Popular History of Jersey Chapter 45

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Murder and shipwreck

Penny Savings Bank

Further advancements in connection with the welfare of the Island were evidenced in 1862 by the establishment, on 1 January, of the local Penny Savings Bank, and on the third of the same month by the passing of an Act of the States for the remedying of the then existent evils and abuses connected with the power possessed by creditors to arrest for debt, though the chief event of the year was, undoubtedly, the visit to Jersey of the Duke of Cambridge, which event took place amidst great public rejoicing on 28 September.

Closely following upon this, on 10 March 1863, that is to say, the Hospital as it at present stands was opened with much ceremony, whilst illuminations and other signs of joy were everywhere held in commemoration of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales. The same year saw the burning down, on 31 July, of the old Theatre Royal, then situated in the Crescent, and also the swearing in, on 28 October, of Major-General Burke Cuppage as Lieutenant-Governor.

In 1864 one of the most important events that occurred was in connection with the system of indictment and grand enquete up to that time in vogue, it being then abolished, and the mode of procedure in criminal cases as at present existing adopted in preference, as being more efficacious and less cumbersome — an effort on the part of the States towards a much-needed self-reform.

Another English Bill

At the same time it is scarcely surprising to find that during the year another Bill, Mr Locke's, was presented to the English Parliament in connection with the Jersey Courts, nor to read that a lawsuit was on hand between the Jurats of the Royal Court and the Privy Council.

The next year, 1865, has a good record for itself, as being one during which some half-dozen events in every way essentially connected with the welfare and progress or edification of the Island occurred. In brief, the Theatre Royal, Gloucester Street, was opened on 17 April; the foundation stone of St Simon's Church was laid on 27 July; two days after this Major-General Burke Cuppage, Lieut-Governor, performed his first public ceremony by laying the foundation stone of the Public Asylum; the Jersey Swimming Club was established on 9 October, whilst the good record is brought to a close by the commencement of the People's Park, and also of the (then) much-needed restorations in connection with the Parish Church of St Helier.

Murderer executed

In contrast to this comes 1866, chiefly memorable for the murder of Miss Le Brun, and the execution, in the public prison, of her murderer, Bradley, for the crime, an event that took place on 18 August.

Then coming to the year 1867 we find several useful advancements made. On 19 March there was confirmed, for instance, the Law on Ecrivains (Solicitors), by which any British subject was thenceforth allowed to practise in Jersey provided that amongst other things he held a certificate of capacity from a board of examiners. On 19 August there was received confirmation of an Act of States amending procedure in the Petty Debts Court, and tending to avoid unnecessary delay in matters connected with amounts under £10; whilst on 19 December there was passed the law at present in vogue concerning dogs, compelling owners thereof to report such to the Constable of the parish, and also pay a tax upon them.

Water supply

The parish church of St Helier was reopened, after restoration, on 7 June 1868, during which year Major-General Philip Melmoth Nelson Guy was sworn in as Governor; his first public act, like that of his immediate predecessor, being in connection with the Jersey Asylum, which useful and necessary establishment he formally opened on 11 July 1869. Another interesting and beneficial event took place on Michaelmas Day of the same year in the inauguration of the Jersey Waterworks: the town of St Helier and its suburbs until that date being entirely dependent for its water supply upon its different pumps and public or private wells.

Loss of SS Normandy

The question of direct communication by submarine telegraph between Jersey, Guernsey and England was first publicly brought to a head on 13 January 1870, on which date an influential meeting was held in St Helier to discuss the propriety of establishing it; 1870 was also a memorable year for several other matters, chiefly amongst these, however, comes — in the wreck of the mail steamer Normandy, lost in a fog off the coast through collision with the ss Mary — a record of heroism seldom, if ever, paralleled, and on which occasion the Commander (H B Harvey), the Chief Mate (J Ockleford), together with a crew of fifteen, including the Engineers (Cock and Marsham), gave up their boats to the passengers, nobly standing by their ship and sinking with her early on the morning of 17 July.

The news of the disaster was brought to Jersey by the ss Havre and imparted to the hundreds who had flocked to the pier-heads when the rumour first was broached. A fitting tribute to this untold deed of bravery was subsequently erected by the Foresters of Jersey, on the Victoria Pier, where now also stands a suitable artistic device erected by public subscription to the memory of Mr Westaway, a passenger on the same ill-fated vessel, who willingly sacrificed his life to save a lady fellow-passenger.

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