States of Jersey

“British Press & Jersey Times” of the 21 st  September 1861 Jersey Constitutional Reform Association meeeting and petition:

A body of people said to cover and represent a broad spectrum of local society met at the Jersey Joint Stock Bank Committee they elected the Reverend William Lempriere Seigneur of Rozel Manor as their chairman, and a petition was given to
Lieutenant Governor Major General Sir Robert Percy Douglas, 4th Baronet of Carr who was pleased to receive it and the creation of the association. Those present were:
Captain JP Ahier of the 4th Regiment Royal Militia of Jersey , W Arthur junior, Jean Aubin, Philippe Aubin, Frs Bertram, Peter Blampied, Fred Browning (Landed proprietor, born London lived in St Lawrenc), John De Gruchy, Edward De La Taste, Dr Joseph Dickson, Isaac Falla Lieut. Colonel Jersey Militia, of Les Capelles, St John, Tom Falla Captain Jersey Miltia, Les Buttes, St John, Doctor John Fixott, William Fruing merchant & ship owner, Edward Gibaut, Chas Gruchy,
John L Janvrin retired merchant, Dr Langlois, CP Le Cornu, T Le Cornu, Dr John Le Cronier, Reverend PA Le Feuvre, Jean Le Neveu, Henry L Manuel notary public, Peter Marett landed proprietor, Avranches, St Lawrence, Robert P Marret advocat, Blanc Pignon, La Haule,  Colonel Mourant of Samares? Edward Mourant possibly Lord of Samares,  John Syvret,  EJ Thoreau landed proprietor La Prevalee House, Grouville, Colonel Turner,  Philippe Vibert,  John N Westaway.

There was a lot of concern then as there is now on how Jersey governs itself before and after the petition, with a comission with some radical politics in the background attracting the attention of Chartist George Harney who was in the island at the time. The following are examples of the debate from the House of Commons Hansard:

Jersey Court Leave 7 May 1861

Sir Gillery Pigott (He advocated reform in the anomalous laws of Jersey, but his proposed bill did not proceed beyond a second reading)

“Commission had gone fully into the subject, and in their Report they also described the Royal Court as incompetent, as characterized by a disregard of many of the functions confided to it, and as a tribunal in which “extortion, oppression, and injustice seemed to be an ordinary course of proceeding.” The position of the bailiff was described as essentially vicious, the jurats as frequently judges in their own case as managers of the impôt, and the inhabitants regarded the Court as too weak to prevent “indecent conflicts of language and even personal violence” from being committed within it.”

Mr Robert Collier

“having spent some time in Jersey, and having made himself acquainted with the laws of the island, he must state his conviction that the laws in Jersey were worse administered than in any civilized country in the world, and that the Government might be called upon before the lapse of very considerable time to deal with the abuses.”

Jersey Court Bill second reading, 26 June 1861:

Sir Gillery Pigott

“The Commissioners reported that the jurats seldom received any legal education, and that the Court, as now constituted, was unfit to administer the law. But the incapacity of the tribunal did not constitute the greatest objection to it. The Commissioners said party feeling found its way into the Court, and that the jurats sometimes had a personal interest in the cases which came before them; and that the result was that the tribunal did not possess the confidence of the inhabitants of Jersey……..In 1857 an English gentleman, Mr. Dodd, was apprehended in Jersey, on mesne process for an alleged debt arising out of certain transactions relating to a trust fund in England, and in consequence of the English law relating to trusts not being understood in Jersey, the case was adjourned from time to time, referred to the greffier, decided in favour of the defendant by a Court consisting of a bailiff and two jurats, and then referred to the full Court on an appeal, …….. In his opinion the reform was urgently called for, for the sake not only of the people of Jersey, but of Englishmen who went to reside there, and were injuriously affected by the maladministration of the law and as there was no hope that the local legislature Would do it.”