From A M Bellows.
WITH respect to a recent comment by the Attorney General, William Bailhache, that ‘if there is some grave or serious breakdown of civil order, the Crown has power to step in’ and his comment: ‘It’s not happened in 800 years, so why should it happen now?’, that is historically inaccurate.
In 1774 fifty-two men refused to drill in the Jersey Militia on Sundays because of their religious principles, these men being Methodists.
Fines and imprisonment, often with solitary confinement, were brought against many of their number, but in the autumn of 1798 the States, losing patience, in a decision of egregious folly, decided to pass an Act to the effect that every man refusing to serve personally in the Island Militia in accordance with its military establishment, and persisting in such refusal, should be condemned to banishment by the Royal Court.
After the adoption of this Bill by the States, Jerseyman Peter Le Sueur managed to gain an audience with George III to speak against it, and the result was an intervention by the Crown, whereupon an Order in Council was obtained, registered in the States’ records on 28 January 1799, stating that His Majesty, with the advice of the Privy Council, disapproved of the Act in question, declaring the same ‘to be void and of none effect’.
It is perhaps of interest that William Wilberforce, the great reformer, helped Peter Le Sueur to gain access to Royal circles.
This clearly establishes a fairly good precedent for Crown intervention in Island affairs, on the basis of one single individual raising a matter in which he accused the States of Jersey of perpetrating an injustice against some of its citizens. A little over 200 years is far more recent than the 800 years mistakenly mentioned by Mr Bailhache.
Rue des Champs,