Immigration control in the 18th century

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Concern over the pressures placed on the island by the influx of immigrants might be thought to be a 21st century phenomenon, but there is nothing new under the sun.

Jerripedia regulars will be aware that throughout the 20th century, but particularly in the second half, there was considerable concern about the growth in population brought about by an influx of immigrants, notably the Portuguese seasonal workers from Madeira who were allowed to become permanent residents when Britain joined the European Community.

But such issues go back much further, to the influx of French agricultural workers in the second half of the 19th century, and to mass migration of English families earlier in that century.

18th century debates

What is not so well known is that the States Chamber was the scene of debates on immigration control some 100 years earlier.

As early as 1763, following the end of the Seven Years War and the signing of the Treaty of Paris, steps were taken by Colonel John Campbell, Lieut-Governor of the Island, under Governor George Keppel and Bailiff Lord Carteret to restrict immigration.

On 11 November he signed the following order:

"As the Bad People who are Natives of this Island are certainly as many of the kind as any good Person would chuse to live amongst, the Comd in Chief is determined as far as it lays in his Power that their number shall not be increased by Foreigners, with this view he has published the following regulations which if carefully attended to he flatters himself will have the desired effect and at the same time be no discouragement for good People coming to the Island."
”All captains of Ships, Masters of Vessels and Boats, are to use their best endeavour not to bring any Vagabonds or bad person into the Island. Should any such be brought, and it does not appear that the necessary Precautions were taken to prevent it; Captains and Masters of Vessels bringing such persons shall not only be at expence of sending them out of the Island, but likewise of Maintaining them, while they remain in it, provided that they have not themselves wherewithal to do it."
”The names of all strangers, from whence they came, and the Reasons of their coming into the Island and how long they propose to stay inside, are to be given signed by the Masters, who bring them, to the Comd in Chief, or left for him at Fort Major Hogge’s in 24 hours at farthest after their arrival in Ports, and it is recommended to all Captains and Masters to get these particulars of their Passengers before they let them on Board.
”Landlords and other Persons in the Town of St Helier who have strangers in their Houses are to give in the same manner the above particulars of them, and also the name of the Master of the vessel who brought them into the Island; and this is to be done in 24 hours at furthest, after the arrival of such Strangers at their lodgings. They are likewise desired to be extreamly watchful over the Behaviour of such Strangers and if they find any Irregularity in it, such as keeping Late Hours, Staying out at nights, or that they suspect them of being upon no good Intent they are immediately to report them to the Comd in Chief."
"Landlords or Persons in other Parishes having strangers at their House are to comply with the above Regulations for St Helier but with this Difference that the above particulars with regard to Strangers are to be given to the Constable of their Respective Parishes who is hereby impowered to send all strange Irregular persons, or Vagabonds as soon as possible out of the Island, and not permit them to go into any other Parish to Reside.
"A Report of all Strangers with the above particulars of them is to be given in Writing signed by the Gentlemen Constables of the Island once a week to the Commander in Chief or left for him on a Saturday, at Major Hogge's and the Gentlemen Constables are for the future to permit no Foreigners to reside above a Week in their respective Parishes, without the said strangers can procure the Comander in Chief's leave in Writing for that purpose. And They are to be careful that the Inhabitants of their Respective parishes are punctual in Reporting all strangers to them."
"Merchants, and those who come on account of commerce, or Strangers who are known by Creditable Inhabitants of the Island to be Gentlemen or good Persons, are not to be required to produce the said Leave in Writing, and as many may take upon themselves this Character, who are no ways deserving of it, It is recommended to these Merchants and other Gentlemen of the Island to discover all such to the Comd in Chief."
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