To celebrate Women’s History Month we’ve taken a look through our archives to bring you the stories of 10 remarkable Jersey women. There are so many women with amazing stories to tell. Who would you choose?

Florence Boot

Jersey girl Florence Rowe developed her business skills working in her father’s St Helier book shop. When she married Nottingham entrepreneur Jesse Boot, she helped develop his successful national pharmacy business but also placed great importance on the welfare of staff.  When Jesse and Florence Boot retired to Jersey they continued to make a positive impact on the lives of working people with gifts to the Island such as Coronation Park and the sports facilities and workers’ cottages at FB Fields.

In my Gift – the legacy of Lady Trent (Florence Boot)

Caroline Trachy   

Caroline Trachy worked tirelessly for women’s rights and social equality in Jersey. She campaigned for women to have the vote in 1919 and was also the first woman to stand for public office. When she was ruled ineligible on the basis that she was female, she demanded a change in the law. Although she was ultimately unsuccessful in her campaign to be elected, she paved the way for Ivy Forster, Jersey’s first female politician, and the women who have since entered political life.

Votes for Women – the Pioneers

Louisa Gould

During the Occupation, Louisa Gould, with the support of family and friends, sheltered an escaped Russian slave worker in her home in St Ouen. Tragically, she was betrayed by a neighbour and arrested by the German authorities. Gould was convicted and sent abroad to serve her sentence, and was killed at Ravensbruck concentration camp in February 1945. In 2010 she was posthumously named a British Hero of the Holocaust. Find out more about Louise Gould and other stories from the Occupation on the Frank Falla Archive.

Louise Gould - The Resistance Trail

Lilian Grandin

Jersey’s first female doctor was born in St Helier in 1876. Lilian Grandin attended the Ladies College before studying medicine in London and Dublin. After qualifying, she volunteered for a missionary expedition to China where she spent ten years helping the poor and needy in a remote region of the country and also trained local women as midwives. She spent the First World War working in a London hospital before returning to China to continue her work as a doctor and missionary until her premature death from typhus in 1924.

Lilian Grandin - The Jersey Peace Trail

Orpheus Beaumont

Born in St Helier in 1863, Orpheus Beaumont was named after the naval ship on which her older brother was serving in New Zealand. The family later emigrated to New Zealand and in 1912, following the sinking of the Titanic and the tragic loss of so many lives, Orpheus dedicated herself to designing a more effective life jacket. After years in development, her ‘Salvus’ life jacket was accepted by the British authorities in 1918 and went on to be used worldwide until the Second World War.

Marie Ann Gruchy

Marie Ann Gruchy was involved in much charitable work and in the 1890s was Honorary Treasurer of the St Thomas Refuge ‘for Friendless and Fallen Women’. She belonged to a small group of middle-class women who recognised their social responsibility to come to the aid of those in less fortunate positions than themselves. They did this through regular contributions of their own funds as well as tireless fundraising efforts.

Frances Le Sueur

Frances Le Sueur dedicated much of her life to studying  and championing Jersey’s rich and diverse natural history. A leading member of the Société Jersiaise, her study of local plants produced an authoritative guide with her 1985 publication, Flora of Jersey. As well as her important research work, Le Sueur campaigned passionately for the conservation of Jersey's flora, raising awareness of its importance with the Island’s planning authorities. In recognition of her achievements in the field of conservation, the Frances Le Sueur Centre at Les Mielles de Morville in St Ouen's Bay was named in her honour.

Margaret Harliston

Margaret Harliston, was the only daughter and sole heir of Sir Richard Harliston, Governor of Jersey in the late 15th century. Margaret married Philippe de Carteret, eldest son of the Seigneur of St Ouen, who in 1494 was falsely accused of treason by an opponent and imprisoned at Mont Orgueil Castle. In a bid to save her husband, Margaret undertook a perilous journey by sea and land to plead his case before King Henry VII in Salisbury. Despite the many challenges of the journey, Margaret was able to secure the King’s pardon and return to the Island in time to clear her husband’s name.

Marie Esnouf

Marie Esnouf was convicted of witchcraft in 1648. There were a large number of trials for witchcraft in the Channel Islands during the 16th and 17th centuries, to the extent that the Islands have been described as ‘the witch hunting capital of Europe.’ Court records show that Marie was imprisoned in Mont Orgueil Castle after a number of people testified that she had used her diabolical spells to cause the sickness and deaths of several humans and animals. She refused to confess to the crime but the unfortunate woman was found guilty and sentenced to public execution in the Royal Square. We now recognise that these witch trials often targeted poor and vulnerable women who did not conform to the expectations of society at the time.

Claude Cahun

During the Occupation, Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe - also known as Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore – waged a two-person resistance campaign against the occupying forces. They attempted  to undermine the morale of the troops by writing and distributing short leaflets in German, questioning the abilities of the Nazi leadership. They were eventually arrested in 1944 and were charged with inciting the troops to rebellion and listening to the BBC. It took a while for their trial to take place because the German authorities simply could not believe that these rather sickly old ladies (which is how they presented themselves) could have carried out such activities without being part of a much wider, male-led group. They were eventually found guilty and sentenced to death for their resistance activities and six months imprisonment for listening to the BBC. Reprieve from their death sentence came just before the Liberation of the Island in May 1945.

 

Take a closer look at some of the Jersey Heritage Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore collection with this short film from Jersey Heritage registrar Val Nelson.

 

Remarkable women - claude cahun