The first half of the 19th century saw the population of Jersey almost double from 28,600 in 1821 to 57,000 by 1851. A favourable economic climate and taxation advantages meant that industries such as cod fishing, shipbuilding and oyster fishing were thriving and large construction projects including the Town Harbour and St Catherine’s Breakwater were undertaken during this period.
This led to a significant number of English immigrants, including labourers and tradesmen, relocating to the Island along with their families in search of work and new business opportunities. They were attracted to Jersey by the climate, cost of living and its close political affiliations with Britain. It was free from any taxation, imported goods were free of excise and it was relatively close to home for many.
By 1840 there were reportedly 5,000 English residents living in the Island with three quarters of these being half-pay officers and their families, who were semi-retired in Jersey. The concept of half-pay allowed officers of the British Army and Royal Navy to be put into semi-retirement during periods of peacetime, when fewer commands were available.
They were able to easily travel to Jersey because of strong links with English ports such as Southampton. Advertisements for the Royal Mail Steamers in the 1850s reveal that travel to the Island was regular and relatively affordable and that there were three return voyages per week.
The Berrow Family - From Southampton
Those who chose to make the journey to live in Jersey include the Berrow family from Southampton. John Berrow worked as a ship’s steward on board the steam ships that crossed the Channel. The 1861 census records that John was living in Southampton, where his wife Elizabeth and their three children were born. But ten years later the 1871 census reveals the family had relocated to St Helier in Jersey.
In March 2015 Jersey Heritage, the organisation responsible for the Island’s National Record Office, Jersey Archive, re-launched its online catalogue to enable people to view or download a vast array of documents. These documents were previously only available when visiting Jersey and can now be accessed online for a small annual subscription fee or on a pay-per-view basis.
About the Jersey Heritage Catalogue
The new catalogue includes over 500,000 images from collections such as the Church of England marriage and baptism registers, Superintendent Registrar’s indexes for Births, Marriages and Deaths from 1842, copies of the Channel Islands Family History Society’s transcriptions of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials from the 1540s to 1842, Wills and Testaments from 1660 – 1948 and Undertakers’ records from the 19th and 20th Centuries.
Searching the online catalogue allows us to find out more about John and Elizabeth in Jersey. Tragically there are two entries for children of this family in our funeral directors’ records collection and by searching on the online catalogue we can download these entries from the register.
They show that the John and Elizabeth lost two daughters, Amy and Bertha Berrow in 1868, aged just 16 days and 6 years, both of whom were buried in Mont a l’Abbé cemetery.
Through the online catalogue we can also find records of marriage for two elder children, Charlotte and Catherine Berrow in the 1880s and a will and testament for John, which shows he changed his profession to become a hotel Keeper at the Halkett Hotel.
These types of records can help you to find out more about your ancestors who, like John and Elizabeth, made the decision to relocate to Jersey.