Popular History of Jersey Chapter 54

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Strike and smuggling

Thus ended the celebrated Daniel case so far as regarded the liberation of the prisoner, meanwhile, before immediate after results began to show, several matters of interest had happened in this same year, 1890.

Church purchased

The Ballot Bill was advanced another step towards its final adoption on 13 February, and on the 21st of that month the idea of early closing manifested the hold it had taken in the public mind by a large public meeting being held in connection with the Jersey Early Closing Association. Then, on the 24th, we come to the not very usual occurrence of a body of Church of England worshippers becoming proprietors of their own sacred edifice, an object that was effected in Jersey by the congregation of St Paul's purchasing their old church for the sum of £1,200; then, on 25 February, came the first of the aftermath of the Daniel case in an official conflict between the Lieut-Bailiff, Malet de Carteret, and the Lieut-Governor, concerning the right of presiding at the Prison Board, the result of which was the appointment of a Special Committee to prepare a petition to the Privy Council concerning the matter, which petition was duly lodged au Greffe on 17 March.

This was followed on the 25th by the parish of St Saviour strongly condemning the idea of a lawsuit. In this connection a great demonstration was also held in the parish of St Helier on the 27th, and parish meetings were convened at St Mary on the 28th, and at St Peter; each likewise strongly protesting against such (to them) an unnecessary proceeding.

The States, nevertheless, strong in their opinion, adopted the petition on the 31st by 35 votes to 9, and forwarded it on 3 May.

Notable visitors

Prior to this, however, and worthy of record in connection with local incidents, we find 35 leading supporters of Boulanger arriving on the Island to pay their respects to that one-time noted celebrity, who, a few days-afterwards (29 April) took up his residence at St Brelade. Then, on the first of the following month, in the way of noted men, we also find Prince Krapotkin, the Russian Nihilist leader, paying Jersey a visit, though, be it said to the Island's credit, in no particular political capacity.

The 7th of this same month witnessed the adoption of the very important Provisional Law respecting Indigent Strangers, whereby every master or owner of a vessel which brought over to the Island one or more aliens is held responsible, for a year and a day after their arrival, to send such back at their own personal charges, also providing that all persons not natives who have resided above that same length of time in Jersey, and who may have become chargeable to the Island, shall be moved from thence at the Island's cost.

A strike, happily one of few that have ever taken place in Jersey, occurred in the turn out of the time men amongst the tailors on 17 May; and on the 26th we again come face to face with another great smuggling case (for the likes of which the Island has somewhat too notorious a fame), again resulting in fines to the extent of from £100 to £50 being exacted from several prominent tradesmen.

On 16 June 1890, Jersey was honoured with a visit from the late Prince Henry of Battenberg, who arrived in his yacht Scheila; and the 30th of that month saw, in the appearance of an eight-paged, double-crown 4to paper entitled The Evening Post, the pioneer of halfpenny newspapers in the Channel Islands, and one which has not only at present the largest circulation therein, but, after being several times increased in size, also is well up in the list amongst the largest halfpenny papers published in the British Dominions.

Parish hall

The foundation stone of one of the finest parish halls on the Island — St Saviour's — was laid by Mrs Le Gallais on 10 July, and the new South-Western mail steamer Frederica made her first trip to the Island on the 31st of that month, to be shortly followed by the Lydia and Stella; whilst the inauguration of that important item in connection with the Jersey Infirmary and Dispensary, the street collections, seems to have taken place on 2 August; and on 30 August there appeared the first issue of the short-lived, and, during its time, somewhat notorious Jersey Reformer, a paper of the so-called "society" class.

The great event of the year 1890, however, was the unveiling of the Queen's statue, executed by the eminent French sculptor, M Wallet, and situated in the Weighbridge Gardens, St Helier, which took place on 3 September; special excursions being run on the occasion from England, France and Guernsey, and the whole of the Island devoting itself to the cause of rejoicing, equestrian performances on the People's Park in the afternoon, and specially fine displays of illuminations and fireworks taking place in the evening. The same day, too, it may be added, saw the foundation-stone of the Grand Hotel laid by His Excellency Lieut-General Charles Brisbane Ewart, Lieu.-Governor.

A somewhat serious and prolonged epidemic of measles appears to have broken out on the Island in the October of 1890, necessitating the closing, on the 7th of that month, of several of the public Infant Schools, and the subsequent use of the Overdale hospital in its connection; and on 2 November we find the first fruits of the long agitation in connection with the better lighting of St Helier in the voting by that parish of £200 towards that most desirable object.

Skating on marsh

An unusual wave of cold seems to have passed over the Island at the close of the year 1890, accompanied with surrounding fog and inland frost of a severe character, skating being indulged in on the Marsh at Beaumont to a considerable extent during December, on the 16th of which month plans were adopted by the States for the improvement of the People's Park, and on the 30th that body adopted an Act concerning the new foreign cattle wharf, and again regulating the importation of foreign cattle.

Coming to the year 1891, we find the sale of tobacco on Sundays prohibited on the Island by an Act adopted by the States on 12 January, on which same day also Colonel James Godfray, received the honour of knighthood for brilliant services rendered. On the 26th of the month the Ballot Bill was passed by the States by 28 votes to 12, whilst on the 29th a Bill was adopted (and passed on 2 February) considerably affecting candidates for the legal profession, and providing that all such, before they could undergo the customary examination, should have obtained certain scholastic degrees or certificates, at the same time bringing proof of prior employment in an Advocate or Solicitor's office during three or five consecutive years.

In the matter, too, of a census of the Island for 1891, much discussed and once repudiated in the preceding year, the States on 5 February finally voted, by a majority of 27 to 12, that such should be carried into effect.

And on 9 February the proportion of the public contributions of each parish on the Island was fixed to be: St Helier, 28½ per cent. ; St Saviour, 10⅔; Trinity, St Peter, St Martin, St Ouen, 7; Grouville, 6; St John, 5⅓; St Mary, 5; and St Clement, 4⅔.

Attempt to remove Constables

Advocate Durell, one of the Deputies for the Island, came distinctly to the fore on 16 February, by bringing in a Bill for excluding the Rectors of Jersey from the States (a measure in its way equal to excluding Bishops from the House of Lords, and a question upon which much stress was laid by a considerable number of the inhabitants of St Helier), which was thrown out, however, on the 19th, whilst on the 28th one of Jersey's few newspaper libel cases was disposed of in the proprietor and editor of the Jersey Reformer being condemned in a fine of £30, or in default two months imprisonment, and damages to the extent of £30 with costs to Mr Stanley E Malet, Principal Agent of the Impot, for libel in holding the said gentleman up to public ridicule, and insinuating an interested connection betwixt him and the great smuggling case of the year 1890.

5 March 1891, saw the Provisional Law regulating the importation of foreign cattle passed as a permanent one; whilst the conclusion of the same month witnessed an almost continuous succession of heavy gales, during which the cutter Champion was lost, telegraphic communication was interrupted, and the mail steamers much delayed.

The census of the Island (the Bill for which had been adopted on the 9th of the preceding month) was taken on 7 April, with the following result — males, 24,966; females, 29,552, showing a total population of 54,518 — of which St. Helier was credited with containing 28,853 persons (12,768 males, and 16,185 females) — or an increase on the whole Island in 70 years of 11,910 males and 14,008 females.

The express delivery of parcels by the postal system, was extended to Jersey during the month of April 1891, commencing on the 13th, and Mrs Langtry made her first, and, so far, only appearance at the Theatre Royal of her native town on 29 April 29th in that year.

Inheritance law

The following day is noteworthy, insomuch that on it was confirmed a Bill which considerably modified the then existing law concerning the division of estates: abolishing, that is to say, the allowance previously made to the principal heirs for mousquets, and giving them the option of purchasing (under certain conditions) the portions of their co-heirs, and giving compensation for the same in rente. And on 9 May that year there was confirmed the Provision by which a solicitor is allowed to directly represent clients before the Petty Debts Court, and which extended its jurisdiction to cases for damages up to £10.

Early in this same month another case of insubordination occurred amongst the Militia of the Island, during which twelve men of the St Ouen's Company of the West Regiment, were disarmed at drill and sentenced at the Police Court to various degrees of punishment on the 18th, an affair which culminated on the 24th in a public demonstration being given to Corporal Le Blancq, of the West Regiment, on his release from gaol.

The month of June 1891 appears to have been an unpropitious one throughout, not only with regard to the unpleasant and foggy weather which prevailed, but also with respect to internal official affairs, for on the 23rd there was received an Order in Council in connection with the presidency of the Prison Board, which eventuated in once more placing the States in actual legal conflict with the Lieut-Governor, and the Island in a state of discord such as it had not passed through for many years. This, however, the final outcome of the Daniel affair, is a matter which must necessity b& left for another chapter.

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