Women of St Saviour's Road

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What's your street's story?

- Women of St Saviour's Road


JuliaWestaway.jpg

Julia Westaway


This article is based on material produced for the Jersey Archive ‘What’s Her Street's Story?’ series


The story of the development of St Saviour's Road highlights the growth in opportunities for women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The area included a number of schools for young ladies, and was home to Julia Westaway, who left her fortune to charity, and Frances and Charlotte Wilson, who founded the Jersey Animals Shelter.

Petition

Women obtained the vote in Jersey in 1919, a year after the United Kingdom and in 1924 a petition was presented to the States of Jersey requesting that they be granted the full civil and political rights enjoyed by their counterparts in the UK and Guernsey.

The petition includes 38 signatures from women living in St Saviour's Road, two of whom were on the committee of the Women's Jersey Political Union.

They were Charlotte Wilson, of Coie House, who was one of the first trustees of the Jersey Animals Shelter, and Violet Peyton, who was the Lady Almoner at the Jersey Dispensary and Infirmary, now the Le Bas Centre.

Women's suffrage was a popular subject for pupils at Elysian House, as demonstrated by this drawing by one of the girls

Elysian House School

In St Saviour's Road a number of private schools were established. The largest of these was Elysian House School, which was located in Nos 13, 15 and 17, part of a terrace of four properties.

The girls' school was opened by Florence and Ada Stevens. In the 1901 census Ada is recorded as the principal, assisted by two young female teachers. Jersey Archive holds 15 volumes of The Jackdaw, a publication which recorded school events and includes paintings, poems and photographs.

Elysian House focused on academic, sporting and musical pursuits, with a number of girls listed as passing their Cambridge Local Examinations at senior, junior and preliminary level. Mabel Gallichan and Rhoda Pugsley are both recorded as having passed their matriculation examinations for London University in July 1904.

Language school

Another school was based at 48 St Saviour's Road. It was run as a language school, initially by Madame Jannin, and then by her daughter marie. She was a keen member of the Presbyterian Literary Society, giving a number of talks and taking part in discussions on a wide range of topics, including, in December 1900, a debate on the sexes in which she called men the 'Lords of the Wide World' and women 'The Lilies of the Queen's Gardens'.

Her paper on the topic was well received by the Jersey Independent, reporting the 'wide range of her literary skills, the brilliant quality of her wit and the power of her keen but kindly satire'.

Charlotte Wilson was an active supporter of women's political rights. The Animals Shelter was founded in 1913 by her sister Frances Elizabeth, and both of them were involved in support and running it. Charlotte was appointed a trustee in 1928.

The sisters purchased 95 St Saviour's Road in 1924 and the property was subsequently gifted to the organisation in a contract that stated that it was to be used exclusively by the institution to maintain and develop the work begun by the sisters.

Painting of a common room at Elysian House School

Julia Westaway

One of the best known people to have lived in the road, at 1 St Saviour's Crescent, was philanthropist Julia Westaway. On her death her bequests to the island established the Westaway Creche, gave funds for each parish to be used for poor relief, and created a fund for clothing and shoes for poor children obliged to attend elementary school under the Education Law.

She also left money to the Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Jersey Humane Society and the Society for the Protestant Propaganda among the Bretons in Jersey.

Papers from her archive show that she was already making donations during her lifetime. A letter from Sergeant Brown in Cape Town thanked her for the ;Khaki Housewife', one of her gifts to soldiers at the front during the Boer War.

There is also a letter from the Evangelical Society of Brittany thanking her for her gifts of cakes and sweets for a children's Christmas party.

Nathanael Westaway

Julia and her sister Harriet were the daughters of Nathanael Westaway, a 19th century builder and property developer, who left numerous properties to his daughters and son John. Julia and Harriet purchased land in 1845 to build St Saviour's Crescent, with 1 to 3 belonging to Julia and 4 to 6 to Harriet.

Following their father's death in 1852 a dispute escalated between the sisters and their elder brother, who claimed that the sisters owed him interest on a debt that they had delayed paying to him. They refused on principle to pay the interest.

He enforced his claim and had his sisters arrested and put into the debtors' prison on 14 October 1861. The sisters remained steadfast in their resolve not to pay, and on 1 November, John, who was bound by law to support them in prison, reduced them to 'short commons'.

This meant that they received the minimum food rations, and was a breaking point for the sisters, who paid the debt and were released three days later. From that point they cut off all ties with their brother and his family.

Following Harriet's death in 1892, Julia appointed a housekeeper and companion, Elizabeth Curwood, and her brother Charles, to help maintain the terraces, which at this time were in poor condition.

Dispute over will

Julia died at her home on 20 September 1901 at the age of 82. Once again there was a family dispute, this time over her will.

She had left £1,000 to Elizabeth Curwood, and her great-nephew and principal heir, John Westaway, tried to prove that she was inform of body and weak of mind and under the influence of the Curwoods when she made her will and later codicil.

He tried to prove that Elizabeth was an unsavoury, uneducated, coarse woman prone to the over-consumption of alcohol, and while none of this was disputed, witnesses testified that Julia was not influenced by Elizabeth.

The case went on for a number of years and finally went before the Privy Council in 1906, when it was decided that there was no reliable evidence to suggest that Julia was not of sound mind.

The Archive holds the records of this appeal, which give details of Julia's business and personal life. Included is a list of the stocks in Julia's estate and the valuation at prices of September 1901.

These included bonds in harbours and railways around the world from the Madras Railway to the new Plymouth Harbour and the City of Wellington. In 1901 the stocks were valued at £88,937 1s 9d, which would approximately equate to £10.6 million today.[1]

Notes and references

  1. Tables for the comparative value of money over the last 118 years suggest that £88,937 approximates to between £9.4 million and £99 million today
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