Jersey is one of the Channel Islands
, a group which also includes Guernsey
islands. Jersey is the largest and most southerly of the Channel Islands, putting it about 22.5 km off of France and 161 km south of England. It is about 100 km square and has about 87,000 as of the 2001 census. Its capital is the bustling St. Helier
, with an impressive 28,310 residents as of '01. Jersey is a beautiful island, the warmest of the British Isles in the summer time an average of 20 degrees Celsius.
Modern Jersey history starts in the 10th Century with their annexation by the Duchy of Normandy. Following the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror gained the English Crown and the Channel Islands became a part of the Anglo-Norman Empire.
When King John lost Normandy to the French the Islanders were given the choice: go with France or stay with the Crown. They chose to stay with the Crown and wound up with rights and privileges that only the King or Queen in Council could interdict, but were not subject to Parliament.
These super neat advantages include such things as independence for the Island’s judicial system and freedom from UK taxes.
Through the years the Island has been invaded a few times. In 1781 “The Battle of Jersey” took place when the Baron du Rullecourt attempted to steal the island. The young Major Peirson led the British Army and the local militia to a triumphant end in the battle that happened in St. Helier’s Royal Square.
The Channel Islands are very close to France, closer than they are to Britain. In 1940 the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey asked what Great Britain was going to do to defend it.
Guess what, said the Crown, Nothing! And shortly after all military was removed from the island, leaving it defenseless.
An evacuation was set up immediately, all who wished to evacuate were told to sign up at the town hall. By the end of the first day 23,000 were signed up. Of the 23,000 who left, however, only 6,500 actually left. The people of Jersey love their island.
On June 28, 1940 the Germans bombed St. Helier harbor and La Rocque. By this, the Germans knew the island was undefended. A paper ultimatum was dropped on the island from above, demanding that the islanders show their willingness to comply with the Germans by flying a white flag from the roof of every building.
In the first shipment a hundred German troops arrived. Anti-aircraft and machine gun posts were erected, and a list of orders was issued to the islanders, to include a curfew from 11pm to 5am, and a ban on the sale of spirits.
By December 1940 there were 1,750 Germans on Jersey. Within a year this had increased to 11,500.
In 1942 all wireless radios were confiscated by the Germans. In September of that same year all British-born residents were to be deported to Germany, 1,200 in all.
People who became friendly with the Germans lost face considerably, the loyal islanders finding it hard to trust them. Men working for the Germans often got higher wages and additional rations. Women who kept the company of Germans were called "Jerry-Bags" and were ostracized, even by their families.
The problem of informants became significant. Many people would send letters tattling upon their fellow Jersey Islanders. The Post Office took serious pains to steam open letters to find out who was informing. Those informed upon were often deported or killed by the German occupiers. The same could be said for informants discovered by their countrymen.
Currently Jersey is a Parliamentary Democracy the British Crown views as a dependency. It is a British Island but is not part of the United Kingdom and is not considered a colony. The island is linked with the UK and the rest of the Commonwealth by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who is as the Sovereign the Head of State.
The Queen is represented on the island by the Lieutenant Governor, through him communications with the Lord Chancellor are conducted. The island’s parliament is composed of 53 elected members from a mix of the island’s population and parochial constituencies.
Decisions of the Westminster Parliament do not routinely extend to Jersey Island. Most times diplomatic issues as well as international policy are handled by Great Britain, though many international trade compacts exist that include Jersey exclusively.
Part of the Histories of the World Quest.