To mark 250 years since Jersey’s ‘Corn Riots’ – which saw hundreds of people storm Jersey’s Royal Court against the price of food – the States Assembly (Jersey’s parliament) and Royal Court are holding a series of free behind-the-scenes tours for one day only on Saturday 28th September.
The riots followed a period of civil unrest which saw repeated food shortages and the price of crops and produce increase in Jersey. The tax system was also considered unjust and the authorities were seen to be heavy-handed in their exercise of power. On 28th September, 1769, armed protesters from the eastern parishes marched into St. Helier and burst into the court armed with clubs and sticks and threw a Court Usher over the court railing. The protesters demanded that their 13 requests be written down – from lowering the price of wheat to requesting foreigners be ejected from the Island, and from simplifying and lowering taxes to stopping Seigneurs from the right to enjoy a person’s estate for a year and a day if they died without heirs.
The ‘Corn Riots’ were crucial in the development of the Island’s democratic institutions, particularly the legislature (States Assembly/parliament) and the judiciary (court). Previously, the Royal Court had been the most powerful institution in Jersey and had law-making powers. As a result of the ‘Corn Riots’, the Royal Court lost its legislative powers and the States Assembly became the sole law-making body in the Island. The Laws of Jersey were also brought together in the ‘Code of 1771’. This meant that for the first time, Islanders could be aware of the laws that governed them.
The Open House one-hour tours will take visitors on a journey through the Royal Court and States Chamber, relating what happened in 1769 through to how the institutions work today in 2019. The tour will also finish with an exhibition detailing what happened before, during and after the ‘Corn Riots’.
Deputy Russell Labey who is Chair of the Privileges and Procedures Council says, “For such a momentous event, the story of the 28th September 1769 is perhaps not as widely known as it should be. The 250th anniversary of the storming of the Royal Court provides us with an opportunity to revisit the reasons for the riot, explore how the justice system and administration of Jersey would change forever and honour the courageous struggle of desperate people against tyranny. It also gives us the opportunity to throw open the doors to our seats of justice and the home of our democracy. It’s a tale of intrigue and a fascinating building and we look forward to welcoming as many visitors as possible to our Open House.”
Find out more about Open House and register your interest at Facebook.com/StatesAssembly.
Government of Jersey Press Release.