Popular History of Jersey Chapter 49
Arriving at the year 1885 we discover a record one, at any rate so far as general items and sensational incidents are concerned, and one which, as showing the capabilities of the little Island for good or ill, when in full swing, if worthy of fuller detail than would otherwise be of general interest.
Commencing with 10 January, we find on that date two new Crown Officers sworn in, William Venables Vernon, (Her Majesty's Attorney-General) and A Hilgrove Turner, (Her Majesty's Solicitor-General) both of whom, to the satisfaction of all concerned, and for the welfare of Jersey, are still in office. On the 13th of the same month the Jersey Poultry and Dog Club held its first annual show, whilst the following day saw the opening to the public of Cleveland Road, and the inauguration of much-needed improvements in King Street and New Street.
On 3 February a gale of wind, accompanied by a heavy sea, put the finishing touch of ruin on the pier at Greve-de-Lecq, by washing away the inner wall, in consequence of which the work there was abandoned by the States.
On 10 March Queen Street disclosed its defective drainage by becoming flooded out, and on the 12th a sorrowful tale was unfolded by the States in adopting an additional impot Bill of 1s per gallon (the third additional or supplementary impot adopted in the 20 intervening years commencing 1865) and bringing the total duty on spirits to 4s per gallon. at 90 deg. of Sykes' hydrometer) — an exaction which they considered of paramount necessity in view of providing for the prompt "extinction of the debt incurred at the New Harbour, inasmuch as the works there had been abandoned in consequence of the damage caused by storm", and in face of the fact that the sea "had further caused considerable damage on the coast of the Island". Sums of £150 and £200 were voted respectively by the parish of St Helier for improvements (not by any means before they were required) in La Motte Street and Hill Street, on 10 April; and on 4 June the first match of the Caesarean Club was held for homing pigeons, a matter of no small interest not only to the "pigeon-fancying world", but also of general importance in view of the extensive part those domestic carriers are likely to play in future international affairs.
Then 6 June holds the record for heat, the thermometer on that day in the sun at noon registering 153 degrees Fahrenheit, and the 19th of the same month the record for the price fetched by a Jersey bull, £400, a sum said to be paid for the celebrated Pirate's Legacy. It was a busy day, too, in maritime affairs, no less than 24 steamers lying in the harbour unloading or waiting for the evening's tide to depart with full cargoes. During the month of August the Island had the honour of a visit from the late W H Smith, the Secretary for War, who arrived in the Pandora on the fifth, a day also worthy of special mention in that it saw the opening to the public of the Jersey Railway extension to the Corbiere.
The month of August closed with the inauguration of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society's new premises, the Springfield Grounds and Pavilion, by a special show on the 23rd, following upon which came a month filled with tragic and sorrowful events to such an extent that it has never been equalled in the history of the Island.
A disastrous month
During the first eleven days, at the Criminal Assizes held from the 1st to the 5th, a Frenchman was sentenced to six months hard labour and five years banishment for robbery. A native of the Island, at the same Assizes, was condemned to seven years penal servitude for highway robbery, whilst a woman was sentenced to eight months imprisonment for a like offence on the streets.
Added to this we find a father and son named Couche accidentally drowned, an excursion car upset at St Ouen's Races, with serious consequences, the body of a woman found dead from exposure on Westmount, an inquest held on a man who died through an accident at the races, a tricycle accident at St Clement occurring to a Sergeant-major of the 1st Royal Jersey Militia, the suicide of one J Plymen, an accident to a girl in Hilgrove Lane, a man (Le Brun) accidentally killed in the St John's quarries, a heavy NW gale in which an occupant of the Castle boat was washed overboard, an outbreak of fire in La Motte Street, and a fire at Grouville, which, through an accident, nearly culminated in being a fatal one — all this happening, as before stated, from the first to the eleventh of the month.
The record, however, of this tragic period is not yet completed. After about nine days cessation from the sensational, it again commences on the 20th with a serious carriage accident at St Mary, and continues on the morrow with an inquest on the body of one Pinel, who was killed at St Helier's railway terminus, filling up its cup with the sudden death of Captain Lumley Woodyear Peyton, in the Belvedere road, on the 26th, and serious accidents which happened to a Frenchman and a lad on the 30th.
To turn to brighter subjects, 29 September saw the arrival home at the British Press offices from the Isle of Wight of the first carrier pigeon known to have flown from England, and on 1 October sixpenny telegrams were inaugurated on the Island, with the result of an increase of 48 per cent in Jersey messages. Then on 29 October came the unveiling of the Don Monument on the Parade, with its fitting accompaniments of processions, sports, fireworks, illuminations, and a special gala performance at the Theatre Royal, Gloucester Street.
With regard to legislation, also, this same year was in no way behind, some of the laws and ordinances then passed having considerable effect on the present welfare and condition of the island. The New Market Regulations, over which there had been so much dispute, came in force on 27 January. The Ordinance concerning vaccination and the appointment of public vaccinators was adopted on 25 February, and the Ordinance which deals with the 3½ percent £116,000 loan of the States, in lieu of the Old Harbour bonds of the same capital at 48 per cent, received confirmation on 26 March.
The existing Bailiff's fees — a modification of those fixed by Order in Council in 1819 — date from 19 May 1885, and the Act abrogating Article III of the Law of 1856 concerning the Election of Deputies, and the substitution in its stead of the provision at present in vogue, by which the election of such Deputies takes place on the second or third Tuesday in December, was confirmed by Her Majesty in Council on that same date.
The present regulations for the ordering of street traffic, too, only received adoption on 20 May, and the new Impot duty, which raised the price on spirits to 4s per gallon, was not confirmed until 20 August 1885. The population of the island at the time, it may be added, was about 53,000, nearly 30,000 of whom resided in St Helier. Its exports during the year were: of cattle, bulls, 93; cows and heifers, 1,516 ; total, 1,609. Butter, 958 cwt Fruit (raw) of all kinds, 19.613 cwt : and potatoes, 49,296 tons.