What’s your story? Graeme Pierre Le Saux: A game of two halves
Thursday 4th September 2008, 3:00PM BST.
AS an international footballer Graeme Le Saux is a household name and starred for Chelsea and Blackburn and was the first Channel Islander to play football for England.
Graeme was faced with a choice when choosing his international team, as he was eligible to play for Jersey, England or France, as his father’s family roots lie in Brittany and not the British mainland. When researching Graeme’s family history the Jersey Archive has concentrated on the Le Saux line, which provides an interesting insight into migration to the Island.
Graeme Pierre Le Saux was born on 17 October 1968, the son of James Pierre Francis Le Saux, who came to be known as Pierre, and Daphne Christine Brown. His father, Pierre, was the son of Francis James Henry Le Saux, born in London in 1902 and Sarah Ann Keeling, who was born in Staffordshire. His mother, Daphne, was the daughter of Ernest Henry Brown and Alice Lilian Mulford, both of whom were English.
Graeme’s French roots lie with his great-great-grandfather, François Marie Le Saux, who was born in 1847 in Plougonver, a small town in Brittany near Guingamp. The first evidence of François moving to Jersey is recorded in his marriage at St Thomas’ Roman Catholic Church in 1875 to Elisa Marie Le Brun.
Interestingly, Elisa was also a Breton. She was born in Paimpol, a coastal town in Brittany in 1859, the daughter of Julienne Le Brun, a knitter. The couple had six children, with Graeme’s great-grandfather Francis James, the eldest son, being born in St Ouen in 1878. Their youngest son, Charles Arsene, born in 1890, emigrated to North America as a teenager.
There is a family story that François Marie took his sons Francis and Charles to the Gaspé to deliver Jersey cattle and that Charles stayed there. Charlie, as he was known, married Blanche Herbert in Illinois and was naturalised in 1917.
Despite Charlie living many miles away across the Atlantic, the family kept in regular correspondence with him. Charlie’s family in America kept a number of these letters, and Graeme’s father, Pierre, has copies of them. They are from the family in Jersey to Charlie and Blanche and date from 1919 to 1951. The letters provide a wonderful insight into the lives of the Le Saux family from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second World War.
By the time of the 1891 census, François Marie, Elisa and the children had moved from Jersey to St Peter Port in Guernsey. The couple seem to have gone their separate ways after this date with Elisa and her eldest daughter, Eliza Hortense, remaining in Guernsey. The remainder of the family scattered to Jersey, France or the UK.
In many of the early family documents the Le Sauxs are recorded as being ‘forgerons’ or blacksmiths, which seems to have been a family profession. The patriarch of the Le Saux family in Jersey Francois Marie was recorded on the census as a blacksmith.
Graeme’s great-great-great-grandfather Jean Le Saux, born in France in 1813, also plied his trade as a blacksmith, as did his father Noel and Noel’s father Yves. It is possible that each son served their apprenticeship in their father’s forge. Having moved to Jersey the next generation of Le Sauxs decided to follow different career paths.
There was a strong history of military service within the Le Saux family. After having arrived in Jersey it is believed that François Marie Le Saux returned to France for three years in order to serve in the military. His son Francis James also enlisted and joined up with the Manchester Regiment before being transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps. In his late 30s he served in the First World War.
He recorded the details all the places in which he fought in the margins of some of the pages of his cherished bible, which Graeme’s father, Pierre, has in his possession, along with his Victory and British medals. Following his discharge from the army Francis became the manager of the Beresford and Peter Street cafés in St Helier. Francis also was heavily involved in the English Circuit of the Methodist Church.
Pierre’s father, Francis James Henry Le Saux, left his job as a railway clerk in England to join the army in around 1919. It is believed that he was originally in the Black and Tans. This was an English unit brought in to Ireland to assist the Royal Ulster Constabulary Service to maintain order. He also served in India, returning to Jersey in 1926 to marry Sarah Ann Keeling. Interestingly, Pierre wanted to join the RAF when he finished school. However, his father refused to sign the papers, as a result, no doubt, of his experiences and those of his father.
Very little was known about the ancestors of Graeme’s great-great-grandfather François Marie Le Saux, who was married in Jersey in 1875. Records at the Archives in St Brieuc, Brittany, were invaluable in being able to trace the family tree further in France.
François had at least two other siblings born in Plougonver: Charles Marie, born in 1851, and Marie Jeanne Le Saux, born in 1856. He also had a brother, Louis, who married in England and had children there. However, his place of birth is yet to be found.
Through looking at the French records it was discovered that their parents were Jean Le Saux and Marie Françoise Chauvel. Marie Françoise was born in Plougonver but Jean was born in the nearby town of Plouaret. They obviously moved to Plougonver after the marriage.
The father of Jean Le Saux was known as Noel Le Saux. He was married to a lady called Marie Gueguen. They got married in Plouaret but were both from different places in Brittany, Noel from Plerin and Marie from Lanvellec. Witnessing this marriage at the age of 64 in 1806 was Yves Le Saux, father of Noel and great-great-great-great-great grandfather of Graeme.
Yves would have been born around the year 1742, so during his lifetime he would have experienced a period of enormous social change in France with the coming of the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon. Nearly 250 years later, his five-times great-grandson rose to international fame in his sporting career – success that Yves could probably not have imagined.
• To find out more about Graeme’s Family History and discover how to trace your French ancestors visit the Jersey Archive on Saturday. The Archive will be open from 9 am to 1 pm, with a talk on French Ancestry at 10 am. To book a place call 833300.
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