Popular History of Jersey Chapter 60
The registration of the all-important Compulsory Education Act took place on 9 June 1894, under which it is provided that every child from 5 to 12 years of age shall, if not otherwise systematically taught, attend one or other of the Elementary Schools, and which also provides that in each of the twelve parishes of the Island a committee shall be named to carry out its provisions; such committee to consist of the respective Rectors and Constables, acting ex officio, and five ratepayers, to be severally elected every three years by the parishioners, these, together with three Inspectors (one each for the Western and Eastern Divisions of Jersey, and one for the Town of St Helier), constituting an Elementary School Committee for the Island; each parish at the same time being called upon to provide fees (not to exceed 6d per week) for such of its inhabitants as to be liable for no other expense in connection with the compulsory system.
On the same day, too, an Act came into force in connection with the Education Grant, modifying Article 7 of the Law of 1872, and by which the annual grant to each school was ordered to be fixed by the Committee on Elementary Education, that body basing their decision upon the report of HM Inspector of Schools.
27 June 1894, it will be remembered, is important as seeing the final settlement of the celebrated Prison Board Case, and the 2nd of the following month stands out remarkable as having witnessed one of the heaviest thunderstorms the Island had up to then experienced during which a whole family at St Ouen felt, though mercifully not to a fatal extent, the force of the electric fluid, their cottage being wrecked, and they, one and all for the time being rendered senseless, having, at the same time a miraculously narrow escape from death. On this same day, a solemn memorial service was held in St Thomas's pro-Cathedral in connection with the funeral of President Carnot, the assassinated head of the French Republic.
7 July was enlivened by a semi-official visit to Jersey of Prince Louis of Battenberg, and on the 14th Mr J L Toole appeared at the Theatre Royal in his celebrated part of the Uncle in Uncle Dick's Darling, meeting, as the time-honoured histrionic veteran deserved, with a most enthusiastic reception.
On 8 August, amidst universal regret, Viscount Gervaise Le Gros resigned his office, the patent attached to which he had received on 29 May 1876, he being subsequently presented with an illuminated address by the Inquest Jury of the Island, in recognition of his valuable services; whilst throughout that month terrific thunderstorms again prevailed, accompanied on the 14th by heavy floods, and on the 25th by the narrow escape of several persons at Ann Port, their cottage being struck by lightning. The year 1894, it may be added, was remarkable for the number of its like electrical disturbances ; no less than the unprecedented number of 24 really serious and alarming ones occurring during the twelve months.
A case of deliberate attempt at wife murder by shooting occurred on 22 September at La Boucterie, for which the assailant, one Mourant, was subsequently condemned at the Criminal Assizes to seven years penal servitude, and following upon this came a series of sensational events such as to form an epoch in the history of Jersey.
On 8 September an addition to the Impot had been made by the States for harbour works and purposes thereto allied, raising the said Impot upon spirits to 5s per gallon, one outcome of which was that, on the part of several licensed publicans and others on the Island, strenuous efforts were made to evade the law, some four of whom were heavily fined and deprived of their licences; though, in particular, one tradesman, a Centenier, not in the regular spirit trade, was found implicated, his case being considered sufficiently grave, together with the position he held, to be taken before the Superior Number of the Royal Court, which body eventually condemned him to a heavy fine, and also to be deprived of his office as Centenier; the charge against him being primarily brought forward in the month of October, the sentence being given 23 November; the Court, at the same time, ordering an election for a new Centenier for St Helier to take place on 11 December.
Arrest for libel
Meanwhile, on 17 November, the publisher of the Jersey Times and British Press had been arrested for libelling the Paid Police by the insertion of articles which, it was held, contained accusations against the entire force.
On 19 November the publisher in question was charged on a report before the Police Court for the offence and sent before the Royal Court, which body, on 15 November, committed him to the Criminal Assizes on the reduced bail of £10, for libel. The final outcome of the affair, which resulted in a verdict of not guilty, it may be here added, was not reached until the subsequent year, though it certainly formed the principal topic of the time prior to Christmas Eve, when the Island was thrown into a state of wild excitement by the news that in the early hours of the morning a brutal murder had been committed on the top of Mont Pinel, in the parish of St Ouen; a man afterwards known to be one John Francis, having been found there with his face almost battered out of recognition, and who died a few hours after being discovered.
Two Frenchmen were subsequently arrested upon the charge but almost immediately liberated, and a verdict amounting to one of wilful murder was afterwards returned again some person or persons unknown. And to wind up the sensational record of the year, a man (Bardoul) and his wife were, on 29 December, arrested upon the charge of having wilfully set fire to two large shops in Burrard Street, St Helier, owned and occupied by Mr O Binet, draper, to whom the man accused was believed to have caused several threatening letters to be sent. Besides which records it must be added that 1894 stands out most unenviably as having witnessed a greater number of sudden deaths, bathing fatalities and attempted suicides than any given previous year.