1834 guide to Jersey - English residents

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It is certain that there is no colony, or dependency of Britain, in which there are so many resident English as Jersey – meaning by the term, those who reside in a place, without tie or employment; and, with the exception of some few great cities, I believe Jersey contains more resident English than any place abroad. And indeed, in those cities, a great portion of the English may be rather called a visiting, than a resident population.

Army and Navy officers

As nearly as I have been able to ascertain, the whole number of English residents in Jersey amounts to at least 3,000, exclusive of the tradespeople settled in the island. Of this number, at least three-fourths consist of officers on the half pay of the Army and Navy and their families: the remainder is made up of individuals who, either with large families to educate, or with limited incomes, find economy an object; and including also some few who are attracted to the island by the advantages of its climate.

I do not include that merely migratory summer population, which glances at Jersey on the way tp Framce, or in a short excursion from England.

The English society of Jersey is quite distinct from the native society. I do not say that they never mingle, but the intercourse in limited, and unfrequent. At a large party given by a Jersey family, a few English will generally be seen; and at an English party, there is usually a slight sprinkling of native inhabitants; but there is far from being any general intercourse. Those only who have brought letters of introduction to Jersey families, or who maintain an establishment superior to their neighbours, receive the civilities of the island families; and these civilities are for the most part confined to a formal dinner, or a rare invitation to a large evening party.

Many of the English complain of want of hospitality on the part of the native families; of a deficiency in those attentions which, as strangers, they think they had reason to expect: but I think they complain unjustly. It is certainly not to be expected that the respectable Jersey families should voluntarily make the acquaintance of the English residents indiscriminately.

And if those who carry introductions do not receive all the attention which similar letters would receive in England, all that can be said is that every place has its usages; and the English have no more reason to complain of the exercise of hospitality in Jersey than of the exercise of that virtue in most of the Continental countries which are much frequented.

Natives and newcomers

The mere fact that Jersey derives advantage from the English who spend their money in it is no good reason for expecting unwonted civilities. Strangers seek Jersey for their own interest and receive, in the greater command over the luxuries of life with a limited income, the only return they had any right to expect.

I will admit however, that there is not a perfectly cordial feeling between the natives and residents: the tradespeople and others who owe almost their existence to the English residents would be fools not to express the utmost respect for them, and not to rejoice in their neighbourhood.

But there is nevertheless a very different feeling on the part of the natives towards the residents, and towards each other.

Towards the British government, and towards Britain as a nation, there is no want of attachment in Jersey. This may arise chiefly from the respect which has been paid to the privileges of the island, and the greater advantages which Jersey derives from its connection with Britain, than a connection with any other power could bestow upon it.

The residents, owing to their great numbers, are quite independent of Jersey society, and are certainly disposed to keep up much good fellowship among themselves. I scarcely think there is a spot in Europe which, among the same number, there is such constant interchange of visits.

One very sufficient reason may be given for the familiarity of intercourse maintained among the English residents. Three fourths, at least, of the whole number are naval and military men who have served campaigns together, and find pleasure in renewing their acquaintance and fighting their battles over again. And even those who have not been messmates, or shipmates, have many subjects of conversation in common; and their information, recollections, and even prospects, run much in the same channel. At an English party in Jersey, almost every one is Captain, or Major; and some few, Colonel.

But although there be a very general, and familiar intercourse, among the residents, they have naturally formed themselves into circles; those composing the circles differing only in their pecuniary means.

Dinners, parties and picnics

Some only give and take dinners; others go to, and receive, evening parties; and others again, whose inclination or means will not permit either of these modes of social intercourse, form a still quieter circle, and adopt a still less expensive mode of enjoying each other’s society,

Everyone therefore finds a circle suited to his circumstances. It must be admitted that unless to those who are fond of cards – the universal amusement – the round of visiting is somewhat monotonous. One sees always the same faces, and in a spot so circumscribed as Jersey, conversation cannot have great novelty.

The favourite summer amusement is the picnic, and for the enjoyment of this Jersey is well calculated. It has so many secluded bays and pleasant nooks, and scarcely a summer day passes on which there not several picnic parties to different parts of the island.

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