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CHAPTER LVI. : DEATH OF H.R.H. THE DUKE OF CLARENCE.
JANUARY 12th, 1892, will always be a sadly memorable day in Jersey, as being the one on which, during the first sittings of the States for the year, a congratulatory telegram was forwarded to England on the late Duke of Clarence's engagement to the Princess May, though on that date, too, other matters of importance were under deliberation. For one thing special Bills were discussed, on (to many) very important points; to wit, the licensing of tobacconists on the Island, and a Bill which had for its consideration the constituting of the English instead of the French language as the legal vernacular of the Island, both such Bills being lodged au Greffe on that date, to be further disposed of on the 25th inst. On the 14th of the month however, the sad news of the death of H.R.H. the Duke of Clarence caused the States to suspend its sittings; whilst the respectful sorrow that thrilled the Island at the mournful intelligence was also emphasised by the postponement of all festivities, including the annual Militia Ball; the bells of the various churches being tolled, and the shops being generally and speedily put in mourning ; a remarkably heavy hailstorm, too, signalised that sadly eventful day.
An address of condolence to the Queen and the Prince and Princess of Wales on their (and the nation's) bereavement was adopted by the States on January 18th, and recommendation put forth that the following Wednesday should be recognised as a day of general public mourning whilst the sitting of the States was again further suspended owing to the death of the much-respected Greffier, H. M. Godfray, Esq., to whose widowed mother and her family also an address of condolence was subsequently sent.
On the following day (January 19th) the Special Criminal Assizes had to be postponed on account of the epidemic of influenza that once again prevailed in Jersey. On the 20th of that month, too, in sad commemoration of the funeral of H.R.H. the late Duke of Clarence, a general closing of the shops in St. Helier and St. Aubin took place, and a special memorial service was held in its connection in the Town Church. Then, in contrast to all this comes on January 29th, 1892, the publication to the world, in the report of the British Meteorological Council return; that Jersey had been proved to be the sunniest spot around the British Isles, or to quote the words of Mr. Inspector W. Clement Ley to the said Council: " The Jersey returns " (for the ten years' sunshine in the British Isles, 1881-90, and gleaned from forty-six observatory stations) " show an amount of bright sunshine which is far greater than that of the most favoured of the English stations, such as Falmouth, Hastings, and Eastbourne," the average sunshine during the twelve months actually being 4.2 per cent. more than any other record in the British Isles.
A Bill for the compulsory expropriation of property for reasons of public utility—with the object of allowing the parish, when necessity required it, to acquire property for the widening or other improvement of thoroughfares in St. -Helier, and (a previous measure on the same subject of the year 1862 being repealed) under which the Constable might obtain an Act of the Royal Court authorising the Viscount to summon experts to value the property in question should no prior agreement have been come to—was introduced into the States on February 1st, 1892, though not passed until a further date ; whilst on the 4th of the same month there was once again brought into prominence the ever recurring question of an increase in the representation of St. Helier, the preamble of a Bill dealing with the matter being passed by the States on that day. Sanitary matters, too, were very much to the fore at that time, chiefly owing to the several outbreaks of smallpox that had previously occurred on the Island, a Bill on public sanitation being referred to Committee on the 11th inst. A discussion on the introduction of a Bill on Hawking in Jersey took place in the States on February 15th, to be renewed on the 18th, and adopted on March 10th following: it, amongst other provisions, defining the term " Hawker " to mean " every person who shall sell or offer for sale any wares, food, or merchandise whatsoever, either in the public roadway or in going from house to house " : an innovation on the Island which caused much consternation amongst numbers of its smaller dealers, whilst it, at the same time, put a stop to what had grown, in many respects, to be a considerable public nuisance. In the meantime, at the Royal Court, on February 27th, an isolated instance of a Centenier refusing office after having" been duly elected, came under notice; Mr. Ph. Desmares, of St. Saviour, the gentleman in question, being fined " 20 nobles " for thus refusing to take the necessary oath on that occasion.
On March 7th, 1892, Deputy Durell once more brought forward his Bill for the exclusion of Rectors from the State sittings, when it was rejected by 19 to 16 votes; and the following day was noteworthy as having witnessed a complimentary dinner and presentation to Colonel Howell, ex-Hon. Sec. and Treasurer of the Horticultural Department of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society.
Then, coming to the 9th and 10th of that month we find the increased representation of St. Helier again agitated in the States ; an amendment being introduced on the latter date for the adoption of one additional Deputy for the town; the Compulsory Education question again being brought up before .that body on March 31st.
April, 1892, seems chiefly noticeable for the facts that on the 16th Lord George Hamilton and party arrived at the Island on the Admiralty yacht Enchantress; and on the 19th, the Admiralty steam yacht Fire. Queen came into St. Helper's harbour, having on board Admiral the Earl of Clanwilliam; though it is true that on the 21st of this same month the States held a special sitting in connection with what subsequently became celebrated as the "Overdale Suit," concerning which important case, touching the proprietorship of certain lands, more will be recorded in its true chronological order.
In May, 1892, we find visits paid to Jersey on the 14th by Dr. Thorold, Lord Bishop of Winchester and Diocesan of the Channel Islands ; and on the 19th by Prince and Princess L. G. Bonaparte. Then, in June (on the 1st) plans for in proved bathing accommodation—one outcome of which is the present splendid Ladies' Bathing Pool at Havre-des-Pas- were adopted by the Councils of the local Chamber of Commerce, the Jersey Commercial Association, and the Jersey Swimming Club. The month of June, 1892, is also a noteworthy one to the Island as having witnessed (on the 15th) a visit of the late Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate, as also the appointment (on the 24th) of Mr. J. R. Syvret as its Postmaster; whilst to make up the number of illustrious visitors during the year 1892 there appears on the list of arrivals Baron Alphonse de Rothschild (August 8th), and Mrs. Langtry, who came in the yacht Puritan, on the 21st. September, 1892, will be remembered on the Island by many as having amongst its records the fact that some Jersey cattle were during that month purchased by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, in significant contrast to which appears the record that a severe raid was made upon the local milk dealers on the following day (September 4th), when, as a result, one farmer at any rate was severely fined for adulteration to the extent of 50 per cent.; though, in another connection a pleasing reminiscence comes in a public presentation being made on the 24th inst. to Mr. Hugh de la Haye as the introducer of the celebrated "Royal Jersey Fluke " potato.
Passing momentarily to the " sister town " of St. Aubin, its new Church was opened on October 13th, on the 31st of which month Lieut.-General Brisbane Ewart took his departure from the Island, to be succeeded by Major-General Edwin Markham, R.A„ who arrived and was sworn in as -Lieut.-Governor on November 1st. The 30th of that month witnessed the renewed introduction into the States of the Compulsory Education Bill, and December 25th the coming into operation for the first time of the Jersey Bill on Hawking