Popular History of Jersey Chapter 53

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Daniel case

Influenza epidemic

January 1890 opens out on the 10th with an epidemic of influenza, which, for some little time, prostrated numbers of the Island's inhabitants, and, on a subsequent occasion caused a temporary suspension of work at the Royal Court owing to the illness of the majority of Jurats, caused thereby; though, on the 22nd of the month, the Viscount's new patent of office, previously alluded to, being enrolled, Gervaise Le Gros, together with his deputy, were re-sworn in view of it. At the same sitting the proposed erection of a new landing-stage at the North Quay was condemned, and in the same month, on the 30th, the financial regulations under which the Public Lunatic Asylum is at present worked were passed in consequence of the Assembly (of the Lieut-Governor and Jurats) consenting to substitute a annual payment of £600 in lieu of the indefinite contributions for which they were liable under Acts of 1864 and 1878.

Release of prisoner

Then came, on the last day of the month the release of the woman Daniel from prison, after considerable official conflict, over which some £1,050 had been expended by the States, the execution of the Queen’s warrant in that locally remarkable case, the facts of which, from their importance, are fully worthy of being dealt with at some little detail.

This woman, it appears, had been charged with a serious offence, and being discovered to be of unsound mind, committed to gaol pending Her Majesty's will and pleasure. This happened on 1 November of the preceding year. On 27 December of that year it came within the cognisance of the Bailiff of the Island, Sir George Bertram, President of the Royal Court, and supposed ex-officio Chairman of the Prison Board, that the Viscount had given orders to the gaoler of the prison that a pardon having been received from Her Majesty on behalf of the woman Daniel, she, being a native of France, would have to be released and sent to that country by the boat leaving at 3 am the following morning. The Bailiff's instructions immediately given to the gaoler, however, were to the effect that such release was not to be effected until the pardon had been presented to and registered in the Royal Court; he, at the same time, writing to the Lieut-Governor to inform him of the same. The result of which was that the release of the woman was postponed.

On 31 December the Lieut-Governor informed the Prison Board that he had been in correspondence with the Home Secretary and the French Consul with respect to the discharge of Daniel, though he did not produce any pardon, or other document, which the Bailiff again, at that time, informed him should, according to the Constitutions of the Island, be presented to the Royal Court for registration before it could become legally available. And nothing further was heard concerning the matter until 11 January 1890.

On that date, Saturday, late in the evening, the Lieut- Governor wrote to the Bailiff, informing him that he had received a Royal warrant ordering the prisoner's discharge, which he felt he must see carried out, and that by the powers invested in him he intended sending the woman Daniel to St Brieuc by the steamer leaving at 1 am on the following Monday. The Bailiff's immediate reply to this was that the course suggested was an unconstitutional one, and that the Lieut-Governor must be responsible for whatever followed. In consequence of this another delay ensued, during which a correspondence took place between the Lieut-Governor and the Bailiff as to the grounds upon which the latter based his position, the reply to which was, that by the code of 1771 the pardon must be registered before it came into force. The Lieut-Governor nevertheless held that after due consideration, and in view of instructions from the Secretary of State, he should immediately give effect to the pardon. Whereupon the Bailiff again repeated to the gaoler his instructions not to release the prisoner.

Following upon this, on 28 January, at a meeting of the Royal Court (present, the Bailiff and ten Jurats — the two absent ones being ill) a petition was drawn up to Her Majesty pleading that the Lieut-Governor be directed to present the warrant of release for registration, and on the 30th a vote of confidence in the Bailiff and Jurats was passed by the States.

Then came the finale, at any rate, to this part of the procedure, though the actual results were not reached until long afterwards. On 31 January 1890, the Lieut-Governor, the Attorney-General, Viscount, Deputy Viscount, and others went to the prison and (in the absence of the gaoler) ordered the turnkey to release Marie Francoise Daniel, who by the Lieut-Governor's orders was thereupon taken charge of by a police officer, lodged for the night in the police station and in the morning placed on board a steamer bound for her native country, France, whilst the justification of the proceeding is to be found in an Order in Council received about twelve months after the event, to the effect that a warrant of the Sovereign in exercise of the prerogative of mercy was not within the scope of any existing law that might be in force, a pardon by the Sovereign being an exercise of the Royal prerogative that operates immediately and requires no further Act to make it effectual.

At the same time their Lordships in Council wisely suggested that for the future any other such like orders as the warrant in question should be submitted to the Bailiff as well as the Lieut-Governor, though only with the object of giving notice of the Sovereign's pleasure.

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