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Skinny-dipping? That’ll be a ten-shilling fine, gentlemen

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PENALTIES imposed on Islanders in the past for misdemeanours such as ‘skinny-dipping’ and stealing a door were revealed in records released by Jersey Archive on New Year’s Day.

As well as police registers and witness depositions in criminal cases dating from the early 20th century, the documents include immigration records of non-British nationals who were required to register when they moved to the Island. Official records like these are closed to public access under Freedom of Information exemptions, some for up to a century.

Linda Romeril, director of archives and collections at Jersey Heritage, said: ‘It is always fascinating to be able to study these documents and use them to tell the stories of people who lived in Jersey 100 years ago.

‘The documents tell us so much about the social history of the Island and through them we can track the history of crime, poverty, health and the role of women within our community.

‘This is particularly relevant in 2019 as we celebrate 100 years of women in Jersey having the right to vote.’

One of the women revealed to have fallen foul of the law for being drunk in the early 20th century was Rose Boivin, wife of William Blowers, aged 27.

Mrs Romeril said: ‘Police registers provide a fascinating insight into crime in the Island 100 years ago. Two registers from the period 1915 to 1918 from the Parish of St Helier are now open, giving details of suspects, including their name, age and place of birth, the crime, by whom they were arrested, any witnesses and the outcome of the case.’

One of the most unusual cases of theft involved Adelina Flambard (47), originally from Normandy in France, who was accused of stealing the door from a room she occupied at 10 Regent Place.

She was sentenced to one month’s hard labour.

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Another record, dated 8 June 1918, refers to seven men who were arrested and accused of ‘bathing without a proper costume’ at La Collette and Havre des Pas. Found guilty, they were each fined ten shillings.

From Victorian times the shoreline below La Collette Gardens was a popular swimming site for men, while women took a dip at Havre des Pas where changing rooms were provided.

Among the registration cards is that of Oscar- and Bafta-winner William Rose, who wrote the screenplays for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, starring Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn, and the Ealing comedy, The Ladykillers, with Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.

He moved to Jersey in 1964 to live in St Brelade. He died here in 1987 and is buried in St Clement’s Churchyard.

Islanders can view the newly opened records at the Archive, where there will be a free talk about some of the most interesting stories at 10 am on Saturday 19 January.

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
author

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