1847 guide - Charles II to Battle of Jersey

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Durell's 1847 guidebook
Charles II to Battle of Jersey


This is the eighth chapter of the history section of The Picturesque and Historical Guide to the Island of Jersey, by the Rev Edward Durell, with lithographs by Philip Ouless, who also published the book in 1847.

  • Character of Charles II in Jersey
  • Revolution of 1688
  • Rising commercial importance of Jersey till 1779
  • The Prince of Nassau's attempted invasion
  • Baron du Rulkcour's invasion in 1781.

Another era in the history of the Norman Islands is that which commences at the Restoration, and extends to the invasion of Jersey by the Baron de Rullecour, his defeat, and the fall of the brave and ever to be lamented Major Peirson.

Charles II

Charles II

Many traditions of Charles II have remained in Jersey, which cannot indeed be a matter of surprise, when we consider the affectionate loyalty of the inhabitants towards him, or the Royal favours which lie conferred upon them. The faults and the vices, which have cast so deep a stain on the personal character of that monarch, were unknown to our ancestors; nor indeed did they become prominent, till they had been investigated by the impartial researches of posterity, and become a part of the history of England.

Notwithstanding their hereditary loyalty, they were aware of the invaluable blessings of religious and civil liberty, and cheerfully supported the principles of the Revolution of 1688, which placed William III on the throne. It was at that period that Mr Falle, the patriotic historian of Jersey, first distinguished himself as the Deputy of the insular States to the British Government.

The commercial importance of the Channel Islands had already begun to be understood. Charles II had granted the islanders a small duty on spirits for building a harbour at St Helier, till through subsequent additions it has grown up to what it is at this moment, and enabled the inhabitants to make such a considerable progress in industry, and in the full developement of all their local resources.

The annoyance which the islands occasioned to France in time of war had at length drawn upon them the particular attention, and the resentments of that formidable power. The ambition of Louis XIV, and his interference in favour of the House of Stuart, had long before revived all the ancient animosities of Britain towards that country. Hence when it became a part of her policy to spare no expense in placing the Norman Islands in a proper state of defence, it was, seconded, as of old, by the enthusiastic zeal, and the voluntary privations and sacrifices of the inhabitants.

From the operation of those causes, the islands have been rendered almost inexpugnable, or at least, they could not be attacked with any rational prospect of success,but by a large naval and military expedition. The difficulties under which this places France, contributes also to their security ; because that power, would in ordinary cases prefer to employ her resources, on objects of more immediate importance, rather than expose herself to disappointment and defeat in the attempt to make an acquisition, the result of which would be so extremely uncertain.

War and peace

The period that elapsed from the Revolution to 1779 was spent during peace in rapid internal improvements, and in a state of great and perpetual alarms whenever a war broke out with France. No actual attack, however, took place ; the inhabitants grew rich, and though their danger was imminent, it made them, if possible, but the more attached to their country, like those nations, who live contented in the land of their fathers, though incessantly menaced by the convulsions of nature from the heavings of the earthquake, and the eruptions of the volcano.

A French fleet came to an anchor in St Ouen's Bay on 1 May 1779 and made a demonstration to land; but soon sailed off, without having accomplished that object, or caused any mischief. The reason of their sudden departure has never been known ; but it is most probable, that when they found the island could not be carried by surprise, and that it would have required a much larger fleet to succeed, they abandoned their project as impracticable, and retired from the coast. The enemy did not however lay aside their schemes of attacking Jersey, and in less than two years, it was followed by the expedition of the Baron de Rullecour.

This was the last time, and perhaps the most critical that the natives of Jersey have had to defend their homes; and hence the name of Peirson seems destined to live among them in the greatful recollection of every succeeding generation.

1847 Guide
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