The Boleat family history study
The Boleat Family History Study is essentially a one-name study of people born with the name Boleat. Abut 750 such people have been identified. Most belong to a single family originating in and around Plufur in inland Brittany and spreading to Jersey in the 1870s and to the rest of France a little later.
Variants of the name
The name is sometimes spelt with an acute accent on the e, Boléat as opposed to Boleat, but this seems primarily a matter of choice rather than a variation of the name.
A small proportion of the records refer to Bolleat rather than Boleat. The name Bolleat is used today by some of the family. Some of the early records also show the name as Le Boleat.
Origin of the name
The name Boleat is Breton for ringer of bells.
Frequency and distribution
Three separate families have been identified in Brittany, although they may be related and are fairly close geographically. Of 750 identified births, about 580 were in the Plufur family, 80 in the Brélévenez family and 40 in the Garlan family. A DNA test suggests that the Plufur branch of the family originated in Turkey, migration to Europe occurring about 5,000 years ago.
In addition a separate family with about 50 Boleats existed in the Rhône-Alpes, around Bourg-en-Bresse, between 1550 and 1730.
Two brothers from the Plufur branch moved to Jersey in around 1875 and about 50 of the 570 identified members of the Plufur branch have been born in Jersey, and a further four, descended from one of the brothers, in Australia. More generally, the family that originated in Plufur is now widespread throughout France. In Brittany, the main concentration has moved to Brest.
There are no surviving Boleats from the other families although there are descendants of the female line.
Until the late 19th century the Boleat family were manual workers, mainly in agriculture. There were exceptions. Gabriel and Claude Boleat, sons of Jean Boleat born in Guerlesquin in 1802, were clergymen. Another brother, Jean Boleat, was awarded the Military Medal for service in Mexico in 1862. Jules Boleat, probably a nephew of the brothers, became a Professor at the Petit-Séminaire Pont Croix, near Quimper.
The separate Boleat family in the Rhone-Alpes, almost certainly unconnected with the Plufur family, was more distinguished, occupying public office in the Duchy of Savoy.
The data for Jersey has largely been obtained through personal contact together with the use of census data.
The date for the Rhône-Alpes has been obtained from the genealogical records for Ain.
The key data on the Boleat family has been brought together in a study The Boleat Family 1560-1914. There is also a french version of this paper La Famille Boleat 1560-1914. A more detailed study of the Jersey family, The Jersey Boleat Family, was published in 2020.
Most of the Jersey Boleat family are descended from Emile Joseph Louis Boleat (1893-1970) and Cecile Helene Samson (1888-1970). Cecile Samson's ancestors are from the Saarland in Germany and came to Jersey via St Malo in France. The Samson Family gives details of the history of the family from 1720 to 1920. Cecile Samson's uncle, Augustus Philip Samson (1842-1888), emigrated to New Zealand in 1875. He wrote a detailed log of the voyage, which vividly describes its nature. Augustus Philip Samson - from Jersey to New Zealand reproduces the log in full, explains why he decided to go to New Zealnd and briefly describes his subsequent life in the small town of Napier.
One of Emile's sons, Paul John (1921), married Peggy Still (1922-2014). Peggy Still wrote a book A Quiet Place. This mainly describes her time in German-occupied Jersey in the Second World War but also contains some information on the Still family.
The Still family originated in Sussex, and spread to America and Canada in the 19th century and Jersey in the early 20th century. The Still Family - Sussex, Canada, America and Jersey briefly describes the histopry of the family. A shorter paper The Still family - from Sussex to Canada covers one aspect of the history of the family.
The searchable database is available on the Geneanet website. More detailed information is available on the Ancestry site, although this requires a subscription. The Still family information is available only on the Ancestry site. A separate PDF file gives details of the Descendants of Yvon Boleat, born in 1620. who is believed to be the direct ancestor of all Boleats alive today.
The two Boleat brothers who migrated to Jersey in the late 19th century were part of a large migration that played a significant role in the economic and social development of that Island. This is covered in detail in the author's paper Jersey's population - a History. There is a shorter article Breton emigrants to Jersey, also available in French Les Émigrants Breton à Jersey.