Family History in Guernsey
One of the reasons we started Donkipedia is because there is not a lot of help online for family historians with Guernsey roots. There is a wide range of information and resources on Donkipedia which can help you trace your family tree and learn more about your family history. This page provides an index to help you find them.
This page is divided into three main sections:
- Starting out - a guide to the main records and their locations
- Donkipedia resources – an overview of what you will find on Donkipedia to help your research
- Going further – other resources that can help you find out more about your ancestors (property, occupational records, military service, etc)
Starting out - Main Records and Locations
Civil Registration (Births, Marriages and Deaths)
Civil Registration of births and deaths begain in Guernsey in 1840 (three years later than the UK). Registration of marriages did not begin until 1919, before which marriages can only be found in the church registers (see below).
Church Registers (Baptisms, Marriages and Burials)
As in England, parish churches began recording baptisms, marriages and burials in 1563, but not all Guernsey parishes’ registers survive that far back.
Many of the registers have been indexed, and are available for consultation, along with microfilm of the original registers, in the Priaulx Library.
A census has been taken every 10 years in Guernsey since 1821, as in England & Wales – with detailed schedules surviving since 1841. The Guernsey census can be found amongst the same record series in the National Archives in Kew.
They are indexed and available online through subscription sites ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk. (Warning: The quality of the transcription of Channel Islands surnames on these sites is variable - see Transcription errors in Census indexes).
There is a free online transcription of the 1841 Census (via Internet Archive).
These pages are expanding all the time, so check back. If you would like to contribute, please contact Donkipedia editor at User talk:Sgfoote or email donkipedia [at] guernsey-society.org.uk.
- Selected Guernsey family trees
- Guernsey Surnames - the main family names of Guernsey, providing details of the earliest references to the name, and links to trees and biographies of prominent members of the family
- Old Guernsey Houses - histories of some of the old farmhouses on the island
- Emigration - sources of information on emigration from the islands
- Immigration - sources of information on immigrants to the islands
- Guernsey Timeline - a timeline of the major events in Guernsey's history
- A glossary of Channel Island terms - due to their unique history, you may encounter a number of unfamiliar terms in old documents.
Lists and Indexes
- Cholera epidemic - list of the victims of the 1832 Cholera epidemic in Guernsey.
- List of Jurats of Guernsey
- List of Deans of Guernsey
- List of tenants of Herm
- List of Bailiffs of Guernsey
- Huguenot refugees
World War I
Over 3,000 Guernseymen fought in World War I – 1,000 of which served in the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry. The Guernsey Museum holds a lot of material and a large photograph archive in the RGLI museum in Castle Cornet.
The National Archives holds the major records relating to this perdiod. Medal Rolls, and some War Diaries are available online through their web site, and the Soldiers’ Service Records that survive can be found in Kew.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has an online database of those who died in the war.
Channel Islands and the Great War forum has a comprehensive web site and regular journal dedicated to research into the roles that islanders played in the war.
World War II
The Channel Islands were occupied by Germany for most of the war, and over 17,000 Guernseymen and women were evacuated to England before the occupation, and 1,000 were deported to prison camps in Germany during the occupation.
The German Occupation pages on Donkipedia have a wide range of information about this period. The Island Archives Service holds registration cards of the islanders that stayed, which often include photgraphs.
Property deeds & Livres de Perchage
Alex Glendinnig's Guernsey Datestones project can also provide some useful clues.
See also Old Guernsey Houses for more details about house histories.
Many islanders went to sea, and the National Archives hold Seamen’s Tickets, Crew Lists and many other records relating to the islands’ Maritime History.
A limited range of Crew Lists can be found at the Guernsey Crew List Index site.
Stephen Foote’s History of Guernsey Butchers site contains details of many butchers and their families who came to Guernsey during the 19th century.
Channel Islands Silver makers' marks.
Newspapers and Periodicals, in English and French, have been published regularly in Guernsey since La Gazette de Guernesey was first published in 1791. The Priaulx Library has a comprehensive collection of many of these, which is in the process of being scanned.
The British Newspaper Archive includes digitised images of The Guernsey Star 1869-1900 which are fully searchable online.
Guernsey Society has published The Review 3-4 times a year since 1945, which contains a wide range of articles about Guernsey families and other aspects of Guernsey history. References to these can be found on the relevant Guernsey Surnames pages. More details can be found at the Guernsey Society web site.