Abraham de Gruchy

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Abraham de Gruchy in about 1840

Abraham de Gruchy, 1780-1864, merchant

Summary history

Abraham de Gruchy was born in St Saviour on 29 September 1780, the son of Philippe de Gruchy and Elizabeth, née Le Geyt.

First shop

He married Marie Le Brocq of The Yews, St Peter, on 4 June 1808. With initial financial assistance from her father, William Le Brocq, they purchased on 23 June 1810 the farmhouse now called Andover Lodge, near St Peter’s Church. The business was probably run at first from the adjoining outhouses and later from a shop in the east extension of the main house. They moved in 1818 to larger, purpose-built, premises close by, in the property now housing "The Sir George Carteret" public bars and restaurant.

Their customers included Sir John Dumaresq and other prominent islanders, including the Lieut-Governor, General Don, whose new network of roads passed through St Peter's Village and brought a considerable trade to the new shop.

The store won the contract to make uniforms for the Royal Jersey Militia and to retail swords for militia officers.

Mr de Gruchy's cousin Thomas de Gruchy, the owner and master of an 82-ton cutter called the Rose, imported all manner of goods to be sold in the shop, including cargoes from France, immediately after the Napoleonic Wars. Marie Le Brocq herself went on buying trips to France and the business grew steadily.

The famous de Gruchy arcade

Ten years later the town was in the throes of a period of tremendous growth and de Gruchy decided that it was time to move his business into St Helier, where he rented in 1820 a shop at 33 Broad Street for four years, before buying in 1824, 52 King Street, a property known as La Grande Maison, that had been the residence of the two 18th century Lieutenant Bailiffs, Le Geyt. He transformed it into a store the like of which Jersey had not previously seen.

He employed a master tailor and five London dressmakers and in 1825 added furniture to his range of goods. In the same year, he also embarked on a sideline, as a banker`s agent, in which he was still engaged in 1841.

De Gruchy then expanded in a different direction, across the Atlantic, founding in 1827 a fishery at Malbaie and in 1835 another, at Pointe St Pierre, Gaspé, both of which were served by his own ships.

The St Helier business continued to prosper and expanded as neigbouring properties were acquired.

In 1854 the business received considerable praise from Dumaresq’s Tourist’s Handbook to Jersey, which said:

”Among many improvements due to private enterprise none reflects so much credit on the town as the handsome shop of Mr Abraham de Gruchy. It will not be saying too much to compare it to the best in London. This immense block of buildings is accessible from three streets, King Street, Dumaresq Street and New Street.”

Jubilee celebrated

The store continued to expand, but by the time the business celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1860, Abraham de Gruchy had retired and his sons William, Philippe and Jean had taken over the business. Three years later there was further expansion, accompanied by a reconstruction of the whole business.

In 1864 Abraham de Gruchy died, to be followed two years later by his wife.

Disaster struck the family business in 1886, when the Jersey Banking Company, formerly owned by the family and with which they were still involved, crashed, taking the store with it into bankruptcy. However, a limited liability company was formed to take over the assets and the running of the business, with the intention of paying off all creditors within ten years.

Such was the continuing success of the new operation, that after the ten years were up, a proposal was agreed to keep trading for another 25 years.

Philip Henry de Gruchy was the last of the original family to manage the business, and he died in 1899.

Full history

By de Gruchy family historian Guy Dixon

Abraham de Gruchy was born in Maufant, St Saviour, in September 1780 into an old Jersey family, but one whose land-holdings had diminished over the centuries. He was the fourth of seven sons born to Philippe de Gruchy and Elizabeth Le Geyt, his wife, four of whom predeceased their parents. His elder brother, Philippe, would inherit the family`s farm, so Abraham, in about 1796, entered the world of commerce. There is no record of his having been apprenticed into the drapery business, but his earliest surviving Letter Book, covering the years 1814 to 1820, shows his complete mastery of the trade, with such an extensive network of suppliers and agents in France, Holland and England, that he must have been long so employed, if not apprenticed. [1]

This information might also, however, have been obtained had de Gruchy been previously employed in the offices of one of Jersey`s Southampton merchants, such as that of Thomas Durell junr., [2] as the port handled most of the English goods destined for Channel Island retailers. Certainly, de Gruchy had, at an early date, gained experience of the local shipping business, as he not only handled incoming orders involving bales of cloth, silk and Irish linen but also took large orders for the export of potatoes, as well as for wines and cider.[3] This was, however, expedient as the cargo holds of vessels bringing to the Island goods for de Gruchy, Le Brocq and others with whom he was associated, would need filling for the return journey.

In 1809, he was working as a buyer for an uncle when, on unlawful business in Holland during the autumn, he was interned with other British merchants and traders, surprised there by the sudden invasion of the country by the French.[4] The uncle for whom he worked is now known to have been Jean Le Brocq (1762-1845), of St Peter, whose niece he had married in 1808. Le Brocq was a wine and general merchant, whose business had been long-established in St Peter, having been founded by his family in the late 17th century.[5] It was so described in 1809:

The shop in Victorian times

“Le Brocque`s shop in St Peter`s ... forms a complete magazine or depot, of almost every article in domestic use, from the most expensive wines, to all the inferior, minutiae of daily household consumption ... Those only who are situated at a distance from the Market Towns, can appreciate ... a shop of this multifarious description.” [6] Le Brocq`s premises were at The Yews, some 300 yards to the north of St Peter`s church.

De Gruchy married Marie Le Brocq, of The Yews, on 4 June 1808 and on 23 June 1810 bought from Daniel Valpy dit Janvrin the farmhouse in St Peter now called Andover Lodge.[7]The property, which had been the principal holding of the St Peter`s branch of the Janvrin family, was a substantial 17th century granite house, with a round arch and chamfered door posts and window surrounds. The business was probably conducted at first, from the adjoining outhouses, allowing time, no doubt, for the construction of the extension, to the east of the main house, which is today a separate dwelling painted white, to house the shop. The involvement of the Le Brocq family in de Gruchy`s forthcoming business can be seen in his father-in-law, William Le Brocq, taking on, until February 1811, de Gruchy`s initial repayments.

Abraham de Gruchy`s business, which commenced two days before the property was bought,[8] resembled at first in its diversity, that of Jean Le Brocq. It was, though, clearly intended to secure a corner of the market not covered by the Le Brocqs, namely woollen and linen goods, including clothing. On 5 March 1814 he was advertising in local newspapers, “French merchandise, including silk, sarsenet for ladies` dresses, gloves, shawls, handkerchiefs, mantles and ribbons”, together with “fine flour from England, sold by the sack”. Groceries, such as cheeses and the above flour, even saplings, as well as wines, were, however, still being sold as late as 1828. [9]

New premises

In 1818, he returned from London with a large stock of cloth and cotton goods and the next year, advertised for the first time for tailors, as he had now become a Militia Outfitter. It was in 1818 that he bought from a brother-in-law, Matthieu Horton of La Fosse, a triangular field, the northern part of which was an orchard, called Le Jardin de Seale, upon which he built a house and premises, now called "The Sir George Carteret" public bars and restaurant, from which to operate his business; the advantage of the new premises being that they adjoined the main road and had space for future expansion.[10] The earlier property, Andover Lodge, was sold to Nicolas Le Brocq, brother of the above Jean, on 12 December that year.[11]

In the early years, many of the items sold in the shop had been imported by Thomas de Gruchy, owner and master of the 82 ton cutter, Rose,[12] who was a first cousin of de Gruchy`s father, Philippe.[13]

However, in 1818, Abraham de Gruchy`s name first appeared in the Jersey Shipping Register, as one of the owners of the copper-sheathed brig Tom and Mary, of 115 tons. His wife's first cousin, Philippe Le Feuvre junr. of La Hougue, a future Constable of St Peter, was a co-owner, as was another of her kinsmen, Philip Godfray, a merchant and banker in St Aubin and afterwards in St Helier.[14] In 1821, de Gruchy's nephew, Philippe Alexandre, (1794-1833), became the ship's master. The 80 ton schooner Rose was the next vessel purchased, on 7 June 1827, which replaced the brig Tom and Mary, which had been sold in 1826.[15]

Goods now sold by de Gruchy included in October 1819 “a dozen and a half Merino and Southdown sheep”; in 1826 he advertised “a quantity of quilts and duvets from Russia” and in 1828 wines from Spain and various sherries for sale by the cask, or half-cask. On 4 October 1828 the Rose, with Philippe Alexandre now as master, arrived at Liverpool from Montevideo and apparently then sailed to La Rochelle, as de Gruchy advertised on 6 December, 52 pipes Eau de Vie, 35 barriques Eau de Vie, 100 barriques vin rouge, 20 vin blanc, 120 vinaigre de vin blanc…de la Rochelle”. The vessel`s next voyage was to Bilbao, Spain, although she was obliged to put into port at Plymouth, having shipped water in a storm on 10 December.[16]

de Gruchy's Restaurant

St Helier property

De Gruchy extended his business in 1820 to St Helier. Francis Le Sueur, coal merchant and property owner, advertised that year that his house and shop at the top of Broad Street, (Grande Rue), in St Helier, were to let. The house and shop was 33 Broad Street. In September that year, Le Sueur advertised that he had by then only the upper part, which was the house, still to let. That the new tenant for the shop, the lower part, which is now a part of Barclays Bank, was Abraham de Gruchy, will be seen from Le Sueur`s advertisement shortly before the end of the lease, on 24 December 1824, for a new tenant for the house currently “occupied by Abraham de Gruchy”.

He will have initially continued to live in St Peter but, in 1822 he advertised that half of his house there, with a good walled garden and 1½ vergées of land were to let.[17] This will have been his own private part of the premises, reserved for his own use. Furthermore, this will be when de Gruchy moved to Le Sueur`s “house”, which he was quoted as occupying in 1824.

The St Peter`s branch of the business had as managers, from this time until the end of April 1824, Jean Simon and Edouard Collas, the latter being formerly of La Frontière, St Mary.[18] An advertisement placed in the Chronique on 1 May that year, notified the public that Simon and Collas had been replaced by Vautier, Blampied and Miss H de Gruchy, the former being Mr Philippe Vautier and the latter being de Gruchy`s cousin, Henrietta, daughter of his uncle, Noé.[19]

On 25 December 1824 de Gruchy purchased from James Poingdestre, La Grande Maison in Rue de Derrière, now known as 52 King Street, St Helier, moving there in the summer of 1825.[20] The sale of de Gruchy`s remaining property in St Peter to his erstwhile employee, Jean Simon, on 23 June 1832,[21] completed the move.


De Gruchy was an innovator. The future, Victorian, idea of a department store, that so revolutionised the English retail sector from the mid-19th century,[22] was to de Gruchy, living in the reign of George IV, neither new nor mid-19th century. As early as 1825, for example, he had added upholstery to his drapery and haberdashery business. In this, he was at least 25 years ahead of his time. A carpet department followed in 1845. Gas lighting was still regarded as very much a novelty when de Gruchy, in 1831, had it installed throughout his premises.[23] Innovation evidently ran in the family, as another novelty, in 1883, was electric lighting, which his grandson, Philip Henry de Gruchy installed.[24] In 1851, de Gruchy was among those who foresaw that British sterling would, in the future, be the sole currency used in Jersey, rather than the dwindling number of French coins. However, the plan to therefore "sell exclusively in British sterling", which he said would make for simpler book-keeping,[25] caused an outcry, being described as "arrogance", and had to be withdrawn.

In 1833 de Gruchy suffered considerable embarrassment, being hooted in the street and his shop boycotted. A customer had requested his signature to a petition "to speed up the administration of justice". Unwisely and no doubt in haste, he had signed it without having first read it. He had signed the Petition of the Fifty-Seven for the abolition of the Royal Court! [26]

The adjoining property, 50 King Street, was purchased by 1826, in which year de Gruchy was joined in his business by his eldest son, William Philippe, who had previously been at school in Hampshire. The firm now became “A de Gruchy et Fils”. Further neighbouring properties were purchased in the ensuing years and incorporated into the business. Dumaresq`s Tourist Handbook to Jersey, (1854), describes the firm at that date:

“Among many improvements due to private enterprise none reflects so much credit on the Town as the handsome shop of Mr Abraham de Gruchy. It will not be saying too much to compare it to the best in London. This immense block of buildings is accessible from three streets, King Street, Dumaresq Street and New Street”.

Departments continued to be opened at A. de Gruchy and Company, which included the millinery department in 1872, and in 1883, the hardware or ironmongery department and the funeral, or mourning, department.

Queen's visit

De Gruchy was in 1846 on the committee formed to prepare for the young Queen Victoria`s visit to the Island. Balleine cites a contemporary source:

“A pavilion had been erected on the harbour, the materials `furnished gratis`, by those old and respected firms, Messrs Gray, Godfray, Falle and Co. and Messrs Abraham de Gruchy and Sons; the furniture, made by Mr Richard Le Gallais, the work executed by him in a masterly manner".[27] In 1863, the adjoining property in King Street was purchased, as a result of which, the entire frontage was rebuilt, as were the interiors.[28]

De Gruchy`s expansion and success in business owed much to his meticulous refusal to accept from manufacturers or suppliers any goods whatsoever, in which the least fault could be found. He also expected prompt payment of all accounts and frequently instigated legal proceedings, both in Jersey and in English courts, in the event of non-payment. In the case of indebted soldiers posted away from the Island, he wrote directly to the Duke of York, as Commander-in Chief of the Army, playing on the army`s sense of honour, in describing himself as a small shopkeeper whose account had not been settled. In comparison with those of regency London and Westminster, this was no doubt a fair enough description for a `mere provincial`, although his substantial dwelling-house, business premises and involvement in international trade, scarcely suggested it. However, it evidently worked! His "copy-letters" in the early 1800s, written in fluent French and English, well illustrate the advantage of a good all-round education, such as was evidently then available in Jersey. He also researched the history, political background and commerce of countries with which he traded. His manuscript notes on Brazil, dated 1836, survive within the family.

Abraham de Gruchy in old age


De Gruchy`s shipping interest during these years also expanded, although the investment was mostly in Canada. From the early 19th century, Jerseymen had been fast to exploit the market for salted cod. Canada had become British territory in 1763, but two long and major wars prior to 1815 had hindered development by Jerseymen of the Canadian fisheries. After 1815, however, Jersey merchants made up for years lost. The name of Abraham de Gruchy appears in the index to the Gaspé Land Registry, linked to that of Boyd, amongst others, between the years 1820 and 1844. In his study Le Site de Pointe Saint-Pierre, Municipalité de Percé, Comté de Gaspé-Est,[29] Pierre Rascoul writes: “In 1854 there was registered at New Carlisle the contract between John Fauvel and a certain Abraham de Gruchy, by which Fauvel entered into possession of “the large fishing establishment” of de Gruchy, situated on Lots 6 and 7 of the point, [Pointe Saint-Pierre]. De Gruchy, a native of St Helier, Jersey, [was] the owner, (at least from 1846), of other Lots, situated..at Malbaie, on the south coast of the point.”[30]

De Gruchy`s Lots at Malbaie are shown by Rascoul to have been Lots 8 and 13.[31] The above “large fishing establishment” was mentioned by the contributing authors of Acadiensis: Volume 25 as being owned in 1836 by the firm of Abraham de Gruchy, which was described by them as being among the early Jersey firms in business at Pointe Saint-Pierre.[32]

Rascoul, after studying the index of the Percé Land Registry, concluded that de Gruchy will have purchased the above Lot 6 from Gaspé`s Bond family and Lot 7 from a fellow Jerseyman, William Alexander [of St Ouen, Jersey]. This latter purchase was probably in 1835.[33] Although de Gruchy lived, at this date, in St Helier, he employed two St Peter`s men to build the manager`s house at Pointe Saint-Pierre, the words "C. Powell and Philip J. Carrel of St Peter, Jersey", being inscribed on a wooden beam in the entrance hall.[34] The furnishings and decor of the house were also Jersey. In an example of the tendency of Channel Islanders to form colonies in these remote coastal areas of Canada, a neighbouring fishery at Pointe Saint-Pierre, Rascoul observed, was that of fellow-Jerseymen John and Francis Perrée of St Mary who, at about the time de Gruchy sold his fishing establishment to John Fauvel, sold theirs to their agents, fellow St Mary parishioners, J and E Collas. By 1842, the sheltered, east-facing, bay at Pointe Saint-Pierre, where the fisheries were located, was described as being "thickly covered with the white houses of the fishermen".[35]

A calendar produced by the business in the 1880s

The 1854 sale to John Fauvel did not, however, indicate de Gruchy`s intention to “concentrate his efforts in Jersey,”[36] as his fishery at Malbaie was not included in the sale. Furthermore, he and his sons` investment in the fisheries would more than double in the coming decade.

The Malbaie fishery was probably founded in 1827,[37] as the schooner Rose, bought by de Gruchy in that year, traded within Jersey`s cod triangle from early 1828 until 1833, transporting cod between the fisheries and South America, before returning to Jersey. In 1833, the Rose sailed from Pernambuco, Brazil, for Newfoundland, never to be seen again. She was declared lost in 1835, together with Captain Philippe Alexandre and her crew. [38] Her intended destination suggests that de Gruchy had by this date, if not before, a fishery in Newfoundland. The only fishery there in this name and date was at Little St Lawrence in the Burin Peninsula of the south coast, where Messrs. De Gruchy & Nicolle were situated.[39] The partner, Nicolle, on the south coast of Newfoundland in the "early 1800s" was the well-known Philippe Nicolle junr., (see 50, below).

Another of Abraham de Gruchy`s ships, the 114 ton brig, aptly named Canada, owned in conjunction with Philippe Pellier, [40] was, in 1835, recorded as returning from the Gaspé fisheries to Jersey,[41] so will also have been sailing in connection with one of de Gruchy`s earlier fisheries, perhaps that of Pointe Saint-Pierre. De Gruchy`s houseflag, which gave the St Helier firm its livery, was a royal blue lozenge on a white field.

Gaspé fisheries, such as those at Malbaie and Pointe Saint-Pierre, operated on the many inshore banks. In contrast to those of Newfoundland, on the Grand Banks, which were mostly fished from boats lowered into the sea from schooners, the fish at Gaspé were caught from locally-built "fishing barges" and shallops. The cod was then dried on flakes, or wooden staging, on the beaches and salted and packed for transport to market by trading vessel. Before 1863, most of de Gruchy`s fish was sold in South American countries, with cargoes of coffee being brought back to the United Kingdom. Trade with Mediterranean countries, with cargoes of wine for the return voyage, dominated the later years.

The last leg of the above journey, especially at the close of the fishing season, could be varied. Abraham de Gruchy`s brig Canada, the second of that name, in the last months of his life, sailed from Gaspé to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She then left Rio at the end of January 1865, presumably with the usual cargo of coffee, bound for England. Despatched from there to Hamburg to discharge her cargo, she then sailed for Newcastle, to load coal for Jersey.[42]

A page from Philip de Gruchy`s Share Account book

De Gruchy`s name was, from 1837 to 1847, absent from the Jersey Shipping Register. In the early 1830s, he had increasingly used the above mentioned Philippe Alexandre to carry his catches to market. Alexandre traded as "Alexandre & Co.". On his untimely death in 1833, his younger brother and fellow master mariner, Charles Alexandre (1803-1894), also traded in this name, so had presumably stepped into his brother`s shoes with regard to marketing their uncle`s fish. The firm, shortly afterwards, became "Carré & Alexandre" and further expanded. This arrangement, however, was not going to last, as certain aspects of the younger Alexandre`s character left much to be desired. Boasting to his sister`s family, Blampied of Rondin, Trinity, of his sales technique, he was proud of having sold in Brazil, for cash, the same cargo to two different buyers. He would then, during the night, offload the cargo onto the pier and sail before dawn.

De Gruchy returned, in 1847, to marketing his own catches, placing an order with an English shipyard for the 114 ton brigantine Gem, to which was added, shortly afterwards, the Malbaie-built schooner, Mary, of 35 tons. [43] The Alexandre firm survived only a few years.[44]

It is notable that Abraham de Gruchy, from 1835, purchased vessels that were either newly-launched, such as the above Gem or launched less than three years previously, such as the two brigs named Canada and the brig Friends.[45] These he retained no longer than eight years before selling them.

About 1854, when he was in his early seventies, de Gruchy finally retired from active participation in business. This is reflected in the sale that year of his long-established Pointe Saint-Pierre fishery. His eldest son, William Philippe, who took on the running of his father`s businesses, was primarily interested in expanding the family`s Newfoundland presence to the west coast. This will have initially been financed by the 1854 sale. Whilst the Malbaie fishery was unaffected, the de Gruchys` change of emphasis in the ensuing years, from Gaspé to Newfoundland, led to the successful establishment there of an increasing number of fisheries. John J. Mannion writes of Woody Point, on that coast:

"Woody Point was the collecting and distributing centre for the Birds of Bonne Bay from about 1800 to 1850, when they were replaced by the Jersey firm of De Gruchy, Renouf, Clement and Company, [Author`s note: This firm was formed in 1863, see below, from the fisheries of Abraham de Gruchy and Thomas Renouf. Remembered here in its later name, in 1850 it will have been only De Gruchy]. This latter firm was also probably the proprietor of the Jersey room, [Author`s note: beach facility], in St John`s Beach, Humber Sound. As in the Bay of Islands, the emergence of the commercial herring and lobster fisheries attracted a number of agents or traders..." [46]

This replacement, in the 1850s, at Woody Point of the Birds of Bonne Bay by de Gruchy, was probably part of a larger picture as there was also, from this date, in Bonne Bay itself, a fishery owned by de Gruchy.[47]

These ventures were not all profitable, as the canning of salmon and lobsters by De Gruchy, Renouf, Clement and Co. in Burgeo, on the south coast of Newfoundland, in 1864, was described as an activity in which the firm lost money. [48]

In 1863, a year before the death of Abraham de Gruchy, his son, William Philippe, completed the merger of his father`s shipping business with that of Thomas Renouf. A third partner in the new venture was John Clement of Belgrave House, Millbrook, a former master in the Newfoundland trade of the barque Eliza, who became the company`s manager at Burgeo. The company may have been recently formed but its partners embodied many years of experience in the Canadian fisheries. The de Gruchys had been thirty-six years so involved; Thomas Renouf [49] had travelled out as a young man to Newfoundland, to work for Jersey`s then leading Newfoundland firm, that of Nicolle. [50] He was living in 1843 at La Poile, on the south coast, where the Nicolles had a large fishing establishment. By 1851, he was their agent, (manager), leaving them in 1854 to start his own business. Lastly, John Clement came from a St Brelade family of master mariners who had been merchants at Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, in the late 18th-century. [51] Unable to weather the disruption to trade caused by the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812-1814, the next generation worked, as did Renouf, for the Nicolles, in their case, as shipmasters. The Clement family returned to shipowning in 1858, when John Clement began to take shares in some of Thomas Renouf`s vessels. [52] The gradual withdrawal of the Nicolles from shipping in the mid-1860s was said to have been caused by the loss of markets for their fish in the southern, (Confederate), States of America, during the American Civil War. This benefitted De Gruchy, Renouf and Clement who, having expertise and, as described below, ample capital, `stepped into their shoes` on Newfoundland`s south coast. With their Newfoundland headquarters at Burgeo, the partnership soon owned an extensive fleet, which included many fine `Banks schooners` and trading vessels. To the west coast former de Gruchy fisheries were added, on the south coast, fisheries at Burgeo, La Poile and Channel. The fleet consisted in 1865, of eight vessels, totalling 797 tons. In 1872, the company took over the former Nicolle, de Quetteville and Co. assets at Jersey Harbour, Fortune Bay.[53] It was, from 1873, Jersey`s leading fleet in the Newfoundland fisheries, the fleet consisting, in 1877, of twenty-three vessels, totalling 1,496 tons.

A de Gruchy banknote


A part of de Gruchy`s business was banking. In 1825 he was a paying agent for the bank of Jean Lemprière of Mont au Prêtre, to whom he was related, and in 1838-1841 he was agent for that of de Carteret.[54] In April 1863, Abraham de Gruchy`s son, William Philippe, entered into a partnership with Philip Gosset as “Gosset, de Gruchy and Co.”, taking over the Jersey Banking Company, (Est. 1828). Gosset was also the Treasurer of the States of Jersey, this being the Island`s government, so the bank included the States of Jersey among its customers, hence the description 'The States` Bank'. It was located at 17 Broad Street, St Helier. A new bank building was completed by 1875, in Library Place,[55] to the design of the architects, Messrs. Hayward and Sons, of Exeter, who also drew up the plans for Victoria College and, in 1883, for de Gruchy`s Arcade.[56] The building is today that of the National Westminster Bank.

The bank seal

The partnership of Gosset, de Gruchy and Co. ended in January 1877, as a result of ill-feeling between the senior partners, which had not been helped by Gosset opening, against the wishes of de Gruchy, an account in favour of the shipping firm Le Boutillier Bros, [see note 77]. Matters were further complicated by Gosset becoming also a partner in his cousins` Gaspé firm, Charles Robin and Co., who were the principal rivals of the de Gruchys` Newfoundland firm, De Gruchy, Renouf, Clement and Co.[57] A new partnership, that of Messrs. Gosset, Du Heaume, Nicolle and Co., was formed to take over the Jersey Banking Company. Du Heaume, a landowner from a former mercantile family, of Broadlands in Grouville, was a Jurat of the Royal Court, whilst the third partner, Clement Nicolle, a soon-to-be-elected Jurat, was a farmer and landed proprietor from St Saviour. Regrettably, neither man had personal experience of commerce or banking.[58] Nine years later, it would be Du Heaume and Nicolle`s turn to regret the association with Gosset, [see "Successors"]. William Philippe de Gruchy, although retaining for his family a seat on the Jersey Banking Company`s board of directors, formed in 1878-9 a new bank, called Abraham de Gruchy and Sons, the partners of which were named in The Banking Almanac, Directory, Year Book and Diary, 1880, as being "William Philippe, Philip, William Laurence and Philip Henry de Gruchy". Their London agent was given as the "London & Westminster". This new de Gruchy bank was located at the firm`s premises in King Street.

[Editor's note: The post-1877 partnership running the Jersey Banking Company became insolvent and ceased trading in 1886, see below]

Other properties

Abraham de Gruchy purchased a number of properties that were either not used, or seldom used, in conjunction with his businesses. Langley House, St Saviour, in 1836, was one of these. It was here that de Gruchy entertained visiting French officials in October, 1850.[59] It was next used in 1881, as a residence for a member of the staff of Abraham de Gruchy and Sons, Bankers. Another property was The Grove, St Lawrence, in 1841,[60] for the construction of which he had previously granted a mortgage. The Trinity farm, La Commune, in the Vingtaine de La Croiserie, was another in 1856,[61] as were properties in St Helier, near Charing Cross. 16 New Street, a fine Georgian town house, now owned by the National Trust for Jersey, was a further purchase of de Gruchy`s in the 1860s, as was the Alliance Livery Stable behind it. This livery stable, immediately adjoining the department store, was a great asset both to the de Gruchys and their customers. A Pièce de Mielle or sand dune, opposite Kempt Tower in St Ouen, was purchased with La Commune in 1856. This was intended to be the site of an asparagus farm, although this did not materialise.


De Gruchy lived for some years at The Grove but then let it and lived at 7, Windsor Crescent before moving to The White Lodge, Grosvenor Street, where he died on 9 October 1864, aged 84 years. His widow survived him by two years.

Philip de Gruchy (1812-1889)

De Gruchy had been a good horseman in his youth, appearing in the 1815 Militia census as a `cavalier`, or galloper. A mild man, who has been described as resembling more closely a country clergyman than a businessman, he was nonetheless possessed of a keen mind, high intelligence and considerable energy. He was also a man of some compassion. In March 1828, he was probably aware of the identity of the woman seen stealing a parcel of banknotes from his doorstep but preferred to warn her, in the newspaper, that she had been seen, rather than to have her arrested.[62] From Abraham de Gruchy`s Letter Book, 1814-1820, it is evident that he had formed many a friendship outside the Island, particularly in France. An unexpected visitor, however, in 1836, was the Marquis de Grouchy, (the former spelling of de Gruchy), who had been a Marshal of France under Bonaparte. His Norman family was then in danger of becoming extinct, so he was keen to investigate his family`s tradition that a son of theirs had migrated in the reign of King John, to Jersey. Deeds at La Chasse, in the Vingtaine of Rozel, Trinity, the home of the then head of the Jersey family, who was, by an inter-cousin marriage, a first cousin-once-removed of Abraham de Gruchy, confirmed this branch`s pedigree back to the early 14th century. They had lived throughout the period upon the Fief de La Gruchetterie, in the former seigneurial house, bearing the same Arms as the Norman family. The Jersey de Gruchys were thus formally recognised by the marquis as kinsmen.[63] Abraham de Gruchy was perhaps too busy to consider holding public office but was, between 1814 and 1817, Churchwarden of St Peter.

De Gruchy and his wife had as elder son, the above William Philippe, (1809-1881), who was as able a businessman as his father. Having entered the business in 1826, he will have made possible much of the diversification, which was a characteristic of the de Gruchy firms. He was, in the 1860s, a committee member of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce, sat on the committee for the restoration of the Town Church and was one of the founders of the Jersey Eastern Railway Company. He was Constable of St Saviour, 1872-1878.

In 1837, William Philippe de Gruchy married Louisa, daughter of Charles William Chapman of Camberwell, Surrey, a stockbroker and former Marine Insurance Broker at Lloyd`s Coffee House, London, which is probably where he met his future son-in-law`s family. They had two sons, William Laurence, (1838-1920), a barrister, and Philip Henry, (1843-1899), an old Victorian, who entered A. de Gruchy & Co., becoming in 1872 its manager and in 1881 its managing owner. To Henry, (as he was called), must go the credit for having built, in 1883, De Gruchy`s Arcade. Described as a "very popular manager", [64] he was renowned for his good-natured and genial bonhomie. A major in the Royal Jersey Militia, he used to liken his running of the store to that of his former militia company! [65]

His census entry in 1881 gives the staff of A de Gruchy & Co. at that date as 250. This figure probably includes the staff of Abraham de Gruchy and Sons' bank.[66] De Gruchy, Renouf, Clement & Co. will have employed a greater number, as they had, in that year, crews serving in sixteen ships, [67] staff at about ten fishery establishments in Canada, together with warehouse staff in Jersey and employees at their 8, Bond Street, St Helier, headquarters. The total number of persons employed by both firms will have been in excess of 600.[68]

The second of de Gruchy`s sons was Philippe, (1812-1889), who lived at Little Grove, St Lawrence, where his family`s Arms can be seen on the pedestrian arch. Philippe, who was educated, with his brothers, at Fordingbridge in Hampshire, although by nature a shy man, was a highly competent and effective businessman. He was frequently travelling on behalf of the firm to the United Kingdom and France. In July 1864, he bought into his brother`s shipping business, which largely owed its timely expansion, after the 1873 Jersey bank crashes had so crippled rival firms, to the injection of his own money into the firm, enabling the 1874 purchases of additional fishing stations and ships. In May 1874, he and Philippe Payn each advanced the firm £3,300 sterling at 5% interest, his brother, in effect, mortgaging six of his ships, by way of security. [69] The comparative value of these men`s 1874 investment, in the money of 2017, would be about £212,000 each. Philip de Gruchy`s Share Account book, which survives within the family and is shown above, under Shipping, is worthy of analysis.

His original investment, or "paid up capital," was £1,000, which in the currency of 2017 would be approximately £60,000. His share of the profits from De Gruchy, Renouf and Clement`s trading between 1864 and September 1870 was £772-17-5, which would be in the money of 2017, £48,000. As an example of the profitability of the `cod fishing` triangular trade between Jersey, Canada, South America or the Mediterranean, and back to the United Kingdom, Philip de Gruchy`s share of profits generated in these six years, amounted to more than 75% of his original investment. In the one year 1870-1871, his share of the profits was a staggering £554-6-8, or in the currency of 2017, £34,000. A bleaker picture emerges in 1871-1872, with a dramatic slow-down in international trade, caused by the recession of that year, which led in 1873 to banks and trading firms going into liquidation, both in Jersey and elsewhere. Fortunately, Gosset and de Gruchy`s Jersey Banking Company was not one of these but the collapse of more than one Island bank led to the ruin of shipping firms banking with them, which included several significant rivals of the de Gruchys and their partners.

It was at this stage, that De Gruchy, Renouf and Clement embarked on their audacious purchases in Newfoundland of additional fishing stations and vessels, Philip de Gruchy and Philip Payn enabling the expansion by granting mortgages in May 1874, on the above six trading ships. The Share Account book makes no mention of profits or losses between December 1873 and March 1885. This was no doubt initially due to the years 1874 to 1879 being dedicated to the discharge of the six mortgages. The actual sum due, between February 1877 and March 1879, to de Gruchy and Payn jointly was, in the money of 2017, £517,630.51, the equivalent value of the principal having increased since 1874, of which 5% per annum over several years, in the sum of £80,811.52 was accrued interest - a healthy alternative to a dividend. That such a sum was paid at all, in the full discharge of each mortgage [Jersey Shipping Register] gives more than a little indication of the likely profits of the concern during these years. In March 1885, another international slump was making itself felt. Philip de Gruchy and, no doubt, other shareholders, who were mostly relatives of one or other of the partners, were therefore called upon to pay up a further sum of £900, being £66,705.30 in the money of 2017. This was probably when the firm also acquired, as did other Jersey shipping firms, a loan from the Jersey Banking Company, which W.L. de Gruchy wrote, in A Full Statement of the Facts..., (see below), was still outstanding in February 1886. Philip de Gruchy then had to pay upon call, six months later, the same amount as in March 1885, at what was by then the height of the new and most severe recession. He had in 1885, as a result, an investment in the firm of a greater sum than that advanced earlier upon mortgage of the ships. Regrettably, on this occasion, for reasons mentioned below, the de Gruchys` bank, "Abraham de Gruchy & Sons," and the Jersey Banking Company, failed to weather the worldwide financial storm. Philip de Gruchy therefore lost most of his investment and the Clements took to the bank "the last of their gold sovereigns" [70] Thomas Renouf was scarcely better off, nor were many thousands of his fellow Islanders.

William Laurence de Gruchy

Another of de Gruchy`s sons was Jean, (1816-1862), who was involved in the King Street business. With his elder brother William, he was on the Reservoir Planning Committee in 1848 and had, in 1860, the vice-chair during the firm`s Golden Jubilee celebrations. Most regrettably, he died not long afterwards from consumption, probably resulting from tuberculosis, on Christmas morning, 1862.[71] The remaining children were George, (Rector of Little Bealings, Suffolk), Thomas and Marie Anne, (both of whom died in infancy).

William Philippe de Gruchy died on 28 July 1881. In the ensuing years, international trade began to stagnate, amid fears of a further recession. De Gruchy, Renouf, Clement & Co., Charles Robin & Co. and others among the larger Jersey shipowners, began to register vessels in foreign ports,[72] in order to at least partly guard against the effects of an economic upheaval similar to that of 1873, as the vessels would thus be safeguarded from seizure on behalf of creditors, being beyond the jurisdiction of the Royal Court.

This was, in most cases, too little and too late. The three businesses in which the de Gruchys had been engaged, though regarded as being, with another firm,[73] "as safe as the Bank of England",[74] were nonetheless enmeshed in the downfall in January 1886 of the Jersey Banking Company.

This occurred, as in the mid-1880s, southern Europe, the market for so much of the cod in which Jersey firms traded, was in the grip of the anticipated recession. This had a serious impact on the profits of Island firms trading in the area. Two of the Jersey firms most affected were the above Charles Robin and Co. and Le Boutillier Brothers of Gaspé, both of whom were already heavily indebted to Messrs. Gosset, Du Heaume & Nicolle`s Jersey Banking Co. William Laurence de Gruchy [75], a Jurat and former Constable of St Helier, who had succeeded to his late father`s directorship of the troubled bank, was at the centre of events in January 1886. He wrote that the bank should have held a mortgage upon Robin & Co.`s Jersey assets, something he had urged upon the other two directors, in order to secure their debt. The bank should also have foreclosed upon all Le Boutillier Brothers` local assets, although a start had been made, in acquiring their remaining ships. De Gruchy also urged his fellow directors to instigate proceedings to secure the registration of the debt due to the bank on Le Boutillier property in Canada. This turned out to be impractical, however, as it would have necessitated a lawsuit, for which there was insufficient time.

The desired mortgage with regard to Robin & Co., although prepared, was never legally binding "in consequence of Mr Lemprière of Rozel having refused to sign". [76] The necessary action against all Le Boutillier Brothers` local assets was never taken as a result, de Gruchy inferred, of the other directors` "ties either of friendship or business interest" with the owners of the firm, being ties not shared by him, nor by his family.[77] The representatives of these firms thus found themselves unable to repay to the bank their still considerable outstanding loans. Many other shipping firms, including that of Messrs. Gautier de Ste Croix, [78] which had been trading since the late 1830s, were in a similar position. Furthermore, matters were not helped by the States of Jersey, which was still a major customer of the bank, having greatly overspent on the harbour. The strain upon the bank soon proved fatal. De Gruchy continued: "[Mr Lemprière] having also talked openly about the Bank`s [Robin & Co.] advance, there was a run on it, (the Jersey Banking Co.). On Monday morning, it did not open its doors and the run diverted itself to Abraham de Gruchy & Sons, who had to close on the Tuesday".

On Monday and Tuesday, 11 and 12 January 1886, thousands of indigenous Jersey men and women, of all ages and backgrounds, lost their life savings. Furthermore, many businesses and landowning concerns were ruined. Among the former were all three de Gruchy firms, as the collapse of the Jersey Banking Company caused the run on Abraham de Gruchy and Sons` bank which, in its turn, drove the highly profitable A de Gruchy and Company, of King Street, into receivership.[79] That Robin & Co. did not apparently approach, with a view to solving their cash-flow problems, their own sister-firm, Robin Bros., which had in 1879 entered the banking sector by acquiring Jersey`s "Commercial Bank", is most surprising. However, Gosset, whose grandmother was a Robin, had now a stake in their firm that amounted to a partnership. Therefore any loan arranged by him in their favour, would not have been at a high rate of interest, if indeed, at any rate of interest at all. Jurat Laurence de Gruchy casts light on the situation, that became known to him only after the crash,[80] in writing that much of the bank`s unsecured debt, such as that of the Le Boutillier firm, turned out to have never even been entered by Gosset on the bank`s books! [81]

In the ensuing trial before the Royal Court, Philip Gosset, [82] the Jersey Banking Company`s managing partner, was found guilty of embezzlement, misapplication of public money and fraudulent misappropriation of Bonds. He was sentenced on the 31 March to five years penal servitude. The prison chaplain, [83] who visited Gosset in his cell, recounted to his son and others how sorry Gosset felt for himself. It is unclear whether this sorrow extended to the many victims of his crime. The directors of the Bank, Philip Du Heaume, (the Bank`s President), Clement Nicolle and William Laurence de Gruchy, were cleared of all wrongdoing and acquitted.

As the Jersey Companies Law, (1861), had required Jersey banks to be conducted as unlimited liability companies, the Jersey Banking Co.`s creditors could now realize all assets belonging to the bank`s directors. William Laurence de Gruchy`s assets included A. de Gruchy & Co. and Abraham de Gruchy and Sons, Bankers, the latter of which did not therefore reopen, as its creditors naturally, if perhaps a little inequitably, expected a full realization of assets. De Gruchy, Renouf, Clement & Co. was also badly hit. However, after the sale of many of its vessels and assets and the transfer by William Laurence de Gruchy of his interest in the remaining vessels to Renouf and Clement, it survived. Amazingly, although there was personal bankruptcy, the Robin firm and bank also survived, albeit under a new shipping partnership. Much credit has quite wrongly been given to the Robins` power of survival in times of adversity, such as that of 1886. Their survival owed more, however, to their relative, Gosset, in their time of need, having arranged for them unsecured loans from a bank other than their own. Their own bank was not therefore troubled by any such advances and survived, as did eventually their shipping company.

Thomas Renouf, who lived at Chandos House, Millbrook, although almost ruined at the very time he might have been expected to retire, continued to trade with Newfoundland for some years before selling his interest to his surviving partner, Philip Clement, brother of John. The above Philip de Gruchy, although having sustained such losses, survived the bank crashes, whilst his Millbrook neighbours and business colleagues the Clements, were the last of the Jersey merchants to gain a living from the Newfoundland fisheries, trading into the mid-20th century. [84]

In order to further satisfy the creditors of the Jersey Banking Co, Abraham de Gruchy and Co. of King Street was, in 1887, made a limited liability company in public ownership, with Philip Henry de Gruchy as its manager. On his death in 1899, his widow joined their son and two daughters in England, thus ending the family`s involvement in their former business. It had only been intended, in 1887, to operate until creditors had been satisfied. As a reflection of the firm`s continuing profitability and of the affection in which it was held by the people of Jersey, its life was extended long after the creditors were paid and it still thrives as a Jersey institution.

A letter written by Abraham de Gruchy in 1851

Notes and references

  1. Letter Book, 17 November 1814 to 8 October 1820, Jersey Archive, L/A/25/H1/1.
  2. Thomas Le Vavasseur dit Durell, (1759- ), Southampton merchant and shipowner, son of Thomas Durell snr, Vicomte of Jersey. Durell snr. was in 1768 one of the Jersey representatives in the Chamber of Commerce of De Gruchy, Le Breton and Co., the Island`s leading firm of London merchants and shipowners. This firm had ceased trading by 1796. In 1770, Durell snr and his wife, Elisabeth Bandinel, became the godparents of Elisabeth, later Alexandre, sister of Abraham de Gruchy. Furthermore, Durell senior`s daughter, Marguerite, and her husband, Newfoundland merchant, Matthieu Gosset, became in 1783, the godparents of Matthieu de Gruchy, brother of Abraham. De Gruchy may, therefore, have started in the Durells` Jersey office, before gaining experience in Southampton. It is perhaps worthy of note that the minister of the French Church in Southampton, from 1802 to 1824, which was attended by most of the port`s expatriate Jersey community, was the Reverend George Le Feuvre (1771-1848), who was afterwards for many years Chaplain to the British Embassy in Paris. He was also the maternal uncle of de Gruchy`s future wife, Marie Le Brocq, and may have been instrumental in introducing Maufant-born de Gruchy to his St Peter wife.
  3. Letter Book, 15th August 1818, to Messrs. Browne & Hunter, London, writing that "You must give orders that the vessel...come to St Aubin`s, as most of the potatoes we have bought are the neighbouring parishes`". Further cargoes followed, included one of 3,000 cabots, (54.43 tonnes), shipped on the cutters Friends and Rachel, which was invoiced on the 16th September that year, in the sum of £448-10-4d. This amount is the equivalent of £25,147.09 in the money of 2017, see 69, below.
  4. De Gruchy, W. L., Jersey, My Reminiscences, (Jersey Society in London Occasional Publications, No 5), 47. Note: Louis Bonaparte`s Kingdom of Holland, as with other French satellite states, was subject to Napoleon`s Continental System. Established by the Berlin Decree, dated 21st Nov. 1806, the system was a continental embargo on British trade. However, this inflicted the greater damage to the economies of the satellite states. There arose, as a result, an unlawful trade with British merchants, often with the collusion of local authorities, whereby goods were smuggled either into or out of the various countries.
  5. Dixon, Guy, A Brief History of The Yews, St Peter, in Ann. Bull. Soc. Jersiaise, 2014, 272-284.
  6. [Anon.], A Summer Stroll through the Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, (Jersey: De Fries, 1809), 110.
  7. Registre Public, 109/161, 1810.
  8. The business having been able to start two days prior to the purchase of Andover Lodge, suggests that de Gruchy and his wife already lived there and had, perhaps, done so from the date of their marriage, as uncontracted tenants of the absentee owner, Daniel Janvrin. The latter had been a merchant residing in Arichat, Nova Scotia, from at least October 1806: Coutanche, Henry, Procurations from the Americas, in The Journal, (Jersey: Channel Islands Family History Society, Number 134, IX, 2012), 212.
  9. Abraham de Gruchy advertised principally in the Chroniques de Jersey but some advertisements were also placed in the Constitutionel.
  10. Registre Public, 124/181, 1818.
  11. Registre Public, 126/18, 1818. Godfray`s Map of the Island of Jersey (1849), shows E. Le Grand as owner at this date of Andover Lodge. He was Edouard Le Grand, fils Simon, who had bought it from Nicolas Le Brocq, Mrs de Gruchy`s uncle, on 12 December 1846, [Registre Public 191/119].
  12. This was the third, in a series of ships named Rose, owned by Captain de Gruchy. One of these, at least, (the first), was armed with four cannon. All were exempt, by reason of their speed, from the requirement to sail in convoy. They should not be confused with the ship of the same name built in Yarmouth and purchased by Abraham de Gruchy in 1827, which had previously belonged to Philip Dolbell: Jersey Shipping Register, 1827.
  13. Captain Thomas de Gruchy, (1769-1853), who first became a shipowner in 1793, was born at Le Clos Durell, Trinity, and was baptised on 30 April 1769, the son of Philippe de Gruchy and of Jeanne Alexandre, his wife. Jeanne`s sister, Marie Alexandre, had married another Philippe de Gruchy, who was the grandfather of Abraham. Their brother, Captain Charles Alexandre, (1720-1758), of Beaulieu, Trinity, was, in the early years of the Seven Years War, (1757-1763), a successful privateer captain and shipowner. Captain de Gruchy followed in their uncle`s footsteps, becoming in 1798, together with Thomas Mallet of St Helier, owner of the privateer Robert and Jane, 38 tons, (Capt. S. Gasnier): This note re Captain de Gruchy amends former confusion between this man and his namesake, an uncle of Abraham de Gruchy: Le Quesne, Walter J. and Dixon, Guy M., The de Gruchys of Jersey, Second Edition, (Jersey: The Channel Islands Family History Society, 2000), 67. For Captain de Gruchy: see manuscript genealogy of Alexandre of Trinity, Jersey, by Guy Dixon; manuscript notes, maritime subjects, by John Jean, (the latter at The Jersey Archives Service).
  14. Philip Godfray, (1788--), a corn and grist merchant, branched into shipowning with this same vessel. An informal association, formed for shipping and chartering purposes, already existed between Godfray and de Gruchy in 1814. It is mentioned in a letter of de Gruchy`s dated the 18th December 1814, as "Messrs Godfray, De Gruchy & Le Brocq". In 1815, it was "Messrs Le Brocq, Godfray et Moi": Letter Book, as in 1 above. In addition, Godfray became in 1819 one of the partners in the newly-formed Peter Du Val and Company of Nova Scotia, engaged in the Canadian fisheries. Despite rapid initial expansion--Godfray is listed in the 1821 almanach of the Constitutionel as owning or part-owning six vessels--the new company did not long prosper, leaving Godfray, by 1832, in straightened circumstances, his firm having borrowed heavily from Messrs Gray, Godfray, Falle and Company of St Helier: see Queen`s Visit above, and Aldo Brochet, DU VAL, PETER, in EN:UNDEF: public_citation_publication, vol.8, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003-, accessed March 20, 2015, http://du_val_peter_8E.html. In 1833, Godfray was to be found in partnership at Wharf Street, St Helier, with his first cousin, Philippe Pellier, as corn merchants and millers: The Strangers` Guide to the Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, (1833). The last vessel in which Godfray had an interest was the 158 ton brig Abeona, owned by him jointly until 1838 with Philippe Pellier, (see 40, below). Godfray`s wife, née Jane Le Brocq, was a widow by 1851: Census, St Helier, Jersey, 1851: HO107/2527.
  15. The sale of the brig Tom and Mary in 1826 ended de Gruchy`s interest in the vessel, which was previously thought to have extended to 1836: Dixon, Guy, De Gruchy, Abraham, (1780-1864), Merchant in Corbet, Francis L.M., A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey, Volume 2, (Jersey: Société Jersiaise, 1998), 397.
  16. La Chronique de Jersey, 1828.
  17. Lloyd, Beth, De Gruchy`s, The History of Jersey`s Department Store of Distinction, (London: Robert Hale, 1982), 24.
  18. The Collas Chronicles: Jersey to Australia,(published privately, 1995).
  19. Noé de Gruchy, (1764-1845), was a prosperous farmer of Mont au Prêtre, St Helier, who had prior to 1787, as "Noel Gruchy", been a sailor in the Royal Navy. He was among the many Islanders who resented the imposition of English customs dues upon certain goods in Jersey, preferring instead the age-old system of free trade. He was, in 1827, discovered with no less than twelve chests of contraband tea in his farm wagon and fined £100.00 sterling, (the equivalent of £4,722 in today`s money), with conviscation of the tea, wagon and two horses! The severity of the fine suggests that this was not a first offence. Gazette de L`Ile de Jersey, 24 November 1787; Chronique de Jersey, Saturday 27 October 1827, respectively.
  20. Registre Public, 138/145, 1824.
  21. Contract of sale, Jersey Archive, L/A/25/C1/G/10.
  22. Masset, Claire, Department Stores, (Great Britain: Shire Publications, 2010), 8 et seq.
  23. Lloyd, De Gruchy`s, 30.
  24. Ibid, 34.
  25. Balleine, G.R., A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey, (London: Staples Press, 1948), 197.
  26. Idem.
  27. Syvret, Marguerite and Stevens, Joan, Balleine`s History of Jersey, (Chichester: Phillimore, 1981), 235.
  28. Lloyd, De Gruchy`s, 32.
  29. Rascoul, Pierre, Le Site de Pointe Saint-Pierre, Municipalité de Percé, Comté de Gaspé-Est, (Gaspé: Musée Regionale de Gaspé, 1981),76.
  30. Idem.
  31. Ibid., 63, 70.
  32. Acadiensis: Volume 25 , (University of New Brunswick, Department of History, 1995), 36.
  33. Rascoul, Le Site de Pointe Saint-Pierre..., 86, 182. William Alexander, or Alexandre, was in 1833 master and co-owner of the brig Canada, which was sold in November 1834 to John Mauger, who likewise had interests in Gaspé. He, in turn, sold it on the 6 February 1835 to Abraham de Gruchy and Philippe Pellier. Alexander had evidently decided by 1834 to abandon his interest in the Pointe Saint-Pierre fishery. De Gruchy`s purchase of Lot 7 may thus have been in 1835. Lot 6, on the other hand, may have been purchased by de Gruchy at the same time as his lots at Malbaie: Jean, John, Jersey Sailing Ships, (Chichester: Phillimore, 1982), 126; Jersey Shipping Register, Feb. 1835: Ship: Canada. It is notable that Abraham de Gruchy`s agent at Pointe Saint-Pierre was Alexander`s kinsman, James Alexander: Acadiensis: Volume 25, 40.
  34. Rascoul, Le Site de Pointe Saint-Pierre.., 191. Note: Rascoul mistakenly assumed the manager`s house was built by Fauvel. However, the latter bought from de Gruchy a long-established and large fishery, which had for years had an on-the-site agent, who was the `site manager`. He will therefore have lived in situ in provided accommodation. Furthermore, Fauvel had no reason to employ carpenters from St Peter, Jersey, as he was not from the parish. De Gruchy, though, had been and his wife was from the parish; also Ford, Doug, Chasing the Cod, (Jersey Heritage Trust, 2007), 14.
  35. Bayfield, Capt. H.W. and Blachford, M., Sailing Directions for the Gulf and River of St Lawrence, (London: Blachford & Imray, 1842), 6, cited in Rascoul, Le Site de Pointe Saint-Pierre, 136.
  36. Op. cit., Ford,Chasing the Cod, 14.
  37. De Gruchy`s brother-in-law, William Le Brocq junr., (1786-1871), was already engaged as a merchant in the Canadian fisheries. Having been sent in about 1800 by his family to Nova Scotia to learn the trade, he was living in 1805, at the time of his marriage, in Arichat, Cape Breton Island. In 1822, he purchased the brig Olive Branch and founded his own business, trading in cod and wine. Le Brocq`s house flag was a white cross on a blue field. The following year Le Brocq, in a move reminiscent of his brother-in-law`s early career, also established himself in St Helier as a Woollen and Linen Draper: as in 5.
  38. Jersey Shipping Register, 1827, with entries made in 1833 and 1836, (at The Jersey Archives Service), Ship: Rose.
  39. Hammond, Revd. and Shortis-Munn, cited in Turk, Marion G., The Quiet Adventurers in Canada, (Detroit, U.S.A.: Harlo, 1979), 209; also Lloyd, De Gruchy`s, 42.
  40. Philippe Pellier, (1795-1865), was, like de Gruchy, a good example of the Jersey entrepreneur of the 19th century. A Corn Merchant and mill owner, he also owned a livery stable. On marrying the daughter of a ship-builder, Matthieu Le Boeuf, he became in 1824 a shipowner, building up in the ensuing decades a fine fleet, amongst which were vessels trading with Australia and the Far East. For Pellier`s reaction, on hearing the news that Captain Walter Alexandre had brought their ship Lucknow back from Bombay in ballast, see Jean, John, Jersey Ships and Railways, (Jersey: La Haule Books, 1989) 126-7. In 1837, he built in St Helier a hotel, which still flourishes, which he called La Pomme d`Or, named after a local cider, manufactured nearby: Jean, J., Stories of Jersey`s Ships, (Jersey: La Haule Books, 1987), 4,5.
  41. Jersey Merchant Seamen`s Benefit Society, (at La Soc. Jers.), Ledger, Ship: Canada.
  42. Jamieson, A.G., (ed.), A People of the Sea, The Maritime History of the Channel Islands, (London and New York: Methuen, 1986), 393-4. This vessel was in the summer of 1866 docked in Bristol, when W.L. de Gruchy, (see 75 below), who was then on holiday with his wife in England, wrote: "I had to go at short notice to Bristol, in consequence of Captain Peter Horman, of our brig Canada, having been physically and mentally disabled through sunstroke in the port. We went to the Clifton Down Hotel for some days till a new captain came from Jersey, to take charge." De Gruchy, W. L., Summaries of the Events in our...Lives, (unpublished manuscript, (1893), in the possession of the author of these notes).
  43. The schooner Mary, built in 1847 in Gaspé, was purchased on the 21st August 1851: Jersey Shipping Register: Vessel: Mary.
  44. Charles Alexandre became, in his early retirement, an officer in the Royal Jersey Militia, rising to the rank of captain. He became, on his death, a major benefactor of the Jersey Merchant Seamen`s Benefit Society, to the chagrin of his sister`s family, who had looked after him in his old age. He was also a benefactor of La Société Jersiaise, the gift comprising four inscribed marble columns from Egypt. How they had been acquired was a matter of some speculation within the family: Family information; Will of Charles Alexandre, dated 24th Sept. 1891: D/Y/A/53/49, at the Jersey Archives Service.
  45. There survives, in the archives of A. de Gruchy and Company, now at the Jersey Archive, a Manifest of the cargo of this ship, dated "February 1854". Described as the "British brig Friends," of which Nicholas Richards was Master, being then at St Helier, she was bound for Pernambuco, Brazil, "sailing direct for the Brazils," with a cargo aboard "shipped by Messrs. Malzard and de Gruchy" [L/A/25/C1/L/15]. This vessel was owned jointly with Isaac Malzard of Mont à L`Abbé and Charles Le Quesne, (1819-1899), whose niece later married Philip Henry de Gruchy. Le Quesne, a member of the shipping family that owned the Town Mills, had a formidable reputation in business matters; see Le Quesne, Walter J., The Le Quesnes of Jersey, (Jersey: The Channel Islands Family History Society, 1996), 22-23, 44-45.
  46. Mannion, John J., The People of Newfoundland: essays in historical geography, (Memorial University of Newfoundland, Institute of Social and Economic Research, 1977), 265.
  47. Jean, Jersey Sailing Ships,47.
  48. A Souvenir of Burgeo Today and Yesterday, (online).
  49. Thomas Renouf was born in 1819 in St Saviour, Jersey, the son of Clement Renouf and Sophie Perchard, his wife. He was for many years a Justice of the Peace in Newfoundland and was the United States` Vice-Consul in Jersey, 1865-1886.
  50. The Nicolles, affluent farmers in the north of St John, Jersey, had become in the second half of the 18th century, wool merchants. With the decline of that trade, Philippe Nicolle junr., (1769-1835), moved ca. 1792 into the Newfoundland cod trade: Syvret and Stevens, Balleine`s History of Jersey, 185; Jean, Jersey Sailing Ships, 118. By 1821, Philippe Nicolle owned five vessels and several fisheries. He continued to flourish so that, by 1828, when he moved also into banking, he owned numerous fisheries and the size of his fleet stood at no less than eighteen vessels.
  51. Saunders, A.C., Jersey in the 18th and 19th Centuries, (Jersey: Bigwood, 1930), 219.
  52. Jersey Shipping Register, Sept. 1858: Vessel: Hearty.
  53. Jersey Harbour, Memorial University of Newfoundland: www.mun.ca/mha/resettlement/jersey_harbour.
  54. McCammon, A. L. T. , Currencies of the Anglo-Norman Isles, (London: Spink and Son Ltd, 1984), 221, 235, 251.
  55. Almanach de la Nouvelle Chronique, (Jersey: Huelin and Le Feuvre, 1875), 97.
  56. Lloyd, De Gruchy`s, 34.
  57. De Gruchy, W. L., A Full Statement of the Facts connected with the Settlement of all Business Matters between Philip, Laurence and Philip Henry de Gruchy, (unpublished typescript dated 1894, in the possession of the author of this article).
  58. The Jersey Banking Company was founded in 1828 by the renowned merchant Philippe Nicolle junr., (see 50, above), and his three partners, de Ste Croix, Dauvergne and Le Quesne, two of whom were merchants and Dauvergne a landowner. In spite of his surname, Clement Nicolle was not of the immediate family of Philippe Nicolle, nor was he personally involved with the fisheries, upon which the bank relied. The historian Jane Edwards writes that after his financial ruin in 1886, he "was declaring in public that his marriage...was `the cause of his ruin` and that [his mother-in-law] had been `the cause of his getting mixed up with the fisheries`". Clearly, he had not been involved with the fisheries prior to becoming, in 1877, a partner in the bank that so depended upon them. His mother-in-law was Sophia Bertram, née de la Perrelle, widow of Francis Bertram, a former partner, (1850-1863), in the bank. The fortunes of this latter family had been so adversely affected by circumstances since 1863, that Mrs Bertram may well have seen in Clement Nicolle, a way for the family to return to a banking partnership: Edwards, Jane, `My Dear Mary Anne`, Letters from Gaspé, Jersey Heritage Trust, (online).
  59. Ann. Bull. Soc. Jers., 1965, 55.
  60. Registre Public, 176/222, 1841.
  61. Registre Public, 229/230, 1856.
  62. Chronique de Jersey, 8th March 1828.
  63. Letter written in 1855 by Général de Division Comte de Grouchy, son of the celebrated marshal, to the Comte de Malortie: cited in Payne, J.B., An Armorial of Jersey, (1859), 120; Family information: correspondence and visits between the French and Jersey branches, 1836-2015.
  64. British Press & Jersey Times, 19 January 1894, cited in Lloyd, De Gruchy`s, 71.
  65. Ibid., 74.
  66. Census, St Helier, Jersey, 1881: RG11/5615.
  67. Almanach de la Nouvelle Chronique de Jersey, (Huelin & Le Feuvre, 1881), 108, 110, (list revised to 9 November 1880). At the height of expansion, the company had simultaneously owned twenty-one ships, ibid., (1875), 106, 108, (list revised to 4 November 1874).
  68. A Jersey firm in Gaspé of comparable size to that of De Gruchy, Renouf and Clement was that founded in 1830 by Jean Le Boutillier, (1797-1872). He was stated to have employed in 1861 no less than 2,500 persons. The number of those employed in the Canadian fisheries may therefore have been greater than estimated above, as countless indigenous, Canadian, fishermen were afforded seasonal work: Ulric Lévesque, Le Boutillier, John in Dictionnaire Biographique du Canada Vol.10, (Canada: Université Laval/Université de Toronto,2003); www.biograph.ca/fr/bio/le_boutillier_john_10F.html. Note: This firm should not be confused with that of Le Boutillier Brothers, founded by Jean`s cousins in 1838. However, not long after Jersey`s 1873 bank crashes, the latter firm took over that of Jean Le Boutillier.
  69. Jersey Shipping Register, May 1874: Ships: Dolphin, Warrior, Royal Blue Jacket, Canada, Bonny Mary, Martha Brader, these all being trading vessels. Warrior was wrecked on the west coast of Newfoundland in May 1877 and Martha Brader after being transferred elsewhere, was wrecked in 1886. The four remaining mortgages on these trading vessels were discharged in full, in or by March 1879. For the equivalent value of sums raised, in the money of 2017, by the mortgage of these ships and in the above analysis of the Share Account book of Philip de Gruchy, see: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter.
  70. Author`s note: Information given to him by their descendant, Mrs Clement-Robson.
  71. Death certificate of Jean de Gruchy, merchant, registered 29th December 1862. The family has a leather-bound French New Testament inscribed: "Délivré par Son Excellence le Major Général Messire Colin Halkett, K.C.B. à Jean de Gruchy, 1826", clearly a school prize won by the 10-year-old recipient. A stained-glass window in the nave of the Town Church, St Helier, was given in memory of Jean. It is the first on the north, the left, side of the aisle, as one enters from the west. Unfortunately, during recent restoration, the brass plaque bearing his name was lost.
  72. One of these was the schooner "G. R. C.", an abbreviation of the owners` initials, which was probably also the company`s nickname: Almanach, Chronique de Jersey, (Jersey, 1886).
  73. This other firm was Charles Robin and Co. of Gaspé, (Est 1783). The Robins, formerly shipmasters in St Aubin, became in 1737 Robin Brothers, Chandlers and shipowners, carrying goods to and fro from Newfoundland, on behalf of the fisheries. When Philippe Robin, elder brother of the celebrated Charles, married in 1764 into the long-established family of wool merchants, Pipon of Noirmont, "Robin, Pipon & Co." of Cape Breton Island was founded, (1765), operating an ever-increasing number of their own fisheries. Philippe`s brother, Charles, worked for many years as an agent for Robin, Pipon & Co., extending their business interests northwards, in and beyond Chaleur Bay, Gaspé. Indeed, he was the pioneer of Jersey fisheries in Gaspé, starting his own firm there in 1783, which owned by the 19th century Jersey`s largest fleet of sailing vessels. Note: In the 19th century, the firm was known under the names of "P. Robin & Co." and "C. Robin & Co." It is here called merely "Robin & Co." : Lee, David, The Robins in Gaspé, 1766-1825, (Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1984), 13, 14, 15, 17, inter alia. Also Syvret and Stevens, Balleine`s History of Jersey, 174.
  74. Ragg, Rev A.E.A., A Popular History of Jersey, (Jersey: W. Guiton, 1895), cited in Lloyd, De Gruchy`s, 47.
  75. William Laurence de Gruchy, (1838-1920), Antiquary and Jurist: Laurence, as he was called, was educated at Rugby and Gray`s Inn. He founded, in January 1873, with the future Jurat A. A. Le Gros, La Société Jersiaise. A captain in the militia, he devoted many years to collating and annotating the French and Latin texts of L'Ancienne Coutume de Normandie, the 13th century code upon which Jersey law is based. His work, published in 1881, was for many generations one of the principal sources of reference for Jersey`s legal fraternity and was adopted as a Law text-book by Caen University. Further publications included papers on religious edifices in Jersey, land measures in the Channel Islands, church life in Jersey, (which he wrote under the pseudonym of Caesariensis) and Jersey, My Reminiscences, (Jersey Society in London, 1915). He was, before 1886, one of three benefactors of the church in his adoptive parish of St Brelade, defraying "a third [each] of the cost of the total restoration of the [Fishermen`s] Chapel: the other thirds being borne by Miss Le Couteur, of Belle Vue, and Mr G. de Quetteville of Noirmont". His wife, the poetess Augusta de Gruchy, had designed the chapel`s east window. In 1876, he became Constable of St Helier, overlapping with his father, for three years, in the States of Jersey, before becoming a Jurat of the Royal Court. He followed also, in 1876, in the footsteps of his father as a committee member of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce and inherited, in 1881, his father`s banking responsibilities. Unfortunately, he appears not to have had the time needed, after attending to his public duties, to fully oversee his firm`s banking and business interests. The lack of close supervision of Philip Gosset, the bank`s managing partner, was, to put it mildly, unfortunate. However, Laurence de Gruchy was but one of three directors of the ill-fated bank, none of whom were aware of Gosset`s private dealings. Financially ruined by events in January 1886, he passed his latter years in London, where he was an active member of the Jersey Society in London, becoming its Vice-President: Balleine, G R, A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey, Vol I, (London: Staples Press, 1948), 205-6; Family information.
  76. De Gruchy, W. L., Summaries of the Events in our...Lives,(unpublished manuscript, (1893), in the possession of the author of these notes). Note: Jersey Shipping Lists show that Mr Lemprière of Rozel, (the Revd. William Lemprière, Seigneur of Rozel), had become a partner in Robin & Co., which would account for his refusal to sign. Furthermore, this furnished him with insider knowledge as to the Robin loan, which he may well have assisted in securing, as both his grandmothers were Gossets!
  77. As in 57. De Gruchy writes "that the opening of this account [Le Boutillier Brothers`] was done in defiance of the wishes of [my] father, [William Philippe de Gruchy], who preceded [me] as a member of the Board of the Bank." Unsurprisingly, he records: "there was a considerable amount of business opposition and hostility and personal coolness between...the members of [my] family and the firm of Le Boutillier Brothers." Note: The bank had, however, already bought or acquired by the 18th November 1885 the remaining ships and what survived of the Le Boutilliers` business. Local and Canadian assets of value had, though, not been included: Almanach, Chronique de Jersey, (1886), Shipping List; British Press & Jersey Times issues, 3rd and 4th Sept. 1886, cited in Labey, Trevor, Broadlands, Grouville. Part 1: 1851-1887 - the Du Heaumes, in Ann. Bull. Soc. Jersiaise, 2009, 64.
  78. This firm should not be confused with that founded in the 18th century by Aaron de Ste Croix, whose elder son, Philippe, became in 1828, with Philippe Nicolle, a partner in the original Jersey Banking Company--see 58.
  79. As in 57. Also, De Gruchy, W L, Summaries of the Events in our ...Lives.
  80. He was, in the weeks immediately preceding the crash, in Germany on holiday with his wife: De Gruchy, W L, Summaries of the Events in our ...Lives.
  81. As in 57. De Gruchy wrote of the Le Boutillier Brothers` initial advance, that "this advance was...made behind the backs of the majority of the Bank Directors, by means of acceptances signed by the Manager [Gosset], one being used to take up another as they successively fell due, no note of the transaction, it is said, appearing on the Bank ledgers".
  82. Philip Gosset, (1831-1912), Managing Partner, 1863-1886, Jersey Banking Co: Gosset was the son of Isaac Hilgrove Gosset, merchant, of Nos. 3 and 4, Commercial Buildings, 1831-1849, by Julia Nicolle, his wife. The Gossets, Huguenot refugees who settled in Jersey in the late 17th century, had become by the mid-18th century successful merchants and shipowners. To Gosset`s forbear, Abraham Gosset, goes the questionable credit for having procured for the Island in 1751 the statue of King George II, that stands in the Royal Square. Descendants in the early 19th century included many distinguished officers of the Army and Royal Navy, most of whom settled in England. To those among them who remained in Jersey, I. H. Gosset`s mid-19th century foray into the mercantile world, was history beginning to repeat itself. Both he and his wife died in 1850, shortly before their son, Philip, came of age. It was probably then that Gosset was taken into the Jersey Banking Co., which his late mother`s family had co-founded in 1828. When the Nicolles` mercantile interests began to decline in the early 1860s, a new partnership was needed for their bank. Gosset thus became in 1863 a partner with William Philippe de Gruchy, as "Gosset, de Gruchy & Co". Despite the initial success of this partnership, Gosset, who had become the owner of Bagot Manor, seems to have never had sufficient funds to support either his lifestyle or ambition.
  83. The Revd. Francis de Gruchy, M.A., later Rector of St Peter.
  84. Jean, Jersey Sailing Ships, 46. The 20th century firm, Clement and Co. is, however, mistakenly called De Gruchy, Renouf, Clement and Co., this being its former name.


The staff of A de Gruchy and Co photographed together for the business's centenary on 21 June 1910

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