There are two sides to his story, firstly the often repeated ‘facts’ of his date of birth, date of arrival in Jersey, the marriages and the dates of birth of his sons, but a closer look at the actual evidence produces a different picture. He is said to have been born in 1669, but that may just be the date he was confirmed as a nobleman, and lived in Vidouville, near St Lo. He was a prominent member of his community – his full title being given on the oldest family tree as Ecuyer (Esquire, then a much more important and honorific title than it later became) Seigneur de Villers, Gentilhomme (Gentleman) de Corps Electoral du Pont l’Eveque. Pont l’Eveque is also in Normandy, and the Corps Electoral would have electoral power over the town and its affairs, being able to elect its leaders.
He married Louise Tanquerel (also spelled Tancrel). This couple left France and settled in Jersey. The exact date is not known; as Catholics they were not under compulsion to leave in 1685. Most sources assume he arrived in Jersey soon after 1685, but it was more likely to have been around 1710, for reasons given below. Other members of the Hemery family remained in Normandy.
Peter Hemery and his daughter Judith visited the archives in St Lo and Caen. In the latter they found a legal document dated 1694 which mentions Jacob Hemery of Vidouville and his father Jacques. It is believed this is the Jacob that went to Jersey. It is thought his wife Louise came from St Lens. There are many Hemery baptisms in the Parish records of Vidouville.
The Hemery crest is a crescent between five mullets (mullets are stars, not the fish) or a stag’s head. The Hemery motto is the Latin ‘Flecti non Frangi’ – bend, not break.
Arrival in Jersey
The Edict of Nantes in 1598 gave the Huguenots some protection, but it was revoked in 1685 and the Huguenots left France in large numbers, heading mainly for the Protestant countries of Holland, England, and in the case of Jacob and Louise, nearby Jersey. As well as its proximity to Normandy, Jersey offered a haven among people of similar language and religion.
Jacob and Louise settled in St Lawrence parish, which is located on the South of the island, half way between the main town of St Helier, and St Aubin, which in those days was the only safe harbour for merchant vessels.
Wherever the Huguenots went their Protestant work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit enriched the communities they settled in and Jersey was no exception.
The family settle in Jersey
Jacob and Louise first appear on the island when they were abjured on 25 March 1713. This was because they had become Roman Catholics in France to escape persecution. They now swore to forsake the Catholic faith and become Protestants.
The text of their abjuration is as follows:
- Jacob Hemery and Louise Tancrel his wife of the Bishopric of Bayeux voluntarily present themselves to recognize the sins they have committed and the offence they have given in forsaking the Protestant religion and participating in the superstitions of the Roman church, because of the violence of the persecution. For this sin they humbly ask forgiveness from God and forsake all the errors, superstitions and idolatries of the said Roman church. They are obliged to give notice of this abjuration in the Parish Church of St. Lawrence, when they are called by the Rector, to be received into the peace of the church. In the year 1713, the 25th day of March, before the official and commissaire of the Dean of this Isle (Jersey) assisted by the Rectors of Saint Helier, St Peters, Trinity and St Lawrence. (The original in French)
Louise Tanquerel died in 1715, and was buried on 28 November. It is now known that Jacob’s two sons were by his marriage to Louise, and were probably born in France. Previously they were considered the children of Jacob’s second marriage.
Other Hemerys are also found in Jersey at this period, and later, who do not seem to fit the family tree. An Etienne Hemery of St Lo abjured in Jersey on 15 June 1687. There is a marriage recorded in St Lawrence on 29 June 1703 between Anne Hemery, Refugee (ie from France) and Henri Le Cras of St Lawrence, but it is not known if she was related to Jacob. Master Emery and his niece Gosselin were godparents to a child of this marriage. Anne was buried as a widow at St Lawrence on 24 September 1738. David Hemery made a will in French dated 14 July 1726 and lived in St Saviour. He was buried at St Helier on 12 June 1730 when his surname is recorded as Emery. There is some confusion between Hemery and Emery over the years. He does not appear related to Jacob’s line, although he had also come from Normandy.
Susanne Hemery of St Lawrence married Charles George Fauvel of St Peter on 7 April 1809. Eliza Hemery, wife of Jean George Le Sueur, grocer, died 28 October 1845 aged 34, and was buried 1 November 1845, the officiating minister being James Hemery.
Other members of Jacob’s family remained in France, and in 1841 one of the Jersey Hemery brothers is recorded as visiting a cousin in Caen.
Jacob remarried two years later. His second wife was Judith Williams, a resident of St Helier. They married on 26 March 1717. He was then 48 years old. Her name is very English sounding, rather than French, like most Jersey names, so she may have been English, or of English descent, or at least her father was.
It was thought two children were born of this marriage, Jacques Hemery and Peter Hemery, but it is now known they were Louise Tanquerel’s children, probably born in France, the exact years unknown, Peter probably around 1710, Jacques a little earlier. As seen below, Jacques was described in a document of 1736 as a Frenchman, not Jersey born.
Jacob Hemery died 17 March 1719, the parish entry describing him as ‘etranger’ a foreigner or exile. His widow Judith lived for another 21 years, and was buried on 21 December 1740.