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Hemery Brothers - Jersey Merchants

Hemery Brothers

Jacques’ sons Jacques and Clement worked together in the business, a pattern that was to last for the next 100 years, roughly from 1770 to 1870, the company being known as Hemery Brothers, MM (i.e. Messrs) Hemery, or J & C Hemery. From the earliest times it was involved with shipping and overseas trade. Records are scant, but it is recorded that Jacques was agent for the ship Venus in 1774.

After the Battle of Jersey in 1781 the Hemery Brothers continued trading. They are recorded as trading with Labrador in 1789 (Newfoundland Gazette 28.2.1789) and soon became ship owners as well. The Hemery merchant signal or house flag was two equal horizontal bars, a blue one above a white one below.
In 1792 Jacques and Clement Hemery owned 6 vessels totalling 442 tons and were the 3rd largest shipping company in Jersey. In the wars against France and Spain they were very active as privateers, basically state sponsored pirates authorised to seize enemy merchant ships and their cargoes, the celebrated Thomas Pickstock being one of their captains.

Newspaper adverts (from the Gazette de l’Ile de Jersey) placed by Hemery Brothers in 1803 and 1804 show the range of their commercial activities. The adverts read :

19.8.1803 Flour etc. to sell, MM Hemery are advising that every Wednesday of every week they will sell in their St Helier warehouse, flour at 5 pounds 10 sous a cabot (cabot is a unit of measure) and meal 48 pounds a barrel, all sales in cash. Don’t come any other days of the week as it is only sold on Wednesdays. 

18.11.1803 Dried cod for sale. MM Hemery advise that they are currently selling high quality dried cod and oil, newly arrived from Labrador.

18.2.1804 Sale of a Brigantine. MM Hemery advise that on next Tuesday the 21st of this month, they will put up for public auction without reserve, on behalf of a foreigner, the Spanish brigantine Carlotta, brought to this island by the privateer John Bull, the ship, masts and sails to be sold as one lot, the remainder to be auctioned in many lots. The aforementioned sale will commence at 11 am.
9.3.1804 For sale. MM Hemery advise that they currently have for sale in their St Helier warehouse, an assortment of canvas for sails in various grades.

Hemery Brothers and Co. are recorded in 1810 as forwarding agents for post. In those days overseas letters were given to the company office or the ships captain for them to take to the appropriate port and hand over to the post there. They charged a small amount per letter for this.

When Clement’s sons were old enough they joined the business as a new generation of Hemery Brothers. Jacques had no children. Clements sons were Clement and Peter.

The four prominent Jersey merchant companies sent a letter to Lt General Don, Governor of Jersey, on 27.4.1812 about the import of goods from France, which a recent law permitted to merchants in England but which had not included merchants in Jersey. The letter was from Charles Chevalier, Amiraux Le Breton and Co., Hemery Brothers and Co., Ph. Janvrin and Francis Janvrin.

In 1816 Hemery Brothers owned 4 vessels totalling 572 tons and were the 4th largest shipping company on the Island. However they more or less gave up shipping interests around 1820 due to the death of one brother (Peter) and the long term illness of another (Clement) From that time on until the 1870s they were mostly involved in the wine trade, one of the brothers travelling to France to buy wine which was shipped back and sold on the Island. The brothers travelled as far as Canada to sell their wares. In a diary we find the following entry : ‘July 1849, a dinner was held for Sir Thomas Le Breton given by the Jurats. A dozen each of champagne and hock were ordered from Hemerys.’

Clement Hemery also had a share in a ropemakers business, as C Hemery and T Mallet are listed as ropemakers at 18, Quai des Marchands.

A full list of known Hemery vessels is given below, largely based on John Jean’s book ‘Jersey Sailing Ships’ but with additional information. The name is listed first, followed by the years the ship was known to be active, its weight and what kind of ship it was, and who chartered it or owned it. If known the Captains name is included at the end with the dates of his voyage. 

Active 1790 – 1792 weight 42 tons American built owned by Hemery Bros, captain - Jean Noel 1792
Adventure, ship active from 1778 – 1805 captured by enemy 1805 owned by James Hemery and Co.
Adventure 73 tons brigt ex prize Hemery Bros 1804 – 1805
Albion 1809 – 1810 re-registered in London 1810 James Hemery and Co. Albion 321 tons barq ex prize Hemery, Chevalier & Le Breton 1809 –
Azores 1823 – 1824 lost in the West Indies 1824 Clement Hemery 110 tons brigt built 1814 Dunbar Scotland Clem. Hemery 1823 –
Caesarean 159 tons brig Hemery Bros 1826 –
(Brig – a 2 masted ship, square rigged on both)  
Charles 1810 – 1825 sold to Philip Arthur in 1825 James Hemery and Co. 206 tons ship ex prize America 1804 Hemery Brothers 1810 - 1823
Cleopatra 1776 – 1804 taken by enemy 260 tons James Hemery Charles Mauger 1776 taken by enemy 1804
Commerce 1783 – 1792 127 tons French built 1776 J & C Hemery G Olsen 1786
Commerce J & C Hemery 1784 – 1792 privateer 127 tons master George Aubin trading with Newfoundland
Commerce J & C Hemery 1792 Edw. Le Couteur trading with Newfoundland
Constant 1810 – 1812 broken up in 1812 Clement Hemery senior and Co.
Constant 1843 – 1849 535 tons owned and captained by John Hemery
Eclipse 1796 – 1800 brig 74 tons built Plymouth 1790 C Hemery Gruchy 1796
Favourite 1779 100 ton sloop owned by Ph. Lerrier and Clement Hemery of Jersey and Henry and William Le Mesurier, Peter Mourant and Will. Chapwell of Guernsey.
Fly 1800 – 1801
Friends 1803 – 1814 sold to John Chevalier and Co. in 1814 James Hemery and Co.
Friendship 1790 – 1800 brig 78 tons J & C Hemery Philip Messervy 1790
George 1788 – 1792 65 tons J & C Hemery Elie Cabot 1790
Herald 1792 – 1799 Capt. Thomas Pickstock. He joined Hemery Brothers in 1792, owners of several privateers. In an action celebrated at the time, on 25.2.1798 the 80 ton 10 gun privateering brig Herald, with a crew of 28, although outgunned and outmanned, fought off 3 French privateers in the Bay of Naples, and that evening sank a felucca. 2 of the French ships were oared. There was no loss to his crew. J & C Hemery owners.
Homely 1809 taken same year James Hemery and Co. The Homely was a 210 ton bark built in Canada in 1802, owned by Charles Chevalier, Hemery and Le Breton, recorded in 1809
Hope 1781 – 1819 sold to John Benest 1819 Clement Hemery and Co.
Jenny 54 tons, J & C Hemery master Philip Billot 1790 Trading to Newfoundland
Jersey 1778 – 1785 brig 180 tons British built 1773 Hemery & Co C Lempriere 1785
Lovely Emily privateer 1801 Captain James Hemery (as this is the only occasion one of the earlier brothers is recorded as a captain, perhaps it is a mistake and should mean he was the owner)
Lynx 1778 – 1787 182 ton brig owned by Matthieu Gosset, Pierre Mallet, James Hemery and Francis Janvrin of Jersey and Will. Chapwell of Guernsey.
Mars 1807 seized by authorities in Jamaica for illegally trading in Montevideo (this could mean smuggling, or because it was not strictly an English vessel, as at that time only English vessels were allowed to trade among the colonies)
Messenger 1820 – 1824 owned by Hemery and Robins
Minerva ? April 1800 Captain Thomas Pickstock died of yellow fever, sailing from London to Surinam.
Nelson 1803 – 1819 sold to Janvrins 1819 Clement Hemery senior and co.
New Adventure captain Peter Chevalier, 73 ton brig with 8 men, owned by Hemery, sailing from Topsham to Jersey 1802
Princess Royal 1796 – 1812 Princess Royal brig 103 tons built Jersey 1791 Hemery Bros Thos. Pickstock 1796. In 1799 Captain Thomas Pickstock fought off a privateer off the coast of Newfoundland. The Jersey Chamber of Commerce raised 500 livres to present him a silver plate, but he died before receiving it. However later the ship was taken on 22.12.1812 near Quebec, when owned by Clement Hemery. The Quebec Customs Register shows the ship arriving there on 21.8.1812 from Cork. Captain Nicolle, brig of 101 tons, built Dartmouth 1792, registered Jersey 1810, owner Clement Hemery, cargo 39 pipes of cider, 14 casks (bottled) 40 tons of salt, 33 boxes/cases. Cleared outwards heading for Jersey on 23.10.1812, the Lloyds List of 1.1.1813 records her captured to the westward of Quebec by the French cutter privateer Courier of 14 guns and 140 men, the ship being captured on 22.12.1812. The Courier had also captured the Eliza of Jersey, which she gave up to her crews, which carried her to Jersey.
Queen 1790 – 1810 1792 Captain Thomas Pickstock. 144 tons J & C Hemery master Thomas Pickstock 1790 Trading to Newfoundland privateer J & C Hemery Thos Pickstock 1790 – 1792
Resolution 1790 – 1792 taken 70 tons J & C Hemery Jean Dolbel 1778 - 1792 Trading to Newfoundland
Rose 1803 lost 1812 James Hemery and Co.
Sir Sidney Smith 1812 – 1819 sold to J P Collas and Co. in 1819 James Hemery and Co.
Tartar 1778 – 1880 owned by Ph. Lerrier, Nic. Fiott and Clement Hemery of Jersey and Henry and Nicolas Le Mesurier, Peter Mourant and Will. Chapwell of Guernsey.
Truth 1803 – 1808 owned with P and J Robin sold to Ireland.
Venus 1774 – James Hemery agent.

There was also a ship called the Antelope 1835 – 1839 a 138 ton brig built by Georges Deslandes in 1825. In October 1835 Charles Hemery bought a half share and became master. He sold the share in August 1839 for £350 to Philip de Heaume. Charles Hemery has not yet been linked to this branch of the Hemery family. He made 4 voyages as master, was born in St Helier in 1802/3 and died at sea (at 04.00 N 24.00 W) in 1839. 

The Hemerys joined with other merchant families, especially the Robin family, and these relationships were strengthened by marriage and strong social ties, a feature of Jersey merchant families.