SILVER COUNTERMARKED GUERNSEY CROWN.
The only silver coin for Guernsey was the Spanish Dollar, overstruck or countermarked as follows:--
_O_. BISHOP DE JERSEY & CO. = The arms of Guernsey within a double circle.
_R._ BANK OF GUERNSEY, 1809 = TOKEN OF FIVE SHILLINGS, in three lines--wreath of oak. Specimens of this countermarked coin are now very rare. The one in the Leycester Sale, of June, 1888, lot 189, sold, together with the Jersey 3s. Tokens, for 3 10s.; and a higher price still has been more recently obtained.
Respecting this coin, the Viscount of Jersey [Le Gros] writes to me, under date 21st September, 1893:--
"The firm of Bishop de Jersey & Co., who issued the token in question in 1809, carried on the business of bankers in Guernsey under the style of "The Guernsey Bank." This Bank was in existence for about ten years in the beginning of the present century, and was, I am told, the first to issue paper money (1 notes) in Guernsey. It came to grief, however, after this short time.
"There are descendants of Mr. Bishop still living in Guernsey.
"'Mon Plaisir' is the name of the family estate of the Guernsey family of de Jersey, of which the partner in the Bank of that name was a member.
"Bishop and de Jersey are two distinct family names, both belonging to Guernsey."
CHANNEL ISLANDS COPPER TOKENS.
I have not, during two and a half years' stay in Jersey, been able to find any 17th century token of the Channel Islands.
The supply of small copper coins from France at that period prevented any inconvenience from want of currency of low denominations, and so probably no 17th century tokens were struck.
Nor were there any penny nor half-penny tokens struck for the Channel Islands between the years 1788 and 1797, when the issue of these, prior to the regal copper coinage of 1797, was so extensive in Great Britain.
But in the years 1812 and 1813 the copper currency, as well as that of silver, ran short, owing chiefly to the great drain caused by the Continental wars and the suspension of mintage work in common with other industries; accordingly, a few tokens, only six in all, of the penny size were issued from two sources.
The description of these is as follows:--
1. _O._ JERSEY BANK TOKEN, 1812 = Laureated sinister bust of George III.
_R_. ELIAS NEEL, JERSEY, A BANK OF ENGLAND NOTE FOR 240 TOKENS.
2. _O._ JERSEY BANK, 1813 = A draped sinister bust of King George III.
_R._ ONE PENNY TOKEN--The figure of Commerce seated.
3. _O._ JERSEY, GUERNSEY, AND ALDERNEY = ONE PENNY TOKEN.
_R._ TO FACILITATE TRADE, 1813 = Prince of Wales Plume of ostrich feathers and motto.
4. _O._ As last.
_R_. Laureated bust of King George III. within oak leaf wreath.
5. _O_. As last.
_R._ ONE PENNY TOKEN within a wreath.
6. _O._ As last.
_R._ PURE COPPER PREFERABLE TO PAPER. PENNY TOKEN = A Druid's head.
All the above-mentioned tokens are rare. I can find none whatever issued since 1813, nor prior to 1812. I have, in the above descriptions, taken the _obverse_ of tokens as the side of the coin specifying the Bank or other source of issue. This makes uniformity in the descriptions more apparent perhaps, though, in one case, it wrongly throws the bust on the _reverse_.
All sorts and conditions of small coins were formerly current in the Channel Islands. These were almost entirely of French mintage. Even at the present day, if at any ordinary shop in Jersey you take change in coppers, you will probably find amongst them two or three French sous, two or three Jersey pence or half-pence, an English penny or two, and one or two coins of Spain or Italy, and, until lately, even perhaps one of the numerous coins introduced by the Russian troops who were formerly in Jersey.
At such public institutions as the main Post Office, none but English and Jersey or Guernsey pence and half-pence are the coppers received or given.
As regards gold and silver currency, none but English-struck coins are usually fully current and tendered everywhere.
Le Quesne, at a footnote, page 263, writes:--"The average weight of a Jersey quarter of wheat is 260 lbs. English. Compared to an English quarter, the proportion is 13/24."
The Rev. G. E. Lee says:--"From the earliest times the quarter (Guernsey measure or measures) of wheat has been the unit of currency here, the value of the quarter being every year proclaimed by the Royal Court and _affeure_ in terms of so many _livres_ and _sols tournois_.
The livre tournois is now held to be worth 1/14 of the Guernsey pound sterling--_e.g._, in purchasing a property the contract will stipulate the value (even at the present day) _in quarters of wheat_, generally adding a proviso that the quarter payable is to be redeemed for 14 trs.--_i.e._, 1 Guernsey sterling. Fines imposed by the Court are always expressed in livres, sols, and deniers tournois."
With reference to extracts furnished me by Mr. Lee, he adds further:--
"English and French coins of every sort seem to have been current here [in Guernsey] from earliest times, the local value being fixed occasionally of such coins as were least in accord with those of Normandy.
"The most common former local coin seems to have been the _freluche_, which I take to be equal to the double.--_i.e._, the _double denier tournois_."
1 notes have been issued, by authority of the States, both for Jersey and Guernsey.
With reference to the mixed copper coins in circulation, mention has been made that there were Russian pieces tendered as small change. The following extracts from most interesting notes written by Miss Phillipa L. Marette, of La Haule Manor, for "The Jersey Ladies' College Magazine," will show clearly how it was that Russian coins were for a while current in the Channel Islands:--
"That clause in the Bill of Rights which forbids the landing of foreign troops in England, is responsible for the 'Russian occupation of Jersey,' for by it the Russians, who were our allies in the ill-fated expedition to Holland (undertaken for the re-establishment of the Prince of Orange), were prevented from taking up their quarters in England, and so were let loose upon the Channel Islands, there to await the arrival of their transports. Great was the excitement of the inhabitants when, on the 24th November, 1799, the first detachment of the Russian Corps of Emme (now the Pauloski Regiment, which still wears the same head-dress, a tall gilt mitre) arrived in this island.
"Week after week brought fresh numbers, and by January, 1800, 6,505 Russians were landed in Jersey, the sister island of Guernsey also receiving about the same number, and the whole force being under the command of a Frenchman, General Vilmeuil, who was created a Field-Marshal on the restoration of the Bourbons.
"As there were also at this time about 8,000 English troops in the place, it was somewhat difficult to find accommodation for the strangers.
"A large camp was formed on Grouville Common. Many were quartered in the St. Helier's Bay in the so-called 'Blue Barracks,' which were on the sand hill that then stretched between First Tower and Cheapside. Mention is made of Laurence's and Pipon's Barracks, the exact site of which I am unable to discover. They were probably private houses hired as temporary quarters, for we find that the old Parsonage at St. Brelade's, St.
Ouen's Manor, and Belle Vue, near St. Aubin's, were all used as such.
About St. Aubin's were distributed 995 men of a regiment of Chasseurs and a regiment of Grenadiers--61 being in hospital there. The General Infirmary of the island was also hired by the Russians, and was used mostly as a hospital, though some duty troops were also located therein.
"The Russians were only detained in the Channel Islands about six months, and by June 10th, 1800, had all left Jersey. The mortality amongst them was very great, doubtless aggravated by defective sanitary arrangements and overcrowding. One of their rough burial grounds on Grouville Common was consecrated some years after their departure. They were buried usually in gardens, &c., near where they died, wrapped in their blankets only."
The lady who furnishes the above interesting facts, gives also in her paper other most quaint and valuable particulars of these strange visitors. She had spent much time in gleaning all that could be got together, and this proved no easy matter, for, although the Russian occupation of the Channel Islands occurred but 97 years ago, there is little obtainable record remaining.
I have somewhat fully inserted notes to show how Russian coins became current in the Channel Islands, because this has puzzled many.
At the present time all English money is commonly current throughout the group of islands.