Channel Islands History

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History[edit | edit source]

The Channel Island are situated off the north-west coast of France and are the only portions of the 'Duchy of Normandy' now belonging to the Crown of England, to which they have been attached since the Conquest. They consist of Jersey, Guernsey and the dependencies of Guernsey - Alderney, Brechou, Great Sark, Little Sark, Herm, Jethou and Lihou.

In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, defeated the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hasting, thus becoming William I, King of England. Normandy, with the Channel Islands, were incorporated in the British Crown.

From 1066 to 1204, the Channel Islands enjoyed a long period of peace during which it assimilated Norman culture and customs. After 1204, when King John lost the Duchy, the Channel Islands remained loyal to the English Crown, retaining their own rights and privileges. The King of England was represented in both Islands till 1470 by a Warden.

The Channel Islands were a bone of contention to the French Monarchs. Many attempts were made over the following centuries to capture the Channel Islands.

The Germans occupied the Islands from 1940 to 1945 (the 20th time that Jersey had been invaded since 1204) during the Second World War.[1]

At the time of the Norman Conquest the islands, in return for staying loyal to the English Crown when King John lost his French possessions, were granted in 1215, rights and privileges that amounted to self-government, subject only to Royal assent through the Privy Council.

The islands' parliaments evolved gradually from the Royal Courts by the constitutions of King John. The bailliff, who presided over a court of 12 jurats, began to consult other leading members of the community -Les Etats, or the States as they came to be called - about the running of the island. It was not until the mid-18th century that the separate functions of the Royal Court and the legislative body, the States, were cleary defined, and not until the 19th Century that elected representatives began to sit in the States. Under a postwar reform that followed the German Occupation in W.W.II, the number of elected deputies was increased, and the jurats and rectors who had previously sat by right in the States were dropped.

The parishes continued to be represented, and the jurats were replaced by 12 senior statesmen, known as senators in Jersey and conseillers in Guernsey, whose purpose was to bring political maturity and continuity to the more democratic island parliaments.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1639 - 1651 During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Jersey held out strongly for the Royalist cause, while the more strongly Presbyterian Guernsey more generally favoured the parliamentary cause
1940 - Many young men had already left to join the Allied armed forces, as volunteers. 6,600 out of 50,000 left Jersey while 17,000 out of 42,000 left Guernsey. Thousands of children were evacuated with their schools to England and Scotland
1940 – 1945 During the German occupation over 2,000 Islanders were deported by the Germans
1945 - The end of the German occupation came on 8 May 1945, Jersey and Guernsey being liberated on 9 May. The German garrison in Alderney was left until 16 May, and it was one of the last. Many of the evacuees who returned home had difficulty reconnecting with their families after five years of separation

Population Statistics[edit | edit source]

Year, Population
1821 49,427
1831 62,710
1841 76,065
1851 90,739
1861 90,978
1871 90,596
1881 87,703
1891 92,234
1951 102,770
1981 129,413
1991 145,629[1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Channel Islands,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1990-1998.