No 77 King Street
The J C Bisson mystery
Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson was researching the occupants of No 77 King Street when he most unexpectedly came across his great-grandfather, a tailor, resident there in 1891.
I had previously discovered records for tailor J C Bisson at No 77 in 1885 and 1890 almanacs, but I did not connect this with my great-grandfather, Jean Chevalier Bisson, because he ran a fruit and veg shop at Charing Cross at the time. Or did he?
The picture above, which is from my own family collection, when compared with other photographs of Jean Chevalier Bisson, undoubtedly shows him and his wife Julia, nee Twynam, standing outside their business, Jersey Fruiteries at 3 Charing Cross. I am not sure exactly when this picture was taken, but there is an earlier picture of Jersey Fruiteries, at No 16 Charing Cross, on the opposite side of the street. Both these pictures have been in Jerripedia's Picture gallery of shops of the past for some years.
There is also no doubt that the census return for No 77 King Street in 1891 shows my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, and my grandfather and his brother. Further research in the censuses shows a record for 1881, when John Chevalier was still living with his parents in Seale Street, and is described as a tailor at the age of 22. I must have missed this return when I researched my own family history some years ago.
The mystery deepens, however, because the 1901 census shows John Chevalier and family living at 3 Charing Cross, and he is again described as a tailor. My grandfather Helier, who later became an accountant, is described in 1901 at the age of 15 as a grocer's assistant.
Although more work is clearly needed to establish exactly how Jersey Fruiteries fits into my family background, my feeling now is that my great-grandmother ran the greengrocery while her husband continued with his trade of tailor. What this all demonstrates very clearly is that finding out who one's ancestors were is one exercise; finding out where they lived and what work they did is a separate issue.
This property, the last but one on the south of the street at the Charing Cross end, throws up a number of mysteries.
The first is exactly when Adolphe Quenouillere, watchmaker, silversmith, optician, cycle maker, agent for musical instruments and furniture, and general repairs, was in business at No 77. It is clear from advertisements that the business was at 77 and 79 King Street in the 1870s, but the only census record for Adolphe Quenouillere is at No 79, and that in just 1881 and 1891.
There is a record of a Quenouillere at No 77 as early as 1850, but the property does not appear in the 1851 census.
The 1861 census shows Eugene Goudon (1812- ), from France and a draper, living at No 77 with his wife Elizabeth (1808- ) born in St Helier, and children Eugenie (1840- ) and Alfred (1842- ). They were also shown as born in St Helier, but there are no baptism records for them. The 1871 census records Eugene as a widowed merchant, living with his five-year-old niece Marie Guesnon, born in France.
By 1881 the premises are occupied by Bernard Derwin (1840- ), a haberdasher, his wife Ann (1844- ) and their children Bernard (1874- ) and George (1877- ). Ten years later the occupants are tailor John Chevalier Bisson (1859- ), born in St John, his wife Julia, nee Twynam (1858- ), from Southampton, and children Percy (1884- ) and Helier (1886- ) Both the boys are shows as having been born in St Helier, but there are no baptism records for them. (See panel on the right for more information about John Chevalier Bisson.)
The 1901 census shows No 77 unoccupied and uninhabited, but there are records of butcher Henry mesny trading there from 1900 to 1949. He is certainly shown as living alone there in the 1911 census.
Later occupants of No 77 were Jersey House, Le Bas Bar, Jesters, Maharajah, the Gold Mart and Cobbler's Key, all small businesses suited to the very small and narrow shop between King Street and Broad Street.
- 1850 - Quenouillere
- 1880 - E Gaudin, linen draper
- 1885-1891 - J C Bisson, tailor
- 1900-1949 - Henry R Mesny, butcher
- 1955 - Jersey House
- 1960-1965 - Le Bas Bar
- 1970 - Jesters
- 1980-1990 - Maharajah
- 2000 - The Gold Mart
- 2010 - Cobbler's Key