Family History

Here is the true story of Harriet Hopkins my greatgrandmother, in a nutshell, as far as we have been able to piece together.  Harriet was born on Alderney  to Jane Quesnel Renier the daughter of Elizabeth Quesnel Renier and John Hopkins a sea captain from London, in 1871.  A few years after Elizabeth’s first husband, Nicholas Quesnel,  died (in 1860) Elizabeth was listed in the census running a guest house called The Reading Rooms in Braye Road. Both Elizabeth and Jane appear in the census with Elizabeth’s maiden name Renier and her married name Quesnel.  We have been unable to locate the position of The Reading Rooms today. (any ideas?)   A few years later Elizabeth remarried a John Taylor. He was a former serviceman who had served around the world, was born in Scotland and recently lived on Jersey but then lodged at Elizabeth’s guest house on Alderney.

Even after Harriet was born, Jane frequently joined her husband John Hopkins at sea on various ships including The Spirit of the Day and The Livonian. The majority of the voyages were transporting goods between The Channel Islands, the Scilly Isles and the mainland but occasionally John Hopkins travelled on his own to South Africa, North and South America.  On those occasions it appears that Jane Hopkins remained on Alderney, eagerly awaiting news I expect, enjoying time with her parents and young daughter.  In 1879, when Harriet was only 8 years old, Jane joined her husband John on a voyage on The Jane Goodyear to North America.  Unfortunately the ship was lost and there were no survivors, leaving Harriet to be cared for by her elderly grandmother Elizabeth and step grandfather John Taylor.  

By all accounts they had their hands full with running the guest house and so, when she became a little difficult to handle at 15 years old, they shipped poor Harriet off to live with her aunt on Guernsey.  

My parents are still in touch with relatives on Guernsey and we have recently made contact with members of the Renier family still living on Alderney today and hope to meet up in the summer.


Filed under Alderney, Channel Islands, Family History, History of Alderney

3 responses to “Family History

  1. Comment on Twitter from VicPetit
    Hi Diana. 1873!!! They must have known each other on an island the size of Alderney. He was also a Victor Petit. Millions of us. By the way, my great great grandad lived in Jackson Place in Alderney in 1881, it no longer exists. Was French and began the Alderney line.

  2. I was so excited to receive an e mail from a member of the Renier family who now lives in Australia ‘From your first email, that’s fascinating about the Renier line and now having your blog I’ve got a clearer picture. So the Renier 1 and Renier 2 family trees are relevant here, as basically the info on both regarding your ggg.grandmother Elizabeth is just simply missing until now!

    On the Renier 1 tree, she is listed as Elizabeth Simon b. 2.4.1812 married Nicolas Quesnel 15.5.1832 married(2) 30.9.1866 John Taylor (Scotland) (and then no further info, death date, descendants etc)
    On the Renier 2 tree, she is listed as Elizabeth Simon b. 1833 d.1855 (in Guernsey) m. 24.3.1861 to William H Rattenbury
    (then there’s her sister Jane Simon as I mentioned incorrectly previously)
    and her sister Margaret Naftel m. 13.10.1861 to John Taylor (Isle of Wight)!

    so Renier 2 tree is almost an incomplete mirror image of the Renier 1 tree. It was all done by Peggy Wilson, perhaps an early attempt or a group of ‘loose ends’, I’m not sure if Mrs Mignot is still alive and doing the ancestry, will ask ……

    Anyway there you are now, firmly in the middle of the Renier 1 tree. So that must make us very very distant cousins as I count it goes back to our mutual great x 5 grandparents Nicolas Renier (b.?.4.1714) m to Michelle LeCocq 14.1.1747!!’

  3. Pingback: Genealogy and How it has Shaped my Writing | Diana Jackson's Muse, Views and Reviews

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