visitors since August 6 1998

What is a Datestone?

An architectural feature of many old Channel Islands houses that will be of interest to Family Historians are datestones, sometimes referred to as Marriage Stones.
IPD ETZ 1817 Les Côtils, Rue des Côtils (St H);
Jean Poingdestre & Elizabeth Touzel.
The initials of husband and wife and a date were often carved on a piece of granite and used as a lintel above the front door. Sometimes the two names have between them a heart (or two entwined hearts - as above) hence the description marriage stone. These stones rarely commemorate a marriage however, but usually mark the inheritance, construction or alternation of a building. The couple concerned may have married many years before. In the case above, Les Côtils was rebuilt in 1817 following a fire. Jean Poingdestre and Elizabeth Touzel married in St Helier on May 15 1790.
The carvings may not always appear as a door lintel, there are dated stones as plaques (see left), arch keystones, corbels on the gables of houses and gateposts. Some of the lintels are no longer used as such and have been incorporated into walls, used as garden ornaments, benches or steps. A word of caution, a few lintels have been moved, ending up on a house that has no connection with the couple commemorated.
ILT FLT 1699. A displaced stone high up in a modern wall at 15 La Motte Street (St H) and Charles Stevens' drawing of it © from 'Old Jersey Houses Vol. II'. Currently unidentified.

Corbel: a block of stone projecting from a wall to support a firplace, beam or lintel.
Gable stone: a corbel placed immediately under the roof at the gable end of the house.
Gatepost: a large upright piece of granite, usually at the entrance to a driveway or a field.
Keystone: the central stone at the top of an arch.
Lintel: horizontal stone over an opening, usually a door or window.

The Initials

The very earliest stones just contain one letter each for the Christian and Surnames and then, from the late 17th Century onwards, the initials were usually based on syllables, so the name Lemprière would be carved as LP and Collas as CL . Therefore a stone commemorating the construction of a house in 1747 for Jean Lemprière and his wife Rachel Collas would usually appear as ILP RCL 1747.

The longer surnames that break up into many syllables - Le Boutillier, for example, should appear as LBTL, differentiating it from Le Breton (LBT) or Le Brun (LB). This is not a hard and fast rule, in several instances the name Le Boutillier has been carved as Le B, probably to save money!

Initials of Christian Names utilised only the first letter - with the J of Jean carved as an I. The husband's name is always on the left of the stone. A number of surnames are very distinctive when carved and leap out at you - Fauvel (FV) and de Ste Croix (DSX), the latter effectively using the symbol of an X to indicate the whole word Croix. In one or two places the X has actually been carved at an angle as a cross. Elsewhere another branch of the family had DSC carved, another indication that there are always exceptions to the rule. Le Quesne is carved as Lq - see below - which had led to many of their family stones being misidentified as LG.

In other instances a surname may contain the same number of syllables, Perchard and Picot, for instance are both carved as PC, and in this case one needs to be aware of the preponderance of these surnames in the parish being researched. Perchard being most common in the east of the Island and Picot in the north. Aubin and Aubert (AB) generally follow the same rule.

The habit has not died out in the 20th Century. Modern stones have also been recorded in this index, the most recent dated 1999. Although Internet sites cannot pretend to be permanent, in due course this register will become a book and the 20th Century stones will become of interest to 21st Century owners of Jersey Houses.

The Research

I cannot claim any particularily clever research methods. Driving around keeping my eyes open and knocking on doors just about sums it up! Though I am drawn to houses with 4ft thick granite chimneys, which nearly always seem to feature datestones - except in St Peter!

Most of the stones have been identified using Jersey's Marriage Registers, all of which have been indexed up to 1842 (the start of Civil Registration) and several beyond. Dr Karen Gottlieb's Index of Jersey Marriages 1700-1799 has been invaluable. In instances when a marriage cannot be found, often the couple will have children baptised in their home Parish (or will act as godparents to other children) and can be traced.

As all the entries from 904 have come in after the completion of the original index, the pages are out of alphabetical order, but the names have also been added to the Surnames Index.
If you recognise a couple and can provide the date of their marriage please contact me as below. Likewise if you know the persons commemorated on an unidentifed stone. Contributions are steadily being made and will be added as the pages are updated. Ultimately, I hope to provide most of the marriages of those listed by end of the year 2000 and have reindexed the full contents.
Problems Page created for the stones I am having trouble identifying - see if you know any of them!
Updates will appear at New Items and Updates.
The Photographs

Most of the photographs are my own, taken with a Fuji MX-2700 digital camera (2.3 Mega Pixels), contributions from others - including James Brannan and Ray Le Pivert - are acknowledged. Some datestones are to be found among the images preserved by the Société Jersiaise Photographic Archives. I am presently negotiating with them for permission to use the pictures as these datestones have either been lost or have come from properties that have been demolished and are shown in their original location.

In the case of the stone on the left, the archive was especially useful as it has moved from St Aubin to Trinity. SD.NLG.1624 was between Trafalgar Hotel and neighbouring property, Mont Les Vaux, St. Aubin (St B). The picture shows this stone when it was uncovered in 1986 (Architecture Section Catalogue 13 a.3.) Labelled as originally at Tenby, Market Hill, St Aubin (St B) but now at Gracelands, Rue de Croiserie (T). So it has moved twice!

All photographs by the author are free of restrictions. Items marked © are used with permission but remain in the copyright of the Stevens family or other contributors and should not be downloaded.

Legends and Errors

A legend has grown up around datestones with upside down hearts, that they commemorate a death in the family. There appears to be no evidence of this in the registers. For example NC KLM.1727. Nicolas Chevalier m. Katherine Le Montais (St P) 1.2.1717/8; La Retraite a l'Ouest, Beaumont (St P). This upside down heart does not indicate a death and may just be a stonemason's error. Nicolas was buried in 1735 and Katherine in 1748.

Reversed letters and numbers have no special significance either. Literacy was not as widespread as it is today and these mistakes may not have been noticed, either by the stonemason or their customers.

Dedicated House Sites Index

Some of the properties surveyed have a number of stones scattered around the buildings. A few of these have their own pages, often accompanied by a picture of the house itself.
Jersey's colombiers can now be studied at the Colombiers Page.
Other initials were recorded on lavoirs - spring fed communal washing places. There is now a separate Lavoirs page devoted to the Fontaine de Gallie and Douet Fleury Lavoirs in St Martin, the Bouley Bay Hill Lavoir in Trinity and the Lavoir de St Cyr in St John. The initials are also indexed in the following pages.
'Official' Stones
There are other examples of initials carved in stone, on some of the Island's milestones and road improvement markers for instance. This small example appears as No. 939. J.R. Connétable 1835 commemorates Jacques Remon, the Constable of St Brelade in 1835. It is at the Junction of Mont de la Rocque and La Rue du Crocquet (also known as the High Street), St Aubin. Go to the Official Stones Page.
The three Rozel Milestones dated 1838 in Trinity have their own page which list the Parish Constable, his Centeniers and the members of the Roads Committee that year.
Further reading on this subject and a number of photographs can be found in John Jean's book 'Jersey's Roadside Heritage' published in 1996 by La Haule Books.

Ecclesiastical Stones
There are a wealth of dated stones around, or connected with, Jersey Churches and Churchyards. Each time St Lawrence extended the Burial ground, the Surveillants (Churchwardens) responsible had their initials carved in stone and mounted on the walls: see Ecclesiastical Stones. A now long vanished cemetery, on the site of All Saints Church and part of the Parade, is remembered by a stone set in a wall in Saville Street (St H) No. 927 - see left. Other examples at Ecclesiastical Stones.

The Index
When the second volume of Joan Stevens' 'Old Jersey Houses' was published in 1977 (by Phillimore), an index of all the 903 stones located was published . Many more have come to light since, and some of those the author was unable to identify have since been attributed. In a very few cases the stones have disappeared since being recorded. Her daughter Colette Stevens gave permission to post a copy of the index on the Internet, which was completed October 5th 1997, and moved the Société server on August 2nd 1998. Exactly one year later, on October 5th 1998, the list stood at 1000 entries and by October 1999 reached number 1150, 1700 have been listed by September 2000.

Please note: the original Arranged by Surname index has now been removed as it is out of date. To search for a surname or house name use your 'FIND' facility in the Text Version: 1-903 | Text Version: 904 onwards.


Arranged by Stone 1-100 | 101-200 | 201-300 | 301-400 | 401-500 | 501-600 | 601-700 | 701-800 | 801-903 | 904-949 | 950-999 | 1000-1050 | 1051-1100 | 1101-1150 | 1151-1200 | 1201-1250 | 1251-1300 | 1301-1350 | 1351-1400 | 1401-1450 | 1451-1500 | 1501-1550 | 1551-1600 | 1601-1650 | 1651-1700 | 1701-1750

Updates will appear at New Items and Updates.

Anyone visiting this page who would like to e-mail to details or photographs of their ancestor's datestones will receive due credit here A.M.GDN 2000.

Parish Abbreviations in Text and Index
St Helier (St H) Trinity (T) Grouville (G) St Martin (St M) St Mary (St My) St Brelade (St B) St John (St J) St Ouen (St O)
St Saviour (St S) St Clement (St C) St Lawrence (St L) St Peter (St P)

On the Net

Geraint Jenning's Jersey Statues include the Harvey and Westaway Memorials commemorating lives lost at sea.

The Guernsey Datestones Project moved here from my PSINet site.

Several Jersey histories make reference to datestones - see Chris Le Gros' The History of Le Pied du Cotil - now Hotel Santa Monica (St L) and James Brannan's Home Page.

Joan Stevens' books are reviewed at Charles Picot's Books about the Channel Islands.

At John Fuller's Volunteers Page several people offer to undertake Look Ups in these books - myself included. Please provide the full name(s) and the Parish you are interested in when enquiring.

Most of the houses listed in the country Parishes can be found on the Godfray Map of 1849 along with the name of their owner. Now available: The Godfray Map of 1849 Index by Roland de Caen. There is also a volunteer at John Fuller's pages who will scan the appropriate section for you.

Alex Glendinning's Pages at The Société Jersiaise | Research in the Channel Islands FAQs