Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pierre Le Sueur - another hero to remember on Jersey Reform Day?




At a simple ceremony in the dark, on 16 January 2013, the memorial to 19th century Constable of St Helier Pierre Le Sueur in Green Street cemetary was rededicated.

Here is a video of the proceedings led by Constable Simon Crowcroft, with a brief historical background from Geraint Jennings and a few words and prayers from the Dean, Bob Key.

Below are some of Pierre Le Sueur's own words from 1847 as published by Norman Le Brocq in his little booklet "Jersey Looks Forward" in 1946 just a year after the Liberation of Jersey.

Pierre Le Sueur and Norman Le Brocq are among those who had humble beginnings in Jersey but went on to achieve important reforms and improvements for "working people".
The Dean referred to  "social conscience" and helping the disdvantaged as being the hidden side of so much that goes in Jersey society - largely unrecognised.

Both Pierre Le Sueur and Norman Le Brocq receieved some recogition within their lifetimes and afterwards but there are many hundreds of people who do not.
Jersey Reform Day on 28 September has now been officially recognised by the States of Jersey in response to the actions of a largely forgotten group of Islanders who campaigned for change during the 1760s.

That day should be an annual celebration and memorial to ALL those people who have fought for reform in Jersey over the years.
Nobody is perfect - we all have our flaws and it is necessary to see people within their own context and history is open to contradicting interpretations.

Pierre Le Sueur was not a saint but he clearly deserves to be remembered as part of the struggle for reform.

18 May 1847
Another Jersey day to remember!

Constable Pierre Le Sueur of St Helier issued this proclamation at 7.30am to the hundreds of starving protesting workers:

“To the Working Class,

All workers are commanded to return to their work immediately.
Measures are being taken to assure the distribution of bread to the working class at a reasonable price and to guard against all scarcity of essential foodstuffs.

A public assembly will be held in the near future to open a subscription for poor relief; but all aid will be refused to those who do not immediately return to work and severe measures will be taken against them.

Imprisonment with hard labour or banishment for five years is the penalty ordered in our Riot Act for all those who take part in riotous gatherings and who do not disperse when ordered to do so by the police.

If necessary, the military will be called out to reinforce the police.

The deserving poor will receive help; but all those who take part in any uprising will be severely punished.

Pierre Le Sueur
Constable of St Helier.”

Source “Jersey Looks Forward” by Norman Le Brocq published 1946


By all means remember Constable Pierre Le Sueur but who now celebrates the memory of the anonymous working Jersey people who bravely protested against terrible working and housing conditions and their starvation levels of wages in 1847?


During the 1847 protests, many hundreds - perhaps thousands – of working people joined in the marches and public protests associated with the strikes and food riots.
These protests took place over several months.
The protestors risked severe penalties. They had little protection against arbitrary dismissal from employment or their slum housing accommodation. Trades Unions were virtually non-existent. Democratic representation in government was unknown.

Similar protests took place with monotonous regularity in Jersey as in other places, over the centuries.

Similar conditions prevailed on 28 September 1769 when hundreds of protesting Jersey people overthrew the Royal Court.
That date is now officially recognised as JERSEY REFORM DAY and will be celebrated for the first time this year.

But where are the memorials to ALL the brave working peoples from the past who have risked their lives and property to improve social, employment and political conditions in Jersey over many centuries?
Who remembers now?
Jean Picot, George Sargent, Thomas Cundy, William Holland, Thomas Connor, Thomas Anthony, Frederick Pyke, Stephen Wilkins, Jean Le Gresley, John Dunn, Elias Selous, George Minton, Joseph Baker George Carter, Thomas Mouldoun, Denis Daly, John Gernam, Pierre Voisin, Richard Tucker and many others.

Most of those named above were charged with “forming part of an illegal assemblage of persons and for having caused a tumult in divers parts of St Helier etc”
Many were imprisoned and five years banishment from Jersey was the ruinous punishment commonly handed down by the courts.

Pierre Le Sueur’s memory for resisting the protestors was ensured by grateful parishioners who erected the grand Broad Street obelisk which remains to this day.

This year, on Saturday 28 September we shall all have the opportunity to join an OFFICIAL day of celebrations as JERSEY REFORM DAY to recognise the efforts of ALL those people who have fought to improve standards of living and democracy in Jersey.

5 comments:

  1. I must confess, I do enjoy reading your inspiring stories about Jersey's 'good & great' who all seem to come from unprivileged, even troubled, backgrounds, and not from what the Oligarchy would term, good breeding grounds....

    Keep up the good work Tom, for one day, all the sheeple shall awaken from their slumber :)

    "If you have truly lived, show the world that you have truly lived."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Deputy Trevor Pitman dealing with more cases of DOCTORED TRIAL TAPES.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great to remember Pierre Le Sueur

    But also the Great Norman Le Brocq
    a man who played such an important role in Jersey working class life

    Who dared to organise the Jersey resistance against fascism and the Nazi jackboot on the Island, when MANY others did not.

    Never forget Jersey was the only place in Europe to have the same Government before, during and after the II World War

    For organising the resistance he was penalised by the Jersey Establishment

    Honour Norman Le Brocq

    ReplyDelete