. When the Occupation ended the master index was acquired by the States of Jersey, and all 30000+ extant cards can be searched online using the Jersey OPAC.
It is important to point out that some cards and records were destroyed during the war by the authorities (simply because when people died, the authorities did not want the cards to be available for misuse), but these are a small percentage of the whole.
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