1. Start with yourself
Write down all the key details – Parents: Siblings: Grandparents: with dates of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Where you know them! Transfer on to a rough Family Tree, in a medium which is easy to carry with you. If on paper use a pencil to facilitate correction easily. Try to keep all the information in one notebook or folder.
2. Asking Family Members
Talk to your brothers and sisters about what they know, and likewise parents and grandparents if this is possible. Then spread your enquiries to the wider family members, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Sometimes one family member has more information than any other and may have inherited family artefacts. Always take a notebook to write everything down and record who told you the information. Then you can return to the source, if needs be, at a later date. Recording conversations is an alternative way of collecting material.
3. Look for Document Evidence
Birth, Marriage and Death certificates (BMD’s) provide a wealth of information.
Mothers maiden names from children’s birth certificates.
Fathers names and occupations from a couple’s marriage certificate and children’s birth certificates.
Marital status and age on death certificates.
Addresses from all these sources may also prove useful.
Sometimes a Family Bible may have a list of BMD’s going back several generations.
Wills also may give further family connections (see note 8)
4. Check Census Returns
Members of the C.I.F.H.S. have transcribed and indexed the local census returns for 1841 to 1911. These are all available at the Jersey Archive, and a visit here can advance your research enormously. C.I.F.H.S always has an experienced volunteer on duty to help.
There are also two earlier census returns from 1806 and 1815, which were completed for military purposes, and again can give some useful information.
5. Membership of societies and websites
Joining a local Family History Society may help to put you in touch with other members researching the same family as yourself.
Information of C.I.F.H.S is available on:-
Many “Ancestry” websites are operated on an annual subscription basis, although some offer a pay as you go option.
There are also some Free to View sites.
6. Checking Known Information
In Jersey it is possible to view B.M.D. information from 1842 onwards at the Registrars Office in the Royal Square, without the necessity of purchasing a certificate.
Prior research to find the relevant entry in the many volumes held at the Registrars is advisable, as the office has limited opening times with a small research area as its main function area is where weddings are conducted. The Registrars Indexes are available at the Jersey Archive and the Lord Coutanche Library at the Societe Jersiaise in Pier Road, as well as at the Registrars Office.
Certificates can be purchased, but take a few days to produce. The Registrars will post them on to you.
7. Parish Records (pre-1842)
In Jersey Civil Registration began in 1842. Prior to this date the Church Records of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials will be the source of information. The amount of detail varies from Parish to Parish and therefore once you are back this far your research may take longer to do and confirm.
Baptisms – occasionally a Birth date is given, but not often, and in early entries the mothers name is rare.
Marriages – The father of the couple marrying is not always given, nor is the age of the couple or occupations.
Burials – The date of death is rarely given, nor is the age often stated and cause of death is a rarity.
These records cover the Parish Churches, Non Conformist and Roman Catholic religions.
8. Contract and Wills
Property transactions in Jersey are recorded by the Royal Court, and often give family details of the individuals named in the contract. Access to these records is via the “PRIDE” system available at the Archive and the Societe Library.
The Archive records should also be checked for Wills which may also contain valuable family relationships.
9. Family Trees
Check existing Family Tree collections – someone else may already have covered the family you are researching.
The C.I.F.H.S. has a collection at the Archives and the Societe Jersiaise also has a collection at Pier Road.
10. Funeral Directors and Cemetery Records
The C.I.F.H.S. and Jersey Archive have transcriptions of the volumes relevant to both of these sources. Don’t forget the golden rule of Genealogy – find the death of the individual, because then you know the cut off date for your research.
Using these sources it is possible, sometimes, to find a grave site where a gravestone may provide additional information.
11. Occupation Records
In 1941 all residents in the Island were issued with a Registration Card. An incomplete, but never-the-less very valuable set of these cards survived the Occupation period, and these are available to view at Jersey Archive. The names are listed on the Jersey Archive catalogue and the card may include a photograph of the individual concerned.
12. Miscellaneous Records
Your ancestors name may appear in any number of records in the acquisitions in the Jersey Archive Collection. Their catalogue is available on line at: – http://catalogue.jerseyheritage.org/
13. Other Resources
Parish Rate lists; Almanacs; Newspapers; Maps; Photographs and Local Interest books may all include references to the Family you are researching.
The Jersey Archive, the Societe Jersiaise Library and The Public Library, all provide access to several of the above aids to research.