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Guernsey, 1814-1914

Guernsey, 1814-1914: Migration and Modernisation

Rose-Marie Crossan
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 346
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  • Book Info
    Guernsey, 1814-1914
    Book Description:

    In the early nineteenth century, despite 600 years of allegiance to the English Crown, a majority of Guernseymen still spoke a Franco-Norman dialect and retained cultural affinities with France. By the eve of World War I, however, insular society had turned predominantly anglophone and was culturally orientated towards England. In examining this sea-change, the author focuses particularly on the role of migration, since the Island experienced both substantial outflows (to North America and the Antipodes), and substantial inflows (from Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Hampshire and Cornwall; the Irish province of Munster, and the French départements of La Manche and Les Côtes-du-Nord). The author investigates push- and pull-factors influencing the various migrant cohorts, and evaluates the reception they met from the insular authorities and population at large. Whilst showing that both British and French migrants, in their different ways, advanced the process of anglicisation, she sets their contribution in its proper perspective against the host of less tangible forces which had first initiated anglicisation and were hastening it on irrespective of the migrant presence.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-548-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Rose-Marie Crossan
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  6. Maps
    (pp. xiv-xvi)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    GUERNSEY is the westernmost and second largest of the Channel Islands. It is situated on the outer edge of the Gulf of St Malo. The closest French landfall is the Cap de Flamanville, some twenty-seven miles away, and the closest English landfall is Start Point (near Salcombe), about seventy-eight miles distant.

    Guernsey measures little more than twenty-four square miles in area, but, along with its sister Channel Isles, its exceptionally high population density sets it apart from other islands in European inshore waters. Guernsey’s ability to support a relatively large population has partly been due to natural endowments in the...

  8. 1 Constitution and Government
    (pp. 9-13)

    BY the early nineteenth century, the Channel Islands had owed political allegiance to the English Crown for six hundred years. Anterior to this, the Islands had shared a history with north-west France. Untouched by the Saxon invasions to which England was subject from the fifth century, the Islands were inhabited during the latter half of the first millennium by a predominantly Gallo-Roman population living in subordination to the Frankish monarchy.¹ At some time during the tenth century, the Islands and adjacent Cotentin peninsula were absorbed into the territory of the Dukes of Normandy.² The Dukes’ conquest of England in 1066...

  9. 2 Economy
    (pp. 14-39)

    THE eighteenth century was a time of unprecedented economic expansion for Guernsey, or, more specifically, St Peter Port, whose worldwide maritime activities gave its commercial sector an opportunity to grow ‘unrestrained by territorial limits’.¹ Gregory Stevens Cox’s study documents the transformation of St Peter Port, ‘a relatively poor town of some 3,000 inhabitants’ in the seventeenth century, into ‘one of the principal commercial entrepôts in the Atlantic economy’.²

    An important contemporary account of eighteenth-century trade is provided by Daniel De Lisle Brock (first president of Guernsey’s Chamber of Commerce and Bailiff 1821–42) in his chapter on ‘The Commerce of...

  10. 3 Population and Migration
    (pp. 40-64)

    FEW population statistics exist for Guernsey before the nineteenth century. Various estimates have been hazarded, but the earliest actual figures date from 1727, when a count of inhabitants was made in order to assess the amount of grain needed during a food shortage.¹ At that date, the Island’s inhabitants numbered 10,246, of whom 43 per cent lived in St Peter Port. The town’s eighteenth-century success as an entrepôt stimulated population growth. In 1800, an enumeration carried out for Customs Commissioner William Stiles showed that Guernsey’s population had increased by 58 per cent in the seventy-three years since 1727. Inhabitants numbered...

  11. 4 Origins, Distribution and Composition of the Immigrant Cohort
    (pp. 67-85)

    WE saw in the previous chapter that Guernsey’s population rose by nearly 20 per cent between 1821 and 1831, and that this was partly due to immigration. Responding to the influx, the Royal Court gave orders for two special enumerations in 1827 and 1830, principally to ascertain details of non-natives.¹ Both enumerations were Island-wide, but complete returns survive for neither. For the 1827 census, which listed the names and addresses of both migrants and natives, returns are available for St Peter Port, St Martins, the Vale, St Peters and the Forest.² For the 1830 census, which focused exclusively on non-natives,...

  12. 5 English and Irish Immigration
    (pp. 86-111)

    WE saw in the previous chapter that Government censuses yielded no information beyond a broad statement of national affiliation for three-quarters of English sojourners in Guernsey over the period 1841–1901. We also saw that the 1830 listing of migrants in St Peter Port, though providing considerable detail on birthplaces, was flawed by its unrepresentativeness. There is, however, another source for nineteenth-century immigrants’ origins: the St Peter Port Constables’ ‘Register of Persons Sent out of the Island’.¹ This, though also problematic, is more promising. The register spans the period 1842–80 and records the deportation from the Island of about...

  13. 6 Immigration from and via Other Channel Islands
    (pp. 112-121)

    IT is difficult to disentangle push-factors forcing people out of England and Ireland in the late 1840s from pull-factors exerted by the harbour construction projects in Jersey and Alderney. These structures (known at the time as ‘harbours of refuge’, though they remained solitary breakwaters) were built by English civil engineering contractors Jackson and Bean under the auspices of the Admiralty as part of Britain’s Channel defences.¹ Both were begun in 1847 – that at Braye, Alderney in January; that at St Catherine’s, Jersey in July. Hydrographical problems caused the St Catherine’s project to be abandoned in 1855. Construction work at Braye,...

  14. 7 French Immigration
    (pp. 122-139)

    THE Anglo-French wars following William III’s coronation in 1689 to some extent impeded the routine intercourse with Normandy and Brittany fostered by Guernsey’s proximity to the French coast. While this was partly counter-balanced by concurrent French migration to Guernsey (Huguenots from 1685, andémigrésfleeing the 1789 Revolution), persistent eighteenth-century warfare took its toll in terms of mutual alienation. In 1814, after two decades of the most intense hostilities ever seen, Thomas Quayle could say with some justification, ‘at this day, all intercourse of the islands with that ill-fated nation is completely cut off: former friendships and connections have passed...

  15. 8 Legal Status and Administrative Treatment of Strangers
    (pp. 140-182)

    DESPITE Guernsey’s small size, it is – and was in the nineteenth century – very much a polity in its own right. It was judicially and administratively separate from the United Kingdom, and made its own laws in response to local needs. These laws differed materially from those in force across the Channel, as, in countless respects, they also did from those of its sister-Island, Jersey. Centuries of comparative isolation had made Guernsey a self-contained, rather inward-looking society, where strangers were conspicuous. Over the centuries, contacts with outsiders, such as they were, had resulted in a substantial corpus of stranger legislation in...

  16. 9 Migrant-Native Interactions: 1. Social and Political
    (pp. 185-207)

    IN the previous chapters we have chiefly taken an immigrant perspective. In order to analyse the impact of immigration on insular society, we must now turn our attention to the host community. The first part of this chapter contains an exploration of the social, political and religious make-up of nineteenth-and early twentieth-century Guernsey.¹ St Peter Port will be analysed separately from the country parishes as regards the first two categories, but religion will be considered on an all-Island basis. Having thus sketched out a picture of local society, the second part of the chapter then marshals a variety of evidence...

  17. 10 Migrant-Native Interactions: 2. Personal and Individual
    (pp. 208-229)

    WE have now examined the collective social and political attitudes of both migrants and locals to their counterparts on the other side of the divide. To what extent was that divide a structural feature of insular society at personal and individual level? Was it so tangible as to impede a merging of populations? Two of the most important indicators of assimilation available to historians are the degree of residential segregation between a migrant population and its hosts, and the amount of inter-marriage across the two communities. The following analysis uses quantitative data from census returns and marriage registers in order...

  18. 11 Changing Identities
    (pp. 230-274)

    CULTURALLY and linguistically, Guernsey was a very different place on the eve of World War I than it had been at the close of the Napoleonic Wars. Immigrants had contributed to the metamorphosis, but they were by no means the sole agents of change. In examining the nature and timing of developments, it will be necessary to evaluate the contribution of immigrants against that of a host of non-human agents. Several levels of change can be distinguished. These are not so much orderly strata as inter-cutting layers, each impacting on the other in a jumble of cause and effect. Right...

  19. Conclusion
    (pp. 275-278)

    HOW, then, did Guernsey come to this pass? More specifically, to what extent were immigrants responsible for nineteenth-century cultural change, and to what extent was their contribution merely ‘a single facet of a deeper socioeconomic development’?¹

    The Island had indeed come a long way since 1814, when William Berry had described a society where ‘the old Norman French’ was ‘generally spoken by all ranks’, and ‘economical’ urban merchants co-existed with country-dwellers ‘shut out from agricultural communication with the rest of the world’.²

    In the space of a century, the countryside had moved away from subsistence farming, and all ten of...

  20. Appendix 1 Occupational sectors ranked by the relative levels of participation in them by Bailiwick males, censuses 1851–1901
    (pp. 279-279)
  21. Appendix 2 Occupational sectors ranked by the relative levels of participation in them by Guernsey-based non-native males, censuses 1851–1901
    (pp. 280-280)
  22. Appendix 3 Proportions of total insular non-native cohort residing in country parishes, 1841–1901
    (pp. 281-281)
  23. Appendix 4 Non-natives as a percentage of country parish populations, 1841–1901
    (pp. 281-281)
  24. Appendix 5 Summarised extracts from St Peter Port Register of Persons Sent out of the Island
    (pp. 282-283)
  25. Appendix 6 St Peter Port Constables, 1814–1914
    (pp. 284-286)
  26. Appendix 7 Jurats, 1814–1914, with period of tenure
    (pp. 286-288)
  27. Bibliography
    (pp. 289-310)
  28. Index
    (pp. 311-321)
  29. Back Matter
    (pp. 322-322)