Popular History of Jersey Chapter 43

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Victor Hugo leaves

Constable Le Sueur

Meanwhile, the year 1853 is also noteworthy in that its early days saw the death of one of the most popular and useful Constables St Helier has ever had, Peter Le Sueur, in his way as great a benefactor to the town as General Don had formerly been to the Island as a whole, and one whose suggestions and improvements are still being carried out. He it was, for instance, who first turned public attention to the sanitary conditions of the town, instituted its system of sewerage and the widening of its streets, besides organising other necessary improvements; thus proving himself a public social benefactor; whilst in matters political he has been described as one who, "while always on the side of progress, was also one who sought the present benefit of all with whom he was concerned, at the same time upholding such institutions as had proved valuable, and seeking to abolish only such 'rights, usages, and customs' as were out of date or failures." He died on 16 June at the early age of 41, having been elected Constable of St Helier for five consecutive periods. And as a worthy tribute to his usefulness and the respect with which he was held, an obelisk monument was erected to his memory in Broad Street, St Helier.

Viscount Beresford

Of events occurring in the following year three are specially prominent. In the first place came, on 8 January, the death of Viscount Beresford, who had held office within a week of three-and-thirty years, and who was the last to whom the patent of Governor of Jersey was granted: only Lieut-Governors have been appointed since his demise. Then comes the primary result of the "six Acts" of the States in the establishment of the Police Court and the Petty Debts Court for the Island, a Mr Philip Le Gallais having the honour of being appointed its first Judge. And in the same year we find the formation of the much-needed and much-discussed body of paid police for St Helier.

Victor Hugo

Coming to the year 1855, besides the two locally important events comprised in the establishment of the Nouvelle Chronique (3 January) and the opening, during the latter part of the year, of the St Helier's Cemetery, situated off St John's Road, another incident of almost international interest comes to the fore in the expulsion from the Island of the now world-famed Victor Hugo, who for the time — after the coup d'etat in France in 1852 — had taken up his residence in the suburbs of St Helier, at Georgetown, from whence it would appear he issued his celebrated Napoleon Le Petit.

"Perhaps," says Chambers's Encyclopaedia, "the most mannered and least literary of all his works, and also (in 1853) Les Chatiments, which is certainly the greatest achievement in the fusion of pure poetry and personal satire in literature".

The history of his expulsion, as gleaned from the best sources of the time, briefly stated, is as follows: On Wednesday, 24 October 1855, the refugees from France, who, with the illustrious author, had arrived on the Island in 1852, published, and placarded the walls of St Helier with a declaration containing, as it was held, ultra-revolutionists' ideas, which declaration was immediately reproduced in the French organ L'Homme, when the matter, being brought before the Privy Council, was taken into consideration by that body, who, through the Home Secretary, forwarded to the Lieut-Governor of the Island, Major-General James Frederick Love, an order for the expulsion of all those whose names were appended to the said document.

This order was immediately conveyed to the Constable of St Helier, Nicolas Le Quesne, with instructions to have it immediately carried into effect, the active work in hand being promptly carried out with the assistance of Centeniers Le Gallais and Du Jardin, whereby it was ordained that the 35 persons so inculpated should leave the Island on or before the second of the following month. Of those thus expelled, Victor Hugo, who had headed the list of names, together with his two sons, Charles and Francois Victor, left Jersey on 31 October, being followed by the remaining "refugees" in the course of a few days. And it is interesting to note that amongst these latter was no less a personage than Bonival Duverdier, afterwards a representative of the City of Lyons in the French Chamber of Deputies, who took with him as his wife a Jersey lady, formerly a Miss Le Gallais.

Election for Deputies

Charles Le Quesne, author of the Constitutional History of Jersey, died on 18 August 1856. The year 1857 is of some importance, since in that year Major-General G C Mundy was sworn in as Lieut-Governor (4 April), and that during it came the first election of the 14 Deputies to the States, 12 sitting as representative of their individual parishes, the two extra ones taking their places as Deputies for St Helier's. For the rest, 1857 is chiefly remarkable from a maritime point of view. On 17 April the Weymouth and Channel Islands Steamboat Company opened their line by running the ss. Aquila and Cygnus, the Royal yacht Victoria and Albert called at St Helier on her trial trip, and several new steamships, including the Brighton and the Metropolis (one of the first screw steamers seen on the coast), made their first trips to St Helier's during the season, the year's local events concluding, on 24 November, with the outlying rocky islet, the Ecrehous, often coveted by France, being declared by the States to belong to St Martin's Parish, Jersey.

The next development in connection with the history of Jersey can be summed up in the following manner: One of the most important results, so far as can be authoritatively gleaned, was the establishment of electric communication between the Island and headquarters in England, a matter of no small importance, and one which evidently was not effected in a day.

Submarine cable

So far as can be learned from those who have, from past experience, authority to speak upon the subject, this was first introduced in 1857, at a time when submarine cables were in their infancy. The result, however, so far as permanent things with regard to Jersey were concerned, was, for the time, a failure, owing to the breakdown of the connection. A communication was, without doubt, established between Plemont and England; but through unforeseen occurrences this, for the time, failed, and it seems that the whole energy of the Channel Islands Electric Telegraph Company (then having offices in Library Place) was put into force to bring about the desired effect. The final outcome of the whole was that as a reward of their experimental efforts, commenced in 1857, ten years or so before any attempt had been made to connect England and America (though their first efforts failed through the breaking of the cable) communication was established between Plemont and England, and the first message sent across on 7 September 1858, to Her Majesty the Queen, who replied with suitable words of congratulation; whilst, it is almost needless to add, throughout the Island the event was celebrated with every sign of rejoicing.

Following upon this, perhaps the most noteworthy matter that came to pass was the establishment of a daily paper the Jersey Independent, which first saw light on 8 September of that year (1858). At the same time it is interesting to note that the once-famous steamer Sir Francis Drake made her maiden trip to the Island during the self-same year.

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