Life in Jersey after the Restoration

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By A C Saunders

Foreign traders barred

Various merchants of the Island, having complained that Foreigners were setting up shops for the sale of merchandise in the Island "prejudicial to His Majesty's service and tending to the disheartening and discouraging of His Majesty's subjects the Natives there in the way of their trade and yong beginners who sett upp shopp when they discern strangers who Beare no burthen in taxes or like publique payments, injoye equall privileges with themselves".

The Lords of the Council, by that order of 28 February 1660, directed that no stranger other than a British subject should be allowed to set up shop in the Island.

Evidently the Islanders wanted the Island for themselves. It was their Island, and they were willing to fight for it and did not want the interference of outsiders. They had their own ideas and customs, and for many years afterwards, even until the middle of the 19th Century, they looked with suspicion at the advent of any stranger in their midst.

Even after the Battle of Jersey, at the court martial on the Lieut-Governor, a witness stated that there was very little intercourse between the natives and strangers. The natives were satisfied with their own people, and they married among themselves, with the result that most Jerseyrnen are connected with each other by distant cousinships. 'They knew little about strangers, and cared less, but they knew everything about one another, and when they quarrelled, family records were raked up, often in vivid colours, and cast into the opponents camp. Thus in Jersey there were many family feuds, arising very often from small matters, which might have been settled by the use of a little common sense.

The Jurats were very careful to see that the judgments were according to law, and even today when a new law is passed, you will find it supported by penalties quite out of proportion to the offence. The Seigneurs were very quick in seeing that their proper rights were safeguarded.

Nicholas Bisson

Thus, on 25 January 1666, Nicholas Bisson was seen talking to two men, who were accused of having beaten and robbed some persons on the public highway. He fled, but was found guilty as an accessory and, as Seigneur of Dielament, Hugh Lempriere seized his goods, and ejected Bisson's wife and family from their home.

Bisson meanwhile had fled to London to plead his case before the King, who having considered the case, graciously granted Bisson a full pardon. Unfortunately, before he could return home, he died in London of the Plague. His wife not being able to get redress in Jersey, appealed to the Privy Council, who directed the Bailiff, and Jurats, to see that the property should be restored to her, so that she and her children might enjoy the effects of His Majesty's pardon.

The Bailiff having presented to the Council a proposition for the right administration of Justice to the Island, the matter was referred to a committee, who were appointed to consider and draw up a set of regulations, and these were approved by an Order in Council dated 24 April 1668.

Court reform

Evidently the Bailiff considered that his authority had been ignored by his brethren on the bench, for one of the regulations arranged for the attendance of the Jurats, and the proper respect they must pay to the Bailiff, and that any offender shall be suspended until he asks pardon for his offence.

That no Jurat shall resort to Taverns, or Cider Houses, on Court days on a penalty of five pounds tournois, half of which is to go to the accuser, and the other half to some charitable fund.

Steps were to be taken to shorten cases before the Court, which, under ancient custom, had to be dealt with within a year, but now were sometimes prolonged for several years.

It was also directed that when parties were pleading, they were not to be interrupted, but they are to be listened to in silence.

That the appeal by " Doleance " should he restricted by a fine, to he levied against those who fail to make good the " Doleance." Doleances were considered odious, and were used principally to dispute the judgments of the Jurats, who considered themselves insulted when such action was taken by those who failed to succeed in their cases.

That no one should vote for a Jurat, or Constable, except those who pay taxes, and contribute towards the support of the poor, and are masters of families.

That it was considered that the Clerk of the Court was very badly paid, although his office was one of special trust, and it was therefore directed that his fee of one sou per Act, should be doubled.

Evidently the Court of the Island needed overhauling, for they had much work to do and serious complaints were being made about the delays in the settlement of the cases sent to them.

Shipwreck

We have an interesting case in the year 1668. There was a wreck on the Jersey coast when the Archangel of Venice, commanded by Giacomo de Guidici, went ashore; but by the assistance of local people a good deal of the cargo and stores were landed safely.

Richard du Hamel was particularly energetic in salving the goods, and pretending friendship for the Captain, who could speak no English. The latter thought himself lucky in having so good a friend and appointed him his agent. One Noah de St. Croix was a good Italian scholar, and so he was able to convey to the Captain what information he thought proper. But unfortunately for Guidici, he had fallen into bad hands, and du Hamel wanted to buy part of the cargo for 700 crowns, a fraudulent bill of sale was presented for signature, by which the Master disposed of the whole of the ship, and all the cargo and stores for that sum. Guidici and his owners were robbed of no less a sum than 7,000 livres tournois.

When it dawned upon the Italian that he had been robbed, he appealed to the Privy Council and they, by their order of 27 March 1668, directed the Bailiff and Jurats carefully to consider the matter, and if they found that du Hamel was guilty, he was to be severely punished according to law.

The case having come before the Court and Hamel not appearing, Guidici won and Hamel was fined twenty pounds. But the case was not yet ended for Guidici was warned that he would be in danger if he acted upon the verdict of the Court. So he again appealed to the Privy Council who directed, on 16 December 1668, the Bailiff and Jurats to see that he was properly protected in his person, and goods, from all affronts, trouble, and violence, during his abode in the Island.

Petition to King

In the year 1668, a petition was sent to the King showing that in the year 1661, Philip Vibert, Elias Grandin, Abraham Giffard, another Elias Grandin, Thomas Chigron, with Philip Pipon Master, all of the ship Golden Lion had been captured by pirates and taken to Algiers, where they were sold as slaves. Pipon had died and the petitioners asked that the names of the others might be entered on the list of captives to be redeemed.

On 3 September 1676, the people of the Eastern part of the Island had to face a great calamity. A boat belonging to Jean Le Huquet, had gone to gather wrack at Rousesteun. The boat struck a rock and sank and all the people on board were drowned. Their names were Edward Mallet, Jean Le Huquet, Abraham Le Huquet, Lorans Le Moigre, another Jean Le Huquet, Philip Renouf, Nicholas Noel, Pierre Giffard, George Germain and Jean Le Moigre.

The next day all ten bodies were found near the rocks called Reposeur des Pierres," and were taken in two carts to St. Martin's churchyard, where they were buried, with all Christian rights, in the presence of their families and friends.

Demand for pier

The Jersey trade was growing, but there was no accomodation for the vessels and the time had arrived when vessels were being required for foreign trade and therefore larger vessels were being built. Many people interested in the welfare of the Island, started a subscription to provide the necessary funds for building a pier at St Helier, and on 10 October 1677 the Privy Council issued an Order, directing that all sums so collected, and also the amount paid for licences on wool, should be used in building a pier at St Helier and the work was commenced.

All people were not agreed on the necessity for the pier, and the matter being reported to the Privy Council, the Lords by their order of 22 April 1682, directed "that the building of ye peer now begun in the Island of Jersey would not be of that use to His Majestie service and advantage to the Island as was at first represented " and directed that the work should be discontinued. This came as a great surprise to those interested in the welfare of the Island, and the States determined to send a deputation to London, to point out the absolute necessity for a pier. Evidently the Jerseymen pleaded so well that the Privy Council was satisfied that the information they had received was wrong and therefore on 8 March 1682, they issued another order, directing that the work should be continued without any further hindrance or delay.

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