Clement Hemery, diarist

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Clement Hemery:


Clement Hemery photographed by Mullins in the 1860s

Clement Hemery (1811-1877) was a dedicated diarist, producing a journal from 1836 to 1840, a copy of which is in the Lord Coutanche Library of La Société Jersiaise and other diaries, including one from 1840-1843, whose present whereabouts are unknown

The Owen house at Campobello


Born on 2 October 1811 and baptised nine days later, Hemery married Portia Owen who was born in 1819 and died in 1862 at Plaisance when aged 43. There is a monument in St Ann’s Church, Campobello with this information. She was the daughter of Vice Admiral William Fitzwilliam Owen and niece of Vice Admiral Sir Edward Owen GCB KCH. Her father lived in and owned Campobello, New Brunswick, Canada. This island was not part of Canada then, it was privately owned by Portia’s father.

Clement was a wine merchant and married Portia at Campobello in 1837, officiated by her father. They then left the island for Jersey. They were married again in 1838 in St George’s Hanover Square, just after Queen Victoria’s coronation, which Portia and Anne Hemery, her sister-in-law, attended. Sir Edward Owen and his wife attended, and they insisted on the second wedding - they did not think the Campobello wedding sufficiently legal.

Clement and Portia had already had a grand tour of Europe for a honeymoon. Cornelia visited Jersey during her school holidays 1836/7 and their brother Edward also visited during this time. He went off to Spain to fight when Capt Owen, Mrs Owen and Portia went to Campobello in 1837.

In 1838 Clement, then a Lieutenant in the Jersey Militia, was part of the military presence at Mont Orgueil to awe the oyster fishers of Gorey into submission. They had been plundering the oyster beds laid down by the States in what was known as ‘the Oyster Rebellion’. He records his groom Jerry (Jeremiah Youlton Blackler) meeting him with the pony at Bagot, so he could ride to the Castle.

In the 1841 Census Clement and Portia are living at Windsor Crescent, Trinity Road, fairly new houses built in 1835. She was born in England, he in Jersey. They had two servants - Ann Gummus, aged around 35, and Eliza Foot, born in England, aged around 30. In 1839 Portia’s sister Cornelia married Lt John James Robinson, RN. In 1845 aged 34 he retired on half pay to live on Campobello.

In 1848 a trust was made for Clement Hemery, Robinson and John Campbell Allen of Frederickton to conduct the affairs of the island of Campobello. In 1852 Lady Owen died. Admiral Owen spent more time at St John and in 1855 aged 81 married Mrs Solomon Nicholson, formerly Ann Vernon of St John. He died on 3 November 1857 and was buried on the island. Under the will of Sir E W C Owen, Cornelia’s husband took the name of Owen. Capt and Mrs Robinson-Owen had four children: Owen Campobello born 1840, Portia born 1842, John Hemery born 1845 and Cornelia Ramsay born 1847. John died at sea in 1870. Capt Owen died in April 1874, leaving Mrs Owen to administer the island. In 1880 she was 60. In 1881 she sold the island and moved to England with her daughter Cornelia and grandchildren Archie and Grizel.

The Diaries of Clement Hemery

Clement was a regular diarist, and the following diaries of his are known to be extant :

  • 1836 – 1840 diary, a copy in the Lord Coutanche Library, Jersey
  • 1840 – 1843 recorded, present whereabouts unknown
  • other diaries were written but their whereabouts are unknown

The 1836 – 1840 diary is quite subjective, and it gives the impression of a close circle of friends, many related, and family, meeting daily. It is almost the same group at every party, often including English members of the regiments stationed there. The diary is written in English, which had now replaced French as the language the Hemery family spoke at home.

Clement and Portia hardly ever dined alone, they either entertained or dined at Colomberie, his parents' house. They walked a great deal, sometimes considerable distances. She was delicate, and although only about 23 she suffered from gout, and was constantly catching cold. On two occasions she was taken ill at a party and had to go home. Visiting was very important, congratulatory or mourning visits an important thing. Clement did more walking, and walked with Portia, and went shopping with her. He always went out walking after dinner, weather permitting.

Windsor Crescent as it would have looked when Clement and Portia lived there

She played the guitar, appearing in a public concert, and the harp. Portia owned a dog named Brute. Smoking was always worthy of mention, and who with. He also took snuff. They lived at Windsor Terrace from 1838 – 1841, then at Douro Terrace, before moving to Plaisance by 1856, where each stayed until their deaths. The Hemerys owned a farm, Hocquards (Mallet Farm, named after the man who leased it) just north of Grouville church, where Clement’s horse was at livery. A great deal of whist was played and other games such as charades, consequences and vingt et un. Dancing was usually waltzing.

Two brothers got into difficulties over girlfriends, and this is reported at length. Peter was challenged to a duel over a broken engagement with Miss M, later upbraided (horsewhipped) about another girl. John had difficulty with the parents of Anna Beatty. There were family dinners where things got heated.

Portia Owen and her mother lived at Bagot Manor from Christmas 1837 to July 1838, when they left in a ship the Belsay Castle,which Capt Owen rented, to take them and their possessions to Campobello, together with new settlers from Jersey – he put a large advertisement asking for settlers in the local papers. While Clement and Portia were visiting her sister Cornelia (Robinson) had a daughter called Portia. They kept busy with social activities and trips to the mainland, including New York. Clement made several trips to England, including one in September 1840 to Windsor when he saw the Queen, Prince Albert and Lord Melbourne.

On 17 May 1841 he was appointed Aide de Camp (ADC) to the Governor of Jersey. In August 1841 he travelled to England again, and in October both Clement and Portia travelled there. In November of that year he was painted by Frederick George Reynolds, along with Peter and Clement, for the large painting showing the laying of the foundation stone of St Helier harbour.

They made a trip to Campobello, being away from 1 May to 11 December 1842, leaving Spithead on the Switzerland to New York. Portia was very sick and frightened by some bad weather they experienced.

On 19 July at St John they had ‘their likenesses daguerrotyped’. (Only months after the process reached British North America, taken either by William Valentine or John Clow, they would have cost between $5-$8.) This makes Clement the earliest recorded Jerseyman to be photographed, several months before Roemhild opened his studio in St Helier in September 1842. Unfortunately the photographs do not survive. On 5 November they visited Niagara. The return journey was in the same ship, the Switzerland, and took 29 days. On 11 December they arrived back in Jersey in the Dasher.

Captain Owen

Le Couteur diaries

Additional information can be found in the book ‘Victorian Voices’ by Joan Stevens, which extracts the diaries of Sir John Le Couteur :

  • Sir John Le Couteur was made Colonel of the Town Regiment in 1850, which left Clement sadly disappointed as Sir Thomas had promised him the command. Clement did later become Colonel of the Town Regiment.
  • Governor General Love tells Le Couteur he intends to appoint Clement a full Colonel.
  • In December 1853 a large militia dinner was held at Belle Vue (the Le Couteur home) with 28 at table, ‘Colonel Simonet sat with me at the top, Clement Hemery on my left, who was useful in carving. They paid us the compliment in coming here in full dress, having had black trousers with red stripes on purpose for regimental dinners’.
  • In 1856 ‘we dined with the Clement Hemerys at their newly furnished house at Plaisance’.
  • 12 January 1857 ‘election of new deputies tomorrow, Hemery is said to have damaged himself by refusing Eraut’s brother a commission in the town, saying ‘Oh, he is a shopkeeper, I cannot give him a commission’. All the shopkeepers will vote against him. It did nearly lose his election as he was at the foot of the town list and only beat Wellman by about 20.’
  • 29 January 1857 the States with the 14 new deputies held their first sitting. These were the first deputies ever elected, and Clement was one of them. He was re-elected Deputy of St Helier on 14 January 1860, 17 January 1863, 13 January 1866 and 16 January 1869.
Clement in 1873

Social life

In 1865 Clement was a pall bearer at the funeral of Harriet Le Couteur, wife of John.

In 1866 the Victoria Club is mentioned, with Clement a member of the committee with Charles Robin.

In 1867 a grand dinner was given by the clergy and laity for the Bishop of Winchester. Dean Le Breton ‘made a buttery speech and a lame excuse for the General’s absence, who will not meet Clement Hemery’ (possibly General Cuppage, the Governor of Jersey). There is an additional note in Le Couteur diary ‘The General called here to see the Bishop…he would not meet Clem Hemery anywhere but on duty’ Obviously Clement had somehow annoyed the General.

In 1850 Clement was treasurer of the committee to build St Luke’s church. He may have given the corner of his garden at Plaisance as land for the Church, but it may have been John Dupre who had the house before him.

Census returns

The 1851 census reveals Clement, merchant, living at 5 Douro Terrace with Owen Robinson his nephew aged 10, Eliza Forte aged 39, cook, born in England, and Martha Gordon aged 30, house maid, born in St Saviour parish Jersey.

The 1861 census shows Clement and Portia at Plaisance, with three servants, Martha Gordon, who was with them in 1851, lady’s maid, Hannah Boundford aged 29 born in Wales, cook, and Cecilia Vautier, aged 22 born in St Helier, housemaid.

Portia died 12 September 1862 aged 43 at Plaisance. She was very much loved by the whole family and referred to as ‘Dear Aunt Portia’ The couple loved young people and entertained tremendously for their nephews and nieces. Clement had sallow skin and brilliant blue eyes. Kate Lindon remembers him as an old man with white hair, riding up to them when they were playing on the beach. She remembers his blue eyes as he would bend from the saddle to speak to them and tell them to go to Plaisance and ask the housekeeper for some sugared cakes. There was a portrait of him in a blue coat, and one of Portia in a feathered bonnet, given to Arthur Hamilton, it is not known where they are now.

The Monument to P Le Sueur was opened on 2 November 1870 in the presence of Mr Le Sueur, Colonel Hemery and others.

In 1871 the census records Clement, his occupation listed as wine merchant, with three servants, Cecilia Vautier, housemaid, who was with him in 1861, Rose Dillon aged 31, born in Ireland, cook, and Mary A Puddle, aged 61, born in England, housekeeper.

Several times he was offered the role of Magistrate but declined.

Another 1860s portrait by Mullins

ADC to Queen

Clement was made ADC to Queen Victoria after the resignation of Sir John Le Couteur, accompanying her on her second visit to Jersey, and being summoned several times to Court to attend levées. He was Constable of St Helier from 9 August 1873 to 1876. The Hon Mrs Cynthia Leapman had, in 1974, the letter appointing him ADC to Queen Victoria.

In July 1873, at Grève de Lecq Pavilion, a meal was held for the officers of the Town Battalion Militia. After the Queen was toasted with the usual honours, Lieutenant-Colonel De La Taste presented Clement with a magnificent album containing all their photographs. His health was then proposed and drunk with enthusiasm, and Clement, visibly affected, thanked his fellow officers for their gift. The album had the heraldic arms of Clement Hemery, and the inscription 'presented to Col. Hemery by his brother officers' the photos were taken by Asplet and Green. The rest of the evening was then spent 'in a convivial manner' and the party returned to town in Mr W Gregory's jaunting car.

On 15 January 1876 Major General Norcott promulgated a General Militia Order which was a flattering testimony to Clement's military service. Simultaneously he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Town Regiment.


Clement Hemery died at Plaisance on 16 January 1877. An obituary was printed in the Nouvelle Chronique de Jersey. He was buried in St Saviour’s churchyard.

His long obituary records that he suffered for some years with a pulmonary disease, and that he had relinquished the wine and spirit trade 'some years ago'. The obituary reveals the full extent of the many causes, charities and societies he was connected with.

He was patron of the Jersey Poultry and Dog Society, vice patron of the Caesarean Dramatic and Literary Society, president of the Jersey Humane Society, president of the Jersey National Rifle Association, president of the Caesarean Town Militia Rifle Club, president of the Jersey Swimming Club, vice president of the Jersey General Dispensary, treasurer of the St Helier Parochial National School for Boys, treasurer of the Parochial District Visiting Society, treasurer of the Jersey Auxiliary of the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, treasurer of the Jersey District Committee of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, treasurer of the Victoria Club, and one of the secretaries of the Jersey Savings Bank. He was also associated with the Sick Strangers Relief Fund, the Jersey Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and a warden of St Marks Church – the bells tolled the afternoon of his death in memory.

The Jersey Express reported on the funeral, held on Saturday 20 January 1877. He was interred in St Saviour's cemetery, in the presence of a large crowd of spectators. The cortege was of considerable length, consisting of a hearse without plumes, nine mourning coaches, and 16 private carriages. At the funeral the men and officers of the St Helier Battalion who wanted to attend assembled in plain clothes near Plaisance. The Honorary Police and a number of members of the Chamber of Commerce also attended. The Dean William Corbet Le Breton, was among the officiating clergy. The pall bearers included the Bailiff, John Hammond, Colonel Wilson, Major Bennett, and Charles, Raulin and James Robin. Among the mourners were Charles and John Hemery, his brothers, and the Rev Thomas Angel Lindon and four sons. Eight present and former employees also attended. The body was enclosed in three coffins, shell, metal, and an outer coffin of polished oak with a breastplate in the form of a shield, with an inscription. About 180 people attended the funeral.

Many shops were partially closed, and the bells of St Marks, St Heliers and St Saviours all tolled at intervals. Several private clubs and the shipping in the harbour had their flags at half mast.

As the body was laid to rest there were 'unmistakeable manifestations of regret that one so charitable in principle, so upright and just in his every action, and so faithful to the service of his Divine master had passed away. But the name of Colonel Clement Hemery will not soon be forgotten for his deeds will live in imperishable scrolls to record the valuable services he rendered to his Queen, his country, his countries institutions and to his fellow-creatures at large, including the humble and struggling poor, towards whom he at all times manifested great sympathy'.

The George Reynolds painting


Will in English dated 15 July 1876

I Clement Hemery of Plaisance desire to be buried plainly, without scarves, hatbands or plumes, in the same vault as my dear wife in St Saviour's Churchyard. I direct that all the pictures, plate, books, musical instruments, papers, trinkets, wearing apparel, and all other property which may have belonged to my wife Portia or to any member of her family, as also the large mirror in the drawing room which was given to her by her father, may be returned to Mrs Cornelia Robinson Owen as her legal representative.
I direct that the three family portraits belonging to me which are now in the dining room at Colomberie House and my own portrait by Fisher shall remain as heirlooms in the hands of the eldest representative of the family, together with the following pieces of plate, viz, the silver coffee pot given to me by Mr John L Janvrin, the silver salver given me by my aunt and godmother, Jane, widow of my uncle James Hemery and the silver salver memorial ? of the late Philip Raoul Lempriere. The portrait of my dear wife by Fisher is to be included in list of articles that are to be returned to Mrs Cornelia Robinson Owen.
I hereby direct that my furniture, plate, glass, linen, pictures, books, musical instruments, wines and household effects be sold or divided ‘a l’amiable’ if possible and the proceeds divided between my surviving brothers and sisters, the children of my late brother Peter taking between them the share that would have come to their late father.
Out of the sum which will at my decease become due to my succession by the ‘National Provident Institution’ on the policy of insurance effected on my life in that office, together with sundry bonuses which have from time to time been added thereto, I give and bequeath to my sisters Ann Margaret, Julia Jane and Ellen Mary to each of them the sum of £200, to my sister in law Frances Maria £150, to my sister in law Cornelia Robinson Owen £250, to each of 2 daughters Portia Owen Robinson and Cornelia Ramsay Robinson, wife of Captain Basil E Cochrane RN £100, to Mrs Katherine M Mosse, wife of Captain James Urquhart Mosse, formerly of the 17th Regiment, the sum of £50.
To the Jersey National School £200
To the St Marks Schools and to the St Lukes Schools to each £50.
£50 for religious purposes at Campobello New Brunswick at the discretion of Mrs Cornelia Robinson Owen or her representative.
I give and bequeath to Eliza Carter (now living in my office in Hill Street St Heliers) to Jeremiah Youlton Blackler, to J Le Mausurier, to E Williams (formerly gardener at Plaisance) to James Lumbard (gardener) and to any servant in my family who shall have lived with me less than five years, to each of the above £5.
I give and bequeath to each of my servants who shall have lived in my family during the 5 years preceding my decease 1 years wages commencing on the quarter day next after my decease.
I direct that whatever funds, stocks, shares, bonds, debts due to me or other personal property which I might be possessed of at the time of my decease and which are not otherwise disposed of by this will, shall be sold and the proceeds divided into 4 equal portions and that one of such portions be paid to each of my brothers Charles and John, another placed in trust in the names of 2 trustees for the benefit and use of Frances Maria Hemery, who is to enjoy the annual interest during her life and then to her surviving children. And I direct that the fourth portion be placed in trust for the benefit of my sister Ellen Mary, wife of the Revd Thomas Angell Lindon, interest during her life then to her children.
To Matilda Mollet £25.
To my 2 sisters Ann Margaret and Julia Jane my clothes, uniforms, trinkets and such like to be distributed by them as they may see fit.
I appoint my brother Charles Hemery, my sister Ann Margaret Hemery and Mr Francis Philip Esnouf (now my clerk) to be executors, he receiving £100 and to be retained at his present salary until the greater portion of my succession be closed.

Witnessed by Edward Mourant, Jurat and G H Horman HM Advt General, proved 22 January 1877 by Dean William Corbet Le Breton.

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