House & Family History - Jersey Heritage

Archives are the stories of people and places and those stories are always vibrant and exciting. People's motivations are similar through time and stories of romance, revenge, tragedy, comedy, financial success and failure and family life can all be found at Jersey Archive.

By learning more about our ancestors or the place in which we live we can make a real connection to the past and sometimes understand more about our present circumstances. Family History can lead you to discover an ancestor who looks like you or who shares one of your personality traits. Looking at the history of your house you might discover more about past inhabitants, their living conditions and circumstances. 


What’s Your Story?

Since 2008 Jersey Archive have been hosting a series of talks called What’s Your Story project. The project has revealed the stories of Jersey's people, streets and properties and attracted hundreds of visits to Jersey Archive. Archive staff have discovered stories of love and marriage, military heroes, witchcraft and murder and crime and punishment.

Our articles have now been placed on the Jersey Archive Blog for you to view.


Family History

Family History is one of the most popular subjects for researchers at the Jersey Archive. Archive records allow members of the public to go on a journey through their past and meet the ancestors who have shaped not just their features but also their personalities, values and everyday lives. 

Jersey Heritage is delighted that the Channel Islands Family History Society collection is hosted at the Jersey Archive. The extensive collection of books, family trees, indexes of baptisms, marriages, burials and censuses were all prepared by members of the Society. This invaluable resource is available in the help desk area of the Jersey Archive where volunteers with up to 30 years experience in family history are also available to help members of the public.

For newcomers to family history the Archive holds baptism, marriage and burial registers, census records and wills – all of which are ideal sources to use to start building your family tree. Jersey Archive also holds a collection of occupation registration cards. The cards are a source that are unique to the Channel Islands and they contain invaluable information on your ancestors.

The entire civil population of Jersey was required by the German authorities to register under the Registration and Identification of Persons (Jersey) Order, 1940. The Archive holds over 31,000 registration cards of those individuals who lived in Jersey during the German Occupation. Each registration card contains personal details, such as name, address, date and place of birth, maiden name and occupation. The cards also include a passport sized photograph.

After looking at these records and building up a basic family tree, researchers often investigate a wider variety of sources at the Archive to find out more about their ancestor’s everyday lives. These include military records, criminal records, records of land transactions, rates lists, immigration records, education records and records of many of the clubs and associations in Jersey.

Of these military and criminal records are particularly popular. Military records, such as General Don’s Island Censuses of 1806 and 1815 and Jersey Militia pay lists can be used to tell us more about the involvement of individuals in the local militia. Records such as the 1st World War Roll of Honour and Roll of Service can give us more information about ancestors involvements in wider conflicts.  

Many of us may well have an ancestor who appeared in Court, was sent to prison or even transported from the Island. Finding out the details of their offences and their fate can enhance our understanding of the family and in particular of that individual. The Jersey Archive holds a number of records including Honorary Police incident books, Court documents and Prison registers that can be used to find about more about your criminal ancestors.

Jersey Heritage’s online catalogue is an excellent place to start your research. The catalogue includes descriptions of over 200,000 documents that we hold at Jersey Archive.

Our Family History Information Leaflet highlights the collections we hold that can help with your research.


House History

House History is a growing field of research for those who are interested in discovering the stories of the people who lived in their house over time. By studying the history of a property we can find out more about the people and communities who have lived on a particular street or in a certain house over past centuries. 

Ownership of property was always transferred before the Royal Court so it is possible for house historians to trace the ownership of their property and then use records such as the census and rate lists to find out about the lives of the people who lived in their house.

Our House History Information Leaflet highlights the collection we hold that can help with your research.


The History of Clarence Road

Jersey Archive is located in Clarence Road and by looking at records from this area we can see how it might be possible to build up a picture of a street or community from the 19th century.

Jersey Archive itself was built in 2000 in the former Anthony’s Quarry. The quarry itself had been purchased by the States of Jersey in the 1950s as a site for housing. By looking at the 1834 Le Gros Map of St Helier we can clearly see that a quarry existed on the site of Jersey Archive at this date. The rest of Clarence Road (or Clarence Terrace as it is called on the Le Gros Map) consists of a small number of houses with part of the road still bordering on to an orchard.

Looking back to the 1800 map of St Helier we can see that the entire area from the Jersey Archive in Clarence Road to St James Street is covered by orchards. By looking through the public registry for land transactions we can trace the origins of Anthony’s Quarry. The land for the quarry was purchased by Clément Auguste de Quetteville in the 1820s from the Chevalier family. Clément presumably built the quarry to help cater to the growth in the number of buildings in St Helier that took place in the first half of the 19th century. 

The quarry in Clarence Road sat alongside some rather grand properties such as Sussex House and Gardiner House, both of which were built between the 1830s – 1850s, perhaps with stone from the quarry.

By looking at the 1851 census we can see that this was a prosperous area of town. Living in Clarence Road we have a Doctor, a retired Surgeon from the East India Company, a Fund holder, a Professor of writing and general literature, a Master Sail Maker and a retired Lieutenant previously in the Royal Navy.

Many of the inhabitants of Clarence Road had large families, for example Philip Harding, a 50 year old Doctor and his wife Mary are listed as having seven daughters from the age of 20 to 4 all living with them at Sussex House in 1851. By looking at baptism records we can see that Philip and Mary actually had another eighth daughter, Kate in 1848, and finally after eight girls Mary gave birth to twin sons, George and Robert, in 1849. Sadly, as the 1851 census does not record these last three children we can only assume that they succumbed to the high levels of infant mortality in the 19th century. 

Further evidence of the area’s prosperity can be found when looking at the names of the individual’s living on Grosvenor Terrace. Grosvenor Terrace, or simply ‘The Terrace’ was built in 1826.

By 1851 the individuals living at The Terrace included John Hammond, the then Advocate-General of Jersey. Hammond lived at number 15, The Terrace with his wife Jane Penrose Le Breton – the sister of Dean Le Breton, father of Lillie Langtry and their four daughters and two sons. The household benefited from the services of a live in cook, a parlour maid and two housemaids.

These stories show how the records at Jersey Archive can be used to give us a brief glimpse into the individuals who walked on the same streets and lived in the same properties as us. We can imagine the Harding girls playing in the garden at Sussex House and John Hammond setting off to work at the Royal Court from Grosvenor Terrace.