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Larbalestier Family Home Page

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Congratulations to Geoff Larbalestier and Marie Jacobsen on their recent marriage in San Francisco.

Welcome to the Larbalestier Family Home page. I'm Ken Larabalestier, living in Sydney Australia, and I 've put this web page together to provide some information on the family for those of us researching ancestors from the Channel Islands. Feel free to contact me via my e-mail address below.

The Name

arbaletee n. f. crossbow shot (distance) arbaletrier n. m. crossbowman

Arbalestier, from the mediaevil Latin arcubalistarius (modern French arbaletrier) is old French for crossbowman.

The surname is of the occupational variety and is derived from two latin words "arcu" meaning arc, and "balester" meaning an engine for throwing stones. The English cognates are alabastar, alabester and arblaster, while Larbalestier is a modern rendering of the French L'arbalestier, the crossbowman, of the Middle Ages, very much in evidence at the siege of Mont Orgueil, Jersey, in 1335. Writers on the origin and derivation of surnames have expressed various opinions on the name:

Canon Bardsley wrote: the name found its way into England and we get the following: Alabasters, arblaster, Arblasts, Balsters even Eye-Blasted.

J.B.Payne, in his Armorial of Jersey, produced a most fantastic story to account for its importance: the family of Larbalestier is one of the very early settlement in Jersey and it is said to have derived its patronymic from the ancestor having held the honour of bow bearer to the Conqueror.

Mr. Reaney in his Dictionary of British Surnames stated that the surname was one of office. Hugo Balistarius and his son Robertus (mentioned in the Domesday Book 1086) held Worstead, Hairmont Point in 1086 by sergeantry of performing the duties of arbalestarius.and Robertus's son Odo Albalestarius in 1140 at Holme in Norfolk inherited the land and the office and owed his surname, now Arblaster or Balister, either from the inheritance or from his office (Odo de Wothesteda de Worstead). Reaney had previously derived it from the Anglo french word albaster; arblaster, old French arbalestier meaning " a soldier armed with an arbalest, a cross-bowman" .

Others of the same name held their land by serving at Wallingford Castle with an arbalest by guarding Exeter Goal or by providing two arbalests. As in London arblasters are stated to have had apprentices, the surname may also mean " a maker of cross bows".

Early Recorded English Names

1086 Hugo and his son Robert Ballistarius, mentioned in the Domesday Book

1140 and his son Odo Albalestarius, Holme, Norfolk

1198 Geoffrey Arbalester, Cures Regis Essex

1198 Richard le Arbalester, Pipe Nolls, Rutland

1200 Ralph Alebaster, Hornechurch Priory documents, Essex

1278 Peter le Arblaster, Feet of Fines, Suffolk.

The Arbalest:

During and after the 10th century a deadly new weapon found its way into the European arsenal. The crossbow was capable of flinging a missile (known as a quarrel or bolt) about 300 m (1,000 ft) and piercing chain mail. Mounted on a stock of wood, the bow itself was made of metal. The crossbow was looked upon as a most cruel and barbarous weapon, and Pope Innocent III forbade its use among Christian nations (Lateran Council of 1139), but sanctioned it in fighting infidels. Richard I introducded the crossbow into the English army against the wish of the Pope; and, he being killed a few years later by a shot from one whilst besieging the castle of Chaluz, his death was considered as a judgement from heaven inflicted on him for his impious condcut.

The pavise, or shield, was used to protect a crossbowman, who would crouch behind it, occasionally peeking over to make a shot. A pavisier was a another soldier who held the shield to protect the crossbowman wile firing.

The crossbow continued to be much used by the English; the cross bowmen were second only to the long-bowmen in the expedition fitted out against the Scots by Edward II. The crossbow was eventually displaced by the longbow which was lighter and had a longer range.

Coat of Arms: Or. semee of muchetors sable, an arbalsre bent with an arrow in pale, argent. Gibbon's Roll of Arms states: ermine, A crossbow (or arbalist) in pale, sable.

Crest: Three plumes, alternating argent and or.

The coat of arms was assigned to Antoine Larbalestier, Siegneur des Augres, circa 1500. The Larbalestier coat of arms may be seen at the Marina Hall at Portelet, Jersey.

After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the Island was divided into fiefs each with a Seigneur (Lord of the Manor), for it was the policy of the Dukes of Normandy to reward their followers with estates and titles.

At the moment, there are only six major fiefs, Her Majesty's Fief, St. Ouen, Rozel, Samares, Trinity and Meleches. Most of the rights of these Seigneurs have disappeared, while the duties of the tenants to their Seigneurs have lapsed.

Earliest Family Tree Antoine Larbalestier (wife not known) has three children John, Catherine and Michel. Catherine marries Simon Sarre and has a daugther Marie who in turn married Edouard De Carteret. Michel marries (wife unknown) and has a daughter Collette who in 1530 marries Richard Dumaresq.

Note: some records state that Michel is indeed Antoine.

John Larbalestier, Rector of St Trinity (appointed 10 March 1496) and St Peter (16 June 1507) was appointed Vice Dean of the island in 1531 by the Vicar General of the Diocease of Coutances (from the registers of that See).

Simon Sarre was Constable of the Parish of St John, Jersey (1524-1531).

Edouard de Carteret was carver to Prince Arthur, elder brother of Henry VIII.

Descendants of Antoine lived in the parish of Trinity during the 1800's in a house appropriately named Cross Bow House. The celebrated Phillippe Larbalestier, the Farina of Jersey, came from the same family.

Although the fief des Augres became alienated at a very early period from the family of Larbalestier, it is not extinct to this day.

The Farina of Jersey:

The Encyclopedia of Britannica of 1910 defines: Eau de Cologne (Cologne water) as a perfume so named from the city of Cologne, where its manufacture was first established by an Italian, Giovani Farina (1685-1766) who settled at Cologne in 1709…. The perfume gained a high reputation by 1766 . It was originally prepared by making an alcoholic infusion of certain flowers, pot herbs, drugs and spices, distilling and then adding definite quantities of several vegatable essences.

In the case of Jersey, the following advertisement appeared in Jersey Illustrated 1895:

"Mr Phillippe Larbalestier - Jeweller and Perfumer, Charing Cross - this establishment is well known as one of the best in Jersey for high class jewellery and perfumery…..Amongst the more fashionable kinds of scent for which the house is noted Eau de Cologne, White Lilac and Mikado, Jersey Bouquet, Esprit de Rose, Esprit de Lavande,.. take pride of place, but in addition to these, Mr Larbalestier distils and sells large quantities of White Moss …and other popular perfumes. … We may add that the business has been in the hands of the Larbalestier family ever since the time of its foundation in 1813 so that records date over a period of nearly sixty years. Locally it has always been patronised by the elite of society, whilst its general ramifications extend to literally every quarter of the globe."

The founder of the perfumery shop was Philippe Larbalestier (1755-1861, married Marie le Bourdon in 1820). His grandson Philippe sold the business to his cousin, another Phillippe of the above advertisement, before emigrating to Australia.

Famous Jersey Artists:

Thomas Larbalestier (1810-1870?) - more to come

Men of Letters:

Mr George Quesnel Larbalestier (1851-1933) was a solicitor and writer of Jersey and wrote his "Reminiscences".

Mr Peter Larbalestier author 1900-1960.

Early Larbalestier Homes on Jersey:

Jersey Homes: "Old Jersey Houses and Those Who lived in Them 1500-1700" by Joan Stevens (nee Collas)

Les Augres (Trinity): Now famous as the home of the Jersey Zoo, Les Augres is an instance of a confusion between the name of a house and a fief. This house is actually situated on the Fief of Dielament. The confusion arises when in 1634 Elie Dumaresq, already living in the house, also bought the Fief des Augres, which is also in Trinity. The Les Augres had been a Larbalestier house and had passed to the Dumaresqs by the marriage of Collette, daughter of Michel Larbalestier to Richard Dumaresq circa 1530. Elie’s mother, Francoise de Carteret, was the daughter and part heiress of the Seigneurie of St Ouen.

Crossbow House (Trinity): the house derives its name from association at some period with the Larbalestier family who were influential in the parish of Trinity. The house was owned by the Gruchy family and later by John Norman, Constable from 1887-90.

La Fosse (Trinity): this house is the only surviving house on the island with six granite fire places. The house was owned by Philippe Larbalestier and his wife Andree Gallie in 1668. Andree’s father was Clemnt Gallie, Constable of Trinity from 1652-1660 and it is through her marriage, as an inheritance, that the house became a Larbalestier property. The house was later owned by Philippe’s son Michel and his wife Ms M Cabot in 1686. On the property is a farm house with an inscribed date of 1734 and with Miche' s initials and shield carved over the fireplace suggesting that he lived there before he was married.

Holmbury (Trinity): This was previously one of the many Larbalestier properties in Trinity, and on an outhouse behind the present dwelling is a stone inscribed PLB 1659. Perhaps Phillippe lived here when he left Les Augres. The present house is dated 1801.

Museum of the Societe Jersaise: the arch leading into the Agricultural Room came from La Fosse and is dated 1686 with Larblestier-Cabot initials.

Seigneurs of St Jean de la Hougue Boete:

Collette Larbalestier married Seigneur Thomas Lempriere in 1550. The seigneur passed to their daughter Thomasse.

The Corbiere Lighthouse Keeper:

Jersey’s Corbiere has proved a death trap to many a ship. On St Catherine’s day in 1495, five Spanish caravels were driven on these rocks and the sandstorm which destroyed the fertiltiy of the Les Quennevais was attributed by tradition to God’s wrath at the cruelty shown to their crews. At last in 1873, a lighthouse was built by the States. Imrei Bell, the engineer, chose an isolated rock 500 yards from the shore. On this he placed a concrete platform 9 feet high and a tower 35 feet high on top of that, the first lighhouse in the British Isles to be built of concrete. The light , which is now electric, can be seen for 18 miles. The rush of the tide round these rocks is extremely dangerous and powerful. At the entrance to the causeway is a memeorial stone to "Peter Edwin Larbalestier, assistant keeper at the lighthouse, who on the 28th of May 1946 gave his life in attempting to rescue a visitor cut off by the incoming tide. Take heed, all ye that pass by!"

Peter Larbalestier had returned from the war in 1945 after serving as a merchant seaman (electrical engineer P&O) to work with his father in the Lighthouse. Peter lost his life by trying to save visitors who had been cut off by the tide when trying to cross the causeway between the lighthouse and the shore.

From: Joan STEVENS, A Short History of Jersey, St Helier, Jersey, Société Jersiaise, (1982 ed.), pp. 45-47.

A.D. 555 - Supposed martyrdom of St. Helier.

933 - Channel Islands came under control of Duke of Normandy.

1066 - Duke of Normandy conquered England.

1204 - King John lost Normandy. Channel Islands remained loyal to him.

1213 - King John granted Constitutions to the Islands.

1373 - Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France, invaded Jersey.

1406 - Pontbriand and Pero Nino attacked Jersey and advanced as hr as Le Chastel Sedemen; they retreated on payment of ransom.

1416 - Confiscation of Alien Priories by the Crown.

1461 - Maulevrier's attack, and occupation which lasted until 1468.

1477 - Sire Jehan Hue founded St. Mannelier's school.

1496 - Jehan Néel and Vincent Téhy founded St. Anastase's school.

1518 - Serious outbreak of plague. Also in 1563 and 1626.

1542 - Beginning of St. Aubin's Fort.

1547 - Orders received for removal of all signs of Catholicism.

1549 - Attack by Breuil at Jardin d'Olivet repulsed with great loss of life.

1550 - Sale of ecclesiastical property for the benefit of the Crown.

1565 - Colonisation of Sark, from Jersey, by Helier de Carteret.

1568 - The Islands finally transferred from See of Coutances to that of Winchester.

1572 - Many French Huguenots sought refuge.

1590 - Beginning of the construction of Elizabeth Castle.

1600 - Governorship of Sir Walter Raleigh (until 1604).

1622 - Militia formed into three Regiments. There have been many changes since.

1637 - William Prynne, Puritan and Pamphleteer, a prisoner at Mont Orgueil.

1643 - Royalists at Elizabeth Castle beseiged. Major Lydcott, Parliamentary Governor, appointed. Captain George Carteret recovered Jersey for the King.

1646 - Visit of Charles, Prlnce of Wales.

1649 - Execution of Charles I. Proclamation of Charles II. Second visit of Charles, now recognised as King in Jersey.

1651 - Admiral Blake captured Jersey for the Parliament. Mont Orgueil capitulated after two weeks' siege and Elizabeth Castle after nearly two months.

1660 - Restoration of the Monarchy. Charles II proclaimed again.

1670 - Beginning of St. Aubin's Harbour.

1685 - Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. More French Protestants arrived .

1708 - Signal post erected on Mont de la Ville (now Fort Regent).

1730 - Riots concerning changes of money values.

1741 - Foundation of General Hospital, but building began in 1765.

1751 - Statue of George II by John Cheere, erected in Royal Square.

1766 - Admiral Philippe de Carteret circumnavigated the world.

1768 - Chamber of Commerce founded, the first in the British Isles.

1769 - Riots concerning the price of corn.

1771 - Code of laws drawn up.

1774 - Introduction of Methodism.

1778 - First official packet boat between England and the Islands.

1779 - Abortive attempt to capture Jersey by Prince of Nassau.

1781 - The Battle of Jersey.

1784 - Appearance of the first local newspaper.

1787 - John Wesley visited Jersey.

1788 - First omnibus from St. Helier to St. Aubin, on the sands at low tide.

1790 - Arrival of many French refugees from the Revolution.

1794 - Establishment of a Post Office.

1804 - Building of Fort Regent started.

1806 - General Don, Lt. Governor, started network of main roads.

1827 - First steam packet from Weymouth.

1831 - Jersey Militia accorded title of Royal. Gas light used in St. Helier.

1832 - Outbreak of cholera, and again in 1849.

1835 - Savings Bank opened.

1847 - St. Catherine's breakwater started. Riots concerning the price of bread.

1848 - Bequest of a field in each parish, 'Le Don Gruchy', the revenue to be given to the poor.

1852 - Opening of Victoria College. First street letter boxes in use.

1857 - Election of Deputies in the States. Ecréhous islets declared to be part of St. Martin's parish.

1858 - Telegraph to England established.

1870 - Railway from St. Helier to St. Aubin opened.

1873 - Railway from St. Helier to Gorey opened.

1874 - Corbière lighthouse built.

1885 - Western railway extended to Corbière.

1907 - Mont Orgueil Castle handed over to the States by the Crown.

1914 - Mobilisation of militia for home defence. (War casualties 862 killed, 6,292 served).

1915 - Jersey Overseas Contingent left for war service.

1919 - Franchise extended to women over 30 years of age.

1923 - Elizabeth Castle handed over to the States by the Crown.

1934 - First passenger aeroplane arrived.

1937 - Airport at St. Peter opened. England-Jersey airmail service began.

1939 - Colorado beetle (deadly to potatoes) discovered in Jersey. (now eradicated).

1940 - June 18 - Island demilitarised. June 28 - Germans bombed the Island. July I - Ultimatum demanding surrender sent by Germans. German troops arrived.

1942 - Evacuation of 1,186 English persons to Germany.

1944 - December 30 - First trip of Red Cross supply ship Vega.

1945 - May 9 - Liberation by British forces. June 7 - Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

1948 - Constitution Reform Bill, altering composition of States.

1950 - Law passed to permit divorce.

1953 - International Court of Justice awarded Ecréhous and Minquiers to Britain.

1962 - Val de la Mare reservoir constructed.

1970 - Tunnel under Fort Regent constructed.

1973 - Centenary of the Société Jersiaise.

1975 - Important excavations took place at Ile Agois, St. Mary.

1976 - Change to automatic telephone system completed. Discovery of important hoard of bronze age implements.

1982 - Land reclamation schemes at Havre des Pas and West Park.

This page is being updated each week.