Elizabeth Fry in Jersey

From Jerripedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This article has yet to be formatted and edited but is included, as scanned, for the benefit of those particularly interested in the subject

This article by C A R du Feu was first published in the 1970 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

Societe logo.jpg

Page 159 Cbapter XVIII From tbe Memolrs'!' of tbe Life

At this period, July 1833 in consequence of the marriages which had taken place, and other circumstances, the press of interests and engagements had become greater than the family could bear. A long absence from home appeared the best resource; and after some deliberation, the Island of Jersey was selected as the place of retreat. Its lovely scenery and fine air afforded strong inducements; augmented by the interest attached to the peculiar language, government, and internal regulations of the Channel Islands, that only remnant of Norman ducal power, still united with England. Some of the party preceded the rest, to prepare for their mother's reception, with the second detachment. They had a long and stormy passage, and their first encounter with the rocky approach to the Island, from a boisterous sea, in the obscurity of twilight, gave an unfavourable impression of the navigation, which their letters conveyed home. Mrs. Fry naturally dreaded the sea, so that after receiving their accounts, she felt peculiarly alive to the mercy and indulgence of a tranquil voyage. She arrived in the morning-the lovely bay of St. Aubin's smooth, full and blue-the rocks mostly covered by the tide-the verdant Island before her smiling in sunshine. A profusion of flowers and fruit ornamented the breakfast table that awaited her in "Caledonia Cottage", which had been engaged and prepared for their residence, and charmed with the beauties that surrounded them, they could hardly believe the discomforts that had attended the arrival of the first party. They were supplied with a few excellent letters of introduction amongst the Island families, with some of whom friendships were formed which lasted till the close of her life. The circumstances by which she was surrounded were very congenial to her. The beauty of the scenery, the luxuriance of the productions, the prosperity of the inhabitants, the refinement and intellectual cultivation of the upper classes, combined with simplicity of habit, and in many instances with true piety and active benevolence, rendered the period of her residence in Jersey, one of peculiar refreshment and pleasure.

From the diary of Mrs. General Le Couteur, mother of Sir John.

1833 Aug 6th. We had the high priviledge of giving a dinner to the celebrated Elizabeth Fry with her husband Mr. Joseph Fry, two daughters and a young son.

Aug 8th. I wrote to Mrs. Fry to invite her to attend our Bible Society anniversary. Aug 13th. I dined at Col. Touzels to meet Mrs. Fry and family.

Aug 23rd. Mrs Fry and her family dined with us. (also) Sophia and Betsy. (Sophia is Mrs. T. Dumaresq and Betsy Mrs. P. Pipon).

Aug 28th. I went with Mrs. Fry to Trinity to call on Sir John and Lady de Veulle,

Sep 4. Anniversary of Bible Society held at Hackit (?) Court. Mrs. Fry dined afterwards at Louisa Boutons with all the Frys.

Sep 10. Mr. and Mrs. Fry and Miss Eliz Fry dined here. We visited St. Aubins Hospital together. She read to us in the evening the last chapter of St. Paul to the Ephesians and made a fine prayer on behalf of all our family.

Sep 11. We dined by invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Fry at the Old Castle at a picnic given by them.

Sep 19. Went to a meeting (Quakers) called by Mrs. Fry in Providence School room. Sep 20. Mrs. Fry with her sister in law Mrs. (or Miss) Elizabeth Fry and her companion Miss Sturges went to Guernsey. I wrote to Lady de Saumarez by Mrs. Fry.

Sep 25. Capt, Mrs. and Miss White, Mr. Fry and daughters, Rev Falle, Touzel and Major Pipon dined here.

Oct 24. Harriet and myself went to drink tea with Mrs. Fry, who had a party, a conversatzione.

Oct 25. We dined at Louisa Janvrins with Mrs. Fry and her cousin Mr. and Mrs Handborough.

Memoirs of the Life (contd)

With her husband and children, and a few of her intimate friends, she would often spend the day in the remote parts of the Island, amongst the secluded and romantic bays of its northern coast. The little party would picnic in the open air, or, as was then a very common practice, in one of the empty rooms of the small barracks scattered round the coast; left under the care of some invalided soldier and his family. On these occasions, the tract bag was never forgotten: whilst the rest of the party were sketching or walking, she would visit the cottagers, and making herself as well understood as their antique Norman dialect permitted, would give her little French books and offer the kind word of sympathy or exhortation.

Acts of the British Parliament have no power in the Channel Islands; as part of the ancient Duchy of Normandy, they are governed by their own laws and customs. To explain these would involve an historical and antiquarian discussion, out of place in a work like the present. It is sufficient here to bring forward the result that none of the recent improvements in Prison Discipline had been effected in Jersey. After repeatedly visiting the Prison, and communicating with the authorities=she believed it the best course to have a letter which she had addressed to them, printed for circulation.

To the Authorities of the Island of Jersey, who have the Direction and Management of the Prison and Hospital.


Having been requested by a number of persons of influence and respectability in this Island, to make known to the competent authorities my views on the subject of your Prison and Hospital: I have decided on the present method of doing so, as the most easy to myself, and the most likely to be accurately understood; and I trust you will excuse me, if the interest I feel in the unfortunate inhabitants of those, and similar institutions, should induce me to take the liberty of offering some strong and decided observations on their condition and management.

Our protracted residence in this beautiful and interesting Island, has afforded me a full opportunity of observing the manner in which the defective system pursued in the management of the Prison, appears to operate upon its inmates; and I feel it to be my duty to represent to you the effects, which my experience has taught me, must necessarily result from its operation; as being nothing less than a gradual but certain demoralization of the lower, and some of the middling classes of society; and the increase rather than the diminution of crime.

I shall begin by remarking, that the great and leading objects of Prison Discipline are in a very material degree overlooked.

In order to attain the salutary penal effect of imprisonment, together with the reformation of offenders, and to prevent the contamination of association and example, I beg to observe, that in addition to the restraint and confinement of a prison, the following objects are necessary, viz:-

I. A full sufficiency of employment, proportioned to the age, sex, health and ability of the offender.

II. As much wholesome privation of those comforts and enjoyments, which they might be able to obtain when at liberty, as is compatible with the preservation of their health and strength.

III. A proper system of classification; consisting, in the first place, of a total separation of the men from the women, (which latter always to be under the superintendence of one of their own sex) and next, a complete separation of debtors from criminals, and of the tried from the untried, (and were your prisoners numerous) of great criminals from misdemean ants ; but in the present case, it might suffice to separate any very bad offenders from the rest, and except at stated times, and under the constant observation of the Gaoler, or Turnkey, no visitors whatever should be admitted to the tried criminals, but in cases of special emergency.

IV. A fixed and suitable dietary for criminals, under the management of a Gaol Committee, who ought to contract regularly for the articles of food; and in no case should the prisoner be allowed to supply himself, or be farmed out to the Gaoler, or to any other person whatsoever.

V. An absolute and total prohibition of spirits, wine, and all fermented liquors, with a penalty for its infringement, except when specially ordered by the medical attendant, (or a moderate portion of beer or cider might be allowed daily to those who work hard, or are not strong in their bodily health)-also a prohibition of cards, and all other gaming.

VI. A suitable prison-dress, with sufficiently marked distinction, which has been found by experience to have a humbling and beneficial effect on the minds of the prisoners generally.

VII. A complete code of rules and regulations, for the direction and government of the Gaoler and other officers of the prison, of the nature of those contained in an Act of Parliament, lately passed in England for the Government of Gaols, 4th Geo. IV., cap. 64.

VIII. A law or regulation, that should be imperative on Visiting Magistrates, or Gaol Committees, regularly and frequently to visit the prison, and minutely to investigate the details of its management.

IX. And lastly, but of primary importance, the due and stated performance of Divine service, and regular religious and other instruction of the prisoners; every criminal who stands in need of it, being taught to read and write.

By the system at present pursued, nearly all the above regulations and restraints are wholly omitted.

The criminals, instead of being kept to employment, are constantly idle.

Indulgences of nearly every description, and money may be introduced to those who can procure them.

Prisoners of all descriptions are mixed up together, or at any rate allowed frequent intercourse, male and female, criminal and debtor, the hardened offender with the unpractised youth; and all of them (with the exception of the cases of solitary confinement alluded to) exposed to communication with the public through the grating.

And in addition to these serious evils, your Gaoler is only remunerated according to the numbers his prison contains, and the quantity of spirits, wine, and other fermented liquors sold to the prisoners; consequently, however conscientious the individual may be, it necessarily involves his own personal interest to make the prison agreeable to its inmates, that their stay there may be prolonged, and others induced to come in; and my observation had led me to conclude, that this circumstance powerfully operates in increasing the number of your prisoners, and the duration of their stay.

I wish to add, that after having carefully examined the building and the ground appertaining to it, I am of the opinion that these crying evils might be obviated, and the needful improvements introduced, and a House of Correction (which I consider indispensable) superadded to the present Prison, without any very considerable expense, especially with the assistance of a person from the Prison Discipline Society of London: and further, that if the Gaoler and his wife received a moderate salary for their attention to the male and female prisoners, it would not prove more expensive than upon the present plan, more especially if coupled with productive labour on the part of the prisoners, and that it would essentially contribute to its improvement.

I am well aware that your Island is not subject to the Acts of the British Legislature; but as the important improvements in Prison Discipline, which have taken place of latter years in the dominions under its control, are the productions of men of large experience, and have been also substantially introduced into the most enlightened European States, and the United States of America; I trust you will not object to adopt the progressive wisdom of the age, from whatever quarter suggestions may arise, and I have therefore taken the liberty of appending some abstracts from Acts of Parliament of the 4th George IV., cap. 64, and others, on the subject of Prison Regulations, and which bear upon most of the points to which I have adverted.

I am, etc. etc.


The funds devoted to the support of the Jersey Prison being wholly insufficient for that purpose, rendered it impossible to carry out any system of classification and instruction. It was a case in which nothing could be done effectually, without a complete renovation of the existing system. It became, with Mrs. Fry, an object of continued interest and exertion: though years elapsed, and she again twice crossed to Jersey, before the desired ends were accomplished.

Mrs. Fry took great pains in establishing a District Society at St. Heliers. A gentleman of high standing and importance in the Island, thus bears testimony to the results of her exertions :-

"I can only affirm, with perfect truth, that your dear mother's visits to Jersey were blessed, as a means of incalculable good. It was through her peculiar talent and persevering exertions, that a District Society was formed in st. Heliers. Mr. John Hammond and Mr. Charles Le Quesne very ably seconded her views, in connexion with this matter".

Personal Journal of Elizabeth Fry

The Island of Jersey, Seventh Month 30th July 1833; "We arrived here last Seventh-day, after a most beautiful and favoured voyage, which I felt an answer to prayer, and a mark of Providential care towards us. I had a very great deal to accomplish before I left home, but was enabled to leave all in peace; and now I desire as far as it is permitted me to rest in the Lord, at the same time being open to any service I may be rightly called into; and in faith to do what my hands may find to do. There are a few interesting Jersey Friends, but I find difficulty of communicating with them on account of the language; I endeavour to do my best, and look to Him who can bless my feeble labours.

"I think the Island and country delightful; I never saw so little poverty, no beggars whatever, which is to me a real relief. Few amongst the inhabitants appear to be in high life; but as far as I have seen, all appear to be well off.

Eight Month 12th August 1833; "We feel much at home in this lovely Island, and in rather a remarkable manner, our way opens in the hearts of those amonsgt whom we are residing. A very extensive field of service appears before us in many ways. To try and thoroughly attend to the prisoners-to try to correct evils in the hospital-to assist in various ways the Friends and those who attend Meeting-to visit several in Christian love, and try to draw them nearer together.

Jersey, Ninth Month 10th Sept 1833;-"1 have much enjoyed and valued the pleasant retreat we have here. I desire in deep gratitude to acknowledge the renewed capacity to delight in the wonderful works of God. The scenery, and feeling fully at liberty to spend part of many days in the enjoyment of this beautiful country and weather, with my beloved husband and children, has been very sweet to me!

"Since this time of rest on first arriving, my way has remarkably opened to a tide of service, of various kinds, as a minister of the gospel, and in philanthropic concerns. The prison, hospital, and the formation of a District Society, take up much of my attention, and visiting religiously the families who attend the Friend's meeting. I have very much felt the weight of these meetings; and duty alone, and what I believe to be the help of the Spirit, could carry me through such services, for which I am so totally unfit and unworthy".

Memoirs of the Life (contd).

The time Oct 1833 had now arrived to break up the pleasant Jersey party. The accounts from England were very anxious. Several of her children required her attention; one of her daughters was dangerously ill, and her beloved sister, Mrs. Hoare, had just closed the eyes of her eldest son. To divide the party, renounce the route through France, and take the long sea-passage, with only her maid and her little boy, was not decided upon without great conflict. The season had been peculiarly stormy and several vessels had been lost in the Channel;

At this time the Jersey post had become quite irregular from the packets being detained by weather. The feeling of confinement in a small island, to those unaccustomed to it, and on the eve of departure, was so uncomfortable, that, sad as it was to separate, it was almost a relief, when the two parties found themselves fairly embarked in the different directions they had taken. Extracts from the Le Couteur Diaries (contd.)

Oct 28 1833; Mr. Mrs. and the Misses Fry, Sir William and Lady and Miss Blakiston, Helier and Percival Touzel dined here. Mrs. Fry took leave of us. Personal Diary of Mrs. Fry

23rd March 1835; Since my return home, I have had very satisfactory letters from the Island of Jersey, saying that great alterations and improvements are taking place in the Hospital. The Prison Committee have also acted upon many of my suggestions. I am now in communication with Lord Beresford, the Govenor of the Island, in the hope of accomplishing an entire alteration in the prison; new buildings, etc. etc.

Memoirs of the Life (contd). 1836

This work was now accomplished; and dismissed from her mind as a point gained, and a blessing granted.

Her active exertions in behalf of the prisons of the United Kingdom generally, were drawing to a close. She had been an eminent instrument, in calling attention to the subjectbut attention was now fully aroused, and the Prison Inspectors were pursuing their scrutinies with great and good effect.

Other matters, however, pressed upon her attention; nothing so much as the state of the Prisons in Guernsey and Jersey; in the latter pnson, the difficulties of remedying the existing evils appeared almost insurmountable. Dr. Bisset Hawkins had visited both these gaols, and carefully investigated their state; he had also given his attention in Jersey to the points in dispute between the States and the Governor, Field-Marshal Lord Beresford. In his report to Lord John Russell,'!' he describes the prison as in the most neglected state, exhibiting almost every defect in arrangement, which a prison is capable of displaying, and suffering under the absence of many common essentials, such as "clothing, suitable bedding, soap, washing, white-washing"; while the keeper appears to be almost his own master, and is appointed by the Bailiff of the Island, although he derives his emoluments from the Governor.

Dr. Hawkins's' recommended to have the question settled, of maintaining the prisoners, by an equal portion being borne by the Governor and the States. He proposed that a House of Correction should be built on the grounds on which the present prison is situated, which affords ample space for the erection of such a building, without disturbing the already existing gaol. With respect to the expense of building it, he shows, that the Grant of King Charles the Second, by which the States are empowered to raise an Impot on Liquors, expressly enjoins, "Three Hundred Livres Tournois," out of the revenue so raised, "shall be yearly employed for the erecting and building a convenient House, and for and towards raising and maintaining of a stock of Money, to be used for the setting to work, and orderly governing of Poor and Idle people, the relief of decayed Tradesmen, and the Correction and Restraint of Vagabonds and Beggars within the said Isle".

From this fund, he considers that the States, by the payment of £1000. for two successive years, could, without difficulty, meet the expenses of erecting a building, in all respects sufficient for the required purpose. He recommended a Prison Board for the superintendence, not only of the work, but of the prison afterwards, to consist of the following high functionaries of the Island; namely, the Lieutenant-Governor, the Bailiff, the two Law-Officers of the Crown, and the Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff, (usually denominated Vicomte or Deputy Vicomte); the Secretary and Treasurer to be the Greffier of the States.

Dr. Hawkins' propositions met with the concurrence of Lord John Russell, who recommended their adoption to the States. By that body Lord John Russell's communication was very fairly received, and the alterations they suggested were unimportant. Mrs. Fry took a lively interest in the subject as it proceeded. She was urged by many of her island friends, again to go to Jersey, before the contemplated buildings were begun.

Lord John Russell had favoured her with an interview on the subject, and she had frequently communicated with Lord Beresford. On this, as on many other occasions, her knowledge of the subject, and her facility in devising expedients, occasioned her not merely to be listened to with attention, but not unfrequently her counsel to be sought. And it is due to men of different parties, who successively guided the helm of State, to acknowledge, that her remarks were invariably received with courtesy, and where (as was generally the case), the subject matter approved itself to their own judgements, her advice as invariably followed. How much of this was owing to her extreme caution in forming opinions, and her nice discretion in bringing them forward, will be discerned by those, who whilst they read the history of her life, observe and comprehend her mental qualities. She considered that her presence might prove serviceable in Jersey; she was earnest that the arrangements about to be made there should be as complete as possible, especially for women. She wished again to inspect the Hospital, and to see the working of the District Society. Similar objects attracted her in Guernsey. She believed also, that it was her duty to visit the Island of Alderney, where hitherto she had not been.

She believed it her duty to go to Jersey, at any sacrifice of personal feeling, and this view was confirmed, by knowing that by her suffering sister she was not needed; every thing that love or skill could effect, being done for Mrs. Hoare, by her own family and her other sisters. Another circumstance tended to satisfy Mrs. Fry as to the rectitude of her decision; her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Fry, then in very delicate health, having been advised again to visit the Channel Islands, where she had before derived much benefit from the mild sea air, and she, with Mr. and Mrs. Fry, and their daughter, embarked at Southampton on a calm fine evening, with every prospect of a favourable voyage; but about four o'clock in the morning. all on board were roused by the sudden stopping of the vessel. A dense fog had come on, when passing through the intricate passage between the Caskets and the Island of Alderney. They remained many hours entangled among rocks, which the sinking tide rendered more and more dangerous; with the fog so thick, that it was not always easy to see the length of the vessel; much apprehension was entertained by many on board, in which Mrs. Fry partook, though preserving her wonted calmness of demeanour.

Happily, may it not be called providentially, there was as passenger in the steamer, the old Guernsey pilot, who had brought Lord de Saumarez, and two frigates under his command, into Guernsey, in the presence of a superior French force, by piloting them through a passage, generally considered impracticable. Of his advice and assistance, the Captain, himself a skilful pilot, took advantage, and after a time of careful navigation, the joyful tidings spread among the passengers that the jeopardy was over, that they were through the channel and once more in the open sea. The spirit of her mind was exemplified in Mrs. Fry's remark to her daughter, at this instant, "I have felt it very doubtful whether this was not to be for us the dawn of the eternal, instead of the earthly Sabbath; I thought it rather the Church above, than the Church below, we were to join to-day".

Extract from the Diary of Mrs. General Le Couteur.


July 23; Mrs. Fry and her friend Miss Irvine called on me.

July 25; Mrs. Fry and her Quaker friend Miss Irvine dined and slept here.

July 26; I breakfasted in bed. After breakfast dear Mrs. Fry came in my sitting room to read in the Bible to us all. In a letter book. from the diaries of Col. John Le Couteur. 1835. 19th August. To Mrs. Elizabeth Fry.

My dear Madam,

I was very sorry I could not join you with the Prison Committee, or attend you on your departure, but I found I could not have quitted the chair of the Infant school meeting, without causing some embarrassment to the members of the Committee, and it was only after you had gone that I was informed of what you had recommended to be done at the Prison, the full force of which the Committee appreciated. Indeed they mentioned all you have kindly taken the trouble to write in. The only hitch is now with Lord Beresford.

I enclose you a copy of the act of the committee, on which I told them that I thought they asked too much of His Lordship in common fairness; it is true the population of the town is increasing, and unhappily crime may increase at the same ratio, but I think if they had asked the last year's expenses, which may amount to £300, it would have been sufficient. If you would take the trouble to see Lord Beresford on the subject, and represent to him the state of the case, I feel persuaded he would be greatly influenced by your opinion, and should he complain of the demand made, suggest to him to offer the sum I have named, or any other he might think fair, and I am persuaded the States would instantly set about building a House of Correction; for if the committee did not then propose it, I will engage to do so. If Lord Beresford does not move in the business, I am sure the States will not either.

I am afraid I have tired you with this long letter which, not knowing where to find you, I shall send through the Secretary of State for the Home Department to Upton Lane, where I hope you will soon find it, to remain in the enjoyment of your charming domestic circle, to whom ours at "Belle Vue" beg to send most affectionate regards. Mrs General Le Couteur's diary cont. 1836

July 27; I called on Mrs. Bedford, Mrs. Fry Gust arrived) and .

July 30; Mrs. Fry and her sister called.

Aug 3; Committee of the Bible Society. We dined at Col Touzel to meet Mrs. Fry.

Aug 10; We dine at Major Pipons to meet Mrs Fry and family.

Aug 18; Mr., Mrs and Miss Fry and Miss Catherine Fry, Dan and Louisa with Fred and Jane Bouton, Louisa, Dr. and Mrs. Hooper, dined with us. Personal Journal of Elizabeth Fry

Jersey, Eighth Month 6th Aug 1836;-"My husband and I have been here rather more than a week. I left home on Fourth-day, the 27th, accompanied by my dear sister Gurney, leaving my husband and the rest of the party to follow on Sixth-day, because I believed it my duty to attend the Quarterly Meeting at Alton, in my way to Southampton."

Jersey 19th Aug 1836;-"In this place I find much to occupy me, in the Hospital, the District Society, and in the Prisons. We receive much kind attention from the inhabitants of the Island. I had much to say in a large District Society Meeting, yesterday-I hope usefully. I entered it prayerfully, but not enough so. I have enjoyed some delightful expeditions into the lovely country, where we have sometimes taken our cold dinner, and spent the day in the rocky bays. We have also joined two large parties of the same kind, which were pleasant to me; my nature leads me to be social, and rather like general society, but I wish all to be done in the right spirit. Innocent recreation I believe, is profitable as well as pleasant.

Jersey, Eighth Month 25th Aug 1836;-"Since I last wrote, I have passed through much conflict; Kathleen-too unwell to allow of my leaving her; indeed I have been strongly drawn two days. I now expect to cross to-morrow; but some discouragement attends it. I am about going to a Public Meeting of importance, to finish, as I suppose, such services here.

Memoirs of the Life (contd).

Mrs. Fry's objects in the Channel Islands being accomplished; she prepared for her departure.

A Committee of Ladies was established for visiting the Hospital in Jersey, with the Lady of the Lieutenant-Governor, General Campbell at its head. The District Society was increasing in usefulness, the new House of Correction was likely to be established on the best principles; and she had the comfort of knowing, that all these objects were left under the skilful and efficient superintendence of her kind friend Lieutenant-General Touzel, who had been with other Jersey gentlemen, faithful co-adjutors in her various labours. Her visits to Alderney and Guernsey had been accomplished to her own satisfaction.


10th June, 1836.

My Lord,

Having returned from Jersey and Guernsey, I have the honor to submit to your Lordship the result of my inquiry into the state and management and usages of the Prisons in those Islands.

1. Jersey

A dispute has for some time existed here as to the party on whom the expenses of the Prison ought to fall .... In the mean time the Prison is in the most neglected state, exhibiting almost every vice of arrangement which a Prison is capable of displaying, and suffering under the absence of many common essentials, and both parties deplore the bad condition of the Prison which has resulted, and to which they both admit the intervention of Your Lordship can alone afford a remedy.

Letter from Col John Le Couteur to Mrs Elizabeth Fry 1837. 11 March.

"My dear Mrs Fry,

I have to thank you for your very kind letter, especially as 1 feel that your time, being so valuable, it is almost a waste of it to occupy it with me.

I am very much obliged to you for having spoken favourably of me to Dr. Hawkins, as it is always gratifying to know that we are held in estimation by those we respect and venerate, but I had forborne writing to you on the subject of holding the office of Viscount from ill health. Mr. Fry and yourself may have observed that I avoided society much when you were last in Jersey, which was a very different practice with me when you first visited it. The fact was that I had such frequent headaches from attending to my, to me, anxious and laborious duties in Court, that I avoided society, as it fatigued and distressed me to exert myself. Still I thought that temperate habits and diet would get the better of them.

About four months back they became constant, and after consulting Sir Benjamin Brodie, Mr. Tupper and my own physician here, Dr. Hooper, finding from their treatment and certificates that no other remedy was left but to give up my duties at Court, I have forwarded my resignation as Jurat to H.M. in Council. 1 therefore cannot contemplate holding any situation in the court and shall beg you not to mention the subject further on my account. I do not hesitate to recommend to you to have that office filled by a gentleman totally disconnected with the present abominable system of jail discipline that now obtains here, disgraceful to the age and to the Mother Country to which we belong. If the Viscount, who will have the active administration of the jail, be not a person disconnected with the jobs and intrigues here, one who will rigidly follow the system of jail discipline most approved in England, the whole attempt at reforming our prison will be a failure. Extract from the Prison Board Report 1968.

In 1833 Elizabeth Fry visited Jersey to recuperate from an illness, but as soon as she began to feel better she interested herself in the conditions existing in the Prison of the Island. After repeated visits to the Prison and communicating with the Authorities, she had a letter, addressed by her to the local Authorities, printed for circulation. It is a long letter dealing with all the deficiences of the admnustrauon but two of the requirements she mentioned were:-

(a) a full sufficiency of employment, proportioned to the age, sex, health and ability of the offender;

(b) a proper system of classification consisting, in the first place, of a total separation of the men from the women, and next, a complete separation of debtors from criminals, and of the tried from the untried.

It was undoubtedly very largely the result of Mrs. Fry's efforts (which resulted in a Home Office investigation), that in 1837 the "House of Correction" was built and although there is no record of the actual date it is presumed that the female block was built about the same time or soon after. From that time until the present, the structural facilities of the prison have not been improved.

In 1946, the Prison Board, presumably unhappy about the state of the Prison, invited a Home Office Inspector to visit and report on the problem. The subsequent report of the Prison Commissioners stated "The existing buildings ought not to be retainedfor any purpose or day longer than is strictly necessary".

Personal tools
other Channel Islands
contact and contributions

Please support Jerripedia with a donation to our hosting costs