Nicolle history of St Helier - Chapter 9

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The establishment of Protestantism in Jersey

The development of the Town of St Helier at this period was greatly influenced by political events in England and in France. The influence of the Reformation was early felt in Jersey, where it took deep root. The islanders were subject to two simultaneous influences, one of English, the other of French origin.

It was the latter that was by far the more powerful because French was the language of the Jerseyman, who in those days usually sent his sons to study in France. Protestantism may be said to have established itself in Jersey in 1547. The then Bailiff, Helier de Carteret, favoured the Reformation and during the terrible religious wars of that period many a distinguished exile found a safe refuge in this island.

At the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Guilleaume Morice, Seigneur de la Ripaudiere, a minister of Anjou, of noble family, came to our shores and it was in the Parish Church of St Helier that he preached the doctrines of the Reformers with such devotion and earnestness that he may be said to be the founder of the first Protestant church in Jersey. It now became no longer either seemly or politically expedient that the Island should remain subject to a Bishop, who was both a Papist and a foreigner.

Accordingly, in 1568 the spiritual jurisdiction of the Bishop of Coutances was ended and the Archipelago united to the diocese of Winchester.

A large influx of French refugees occurred between 1585 and 1588. Most of them flocked to St Helier, and the Court deemed it expedient that the rent of houses and the price of food should be regulated. In 1603 it was found necessary to have an extra market day and Wednesdays and Saturdays were appointed as such, a custom still obtaining.

Nicolle: The Town of St Helier
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