The Balleine family of St Peter

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George Orange Balleine, Dean of Jersey, photographed by P J Ouless

The origin of the name is open to speculation: it may have originated as an insulting nickname, (as "whale belly" or the like), or perhaps as a designation of an individual who came from the village of La Baleine south of Coutances ( G R Balleine 1940). The earliest record in France is in 1187 when an abstract of a Charter concerning the Abbey of St Mary de Voto at Cherbourg was witnessed by a Petro de Balena.

Sword attack

The first record in Jersey is in the Extente Roll of 1331, and about the same time Balleine's History of Jersey mentions an incident when an Emma Balleine complained that the chaplain at Gorey Castle had wounded a man with his sword.

Parish registers of birth, marriage and burial in St Peter and St Mary list the family from the mid 1400s. Variants of the name include Bullen,Baleyne, Bolyn, Balaine, the latter is not unusual in the census in the 1900s of northern France.

One perhaps significant fact that has recently come to light is that one male member of the family was recognised to have inherited a Y chromosome type M89, which is extremely rare through Europe. This may eventually lead to a genetic trace for the family to the distant past.

New York

A Captain James Bollen, probably from Jersey, was an associate of de Carteret in the New York colony in 1664, he was later the Secretary of the Colony. A Philip Bullen, also from Jersey, was trading into Virginia in the early 1700s. By the mid 1700s the family appears to have been quite prosperous, either through trading, or privatering or close association with those who did. Early association by marriage with several prominent trading families may have helped family prosperity : Robin (late 1500s), Cabot (1600) and Orange (1800) . The family however appears to have been primarily traders farmers and mariners.

The St Peter branch of the family probably split their time between farming and seafaring. Their ancestral home of La Chasse was too small to sustain more than a nucleus of the family, and by the mid 19th Century family members sought a living in "greener pastures" overseas or in the Church. At one point in the mid century nine out of the twelve Jersey Parishes had a Balleine rector.

Dean of Jersey

Prominent members of the family include George Orange Balleine (1842-1906), who was Dean of Jersey, and his daughter Hilda Balleine (1878-1921) who was a novelist. One of his sons G R Balleine (1873-1966) wrote the standard history book of Jersey, and was librarian of the Societe Jersiaise for 15 years after his retirement as the Vicar of St James , Bermondsey, London in 1938.

John Arthur Balleine (1859-1942) , who was a Vice Dean of Jersey and a cousin of George Orange Balleine, established a Trust Fund, "Le Don Balleine" with the Societe to support Jersey studies. Another member of the family, Le Couteur Balleine (1828-1881), who was Vicar of St Mary , attempted to stop the ringing of the church bells at Christmas in his parish, and was nearly ducked in the village pond for his efforts.

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