The following is a brief history of our Kerby family on the Isle of Jersey that has been passed down. The Kerby family may have come to the Isle of Jersey in the early years of the 18th century as I don’t know, nor have I found where the first of our line, Farthingaudo Kerby I, was born, but I do know that all of his children and his descendants for a number of years were all born on the Isle of Jersey. Farthingaudo Kerby I, 1684-1747, and his sons, Philippe Kerby, 1710-????, and Farthingaudo Kerby II 1712-????, were garrison soldiers. Jean Kerby I, 1737-????, was a privateer and his son, Jean Kerby II, 1766-????, was a clock and watchmaker and silversmith and his business was taken over by his son Francois Kerby I, 1793-1884. Francois Kerby II, 1821-1914, was a college graduate who spoke fluent French and was a painter and glazier as well as a clock and watchmaker. The first Francois left Jersey and went to Wiltshire, England and continued his profession. The younger Francois went to Yorkshire, England for a few years and then immigrated to the United States, settling in the Utah Territory where he died. Farthingaudo Kerby I is the furthest we have back so far on our Kerby line.
For those that don’t know the Channel Islands set in the English Channel between France and England. The following shows a map of the islands in the channel and the next map shows the different parishes within the Isle of Jersey itself. Though English is the national language spoken here, French is also quite prominent and the Kerby’s spoke both English and French fluently.
Francois Kerby I, was the only son and the middle child of the five known children, born to Jean Kerby II and Marie Metivier in Saint Helier. The four daughters and siblings to Francois were the following: Anne Kerby 1789-???? who married Francois Le Marquant; Jeanne Kerby 1791-???? who married Clement Sorel; Mary Peggy Kerby 1797-???? who married Phillip du Heaume and Elizabeth Kerby 1799-????. I haven’t followed any of these girls yet, so that is why I don’t have any death dates or much information about any of them at this time.
Francois Kerby I as well as his son Francois Kerby II, learned the occupation of clock/watch maker and were also painters and poets. Family stories always said that they would paint the picture on the front of the clocks they made and on the back of the clock they would include a poem. A cousin of my husbands was at an auction in Southern California a few years ago and saw a clock that said made by Francois Kerby, Isle of Jersey with the year, if I remember correctly. She got very excited, because she knew this was her great-great-grandfather, but kept her composure and bought the clock, which indeed included a poem on the back. She never said how much she had to pay for the clock, but I know if it had been me, I would not have left the shop until I became the new owner. I know I have a picture of the clock she bought, somewhere, but so far I am not finding it. However, I do have a picture of one of his son, Francis II’s clocks that is still on the Isle of Jersey. One of my mother-in-law's cousins had this picture and she let me scan it so that I could have a copy of it as well.
Francois Kerby I, soon meet his future wife and on July 13, 1816 at the Parish Church in St. Helier, Francois married Jeanne Guilleaume, who was born March 15, 1791 also in St. Helier and she was the daughter of Clement Guilleaume and Marie Rachel Arrive, who were from St. Helier as well. I have two pictures of Jeanne, one when she is younger and one when she is older, and they are the following, again just head shots, but I wish I could find the full pictures like I did for Francois.
Francois and Jeanne became the parents of eight children all born in St. Helier and they were the following: Jane Mary Kerby 1817-1899 in Warminster, Wiltshire, England, married Jean de Gruchy; Jean Francois Kerby 1819-1821 in St. Helier; Francois Kerby II (Francis) 1821-1914 in Wallsburg, Wasatch County, Utah, married Marie Le Cornu (My husband’s 2nd great-grandparents); Mary Durell Kerby 1823-1887 in Paddington, New South Wales, Australia, married Edmund Reuben Parker; Esther Kerby 1825-1915 in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand, married Robert Bartley Jr.; Sophia Kerby 1826-1893, in Warminster, Wiltshire, England, she was a school teacher and never married; Charles Kerby 1830-1879 in Pukehinau Stream, Shellback, Thames, New Zealand, married Caroline Down and Rachel Nankivell and Harriet Kerby 1833-1911 in Warminster, Wiltshire, England, married Thomas John Ryall.
I don’t know how they did it, but four of their eight children left home, one for America and the wilds of the west in Utah Territory in 1857, which was my husband’s ancestor, the other three left in 1854, for New Zealand and a couple of them went to Australia for a time searching for gold and one stayed in Australia where she died. You know that in those days, letters would have taken months to get to family back home and you knew that once they left, the odds of you ever seeing any of them ever again would have been almost nil. As far as I am aware Francois and Jeanne never saw these four children ever again. I don’t have pictures of all of their children, but I do have the following: Francois Kerby II (I have others of him when he is older), Mary Kerby Parker with her husband and a couple of her children and then Charles Kerby. I wish I had some of the rest of the children but I don’t. The reason I have the ones of Mary and Charles is because some of their descendants who still live in Australia and New Zealand found me a few years ago and sent me information on them, including these pictures.
Sometime after the 1851 census was taken in St. Helier, Francois and Jeanne and some of their children left the Isle of Jersey and went to England, settling in the town of Warminster in Wiltshire. From Francois Kerby II’s journal, I know that his parents, are in Warminster before 1855, because he has stopped to pick up his daughter, Mary, from his sister Jane de Gruchy’s, where she had been attending school. Jane and her husband Jean de Gruchy had a school where Jean de Gruchy was the head master and Jane and her sister, Sophia Kerby, taught school. When Francois Kerby II was writing in his journal he mentions that his parents, Francois and Jeanne, had received a letter from their daughter Esther, saying that their daughter Mary was getting married, and Esther and Mary and their families, as well as Charles were leaving Australia and going back over to New Zealand.
Francois Kerby I, was listed as a watchmaker on the 1841 through 1871 census records on the Isle of Jersey as well as in Warminster, England but by 1881 he is listed as deriving income from dividends. I am not sure exactly what that means, but I am assuming it means that he may have placed his money in some kind of an account and was now living off the proceeds from said accounts. I know that the family while on the Isle of Jersey and in England as well, were quite well to do for the time period, not wealthy by any means but they weren’t hurting either.
Like I said their children starting getting married and four of them moved far away and Francois and Jeanne got older, as we all tend to do, and soon, Jeanne passed away in Warminster, on June 15, 1875 of acute bronchitis and was buried two days later at the Non-Conformist Church Cemetery on Boreham Road in Warminster. Francois continued living in their home on Silver Street, but had moved to Emwell Cross, also in Warminster, not far from his home on Silver Street, where he passed away on December 3, 1884 and was buried two days later by his wife at the Non-Conformist Church Cemetery on Boreham Road in Warminster. The cause of death is listed as senility and decay, with contributing factors of inflammation of the bladder, he was 91 years old.
This ancestor was better off financially then most I have written about, but I am sure it did not make you feel any better knowing you would never see some of your children ever again in this life at least. Four of his children were half way around the world from them, never to be seen again, he and his wife did have three of their daughters close by though. They all knew how to write thankfully, so they could correspond with each other, even though it did take months to receive replies to their letters. Can you even image not knowing how to write and possibly never hearing from your children again. Francois was living with his widowed daughter, Jane Mary de Gruchy and his single, daughter Sophia Kerby when he passed away.
I wish I knew more about his life, and his day to day dealings, and sometimes I wonder if he kept a diary or journal like his son Francois Kerby II, did. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if he had?