18th Century turmoil

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Jersey was in turmoil at the start of the 18th century.

Islanders' complaints

The inhabitants complained of poverty, the high rate of "rentes" and the scarceness and high price of food and other commodities and then the currency collapsed, followed by restrictions on taking even small sums out of the island, a general devaluation, and ultimately a riot on 29 August 1730, in which Mr Philip Le Geyt, Lieut-Bailiff, narrowly escaped with his life, and fled to Elizabeth Castle, resolving to leave the Island where he was no longer safe.

Juge elected

The Island was now without either Bailiff or Lieut-Bailiff (the former, Earl Granville, being resident in England). The States elected a juge delegue on 10 September 1730, after which the Lieut-Governor, Colonel George Howard, issued orders to the constables of the 12 parishes to remonstrate with the people with a view to restoring something like order and quietness, though the report of the constables was that the inhabitants of the country parishes seemed at that time to be well disposed and peaceably inclined.

Lieut-Governor dismissed

Then followed what had only once before taken place in Jersey. The Lieut-Governor was dismissed from office by the King for neglect and disobedience. A report on the state of affairs then existing was made to the English Government, and an inquiry held before the Privy Council, during the course of which Philip Le Geyt, William Dumaresq (Jurat and His Majesty's Receiver of Customs), John Le Hardy (Attorney-General), and the Rev Francis Payne (Dean), alleged that they had left the Island in consequence of the insults and threats to which they had been subjected by the mob. They also complained that the States and the Royal Court had, under pressure brought upon them by the mob, been forced into signing Acts directly contravening His Majesty's Order in Council, and legalising what was contrary to law.

The Lieut-Governor was then charged by Philip Le Geyt with having neglected his duty and acted with disobedience by not having upheld the States and the magistrates sufficiently in supporting them to carry out the Order in Council of 21 May 1729, relative to the currency, and in not being active enough in suppressing the riots. Colonel Howard was summoned to appear before the Privy Council to answer these complaints and Colonel William Hargrave was sworn in as acting Lieut-Governor. On 14 November Howard was removed from his post.

The same Order signified, as well, high displeasure at the conduct of several members of the States (among others Philip Patriarche and other members of the Royal Court, and also Elias Dumaresq, His Majesty's then Deputy Advocate), and severely reprimanded them. Le Geyt, William Dumaresq, Charles de Carteret, John Pipon, John Le Hardy and the Rev Francis Payne were applauded for having given "due obedience". The whole affair resulted in bitter feuds, cliques, personal animosities and party hatreds that were kept up for years after.

Complaint against officials

The next step was the presentation to the King, three years later, of a petition of complaint by the Lieut-Bailiff, the Attorney-General and Jurats Charles de Carteret, William Dumaresq and Nicholas Dumaresq, against seven of their brother officials, for neglect of duty, and refusing to sign Acts of Court when required to do so by the Lieut-Governor and the Lieut-Bailiff.

Five Jurats, Michael Lempriere, Philip Patriarche, Matthew Le Geyt, Abraham Richardson, and John Dumaresq, were ordered to be removed from office. John de Hardy and John de Carteret, were allowed to retain their position in order that seven jurats might still remain to carry on the business of the Court. These two refused to act, the final outcome being that by an Order in Council of 9 July 1735, proceedings were taken to elect three jurats "in order to ensure a sufficient number".

  • It is interesting to note that John Dumaresq, who had been elected to replace his grandfather, took office while his parents were still alive and did not have sufficient income to meet the traditional requirements for the position of Jurat (40 quarters of froment de rente). His parents had to provide him with the necessary funds.

The people of Jersey were outraged by what had gone on and elected the sons of the three dismissed Jurats; the successful candidates being Michael Lempriere, David Patriarche and Philippe Le Geyt. But the three candidates receiving the next highest number of votes, Jean Dumaresq, James Pipon and Pierre Maret, opposed their swearing in, along with the Attorney-General. On 12 September the Court ruled that the three successful candidates were not qualified to be sworn in. They appealed to the Privy Council, which cancelled the judgment of the Royal Court on 21 July 1737 and allowed them to take their oaths of office.

Elections as required

Then the death of Charles de Carteret caused another vacancy, and the Court petitioned George II, not only that his place should be filled, but also that they might afterwards elect jurats as occasion required. This request was granted on 10 December 1739.

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