Jersey, Channel Islands


Jersey is the largest and most southerly of the Channel Islands. It lies in the bay of St Michael, 15 miles W of the nearest part of the French coast, 17 1/2 SE of Guernsey, and 99 SSW of Portsmouth. Its form is irregularly quadrangular; its length from E to W is about 12 miles; its greatest breadth is about 6 miles, and its area is 39,580 acres. Steamers ply regularly to it from Southampton, Weymouth, Plymouth, St Malo, and Granville; a submarine telegraph connects it and Guernsey with England. The steamboat route from it at St Helier is about 40 miles to St Malo, 90 to Weymouth, and 132 to Southampton.

Jersey is the Cæsarea of the Romans, the Augie of the Normans, and the Gearsey of the French. It has had political connection with all public events, and been the theatre of most, affecting the Channel Islands. These islands seem to have been a military station of the Romans. They were early occupied by the Gauls. They received many refugees from the Roman domination in England. They accepted Christianity early in the 6th century, from Wales. They were ravaged, from 850 to 900, by the Northmen. They were ceded by Charles IV. of France, in 912, to Rollo, first duke of Normandy. They continued to be held by William, the seventh duke, at his conquest of England. They were given by Richard I. to John, who eventually retained them alone of all Normandy. They were invaded by the French in the times of Edward I., Edward III., and Henry IV. They were again invaded by the French, and actually taken through treachery, in the time of Henry VI.; but were recovered in that of Edward IV. They were once more partly retaken, and again recovered, in the time of Edward VI. They were an asylum of many refugee Protestants, fleeing from England in the time of Mary. They were governed, and greatly benefited, by Sir Walter Raleigh, in the time of Elizabeth. They took part with Charles I., and were a scene of operations in the Civil Wars, but surrendered to the Parliament, and were placed under the government of commissioners. They were attacked in 1779 by a French fleet with 5000 men, but were triumphantly defended. They were again attacked in 1781, by a French force of 1200, with night surprise of the lieutenant-governor and capture of St Helier, but were defended and recovered by the militia. They seem really, from their position, to belong to France as truly as the Isle of Wight belongs to England; nor do they possess any such natural fastnesses as could resist a vigorous attempt to seize them, and they owe their continued connection with the British crown to various causes. They were visited by Queen Victoria in 1846 and 1859.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5
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Old map of Jersey circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)

Parishes and places

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