Over 150 records stored at Jersey Archive and previously unseen by the public were officially opened for the first time on 1 January 2019.
The records had been closed to public access under Freedom of Information exemptions for periods of 30, 75 and 100 years. The records include Public Assistance Committee minutes dating back to 1918, as well as hospital admission registers, police arrest registers, witness depositions in criminal cases, and immigration records of non-British nationals living in the Island.
Linda Romeril, Director of Archives and Collections at Jersey Heritage, said: “It is always fascinating to be able to study these documents and use them to tell the stories of people who lived in Jersey 100 years ago.
“The documents tell us so much about the social history of the Island and through them we can track the history of crime, poverty, health and the role of women within our community. This is particularly relevant in 2019 as we celebrate 100 years of women in Jersey having the right to vote.”
The public can now view the newly-opened records at the Jersey Archive, where there will be a free talk about some of the most interesting stories at 10am on Saturday, 19 January. The Archive will be open from 9am-1pm that day.
Of particular interest in the newly-opened records are:
Public Assistance Committee minutes 1913-1918 – Archibald Nelson Harding
The Committee was created in 1906 and was responsible for decisions relating to the external poor – those who lived outside the hospital but needed assistance – and for the internal poor – those who lived at the hospital which acted as the Island’s poor house at this time. The committee also debated cases in which children needed to be taken into care, either at the Jersey Home for Boys or Home for Girls.
The minutes cover 1913 – 1918, giving details of social care in the Island during the First World War period. On 2 June 1914, the Committee consider the maintenance of Archibald Nelson Harding, who is currently at the Jersey Home for Boys and has been at the Home since 28 February 1911. The case shows the complexities of the system of payment and whether individuals were maintained by their parish, the Island or their parents.
Archibald’s mother, Lavinia Mary Harding, was from St Helier and was married in Montreal on 28 February 1911 to William Joseph Day, from Great Yarmouth. Archibald had been born in Guernsey on 14 June 1908, before her marriage. The Committee minutes state that until Lavinia’s marriage, Archibald was in her charge but that at the moment of her marriage he was then in the charge of her husband. It appears that when Lavinia became pregnant outside of marriage in 1907, the father of her child, who she claims was also born in St Helier, gave her £5 to go to Guernsey to have the child. He has refused to maintain the child for the last six years and the Committee notes that after this amount of time it is difficult to bring a case to the Royal Court.
The Parish of St Helier contends that at the moment of Lavinia’s marriage in 1911, the Parish was no longer responsible for the maintenance of Archibald as the husband assumes responsibility for the child and Lavinia’s husband, William, is not from Jersey.
An added complication comes from the fact that Lavinia has returned to Jersey without her husband, who cannot be found, and therefore the Parish contend that maintenance of Archibald is her responsibility. Lavinia claims that she abandoned her husband as he mistreated her and now that she has returned to Jersey she wants Archibald to live with her.
The Committee note that she seems to live a decent life but that she refuses to contribute to the maintenance of Archibald while he is in the care of the authorities. Eventually the Committee agree to reimburse the Parish of St Helier for the cost of maintaining Archibald.
On June 5 1916, the Committee record that Lavinia, Archibald’s mother, has requested that she be given permission to take Archibald back home from the Home of Boys and the Committee agree with the request.
Alien’s Registration Card – William Arthur Rose
The records give details of the Alien’s Registration Card of William Arthur Rose, the Oscar and BAFTA-winning screenwriter who wrote the screenplays for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, starring Spencer Tracey, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn, and The Ladykillers, starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.
William was born in Missouri but travelled to Canada in 1939 following the outbreak of the Second World War and enlisted in the Black Watch. At the end of the war, he stayed in England, living in London and then in Brighton before he moved to Jersey in 1964. William lived at La Falaise, St Brelade, and then moved to La Fosse, Trinity. He died in Jersey in 1987 and is buried in St Clement’s Churchyard.
Hospital Admission Registers – 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the General Hospital produced an annual book of admissions, providing a fascinating insight into the social history of the time and also an invaluable source for family historians as the books include an individual’s age and place of birth. Each year, a new register is opened after 100 years.
The hospital register for 1918 shows the impact of the October outbreak of Spanish Flu in Jersey, which was a global pandemic and ultimately killed more people than the First World War. In Jersey, nearly 300 people died during the 1918 influenza pandemic.
The admissions book shows that in October 2018, there was a significant rise in the numbers of people who entered the hospital for influenza. This included whole families, such as that of Clement Joseph Aubin, aged 50, who was admitted to the hospital on 26 October with his seven children, aged between eight and 17, and his wife, Elvina Aubin, who was the first to enter the hospital on 22 October. While Clement and his children appear to have survived the epidemic, Elvina died on 29 October.
The records also show that the hospital continued to act as a poor house for the Island during this period. A number of people were admitted under the cause of indigence or poverty. The hospital also seems to have functioned as one of the first places where children were sent when parents died and they had no-one to care for them. On 31 October, the Esnouf family of six children, ranging from 13-year-old Winter to three-year-old Ruby, were admitted to the hospital after the death of their mother. A number of the children were then transferred to the Home for Boys or Home for Girls.
Police Registers for St Helier – intemperance, petty theft and scandalous reports
Police registers provide a fascinating insight into crime in the Island 100 years ago. Two registers from the period 1915 – 1918 from the Parish of St Helier are now open, giving details of suspects, including their name, age and place of birth, the crime, by whom they were arrested, any witnesses and the outcome of the case.
Included is Rose Boivin, wife of William Blowers, aged 27. Rose was accused of intemperance at 7:30pm in Conway Street, St Helier, on 19 October 1916. Other records show that Rose had had a troubled past, being arrested in 1914 for prostitution. Rose was imprisoned for 48 hours on this occasion.
The register includes a number of arrests for intemperance and for acts of petty theft. Possibly one of the most unusual cases of theft was that of Adelina Flambard, aged 47 and originally from La Manche. Adelina was accused of stealing the door from the room that she occupied at 10, Regent Place and then hanging the pieces of the door at Madame Le Rouge for the sum of 12 sous. Adelina was sentenced to one month hard labour.
On 28 January 1918, Ann Louisa Bragg, wife of Robert Bakes, was arrested at the age of 63 for circulating scandalous reports against Matilda Ann Bakes, widow of François Carre. The reports were such that they caused a disruption of the public peace. Ann’s case went to Court on 28 January 1918 and she was sentenced to pay a £2 fine or carry out eight days hard labour.
On 8 June 1918, seven men were arrested and accused of bathing without a proper costume at La Collette and Havre des Pas. They were each fined 10 shillings.
On 10 August 1918, James Renouf, aged 14, was arrested and accused of stealing letters containing cheques while he was in employed by the Victoria Club. Most notably he was accused of stealing a letter addressed to the Director of the London Provincial and South Western Bank, which contained a cheque payable to Madame Hawksford. He was sent to prison for ten days and then on to a reformatory until he reached the age of 19.