Ecole Elementaire or Elementary School

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Ecole Elementaire or
Elementary School

This article by Janet Likeman was first published in the 1991 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

Languages in everyday life

There are constant reminders in Jersey of the French influence on the culture and heritage of the island, reminders which are so integral to daily living that they are often ignored. As I passed the parish school of Saint Lawrence one afternoon and waved my usual thanks to the school which gave me such an excellent start to my academic life, I became aware that the title of the school, carved into the wall, was in English and not French. I had always presumed it was in French, and not the English: '1902 St Lawrence Elementary School'. This provoked a visit to as many of the schools as possible to review their titles. Many of the dates on them relate to the turn of the century at a time when compulsory schooling was introduced. Of the schools visited, the following were in French:

  • 1897 Ecole Elementaire Victoria St Sauveur
  • 1899 St Martin Ecole Paroissiale
  • 1901 Ecole Elementaire Sainte Marie
  • 1901 Ecole Elementaire (Beaumont)
  • 1901 St Jean Ecole Elementaire
  • 1902 Ecole Paroissiale de St. Ouen
  • 1910 Ecole Paroissiale de la Trinite

The only English inscription observed, apart from Saint Lawrence, was First Tower '1901 Elementary School'. Not all the sites of the 19th century elementary schools were visited but, with the development in town, obviously some of the evidence has been destroyed. Saint Paul's School had separate doors for boys and girls; there is very little original building of the school at Saint Mark's; and no inscription could be found at Saint Luke's. In the country parishes again, no inscription could be found at Saint Ouen's Wesleyan, nor at Saint Brelade's School at Saint Aubin. At Saint Peter only the date 1862 is visible. This mixture of English and French influences in Jersey culture affected the schoolchildren of the 19th century.

The Anglican Church in Jersey originally conducted its services in French and, in some of the churches, continued to do so until the early years of the 20th century. Following the restoration of Charles II the Anglican Prayer Book was translated into French in 1663 by John le Vavasseur dit Durell. It was published in 1667 and used in the Parish Churches until the English language was introduced. The Prayer of Saint Chrysostom at the end of Morning Prayer must have been as familiar to churchgoers in French as it is in English.

Service hours

Children, therefore, would have been nurtured in their faith saying their prayers in French, and reading La Sainte Bible. Many Jersey families still have on their bookcases, or in the attic, Sunday School prizes given to children throughout the 19th century by the Anglican and Methodist Churches, namely, Prayer Books and Bibles in French. Throughout the 19th century services were conducted in French on Sundays at eleven in the morning and seven in the evening in the Parish Churches of Saint Brelade, Saint Martin, Saint Clement, Saint Ouen, Saint Saviour, Saint Peter, Trinity, Saint Lawrence, Saint John, Grouville and Saint Mary. In 1852 Saint Saviour introduced also an afternoon service at three o'clock in English. Saint Helier's Parish Church in 1843 had Sunday services at 11 am and 7 pm in French and at 2.30 pm in English, which continued until 1890 when the French services at 11 am and 7 pm were retained but the English services were held at 8.15 am, 9 am and 3 pm.

With the settlement of many new residents in Saint Helier during the 19th century, most of whom were English, new churches were built to accommodate the congregations. Saint Paul, Saint James, Saint Luke, Saint Mark, Saint Andrew (on the Esplanade), Saint Jude and Saint Simon were all built in Saint Helier during this time and all conducted services in English. Outside Saint Helier the Episcopal Chapel of Ease at Gorey had services in English; Saint Aubin's Chapel of Ease held an English service in the morning and a French service in the evening; and Saint Matthew, Millbrook, held morning and afternoon services in English and the evening service in French until 1870 when there were no further French services. Saint Pierre de la Rocque, Grouville, held one service on a Sunday in French until 1890, after which the services were in French or English on alternate Sundays. All Saints, Saint Helier, opened in 1835 with services in English, morning and evening, and a French service in the afternoon, a practice which continued with intermittent breaks until the turn of the century.

The Methodists organised their chapels into French and English circuits. Galaad Chapel at Millbrook was in the French circuit as on the wall behind the Communion table there is the beautifully illuminated text in French of passages from the Bible, among which are the following verses:

Matthieu XXII Verses XXXVII a XL.
Tu aimeras le Seigneur, ton Dieu, de tout ton coeur, de toute ton arne et de toute ta pense. C'est Ie premier et le grand commandement. Et voici le second qui lui est semblable. Tu aimeras ton prochain comme toi-meme. Toute la loi et les prophetes se rapportent a ces deux commandements.

In the Preface to the 1893 edition of the Supplément au recueil de Cantiques à l'usage des Eglises Méthodistes des Iles de la Manche there is evidence that the French circuit had existed since the establishment of Methodism in the island:

Trois ans environ après la formation des premières Sociétés Méthodistes dans les Iles de la Manche, Hobert Carr Brackenbury publiait a leur usage a Londres en 1786 un Nouveau Recueil de Cantiques, tirés principalement d'auteurs catholiques, mais corrigés et appropries a leur nouvel emploi.

Roman Catholicism came back to the island with the arrival of the French emigres and priests in the 1790s. They were allowed to conduct services in four oratories in private houses. Many of the new immigrants remained in the island and in 1803 an old flour loft was rented in Castle Street, Saint Helier, to be used by both French and English-speaking Catholics. Eventually this became too small, so the English-speaking Roman Catholics built Saint Mary's and Saint Peter's Church, Vauxhall, 1841-43. French-speaking Roman Catholics acquired a chapel in New Street from the Anabaptists and called it Saint Thomas, When Saint Thomas's Church, Val Plaisant, was built (1883-87) the old chapel became the Cercle Saint Thomas. Roman Catholic churches were also established in the country districts.

During the 19th century the people of Jersey changed their language of communication. English was introduced and gradually incorporated into the island's culture. There were many reasons for this, of which one was the influx of English residents, especially in the early part of the century. By 1840 there were approximately 5,000 English residents, forming a distinct English group along with the British troops who were stationed in the island, most of the families living in or near Saint Helier. Having settled in the island, they took an interest in local politics, some of them finding the local laws irritating. In an editorial comment in the Chronique de Jersey of 7 January 1860, the election for a new deputy for Saint Helier was described, including the choice of the English party, The aim of the 'parti Anglais' was explained in the article:

Ils n'auront atteint leur but que quand ils auront fait de Jersey une colonie anglaise, ou un annexe de l'un des comtés voisins de l'Angleterre. Mais pour qu'ils arrivent la, il y a encore trop de patriots, trop de gens interesses a ce que Jersey reste Jersey, rien de plus, rien de moins, pour qu'ils puissent accomplir le bouleversement general qu'ils meditent depuis longtemps. En supposant que ce parti, qui sous pretexte a'amelioration veut la ruine totale du pays, reussit a envoyer dans la chambre legislative celui qui depuis tant d'annees s'est fait remarquer par son antipathie pour tout ce qui est jersiais, il serait encore loin de son but; car les paroisses rurales ou tous les electeurs sont Jersiais, ne peuvent envoyer dans les Etats que des representants Jersiais, comme seront ceux qu'enverront les electeurs jersiais de St Helier.

The English residents read English newspapers, several of which were printed 1ocally, and these increased in number. The British Press was established in 1822 and the Jersey Times and Naval and Military Chronicle in 1832.

Children and the Languages

One of the local newspapers, the Chronique de Jersey, campaigned for many years on behalf of those Jersey people who wanted to retain the old way of life, and for them this included the French language. Already by mid-century the threat of anglicisation was apparent in several ways. The English residents were an educated and influential group, willing and able to take part in local politics, which at this time was dominated by two parties, the Laurel and the Rose. It is difficult to date precisely the growing English influence in the island, but there are indicators such as the decision of the States to change the official currency from the livre tournois to sterling in 1834. This took many years to take full effect.

To ease the transition, a Jersey penny, which from September 1840 was worth one-thirteenth of a shilling, became one twelth of a shilling in 1876. However, French copper coins were still legal tender until the 20th century. How did the local children do their money sums? When did the teachers start using sterling as the unit of money? Presumably it varied from school to school. Parents of boys attending Victoria College when it opened, complained that the boys were taught sterling and not Jersey currency.

The Chronique de Jersey in 1855 was critical of the fact that not enough effort was made in the schools to use French. In 1860 Francois Godfray, Deputy for Saint Saviour, raised the question of language in the States, complaining that French was taught as a foreign language rather than on an equal footing with English. In 1860, commenting on the Inspectors' Reports on Victoria College, the Chronique regretted that there was not a Professor of French at the College, "on l'on regrette de ne pas voir aucune chair de Rhetorique francaise".

The article went on to say:

Qu'il nous soit permis aussi d'esperer que le souhait patriotique exprimé ... par le Juge Le Bailly, que la langue francaise soit employée a I'avenir, concurremment avec la langue anglaise, dans toutes les branches de l'enseignement se realisera avant qu'il soit longtemps. Alors, et alors seulement, le College Victoria pourra etre considere comme une institution essentiellement Jersiaise.

The Bailiff from 1850 to 1880 was Jean Hammond. He was educated at Caen and admitted to the Jersey Bar in 1821, becoming Solicitor-General in 1848. Two Royal Commissions investigated Jersey institutions, one in 1846 and the second in 1859-60, because of the demands of the English party. Jean Hammond was a true son of Jersey and led the resistance to the attempts at anglicisation and the ending of Jersey independence. As Bailiff he was a member of the Assembly which administered the Impot, the money raised from the duty on wines and spirits granted by Charles II in 1669, originally intended partly for educational purposes. Jean Hammond was also on the governing body of Victoria College and strongly supported the Jersey Industrial School for Boys established at Gorey in 1867, and the Orphans Home for Girls established at Grouville in 1863.

In their excellent book Balleine's History of Jersey Marguerite Syvret and Joan Stevens point out that the use of the English language spread gradually through the population during the reign of Queen Victoria. In 1800 everyone spoke Jersey Norman-French and most people understood and spoke French. By 1900 practically everyone spoke English, whilst some used Jersey Norman-French and, because of the policy of teaching English and French in schools, everyone had an understanding of both languages - to a variable degree. When Queen Victoria visited the island in 1846, the tour included Mont Orgueil Castle. Colonel Le Couteur, her Aide-de-Camp, recorded their conversation in his diary. They discussed the use of language. Colonel Le Couteur explained to her that Jersey Norman-French was not the same as French. The Queen apparently approved of the old language - "Well I respect these old attachments to language. There is something pleasing to see the Welsh, for instance, retaining their ancient tongue. Those habits and manners are always interesting, and I should not like to see a people deprived of them. I noticed that the police spoke in Jersey French to each other, though they spoke to me in English:' Colonel Le Couteur replied that everyone in town could speak in English. "In the country they do not, but there are English schools in every parish. The Court and States speak French". This geographical division of the use of language is confirmed by remarks made in the Inspectors' reports discussed later.

In 1882 one of the Inspectors of French, Monsieur Boucher, commenting on the various attainments of the schools, listed the reasons why some people in Jersey regarded the teaching of French as important:

Cependant, cet etat de chose ne peut repondre aux intentions des Etats, qui comprennent toute l'importance de l'etude de la langue nationale, de la langue de Robert Wace, illustre trouvere Anglo-Normand du douzième siecle, que Jersey s'honore d'avoir vu naitre. C'est la que vous pensez aussi, Messieurs, et avec vous tous les hommes intelligents, qui comprennent que le Francais est la base des institutions et des immunites de cette tie. Aussi son excellence le Lieutenant¬Gouverneur a-t-il pu dire dans une importante reunion, que Ie jour ou Jersey verrait disparaitre sa langue nationale, serait marque par la grande calamite publique.

These comments underlined a sentiment and conviction held by many Jersey people that, because the basis of their way of life had French origins and because the proceedings of the Law Court, the States and the Church were in the French language, the children of the island should be taught French from an early age. To encourage this, first the Assembly of Governor, Bailiff and Jurats which administered the Impot, and then the States of Jersey, were willing to pay a grant to the elementary schools on the results of the examinations and inspections made annually. The precise number of people who supported the policy of the French Grant is difficult to assess. The teaching of French as a claim for a grant from the Assembly was introduced in the 1860s when there was already extensive use of English in Saint Helier. The number of supporters of the scheme must have declined as the century progressed and the economic advantages of the use of English became apparent.

Monsieur Bouchet, the French Inspector, gave another reason for the importance of teaching French. He stated that a knowledge of both French and English would give Jersey children a definite advantage over others who knew only one language, in that they were likely to secure superior employment, and would be more likely to succeed. Therefore Jersey people recognised that the teaching of French had a commercial advantage as well as being the traditional basis of Jersey institutions. The French which was taught in the schools was that of France, not the local jerriais.

The teaching of French in the elementary schools was not obligatory until 1881. There were differences in the schools during the period under review as to which language was used for instruction. Colonel Le Couteur, in a letter written in 1859, described how his mother had established a Sunday School in Saint Brelade in 1815 to teach English to Jersey schoolchildren. At that time there were few who could read English. By 1859 about 60 boys and 49 girls attended the National Society School at Saint Aubin, all of whom could read English. (12) In a period of fifty years English had been introduced to successive generations of Saint Brelade children and was well established. The children at Saint Mark were taught in English, whilst at Trinity they were taught in French until 1882, when the master was reprimanded. However, geographical location was not the only variable in deciding which language was used as the teaching medium. Well into the twentieth century the teachers of the reception class at the elementary schools in the country retained the ability to teach in three languages, Jersey Norman-French, English or French, depending on which language their new pupils spoke.


When the teaching of French became compulsory in the grant aided elementary schools, it was tightly controlled. Guidelines were issued to the schools under the title of Reglernents, which were adopted by the Committee for Elementary Education on 5 October 1880. These ensured that the teaching of French and English was on a comparable basis, a specific and equal amount of time being devoted to each language. This was strictly observed by the schools, the only departures being if, for example, an inspection was due, when extra time would be devoted to French. The order of inspection repeated itself each year so that the schools knew when to expect a visit from the Inspector. They were notified well in advance of the impending visit, and if there was to be any alteration in the routine. The French inspection followed the same order as the English and took place as soon as possible after it.

As the years went by, the control and information required became more detailed. In the 1880s and 1890s the workload on the teachers increased proportionally as the number of forms to be filled in was extended. Details of the teachers and their careers were entered on the forms, as well as the facts and figures concerning the children and their instruction in both French and English. The number of sessions each child attended was also carefully recorded for the inspector's examination. The grant for the teaching of French was paid only to those elementary schools which met the terms of the law passed by the States on the 21st of February, 1872, when the control of the elementary schools passed from the Education Committee of the Privy Council to the States of Jersey. The Inspectors' reports, therefore, concerned only these schools which they visited and examined, and not the many private schools in all parts of the island, which did not qualify for the grant. Undoubtedly French was taught ina great number of the private schools because it was included in the subjects advertised in their prospectuses.

For a school to receive a grant at all the pupil had to obtain at least 15 marks out of 25. This payment by results placed some strain on the teacher to obtain the necessary results. The marks system was very closely observed, and there are cases where the grant was not paid, or was reduced, because the results were not satisfactory, for example at Saint James' School in 1879:

Garcons: L'etat des etudes francaises dans cette ecole n'est que mediocre. Le Francais n'y prend pas racine, et n'y est traité que comme un hors d'oeuvre. Je recommanderais fortement au Comité plus d'instruction. Filles: L'etat des etudes francaises dans cette ecole est des plus deplorables. La maitresse est plainte de manque d'appareil d'instruction tels que livres, etc. Je recommanderais fortement au comité de l'ecole de prendre des mesures immediates pour remedier a cet ecole de choses. II est absolument necessaire a mon avis maintenant que Ie Francais est sur un pied d'egalite avec I'Anglais que le Maitre ou la Maitresse d'une ecole Jersiaise sache parler et ecrrre les deux langues.

This school received a reduced grant for that year.

The value of the grant in 1880 was six pennies for each point gained by the children in the higher standards, and three pennies for each point in the lower classes. The children had to progress through the standards to obtain the grant, and no child could be presented at the same level two years running if he had gained the necessary 15 points. Learning the French language is quite different from chatting to family and friends in Jersey Norman-French so that, despite their French background, the children may well have had some difficulty in following the course content.

Minimum attendance

The number of sessions attended by each child was clearly stated, at least 250 per annum being required before the examination took place. However, it was recognised that some children had to work and, in these cases, 150 sessions was the minimum. The log books of the schools are filled with references to lack of attendance because the children were helping with the potato planting or digging seasons. "The weekly average attendance is very low owing to the parents keeping their children to plant potatoes". It was not only the country schools which were affected as the children in Saint Helier also had to work. The managers of the National Society School recognised that the children's educational standards were affected because of this. A child had to be ten years of age to meet the requirement that if he had to work to help support himself the number of sessions he had to attend was lowered to 150 per annum. A special category was established for the under sevens, who were not admissible to Standard 1, but for whom a preparation in French was considered essential.

Teaching French was optional until this time, but the Reglements ended by stating that the teaching of French would become compulsory in the school year 1881-82. Reading through the log-books it is possible to trace the increasing importance of the teaching of French. In the early ones with entries in the 1860s, there is little or no reference to French. The Saint Mark's log-books described clearly how French was introduced in 1867, whilst Saint Paul's gave no indication that the language was being taught until the receipt of the French grant was acknowledged in 1873. As the years went by the teaching of French assumed a very important part of school life. Of the 19 schools examined in 1880, only four were not receiving the French grant. A comparison in the revenue of the different schools gives an idea of the extra money involved. In the school year 1879-80, schools in Jersey received on average £0 15s 2½d for each child; this increased to £1 Os O½d if French was included; in England, where there was no such grant for French, the Board Schools received on average £0 16s 6d per child per annum and the Voluntary Schools, £0 15s 11d.

The Reglements were amended as experience and the situation demanded. In 1885 a new set was adopted, which emphasised that the payment of the grant was dependent on the Inspector's Report, again increasing the stress on the teachers to obtain good results. This meant that some of the schools found difficulty in meeting the demands for teaching both languages. Mr Gruchy at Trinity complained, in 1889, that so much time was devoted to French that only slow progress was made in English. If the books or equipment were found to be below standard by the Inspectors, one quarter of the grant could be withheld. Obviously some schools were not providing the requisite books and must have disregarded advice in the annual reports.

Not only were books, equipment, time, inspection, and points to be gained closely controlled, so were teachers and pupil teachers responsible for the instruction of French. After 30 September 1880, pupil teachers had to take two examinations in their apprenticeship, at the end of the second and fourth years. Each one who successfully passed the examinations and whose conduct during apprenticeship was satisfactory was judged competent to teach French in the elementary schools of the island whilst completing the apprenticeship, and received a certificate to that effect signed by the President of the Elementary Education Committee. Provision was made for those pupil teachers who were in the middle of their apprenticeships when these Reglements were adopted, special examinations being held for them in 1881 and 1882. French was one of the subjects, therefore, which the pupil teachers were taught. "French to teachers after school" was the entry for 4 February 1868 at Saint Mark's, and subsequently a subject they themselves taught. "Made a slight alteration in the Timetable on account of the French being taught by myself and teachers" (Saint Mark's, 15 December 1876). Their examinations were recorded also - "Two teachers at examinations (French) in town:' (Trinity, 19 March 1886).

The Reglements contained clauses setting out the qualifications required for intending teachers of French, the Committee being anxious to ensure that the teachers were capable of teaching the language. This decision was taken after the initial set of Reglements had been introduced, suggesting that some of the adverse comments of the Inspectorate on the standard of teaching in certain schools had some effect. From 1886 the French grant was given to a school only if the teacher concerned had a Brevet de Capacite for teaching French. However, in recognition of some of the superb teaching and to cover the period whilst teachers qualified for the Brevet, those who had successfully taught the language in the island's elementary schools for five consecutive years and whose pupils had each obtained a minimum of 20 points, were not required to obtain such a Brevet de Capacite. On 18 May 1886, the names of seven teachers, who were then exempt from obtaining a Brevet under these arrangements, were presented to the Committee. Teachers obtained a Brevet by passing a two-part examination. Those who had obtained a Brevet in France, or the French-speaking part of Switzerland, were judged competent to teach French in the island, on condition that they submitted their Brevets to the Committee as evidence.

These amendments to the Reglements were necessary to raise the standard in some schools. It was possible to detect through the Inspections that the results were barely satisfactory in certain schools, the mediocrity of the results being due to teaching by masters and mistresses for whom French was a foreign language. Often they left this difficult task to the young pupil teachers who had neither experience nor knowledge, some of whom had confessed to the Inspector that the teaching of French was entirely their responsibility. Monsieur Bouchet made these points in 1882, and this contributed to the decision of the Education Committee requiring teachers to obtain the Brevet de Capacite. Monsieur Bouchet pointed out that the schools of Rozel and Saint Ouen, for example, consistently obtained good marks whereas the National School, Don Street, amongst others, had poor results.

Each year the States of Jersey Education Committee held an examination for the pupils who had obtained the maximum number of points in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh standards. Provision was made also for those who did not gain the maximum points but who were judged by their teacher to be at the necessary standard to take part in the examination, recognition that children do not always perform their best on a particular day. Those pupils who obtained maximum points at the annual inspection of their schools but who were no longer on the Register of the Elementary School at the time of the States French Examination, either because they were at Victoria College or were working, could also take the examination - an acknowledgement by the Committee of the importance of teaching French in the elementary schools. Prizes were awarded to those children who came top in this examination. In 1880 it was held on the 22nd of December at the National School, Don Street. Sixty-six children attended from ten of the island's elementary schools. In 1881 when the examination was again held in December there were seventy¬seven entrants, fourteen of whom did not appear on the day. The weather was very bad, causing those who did attend several interruptions during their journey. The children from the furthest parishes and from the youngest age group were more severely affected, and the Inspector asked the Committee to consider holding the examination at a more favourable time of the year. The short days of December did not allow enough time to get through the programme with the necessary amount of supervision. In this instance the Inspector's advice was not followed and the examination continued to take place in December.

Inspectors' reports

Randomly scattered throughout the Inspectors' reports are comments on the dominance of the French language, which make it possible to identify the parts of the island where either French or English was predominant. On the whole, the parish and town of Saint Helier was an English-speaking area, and the parishes identified as French-speaking were Saint Ouen, Trinity, Saint Martin and Grouville. In 1875 the Inspector commented that the native language in the neighbourhood of Saint Ouen was purely French and, taking that into consideration, plus the smallpox epidemic, he could "report very favourably of the work done under Mr Brewer. Reading is pretty correct, but very monotonous" Again at Saint Ouen's Parochial School in 1877, the Inspector wrote "I am glad to find the infants have received much more attention than last year, but they are still backward for their ages. It must be remembered that their want of the knowledge of English is very much against them".

In 1882 he wrote in the report on the boys "Reading is the weak point in this school. I am aware that the teachers have great difficulties to meet from the French element, but I am sure the monotony might be overcome in a great degree" This also applied to the girls.

At Saint Ouen's Wesleyan School, the Inspector wrote in 1882 "There is a remarkably strong staff at this school and I am at a loss to conceive how the children can have passed so bad an examination. The lower classes have done badly but the upper much worse and not only in one or two subjects but in all. I have made full allowance for the French element in the school" By 1886 the results were good and the Inspector commented that because the children can speak neither English nor French"

Languages in the 20th century

On 4 December 1899 the proposal was lodged au Greffe that English could be spoken during the debates in the States of Jersey and on 8 February 1900 the proposal was carried by 26 to 15, with two abstentions. French continued to be used as one of the languages of debate and the language of the Royal Court and written legislation for many years. The first all English law was drafted in 1928.

The vote to allow the use of English reflected its growing influence. Improved communications with England increased contacts in all directions between the two during the nineteenth century and Jersey saw an expansion in the local population as well as in the number of immigrants. The growth of English does not appear to have been part of official policy; it occurred for social reasons, such as the increasing number of children sent to English-speaking private schools and for economic reasons following the increase in trade and tourism. English residents were partly responsible for the spread of the English influence but there was also a section in Jersey society who welcomed the change, amongst whom were the shopkeepers and traders of Saint Helier who considered it essential for the growth of business. There was definitely a group who saw Jersey Norman-French as the language of simple country folk and dissociated themselves from the native jerriais. They reasoned that English was a means of getting on in the world, and that the French connection was a thing of the past. How many of us were teased at school because we could speak Jersey Norman-French?

This cannot be described as a middle-class revolution because the sections of society who wished to retain the French influence were from the middle-class itself, as well as the farming community which included all classes of society. The farmers and their families did not feel the need to speak English as they spent their lives working on the farms speaking in the jerriais of the island. The Inspectors of the schools could see the value of teaching French on an equal basis with English because of Jersey's past and present. The members of the Royal Court were interested in retaining French as this was the language of legal proceedings. Many of their number formed the Assembly which voted for the French Grant.

In 1900 Jurat Gervaise Le Gros argued that French was taught in the schools as a foreign language and, undoubtedly for some, this was so. Compulsory French had been introduced in 1881, just 20 years before the law of 8 February 1900. If the original aim of the encouragement of teaching French was to prevent the progress of English, the law of 1900 proved it a failure. The significance of teaching French emphasised Jersey's historic background. Far more was lost on 8 February 1900 than a language. In 1947, Mr, later Doctor, Frank Le Maistre addressed the Jersey Society in London with these words:

"... when the old walls in the country no longer echo the pleasant sounds of the Jersey language, when those docile and graceful natives, the Jersey cows, are no longer addressed in the jerriais they have understood for so many generations, when the Jersey soil is trampled upon by descendants of her sons uttering a foreign tongue to it, when children are lulled to sleep in English, when the seagulls cry out to the cliffs in English and when the dogs bark in English - then Jersey will no longer be Jersey and we shall have lost irretrievably a very precious possession indeed.

Despite the enormous influence of English in the 20th century there are still parents, a precious few, who nurture their children in Jersey Norman-French and French, so that these are their original languages and the ancient heritage is remembered.

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