Compiled from the Society`s Records, by H.G. Shepard, Secretary.
Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society 1833-1933. 1. The Society is born.
At the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth Century, at the dawning of the era known to history as the Industrial Revolution, interest in the problems and the future of Agriculture was becoming awakened by the formation of Agricultural Societies. It was then being realised that Agriculture, comprising not only the proper cultivation of the soil, but, no less important, the improvement of British breeds of livestock was the mainstay of the nation. One of the first of these Societies was the "Bath and West" (founded in 1777) and during the next fifty years, and particularly in the early part of the eighteen-hundreds, many similar institutions, some covering restricted areas, came into being. The Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland was founded in 1784, but the "Royal" of England (commencing as the ENglish Agricultural Society) was not established until 1838.
In the "Constitutionennel" and others of the numerous periodicals then published in the Island of Jersey, there appeared under date of August 24th, 1833, this announcement:
Société D`agriculture et D`horticulture à Jersey.
Le Noblesse et le public de cette île sont informés qu`on se propose d`établir à Jersey une Société pour l`amélioration des fermes et jardins ainsi que de la race de bétail. Afin de faciliter l`avancement d`un objet si utile, une réunion aura lieu lundi prochain au Bureau du Lieutenant-Gouverneur à midi précis pour prendre en considération les moyens à adopter pour la formation de cette Société, et afin d`y inclure tous ceux qui prennent un intérêt dans la culture des fermes et jardins comme aussi dans les plantes de cette île, et ce à l`instar de pareilles institutions établies dans le Royaume-Uni; il est à désirer que tous les propriétaires de Jersey se rendront à cette réunion où l`on donnera des prospectus contenant un exposé de ce qui regarde la formation de ces Sociétés, les objets qu`elles embrassent, comme aussi les reglements bons à adopter en pareil cas.
On a l`intention de prier Sa Très Gracieuse Majesté de daigner être le patron de cette partie de l`Institution qui a rapport à l`Agriculture. Comme on proposera aux Dames de prêter leur appui au jardinage, on espère que la Reine daignera en devenir la Patronne. Comme un Comité doit être institué de rédiger des règlements pour être soumis à l`Examen des membres de cette Société, il est à souhaiter que cette réunion soit nombreuse afin qu`on puisse choisir un Comité composé de gens dont les lumuères, l`expérience et la respectabilité puissent tendre à l`avancement de ce grand object.
Bureau du Gouverneur
24 août, 1833
This, then, is the genesis of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society, a survey of whose activities over a period of one hundred years it is proposed to attempt.
This was not, however, the first Agricultural Society to be born on the Island, as early in the minutes of the newly formed Society there appears the record that "the Seal of the former Agricultural Society presented to the Board by Philip Durell, Esq., its late Secretary "was laid on the table and ordered to be retained among the archives of the new institution. It would be interesting to find out more about this defunct Society -whether it had a long life or whether being before its time, it was stillborn. At the moment, however, research has been fruitless.
One hundred years is to the ordinary mortal a long period of time, even though to the archæologist and geologist a century is as the passing of an hour in the earth`s history. To give anything like a complete account of the work of the Society during such a prolonged period would necessitate many pages which would, whatever their worth from a historical point of view, only be wearisome to the reader.
At the memorable meeting held on August 26th, in the Lieut.-Governor`s Office and presided over by His excellency himself, the following resolutions were passed unanimously:
First: That it appears to this meeting to be highly desirable to form in this Island an Agricultural and Horticultural Society.
Second: That a provisional Committee be named, to prepare Rules, etc., to be submitted to a General Meeting.
Third: That the following Gentlemen from the several Parishes of the Island, now present, do form the provisional Committee, with power to add to their number, whereof Five to be a Quorum: Messrs Nicolle, Hammond, de Noirmont, Perrée, T. Payn, Le Feuvre, Le Maistre, Gibaut, Noel, Aldham, Le Gresley, J. Le Brocq, Ph. Le Brocq, Rev. P. Aubin, Le Geyt, Dumarresq, Mourant, Col. Touzel, Hodges, Le Couteur, Cook, C. Bertram, Falla, Saunders, Langellier.
Fourth: That COl. Le. Couteur asct as Secretary pro tempore.
Fifth: That the General Meeting adverted to in the second resolution be fixed for Saturday the 7th September next to be held at the Rooms of the Literary and Scientific Institution near St. James`s Church at eleven o`clock precisely.
Sixth: The Editors of the "Gazette du Commerce," Jersey Times" and "Chronique de Jersey" having in the handsomest manner offered to insert Gratis any article which the Committee may think will promote the success of the Institution so far as room will permit, Resolved that the thanks of this Meeting be offered to those Gentlemen.
Seventh, with acclamation; That the thanks of this Meeting be offered to His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor for the warm interest he has taken in the establishment of the Society, and his able conduct in the Clair.
The provinsional Committee comprising, as will be seen, gentlemen bearing names which are still, in many cases, common in the Island and highly honoured, was not long in getting to work. At the general Meeting held as resolved on September 7th, 1833, they presented a set of proposed Rules, which were adopted, and the following further resolutions passed (among others):
That it will conduce much to the General Welfare of the Island of Jersey to encourage improvements in its Agriculture and Horticulture, the breed of Cattle and to promote habits of industry and economy among the labouring classes.
That a Society on the basis recommended by the Resolutions just read be immediately formed, to be called "The Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society."
That a Book be immediately opened for the names of Subscribers and that the Gentlemen present be requested to inscribe their names.
That James Robin, Esq be the Treasurer, and Col. Le Coueur be the Secretary, pro tempore, until those offices be appointed to, under the Regulations to be proposed.
That the list of Subscribers be left at the Governor`s Office, the Royal Saloon, Mr. Bond`s "Jersey Circulating Libraby" and the Offices of the different local Journals, for the insertion of the names of new Subscribers, and that the Subscribers be respectfully requested to pay their Subscriptions to the Treasurer, or into his name at such places as he may appoint, and printed receipts for the Subscriptions to be given, signed by the Treasurer.
That the most cordial thanks of this Meeting are due, and are most gratefully given to His Excellency Major General Thornton, C.B. for his unremitting attention and talented exertions in forwarding the objects of the Society, especially in presiding at the several meetings, and at the meetings of the Committe, and for his valuable assistance in framing the Rules and Regulations.
That the cordial thanks of this Meeting be also given to Col. Le Couteur for his zealous and talented assistance as Honorary Secretary.
That the thanks of this Meeting be given to the Provisional Committe and that they be requested to continue their services until the Board of Management be elected.
That the thanks of this Meeting be offered to Philip Le Couteur, Esq., Constable of St. Peter, for the handsome manner in which he expressed his willingness to recommend the objects of this Society to the favourable consideration of the States.
That this Meeting do adjourn to Saturday the 28th of September, when a ballot will take place of the Board of Management and of the Officers of the Society.
It may be remarked that for many years, September 7th was looked upon as the date of the formation of the Society, but as the meeting of August 26th resolved on the desirability of forming an Agricultural Society, that date can be more correctly chosen as the true Foundation Day.
The first set of Rules adopted contains several that are curious to record. Three Presidents were provided for -the Governorr, Lieut.-Governor and "Bailli" (the Governor then residing out of the Island). The holding of an Annual Dinner and a Public Breakfast were ordained by Rule 20, which also barred Political discussions (presumably at these functions) and stipulated very laudably that "the meat, fruits and vegetables at the repasts be the products of the Island." Rule 39 allowed ladies becoming members of the Society to vote by proxy given in writing -female suffrage was not then even thought of. Some of the shorter Regulations still, in 1933, remain practically word for word.
The Board of Management was elected from the Subscribers of One Pound, a principle widened to include all such subscribers as Members of the Board, and which persisted until a few years ago. From the Board of Mangement we get the name "Board Room" applied to the seat of the Society`s government and, even today, the "Board Room" conveys more to the average member than the more correct address "the Offices of the Society". After holding their meetings at the Literary and Scientific Institution, in the Bailiff`s Room at the Court and elsewhere, in April, 1834 the Society rented a permanent office and Board Room at Mr. Bernard Saun ders`establishment, 19, Halkett Place, which remained its headquarters until 1865. Not long after formation a Memorial was presented to the States asking for recognition in the form of financial assistance. The memorial was presented by the then Constable of St. Peter, and, though his colleague of St. Helier objected, as was his wont, the States, realising the utility of the Institution, responded with an annual subsidy of £100 which continued until 1841.
In the minutes of December 7th occur entries of more than passing interest. One is an invitation to Members to attend a series of lectures on the Chemistry of Agriculture to be given by Mr. B. Saunders, Secretary of the Literary and Scientific Institution. What success attended this, the first of many subsequent attempts to impart agricultural knowledge, is not known. The other entries refer to a gift from Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin of a hogshead of Lancashire Potatoes and to a letter from Mr. Thomas Andrew Knight containing "valuable information on the culture of the Potato."
Arising from these the meeting resolved.
That the hogshead of Potatoes presented by Sir Isaac Coffin be (with the exception of a small lot to be given to Mr. Saunders to try an experiment with) divided into two parts; one part to be taken charge of by Col Le Couteur and the other by Mr. Charles Bertram of Grouville and that these two gentlemen divide their respective lots into other two parts, one of each to be planted according to the plan recommended by Mr. Knight and the other according to the mode practised in Jersey.
Thus it will be seen that the "Almighty Potato" was even then of some importance.
In January 1834 His Majesty King William IV. granted His Patronage to the young Society, an honour which his successors to the Throne have graciously seen fit to continue.
2. The first shows and first annual report.
In preparation for the first cattle Show, Sclaes of Points for Judging were formulated, perfection in Bulls scoring 25 points and in Females 27. Some of the Show Regulations framed at the same time may be enlightening.
Resolved that the judges declare upon Honor, that their award shall be made without favour or partiality.
Form of Judges`declaration.
I, A.B. do declare upon my honor that I will well and truly judge, according to the best of my skill and knowledge, which is the best animal in each class, without favor or partiality.
That the Cattle be brought too the Cattle Market on Easter Monday morning by eight o`clock in charge of a trusty person, such person to withdraw until the exhibition opens, with a duplicate ticket, the first ticket having been affixed in his presence to the animal.
The Cattle to be arranged by Parishes, the Parishes being numbered from one to twelve by lot, such parochial arrangement being secret and unknown to the Judges.
The Judges to be attended by a Special Committe to record, in silence, the Awards of the Judges and to countersign the signatures of the Judges.
That all Subscribers to the Society be admitted to view the Cattle immediately after the Judges shall have made their Awards and that all other persons shall pay sixpence (British) for admittance.
That Cattle having the first premiums be decorated with many coloured ribbons.
That Cattle having Parochial premiums be decorated with blue ribbons.
That Cattle within two points of perfection be decorated with scarlet ribbons.
That each Prize Bull shall receive a premium from the Society of threepence beyond the customary charge paid, for every cow belonging to a Subscriber that shall be in calf by such Bull.
The familiar Red, Blue, Yellow and Green Ribbons for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Prizes respectively did not come into usage until many years later.
The Show was held on Easter Monday (March 31st) 1834 in the Cattle Market, Beresford Street. The Cattle were judged by Messrs. Bréhaut, Nicholas Le Bas and Edward Le Gresley, described as Cattle dealers, and it is on record that in one Competition, these gentlemen, having awarded equal points to two animals, had recourse to tossing a coin to decide which should have the Prize.
On the Horticultural side the first Show was held on May 14th, 1834 in the New Cattle Market. Classes for Poultry were also included, the poultry being exhibited in the Racket Court. The prizes for the Floricultural Department, as it was called, consisted of Standard Works on Horticulture, Agricultural Chemistry etc. The Band of the Rifles supplied the music, the bandsmen being regaled (as is recorded in the minutes) with their breakfast and a bottle and a half of porter each.
Carrying out one of the principal objects of the formation of the SOciety, viz., the improvement of farms, inspections of farms and estates in both the Western and Eastern districts took place in the months of May and August. The reports of the visiting COmmittess occupy many pages of the minute book and were published in the press. A perusal of these reports reveala how great have been the changes in crops grown and cultural methods adopted since then.
The first Annual Report was presented to the members at the General Meeting held on September 6th, 1834 in the Jersey National Schoolroom. This, too, is lengthy and was doubtless penned by the versatile and erudite Secretary, Col. Le Couteur. It refers to the discovery of several plants of use in the feeding of cattle and notably "Trefolium Incarnatum" which is commended to the Jersey farmer as excellent for his cattle. Parsnips, the growth of which is "much attended to and found highly profitable" are dealt with at some lengt and their qualities as a food for cattle and even as a substitute for wheat in bread making, highly extolled. That Veterinary Treatment, was in those days in the hands of those who would today be termed "quacks", can be inferred from the statement that, with the help of the States`grant a "regularly educated Veterinary Surgeon" had been brought over to the Island at a retainer of £40 per annum. Thanks are returned to members who had exhibited new and improved Agricultural implements including "a very ingenious machine for mowing a lawn." Is this the forerunner of the modern lawn mower?
At this Annual General Meeting proposals were adopted dividing the work of the Society into two departments,Agricultural and Horticultural, the funds to be divided proportionately between them, an Hon. Secretary and a separate Committe to be named for each Section.
The Society thus moved forward into the second year of its existence and commenced by sending a gift of fruit to its Royal Patron. Horticulturists might be interested to note that the collection included 103 Chaumontel, 36 Cressanne, 35 Beurre d`Arembert, 24 Golden Pippin, 48 Pigeonnet, 24 Waterford as well as other varieties of Pears and Apples many of which, like some of those mentioned, have gone out of cultivation. Has any grower in 1933 a tree of "Waterfords" in his orchard? While on the subjects of apples notice might be taken of the offer in 1834 of a Premium (or Prize) for the best recipe for making cider, though it does not appear that an Award was ever made.
1835 saw many subjects of varying importance discussed and acted upon by the Board.
General Thornton, the first President, left the Island on his retirement from the post of Lieut.-Governor and was the recipient of an address couched in felicitous if somewhat florid terms from the grateful Society he had helped to found.
At the half yearly meeting it was decided to make the Governor, Lieut.-Governor and Bailiff Vice-Patrons and to elect one President only, annually. A rumour that the Mother Country might prohibit the importation of wheat from the Channel Islands brought forth from the Society a Petition to the Bar of the House of Commons recapitulating the rights of the Islanders granted by charter. Whether the rumour was unfounded or the Petition ever presented is not certain, but the following Annual Report congratulates agriculturists on the disposition of the Parent Country to encourage and protect the free importation of wheat. The labour problem also received attention and a rather elaborate scheme was launched for the formation of a Society for the encouragement of good servants (farm and domestic), for opening a registry of such and for receiving their savings. Want of support, however, caused the abandonment of the proposal. Nevertheless, the granting by the Society of rewards for long service continued for many years. The Board, at one of its meetings, about this time unanimously recommended Bone Manure as highly "advantageous for the general purposes of Agriculture."
Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin, who had in 1833, given the Society a quantity of potatoes now came forward with the gift of a Boar, Sow and Pigs, the latter being sold at the Spring Show for the benefit of the Society. While such a donation might today be lookede at askance, any member who might wish to present a Prize-winning Sire to be sold for the benefit of the Society would, no doubt, receive a cordial vote to thanks at least. On the Horticultural side the Lists of CLasses for 1834 and 1835 present interesting comparisons with those of one hundred years later. Classes for Double Wallflowers, Heaths and Heartsease for instance, appear in the Spring Schedule, though Dahlias even then find a place in the Summer and Autumn Show Lists. Extra Prizes were given in 1835 for such exotic produce as Lemons, Guavas, Cranberries and Pomegranates. It is to be assumed that these were grown in the Island and the question arises as to whether they could still be produced here.
Here is a method of advertising the Shows, chosen by the Horticultural Committee.
That the Hon. Secretary be requested to give notice to the Prevôts of the Parishes of the intended Show, that the same may be publicity communicated to the people after Church and that a Paper containing the advertisement be given to each prevôt that he may read the prizes to be distributed.
This can hardly be recommended in this year of grace as a means of reaching the greatest number of people.
During that year (1835) intercourse was commenced with the Guernsey Horticultural Society -Judges were exchanged and care taken to avoid the clashing of dates of the Shows in the two Islands.
The Annual Report for 1836, in discussing the potato crops goes on to say
It would be desirable to obtain potatoes of very early habits raised from seed, so as to enable this Island to supply the first demands of the London market, which the climate might very well admit; early potatoes frequently selling at from one to two shillings the pound in Covent Garden Market, when in great plenty here.
The possibilities of early potato cultivation as an Island industry seem here to be brought to the notice of farmers for the first time, The postponement of a Show on account of the vraicking season would hardly occur now through this is what happened in regard to the Bull Show of 1836.
In the following year King William IV. died and his niece Victoria scended the Throne she was destined to occupy for over sixty years. Soon after her accession the Queen granted Her Royal Patronage to the Society.
3.- In the early Years of Queen Victoria`s Reign.
The Report for 1837 which chronicles this event refers also to the rapid advances that the Horticultural Department had made during the four years of its existence. THe Committee "conceives that the prosperous and beautiful state of the nursery grounds of the Island is greatly owing to the desire .. created in the Island to possess the choicest fruits and flowers." In all the activities of that Department the name of Mr. B. Saunders continually recurs, as a contributor to the reports, as Judge or exhibitor and as an energetic Member of the Board. Even as the Agricultural Department enjoyed the services of a succession of "live wires" in its affairs (Col. Le Couteur, Col. Le Cornu, Canon Luce), so the Horticultural side has seldom lacked at least one member to shoulder the principal burdens of management.
Like the sister Department visits of inspection were paid to gardens and estates throughout the Island and Prizes awarded, not only to the best of these, but also for Cottagers` Gardens. Thus, Flower Garden Competitions as held in 1932 and 1933 were no new thing. Sit John De Veulle, Trinity Manor, Mr. J.W. Dupré (Attorney-General) Plaisance, Mr. Jas. Hammond, Tantaisie are among those whose gardens received awards in 1836 or 1837.
In passing it may be noted that the SUmmer Show of the latter year was held at Mr. Hartung`s Musical Promenade, Mount Pleasant. Those interested in old St. Helier might endeavour to trace to trace the site of this popular rendezvous of their forefathers.
Though the minute books well repay the time required to search through them for the light they throw on relatively unimportant matters, it is from the Annual Reports that the greatest information is obtainable about the progress of the Society and the various matters which were exciting the interest of its Members. Yet, it is these references to small matters, to places and habits long forgotten, that throw into relief more vividly the greater and more abiding achievements of the institution and exercise a certain fascination on those interested in the Jersey of a bygone age.
Five years of existence were marked in the Annual Report for 1838 by the following recapitulation of work accomplished.
This Society set out with the design of creating a spirit of industry and emulation; it has fulfilled its object. It has improved, greatly improved, the breed of cattle. At the last Show, one hundred and sixty head of very fine cattle, in a most superior condition as compared with former exhibitions, were declared by the Judges, to evince in the most satisfactory and conclusive manner, the undeniable improvement that is manifested in form and condition.
Their value has also increased, thirty pounds having been refused for a prize cow, and her prize yearling heifer, and twenty pounds have been refused for another prize heifer.
This Society has led to the adornment of cottages; fragrant flowers now decorate many of those yards, which, ten years since, were foul with manure and filth; thus , it has improved domestic economy and cleanliness, and therefore promoted health.
It has encouraged and rewarded long and faithful services. It has improved the general condition of many farms, hence increased produce.
It has led to the adoption of improved varieties of corn and increased its growth and produce.
It has proposed the cultivation of valuable sorts of potatoes in relation to commerce.
Some space is also devoted to bringing to the notice of farmers the advantages of conserving liquid manure and the best way of collecting and distributing it. This advice has in course of time been generally (it may be said universally) followed.
Though nearly thirty years were to go by before the Herd Book was established, the importance of pedigrees was beginning to be recognised, if one may judge by this extract from the same report.
The period having arrived when the pedigree of cattle is to be recorded, two points being allowed for breed on the male side, two on the female, and four when the stock is derived from prize-cattle on both sides, competitors will now be required to state the pedigree of their cattle, in sending in their lists, as the Committe will be charged to add the points for breed, from the record book, to those awarded by the Judges.
Your Committee that three more points be added for prize cattle; namely, one for growth, and two for general appearance; want of condition to exclude in all cases.
Here also are the proposed Rules for Sweepstakes:
That no original entrance exceed ten shillings, nor be less than five; under the penalty of forfeiture to the funds of the Society. That one quarter of the amount of all Sweepstakes go to the funds of the Society.
That the first entrance money must be paid into the hands of the Treasurer, on or before Michælmas day, from that day to Lady the entrance will be half more than the original sum; from which time, until the morning of the Show, inclusively, the entrance will be double the original entry.
That the cattle must be of the same season.
That the Judges for the cattle Shows will award the Sweepstakes.
That in case no cattle of a Sweepstakes reach twenty points - the whole sum entered be forfeited to the fund.
While the Sweepstakes Competitions are still an interesting feature of combined Parish Show, it is doubtful if they are akin to the above in more than the name.
The history of the Jersey Potato trade has a chapter added to it in these words:
The Committee has seen occasion to regret that the potatoes from this Island did not reach the first prices in he London markets, owing perhaps to the circumstances of various varieties of white potatoes being in cultivation, and the shipments, being made in an unequal state of ripeness, the quality could not be so good, nor their properties for boiling so excellent as if one good sort. The Committee have in consequence felt it a duty to import two of the best sorts bearing the highest price in the London markets: the "York Red" and the "York Kidney",w which have been distributed gratuitously to such farmers as would conduct their culture with the understanding to return forty pounds, or one cabot, for every five pounds or one sixtonnier. The Committee trusts that if they are found to be suited to the Island they will be kept pure and raised into stock, so that the potato merchants may be enabled to name the variety they offer to the London dealers, which will tend to place the Island potatoes at the head of the market, which they unquestionably deserve when well cultivated.
An assertion uttered in the States by the then Constable of St. Martin that the Society used the States Grant in contravvention of the proviso that competition must be open to non-subscribers drew forth a resolution of denial from the Board of Management. This did not end the matter, for assertion and denial continued in the form of newspaper correspondance, to be ended, apparently, ith a long politely sarcastic letter from the Secretary, Mr. James Hammond, in which the charges made are refuted in great detail.
Cattle and potatoes provide the material for notes on the year 1839. In that year cattle exhibited at the Shows are reported as "fetching the high prices of £25 and £30 each".
The Visiting Committee, at Belle Vue tested 8 varieties of potatoes, Philip`s Red and a Seedling potato raised by Mr. Knight standing highest in estimation. In referring to the latter variety the report naively remarks
"The labouring people and persons at the St. Aubin`s Hospital who have been hitherto supplied with it pronounce it to be the most nutritious they know."
About this time there appeared in the list of premiums for each year one of £2 for the "owner of the best planted Cotil of Oak or other forest trees fit for shipbuilding or other general purposes." A reminder indeed of an industry long since vanished.
The following also appears in the same list of premiums:
I propose a sweepstake of ten shillings for the best vergée of White Carrots.
Do. For Three Cows, the property of one person; that shall produce the finest coloured and richest cream, at the Spring Show, the trial to be made in Lactometers.
N.B. Members are requested to notify their acceptance of any of the above to Mr. B. Saunders, who will receive the amount of the Sweepstakes, and proposals for others.
(Signed) John Le Couteur
The States Subsidy of £100 ceased after 1841, though the Board notes" with some surprise" that so large a sum as £60.000 has been voted for the furtherance of commerce (i.e. the harbours) and regret that so small a sum as £100 a year should not have been continued to the Society. That the Jersey Cow of those days was not yet perfect can be gathered from this extract from the Report for 18441.
Among the members of your Society, seven years attention to breeding have almost caused the ancient characteristic defect or drooping hind quarter of the Jersey Cattle to disappear, besides several minor defects, and it only remains to give squareness to the hind quarter and roundness to the barrel, to render it a most beautiful animal. The fact alone that neither the thirty points to Cows nor the twenty-eight to Bulls having yet been awarded, sufficiently evinces the jealous care and attention with which the Judges have discharged their often times difficult duty.
Mention of the Judges gives occasion to remark that until about this time these were not usually members but were cattle dealers. Later, members and cattle dealers acted together and, as in course of time the latter doubtless became subscribers, the distinction ceased.
The spraying of fruit trees being nowadays so much talked of, even if not generally adopted, there is interest in the following wash against blight and curl in Peach and Nectarine Trees.
Wash for Peach and Nectarine Trees
One part Sulphur Vivum One par Quick Lime
Do. Scotch Snuff Half do. Lamp Black.
Equal quantities of soap suds and stale urine, sufficient to make it of the consistence of paint, to be put on with a painter`s brush. The Trees to be unnailed about February or March, just before the buds burst, and every part, stem and all to be painted with it.
It is recommended in this climate to wash the Trees, either the end of January, or the first week in February, according as the weather may admit.
The recipe was given to the Society by Capt. Meecham, then living at Bagot Manor, and its constituents remind one greatly of some of the old-fashioned potions guaranteed to work wonders, though faith was a necessary ingredient. Later reports, however, speak highly of its effectiveness.
While even ass today solicitous for the advancement of the Jersey breed of cattle, the Society did not neglect anything that would improve the crops grown on the Island. Quantities of Guano, Nitrate of Soda, Bone Dust and Oil Cake (referred to as new manures) were purchased and members carried out experiments with portions of each. One year`s experience alone, however, produced no unusual effect and the conclusion arrived at was:
That the manures were all equally good, but ..nature should be repeatedly and severely interrogated -in several various seasons -the last singularly dry season offering no guidance whatever.
The Board`s Annual Reports are not only a mine of information on the work of the Society, but on the economic and social history of the Island from year to year. They also reflect the views and attitude of mind of the writer (usually the Secretary, but possibly sometimes the joint work of members of the Board) The paragraphs which follow, taken from the Report of the Horticultural Department for 1843 are an example of a truly Victorian attitude towards the "lower orders."
The committee wish to impress upon all the members the importance of the COttage Branch, -would wee see comfort and happiness in our own dwellings we must seek to make those dependent on us contented and cheerful. The labouring man feels deeply and warmly the interest shewn by his employer in his welfare and comfort, not a drop of cold water given from a proper feeling is forgotten, but it is treasured up, producing those kindly relations between master and man which tend to their mutual happiness.
An honourable spirit of emulation is created by the competition for the Prizes offered in this Department; the Cottager is encouraged to employ his leisure hours in cultivating and ornamenting his little Garden, adding so much to the comfort of himself and family, instead of wasting his strength, both of mind and body in the dissipation and abominable vice of the gin shop.
We pursue the search after virtue, as Sir Joseph (?) Reynolds has so well expressed it, by looking forward beyond ourselves to Society, let every member then actively promote amongst all in his neighbourhood a spirit of competition and he will be amply compensated by the general improvement that must arise around him -smiling cottages -neat gardens -and a happy peasanry. Limited as the funds of the Society are, a sum of £30 is annually distributed in this laudable object.
The Committee would therefore reiterate upon all friendly to the improvement of their fellow-mem, -all aiming to encourage Philanthrophy, -all anxious to dissemate a wholesome taste and feeling among the labouring classes, the importance of encouraging and enlarging this branch of the Society, and of prevailing on the Cottagers throughout the Island to compete for the Prizes; which, it must be always borne in mind, are not given as charity but as wellmerited rewards to induce them to employ their leisure in honest and healthful industry, advantageous alike to themselves and the community.
4. Ten Years of Progress.
Ten years have now passed since the Society was formed and if its history during that period has been dealt with on a scale which would make the complete story of its existence over lengthy, this has been prompted by two reasons.
The principal one has been to show the beginnings from which the Society has sprung and the foundations upon which its labours, during its subsequent long and honourable career, were laid; the means adopted to improve the breed of cattle and the energy and enthusiasm applied to any experiment which might prove beneficial, sooner or later, to the farming community. The other has been the desire to record possibly trivial matters where they throw light on the customs, places and ways of thought of a hundred years ago. A knowledge of these often explains the actions taken and decisions made on larger matters.
The introduction of Guano into the Island in 1844 is chronicled in these words (the firs sentence is truly prophetic)
A new era in Agriculture has occurred in the arrival of a new artificial manure, "Guano". Two cargoes of it have just been imported to this Island direct from Ichaboe; from the freshness and pungency of which, it may safely be supposed to be unadulterated.
By way of curiosity, this extract, from the same Report, is worthy of inclusion here,
At Belle Vue, a field of "mummy" wheat, raised from a single ear, produced from seed which had been brought by Sir Gardner Wilkinson from the tombs of the Kings of Thebes, was in a highly flourishing state, and was much admired; it was cultivated in the usual way in drills.
Island Cattle were shown at the "Royal" for the first time in 1844, at Southampton, competing in classes for Channel Islands breeds. A Jersey bred Bull, Cow and Heifer were each successful in winning Prizes, the cow being shown by Mr. C.W. Robin and the heifer ("Sally") by Mr. J. Hume.
In order to bring the Southampton Show to the notice of Members it was decided, so runs the minute, "that Posters containing the Prize Lists and a notice to compete, be printed and sent to the two principal Inns, nearest the Churches, in all the Parishes, with a view to induce farmers to exhibit cattle at the Show at Southampton."
Those were the "good old days" as far as facilities for obtaining liquid refreshment were concerned, and spirituous as well as spiritual refreshment were then never far away from each other.
One of the old-fashioned hard winters must have occurred in 1845 judging by this reference to the weather, which has crept into the minutes of March 15th of that year:
Mr Jas. Hammond stated the thermometer to be standing at 28 at 10 a.m., a heavy fall of snow now dropping."
Probably the only time that the weather has been honoured with mention in the records of the Society`s transactions.
1845 will go down in history as the year in which potato disease first appeared in the Island though "dry rot" had been prevously experienced occasionally. No apology is necessary for including the following long extract from the Report for that year:
The Potato disease was first observed in the latter end of June, when two or three nights of hard frost, having suddenly checked the circulation of the sap in the stems and leaves of the plant, the tuber was checked in its growth, and the disease spread with singular rapidity. The Board, having been specially convened to consider the matter, the Honorary Secretary and other Gentlemen produced several potatoes, both of the red and white varieties, on the tubers, stems and leaves of which a fungus was distinctly perceptible under the power of a microscope, and in some cases by the naked eye. It was also seen that the fungus extended itself by ramifications into the earth which adhered to or surrounded the potato.
It was recommended to burn the Potato haulm, whereever it had been attacked, with as little delay as possible before the wet weather set in, to clear the land immediately, then to drress it with quick lime at the rate of four hogsheads to the vergée, or of ten hogsheads to the acre, by spreading it evenly over the soil in a powdered state, and to plough it in while fresh. Where lime might not be approved for particular soils, it was recommende to use seaweed vraic ashes (alkali) at the rate of six quarters to the vergée, or fourteen quarters to the acre.
In some cases every tuber had rotted away, especially in moist situations. In Others, half the tubers were injured. In the high lands and light soils the injury was less apparent. On an average, it was deemed that one third of the crop had suffered.
It was seen that those Potatoes which had been housed in a dry state and kept so very little injured. Hence it was strongly urged to keep the stock of Potatoes in the driest possible state in thin layers, and to examine and sort the stock occasionally.
Potato disease is unfortunately still withus after ninety years, though, whether the blight of 1933 is the same as that of 1845 , may not be quite clear. Farmers are recommende, now, as then, to burn the tops and the application of lime in some form was probably greatly needed, as the soil of the Island is by nature inclined to be sour.
The same report also mentions a rise in the price of bread, from 1½ d.to 21/4 d.per lb. First quality and from 1d.to 2d. for second quality. At that time most, if not all of the flour was milled from locally grown wheat.
About this time lectures in Agricultural "Chymistry" were delivered by one Dr. Preshaw, members being very strongly recommended to "offer the learned gentleman every support and encouragement". No doubt the rank and file were scornful, as their successors have not infrequently been, of any attempt by an outsider to "teach them how to farm". Nevertheless the age was one of experiment and frequent references are made during those years to trials of new machinery , new varieties of potatoes or roots (including Swedishturnips) or of the new "guano".
The formation of the first of the Parochial Agricultural Societies (that of St. John`s) is noted with satisfaction as having occurred in 1846. As other such Societies were formed there was, for a period, however, a feeling that by diverting members`interest from the parent Society these Clubs would do more harm than good. This apprehension was ill-founded and in course of time it was realised (and the view was often put on record) that the increased entries and competition at the Shows were due to the presence of Agricultural Societies (or Farmers`Clubs) in several of the Parishes.
Formed at the same time, St. Peter`s Farmers`Club for a number of years paid a subscription of Five Pounds to the funds thereby entitling its members to compete at the Shows of the parent body.
The Report for 1846 was mainly of a retrospective character and, dealing with the Jersey Cow, the extracts which follow, which have been quoted before now, can well bear re-quotation.
It can be safely asserted that, previously to 1833, no one had thought of improving the breed of cattle by any system or fixed rule. The Jersey Cow was excellent, as she has ever been, which has been attributed to the circumstance of a few farmers having constantly attended to raising stock from cows of the best milking qualities, which attention, prosecuted for a long number of years in a small country like ours, where such superior qualities would soon be known, led to the excellence of milking and butter-yielding properties in the race at large.
Hence in a great measure may be traced the cause why, half a century back, it is recorded of a Jersey Cow that she produced fourteen pounds of butter in a week -this great quantity is not likely to be exceeded, but it has frequently been, and is constantly equalled.
The animal which then produced that quantity might have been the ugliest that can be described, with a long head, bad horns, ewe necked, hollow backed, cat hammed, walking ill; yet her points of value, the characteristic features of the Jersey breed, were present and redeeming - a lively eye, orange ears, a round barrel, depth of chest, short fine deer-like limbs, a capital udder, largely developed milk veins and a fine tail. No one would have purchased this animal for ornament; her usefulness might have commanded a high price, but the ordinary value of good cows was from eight to twelve pounds. Heifers were sold at four or five. The export at that period was between 700 and 800 yearly. In order to be convinced that this picture is not over-drawn, the following report is produced, drawn up by the judges, who were the principal cattle dealers, at the Cattle Show of the 9th of April 1834: [The report is here in error, as the Show was held on March 31st, 1834]
The Secretary requested the Judges to state their opinion in writing as to the general defects observalble in the cattle exhibited, in order to direct the attention of the Society to the most faulty points; and they reported their opinion as follows.
1 That the cattle were very much out of condition
2 Too slightly formed behind and cat-hammed.
3 Gair unsightly.
4. The udders ill-formed.
5. The tail coarse and thick.
6. The hoofs large.
7 The heads coarse and ill-shaped.
8. Many were without that golden or yellow tinge within the ears, which denotes a property to produce yellow and rich butter.
9. Some Cows and Heifers had short bull-necks.
10. Some had too much flesh or dewlap under the throat; and
11. Some were too heavy in the shoulder.
and from these principal defects, so clearly and frankly pointed out by the experienced Judges, and the information gained from the lists of points required for perfection in Cattle, your Committe may be warranted in expressing an opinion, that, by judicious crossing, a material and speedy improvement in the race of Jersey Cows may be expected; and it should be specially urged on the notice of the Society, that this improvement is not only attainable, and the correction or removal of the faults pointed out to be accomplished, but that, by crossing the breed, perfection is most likly to be attained, if proper pains be taken in the selection.
The introduction during the preceding 13 years of such roots as "Swedish turnips", mangold wurzel and Kohl-rabi, and of improved varieties of potatoes, as well as the advances made in the culture of wheat, sold to England for seed, are referred to, with pardonable pride at the part played by the Society in these matters.
A two-year old heifer (bought from Mr. Thos. Filleul) and a yearling bull and heifer (given by Col. Le Couteur), were sent to Windsor Castle in June 1847 and presented to the Prince Consort; the Horticultural Department, the year before, having made a gift of fruit to the Queen.
It was becoming obvious that the Scales of Points under which cattle had been judged since 1833 required revision, in view of the great improvement in conformation which had come to pass. The change was made in 1849, perfection in Bulls being increased to 33 points (from the original 20), while for Cows it advanced from 28 to 36. It is worth while at this juncture drawing attention to the conditions which, practically from the beginning, were imposed on the owners of prizewinning bulls.
Winners of Prizes at the Bull Show had to be shown again at the Spring Show; the only other Cattle Show of the year. The Bulls also had to remain in the Island at public service for at least one season after the date of award or forfeit the prize. THe owners of bulls obtaining 26 (later 33) points, i.e. perfection, were allowed to charge not more than 1/6 for each service.
In parenthesis it may be noted that special prizes were offered for Bulls and Cows scoring the maximum point, though none seem to have won them.
The object of these restrictions is clear -to retain in general use on the Island sires of proved merit for the benefit of the breed. The shortsighted policy of selling the best stock for export is severely condemned in a later report (1855). Yet the temptation was one to which the average breeder, looking only to present gain, would naturally succumb. As all members know, the principle of penalising the owners of Prize Bulls who sell them before a certain time has elapsed still obtains, but they perhaps do not realise that it is a principle which has the sanction of nearly one hundred years to justify it. The restrictions re Prize Bulls also applied to stallions and boars. Classes for Jersey bred horses (stallions, colts and fillies) were features of the Shows of that time and were well filled, as were the Classes for Swine. By offering substantial premiums (attempts were even made to import and subsidize suitable stallions) efforts were made to improve the standard of the horses on the Island. When every cottager had a pigstye, and that stye occupied, there was scope, too for work in the improvement of swine. The livestock interests of the Society did not begin and end with cattle.
In recognition of his work on behalf of the Society Col. Le Couteur was, on February 27th, 1850 presented with a telescope, subscribed for by the members. Few of the Society`s officers have so well merited such a testimonial of appreciation.
Artificial manures are compounded of many different substances and bear many different names, but here is one heard of for the first and probably the last time in Jersey, despite the "unlimited" supply.
A vote of thanks was offered to Mons. A. Belître, of Dinan, for a sample of fossil manure composed of oyster and other shells, fish-bones, sharks teeth, found to an almost unlimited extent in the neighbourhood of Dinan; this manure can be rendered at St. Malo at six francs a ton.
In its time the Society has been the prime mover in many schemes of public welfare. The extracts from a press report of a Meeting of the Board in December, 1852 seem to show that it was closely connected with the foundation of what has subsequently become the Jersey Home for Boys, once known as the Industrial School.
Previously to the Board`s balloting for President and Vice-Presidents, Lt.-Gen. Touzel rose, and introduced to the Board the subject of Industrial Schools, for training Girls for household, and Boys for agricultural service. For the latter object he recommended the formation of a "model farm", with a site and soil adapted to extensive improvements and the raising of large crops. After expatiating upon the great advantages which must result to the Island from such establishments as those he proposed to have initiated, the General moved the following resolutions:
"That this meeting, in gratefully acknowledging the services of their President, and in the conviction of his deep feelings of sympathy for and interest in the education of the Poor, have resolved to solicit his support in submitting to the consideration of the Governor, Bailiff and Jurats, the invaluable benefit of appropriating a portion of the funds under the administration of that assembly, for the establishment of two industrial Schools.
"One for the efficient training of girls to household service",
"The other, for the instruction of boys as agricultural servants."
"That this meeting entertains sanguine expectations of the succesful result of the exertions of their President; and of thus obtaining, through his instrumentality the means originally granted for, and especially applicable to, the useful employment of the Poor of this Island."
Col. Le Couteur having seconded the resolution, and interesting discussion thereon ensued in which the General, the Colonel, James Hammond, Esq., and the President took part.
Eventually, on the suggestion of Mr. Hammond, urgently seconded by the President, the resolutions moved were left in abeyance, and a Committee consisting of Mr. Judge Le Quesne, Lt.-Gen. Touzel, Col. Le Couteur, Moses Gibaut of St. Lawrence and James Hammond, Esq. was appointed to take the necessary initiatory measures for the formation of the schools, the President initimating that such Schools had the support of the Attorney-General and expressing his conviction that, as soon as the Committee could show the Assembly of Governor, Bailiff and Jurats some definite grounds on which to preceed, that Assembly would, to a certain extent, lend their assistance to the good work in hand.
5.- Finance. Cattle. And some interesting Communications.
Finance is the rock on which many a similar Society is wrecked and the exertions of the officers are bent to steering a safe course on the always dangerous financial coast. And the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society was not exempt. After a sequence of adverse balance, -prize money being a heavy expense and subscriptions being the only source of income -it was decided that in 1850 no prize-money should be paid except in Cottagers`Classes, though in 1851 Cattle Prizes were restored and a Sweepstake and Aggregate Prize for Flowers and Fruit introduced. Prize-money was generally restored in 1852 when the funds greatly benefited by the suspension.
In 1852 it had been foundthat the Cattle Market was becoming too small to accommodate the Shows of Cattle. It was therefore proposed that the Spring Show of the following year be held in a field at Avranche, St. Lawrence, and it was the intention apparently to have itinerant Shows in the future (imitating the English "Royal" on a small scale). The decision was, however, on a petition by members, rescinded and the Cattle Shows, with one or two notable exceptions, continued in the markets until the Department possessed a Show yard of its own. Nevertheless, during the Great War, that Show Yard, being in Military occupation, the Cattle Market again became the venue for the Bull Shows.
During the eighteen-forties and eighteen-fifties, a considerable number of cattle was shipped to England each year; in 1851 as many as 1.903. Great dissatisfaction was, however, continually present, owing to the alleged practice of French cattle being introduced into England as Channel Islands stock. Petitions were addressed to the States in 1846 and 1852 parying that measures might be adopted to nullify the evil effect of this practice. The issue of Certificates of origin by the Constables and the branding of prize-winning cattle were suggested though, it is doubtful if these ideas were put into effect. In 1853 the Report remarks that several of the breed had been sent to the U.S.A. This is the first mention of a market for Island stock which was, in time, to become the most lucrative of all, despite periods of depression, one of which is now being experienced. Correspondence and figures are also inserted showing the superiority of Jersey Milk over Ayrshire Milk, the former being from cattle owned by a Mr. Taintor of Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A., who it is stated, himself selected the cattle on the Island "paying from £18 to £25 for the very best in Jersey."
The Horticultural section of the report for the year mentions a remedy for blight in grapes, consisting of 1 lb. of fresh slaked lime and 1-lb. of flowers of sulphur well mixed with five pints of water and used in a proportion of 1 to 100. This is evidently an early variation of the lime-sulphur wash now used so extensively for apple and pear trees.
To-day the question is often asked whether there are any publications dealing with the culture of potatoes, tomatoes etc. on the Island. The answer has to be in the negative, but nearly eighty years ago the usefulness of some treatise on local cultural methods eas being borne in mind, though nothing came of the following suggestion:
...the Board would beg to suggest to the SOciety the propriety of offering a premium for the best practical treatise on the culture of the several plants which enter into the rotation of crops generally adopted in the Island. It is probable that, by these means, may Agriculturists might be induced to favour the Society with the result of their experience, and much valuable information be elicited which might afterwards be rendered generally available by the publication of the composition which had obtained the prize, or of a compilation embodying the most useful suggestions contained in the communications of the several competitors.
The lack of some book on local growing and manuring practices was again deplored a couple of years later. In 1870, it is true, a Prize Essay on "The Potato in Jersey" appeared in the journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, the writer being Mr. (afterwards Colonel) C.P. Le Cornu.
The Summer Horticultural Exhibition of 1854 was said to have been "the most brilliant and the most numerously attended meeting of the Society since its formation." It inaugurated the (then) New Vegetable Market. Classes for Poultry, which had formed part of the Horticultural Shows in the early days, were re-introduced in the previous year and continued until 1860. Sixty years later an amalgamation with the Jersey Poultry Society took place, but the secession of that Society brought an end, after a few years, to an association which, while perfectly amicable, proved a drain on the Department`s finances.
As already stated, the times were times of experiemnt and the Society lent a ready ear to any new theory affecting the soil and its products. The utilization of sewage as a manure is a case in point and this cutting, affixed in the minute book early in 1854, is reproduced here
The President intimated that M. Pierre Leroux, who had honored the meeting with his presence, had, he understood, a communication of much interest to make to the Society.
M. Leroux then addressed the Meeting at some length, and with great illustrative power, on the subject which had engrossed so much of his attention, on which he has lately published an able work, and on which he is about to deliver a course of lectures -the means of quadrupling, or even quintupling, the agricultural and horticultural productiveness of the Island. These means he finds in the utilising of that vast and exhaustless supply of engrais humain, both liquid and fæcal, which is at present either drained away unserviceably, or left to encumber the earth and infect the air. To entirely prevent the decomposition of this engrais, and thus altogether deodorise it, M. Leroux covers it, in its liquid form, with a topping of oil, and its fæcal portion he mixes with sea-sand or other mineral substance, and converts it into an actual guano. M. Leroux placed on the table specimens of both these forms of the engrais, and grasses and leaves of plants which had been manured with it, contrasting them with specimens of the same plants raised in the common way; and the proved results were such as really to astonish the Meeting. Crops raised by these means have been found to produce as 8½ to 3½ above crops cultivated in the ordinary chymical manner; communications attesting which remarkable and all-important fact M. Leroux read to the Society.
Another interesting item which finds a place in the minute book at this time is a letter from Mr. Samuel Curtis, whose name is familiar even now to horticulturists. He was related to the founder of Curtis`s Botanical Magazine, and was publisher of that work for 19 years. In 1853 he resided at La Chaire, Rozel, from where the letter is addressed.
Gentlemen, I have experienced much pleasure in your delightful Island and favoured climate, and have only a wish to be beneficial to its prosperity in Horticulture. I see many parts of the Island capable of growing the products of the South of France; there are many parts in a neglected state capable of growing far more useful things than Furze, Broom and Heath, and I think your attention would be well directed to the improvement of these wastes. The better kinds of Apples, Pears, and even Vines would flourish on the Southern Cotees, many of which are now very unproductive, but the country people are not easily induced to adopt prospective speculations of that kind. Can you by offering rewards for the best efforts in that way, rouse them to the trial? Even the Northern Cotees in most parts might by judicious plantations be rendered more profitable and ornamental, by but a small outlay, for the time will come when timber will pay for growing on sand which is almost laying waste.
But my principal object in addressing you at this time is to offer you my suggestion towards the cure of the destructive disease in the Potato, for although so much has been said and written on the subject, nothing seems to have been effectually done towards arresting its progress, and we know as little of its cause as we did at the commencement. Most writers on the subject have attributed it to Aphis or Fungus, but in my opinion both are the effect not the cause. My opinion has always been that it is purely Atmospheric, and perhaps as inexplicable as the Cholera in the human subject. If purely atmospheric it must come with particular winds, or, from stagnant air obstructing the exhalations from the soil; in either case my remedy is applicable, and so it would be if Aphides or Fungi were the cause.
To apply a remedy to any disease over thousands of Acres of Land under any circumstances must be a great undertaking, and the Medicine must be a cheap one, for if Gold-dust was a specific who would apply it? My remedy is Lime only, not only applied in a very fine powder, but slaked in such a manner as to preserve its greatest causticity.
Mr. Curtis goes on to explain the process of slaking Lime, and gives details of an ingenious apparatus he has invented to project the lime over the crops as a dry spray (as it would now be called). He concludes by saying:
Near 50 years ago I planted on my own ground an extensive orchard of the finest kinds of apples, pears, plums, cherries, filberts, etc, and being annoyed with the depredation of insects over the foliage I invented the above tin machine, and found no difficulty in applying the powdered lime over the trees, many of them 12 or 15 feet high, and the orchard occupying 50 acres of ground. The Society of Arts in London not only gave me their Medal for my communications to them, but put a diagram of my Lime Dusting Machine into their Transactions, and my present communications to your excellent Society is that you may recommend a fair trial to be made of it as a remedy for the Potato Disease.
Mr. Curtis`s theories on Potato Blight and its remedy by the application of lime (as a "dry spray", be it noted) may not commend themselves to present day research workers, and no record of a trial of his "tin machine" appears, if such a trial was ever made. If, however, Mr. Curtis could revisit this earth and see the Southern "Cotees" now, he would not find them in a neglected state, even though they are not flourishing with apples, pears, and vines.
He died in Jersey in 1860 and an interesting monograph, acompanied by illustrations, appears in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, published in September 1933.
Alluding to pears, a cutting pasted in the minute book of the period relates to a "disease of pear trees" discovered and reported on by Col. Le Couteur. The latter quotes Dr. Lindley as describing it as the Mussel Scale Insect, while the Rev. S. King maintains from his observations that it is a fungus disease. Whichever was right we do not know, nor will pear growers, to-day care very much, but the States` Horticultural Adviser might be edified by a perusal of this page of the minute book.
While up to now this account of the doings of the Society has, with a few exceptions, omitted to mention the names of the many who took a leading part in its activities, the time has arrived to record the name of one who rendered yeoman service to the institution over a long period of years -Col. Le Cornu. The report for 1857 is signed by him as Hon. Secretary for the first time. That report mentions the inauguration of classes for butter and that trials of ploughs were to be carried out, by which it will be seen that the Society neglected no opportunity of promoting good cultivation and dairying.
The following note was attached to the award lis