By E. Parmalee Prentice
The annual Report of the Royal Jersey SOciety for 1846 says that good cows at that time were worth from eight to twelve pounds, that heifers sold at four og five pounds, and that "the export at that period was between 700 and 800 yearly," apparently referring solely to the export of cows and heifers, for no other animals are mentioned.
David Low, in his book on The Domesticated Animals of the British Islands, published in London in 1845-46, speaks of the Channel Island trade as all other writers of the time spoke, for he refers only to the females. "The cows", he says, "are imported into England in considerable numbers."
There is also a very interesting advertisement on a flyleaf of the book on The Alderney and Guernsey Cow, written by Mr. Edward Parsons Fowler of St. Clement`s, Jersey, and published in London in 1855. In this advertisement, Mr. Fowler states that he is an "Exporter of ALderney, Guernsey and Jersey Cows and Heifers," forwarding cattle throughout England to order at a trifling expense. Mr. Fowler could and did supply bulls also, when bulls were desired, and if many inquiries had been made for bulls, Mr. Fowler surely would regularly have offered them for sale. The fact that bulls were not often mentioned, and that cows and heifers were made prominent, shows that the English demand for Channel Island bulls in 1855 - though by that time considerable - was still comparatively small.
At late as 1862, this Island trade in cows and heifers shipped to England was still in existence and conducted on a fairly large scale, for which, in his book on The Channel Islands, Mr. Ansted gives interesting figures:
Although it can hardly be said that cows are bred in the Channel Islands for exportation, there is still a considerable amount of profitable export business carried on relating to them. In the year 1860, Jersey exported 1.138 cows and heifers, and Guernsey about 500, the value of each cow of pure breed being from 14 to 18 pounds. In the year 1861, the export from Jersey had increased to 1.819 beasts. A much larger number than this total has, no doubt, been advertised for sale in England as Alderney cows alone, but since the whole stock of cattle in that little island does not exceed 400 head, and certainly not more than fifty heifers are sent away annually, it may be well to state that not only are the real Channel Island cows almost all from the larger islands, but that the balance is made up chiefly of small Breton cows, whose value in Brittany is little more than 5 pounds each.
In 1881, Mr. John Thornton, Secretary of the English Jersey cattle Society, in speaking of the use of Jersey cows, said:
The number of Alderney cows that existed in the South of England upwards of a century ago, is evidence that there was at that time a trade with the Island for them.
We have, hen, a series of references covering a period of 149 years, from 1732 to 1881, in which ten writers -Shebbeare, Plees, Syvret, Berry, Inglis, Durell, the anonymous author of the Brief Description, Low, Ansted and Thornton, besides the Fowler advertisement, the recital of the preamble of the Guernsey Ordinance and the statement in the Annual Report of the Royal Jersey Society - described the Channel Island trade in cattle with England as consisting of the shipment of cows and heifers, while, although bulls were shipped and sold, no writer mentioned the shipment of bulls. Ansted, it is true, says that in 1860 Jersey exported 1.138 cows and heifers to England and that in 1861 "the export from Jersey had increased to 1.819 beasts,", but it would not be safe to conclude that in the word "beasts" Ansted had included males, for he not only gived this figure as comparable with the figure given for cows and heifers exported in 1860, but he adds that even the figures for 1861 are small compared with the numbers of "Alderney cows" advertised for sale in England. The export of bulls to England was not negligible in 1860, but Ansted seems to have considered only the important cow and heifer trade.
A striking proof of the slight estimate placed upon Channel Island bulls, was given during the rinderpest epidemic in Europe when England forbade the importation of all cattle, but by Order in Council on May 26, 1866, without mentioning Channel Island bulls, directed that cows from the channel Islands be excepted from this general rule. The cow and heifer trade was too important to stop but there was no trade in Channel Island bulls that required consideration.
Had there been in the Channel Islands a well-known and desirable breed of cattle, the Island bulls would not have gone begging, but there was no such breed. The English market wanted meat. Shorthorn bulls mated with Jersey or Guernsey cows produced offspring that could be milked when fresh and when dry could be fattened and sold to the butcher, and so Shorthorn or other large bulls were used in preference to small Alderney bulls.
It is interesting to notice that in 1847 the Royal Jersey Society presented to the Prince Consort at Windsor Castle a two-year-old heifer and a yearling bull and heifer. By this time, therefore, the idea of developing , by breeding and selection, a Jersey breed of cattle had taken root on the Island. The reputation of Channel Island cattle - Jerseys and Guernseys - was a later development.
What was the trade in Island bulls? There were, we may assume, as many male calves born on the Island as there were heifer calves, and all these male animals had value, for they could be prepared as steers to be used either for food or for draught. Island farmers would be anxious to dispose of male animals, and it would be surprising if no males were shipped. Accordingly, the Port Books show that, in 1742, one or two bulls went to England, the difference in figures arising from the fact that the statements of the Port Books, showing importation of cattle from Channel Island into English Ports, and the statements of these books, showing exports from each of the Islands, fail to agree. Nine years later, in 1751, thirteen bulls were shipped to England; in the following year, 1752, nine bulls; in 1753, one bull; in 1754, one or two bulls, the difference in figures arising as before; and in 1755, six bulls were shipped.
The Customs House Books show "cattle" shipped in 1739-40, and cows and bulls in each of the three years 1741-42, 1742- 43 and 1746-47,- the number of bulls being unspecified and all bulls reported as shipped from Guernsey, none from Jersey or ALderney - a fact which probably tells more about the character of the records with which we deal than about the trade which the records purport to describe.
None of the writers who described Channel Island trade can have been ignorant that bulls were from time to time carried from the Islands to England. Certainly it was not a matter which could be concealed from the Royal Society of Jersey; and, notwithstanding this, the carriage of bulls was not mentioned in the Annual Report of the SOciety or by any writer in connection with descriptions of the cow and heifer export business of Island farmers. It is not doubted, that bulls were shipped from the Channel Islands to England, and that, though these bulls were comparatively few, yet absolutely the number, especially in the 19th century, was far from inconsiderable. It seems, however, that the shipment of Channel Island bulls to England was not to be mentioned by writers who told of the Channel Island trade, and the reader is left to speculate as to the reason for what seems like a general agreement to keep silence on the subject.
The explanation of this striking fact is, apparently, that exportation of bulls was not part of the business which brought to best profit to the farmers. Most of the bulls expoted to England from the Channel Islands - like the bulls shipped from Normandy with the cows and heifers sent to Paris dairies in the trade which M. Guenon described - although not good beef animals, were in most cases fattened for the beef market, or may have been used as steers for draught. The cows and heifers sold for fair prices, as we know. The bulls probably went cheap. George Garrard, therefore, in his chapter on Alderney cattle, gives the prices of fresh Alderney cows, dry cows, calves and oxen for the yoke, but says nothing of bulls.
Alderney bulls were rarely used for breeding with ALderney cows, for, although in 1855 it was said that "the prejudice against the ALderney which has existed amongst dairy farmers, whose object is only profit, by whatever legitimate means obtainable, is also now fast wearing away," nevertheless, Alderneys were not a popular race of cattle in England, and it is not likely that the idea of profit by legitimate means would ever wear away.
There was a doctrine that
.... the worse bred the cow may be the more fully will the calf resemble the bull.
This is no new principle, Professor Tanner said, for it was advocated by Lord Spencer i 1840 or earlier, and, on this ground, he argued:
For the economical production of beef the best stock will be obtained from good useful dairy cows by the use of bulls of a thoroughly good pedigree.
This is the idea which lay at the bottom of the method which was followed in mating Channel Island cattle in England. John Lawrence said that ALderney or Norman bulls had been introduced into Yorkshire at some time during the 18th century for use with Holderness cows. John Baxter said, in 1836, that Channel Island cows were "generally crossed in this country, which accounts for the breed being but rarely met with pure." George Culley said that he had seen some very usefull cattle bred by a cross between an ALderney cow and a Shorthorn bull, and Edward Parsons Fowler of St. Clement`s, Jersey "Exporter of ALderney, Guernsey and Jersey cows and heifers", said in 1855, "the pre-eminent utility of the Alderney Cow as a cross in breeding, with the Longhorn, is universally allowed where the dairy is the object."
David Low said that Alderneys "are mingled in blood with the native races, especially the Devon and its varieties." Thomas Potts spoke of crossing Norman or Alderney bulls with Holderness cows. Sir William St. Quintin of Scampston, near Malton, crossed Shorthorns and Alderneys, as also did Sir John Heyburn of Smeaton in East Lothian, Sir James Pennyman at Ormesby in Cleveland, and John Haxton said in 1853 that, unless crossed with cattle of another breed, the ALderney is not profitable. Dr. R. W. Dickson takes some pains to explain this practice adopting statements made by a Mr. Wilkinson, a well-known breeder of the time. Dr. Dickson says that "a breed, which is unprofitable on the whole, is sometimes kept for the sake of a particular quality which it possesses in so high a degree, that it would scarcely be worse if this quality were somewhat diminished, as is thought to be the case with the Alderney cow; a breed which is kept by some of the nobility and gentry, entirely on account of the richness of the cream; but yet the quantity of milk afforded by them is so small, as to make them extremely unprofitable, even as milkers. It is well known, that the produce of this breed, when crossed by a well bred Short-horned bull, are generally much better milkers than Alderneys; are more beautiful in their appearnce, not being so raw-boned; and frequently come to a very considerable weight.
This, as will be seen, was also the opinion of Colonel John Le Couteur of Belle Vue on the Island of Jersey, one of the founders of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural SOciety, to whom the Jersey breed owes much of its value and reputation. Certainly, the Alderney bulls that were used in England for breeding purposes seem to have been employed largely for crossing upon other breeds. There was no Channel Island breed of any importance in England. William Youatt, indeed, when he published his book on Cattle, in 1834, classedd ALderneys among foreign cattle, as also did Samuel Copland in his work on Agriculture, published in 1866.
The number of bulls shipped to England during the many years included in the Port Books records of the 18th century is not large. England could use beef animals and draught animals. Bulls could be adapted to these uses and this may well have been what was done. In substance, therefore, the description of the Channel Island cow and heifer trade, as given by Syvret, Shebbeare, Plees, Berry, Inglis, Durell, Low, Ansted and others, and in the Annual Report of the Royal Jersey Society for 1846, is correct. A traveller who visited the Island of Jersey about this time, found so few bull exported that he received the impression that exportation of bulles was prohibited and that all bulls calves went to the local market. The animals sent from the Islands to England at that time were cows and heifers with males for beef or for draught, and comparatively few bulls used chiefly for crossing with other races. As late as 1869, the Illustrated London News spoke of the Island trade in cattle with England as a cow and heifer trade - a large trade by that time, for, according to the News, there were 1.200 cows and heifers sent annually from the Islands to England. Some bulls, also, were doubtless sent, for beef, daught or crossing, but the News says nothing about them.
The "genuine" or "true" breed. Apparently, cattle on the Channel Islands in the latter half on the 18th century and during most of the 19th century were of all sorts and conditions.
So far as concerns size, the variation in Island cattle was extreme. We have, on the one hand, the toy ALderneys and Jerseys represented in Mr. Edwin Douglas` pictures and described by Dr. Hames Anderson, who said, in 1800, that "the smallest breed of cows I have yet seen that are natives of Europe is that which is called the Guernsey." On the other hand, we have "particular large Guernseys" offered for sale, and "prime large ALderneys," and "a very fine large Alderney cow"; also "a well-bred large Alderney cow," while the breeders of these large cattle affected to regard as "spurious" the smalle cattle which had been famous for a century - cattle which to many persons in Europe and America were as characteristic of the Channel Islands as small shaggy ponies have been characteristic of the Shetland Islands.
So far as our informations goes, these small cattle may have been descendants of the small cattle mentioned by De Foe in 1732, and by Syvret - and Punch`s cartoon, is evidence that they still existed in 1880.
To have the oldest inhabitants repudiated as not truly representative is hard - nevertheless, besides the small cattle, the large cattle had an important place in the cattle trade of the islands. In 1819 "a fine bull-sized Alderney cow" was offered for sale at Brookson`s near the catle, Battersea, and in 1820 "thee celebrated Alderney bull Hector" - of whom it was said that he was "allowed by judges to be one of he most beautiful of his breed" because, among other things, of his appitude to fatten - was on exhibition as a fat ox for a fortnight, at the end of which time he was to be slaughtered.
The Norman cows sent to Paris dairies were fattened for beef, as has been seen, and we may assume that this was the course followed with ALderney cows sent to London dairies. The beef would not ordinarily be advertised, but it happens, rather oddly, that there is in the paper a notice of an exhibition of "2 very handsome Alderney cows lately from the butcher." Mr. Le Poidwin`s ox, "A Guernsey Ox of the pure Breed," whose picture appears herafter facing p. 352, was awarded a prize at the Christmas Show on the Island in 1844.
These large cattle, or some of them, may well have been descendants of the ALderney cattle desscribed in Hale`s Husbandry, a book published in 1756, when many ALderneys apparently bore a strong resemblance to Dutch cattle, both in shape and size, and, if so, these large cattle represented stock that had inhabited the Islands almost as long as the toy cattle.
In color the variations among Channel Island cattle seem to have been as wide as the variations in size. Thomas Quayle said, in 1815, that on the Island of Jersey the colors ran from cream-colored, or cream mixed with white, to red, or red-andwhite and from those colors to black and black-and-white; moreover, he said, "some, like the north-west Highlanders, are black with a dingy brown-red ridge on the back; and about the nostrils of the same colour. They all have a good pile, generally are thin-skinned and fatten soon."
The advertisements often speak of the colors of cattle offered for sale as "very fancy", which is a favorite term, and sometimes as "beautiful" or "handsome". Occasionally they are more specific, as when "handsome dark browns" or "very rich colors, dark and lemon-pied" are mentioned, or when "richness of color" is spoken of as attractive. Mr. E. Parsons Fowler, however, in 1848 is more specific, for of 25 Alderney and Guernsey cows and heifers described in November and December advertisements, there were 18 whose colors were red, mulberry or brown, which in all but two cases were mixed with white, while four of the animals were yellow and white, and three were gray and white.
On the Island of Guernsey, Mr. Quayle says, the colors are about the same, though on the whole they appear darker, and not so many are cream colored. Possibly this latter color was not one which often appealed to English buyers, for Mr. Michael Fowler, when advertising a "singularly beautiful cream colored heifer" shipped to England in 1818, added that she was "the only one of the kind imported from the Island for many years."
Channel Island cattle, then, in the first half of the 19th century, were of all sizes and of all colors. It may be for this reason that advertisements so often refer to Island breeds, in the plural, as though they were many, offering animals as selected "from the choicest breeds" or "the best breeds" or "the finest breeds" on the Islands.
Mr. Ansted, however, when giving prices of Jersey and Guernsey cows shipped to England, limited his figures to "The value of each cow of the pure breed" in the year 1860. Dealers continued to offer cattle "of the genuine breed," and Mr. Fowler himself sometimes uses this phrase or offers animals "of the true breed," and sometimes we read an offer of "thoroughbred" cattle.
The one thing, then, upon which Mr. Ansted and all the advertisers agree, is that the Islands during the 19th century contained many animals not of the pure or genuine breed - whatever the genuine breed might be - a subject upon which there was great difference of opinion, for, besides the diminutive cattle and the cattle that were "large and handsome", there were mixtures of all kinds, since crossbreeding had been active, and among the cattle of the Islands were the offspring of the Shorthorns and Ayrshires which Mr. Thornton says had been introduced into the Islands. There were also on the Islands descendants of the Brown Swiss, mentioned by Messrs. Wallace and Watson, , while others came from the cattle imported from England after 1845 through which Island cattle increased their size and the proportion of animals carrying dark colors - browns, blacks or black-andwhite. These colors were much valued on Jersey and Guernsey cattle not long ago, and still appear occasionally on Jerseys in AMerica - on at least one notable occasion showing on a Guernsey calf, whose horrified owner saw to it that the animal was quietly disposed of where it would never be seen again.
That there were other sources of intermixture on the Islands beyond those mentioned is shown by the announcement of a dealer on February 24, 1819, that he has received his first spring importation of ALderney cows and heifers "and a couple of high-bred bulls, likewise a half-bred polled Alderney, beautifully spotted. "
In such a mixture as this, there was no such thing as a Channel Island breed. The toy cattle and milch Alderneys sold to captains of the small sailing ships of those days were as true and genuine as the "particular large Guernseys" or the "bull-sized ALderney cow" - indeed, the half-bred polled Alderney was as true and genuine as any of the others in a cow population where every individual was the result of continuing mixture. The Channel Islands breeds were but at their very beginning at the end of the 19th century, and the process of breed formation is in its early stages at the present time.
The purpose of the Island ordinances, therefore - both of the Jersey ordinance of 1789 and the Guernsey ordinance of 1819 - was to exclude French cattle from competing with Island cattle in the English trade. Thus far the ordinances went, and no farther. There was no pure Island breed to be protected. The cattle of the islands were a mixed mass of low-producing animals from which cattle were shipped to England for slaughter and for crossing with native British stock.
Legends in the making. Investigation of the history of Channel Island cattle is made difficult by the unreliable character of many publications dealing with the subject since the early years of the 19th century. Statements have been made that Guernseys and Jerseys were pure-bred for a thousand years, that foreign cattle have been excluded from Guernsey "from time immemorial," and that during a long period Channel Island cattle have been bred for high production of milk and butterfat.
In fact the first description of Channel Island cattle to be found in any book is that given in Hale`s Compleat Body of Husbandry, published in 1756, and at this time Island cattle were "very like Dutch cattle". Bakewell`s reat work had hardly begun in the middle of the 18th century, and there is no authority for the assertion that unknown breeders, among an ignorant, superstitious population, had anticipated Bakewell by many years, and that they bred for dairy qualities while he later undertook only the simpler work of developing meat animals.
Such assertions of antiquity as those mentioned cannot be justified, and, nevertheless, they are mistakes which it is very difficult to avoid, for he truth can be discovered only by long, painful and expensive investigation. Books published over a hundred years ago, which to present times are source books of information, prove upon examination to be misleading, and the story which they tell is so sanctified by time and repetition that correction is difficult. We have here, however, and old tradition that is founded upon error - in some cases upon falsehood - and this tradition has become one of the great burdens upon AMerican agriculture.
The truth is that the idea of cattle improvement was a long time in traveling from England to the remote and backward Islands in the Channel.
All these claims to antiquity of Channel Island breeds will, therefore, be disregarded, and we will seek, so far as possible to learn the history of Channel Island cattle from contemporary and disintered sources.
Before the latter half of the 19th century, however, there were not, and never had been, any breeds of distinctively dairy cattle in the world.
In 1815, Mr. Thomas Quayle said of the breed of Channel Island cattle,
..no individual has attempted by the selection of cattle, and breeding from them, to raise its standard, or to attain any particular object.
Francois de Neufchâteau said in 1804 that, in the countries of Europe where cattle produced the most milk and butter-fat, the farmer was content if these products paid costs and he had the fertilizing material as a net profit.
Misrepresnetation of the Jersey statute of 1789 began when Quayle said, in 1815, that the statute intended not only to prevent French competition in the cow and heifer trade with England, but also to guard the purity of Island genealogies and that, for this purpose, it forbade importation into Jersey of any cow, heifer, calf or bull.
If, indeed, the statute forbade all importation of cattle, what can have been the meaning of Quayle`s further statement that "the general purity of the breed is guarded by the rooted opinion of the inhabitants rather better than by the sanction of law"? If law forbade all importation of cattle from France and from every other place, protection was complete. Apparently, however, Quayle knew that this was not the fact. He knew that the statute did no more than to forbid importation from France, and he, therefore, suggests that "a rooted opinion of the inhabitants," hostile to importation from other countries, might, in some degree, do what he would like to have it believed that the statute also did. Quayle, then was the first of the historians to give a false account of this Jersey statute.
The Jersey breed, as it is known today, was built up about the middle of the 19th century, by crosses made with outside breeds, while the Guernsey breed was built up still later in the same way.
In 1819, four years after the publication of Quayle`s book, the idea of establishing recognized breeds of cattle had penetrated to the Channel Islands. It is possible, moreover, that the trade in Island cattle to America was beginning in a very small way about this time. Guernsey also had become interested in the shipment of cows and heifers to England, and in this trade met the full force of French competition as Jersey had already met it. In that year, therefore, the Island of Guernsey took the same action which Jersey had taken in 1789, prohibiting importation of French cattle into the Island for the double purpose, the ordinance says, of protecting Guernsey cattle from foreign intermixture, and
...désirant surtout conserver aux habitants de la campagne cette branche dìndustrie qui provient de lènvoi de nos Vaches en Angleterre....
that is, desiring above all to preserve for our countrymen that branch of industry which arises from the shipment of our cows to England.
Both statutes, therefore accomplished the same result - to prevent introduction of French cattle into the Island which had enacted the statute. Had the purpose been the preservation of Guernsey cattle from foreign intermixture, as the Guernsey ordinance professed, the statute would have forbidden importation of all cattle whatever. Nothing of the sort was done. Importation of cattle from France was forbidden. All other importation was permitted.
The Guernsey statute was amended from time to time and when, in 1830, John Jacob wrote his book, Annals of Some of the British Norman Isles, he described the existing statute of 1824 by saying:
.. were a free intercourse to take place with France, French cows would in great numbers be brought into the island, and exported to England under the name of Guernsey cows, when they were only French ones; by which means the present lucrative trade of Guernsey cows would be soon abolished - the constituted authorities have, therefore, acted most judiciously, in enacting the following law, which I shall here translate for the benefit of the English reader.
Mr. Jacob then gives his version of the entire ordinance of February 17, 1824, of which the enacting part, as he states it, is as follows:
Provisionally, and until the necessary steps are taken, to preclude all sorts of French cows from being imported into this island, from France, it is hereby forbidden .. to any person to import from France, or elsewhere, any heifer of what kind soever it may be.
This, however, is not correct translation of the ordinance. Jacob had followed Quayle`s example and misquoted the Guernsey statute as Quayle misquoted the Jersey statute. Correctly translated, the provision was:
It is forbidden... to bring from France or elsewhere, into this island, any French heifer whatever.
A second statute passed the same day deals with the identification and disposition of French cows which had already been imported into Guernsey and, in so doing, recites the substance of the previous law as follows:
The Court, wishing to prevent wrong-doing in the shipment of Cows and Heifers of this Island into England, and the possibility that there be substituted for them cows coming from France, and having this day forbidden the Importation of Heifers from France...etc.
The meaning and correct translation of the statute, therefore, is clear, and Jacob`s mistranslation is clear. The rolling stone, however, being started - unlike the stone of the proverb . gathered moss very quickly, for, in 1834, Henry D. Inglis mentioned "The law forbidding the importation of any foreign breed." In 1861, the Annual Report of the Royal Jersey Society stated that the ordinance of 1789 forbade importation into Jersey of any cow, heifer, calf or bull. Jonathan Duncan, in 1841, said that "every foreign breed is rigorously excluded" from the Island of Guernsey, and, in 1882, the Royal Guernsey Society in the Introduction of Volume I of the Herd Book said:
The laws of the island have from time immemorial been so stringent that the breed does not by any chance risk the admixture of foreign blood.
By English law, time immemorial or, as it is sometimes called "time beyond which the memory or man runneth not to the contrary," precedes the reign of King Richard I, which began in 1189, and the Herd Book could hardly have meant to assert that all importation of cattle had been forbidden since that early date. Exactly what it did mean is not easy to discover, for, except temporary quarantine laws enacted to protect Island cattle from epidemic disease, the first general restriction upon importation of cattle into Jersey was the ordinance of 1789, and ino Guernsey was the ordinance of 1819, both prohibiting importation of cattle from France.
These laws in Jersey and Guernsey were not intended to prevent the use of foreign cattle in the improvement of the Island stock, for, as Professor Gamgee said in 1861.:
...importation from England is not prohibited and it is only the French cow that is doomed to have its throat cut if landed on the island.
Jacob`s mistranslation of the statute of 1824 was published in 1830, and this may easily have misled many persons who had no desire to misrepresent history. For the statement published by the Royal Guernsey Society in the Introduction to the Herd Book, no such apology can be made. It has been accepted by many persons who trusted to the official statement and it is only recently that the character of this statement has been known. The ordinances mentioned were, in fact, but the beginning of a hesitating policy of restriction which has only very slowly been made more effective, the final statutes on the Islands of Guernsey being passed in 1877, 1891 and 1892..
Exclusion of foreign cattle from Guernsey, a quarantine law, not a breeding measure. The American Guernsey Cattle Club was organized in 1877 - the year when the Island of Guernsey adopted the Ordinance of June 4, 1877, defining the French word "étranger" - foreign - as used in Guernsey statutes relating to the impotation of cattle, to exclude from the Island of Guernsey, all English cattle, and cattle from such Channel Islands as were not subject to the Guernsey jurisdiction. It seems that this law is not among the Slected Laws of the Island of Guernsey, which have been published and can be found only in the manuscript copy of enrolled laws kept in the office of the Island Registry.
With this statute there were omitted from the Published Laws, many other Guernsey statutes, which, it happens, are to American breeders of Guernsey cattle the very statutes which are the most interesting and important of all the Guernsey laws. We have been told that Guernsey cattle have been bred "pure" for at thousand years. The Introduction to the first volume of the Herd Book, published on the Island in 1822? [1882?] says:
..the laws of this Island have from time immemorial been so stringent that the breed does not, by any chance, risk the admixture of foreign blood; and as a cow born in Guernsey cannot be other than a Guernsey cow, a registry to distinguish the several herds is therefore needless.
A thousand years is a long time; and if it be true that stringent laws have protected the pure blood of Island cattle during so many centuries, we vant to see these laws and are not at all satisfied to discover that the Published Laws of the Island are a selection only and that among the omissions is the law for which we are looking. What explanation can be offered for a refusal to permit buyers of Guernsey cattle to see the law which, it is said, has for so many centuries made the blood of the Guernseys so valuable?
Of course, the true explanation is that there is not and never was such a law. All who read Mr. Le Patourel`s very scholarly book on The Medieval Aministration of the Channel Islands or Mr. Dupont`s equally scholarly and much more elaborate study of Channel Islands History will see at once that such a law as has been described would have been wholly impossible, foreign to the times and to the people. The very fact that in 1819 a statute was necessary to forbid importation from France is sufficient evidence that there was no law in 1819 which excluded French cattle.
The first volume of the Recueil d`Ordonnances de la Cour Royale was published in 1852 - thirty-seven years after Quayle had given his misleading account of the Jersey statute of 1789 and twenty-two years after Jacob had given a similar account of the Guernsey statute of 1819. The pure-bred legend, therefore, had been well started by this time. A profitable trade was building in 1852 on the foundation of a belief in the ancient blood of Channel Island cattle, and the first great Alderney "boom" was then just about beginning i America.
It surely would have been a very unfortunate time for publishers of Guernsey laws to raise question as to the socalled purity of Guernsey blood; so no question was raised. The law of 1819 was published, as was unavoidable, and with it were published the complementary statutes including those of 1824 and 1842, but other laws relating to the importation of cattle were omitted. The fact, therefore, that the "immemorial laws" which protected the blood of Guernsey cattle were not to be found in the Selected Laws, it seems to have been thought might perhaps cat no doubt upon the breed of Guernsey cattle, so long as with the immemorail laws there were omitted many laws as to whose existence there was no doubt.
The story is told in the Preface to the first volume of the Receueil d`Ordonnances, where, without excuse or explannation among many laws which seem to the student of breed history to be of minor importance - the Editor announces the fact that from this volume of selected laws there were omitted from publication almost entirely - presque en entier - the laws prohibiting importation of cattle. The Editor says:
Among the classes of Ordinances which we thought should be omitted almost wholly from this book are:
1. Those which relate to the importation and exportation of cattle, grain and provisions in general. These Ordinances are more numerous than those on any other subject whatevet -several sometimes being passed in the course of a single year. Whenever food was dear on the Island or when there was fear that it would be dear, exportations were forbidden for the purpose of assuring to the farmers of the Island a remunerative price for their products.
This statement may be true so far as concerns the importation and exportation of grain and provisions. It may well be that Island authorities regulated the buying and sale of grain and foods from and to other countries for the purpose of controlling the price of these articles; but the laws excluding French cattle from the Island profess other purposes. The law of 1819 expressly says that importation from France was forbidden:
... above all, in order to secure to our countrymen this branch of industry which arises from the shipment of our cows to England...
The statute also mentions the need of protecting Island cattle from intermixture with a foreign race - a consideration to which more serious attention would be paid if Island cattle were not themselves of the French race now excluded and if imporation had not been and was not permitted from England at all times of any kind of cattle whatever.
The statement of the Editor, therefore, which may be true as to the purpose with which the Island forbade importation and exportation of grain and provisions cannot be true as regards the purpose with which the Island forbade the importation of cattle. Exportation of cattle, it seems, was never forbidden. Indeed, the rules regulating commerce in cattle, and the rules controlling prices of food on the Island are so different as to suggest that cattle were mentioned with grain and provisions only to avoid making the omission of cattle laws conspicious.
It is impossible in the absence of a full knowledge of Guernsey statutes, to determine their construction with any satisfactory degree of certainly, but we know that there were very many laws forbidding all importations of cattle into Guernsey and that most of these laws enacted in or after 1870, no fewer than 42 being enacted between 1870 and 1892. This is surely an astonishing out-burst of legislation which must have had a cause - what was it?
The explanation is in the great cattle plagues that raged in England and on the continent of Europe in the "60"s and "70"s of the last century. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, int the six years ending with 1860 more than a million cattle in the United Kingdom died from pleuropneumonia, while "from 1863 to 1866 the death rate was from 50 to 60 per cent, annually."
In 1865-1866 the losses of cattle from rinderpest in Great Britain, it is said, amounted to over 233.000 head, valued at from twenty-five million to forty million dollars.
As to foot-and-mouth disease "it is scarcely possible to arrive at anything like a correct estimate of the number of cattle affected during any particular out-break in Great Britain. Perhaps it would not be an exaggeration to assert that 150.000 or 200.000 suffered from the disease in 1872, and that from 1839 to 1877 the money loss to Great Britain was 13.000.000 pounds, though this is probably far below the actual fact. "
The story of these great epidemics was told by George Gleming, a veterinary surgeon of the Royal Rngineers in an address before the Society of Arts in 1876, of which a portion is printed as an Appendix to this chapter.
In View of this great and continuing mortality among cattle there was enacted on January 20, 1862 a quarantine law which forbade all importation of cattle into Guernsey except such as were admitted under regulations providing for their slaughter. This statute contained of course, the usual profession of a purpose to keep the cattle of the Island free from intermixture with other races; but it was in fact a quarantine law, enacted to protect the Island from cattle plague. It was therefore, renewed every year until October 26, 1866, when it was replaced by a more effective law which was to remain in force until the Christmas term of the Cour Royale. On January 21, 1867, the new law which was contemplated was passed, and thereafter renewed every year until 1891.
In the meanwhile, on the 4th of June 1877 - dangerous epidemics of cattle disease having already continued in England for nearly forty years - the rule was established on the Island of Guernsey that all cattle, except such as came from islands subject to the jurisdiction of Guernsey, were to be regarded as foreign cattle - thus bringing British cattle within the operation of all laws which forbade importation of foreign cattle.
On January 16, 1882, and on October 2, 1882, supplementary Acts were passed; so that the four Acts of 1867, 1877 and of January and October, 1882 were the principal laws which regulated the importation of cattle from the date of their enactment until 1891.
On December 5, 1891, in view of the epidemic of pleuropneumonia then prevailing in the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe, the "Ordonnance provisoire" was enacted, prohibiting importation as before, but extending the prohibition to the Islands of Serk, Herm and Jethou, which had not expressly been included in any previous statutes except the early statutes forbidding importation of cattle from France. Apparently, there had for many years been a side door open by which cattle could be brought into Guernsey through one of these small Islands. That door was now closed. The provisory ordinance was repealed and a new ordinance substituted on July 13, 1892.
In this rapid survey of Guernsey legislation, based on examination of the manuscript laws in the Guernsey registry - an examination made as carefully as possible in the circumstances of the time but which cannot be verified under present conditions - it appears that not less than forty-two statutes were passed between 1870 and 1892 which related to the importation of cattle into Guernsey. During the entire period, from 1862 to 1892, there was on the Island of Guernsey a welljustified but almost panic fear of the invasion of cattle plague. The law prohibiting the imporation of cattle from England and other countries was passed during the existence of these epidemics and was of the nature of a quarantine law to protect the Island from disease. Its moving purpose had nothing to do with keeping Guernsey cattle from intermixture.
It has been impossible to make as full an examination of the laws of Jersey as has been made of the laws of the Island of Guernsey, but the most important laws on Jersey have been those of August 8, 1789, and of March 8, 1826, both of these Acts prohiting importation from France - and the Act of September 8, 1864, which, like the Guernsey law of 1862, is a quarantine law, general in form, prohibiting importation of any cattle.
Guernsey breeders, therefore, until 1862, mixed their breeds as they saw fit, excluding first French cattle in 1819, and later "foreign" cattle from the island. After 1862, they maintained strict quarantine, forbidding all importations, and, in 1877, they adopted on the Island of Guernsey the policy of excluding cattle from all other lands.
The notion of purity of blood in the sense of consanguinity - of always mating "within the breed" - is chiefly and American notion which followed the organization of registry associations in this country.
American breeding began, therefore, just as the great period of breeding which had made British live stock famous was drawing to its end. Moreover, breeding work in AMerica was begun, and is still carried on, under the limitations imposed by the notion of "purity" of blood, and to type, from which British breeders in their great days were almost free.
The foregoing history presents a remarkable instance of human vagaries. No demonstration was needed to show that
..men may construe things after their fashion
Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.
but what we have here was, in the beginning, a question of the truth, not a difference in construction. Moreover the entire problem has arisen since 1815. Channel Island history in the 1500`s, 1600`s and 1700`s was simply and truthfully told, and then beginning with Quayle in 1815 and the Guernsey ordinance of 1819, we have extraordinary claims, the omission of two words -de France - in a sentence, so as to translate the ordinance as though it prohibited importation of all heifers when, in fact, only importation of heifers "de France" was forbidden, the misrepresentation of History, and assertion of false claims of antiquity, culminating in the narration of an incident from one of Smollett`s novels as an actual historic fact and the omission of quarantine statutes from the Published Laws of the Island of Guernsey. What can have caused this sudden explosion?
An explanation can, perhaps, be found in the recent and rapid rise of the Jersey and Guernsey breeds. Very simple communities were, by improvements in transportation and communication, brought into close relations with the rapidly expanding affairs of the 19th century. Large sums of money were paid to almost primitive people. It seemed that the door to wealth had been opened, and the temptation had such influence on the Islands as boom times know in other lands. Fictitious pedigrees were made and manufactured history was published. Moreover, the favor which often attaches to something new added to the rising interest in Island cattle. Nothing further, it seemed, was needed than to show that a cow or bull or its ancestors came from Jersey or Guernsey and it became valuable beyond all previous thought. Everything which has touched the Islands seemed to be tinged with romantic interest. Even the Guernsey lily had an air of mystery for it "is supposed to have come to the Island of Guernsey in an early day by the wreck of some Japanese or Chinese junk," surely a long voyage for a junk!
The fortune of Island farmers was in the word "purebred", supported by the idea that Island cattle had been kept separate from all other cattle for a thousand years. To this idea of ancient separation they have clung. It has been asserted over and over again in publications and speeches, until it is part of the Capital of Guernsey and Jersey breeds - a proof of pure-bred value.
Many breeders, even at the present time, cherish the hope that this word pure-bred can sstill bring wealth.
Rabelais gave a vivid description of pirates on the small Islands of Sark and Herm , who, nevertheless, made by no means as much mischief in the world as the misquotations of Quayle and Jacob.
Surely, the stories which were told as to the origin of Island cattle could never have passed as authentic history in any critical caompany - but apparently no question was raised. High prices were paid because demanded. Everything that was told of Channel Island history was believed. As John Dryden, in Absolom and Achitophel, said of other incredible stories, the reports were
Not weighed or winnowed by the multitude
But swallowed in the mass, unchewed and crude.
Romance and Dairy Cattle. The Century Dictionary defines the word "romance" as any fictitious story of heroic, marvelous or supernatural incidents derived from history or legend.
How nearly the stories told of Guernsey history fall within this definition will be recognized from the statement of Mr. Tupper that of the history of Guernsey "nothing authentic or documentary, with perhaps two or three exceptions, can be found anterior to the 11th century; and its meagre annals previous to that period are based chiefly on conjecture, with scarcely a ray of tradition."
Since Mr. Tupper`s book was written a vast amount of research has been devoted to Channel Island history, as will be seen by an examination of the sources and literature which Mr. J.H. Patourel mentions in his book on the Medieval Aministration of the Channel Islands, and Mr. Gustave Dupont mentions in his book on Le Cotentin et ses isles. Notwithstanding all that has been done, however, little new information has been secured regarding early Guernsey history. On the other hand there has been in the last hundred and twenty years a large growth of rumors and stories without historical justification, so that the first step toward a correct understanding of Guernsey history and a sound knowledge of the history of Guernsey cattle must be made by discarding all that is fabulous.
In speaking of the intellectual condition of Europe during the Middle Ages, Buckle remarks:
That there was, properly speaking, no history, was the smallest part of the inconvenience; but, unhappily, men, not satisfied with the absence of truth, supplied its place by the invention of falsehood.
To this can be added the comment which Mr. Buckle makes in another part of his work, that in many cases the understanding is too weak to curb the imagination, as can easily be proved "not only from the superstitions which in every country still prevail among the vulgar, but also from the poetic reverence for antiquity . which still hampers the independence, blinds the judgment and circumscribes the originality of the educated classes."
Accounts of Channel Island cattle bear the mark of these influences. In 1841 Mr. Jonathan Duncan said that the monks and canons of Moint Saint Michel in Normandy were banished from the establishment by Richard the First, Duke of Normandy, on account of their dissolute behavior, and that "these exiled monks established themselves," on the island of Guernsey, "in the Vale, and founded a chapel and house for their residence, which took the name of the Abbey of the Monks of Mount Saint Michael of the Vale."
Mr. Tupper who wrote in 1854 does not speak so positively and in some details differs from Mr. Duncan. Mr. Tupper says:
In the year 965, the Benedictine monks were put in possession of the monastery of Mont St. Michel, in Normandy, by duke Richard I, who about the same time expelled its previous tenants, the secular clergy, on account, it would seem, of their dissolute conduct. The exiled clergy are stated to have established themselves in the Vale parish, and to have built there a monastery or priory, which, in memory or their late residence, they named St. Michael of the Vale.
This statement that they settled in Guernsey, however, Mr. Tupper doubts, for he says that before the charter of Duke Robert, about the year 1030, the monks had no possessions whatever in Guernsey, adding that "this fact goes far to disprove the statement that the clergy exiled from Mont St. Michel settled in the Island, whose earliest annals are in truth shrouded in much doubt and obscurity. "
M. Paul Gout, in his history of Mont-Saint-Michel, goes into the history of the dispossessed clergy in some detail, giving his authority, and showing not only the nature of their offences but telling us also what became of these men. They were entirely given over, he says to revellings, hunting and other pleasures -"solis comessationibus, venationibus ceterisque intenti erant voluptatibus" - anf for this reason Duke Richard required that these men should submit themselves to monastic rule or leave the place. All except two left, going to different places as each man decided for himself. Two remained, Durand and Bernehere (Bernier), being kept. M. Gout says, "lùn par amour du saint, làutre, Bernehere, par une infirmité de son corps ...jurant quìl ne sortirait que contraint par la violence," - that is Durand stayed for love of the Saint, while Bernehere on account of illness, as he said, refused to leave unless put out by force. Of the situation, created by Bernehere`s refusal to leave, it is reported:
Tant dìmportunité ayant fait penser quìl avait caché là quelque chose quìl méditait dènlever dans le silence de la nuit, on le fit emporter et deposer dans une maison sur le côté du Mont..
or in English - that such insistance aroused the suspicion that he, Bernehere, had hidden something which he planned to take away during the night, and for this reason he was removed to a house on the side of the Mont. Duke Richard thereupon installed the monks in St. Michel.
How the story arose that the dispossessed clergy went to Guernsey is unknown. M. Dupont says that it has no historical support, and in view of the very careful and thorough examination which he made of all available sources of information his statement on the subject must be accepted as conclusive. Since M. Dupont wrote his book many documents, records, special commissions, grants and administrative orders have been found, but, so far as careful search shows, there has been no publication of any historical source justifying the story that the dispossessed clergy migrated to Guernsey.
The next development of the story appeared in 1917 when Brother Ananias, professor of agriculture in Les Vauxbelets College, Guernsey, wrote Mr. Charles L. Hill a letter, part of which Mr. Hill copied in his book, The Guernsey Breed
Brother Ananias had heard the story of the monks; apparently he did not know its apocryphal nature, and so he suggested that "in the absence of any documents to the contrary " it seemed probable that the cattle on the island might have sescended from animals which the monks had brought with them when they migrated to Guernsey. He cites no authority for his theory, however, which he does not put forward as a statement of fact, but merely as a subject for consideration. Mr. Hill published this letter with the guarded remark:
If there is any foundation of fact at all in this theory of the origin of the Guernsey. I think it is as stated in his (Brother Ananias`s) letter. (p. 31)
The suggestion had already been disposed of by M. Dupont`s statement, that there is no reason to believe that the dispossessed clergy went to Guernsey, - but notwidtstanding this fact, the idea was a welcome seed which soon sprouted, growing from what was but a disproved notion in 1917, to what was stated as historical fact in 1921, when Mr. Charles Kitts wrote:
The Norman chronicles tell us that about A.D. 960 Robert, Duke of Normandy, historically known as Robert the Devil .. sent some Monks of St. Michel, in Brittany, to found an abbey in Guernsey...
"Yàre a baggage" said the drunken Christopher Sly to the bar-maid. "Look in the chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror."
Of course Sly didn`t know what "the chronicles" were any more than he knew the Conqueror`s name, but he knew that they were associated in some way with great dignity and that his reference to them was false.
Am not I Christopher Sly, Old Sly`s son, of Burton-heath; by birth a pedler, by education a card-maker, by transmutation a bear-herd, and now by present profession a tinker?
But "the chronicles" sounded well to Christopher Sly,- and so they did to Mr. Kitts, who had not examined history far enough to discover that Richard I, was Duke of Normandy in 960 and that Robert the Devil, had not been born when, according to his tale, the monks were dispossessed. Death, however, had no sting for this story, which showed life and grew long after it should have been forgotten. So Mr. Kitts, who had thrown in the mention of "chronicles" exactly as Sly had done, adds the further theory of history which is partly his own notion and partly a suggestion from Brother Ananias, that to cultivate the land effectively it must have been necessary that "the monks" import cattle "for use both as draught beasts and to provide milk, butter and cheese;" that there were two or three fairly distinct breeds in Brittany, and that "there is more than one good reason for assuming that the breed selected was that known as Froment de Leon, which gets its name from the town of St. Pol de Leon". (p. 7) A few years later Mr. Kitts says, other monks came from Cherbourg bringing cattle, which "it may safely be assumed was the large Norman brindle which is the common cow of the rich butter district of Isigny," and he adds:
That these monks brought over some cattle from time to time from the Cherbourg promontory is beyond dispute, as there are records existing of the conveyance in barges of cattle from the small fishing village of Dielette to Guernsey and Alderney.
This however, is but adding secret to secret. Mr. Kitts rested his whole story of the migration of the clergy - or monks - pon his mention of "the normand Chronicles" without identifying the Chronicle and without giving a volume, or page reference. The story, he now says, is placed "beyond dispute" by existing records which are not described and which we know not where to find. Does the plain and simple narrative of Truthful James depend upon confirmation by Old Bill Jones who would gladly give all that is needed if he were alive?
The next development of the story comes when the American Guernsey Cattle Club, referring to the supposed migration of exiled monks from Saint Michel, asserts that, "These monks brought with them the Froment de Leon cattle which possessed many of the characteristics of the present day Guernsey."
Mr. Alfred S. Campbell, relying upon the Guernsey Club, and repeating its statements, says, referring to the unborn Robert, Duke of Normandy:-
The first monks to land were from Mont St. Michel, in Brittany. Robert, Duke of Normandy, sent them to Guernsey about 960 A.D. at a time when piracy was so rampant on the Channel as to annoy him seriously. They brought over the native cattle of Brittany, the small red breed known as Froment de Leon .. A few years after their arrival, Norman monks from Cherbourg, on the Cotentin promontory, followed them. They, too, brought cattle, but of a different breed, still known to be French as Isigny; large brindled animals well known for their characteristic of butter production.
Finally, as a crown to the whole story, and as unquestionable proof that this history - although it has grown from nothing to its present dimensions before our eyes - is in fact the very truth, comes the report of a visitor to Guernsey, that a few years before the present war, there was exhibited, in the Greffe at Saint Peter-Port, a document which "purported to be the "bill of lading" for the first shipment of cattle from France to the Island and bore the date 960 A.D."! Can it be that this "bill of lading" is what Mr. Kitts had in mind when he spoke of the "records existing of the conveyance of cattle in barges from the small fishing village of Dielette to Guernsey"?
Generally the farther we recede from a historical fact, the more difficult it becomes to secure authoritative evidence. Guernsey history however, is an exception to this rule for the story is rapidly growing and evidence suddenly appears where it never before was known. The earliest recorded European document written on paper was a deed of King Roger of Sicily of the year 1102. Paper making in Europe began i Spain in the middle of the 12th century? The earliest European manuscript having Arabic numerals was written in Spain in 976 The "bill of lading" for the Brittany cattle nevertheless was dated 960! Can it be that this historic document was written on the earliest sheet of European paper known, or did all bargres going to Guernsey from "the small fishing village of Dielette" give parchment "bills of lading" written in Roman numerals?
One would think that the story was complete at this time and that nothing more could be added to it, but the most important evidence of all was made public in June 1941, when the American Guernsey Cattle Club announced that "The Chronicles" actually describe the cattle brought by the dissolute monks to Guernsey. The Club quotes in English what we assume must be a translation from the Latin or French description of the cattle with the simple introduction, - The Chronicles say:-
They (the cattle) were fawn and white in color with bright eyes and were quiet at milkings. They produced a good flow of rich yellow milk from which excellent butter could be made.
If the now famous "bill of lading" already mentioned, and the passage in "the Norman Chronicles" have been discovered since Brother Ananias wrote his letter, the person - or persons - who carried on this brilliant piece of research must have known where he - or they - found the "bill of lading" and in what book of Chronicles and on what page that passage describing the ancient cattle occurs. How can it be that such important events take place under a bushel, so that the value of the document, as authentic history, is lost, because no reader knows who found it, where or when, or has any information about its history? And how can the passage in "the Norman Chronicles" be permitted to become valueness just because the Guernsey Club keeps secret the reference for the passage it cites, and because no man living and unconnected with the American Guernsey Club can now locate the book or page in which it is to be found!
There is no one book known as "The Norman Chronicles". There are a number of books, most of them having Latin or French titles, which might be regarded as included in the term Norman Chronicles, but these books can all easily be identified and when a quotation is made from one of tehm the book from which the quotation is made should of course be accurately described and the page on which the quoted sentence appears should be given. If the book is written in a foreign language and the quotation is not made from the original but from a translation, the fact should be stated.
In the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer gives advice well worth heeding when he speaks of the manner in which quotations should be made:
Whoso shal telle a tale after a man,
He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan
Everich a word, if it be in his charge,
Al speke he never so rudeliche and large,
Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.
The Guernsey Club has put into quotation marks a sentence which we have not been able to find i any book which could be called by the name which the Club gives, and for this sentence no book or page reference is given. The sentence, moreover, is not of a character which appears in any mediaeval book with which we are familiar, and it is quoted in English although none of these hereafter named books is written in that language.
And where can be found support for the notion that the Norse government of Normandy and Brittany was inspired by a policy to protect their Island subjects from pirates and to establish on the Island a system of agricultural education? Apparently there are strange ideas among writers of Guernsey promotional literature as to the state of Europe a thousand years ago, and as to the character of the Norse conquerors who took possession of large parts of France in the 10th and 11th centuries. ------ Next