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Updated
22/03/2018

Genealogy and history across the South Pacific ocean


Three years ago, after some meetings in New Zealand and Australia, we decided to create a genealogy page. Since then, the French version has quickly become the page the most visited of our site.
But, as New Caledonia has first been an immigration land for English speaking people, we decided to enlarge our research to immigrants from New Zealand, Australia, North America and United Kingdom. We have several requests from all over the world from people who ask for information about an ancestor, settler, miner...who randomly came to New Caledonia in search of some kind of fortune. Sometimes they just passed through, sometimes they lived and died somewhere in a retired part of the island, sometimes they married and created a family...


So thank you for your interest in our research and your participation ! Please feel free to continue to write to us if you wish to tell your own story, to make any comments or to discuss any issue concerning genealogy or history in New Caledonia.


John Oliver, first maritime pilot in New Caledonia

A few months ago, a reader from Western Australia, wrote to us as he had just discovered in our records the transcription of a death certificate which he was almost certain was related to his great-grandfather John Oliver, native of Fowey, county of Cornwall, England. He has known for a long time ago that his ancestor has been involved in every kind of trade between Australia and New Caledonia...Except that never he would have expected to find him again as a English master mariner working on behalf of France as a maritime pilot at the New Caledonia station.

Actually, he told us that he had grown up with stories of his ancestor's trips back and forth until he vanished around 1859-60...But, Captain John Oliver is not an anonymous one in New Caledonia even if he died quite young aboard the schooner "La Thisbé" somewhere off the coast of New Caledonia

Indeed, this story brings us back to the times of the first contacts between the natives of New Caledonia and Vanuatu with the European people. And Valerie Vattier, general manager of the Maritime Museum of New Caledonia , helps us in finding several articles which mentions Oliver's name, like this one titled "The export trade in tropical products in New Caledonia 1841-1872" or this one titled "Loss of the Spec" and published in the Sydney Morning Herald dated Friday 27th april 1855 which relates John and his wife's perilous arrival to New Caledonia.

Thanks to Valerie and Emmanuel Cardon who works for the currentPilotes Maritimes de Nouvelle-Calédonie we have been able to precisely locate what is left of John Oliver's grave in the little cemetery of Casy islet where he has been buried for more than a century and a half.


Did you know this ?

The first European born child declared in the French civil register status of Port-de-France (former name for Noumea) was an Englishman ! His name was William Benjamin Félix Oliver, born 25th april 1856, son of John Oliver, pilot on behalf of the French Government and Jane Richard. It seems that William later married Louisa Conolly at Waterloo, Sydney, NSW, Australia in 1877 and they had 4 children...


The Mystery Man of Dorrit Street

The artist Des Norman, who died on 13 september 2015, grew up in a small street in Carlton, Melbourne, Vic, Australia, where everyone knew each other by name. But there was one man who remained a mystery to most of the residents of Dorrit Street. As painted by Des Norman, the mystery man appareared well dressed and he walked with a stick. Des recalled that the man lived on the east side of Dorrit Street, and he thought he was an exile from his homeland...


MINERS FROM CORNWALL IN THE NORTH OF NEW CALEDONIA

As we were registered the status of Ouégoa, a small town in the North of New Caledonia,between 1870 and 1880, we noticed that most of the death records concerned people who declared themselves as native from Cornwall County in England. All of them were miners. How could have they been stranded there so far from their home country?


Some weeks ago, we had a first answer. One of their descendant, living today in Sunnyvale, CA, wrote to us to tell that he had such a surprise in discovering the name of his great great great father on our death records. Thanks to old documents, he knew that John Hart, first went to the USA, state of Nevada as a gold miner then continued to Australia, but never knew that he has been to New Caledonia. Everyone in his family thought that he suddenly diseappeared while in Australia, "leaving his shoes on a beach" as said the family legend. He had left his wife with their two children in Cornwall. Both of them, becoming adults, decided to step in the track of their father and migrated definitely to the USA.


Grave of Margaret Hart, St Day Road Cemetery - Redruth, Cornwall, UK.


On the grave, there is a mention for her husband died in Australia on 26th march 1876. Actually, the date was right but John Hart died in New Caledonia instead of Australia.


STATEMENT RECORDS OF MIGRANTS NATIVE FROM UK, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND AND NORTH AMERICA AND REGISTERED IN NEW CALEDONIA CIVIL STATUS FROM 1860 TO 1939 AND NEW HEBRIDES (VANUATU) FRENCH CIVIL STATUS FROM 1900 TO 1915

A few months ago, we began to establish a list of people native from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and North America who migrated to New Caledonia married and died in one of the town of the island. This list is regularly updated (last update on 08/07/2018).

Death records in New Caledonia

Marriage records in New Caledonia

A few records from civil status register of New Hebrides


Story of Julien Le Gal and Marie Louise Briends, Australian and NZ families Breton ancestors

As we were travelling through New Zealand South Island meeting Scottish, Irish or folk groups, schools, we first met Stephanie Hobbs.

A "bal breton" was organized for our arrival by Kate Grace, a folk dancing teacher, native from Auxerre, Burgundy, France and living in Dunedin. We have been brought our traditional Breton costume with us, and when she saw them while hearing about our origin, Stephanie who was among the dancers, proudly told us that she had a Breton ancestor coming from Saint Brieuc, Brittany.

She told us that she was a New Zealand citizen like several generations before her and that never set foot to Europe. Then she began to mention the few elements she had in her possession to us concerning the story of her great-great-grandparents Julien Le Gal and Marie Louise Briends, who after a brief stay in Saint Hélier, Jersey, Channel Islands, decided to take on board the "Surat" vessel in Gravesend bound to New Zealand. It was in september 28th 1873. Their young son, Julien Henri aged of 3 was with them...

As long as we were talking and as Stephany seemed really interested by everything concerning her ancestors country, Brittany, we offered to help her to make her Breton ancestors genealogical tree.


The couple has an eventful 1874 New Year's Eve as their ship struck a reef at the arrival to New Zealand.


And thanks to the Archives départementales des Côtes d'Armor and to the Cercle généalogique 22, datas, we have been able to check the story and to restore her Breton ancestor tree over a few generations.

Now, we have to know about the life story of this couple who gave rise to a large family across New Zealand and Australia (and maybe South Africa according some recent famiy research). Because except the tombs in Dunedin and Otago cemeteries and some details in the NZ Census records, they are few pieces of information.

Julien Henri Le Gal's ancestry file (° St Hélier, Jersey ? + Otago, NZ)



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