The Mystery of Family History (1844)

Jane ~ born 1844 (or Rachel) Renier / Hopkins ~ My Great Great Grandmother

As explained in the previous post, until my recent search on the internet, my parents delving into our family history had pinpointed Harriet’s mother as Jane (Renier) born 26.10.1844.

(If the 1871 census in the previous post has been transcribed correctly on to the internet, then Harriet’s mother was in fact Rachel and not Jane, both daughters of Elizabeth Renier. Since I can no longer ask my Dad, then to prove one or the other is quite difficult and of course, the internet never lies 😉 )

Here is the part of the family tree Dad gave to me:

The story passed down in the family goes that Harriet’s mother married a sea captain and they both lost their lives. Harriet was left to be brought up by her grandmother, Elizabeth Renier/ Quesnel (Taylor) and her step-grandfather John Taylor.

The difficulties of family history searches on Alderney

When Alderney was occupied in WW2 some records were taken by the evacuees to safety, but as you can imagine, this was not easy, since the residents were given only a few hours to get ready and were then scattered throughout the UK, some never to return.

The island has very few trees and so anything that could be burnt was used as fuel by the occupying German forces during the war, including precious books and church records.

Much has been done by the islanders and their descendants since then to collate any records that are in existence, also bringing together vast numbers of family trees and comparing and cross referencing them.

My parents and I spent many hours pouring over acetates at Alderney Museum back in the first couple of years of this 21st Century, well before much data has been carefully entered on to computer databases.

How did this influence my writing?

Looking out over Braye Beach

The island of Alderney (Braye Bay pictures in the banner on this blog) and my family connections with the island have always been my initial inspiration to write novels. As I walk around the island I feel as if I’m walking in Harriet’s footsteps. As far as the parents of Harriet in my novel RIDUNA, they are purely fictional. I knew nothing of John Hopkins when I wrote the novel, but his story is as fascinating as any novel.

The search for details of Jane’s marriage to John Hopkins has been without success (I’ll return to this post if I discover any more facts), but my parents were able to uncover a substantial amount of evidence of the sea captain called John Hopkins; more of which will be in my next post.

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Filed under Alderney, Channel Islands, Family History, Inspiration

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