Jacques Hemery (1746-1831)

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Jacques Hemery


Merchant Jacques Hemery was the first secretary of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce. He was a prominent politician

Jacques was baptised in Jersey on 5 February 1746. Jacques, the son of Jacques and Anne Chevalier, also married a Chevalier, Deborah, a relative of his mother. Temple Chevalier, Anne’s uncle, had left the island, but, being the great grandson of the diarist Jean, still owned his house in the Royal Square. A contract drawn in England dated 18 September 1767 between Rev Temple Chevalier of Aspal in Suffolk and James Hemery of Jersey, Merchant, shows that Debora Chevalier was an attorney of Temple from 3 July 1762, and registered in Jersey. It was her that Jacques married.

The contract concerns the sale of a property, the original house of Jean Chevalier or one on the same site, the price being £150 of lawful money of Great Britain. This purchase and the fact that he was elected secretary at the first ever meeting of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce in February 1768 show the standing he had attained. It also shows he was bilingual, as the minutes of the Chamber were taken in English. The Chamber met on the second Monday of every month at the King’s Head, with a dinner afterwards.

In island politics the Chamber tended to support the liberal Jeannot (later called Magot) party. Party politics was much more extreme in Jersey than it was on the mainland, and the rivalry between the Jeannot and Charlot parties was intense and vitriolic, even dividing families. The term ‘Magot’ (maggot) was used first as an insult, but taken up by the Jeannots as a title of pride. To try to understand their views today, the Magots could be viewed as early Socialists, on the left of political thought, and the Charlots as Conservative, right wing politicians. This was the time of the French Revolution, and at first the Magots viewed this favourably, although soon becoming disillusioned with the violence that followed.

Jacques became a prominent Magot party member, combining his mercantile interests with legal ones. A rare surviving document concerning his commercial interests is in the Jersey Archive. In English, dated 5 November 1774, it details a payment of £1969 10s 3d due to James Hemery, agent for the ship Venus, which traded between London, Jersey and the Bay of Honduras.

Family tree


Hemery tree

Jacques Hemery in 1819

Elected offices

From 1773 to 1776 he was Constable of St Helier. From 1785 to 1814 he was a Jurat of the Royal Court. From 1809 to 1814 he was Lieut-Bailiff.

Although he had no children of his own, he was very generous in looking after his brother’s children. After 1800 he built a row of seven town houses, now called Hemery Row, in St Helier. These he gave to the six daughters and the son of his brother Clement, for a yearly rent well below the market value.

In 1811 he was a pall bearer at the funeral of Monsieur de la Hague. During his time in the States of Jersey Jacques served on many committees. He served on committees concerned with the infrastructure of Jersey and local issues, such as the roads and harbours, public library and general hospital committees. Perhaps his greatest benefit to the people of Jersey was his work on the Market committee, which oversaw the building of new markets for all produce in St Helier. Before that the markets were held in the Royal Square in the open air. An almanach of 1827 commends Jacques for his work in this respect, but notes that the markets are already too small.

He also dealt with issues of trade, being concerned with these matters as a merchant and a Jerseyman. This included the knitted wear issue, knitted items being an important Jersey export at the time, which were affected by a British trade law.

The most important political issues he became involved with were the trial by jury issue and leading on from that, the committee to examine the manner of proceeding to trial in Jersey. The States petitioned the British Government to restore trial by jury, and Jacques visited London to lay the States proposals before the Government. Before the Government made a decision they wanted to know about Jersey law and how people proceeded to trial.

From Actes des Etats de L’ile de Jersey 1775 – 1800

The following information is taken from the ‘Actes des Etats de L’Ile de Jersey’ and lists in detail his activities from 1775 to 1800. The ‘Actes’ from 1800 onwards have never been published, so remain unresearched. It shows how busy a member of the States was in those days, and what a variety of different issues they had to deal with.

  • 28 April 1775 as Constable of St Helier Jacques presented to the States the order concerning the establishment of the General Hospital in St Helier.
  • 21 March 1785, when Lt Col Philippe Falle was Lieut-Governor of Jersey, he was a member of the Comite de Chaussees.
  • 27 May 1785 he was a member of the committee to examine the laws of Jersey.
  • 6 July 1785 he was appointed Treasurer for the funds received for the Library from the will of Thomas Durell.
  • 18 July 1785 he gave an oath that Edouard du Pre Rector of St Helier, could not attend due to sickness.
  • 10 July 1786 He told the States about a letter received from Paul Le Mesurier from London about knitted goods exported to France. This affected the Jersey stocking trade. They were to be left off a list of items exempt from duty in a new trade treaty. Jacques presented a petition from many merchants about this, and the States formed a committee to look into it, of which he was a member.
  • 21 July 1786 appointed member of the committee which was to look into abuses in the criminal law of Jersey.
  • 12 August 1786 committee on knitted goods encouraged to make a speedy report.
  • 15 August 1786 the letter from the knitted goods committee to the British Government.
  • 1 November 1786 With Rev Edouard du Pre authorised the purchase of an Encyclopaedia for the Library.
  • 30 June 1787 Appointed a member of the Committee for the General Hospital, the committee to run for a year, in particular to see if the Hospital could be repaired to the state it was in before the accident and how much it would cost. (after the partial destruction by fire in 1783)
  • 2 October 1787 appointed a member of the new Committee for the Defence of the Island. Appointed a member of the Committee to consider the ancient rights and constitution of Jersey, in response to the Kings order of 2 June 1786 and 8 August 1787.
  • 29 February 1788 the committee was to prepare a ‘humble representation and request’ to the King.
  • 29 February 1788 Jacques paid for a new catalogue to be drawn up for the Library, of which he was Treasurer.
  • 1 April 1788 member of a committee to examine if there was any public interest in a contestation about Terrain de la Foire and its surroundings.
  • 15 April 1788 a member of the new Chaussees (roads) committee.
  • 8 December 1788 Hemery, du Pre and Dumaresq to prepare a humble request to the King about the problems at parish elections of St Jean
  • 19 June 1789 he and Jean Dumaresq Constable of St Peter to look into the two representations of Lieut-Bailiff against the States.
  • 15 August 1789 States heard the report of Dumaresq and Hemery, their representatives in England, about trial by jury and other matters. The States agreed they had carried out their deputation well. A copy of the act on parchment to be given to each.
  • 2 January 1790 Hemery and Dumaresq gave a lecture on the manner of proceeding to the Royal Court in criminal matters.
  • 8 February 1790 Hemery and Dumaresq asked to present another report on the manner of proceeding to court in Jersey, civil and criminal, and to print reports for the States to consider, along with Thomas Pipon and Jean Thomas Durell, Advocate General. The cost of printing to be borne by the public lottery. Hemery and Dumaresq appointed to work together and visit London to state their case to the Government.
  • 24 February 1790 a letter received from William Fawkener Clerk of the Council saying that the four have delivered their document.
  • 27 March 1790 states authorised Charles De la Garde and Rev Dr Du Pre to print the report and tables prepared by the four.
  • 12 May 1790 authorised Du Pre and Hemery to write to General Conway about the shortage of grain in the Island and its dangers, to get him to tell the Kings ministers and Parliament. And also to write in the name of the States to Jean Dumaresq, Paul Le Mesurier and Jean Fiott, for them to help to repeal the bill.

From Actes des Etats de L’ile de Jersey 1790 – 1792

  • 11 September 1790 committee of Hemery Lempriere Du Pre and Hamon to organize rebuilding of a harbour wall to the south of the old sea way, in a poor state due to the action of the sea and the poor state of its construction.
  • 18 October 1790 committee for the defence of the isle, Jacques Hemery a member. A humble petition to Lords of the Committee of Council for the affairs of Jersey and Guernsey. The request on 5 January 1787 to restore trial by jury, agreed by the States 4 October 1786,
  • 10 May 1787 sent a copy of the proposition to the Royal Court in Jersey. July 1788 the Court replied with their observations, a hearing appointed for middle of June 1789, asked for proper agents to appear for the court. The States appointed Hemery and Dumaresq as their agents, with full powers to solicit for them and the people of the island the reestablishment of trial by jury. They appeared at the board 21 July 1789, decided that before any decision they should be informed of the mode of proceeding to trial in Jersey, and what they conceived to be the criminal law of Jersey, specifying the crimes and punishments inflicted. These to be sent to the council in January 1790. States repeated their request for trial by jury 8 February 1790. Reappointed Hemery and Dumaresq. Letter setting a date on 20 April 1790, to reconsider this request. Dumaresq went on 23 and 25 April 1790, but judgment was reserved. 18 October 1790 States made a further request which would be for the tranquillity of the island, the prevention of crime and for good order.
  • 18 October 1790 a member of the committee for the crime of burglary.
  • 19 March 1791, member of the committee to consider the trial by jury issue.
  • 10 September 1791, list of laws and items in the constitution for consideration, Hemery the president of the committee, any comments on these subjects to be given to him in writing.
  • 28 October 1791 member of the committee (Hemery, Du Pre and Edward Combes centenier of St Helier) to discuss scheme by John Humphrey (an Englishman) to make a reservoir for farming oysters and other fish in the new quay in the sea way of St Helier, with a 9 year lease.
  • 8 September 1792, results of committee of constitution (trial by jury) reports of 26 July 1792, Jacques was president of the committee.
  • 8 September 1792 Hemery as one of executors of will of Marie Pipon, announces £400 in shares transferred to trustees of General Hospital.
  • 6 December 1792 one of committee members to assure the King of the loyalty of the isle and its people.
  • 31 December 1792 read a letter from Jean Dumaresq concerning dues owed to the King in the island.
  • 2 March 1793 Jacques a member of a committee to prepare a petition about convoys to Southampton and import of naval stores from America in time of war with France.
  • 6 April 1793 A member of the new General Hospital committee.
  • 21 September 1793 excused from States duty.
  • 26 October 1793 A member of the new committee for the Defence of the Island.
  • 28 November 1793 A member of the quarantine committee to prevent plague arriving in the Island from foreign vessels.
  • 22 February 1794 excused from States duty.
  • 8 March 1794 tasked with finding two or three of the best pilots who know the bay of the Old Castle.
  • 22 March 1794 Jacques and Clement members of a committee concerning the embargo on Jersey vessels.
  • 29 March 1794 letter read from Philip D’Auvergne Prince of Bouillon sent to James (Jacques) Hemery as head of the defence committee.
  • 1 April 1794 Clement and Jacques members of a committee to find lodging for soldiers. Jacques tasked with obtaining the wages due to Jersey pilots who served with the navy.
  • 5 May 1794 as head of the defence committee Jacques reports that so few lottery tickets have been sold that the lottery is cancelled and people’s money returned.
  • 10 June 1794 letter read from Philip D’Auvergne Prince of Bouillon sent to James Hemery as head of the defence committee, concerning the fleet under his command to protect Jersey.
  • 26 July 1794 Clement and Jacques members of the new roads committee.
  • 11 September 1794 Jacques away from the island so another took his place on the committee to examine the laws relating to foreigners in Jersey.
  • 27 September 1794 Jacques appointed with others to investigate the resignation of Jurat Jacques Amice Lempriere.
  • 21 February 1795 appointed with others to prepare a letter asking that Philippe Jean be allowed to draw the Kings picture.
  • 7 March 1795 member of a committee concerning the possibility of Navy press gangs operating in Jersey.
  • 26 May 1795 excused from States duty.
  • 6 June 1795 Jacques and Clement appointed members of a committee to report on the high price and scarcity of provisions.
  • 24 June 1795 States examined the accounts of the library, submitted by Jacques, the Treasurer.
  • 31 August 1795 Clement and Jacques on the committee for Impots, and for lottery proposals. They were also members of the committee to enforce the proposals of the 11th May.
  • 17 October 1795 Jacques one of two members to write to Southampton for 200 sacks of flour.
  • 9 November 1795 Jacques and Clement on the committee to discuss imports of coal free of duty.
  • 23 November 1795 both members of the committee to look into the poor state of the roads in St Helier. Also both members of the committee to look into the shortage of grain.
  • 7 December 1795 Jacques and Clement to publicly sell imported flour.
  • 1 February 1796 Jacques on the committee to import grain.
  • 2 May 1796 Both members of the committee to replace the existing committee for the Public Hospital. Jacques to discuss the new Rentes in grain.
  • 11 June 1796 Jacques and Clement were members of the committee to discuss the erection of the hall.
  • 16 February 1797 member of the committee on forged coins.
  • 15 July 1797 Jacques to review the criminal law of Jersey.
  • 20 January 1798 Jacques could not attend the States due to sickness.
  • 3 March 1798 Jacques a member of a small committee looking into illegal beer selling.
  • 10 March 1798 member of the committee looking into replacing the harbour.
  • 24 March 1798 concerned with the accounts of the new Impot.
  • 28 July 1798 member of the committee to support poor foreigners.
  • 6 December 1798 examining the Act of Parliament to do with trade and customs dues for imports and exports.
  • 28 January 1799 Jacques a member of the committee to determine the qualifications of parish officials.
  • 27 July 1799 In the committee about building a new meat market. A member of the committee to do with workers and apprentices.
  • 10 August 1799 The market committee are authorised to build markets for the peoples needs, markets for vegetables, corn, fish etc.
  • 16 September 1799 Jacques on service helping the States.
  • 25 October 1799 on the committee to discuss acquiring land at Bonnenuit.
  • 25 January 1800 Jacques appointed treasurer of the General Hospital in place of David de Quetteville. Jacques on service helping the States.
  • 31 January 1800 The market committee discuss land for building.
  • 15 February 1800 The market committee discuss land owned by Mr Jean Kerby.
  • 10 May 1800 The market committee make their report.
  • 15 September 1800 Jacques was a member of the committee to discuss customs affairs with England.
  • 6 December 1800 A committee formed to look into the high price of grain, and measures to lower consumption of bread.

Jacques helped in the construction of St James Church, where some of the Hemery family worshipped in the 19th Century. There are windows there that commemorate the family.


Jacques made a will dated 9 Septte1830. He died in May 1831. He died a wealthy man and left a large amount to his relatives, mostly in stocks and shares.

I, James Hemery of the Island of the Jersey, merchant, bequeath :
To the poor of St Heliers 500 francs French money.
To my niece Susan Hemery, wife of the Rev. Philip Le Breton 48,000 francs, principal of 5 percent French consolidated stock.
To my niece Sarah Hemery, wife of Captain Thomas Newton King, 48,000 francs, principal of 5 percent French consolidated stock.
To my niece Mary Hemery, wife of Dr. John Carnegie, 48,000 francs, principal of 5 percent French consolidated stock.
My executor to invest these sums in English or French stocks 6 months after my decease, at my nieces option. They and their husbands after their deaths to receive the interest. And to their children afterwards.
To my niece Elizabeth Hemery, widow of Philip Janvrin, 48,000 francs, principal of 5 percent French consolidated stock, in the same way.
To my grand nieces Jane Hemery, wife of John Dupre Esq. and to Margaret Hemery, wife of Rev. Richard Hayne, to each 22,500 francs 5 percent French consolidated stock.
To my grand nephew Clement Le Breton, and grand niece Eliza Le Breton, the children of my late niece Margaret Hemery, wife of Sir Thomas Le Breton, the like sum of 22,500 francs stock to be paid 6 months after my decease.
To my grand niece Frances Poingdestre, daughter of my late niece Jane Hemery and and of John Poingdestre Esq. 23,200 francs stock, in trust until she is 21 years old. If she dies before 21 the capital and interest to the surviving children of my nephews Clement and James Hemery, and the surviving children of my nieces.
To the two daughters of my late nephew James Hemery, to the 2 children of my late niece Margaret Le Breton, to the 6 children of my niece Susan Le Breton, to the 3 children of my niece Elizabeth Janvrin, to the 2 children of my niece Mary Carnegie, and to the 5 children of my niece Sarah King to each 5,140 francs. To be invested in English or French government securities by my executor.
The residue of my property to my nephew Clement Hemery or his children if he dies before me.

The will bears a very shaky signature, witnessed by 2 people named Cooper.

(The seal of James Hemery public notary was gifted to the Societe Jersiase by Capt J Cooper in 2004, presumably a descendant of one of the witnesses to Jacques will)

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