How is it possible that the memory of these brave Jersey residents and their several hundreds of supporters could be so easily forgotten after they overthrew the rotten Jersey government in St Helier on the 28th September 1769?
Without their revolutionary but wholly non-violent action, which pre-dated both the American and French Revolutions, who can guess when a democratically elected government would ever have been achieved in this Island?
Make no mistake, these brave people risked their lives by their protest because their behaviour was sedition and that was a hanging offence or liable to punishment by transportation with confiscation of all property.
The subsequent removal of the despotic Lempriere brothers who served as (acting) Bailiff and Attorney General with their family of cronies led directly to the creation of a recognisable States of Jersey, took away many powers from the Royal Court and forced the publication of the Code of Jersey Laws in 1771.
Today we take these achievements for granted and don’t remember the reformers’ names or even celebrate the 28th September as “Jersey Reform Day”. It is a scandal and it is significant that the struggle to free this island from autocratic Crown Officers and others who abuse their power continues to this day. The struggle goes on – but we should acknowledge those who have laid the foundation for the freedoms that we all enjoy today.
Yet, it is proposed now to erect another memorial to Major Peirson who was killed resisting the French invasion in the Royal Square in January 1781. Of course this Yorkshireman died a brave soldier’s death but we should remember too that this skirmish was a part of the American struggle for independence from colonial British control too. Following that battle, the corrupt Bailiff Lempriere was finally removed from office and the Lt Governor court-martialled – so the reforming process in Jersey has never been achieved just by quiet negotiation.
There is no need to celebrate only those who died violent deaths. Jersey has plenty of unsung heroes and heroines who struggled for years in order to make this island a true haven for people to live in and we need to be aware of their activities much more than we need to know the names of past Bailiffs and Governors or other imposed rulers.
Those who have ever sat in the public gallery of the States Chamber might have noticed that Sir Walter Raleigh, Governor of Jersey 1600-1603 is uniquely remembered with a plaque which overlooks the whole proceedings. Yet he visited the Island only very briefly and was executed as a pirate in 1617. Why should we remember him today rather than the brave people such as those who protested on 28th September 1769?
Jersey’s history is controlled and used for all sorts of mischievous governmental purposes but the true story of the struggle of ordinary people has not only never been told, it is actively suppressed and smothered by establishment propaganda.
Jersey people should celebrate the 28th September just as the Americans do July 4th and the French July 14th.
Jersey’s little revolution was equally as significant to the people of this Island and should be known by everybody who lives here now and for the future.
It should not be kept secret.
A group of concerned Jersey residents.