La Section de la langue Jèrriaise

Le Touzel - a mystery solved?


For many years there has been a mystery surrounding the identity of one of the authors in Mourant's Rimes et Poésies Jersiaises.

Mourant wrote in his introduction:

“Il ne faut pas oublier les P'iaintes d'une vieille tante a Mai, du jeune Le Touzel.”

The piece in question is signed “L.T.” and no further clue is given to the identity of the author. Doctor Fraînque Le Maistre comments that the young Le Touzel must have come from the centre of the Island to judge by his Jèrriais and was probably born around 1840. The mystery arises because a highly-regarded author seems to disappear from the literary scene without leaving further traces of his identity.

However, it is possible that the elusive “L.T.” can now be identified.

La Chronique de Jersey published a poem in Jèrriais, Shu Nouviau Garçon, on 28/6/1873 by James Charles Le Touzel on the birth of his son. Could “J.C.L.T.” be “L.T.”? The evidence seems to fit.

James Le Touzel was born in St. Helier in 1838, but emigrated in his twenties, never returning to his native Island. This would explain his disappearance from the literary scene in Jersey. His birthdate fits the available evidence as well.

More compelling evidence comes from the poems themselves. The last verse of Shu Nouviau Garçon clearly refers to the earlier poem by L.T., quoting the “vieill' tante à mai” and mentioning “M'ait' Jean”.

If we look at the individual spelling used by the writer in the two texts we can see sporadic use of sh for ch - in both poems there is shu for chu.

Liain is spelled lien in both texts.

There is also sporadic use of ch for tch - chi for tchi in both texts.

Of course, there are a lot of differences between the texts, but since the writing systems are in fact so unsystematic, this could be regarded as another pointer to the identification of James Charles Le Touzel as the young Le Touzel named by Mourant in 1865.


Geraint Jennings


La Section de la langue Jèrriaise
  R'tou à la page d'siez-mé | Back to home page