Tag Archives: Alderney

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

The True Story of Harriet Hopkins (1871) daughter of Jane Hopkins (Renier)

Harriet is the protagonist of RIDUNA.

Here’s her true story as far as we know it but in a nutshell:

Originally published by Pegasus Elliot McKenzie in 2009
Then Published in 2012 by Eventispress

Harriet Hopkins (known as Jane in Guernsey and subsequently) was my great grandmother. She lived on Alderney but moved to Guernsey between 1881 and 1890 and subsequently married my grandfather Thomas Jackson in 1890 on Guernsey. They moved to Woolston Southampton early in the new century.

Here’s where we first see Harriet in the 1871 census at 7 months:

NAME:Harriet Hopkins
AGE:7 Months
COUNTRY:Channel Islands
NEIGHBORS:View others on page
HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS:Name Age Elizabeth Taylor 60 John Taylor 52 Nicholas Renin 48 John Smith 29 Harriet Frost 27 Rachel Hopkins 22 Ann E Smith 22 Nicholas Renin 14 Harriet Hopkins 7 Months

John Taylor was Harriet’s step father and Elizabeth Taylor was her grandmother as in the previous post.

They lived in Braye Road, Alderney (1881 census) in a place called The Reading Rooms.

Harriet’s father was John Hopkins, but though my Dad was sure that Jane, the daughter of Elizabeth Taylor was Harriet’s mother, but from the census above it looks as if Rachel was her mother.

Although this 1881 census tells a different story. Maybe Dad was right.

After 1870 Jane (or Rachel) Hopkins mother married Mr (Capt) John Hopkins. (no record was found)

We do know that Harriet became an orphan when both of her parents were lost at sea, but

I will tell the story of John Hopkins in a subsequent post.

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Filed under Alderney, Channel Islands, Family History, Inspiration, Planning a novel

Elizabeth Renier ~ Born 1811 / Quesnel/ Taylor

Let’s start at Elizabeth, my Great Great Great Grandmother, the first relevant person in my family tree and a key character in RIDUNA.

Elizabeth Renier married Nicolas Quesnel on 15th May 1932 on the island of Alderney.

John Taylor became lodger in the household, which we are led to believe was called The Reading Rooms on Braye Road, a boarding house and public house. On the 1861 census on Alderney below this is clearly shown. We spent a lovely hour with Eileen Mignot, who used to be the keeper of all of Alderney’s paper records before everything went digital.

After Nicolas Quesnel passed away Elizabeth married John Taylor, who I imagine had been very supportive in running the public house and lodging house when Nicolas was ill. All of these characters feature in my novel.

On the next post I will bring Harriet, my protagonist, into the picture and it is there that truth begins to diverge from the fiction.


Filed under Alderney, Channel Islands, Family History, Planning a novel, Research, Riduna