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Avez-vous French roots?

Avez-vous French roots?

Saturday 19 October 2019

Avez-vous French roots?

Islanders with a sneaking suspicion their love of cheese and good wine may be signs of a deeper connection with 'la belle France' are being urged to dive into their family history in search of French ancestors for a new exhibition on immigration.

Jersey Heritage is seeking islanders keen to delve into their ancestry before sharing their story as part of the ‘People Make Jersey’ exhibition, which will open at Jersey Museum next year.

Lucy Layton, Jersey Heritage’s Outreach Curator, explained that about 10% of islanders descend from French agricultural workers, who came to Jersey in large numbers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Around 2,000 of them settled in the island permanently.


Pictured: Breton workers in the French quarter of town around 1900.

Jersey Archive holds hundreds of documents relating to these individuals, in particular their Alien Registration cards from 1920, which include photographs and are often the only surviving images of these people.

"Could your family members be among those hundreds of people, whose image and details are captured in time on the Aliens Registration cards?" Ms Layton questioned.

"If so, we’d love to hear from you. We have a wonderful resource at our fingertips and are ready and waiting to help you trace your family’s French roots."


Pictured: Jersey Archive holds hundreds of documents about the French agricultural workers who came to work in the island.

"Not only will you find out your own personal heritage story, but you could then feature in in our new exhibition,” she added.

Jersey Heritage’s Senior Archivist Stuart Nicolle demonstrated the process, using the Archive resources to find out about his own French roots.

He discovered his great grandfather Joseph Marie Deffains’ Aliens Registration card in the archive collection, and then the identity cards for his Jersey-born grandparents, John Rene Le Mains and Anna Rosa Le Mains.

Any islanders interested in tracing their family’s French roots and have their story featured in the new exhibition is invited to contact Ms Layton or call 633305.

GALLERY: Examples of registration cards...

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