Can you help?
This section is where we turn the tables and ask YOU for help. There are some mysteries out there that stump even our research teams and that’s when we need you to help us out. If you think you know the answer to the question posed or any information you may think is helpful then please contact us.
The staff at the Library are often regretting the lack of old Island telephone directories when helping customers with queries. At present our collection does not extend back before 1979. We would appreciate any donations!
Do you recognise this man?
A photograph bought in a charity shop got one of our vistors curious, and sha asked us if we knew who this gentleman (right) might have been. He is standing in a Guernsey garden, with a flower bed and a tall granite wall behind. If you would like a closer look at him, just click the photograph for more detail.
Adrian Roy Neal Morris, who visited us recently, has supplied us with a photograph of “St Sampson’s Quarry”, which was owned by E & H Beevers, the Guernsey branch of William Beevers Stone Masons, of Yorkshire and London. His great-grandfather’s uncle, William Beevers, was part of this company and his greatgrandfather, William Mellar, was employed by the company in the island. The company seems to have provided the granite for the Albert memorial in Guernsey, as the family has plans and other paperwork, and a souvenir statue that was only given out to those who attended the inauguration. The family Bible, which contained genealogical information, was stolen some time ago and Adrian would be grateful for any information anyone might have on the company and its Guernsey dealings.
A beautiful British Railways travel poster of "Guernsey, the Sunshine Island" was recently sold at Christie's for £2,750. Thanks to David Kreckeler for pointing out the following from the Guernsey Star of March 13th 1951:
The new Come to Guernsey poster, now to be seen on the railway station hoardings throughout Britain. The poster was produced to a design by Eric Sirett, member of the "Guernsey Star" staff and is also being used on an illustrated folder. A Guersey girl posed for the picture. The posters measure 40x26 inches and are printed in striking colours.
Eric Sirett was a photographer and artist, and is well known for the drawings he made while an internee at Biberach during the Second War. From Archaeology Magazine online comes this quotation:
In addition to the things they made to make their lives a little more comfortable, the internees also created items of 'defiance and resistance'," ... The most popular means of expression of defiance was the "V" sign campaign during which people were encouraged to draw or make the letter "V" for victory, where German soldiers would see them, to make them feel that they were surrounded by a hostile resistance army. It wasn't a blatant campaign but one of subtlety that became incorporated in their art and everyday items. This campaign was very popular in the Channel Islands and continued in the camps. Among the examples in the exhibition catalogue is one of my favorites, and also one of the funniest. It is the pencil sketch of Monty Manning produced by Eric Sirett, an internee at Biberach. In the sketch it is clear that Manning has cut his beard and moustache into a V-shape. The German guards did not catch on, but the internees must have thought that it was hilarious.
Guernsey Museum had some examples of his work in a recent exhibition, Occupation Behind Barbed Wire.
So our question is - who was the "Guernsey girl" who sat for the poster in summer 1950? If you know please contact a Librarian!
Here are the other posters featured in the sale: Charles Pears, Sunset over Guernsey; Frederick Griffin, The Channel Islands; David Burley, Commodore Cruises; E. Vauchan, The Sunshine Island; Eric Hubbard, Guernsey, c. 1951. Thanks to Christies for making available their super database of past lots!
In Spencer Carey Curtis' Scrapbook was found this photograph; Carey Curtis has named for us some of the ladies who donned their Guernsey bonnets for the occasion, but sadly not all. Does anyone have any information as to their identity? Please click on the photograph for a larger image.
The ladies have been numbered to help you identify them; Carey-Curtis did not name any of the second row. According to him the ladies are as follows: 1. Mrs Emily Le Ruez. 2. Miss de la Mare. 3. Miss Mary de Garis. 7. Miss de la Mare. 8. Miss F. de Garis. 10. Mrs John Le Messurier of Louisville, Câtel. 12. Miss G. Blondel. 13. Miss R. Le Cornu. 14. Miss Hurell. 15. Miss Mabel de Garis. 16. Miss Elsie de Garis.Update: We recently received a snippet of information, kindly supplied by Michelle Gayler in Australia, who suggests that no. 13 might be Rozel Ada Le Cornu, b. c. 1899, as she appears from her research to have been the only Miss R. Le Cornu resident in Guernsey in 1911.
Spencer Carey Curtis also included this photograph in his scrapbook. These are Channel Islanders from the German camp at Laufen, which received only single men from the Islands. Please click on the photograph for a larger image.
Group of Channel Islands internees at
Ilag VII, Laufen, Bavaria, Summer 1944
He lists them thus, with a note that those whose names are underlined are from Jersey, the others from Guernsey:
Back Row (L to R): J. Whittaker, A. J. Ingrouille, Ward, Dumont, De La Cour, Black, Bowman, H. J. Robin, A. Grayland, A. N. Other, Thorne. Middle Row: J. Thomas, G. Webb, T. Morton, W. Stewart, T. F. Priaulx, and A.N. Other. Front Row: V. Tostevin, B. Savary, P. Sweetland, A. N. Other and W. Rowe.Can anyone fill in the gaps?
Judy and Brian Harden of Gloucestershire, specialists in portrait miniatures, approached the Library for advice as to the identity of the sitters for a pair of miniatures by the Jersey artist Philip Jean.
The Library has an extensive collection of historic photographs of portraits of Guernsey subjects, some of whom were painted more than once in their lifetime, so staff were able to compare the likenesses. The sitter was originally suggested to be Thomas Saumarez, a career soldier in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but although there is a strong resemblance, after looking at other portraits staff became convinced that the face was in fact that of his brother, the future admiral James Saumarez. The lady is therefore his wife, Martha Le Marchant; they married in 1788. The miniatures are dated 1785, but James was in the island at that time, perhaps suffering from depression or some other psychiatric problem; he busied himself with charity work, a lifetime interest of his and one that he pursued vigorously. Martha was his cousin, ten years younger than he was, but they had apparently always been very close and had spent a great deal of time together.
Judy and Brian are also selling another contemporary miniature, a fine portrait of Rachel Dobrée, of Beauregard, who married Lieut-Col. Philip Bainbrigge; he was a captain in the garrison in Guernsey just before the French Revolution, and died in 1799 at the battle of Egmont-op-Zee, in which many Guernseymen took part, including Sir Isaac and Savery Brock. This 1786 portrait is by George Engelheart, but extraordinarily Rachel is wearing exactly the same "Gainsborough" hat as that worn by Martha in her portrait. Other plausible suggestions included Gaspard Le Marchant and his wife Mary Carey; again there is a likeness in both sitters and again, in the well-known miniature of her (of which at least two versions exist), Mary is wearing the ostrich-feather hat. The same hat appears on the head of Harriet Brock, who was the wife of Thomas Saumarez. If all the young ladies' portraits in miniature are compared, the dresses of the sitters and the overall colours of the paintings are curiously alike, yet the girls' families were all very wealthy and could have easily provided fashionably unique costume for each had they wished.
All these girls were very closely related by marriage and of similar age, and were married within a few years of each other.
The first to marry was the youngest, Rachel Dobrée, only seventeen years of age, in 1781. Of the circle of girls, Rachel has the finest portrait by the best artist, one of the most fashionable of the time. George Engelheart was a prolific artist who painted all the important members of the court of George III; he painted the King himself 25 times. His miniatures are distinguished by the sitters' particularly sparkling eyes and he was fond of putting his female subjects into very elaborate hats. Rachel moved to London afer she married. The theory of the staff at the Priaulx as to the answer to the Mystery of the Hat was that the other ladies, who were painted by Philip Jean - a respected miniaturist, a Channel Islander then resident in London with many important clients, but no Engelheart - simply wanted to copy lucky Rachel's posh picture featuring the magnificent Engleheart trademark hat. However, as Engleheart kept a feebook of his sitters, we know that Rachel was painted in 1785/86 - which appears to postdate the Philippe Jean miniatures - so the chronology appears to work against us.
However, having discovered the existence of yet another Jean portrait miniature of what looks suspiciously like Mary Mourant of Candie (her sister Marthe married Rachel Dobrée's brother, Bonamy, in 1783¹) in exactly the same hat and dress, we investigated the family links between the sitters. Marthe Mourant's daughter, Sophia Dobrée, eventually married Rachel Dobrée's son, her cousin John Hankey Bainbrigge (Marthe had died when her seven children were young); Rachel's nephew Samuel Hankey Dobrée Jnr. married another of her daughters, Anne (d. 1815). (His grandmother Catherine Hankey, née Gale, is the sitter in a well-known portrait of 1740 by Allan Ramsay). Harriet Brock was sister-in-law to two other Mourant sisters (Mary Mourant married Henry Frederick Brock in 1784, and Ann married William Brock (marriage date as yet unknown). Peter Mourant Jnr., their brother, was the husband of Sophy Carey, Mary Carey's sister. The eldest Brock sister Mary, also the Mourant's sister-in-law, married James and Thomas Saumarez' brother, John.
We think, therefore, that the very strong family connection between the Brock, Dobrée, Saumarez, and Carey families led the girls deliberately to copy one another, strange though that may seem. Mary Mourant, for example, seems to have commissioned two versions of herself, one with the hat, the other in black. The sitters perhaps had copies made to give out to family and friends (we know for instance that Rachel Dobrée did just that) and paid a cheaper rate for them, with the face perhaps painted by Jean (who worked mostly in London and was only in Jersey for short periods) and a standard hat, dress, a background perhaps added by an apprentice or assistant, and a simple gold mount rather than the cloisonné and pearls that framed the originals. The style of hat places the miniatures around 1785; a famous mezzotint of "Mrs Mills" in a remarkably similar hat, engraved "after Engleheart" by John Raphael Smith and published in 1786, places that hat firmly in 1785.
Does anyone have any other ideas? We would love to hear them.
Update: E John Walford, an art historian and descendant of Rachel Dobrée, who has a very informative website about his family, has very kindly sent us pictures of a lovely oil painting of Rachel, after the miniature, and one of her son, Philip Bainbrigge Junior. Bainbrigge Junior originally served at 13 on James Saumarez' ship, the César, but had to leave owing to ill-health. However, the Duke of York was so impressed with his father's bravery before his death at the Battle of Egmont-op-Zee that he had offered any of the Bainbrigge boys a free commission. Philip Jnr took him up on the offer and went on to become a general; he is one of the Guernsey Heroes of the Royal Society, having applied but failed to be elected. The picture shown here is of him at 13. Rachel's brother Elisha Dobrée mentions the relationship between Rachel and Captain Bainbrigge several times in his diary, kept here at the Library; from this we know that Rachel had her first two children in Guernsey, returning specifically for the occasion, and Elisha mentions dining with them in London. We also have pictures from Dr Walford of miniatures of the Colonel and one of his son as an old man, for which we are very grateful.
¹ Caroline Guille Le Marchant, who is related to the Brocks, says in a letter of January, 1798: "Poor Mrs Dobrée died last week, she has left 7 children to mourn her death, though they are very young and very likely not sensible of the loss they make in losing such a friend. It seems that the last words she said were to recommend her children to an old servant who has lived there some time. She said also that “She did not regret life.” I am not surprised at it; for I believe poor woman she had been very ill these last few years, it seems when she was taken ill she said she should not recover this time, for she did not feel as usual. Mr Mourant is very much affected, as is Mrs M. She has lost all her faculties and is not sensible of it. ...."
The Priaulx Library is looking for a copy of the Juncker's German-English Dictionary, ordered for the island's schoolchildren from Germany by the Education Council on behalf of the German Feldkommandatur during the occupation.
We would also be very pleased to see any books that were given out as prizes to schoolchildren and teachers for prowess and effort in learning German by the occupying forces.
May 2008's Book of the Month was Deutsche Guernsey Zeitung; find out more about it and these books here.Back to Top
Who are this couple?
In July, 2008, the Library was given two photograph albums full of late 19th-century family photographs. Although many are from Guernsey, a large number are from Racine, Wisconsin, and Ohio, in the United States. The albums have no useful provenance, and the individuals are not named; consequently we are hoping to identify the families concerned by research.
Loose inside one of the albums was a more recent photograph of an elderly couple, signed in the bottom right-hand corner by Grut, a very old and well-known firm of Guernsey portrait photographers, with a serial number 46/876. In the full photograph, the lady is sitting and the gentleman standing - he is not extraordinarily tall! If you recognise them, please contact a librarian and start us off on our quest.
Francis Payne of Auckland, NZ, has sent in two photographs that have been dated at c. 1925-6. The photographs depict an outing that looks as though it was a lot of fun - but Mr Payne would very much like to know where exactly the pictures were taken. His family album suggests that they were taken at Perelle Bay.
In the centre of the first picture stands Uncle Bill - Arthur William Hall [died 1938, aged 60] who spent his later years at La Jaonière in St Saviour's parish, as butler for Mr W. Rolleston (a master at Elizabeth College from 1910–30). Arthur was a postman before becoming a butler. Also in the picture is Arthur's niece, Edna Scott and friends. They are in the second picture too, with some young men. In this second photo, Edna Scott is sitting on the running board.
The first photograph was labelled in the family album as ‘Perelle Bay’, while the second looks to be the same location from a different angle. Does anyone recognise this location, or any of the people in the photographs? What is the tent-like building in the first photograph - was it a sort of bathing hut? If anyone can shed any light on this, please contact the Priaulx Library; Mr Payne will be most grateful!
We have received some correspondence from Barry Paint, who very kindly gave us his reflections on these matters; he suggests that the first picture is likely to have been taken at Vazon Bay rather than Perelle, as he has no recollection of any bathing hut at Perelle and the terrain seems to him to resemble that of Vazon, near the beach kiosk.
The second photograph he thinks may have been taken at the Tabiatte, to the west of the central slipway at Perelle, which was used by fishermen to keep their boats in the winter. It used to belong to his family and was eventually sold as a building plot for a house called La Canchée (named after the large outer rock in the centre of the outer bay). The photograph shows land sloping away beyond the sea wall and Barry suggests that this is the slope leading down to the sea from Fort Richmond, while at the front of the car he recognises the gun emplacement called the Boue Marias; beyond that, to the East, is the slope of land following the Rue de Hamel.
His comments are both very informed and most interesting, and we would like to thank him for them. If you have any opinion on these new suggestions, we would be most pleased to hear them.Back to Top
Librarians can't be serious all the time. Therefore, we have created a 'Priaulx Library book of funny names' for our non-serious moments. Searching through parish registers can often reveal strange, bizarre, silly or plain mad names. A few years ago, we started to write them down. Here are a few examples:
"Mary Butcher, daughter of Thomas Butcher and of Katherine Carver his wife, born June 14th, 1724"
"Marriage of John Norbert Casanova to Albertina D'Eberstein, November, 1855"
"Burial of Tryphean Godfray Spong, July 25th, 1907"
And that's just the tip of the iceberg...
What a Carry On!
From the British Garrison Quartermaster's Account Book of 1796:
James Amond for subsisting Count de Silly ... when confined as a prisoner in Castle Cornet for misbehaviour, by order of the Commander in Chief
He should have stopped being so silly [ed.]... Actually, he was a member of a very illustrious aristocratic French family.
From the Gazette de L'Isle de Guernesey 9 July 1791: "Missis Pidle fait savoir, qu'elle a deux appartemens, à louer, garnis ou non garnis, dans la maison de M. Bruzaud au havelet."
For sale, at Mrs Grumbling's, adjoining the meat market and Coles' hotel, a quantity of fancy split straw, open leghorns, a variety of plumes and feathersm flowers, fancy trimmings; also some plat straw, well suited to persons in that line of business &c. [L'Indépendance, 10th August, 1822].
If you would like to expand on this obviously vital piece of research, please send us your silly names, now! Your anonymity is guaranteed.
Update: Juan Norberto Casanova
Dr John Norbert Casanova was a much-travelled physician, born in Spain around 1801, who spent his early years in the Americas, coming to Europe, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, settling at the end in Brighton, where he died in 1871. In the 1820s he seems to have been in Carolina, and then resided in Chile and Peru, where he became proprietor of a cotton mill and tried politically to better the lot of agricultural workers. He wrote a paper advocating the maufacture of guano as the answer to Peru's economic woes, athough he was not successful in either endeavour. He converted to homeopathy and was a very active writer on medical matters and homeopathy, with a special interest in mineral waters.
His wife Albertina was a member of the aristocratic von Eberstein family. Her father, Baron Ernst Albert von Eberstein married in 1814 as his second wife Harriet Perchard Champion (1794-1886), daughter of Joseph Champion (b. 1768), Customs Officer of Guernsey. Albertine was born in 1823 and, as were most of her siblings, christened in the Anglican Chapel in St-Servan-sur-mer, France. Her brother Albert Ernst, however, was born in St. Pierre, Nova Scotia, in 1815. After the death of their father the family moved back to Guernsey. William Henry von Eberstein, older than Albertina by two years, became a mariner and settled in America, where he wrote his memoirs, visiting his family in Guernsey in 1850.
Thanks to Paul Ballard for bringing this to our attention. Paul is researching his relative, a godson of Dr Casanova and his wife - Albert Casanova Ballard, baptised in 1866 in St Peter Port. He later became a millionaire philanthropist, known by the soubriquet "The Pied Piper of Plymouth". Paul has promised to let us know more about this man, whose life sounds fascinating, and we will keep you updated.
This kind-faced clergyman comes from a collection of unnamed Priaulx Library photographs. We would love to know who he is. Do you recognise the face? Can you see a family resemblance? The photograph was taken in the Central Studios of T. A. Grut. It is not dated, but the staff have estimated a date of 1905-1915.
Please contact us if you have any suggestions.
On January 10th, 1805, a man of unknown age was buried in the Sisters’ Cemetery, St. Peter Port. His name was Sercayman Andria.
Who was he?
Where did he come from?
What was he doing in Guernsey?
These questions have puzzled the Priaulx Library staff for many months. Could Sercayman be "Sarkee man"? Do you recognize the name? Do you have an idea of which country the name comes from? If you think you can help, please contact the Library.
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