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Title: An Example of Communal Currency - The facts about the Guernsey Market House
Author: Harris, J. Theodore
Language: English
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 With a Preface by

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 _Third Edition, Newly Revised and Enlarged_
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  CONTENTS--Introduction, The General Idea, The Two Problems, The Two
      Aspects of the Question, Credit to Agriculture, The "Credit
      Associations" of Schulze-Delitzsch, Raiffeisen Village Banks,
      Adaptations, "Assisted" Co-operative Credit, Co-operative
      Credit in Austria and Hungary, The "Banche Popolari" Italy, The
      "Casse Rurali" of Italy, Co-operative Credit in Belgium,
      Co-operative Credit in Switzerland, Co-operative Credit in
      France, Offshoots and Congeners, Co-operative Credit in India,

 "We may confidently refer those who desire information on the
 point to the book with which Mr. Wolff has provided us. It will
 be a most useful thing if it is widely read, and the lessons which it
 contains are put in practice."--_Athenæum._

 "The book is the most systematic and intelligent account of these
 institutions which has been published."--_Banker's Magazine (New

 "It is the most complete book on the subject."--_Mr. G. N.
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 "There was manifest need of just such a book.... A mine of
 valuable information."--_Review of Reviews._

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 the careful attention of all who are concerned for the welfare of the
 people."--_Economic Review._



 Edited by the Hon. W. PEMBER REEVES,
 Director of the London School of Economics

 No. 21 in the Series of Monographs by Writers connected
 with the London School of Economics and Political Science









 PREFACE                                               vii

 INTRODUCTION                                            1


    I. CONSTITUTION OF GUERNSEY                          4

   II. THE SECURITY OF THE NOTES                         6


   IV. THE UTILITY OF THE NOTES                         20

    V. FIRST RUMBLINGS OF OPPOSITION                    25

   VI. THE REPLY OF THE STATES                          30

  VII. THE CRISIS                                       45

 VIII. THE END                                          55

       CONCLUSION                                       59

       APPENDIX                                         61


Those who during the past thirty or forty years have frequented working
men's clubs or other centres of discussion in which, here and there, an
Owenite survivor or a Chartist veteran was to be found, will often have
heard of the Guernsey Market House. Here, it would be explained, was a
building provided by the Guernsey community for its own uses, without
borrowing, without any toll of interest, and, indeed, without cost. To
many a humble disputant the Guernsey Market House seemed, in some
mysterious way, to have been exempt from that servitude to previously
accumulated capital in which the whole creation groaneth and travaileth.
By the simple expedient of paying for the work in Government
notes--issued to the purveyors of material, the master-workmen and the
operatives, accepted as currency throughout the island, and eventually
redeemed out of the annual market revenues--all tribute to the
capitalist was avoided. In face of this successful experiment, the fact
that we, in England, continued to raise loans and subject ourselves to
"drag at each remove a lengthening chain" of interest on public debt,
often seemed so perplexingly foolish as to be inexplicable, except as
the outcome of some deep-laid plot of "the money power."

When first I heard of this Guernsey Market House, as in some mysterious
way exempted from the common lot, I was curious to enquire what
transaction had, in fact, taken place in an island which was, after all,
not so far removed in space or time from the Lombard Street that I knew.
In all the writings of the economists (for which my estimate was at that
time, as indeed it is now, such as I could not easily put into
appropriate words), I found no mention of this Phoenix among
market-houses. I fear that, too hastily, I dismissed the story as

Now Mr. J. Theodore Harris--having, I suspect, a warmer feeling for the
incident than he has allowed to appear in these scientific pages--has
done what perhaps I or some other economic student of the eighties or
nineties ought to have done, namely, gone to Guernsey to dig up, out of
the official records, the incident as it actually occurred. What is
interesting is that he has found that the myth of the veteran Owenite or
Chartist is, in all essentials, confirmed by the documents. The story is
true. The Guernsey Market House was built without a loan and without the
payment of interest.

It does not follow, however, that it was any more built without the aid
of capital, than was St. Paul's Cathedral or the Manchester Ship Canal.
Mr. Harris, contenting himself with the austerely exact record drawn
from the documents, does not indulge in any speculative hypothesis as to
who provided the capital, or who bore the burden that would otherwise
have been interest. Let me use the fuller privilege of the
preface-writer, and supply some hypothetical elucidations.

What the Guernsey community did was that which nearly every community
has done at one time or another, namely, issue paper money. The part of
the story that we do not know is (_a_) what thereupon happened to the
aggregate amount of "currency" of all kinds then in circulation within
the island, in relation to the work which that currency had to do; (_b_)
what happened to the prices of commodities.

It may well have been that the issue of paper money was promptly
followed by some shipments of metallic money to England or
France--perhaps even in payment for imported materials for the market
house--so that the aggregate amount of "currency" in the island was not
in fact increased. Accordingly, no change of prices may have taken
place. In such a case, Guernsey would merely have substituted paper for
gold in its currency. The gold-capital heretofore in use as currency,
and there, of course, yielding no capitalist any toll of interest,
would, in effect, have been borrowed to expend upon the building of the
Market House. And, as paper money probably served the purposes of the
island every bit as well as gold, nobody was any the worse. By giving up
the needless extravagance of using gold coins as counters, and by taking
to paper counters instead, Guernsey really got its Market House without
cost. The same resource is open to any community already possessing a
gold currency, and becoming civilised and self-restrained and sensible
enough to arrange to do without gold counters in its internal trade. But
Guernsey could not have gone on equipping itself with endless municipal
buildings as out of a bottomless purse. The resource is a limited one.
This is a trick which can only be played once. When the gold has once
been withdrawn from the currency, and diverted to another use, there is
no more left with which to repeat the apparent miracle.

On the other hand, there may easily have been no special shipments of
metallic money from the island, and the aggregate "currency" may have
been increased, in relation to the work that it had to do, by the amount
of the note issue. In that case, the economist would, for reasons into
which I have no space to go on the present occasion, expect to see a
gradual and silent rise of prices. Such a rise would seem, to the
ordinary Guernsey housekeeper and shopkeeper, as inevitable, and at the
same time as annoying as any other of those mysterious increases in the
cost of eggs and meat that Anthony Trollope described with such
uneconomic charm in _Why Frau Frohmann raised her prices_--a work which
I do not find prescribed, as it might well be, for undergraduate

There is even a third hypothesis, to which Mr. Harris has directed my
attention. There may have been, before the note issue, an actual dearth
of currency, or a growing disproportion between the amount of the
currency and the work that it had to do. Mr. Harris infers from his
reading that such a stringency had been actually experienced in
Guernsey, and that it was for this reason that successive attempts were
made to prevent foreign coins from being gradually withdrawn from the
island. Such a stringency, the economist would infer, would produce a
progressive fall of prices, leading, by the silent operations of
external trade, to a gradual readjustment of the amount of currency in
circulation, by influx of gold from outside, until a new equilibrium had
been reached. If the Guernsey Government's note issue happened to be
made at such a moment, it may well have taken the place of the
hypothetical inflow of gold, so far as the island currency was
concerned. It may even have averted a fall in prices that would
otherwise have taken place, the economic effect on the consumer's
pockets being in that case much the same as if an actual rise had
occurred. But the Guernsey Government, on this hypothesis, would, by
substituting paper for gold, have gained for the community the
equivalent of the cost of the addition to the gold currency which
expanding population and trade were making necessary; and this gain was
expended in building the Market House.

Unfortunately we do not know how prices behaved to the Guernsey
housekeeper between 1815 and 1837. Perhaps another student will look
this up. What is interesting to us in this argument is the fact that,
_if prices generally did rise_, in consequence of the issue of the paper
money, even by only one half-penny in the shilling--if eggs, for
instance, sold twenty-four for a shilling, instead of twenty-five--this
represented a burden laid on the Guernsey people as consumers, exactly
analogous to a tax (say an octroi duty) of four per cent. on all their
purchases. On this hypothesis, which I carefully abstain from presenting
as anything but hypothetical, because we are unable to verify it by
comparison with the facts, the economist would say that this burden or
tax was what they imposed on themselves, and notably upon the poor, by
increasing the currency, instead of borrowing the capital from
elsewhere. Instead of paying interest on a loan (to be levied, perhaps,
as an income tax on incomes over a certain minimum) they unwittingly
chose to pay more for their bread and butter. The seriousness of this
possible result lies in the definitely ascertained fact that salaries
and wages rise more slowly, and usually to a smaller extent, than the
prices of commodities.

Now, which of these speculative explanations is the true one does not
greatly matter to-day when all the consumers, rich and poor, are dead
and gone. What does concern us is that we should not misconstrue the
Guernsey example. We already use paper money in this country to a small
extent. We could certainly with economic advantage save a great part of
the cost (three or four millions sterling a year) that we now pay for
the luxury of having so many gold sovereigns wandering about in our
pockets. We may one day find the uncounted reserve of capital that in
our gold currency we already possess, virtually in common ownership,
come in very usefully on an emergency (which is, perhaps, what happened
at Guernsey). But we must beware of thinking that the issue of paper
money offers some magical way of getting things without having to use
capital, or we may find ourselves one day, to the unmeasured hardship of
the poor among us, stupidly burdening ourselves as consumers with higher
prices and increased cost of living all round.

There are, of course, other reasons in favour (_a_) of paper money being
issued by the Government, instead of this valuable and responsible
prerogative being abandoned to individual bankers or joint stock
companies, to the great financial loss of the community as a whole; and
(_b_) of the whole business of banking--which means the organising of
credit and the custody of savings--being conducted by the Government
itself, in order that the power which banking gives may be exercised
exclusively under public control, and for corporate instead of for
individual ends, and in order that the profit which banking yields may
accrue to the benefit of the community as a whole, instead of to
particular capitalists. But that is another story. The Guernsey
Government stopped short at the issue of paper money--which is not
banking--and even gave up this right at the bidding of private banking


 41, Grosvenor Road, Westminster.
 _December, 1910._



There are many persons who have heard from one source or another of the
way in which the States of Guernsey built their Market House by means of
non-interest-bearing notes. Some of these--enthusiasts for the reform of
the currency--can dilate for hours on the wisdom of the financial policy
of Daniel de Lisle Brock, can tell how, at the opening of the Market he
"sprinkled the packages (of redeemed notes) with perfume, and while the
band was playing a dirge he laid them on the fire, where they were
quickly consumed," and can even quote from his famous speech on that

A few years ago some members of the Co-operative Brotherhood Trust,
which is a Society that has among its objects a desire to revive the
principles of Robert Owen's Labour Exchange, thought it worth while to
make enquiries as to the Guernsey scheme. They realised that an ounce of
fact was worth a ton of theory. But what were the facts? Were these
notes circulated in the island as a medium of exchange? How were they
redeemed? Could a citizen demand gold for them? When the above mentioned
enthusiasts were tackled with these practical questions, there was
suddenly noticed a certain hesitancy; and when asked point blank what
was the year in which this famous Market House was built, no one could

Enquiries were then made from inhabitants of the island itself. The
information gathered was vague and not much to the point. With a few
notable exceptions, the average Guernseyman seems to know or care little
of the financial policy of the island at the beginning of the nineteenth
century. Even from those interested nothing very definite was to be
learned. The enquirers at last came near to doubting whether the
non-interest-bearing notes had ever existed except in the imagination of
the enthusiasts. Only first-hand enquiry on the spot would suffice.

One Guernseyman, a teacher, kindly encouraged the writer to visit the
island himself, promising him introductions and access to all the
official documents and newspapers of the time. Through the courtesy of
the Greffier and the Librarian of the Guille-Allés Library every
facility was granted to the writer and his wife to carry out their
research. The politeness and kindness of these officials and other
inhabitants of Guernsey are hereby most cordially acknowledged.

In the following pages it is the writer's desire to place the facts
before the public as he has gleaned them from the official records of
the States and the newspapers of the time. He feels tempted to discuss
the _pros_ and _cons_ of the system adopted by the States of Guernsey
for over twenty years; but this little treatise will probably be of most
use if it is confined to a mere narration of facts. Incidentally,
however, it will be seen that some of the queries which led to the
research have been answered. From the nature of the case this narration
will consist largely of quotations. It must inevitably fail to convey to
the reader the thrilling interest aroused as the story, exceeding all
the romance of the enthusiasts, led its slow but fascinating course
through many volumes, and the quaint old French documents gave up their
secrets in the modern well-equipped Record Office.



Guernsey is the second in size of the four Channel Isles, Jersey,
Guernsey, Alderney and Sark, which one used to repeat with such gusto in
one's schoolboy days. The Channel Isles are the last remnant of our
French possessions. Or rather, as the Islanders might claim--and as it
is reported some do--England belongs by right of conquest to the Channel
Isles. However that may be, for all practical purposes, the government
of Guernsey is autonomous--and very jealously does the Guernseyman guard
this autonomy.

It has its own Parliament, "The States" (Les États), consisting to-day
of 49 Members. At the time of which we write there were 32 Members, as

The Bailiff, who, as at the present time, acted as President.

The Procureur du Roi, corresponding to our Attorney-General.

12 Jurats or Magistrates, appointed for life by the "States of

8 Rectors.

10 Connétables or Parishioners.

The Rectors as spiritual leaders and the Connétables as civil
functionaries represented the ten parishes of the island, and though the
latter were elected to office they were always from the leading
families, which formed an extremely close oligarchy. Bailiff, Jurats and
Rectors still sit in this undifferentiated Parliament, to which has been
added a slightly more democratic element however, nine Deputies being
elected by the Ratepayers of the whole Island.

It was, and still is, the Bailiff's duty to summon this "States of
Deliberation," formerly at his own discretion, now at regular intervals.
He does this by means of issuing a _Billet d'Etat_, in which he comments
on the business to come before the States and in which he formulates
certain resolutions. On these resolutions the States only vote _for_ or
_against_. This Billet d'Etat is in French, still the official
language--the only one used in the deliberations in former days.

The whole takes us back in thought to Norman or early English times.
Probably even the Norman patois of the modern rural deputies is the
speech of the present time nearest to that in which our ancestors
transacted their business.

This legislative body represents the King's Council, in the same way
that the supreme judicial body, still bearing the name of La Cour
Royale, represents the King's Court.

The decisions of the States are subject to the approval of the Privy
Council, to whom there is a right of appeal.



Guernsey, like other places, fell on evil days early in the nineteenth
century, the period of history with which we have to deal; and the
islanders suffered from the burden of a heavy debt and from the
depression and want of employment which followed the close of the
Napoleonic wars.

Its condition at this time is graphically described in the following
extracts taken from a document presented by the States to the Privy
Council in 1829.

"In this Island, eminently favoured by nature, antecedently to the new
roads first projected by Sir John Doyle, Bart., nothing had been done by
art or science towards the least improvement; nothing for the display or
enjoyment of local beauties and advantages; not a road, not even an
approach to Town, where a horse and cart could pass abreast; the deep
roads only four feet six inches wide, with a footway of two to three
feet, from which nothing but the steep banks on each side could be seen,
appeared solely calculated for drains to the waters, which running over
them rendered them every year deeper and narrower. Not a vehicle,
hardly a horse kept for hire; no four-wheeled carriage existed of any
kind, and the traveller landing in a town of lofty houses, confined and
miserably paved streets, from which he could only penetrate into the
country by worse roads, left the island in haste and under the most
unfavourable impressions.

"In 1813 the sea, which had in former times swallowed up large tracts,
threatened, from the defective state of its banks, to overflow a great
extent of land. The sum required to avert the danger was estimated at
more than £10,000, which the adjoining parishes subject to this charge
were not in a condition to raise. The state of the finance was not more
consolatory with a debt of £19,137, and an annual charge for interest
and ordinary expenses of £2,390, the revenue of £3,000 left only £600
for unforeseen expenses and improvements.

"Thus at the peace, this Island found itself with little or no trade;
little or no disposable revenue, no attraction for visitors, no
inducement for the affluent to continue their abode, and no prospect of
employment for the poor."

After considering various means of raising a revenue, the States asked
the Privy Council for permission to levy a duty on spirituous liquors.
Notwithstanding some opposition by the inhabitants, permission was
granted by an Order in Council of the 23rd July, 1814, to raise 1s. per
gallon on spirituous liquors consumed in the Island. This was granted
for a period of five years.

A second Order in Council, dated 19th June, 1819, renewed the duty for
ten years. Again there was opposition from a section of the inhabitants.
This made itself felt by the insertion in the Order of the following
words:--"That One Thousand Pounds per annum of the produce of the said
duty be applied solely to the liquidation of the present debt, together
with such surplus as shall remain out of the produce of the tax in any
year after defraying the expenses of roads and embankments and
unforeseen contingencies. And that the States of the said Island do not
exceed in any case the amount of their annual income without the consent
previously obtained of His Royal Highness in Council. And the said
States are hereby directed to return annually to the Privy Council an
account of the produce and application of the said Tax."

In 1825 the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir John Colborne, desired to erect a
new College and to carry on other important works. But these plans could
not be accomplished without the assurance of the renewal of the duty. A
third Order in Council of 30th September, 1825, gave this permission for
a period of fifteen years, that is to say, from 1829 to 1844. On this
occasion there was no opposition from any of the inhabitants.

As will be seen in the next chapter, it was this duty on spirituous
liquors that formed the security on which the notes were issued.



      "_Guernsey should make up only one great family whose
      interests are common. Only by union and concord can she
      enjoy firm and lasting prosperity._"

Although, as we shall see, the first notes that were issued were not for
the Market, it is interesting to find that there is some foundation for
the tradition identifying them with it. The plan was first suggested in
connection with a scheme for the enlarging of the Market.

This was a much needed improvement. "Humanity cries out, every
Saturday," reports a States Committee, "against the crush, which it is
difficult to get out of; and every day of the week against the lack of
shelter for the people who, often arriving wet or heated, remain exposed
for whole hours to wind and rain, to the severity of cold and to the
heat of the sun."

A Committee, appointed 12th April, 1815, to consider the question,
having brought in a scheme for enlarging the Market, recommended the
issue of State Notes. The Bailiff submitted the following resolution for
the consideration of the States at their meeting on 29th March,
1816:--"Whether in order to meet the expenditure it would not be
desirable to issue State Notes of One Pound each (_Billets des États
d'une Livre Sterling_) up to £6,000, the States undertaking not to issue
any, under any pretext whatever, beyond the said sum before having
previously cancelled the said £6,000."

Notwithstanding the Committee's opinion that the enlargement of the
Market could not be recommended without this issue, and the precautions
suggested for the issue of the Notes, the States rejected the

However, the promoters of the idea appear to have been nothing daunted,
and to have met with success on their second attempt. For we find that
on the 17th October of the same year the Finance Committee reported that
£5,000 was wanted for roads, and a monument to the late Governor, while
only £1,000 was in hand. They recommended that the remaining £4,000
should be raised by State Notes of £1, 1,500 of which should be payable
on 15th April, 1817, or any Saturday after by the Receiver of the Duty,
1,250 on 15th October, 1817, and 1,250 on 15th April, 1818.

"In this manner, without increasing the debt of the States, we can
easily succeed in finishing the works undertaken, leaving moreover in
the coffers sufficient money for the other needs of the States."

The States agreed to this and appointed a Committee of three (Nicolas
Maingy, Senior, Jean Lukis and Daniel de Lisle), who were exclusively
charged with the duty of issuing the Notes, taking all the precautions
they thought necessary. They were to pay them out on the order of M. le
Superviseur (Jean Guille), and to receive them back from the Receiver of
the Duty when paid in, in order to cancel them.

These Notes seem to have served their purpose; for in the record of the
decisions of the States on the 18th June, 1818, is found the following
entry:--"The said States unanimously authorise the issue of new Notes up
to £1,250, to be put at the disposal of Jean Guille, Esq., Jurat, for
the needs of the State; and they ask the said gentlemen, Daniel de
Lisle, Nicolas Maingy and Jean Lukis, kindly to help in the matter.
Which Notes shall be payable at a fixed time to be determined by the
States' Committee named for this purpose at the time of the last issue
of Notes."

The need for enlarging and covering the Market was meanwhile being more
and more pressed, the site and certain buildings having been purchased
on 10th April, 1817, for £5,000, which was borrowed at 4-½ per
cent.[1] A Committee reported on this subject to the meeting of the
States on 6th October, 1819. In their recommendation they proposed "the
issue of Notes of £1 sterling, payable at different times on the receipt
of the part of the Duty left at the disposal of the States."
Notwithstanding the pathetic appeal already recorded, the proposal of
the Committee to enlarge and to cover the Market was lost by a majority
of one.

The advocates for improving the Market, however, persevered, and
presented to the States Meeting of 12th May, 1820, five plans. The plan
of John Savery Brock at a cost of £5,500 was agreed to by a majority of
19 to 10.

The following quotation from the Committee's report shows the benefits
which they considered would arise from their scheme for raising the
£5,500 required.

 "The means of meeting this would be to apply to
 it the sums now in litigation with the town         £1,000

 Twenty-shilling Notes put at the disposal of
 the Committee                                        4,500

But provision must be made for the repayment of the Notes issued, and
the means recommended by your Committee are as follows--

 "The 36 shops, built for butchers according to
 the plan recommended, would produce at £5
 sterling per annum                                    £180

 From this must be deducted £20 for hiring the
 house at the corner and £10 for repairs                 30

 The States should grant for 10 years after the
 first year                                             300
 This would give an income of                          £450

This sum would be spent each year in paying off and cancelling as many

"Thus, at the end of ten years, all the Notes would be cancelled and the
States would be in possession of an income of £150 per annum, which
would be a return for the £3,000 spent by them.

"Looked at from all sides the scheme shows nothing but the greatest
advantage for the public and for the States. It should please those who
have at heart the diminution of the debt, since the States in addition
to the £1,000 set aside for this purpose, take a further £300 out of
their treasury in order to increase their income (_en prenant 300l. de
plus sur leurs épargnes pour accroître leur revenu_)."

Thus it appears that the money for building the Meat Market, still
standing, was raised without a loan, the States paying off the Notes at
the rate of £450 a year as the duty on spirits and the rents came in.
The Market is described in Jacob's _Annals of the British Norman Isles_,
Part I., published in 1830, as a handsome new building, "one of the most
convenient, both for the buyers and sellers, that can be found in any
part of the world." "For the mode of raising the funds for its erection
and support (well worth the attention of all corporate bodies)" we are
referred to an Appendix IV. which was to appear at the end of Part II.,
to be published in December, 1831.[2]

Diligent search in contemporary records showed no trace of the elaborate
ceremony described in the tradition current among enthusiasts, though
the _Mercury_ of the 5th October, 1822, announced in its advertisement
column that the opening would take place on Saturday, 12th October,

The following week the _Mercury_ chronicles the handing over by the
Committee of the keys of the new Market to the butchers. "A large crowd
gathered in the square, of whom only a few succeeded in entering the
enclosure. A speech was made by one of the Committee, to which one of
the butchers made a reply. The band of the East Regiment took part and
the church bells rang till five in the evening."

The next issue of Notes seems to have been to pay off the floating debt.
On 14th June, 1820, the States authorised the issue of 4,000 £1 Notes
for this purpose. In recommending this course the Finance Committee
makes some interesting reflections. "Respecting the floating debt, which
consists of sums payable at times more or less distant, it would be easy
to discharge it by £1 Notes put into circulation as need requires. The
extinction of the whole of the floating debt could thus be brought about
without the necessity of new loans. If loans should be raised it would
be necessary to provide for payment both of the principal and of the
interest. If, on the contrary, recourse is had to £1 Notes, the interest
alone which would have been paid will suffice."

On 23rd June, 1821, the States authorise the issue of 580 £1 Notes to
buy a house whose site is wanted for the new Market.

On 15th September of the same year the issue is authorised of 4,500 £1
Notes to diminish the interest-bearing debt of the States. In
recommending this, the Finance Committee remarks:--"The States could
increase the number [of Notes in circulation] without danger up to
10,000 in payment of the debt, and the Committee recommends this course
as most advantageous to the States' finance, as well as to the public,
who, far from making the slightest difficulty in taking them, look for
them with eagerness."

On 30th June, 1824, on the united recommendation of the Market and
Finance Committees, 5,000 £1 Notes are issued to pay off the £5,000
originally paid for the Market in 1817 (see p. 11). "By this means the
interest of £200 (_sic_) a year will be saved and applied moreover every
year to withdraw from circulation £1 Notes issued for the construction
of the Market."

On 29th March, 1826, a further issue is authorised for the purpose of
Elizabeth College and Parochial Schools, provided that the total number
of Notes in circulation shall not exceed £20,000. In summoning the
States on this occasion, the Bailiff, Daniel de Lisle Brock,[3]
expresses the opinion that paper money is of great use to the States.
There is no inconvenience because the Notes are issued with great care.

This statement as to great care is borne out by the words of the
resolution passed 12th May, 1826, authorising the issue of £5 Notes, not
exceeding £8,000 worth, voted for the Isle of Sark and other purposes.
After asking Nicolas Maingy, Jean Lukis and Daniel de Lisle "to sign the
said Notes in the name and under the guarantee of the States," it goes
on to say, "and in default of one or other of these gentlemen through
absence or illness, the States authorise the remainder of the three, the
Finance Committee and M. le Superviseur to choose conjointly another
reputable person for the signature of the said Notes. Which said Finance
Committee Supervisor and those authorised to sign are charged and
requested to watch over and be present at (_veiller et assister à_) the
destruction of the said Notes at the times fixed for their repayment."

Extra precautions seem to have been taken 28th June, 1826, when another
issue, not exceeding £2,000 worth of £5 Notes was authorised. For we
find that "The States appoint Josias le Marchant, Pierre le Cocq,
Jurats, and the Rev. Thomas Grut, a Special Committee, whose duty it is
to see to the liquidation of all the anticipations at the times fixed by
the States, and where these anticipations consist in Notes of one or
five pounds to see to the destruction of the very Notes or of earlier
Notes to the same amount. Which Committee is commanded to make a report
to the States at least once each year certifying the liquidation and
destruction of the said anticipations and of the said Notes."

Further care is shown by the fact that on 26th March, 1828, the States
appointed the Finance Committee "to replace the used and worn-out Notes
by new Notes, payable at the same time as the destroyed notes would
have been." Testimony is borne by this wear and tear to the extent to
which the Notes circulated.

Plans for the improvements in Rue de la Fontaine, a street adjoining the
Markets, being adopted on 15th November, 1827, an issue of £1 Notes up
to £11,000 was authorised to be cancelled by the proceeds of rents.

In 1828 and 1829 issues of Notes were authorised for various purposes,
including £8,500 for the College and £11,000 in connection with the Rue
de la Fontaine scheme.

At one of the sittings of the States in the year 1829, William Collings,
a member of the Finance Committee, stated that there were 48,183 Notes
in circulation.

On 18th March, 1834, £1,000 was voted for cholera precautions, to be
raised either at 3 per cent. interest or in £1 Notes. The latter course
seems to have been adopted.

From the foregoing it will be noticed that during the 20 years over
£80,000 worth of Notes were authorised by the States to be issued. These
were mostly of the value of £1, though some £5 Notes were authorised.

In 1837 there were still in circulation 55,000, which in that year were
reduced, as will be seen in a subsequent chapter, by 15,000.

It may be asked whether there is any evidence that the Notes were
destroyed as directed. From various sources we found records of at
least 18,000 being destroyed. For instance, in the _Gazette_ of 3rd
March, 1827, there is the following:--

         "Market Accounts for 1826.
  Notes to Bearer of £1 destroyed.
 22 March, 1826                      £400
  7 November, 1826                   £420
  1 March, 1827                      £122

 Total of Notes issued for the Market,      £11,296
   "    "  destroyed       "     "            3,626
           Leaving in circulation            £7,670."


[1] This purchase was in itself an interesting piece of municipal
history. "By an Order in Council," says Jacob in his _Annals of British
Norman Isles_, p. 153, "the Meat Market Company were to be allowed by
the States, certain duties on all the cattle killed, so long as they
remained proprietors of the Market; but the States were allowed at any
future time to take the same into their own possession on the payment of
what the proprietors had advanced. The States did this on the 10th
April, 1817, at an expense of £5,000." (See p. 16.)

[2] We have been unsuccessful in our efforts to obtain Part II. either
in Guernsey or in London, and wonder whether it was ever published.

[3] Daniel de Lisle Brock was Bailiff from 24th May, 1821, to 12th
January, 1843.



There is abundant evidence throughout the records that the system was

Jacob's _Annals_ (1830), in a chapter on Currency, mentions the Notes
incidentally. "All these, with the one pound Guernsey States' Notes, are
in much request, being very commodious for the internal affairs of the

The Bailiff, Daniel de Lisle Brock, who seems undoubtedly to have been
the inspiring genius of the scheme, says in his _Billet d'Etat_, 15th
November, 1827--

"An individual with an income of £9,000, who spends only half of it
wishes to build a house at a cost of £13,000. He therefore makes an
arrangement with his timber merchant, his mason, his carpenter and
others to pay them out of his savings, so that they shall receive a part
each year for five years. Can it be said that he is contracting debts?
Will he not have at the end of the five years both his house and his
original income of £9,000?

"The States are precisely in the same position as regards the £13,000
which they have to pay out of their income during the five years
included in the said table. This sum will be paid in instalments of
£2,600 per annum, with as much ease as were much heavier engagements in
1826 and 1827.

"The time has passed when the public could be frightened by exaggerated
reports about the debt; most complete publicity keeps everyone
acquainted with the real state of affairs; my greatest wish is that
nothing should be hidden."

Frequent references to the saving of interest are to be found, and to
the fact that improvements in the island could not have been carried out
but for this system.

Wm. Collings, speaking at the States Meeting, 26th March, 1828, on a
financial proposition, gives it as his opinion that interest now paid
might be spared if the States issued more Notes. The Rev. T. Brock at
the same meeting supports the contention, as Notes can be issued without

In the _Billet d'Etat_ for 21st September, 1836, in a long discourse on
the circulation, Daniel de Lisle Brock says, "To bring about the
improvements, which are the admiration of visitors and which contribute
so much to the joy, the health and the well-being of the inhabitants,
the States have been obliged to issue Notes amounting to £55,000. If it
had been necessary, and if it were still necessary to pay interest on
this sum, it would be so much taken from the fund ear-marked to pay for
the improvements made and to carry out new ones. This fund belongs
especially to the industrious poor who execute the works and generally
to the whole island which enjoys them. It ought to be sacred to all."

Mr. John Hubert, in the debate at this meeting, is reported by the
_Comet_ to have referred to the fact that "the roads and other works had
been constructed for the public good," and to have said that "without
issuing Notes for the payment of those works it would have been
impossible to have executed them."

Mr. H. O. Carré, in the same debate, said, "The States, by having Notes
to the amount of £55,000 in circulation, effected a saving of £1,600 per
annum. Here, then, was a revenue of £1,600 raised without causing a
farthing's expense to any individual of the public generally, for not
one could urge that he suffered a farthing's loss by it. It was
therefore the interest of every one to support, not the credit, but the
interest of the States. Those who wished to traffic on the public
property were in fact laying a tax on that public, for they were
diminishing, by so much as they forced States' Notes out of circulation,
the public revenue, for if the States, in consequence of a diminished
revenue by the effect of Bank paper, have to make loans, those loans
must in the end be repaid by the public--which would be a taxing of the
public for the benefit of private individuals."

Further contemporary testimony to the estimation in which the Notes were
held may be gleaned from the papers of the time, of which there were
three, issued at least once a week. In these occur letters from
Publicola, Verax, Vindex, Un ami de son pays, Un Habitant, Campagnard,
etc. Some of these were probably inspired, and sometimes they show a
partisan bias. The references of most value are the incidental ones
occurring in discussions on the improvements or in the criticisms of
_ordonnances_ on the currency. The coinage at this time was in a
confused state, there being both English and French money, some of it of
very poor quality, in circulation.

The _Gazette_ of 22nd July, 1826, refers to allegations made by the
Jersey authorities as a reason for their refusing to register an Act
authorising the issue of £5,000 in Notes. The opponents of the measure
had alluded to supposed evils arising therefrom in Guernsey. But the
_Gazette_ emphatically declares that "these Notes have neither directly
nor indirectly burdened commerce in any way, nor contributed to the rise
in exchange that is experienced."

A letter in the _Gazette_ of 25th April, 1829, on the subject of
"Monnaie," written at the request of Sir J. Colborne, the
Lieutenant-Governor, suggests that people in authority in Jersey
interested in Banks oppose State Notes, lest these should be preferred
to theirs. The leader of the same issue of the _Gazette_ states that
"the generality of the inhabitants have confidence in the States' Notes
(it being always understood that the issue of Notes shall be kept within
just limits) because they know that the whole property of the island
forms the guarantee for their payment."

"Campagnard" in the _Gazette_ of 28th February, 1829, suggests the need
of some other currency than States' Notes for trade in France or with
London and Paris, but feels alarm at anything that might stop the public
works in the island.

The difficulty of getting cash for notes is alluded to only when the
period of controversy referred to in the next chapter is reached. But
for about the first ten years of their issue it would appear that no
exception was taken to the notes nor difficulty experienced in their
use. External exchange seems to have flourished side by side with this
internal currency.



The feeling in favour of the system was not however entirely unanimous.
In 1826 we find the first trace of opposition which gradually grew and
grew until, as we shall see later, it was decided in 1837 that the
States should not issue any more Notes.

Whether the opposition was entirely due to this financial system as such
is open to question. Errors of judgment with reference to the Fountain
Street improvement may have been made. Self-interest on the part of some
may have been one of the factors. Into these questions the writer cannot
enter here. All that he wishes to point out is that it seems to him from
studying the records that there were various currents of opposition
which centred round the issue of Paper Money by the States.

In September, 1826, three members of the States, Josias le Marchant,
James Carey and Jean le Marchant, the two latter being members of the
Finance Committee, thought that the King's consent should be obtained
for works to be undertaken in Fountain Street. They considered that the
anticipations of future revenues were "not only fatal to their credit
but contrary to the order of His Majesty in Council, 19th June, 1819,
viz., 'that the States of the said Island do not exceed in any case the
amount of their annual income without the consent previously obtained of
His Royal Highness in Council.'"

Daniel de Lisle Brock, after consulting La Cour Royale (the Supreme
Court of Judicature), writes his views in a _Billet d'Etat_, and summons
the States to meet 22nd November, 1826. In his words, which we quote at
some length, are seen both his enthusiasm and his caution.

"It was not possible, as every one must admit, to do without
anticipations; but these differ from a debt in that a certain clear and
definite income is appropriated for meeting them, at certain fixed
times. They are only assignations on assured funds ear-marked for their
payment. Watch must be kept, it is true, that they are paid from these
same funds. For by letting the period during which they should end pass,
and by spending on anything else the income appropriated to them, they
would become a permanent debt. The experience of several years has shown
us that these assignations may be used without danger, and that they
have been fully paid off as they fell due.

"The advantage which has resulted is manifest. If we had had to wait
till funds were in hand to set to work at Fountain Street, who could
have foreseen when, if ever, this moment would arrive. Is it nothing,
in the midst of this short life, when it is a question of an object of
the first necessity among the wants of the community, to have
anticipated by sixteen or seventeen years the enjoyment of this object?
Doubtless evil is close to good: the abuse of the best things is always
possible. Is this a reason for forbidding the use of what is good and
profitable? Is it not better to procure it as soon as possible whilst
availing ourselves of the means at our disposal to avoid its abuse?
Whilst these means are employed, and so long as the income is
sufficient, there is only one possible danger--that of allowing the time
for meeting these anticipations to pass without paying them, and thus of
seeing the debt increased by the amount of the non-cancelled
obligations. This danger is seen to vanish when we consider the
precaution taken by the States, the watchfulness of all their Members,
the Committee which they have appointed specially for this purpose, when
we think of the publicity, of the exact acquaintance from year to year
which all the inhabitants have of the liabilities, the receipts and
expenditure of the States. All this watchfulness and all this publicity
are the strongest safeguard that could be given against any danger in
this respect."

The Resolution to refer the matter to the King was lost, only five
voting for it; and a resolution was carried expressing confidence in the
present method.

In the following year, 1827, the Guernsey Banking Company, now known as
the Old Bank, was founded from the firm of Priaulx, Le Marchant, Rougier
& Company. Jean le Marchant was Vice-President of this Bank. It is said
that at the States Meeting on 15th November, when objections were raised
lest the States' Notes should suffer, the Bailiff seemed to foresee no
danger. "Good Bills are better than bad coin."

Notwithstanding the decision of the States in 1826, the three Jurats,
Josias le Marchant, James Carey and Jean le Marchant were still uneasy,
and on 10th April, 1829, complained direct to Whitehall that "the States
had exceeded their annual revenues for works of public utility without
the express sanction of the superior authority, and had for these same
works contracted liabilities which exceeded the means of the States."

The Privy Council on the 19th June forwarded the complaint to the States
and asked for an explanation.

The States, at their meeting, 27th August, 1829, instructed a Committee
to examine the charges, draw up a report and answer, and submit the same
to the States. The Committee selected was the Finance Committee, which
was revised at this time, the chief change being the omission of the two
complainants, James Carey and Jean le Marchant.

A guess may be hazarded that this Committee appointed Daniel de Lisle
Brock to draft the reply.

This interesting document fortunately exists not only in French but in
English (doubtless for the benefit of the Privy Council). In
characteristic language, enthusiastic and patriotic, while clear and
matter of fact, it sets out the present situation and sketches the
history of the Island since the close of the War. The greater part of it
appears in the next chapter.



With a few slight omissions the following is the official translation of
"The Answer of the States of Guernsey to the Complaint of three of their
Members dated the 10th April, and transmitted by their Lordships's Order
of 19th June, 1829.

"My Lords,

Discarding from their minds allusions and topics of a personal nature
and every sentiment of recrimination, the States of Guernsey are
desirous of vindicating themselves in the manner most becoming the
respect due to your Lordships, and the consciousness of right, by
setting facts against errors, reason against fears, 'honest deeds
against faltering words.'

"To judge of the States by any particular act or period would be to
dismiss all consideration of previous motives and future benefits, of
connecting causes and effects. Comprehensive views of the general policy
of the States can alone enable them to prove, and your Lordships to
judge, of the wisdom and propriety of their measures. Taking, therefore,
a retrospect of the period which immediately preceded the grant of the
duty on Spirituous Liquors first graciously conceded in 1814; they deem
it necessary to lay before your Lordships a summary account of the state
of this Island, at, and from that period.

"The steps taken during the war for the prevention of smuggling had
deprived this Island of the trade which the supply of that traffic
occasioned, and a great portion of the inhabitants of their usual
occupation, consisting not in smuggling themselves, but in importing the
goods and making the small packages in which those goods were sold in
the Island; Privateering, adventurous speculations, and the great
expenditure of fleets and garrisons compensated in some measure for the
loss of this occupation, but when the war ceased also, a general want of
employment and consequent distress ensued.

       *       *       *       *       *

"In 1813 the sea which had in former times swallowed up large tracts,
threatened from the defective state of its banks to overflow a great
extent of land. The sum required to avert the danger was estimated at
more than £10,000, which the adjoining parishes subject to this charge
were not in a condition to raise. The state of the finance was not more
consolatory, with a debt of £19,137, and an annual charge for interest
and ordinary expenses of £2,390, the revenue of £3,000 left only £600
for unforeseen expenses and improvements.

"Thus at the peace, this Island found itself with little or no trade;
little or no disposable revenue; no attraction for visitors, no
inducement for the affluent to continue their abode, and no prospect of
employment for the poor. No wonder, therefore, if emigration became the
object of the rich in search of those good roads, carriages and other
comforts which they could not find at home, and the only resource of the
other classes, whose distress was likely to be aggravated by the
non-residence of the former. Misery and depopulation appeared
inevitable, from the peace to the year 1819 inclusive, more than five
hundred native and other British subjects embarked for the United
States, and more prepared to follow.

"It is said, the powers of the human mind in society lie at times torpid
for ages; at others, are roused into action by the urgency of great
occasions, and astonish the world by their effects. This has, in some
measure, been verified in this Island, for though nothing done in so
small a community can cause a general sensation, its exertions may yet
produce wonderful results, within its own sphere. It is the duty of the
States to show that, roused by the deplorable situation above described,
they took, and have since pursued the steps best adapted to meet the
exigency of the case, and that those steps have been attended with
complete success.

"To increase the revenue was an indispensable preliminary, but to do
so, no other means lay within the power of the States than a tax on the
several parishes according to the rates at which they were respectively
assessed, and to this tax there were insuperable objections....

"Under these circumstances was the application made for the duty on
spirituous liquors: and notwithstanding the opposition of many of the
inhabitants His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, was graciously pleased
by an Order in Council of 23rd July, 1814 to authorise the States to
raise 1s. per Gallon on all such liquors consumed in this Island for the
term of 5 years. The same duty was renewed for 10 years by virtue of a
second Order in Council of 19th June, 1819 after similar opposition. And
on the declaration at Your Lordships' bar of the advocate deputed by the
opponents that a clause to the following effect would reconcile them to
the measure, and no objection being made to it on the part of the
States, these words were inserted in the gracious Order in question:
viz.:--'That One Thousand Pounds per annum of the produce of the said
duty be applied solely to the liquidation of the present debt, together
with such surplus as shall remain out of the produce of the tax in any
year after defraying the expenses of roads and embankments and
unforeseen contingencies. And that the States of the said Island do not
exceed in any case the amount of their annual income without the consent
previously obtained of His Royal Highness in Council: and the said
States are hereby directed to return annually to the Privy Council an
account of the produce and application of the said tax.'

"In 1825 the Lt. Governor Sir John Colborne, and the States, having
extended their views to the erection of a new College and other
important works which could not be undertaken without the assurance of a
renewal of the duty, constituting the chief part of the revenue, a third
Order in Council of the 30th September, 1825, conceded to the States the
right of levying the same for 15 years, beginning on the 1st September,
1829, and this without the smallest opposition from any of the
inhabitants, and without the conditions annexed to the second Order.

"With gratitude for the means placed at their disposal the States feel
an honest pride in the recital of the manner in which those means have
been applied. First, considering the danger arising from the bad state
of the sea embankments, and the hardship of subjecting particular
parishes to a charge for the general safety to which they were unequal,
the States took on themselves the present repairs, and future
maintenance of those embankments. This essential object connected with
the paved slips or avenues to the beach, has been attended with an
expence of £14,681 19s., without including five or six thousand for a
breakwater to defend the line of houses at Glatney, on the North side
of the Town.

"Independently of the sums contributed by Government towards the
military roads, from twenty-nine to thirty thousand pounds have been
expended by the Island on the roads, so that in lieu of those before
described, there are now fifty-one miles of roads of the first class, as
good as those of any country, with excellent footways on all of them,
and 17 miles of the second class.

"Not only the main Harbour, Piers, Quays, Buoys and Sea Marks have been
attended to, and at a great expense, but, in order to facilitate the
exportation of the granite from the North of the Island, the Harbour of
St. Sampson has been rendered secure and convenient by a new Breakwater
and Quay.

"The situation and state of the Town were thought to preclude all hopes
of much amelioration, but the widening of High Street, and other
streets, the reducing the precipitous ascent to the Government and Court
House, the clearing away of the unsightly buildings that obstructed the
view and approach to those public edifices, the new sewers, pavements,
and, above all, the Public Markets and new Fountain Street, attest the
solicitude of the States towards the Town, and surprise those who return
to it after a few years absence. Add to these the enlarging and
improving of the Court House and Record Office, where the public have
daily access, and where are kept the contracts and registry of all the
real property (of) the Island. Add also the New College, which, with
the laying out of its grounds and the roads round its precincts,
contributes to the embellishment of the town, induces families from
other places to settle in the Island, on account of their children, and
affords to the inhabitants the ready means of a good education.

"The advantage resulting from all these improvements has not been
confined to their utility, or to the increased activity given to
industry, and the circulation of money by the public expenditure: they
have excited in all classes a similar spirit of improvement, which
displays itself in the embellishment of the premises already built upon,
and above all in the number of handsome dwellings since erected. In the
Town parish alone 401 houses have been built since the year 1819 at an
expense of upwards of £207,000, and few towns do now present a more
animated scenery around them, or one where ornament and comfort are more
generally united; the same comfort and improvement are witnessed in
every direction, and at the greatest distances from town. And thus it
is, that the public works have not only given life and activity to every
species of industry by the immediate effects of their utility, as for
example to the building of a number of mills in the Island, before
supplied with most of its flour from abroad, and now enabled to
manufacture it for exportation, but and still more by the consequent
impulse communicated on all sides, prompting the wealthy to lay out for
private mansions greater sums than were expended for public works and
creating a permanent source of employment, by the future expenses which
the repairs and occupations of those mansions will require.

"The extent of benefits conferred is sufficiently attested by the
concurrent testimony of inhabitants and strangers. The sole objects of
His Majesty and of His Most Honorable Privy Council are the public good
and general happiness; the States might therefore, confidently look for
indulgence, even if, in promoting those objects, they had fallen into
some little deviation from the strict letter of any particular Order.
But implicit obedience to the Royal Authority in Council being their
paramount duty, they cannot rest satisfied under the imputation of
having, even unintentionally, derogated from that duty.

"The words of the second Order in Council have already been cited. The
right of levying the duty on spirituous liquors is granted for ten
years: a condition is annexed purporting that the States shall not
exceed their annual income, and on the contrary that out of the produce
of the duty, one thousand pounds shall be applied annually to the
extinction of the debt; that condition is naturally in force for the
same period, and for the same period only, as the grant to which it is
annexed; it is necessarily so limited, because the means by which it is
to be fulfilled, the produce of the duty, ceases at the end of the ten
years for which the duty is granted.

"The States are bound to prove that they have complied with the
conditions of that Order; they did so comply, when wishing to erect a
new Market, they applied for and obtained the order of 10th October,
1820, which imposed on them, at their own request, the further
obligation of an annual payment of £450 for 10 years;

 This sum began to be paid in 1822, and has been paid
 for 8 years, during which the obligation amount to        £3,600  0  0

 The former obligation amounts, for the 10 years
 now elapsed to                                           £10,000  0  0
 Total amount of the two obligations imposed              £13,600  0  0

 The debt at the commencement of the 10 years
 elapsed amounted in rents and money, including
 the cost of the Market, to                               £43,668 15  2

 The Debt, Rents and Market included, has been
 reduced to                                               £27,740  0  0

 Total amount of the sums actually applied to the
 payment of the Debt                                      £15,928 15  2

"The conditions of the second Order in Council have thus been more than
fulfilled, by the application of £2,328 15s. 2d. to the payment of the
debt over and above the obligations imposed. Those conditions,
incidentally introduced in the second Order, do not in any way form a
part of the third Order now in force.

"Though released from the positive conditions of the former Order, the
States have shown no intention, and do by no means desire to depart from
its general spirit; graciously offered by the third Order in Council to
continue their improvements, they came to the following resolution on
22nd November, 1826: 'That far from entertaining any wish of augmenting
the Debt the States recognise the principle that it should not exceed,
at the end of the 15 years for which the duty is further granted, the
sum to which the Debt shall amount at the end of the 10 years present
duty: they impose on themselves that obligation anew, and bind
themselves by the most solemn engagement not to increase the debt.'

       *       *       *       *       *

"What cause of alarm can there then possibly exist? What prospect, on
the contrary, the States humbly ask, can be more gratifying than that of
remaining with our New College, new Harbours built and to be built, new
Markets of every description, new Roads in every direction, new streets,
one of thirty feet instead of seven in the greatest thoroughfare between
town and country, in short, with nearly all the greatest improvements
that can be desired, paid for to the last shilling; and all this
according to the statement of the plaintiffs themselves, with the debt
reduced to £15,000, and the revenue augmented £1,700 per annum, by those
very improvements.

       *       *       *       *       *

"In the Markets and Fountain Street, the States have undertaken works
essentially necessary. The cost might be supposed to exceed the means of
the States, if credit did not in the first instance furnish the chief
expense without the charge of interest, and if the works themselves did
not provide for the extinction of the engagements incurred.

"The views of the States are to render these public improvements a
source of future revenue, which shall again afford the means of further
and greater improvements.

"The same plan has been acted upon with success in several places, and
particularly at Bath and Liverpool,[4] to the permanent increase of
their revenues, and to the general benefit of those places, and of the
country at large. It is difficult indeed to conceive whence can arise
the objections to measures, which without laying the least burthen on
anyone, surely and quietly operate to the general good, except it be
from the disinclinations of most persons to enter into that close
examination of figures necessary to a right understanding, and the
distrust consequent on the need of that examination and comprehension.
In our case, it may be added, that accustomed, on the subject of
improvement, to a long apathy confirmed by the state of a revenue
inadequate to the least undertaking, works of magnitude when first
proposed created the greatest alarm. The new roads were opposed by the
far greater number of those who were to derive the most benefit from
their use, and who from experience are now clamorous for more. The
Market was only voted the third time it was offered to the consideration
of the States, although it was represented that independently of its
various advantages, it would in a short time permanently add to the
revenue. Experience has proved the correctness of that view of the
question, and opening the eyes of the public, has turned their
sentiments of fear and distrust to one of perfect confidence. Hence it
was that the public voice called on the States to realise the benefits
likely to result from the substitution of a street thirty feet wide, in
lieu of one of seven feet, in the heart, and connecting the two
extremities of the Town, and forming the principal avenue from the
Country to the Harbour; twenty to thirty carts frequently waited at one
end until those from the other had passed. Such a thoroughfare in the
most populous quarter could not but be fraught with danger, and the
accidents that occurred were numerous, while the closeness of the
street, height of the houses, and filth collected at the back of them
were a constant source of nuisance and disease. Never was a measure
voted with so much unanimity and general satisfaction as the removal of
this public nuisance, and rebuilding Fountain Street, notwithstanding it
to be now the ground of the complaint before your Lordships.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Relatively to so small a section of the Empire, great things have been
done with slender means; that so much has been done may with truth be
ascribed to the fairness and disinterestedness which have marked every
resolution of the States, and its execution; to the vigilant and
gratuitous superintendence of their Committees, and to the public spirit
of the inhabitants.

"Devoted to the good of His Majesty's service, and not resting on
isolated facts, the States have laid open the whole of their conduct and
views, and beg leave to refer to their worthy and highly respected
Lieutenant-Governor Major General Ross for the correctness of their
statement, and for the situation of the Island. They have the approval
of their fellow-subjects and of their conscience, but they would feel
deeply humiliated if they did not merit and obtain the commendation of
your Lordships."

The Reply is accompanied by five appendices giving detailed figures to
substantiate the argument and point out errors in the figures of the
complainants. It is not necessary to weary the reader with these.
Appendix I., however, is interesting, as it shows that more than half
the Debt of the States consisted of these Notes on which no Interest was


 Debt of the States:--

 To the Savings Bank at 3 per cent. first vote        £10,000

 To individuals                                           557
 At 3 per cent. interest                              £10,557

 In Notes of 20s. each                                 14,443

 135 Quarters 2 Bushels 8 Denerels, and 18
 sous 8 Deniers Rents equal to                          2,740

 Deduct from this the balance still due by the
 Market, and carried to the joint account of
 the Market and Fountain Street                         6,100

The scope of the remaining Appendices is shown by their titles:--

Appendix II.: Plan of Finance adopted by the States and to be pursued
during the fifteen years from this date, ending in 1844 inclusive.

Appendix III.: Remarks on the Statement of account making part of the
complaint presented against the States.

Appendix IV.: Joint account of Fountain Street and the Market.

Appendix V.: Amount of the Produce on the Duty of 1s. per Gal. on all
spirits consumed in the Island of Guernsey, and the manner in which it
has been expended during the Ten years for which the said Duty was
granted, beginning September 1st, 1819. In obedience to Order of H.M. in
Council of June, 1819.

This reply was very favourably received by the States at their Meeting
23rd December 1829 and adopted almost unanimously. One of the Rectors
spoke of it as "most judicious and consolatory, especially considering
that room had been given for the exercise of opposite feelings."

The leader writer in the _Gazette_ recommended the reply to "the
particular attention of every true Guernseyman." Improvements in the
Island were due to M. le Bailiff, against whom and whom alone the
complaint is directed. "As a wise administrator he has known how to
contrive the means of effecting this great good without imposing the
least tax or inconveniencing his fellow citizens."


[4] See Appendix.

[5] Market.

    The cost was               £12,748
    Paid off since 1822          6,648
    Balance due on Market        6,100



No trace was found of any reply or acknowledgment by the Privy Council.
Presumably they were satisfied with the answer submitted by the States.

But not so the opponents.

In addition to the Old Bank already mentioned, another Bank, the
Commercial Bank, had been started in 1830. Both of these appear to have
issued notes at their own discretion. Consequently the Island seems to
have been flooded with paper money, and an awkward situation had arisen.
The Commercial Bank claimed an equal right with the Old Bank and even
with the States to issue notes. The Finance Committee, it was stated,
had refused to confer with the Commercial Bank. So long as the Banks had
a right to issue notes they appear to have had it in their power to put
pressure on the States. For they could thus put into circulation a
currency beyond that required for the internal needs of the Island.

Daniel de Lisle Brock summoned the States to consider the matter,
evidently with the intention of obtaining an injunction against the
issue of notes by the Banks.

His message to the States Meeting, held 21st September, 1836, is very
spirited and defends the rights of the States as against private
individuals, as will be seen from the following lengthy quotation.

"If there is one incontestable principle it is that all matters relating
to the current coin of any country have their source in the supreme
prerogative, and that no one has the right to arrogate to himself the
power of circulating a private coinage on which he imprints for his own
profit an arbitrary value. If this is true for metal coins still more so
is it for paper money which in itself has no value whatever.

"Has not experience shown us the danger of private paper money? Can we
have forgotten the disastrous period when payment of one hundred
thousand one-pound notes put into circulation by two banks enjoying good
credit was suddenly stopped? Have we forgotten the ruin of some, the
distress of others, the embarrassment of all? Have we not quite recently
seen a bank established by people considered immensely rich, advancing
large sums for distilleries, steam boats and other projects, and coming
to an end in less than two years with a composition with its creditors
who thought themselves lucky to get a few shillings in the pound?

"With these facts before our eyes we must realise the necessity of
limiting the issue of paper money to the needs, the custom, and the
benefit of the community in general. Permission cannot be granted to
certain individuals to play with the wealth and prosperity of society,
to take from it its hard cash and to give it in exchange rags of paper.
What incentive can they offer to persuade the public to give up to them
valuable bills for worthless ones, certainty for uncertainty? What
advantage can they pretend will accrue to the public from the loss of
its currency and the possible depreciation of their paper? These general
reflections will find their application. Let no one exclaim against the
possibility of the supposed danger. The wealth of the present
stockholders of our banks is well known, their names suffice to inspire
the greatest confidence; but apart from extraordinary events, the
ordinary casualties of life may bring about in a short time the change
of all these names, and there may remain in their place only men of

       *       *       *       *       *

"The States are met in order to take counsel together on measures for
its defence. For an object so important they ought to count on the help
of all friends of their country.

"Speaking of the present banks, and it is necessary to refer to them, no
one desires more than I do to see them flourish, provided that it is not
at the expense of the public interest. Several of the stockholders seem
to rely for success on the issue of paper-money, as if this were the
principal aim of the business of banking. This aim, on the contrary, is
quite foreign to real bankers--one finds them in all the great towns of
Europe enjoying colossal fortunes--they never dream of paper-money;
their functions are confined to discounting bills, furnishing bills on
all countries, taking money on deposit at low interest to lend it again
at the legal rate on landed estates, or property of assured value, and
to a number of other services required by commerce: each transaction
yields a profit which should suffice. A bank of this kind was wanting in
the Island. The first of the two existing ones was formed under the most
favourable auspices, nothing could exceed its credit: although it issued
paper money it did not seem inclined to push this circulation to the
point of annoyance to the States. It even made common cause with them
when it was a question of replacing the old coins with new, and
contributed half the expense. If it had shown itself more obliging and
ready at any time to supply bills for those who, money in hand, wanted
them to meet engagements in London or Paris, it would have continued the
only bank for all business. But as it would not put itself out in any
way, the second bank was started by merchants in order to escape from
the domination and caprice of the first.

"The second bank should have kept, and still ought to keep, to the
legitimate business of banking transactions. It appeared to have for its
principal object the issue of paper money; even on its origin it
suggested that the States and the two banks should weekly make a mutual
exchange of their respective notes, each party paying interest for the
balance of notes remaining against it; in this way all the notes of the
States would have found themselves in the coffers of the Banks and
paying interest to them. Though this proposition was not accepted, the
States were not the less troubled with requests for cash in payment of
their notes, and these requests are daily--not only for the ordinary
household needs, as might have been expected, but for sending abroad,
for if there are drafts to be cashed by the bank for anyone who wishes
for money to send to France or to Jersey, the drafts are paid in States
Notes, in order that the money shall ultimately come from this last
named source. The Bank makes no secret of its pretensions: there are, it
says, three parties for issuing paper money; this issue cannot rise
above £90,000 since the circulation in the country does not allow for
more, the States ought to have only one-third of the issue, the two
banks the two remaining thirds. This is a fine way of making the
division, and very convenient certainly for the Commercial Bank. It
would even have some show of justice if the parties had equal rights,
and if the public had no interest in the matter; but the rights are not
equal--the bank has none to put forward, that of the States is
incontestable: they exercise it for the welfare and advantage of the
whole Island which they represent. Consequently the public has the
greatest interest in preserving for the States the power of issuing
paper-money without interruption. Let the bank reply to the questions
already put; let it say what inducement it can offer the public to drive
out of circulation the States Notes, the profit on which benefits all,
especially the productive classes, and substitute for it Bank notes, the
profit on which benefits only individuals of the unproductive classes?
Now is the time to ask the proprietors themselves and ascertain whether
in starting a bank they ever had the intention of letting it work to the
detriment of their country? The public Treasury is the heart of the
State--did they ever wish, do they to-day wish to strike it with a
dagger? I know that we live in a financial age, that it is reproached
with indifference to every generous sentiment, and that the love of
money and the lust for gain absorb all other passions. In spite of that
I have not lost all confidence in the patriotism of the members of the
bank, they have the greatest personal interest in supporting the States
in their efforts for the improvement of their country, efforts which
contribute so greatly to the prosperity of internal commerce, to the
residence of inhabitants of means, and to the wealth of strangers.
Finance is the pivot on which turns the administration of affairs. The
least disturbance imposes on me the duty of sounding the alarm and
summoning the States. What I have said will be sufficient, I hope, to
persuade the bank to maintain a friendly course. The bank should feel
that it is not enough to intend not to injure, but that it is necessary
to abandon any step which, even without its wish, would be prejudicial
to the interests of the country. It should recognise that, as regards
the circulation of paper-money, the States have, for a long time and for
the common good, been in possession of the ground which it seems to wish
to invade, which, however, it cannot occupy without injustice.

"Every war, it is said, ends where it should have begun--in peace. I am
firmly convinced of this truth; and experience has shown me that in
civil life as in political, war might almost always be avoided to the
great advantage of both parties, and that lawsuits, like wars, have for
end rather the injury of the adverse party than good to oneself. The
States are on the defensive, and such war is just and inevitable if any
war is. It is, moreover, a war in which all the inhabitants who are the
friends of their country will eagerly unite for the defence of the
States in their just rights--thus united they will defend them with
complete success. For this purpose the States will doubtless appoint a
Committee with the fullest powers to propose, in case of need, measures
which may ultimately become necessary.

"I do not forsee that the case will require it, and I should wish to
avoid, as far as possible, any foreign intervention--but if the efforts
of the States were not sufficient to defend their rights there would be
no alternative, they would find themselves obliged to petition His
Majesty in Council to consent to restrict the issue of one pound notes,
and only to permit the putting into circulation of the number absolutely
required by the States. Under the present circumstances this would be an
indispensable measure, and it can scarcely be doubted that a humble
request to this effect would be graciously received."

The debate, reported at length in the local papers, was a heated one. It
first raged round the third proposition, which appealed in general terms
to the islanders to rally round the States. The following is the
proposition as translated by the _Comet_ of 22nd September, 1836:--"That
in execution of the numerous ameliorations that have taken place during
the last 20 or 30 years, the States having put into circulation about
55,000 One Pound Notes, as a financial measure in favour of the public
generally, if they are of opinion to defend the rights of the States
against those who wish, for the advantage of a few individuals only, to
hinder the circulation of the States Notes, for the purpose of
substituting those of private individuals in lieu thereof; and whether
it would not be proper to make an appeal to all the inhabitants, who are
the friends of their country, to invite them to afford their assistance
in supporting with all their might the notes belonging to the States."

This was carried by 18 votes to 11. The minority represented chiefly
town rather than country parishes, the Jurats being equally divided, and
included at least two persons closely connected with the Banks. The
victory of States Notes seemed complete, and the fourth Proposition
appointing a Committee to give effect to the decision was carried by a
large majority. It is as follows:--

"If they are of opinion to name a Committee that shall be authorised in
a special manner to defend the rights and interests of the States, and
of the public:--to do their utmost by every conciliatory measure in
their power, and above all, to agree to an arrangement that shall screen
the States from all interruption in the circulation of their Notes,
which have been issued for the benefit and advantage of the public, with
the design of gradually diminishing the number annually. And in the
event of such an arrangement not taking place, to adopt every measure,
and make every necessary sacrifice for supporting the circulation of the
States Notes. And finally, should the case require it, to propose to the
States the adoption of those ulterior measures deemed requisite by the
Committee, for the general interests of the island."

The meeting ended with a fine fighting speech from the Bailiff. He
reiterated the principle of the States being the sovereign power in
issuing currency, claimed that the Cour Royale had the right of stopping
the private issue of notes, and pointed to the example of England, where
only £5 notes were permitted in the country, and these under a heavy
tax, while only the Bank of England might issue notes in and around
London. He showed that it was a choice between notes issued for the
benefit of individuals and notes issued for the public good. He defended
the improvements carried out by the States, and once again declared that
they had been advantageous in giving employment to the poor, security to
the rich and encouragement to commerce.



One can imagine the enthusiasm and the satisfaction with which the
majority returned home. One anticipates a triumphant report in the
Bailiff's best vein; and expects that the banks will in future have to
confine themselves to the operations permitted to English banks, while
the States restore equilibrium by causing the withdrawal of superfluous
notes and confining future issues, once again entirely in their own
hands, to quantities proportioned to the needs of the island.

With surprise, the subsequent proceedings are found to be on quite
different lines. Truth is stranger than fiction. The prosaic facts are
as follows:--

The Bailiff in presenting his _Billet d'Etat_ to the States Meeting,
29th March, 1837, reported on the arrangement made by the Committee with
the two Banks. He brought forward no proposition on the matter on which
the States should deliberate. He simply states that:--

"After some preliminary conferences the Committee received the following

 'To D. De Lisle Brock, Esq.,
 Bailiff, etc., etc., etc.,
 Guernsey, 8th Oct., 1836.


To settle the differences now existing between the States and the Banks,
and to promote an amicable adjustment between them, we propose:

That the States should withdraw immediately £15,000 of their Notes, nor
have at any time more than £40,000 in circulation, give up all Banking
transactions, and cease to collect the notes of the Banks.

In consideration thereof the Banks engage whenever they draw bills
either on London or Paris, to take States' Notes for one half at least
of their amount and to pass them to the public as their own.

The Banks further engage to supply the States annually with £10,000 in
cash, each bank to provide for one half, by payments of £250 at a time,
and this free of expence and in exchange for States' Notes.

The above agreement to remain in force until three months notice be
given by either party to the others to annul the same.

 We remain respectfully, Sir,

 _Signed_ for Priaulx, Le Marchant & Co.
 Thomas D. Utermarck,
 Abraham J. Le Mesurier.

 For the Commercial Banking Co.,
 H. D. G. Agnew }
 T. De Putron   } Managers.'

"And asked M. Le Bailiff to reply as follows:--

 'Court House, Guernsey,
 9 Oct., 1836.


The Committee named by the States on the 21st September for the purpose
of conferring with the Banks which you represent, on the subject of the
one pound notes current in this island, have taken into consideration
the proposals which you have transmitted to them, under yesterday's
date, 8th Oct.

The Committee adopt those proposals as the basis of the arrangement so
desirable to be entered into, and from this day to be in force between
the States and the Banks.--They do so, because the States may at any
time, within 3 months, release themselves from the obligations which
that arrangement imposes; and above all, because the sacrifice of
pecuniary gain on the part of the States which it may deem to occasion,
will be more than compensated by the harmony and good feeling which it
will tend to promote among the inhabitants, and which constituting the
chief happiness of a well regulated community, can hardly be too highly

With sentiments of a like friendly nature, sincerely entertained by the
Committee towards yourselves, and the rest of their fellow citizens,

 I have the honour to be, Gentlemen,

 Your obedient humble servant

 Daniel De Lisle Brock,
 President of the States' Committee.'

"In consequence of this arrangement the Committee decided that £10,000
sterling of the total one pound notes in circulation on account of
Fountain Street should be withdrawn as a Savings Bank loan at an
interest of 3 per cent. per annum. Also that five thousand of those
forming part of the old debt, called the Permanent Debt, should be
withdrawn to be converted into obligations at 3 per cent. per annum."

In the discussion at the States Meeting on a proposition to authorise
the payment of a sum spent on repairs to the coasts, there were
references by three Members of the States to the fact that the
expenditure of the States would be increased by having to pay interest
on the 15,000 £1 notes withdrawn from circulation.

The same fact is alluded to in a few words by Daniel De Lisle Brock
himself in his _Billet d'Etat_ to the States, 20th September, 1838.
Commenting on the Finance Committee's Report, he tabulates five items of
annual loss, among which is found the terse remark, "The founding of the
commercial banks causes an annual loss of £450."

Although the States thus agreed not to issue any more Notes, to complete
the history it should be recorded that these £40,000--to be perfectly
accurate the total amount in 1906 was £41,318--are still in circulation
in the Island.


As stated in the Introduction, the writer has determined, though
somewhat tempted, not to discuss the interesting and debatable points
that arise from a consideration of this subject. He is satisfied, for
the present, with placing the facts before the public. He leaves those
facts for abler minds than his to make such use of as they may desire.
Great care has been taken to record only that for which there is chapter
and verse.

But he would like, in conclusion, to remark that it seems to him that
the States, even to-day, still derive some little benefit from having a
portion of their "Debt" on which they pay no interest. This may be
gathered from the following table made up from facts taken from the
_Billet d'Etat_ presented to the States 22nd August, 1906, at which
meeting the writer was an interested spectator.

Summary of the indebtedness of the States of Guernsey:--

                                     | Balance 31 Dec., | Interest paid
                                     |      1905.       | during 1905.
                                     |          £       |       £
  States General Account Obligations |       68,570     |  1,953 19  3
  Special Loan Obligations           |       57,500     |  2,295  0  0
  Notes of _20s._ each payable to    |                  |
    Bearer                           |       41,318     |       nil
  "Rentes" estimated capitalised     |                  |
    indebtedness thereon             |        7,059     |       nil
  Departmental borrowings            |       33,000     |    965  8  0
                                     |                  | Paid by Depts.
                                     |                  |   to General
                                     |                  |   Account.
      Total indebtedness             |     £207,447     |     ----

The circulation of these Notes in the Island to-day is, if nothing more,
an interesting relic of an interesting financial policy which certainly
was in vogue in Guernsey for over 20 years (1816-1837).

The mystery surrounding the abrupt catastrophe is yet undeciphered and
is likely to remain so, as there seems no material from which to glean
what took place during those few but momentous days between the 21st
September and 9th October. Was there treachery? was it but the
inevitable fate of the "best-laid schemes o' mice and men"? or was it a
unique and deplorable economic tragedy?


We have not yet discovered anything with reference to a successful plan
at Bath to which Daniel de Lisle Brock here alludes (see page 40). We
assume the reference to Liverpool is to the fact that during a time of
financial panic the Liverpool Corporation was empowered by Statute 33,
Geo. III., c. 31 (10th May, 1793), to issue notes of £5, £10, £50 and
£100 for value received or other due security.

This Act entitled "An Act to enable the Common Council of the Town of
Liverpool in the County of Lancaster on behalf of and on account of the
Corporation of the said Town to issue negotiable notes for a limited
time and to a limited amount," was passed after the Corporation of
Liverpool had failed to obtain a loan of £100,000 from the Bank of

The £50 and £100 notes bore interest not exceeding the lawful rate and
at 12 months' date. The £5 and £ 10 notes were payable to bearer on
demand without interest. The total issue was at no time to exceed
£300,000. Returns had to be forwarded to the House of Commons from time
to time. From one of these returns we learn that the notes issued to
28th February, 1795, amounted to £140,390, based on security valued at
£155,907 16s. 6d. In a report forwarded 23rd April, 1794, it was stated
that £52,985 worth of notes were in circulation at that date.

Great care was taken in the issue of the notes. The Committee of the
Corporation that was responsible for the same met daily.

In order to give a wider utility to the notes, London correspondents
were appointed and a large number were made payable in London. This made
it possible for the Corporation itself to apply to the Committee for a
large loan of £50,000.

The security on which advances were made were very various. It included
cotton, timber, iron, hops, whale oil, bills of exchange, ships on the
stocks and the Alt rates.

       *       *       *       *       *

For further particulars of this interesting incident, the reader is
referred to Sidney and Beatrice Webb's _English Local Government_: "The
Manor and the Borough," p. 485, and to E. C. K. Gonner's Article,
"Municipal Bank Notes in Liverpool, 1793-95," which appeared in the
_Economic Journal_, Vol. VI., 1896, pp. 484-487, to whom the writer is
largely indebted for the above facts.


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Demy 8vo, cloth. 10s. 6d. net. _P. S. King & Son._

=21. An Example of Communal Currency.= By J. THEODORE HARRIS,
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S. King & Son._

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Guernsey Experimented Successfully with Communal Currency,


The Co-operative Brotherhood Trust, Ltd.,

is Experimenting with Co-operative Currency.

It has a small circle of Manufacturers, Merchants and Private
Individuals using and circulating its currency. If you believe in its
practicability, join it and help to ensure its success. If you want to
know more about it, write for full information to--




Co-operative Banking

Its Principles and its Practice, with a Chapter on Co-operative Mortgage

_Demy 8vo, Cloth_, =7s. 6d.= _net_

"Mr. Wolff is the author of a successful work."--_Times._

A Co-operative Credit Handbook

Demy 8vo, 96 pages. 1s. net

      CONTENTS--Preface, General Remarks, Banks based upon Shares
      (Limited Liability Societies), Model Rules for such (with
      Annotations), Village Banks (Unlimited Liability Societies),
      Model Rules for such (with Annotations). Appendix: Form of
      Application, Forms of Bond for Borrower, Form of Fortnightly
      Balance Sheet, Model Cash Book.

Co-operative Credit Banks

A Help for the Labouring and Cultivating Classes. 6d.

Village Banks

How to Start Them--How to Work Them--What the Rich may do to Help Them,
etc. 6d.



    |             Transcriber's Note:               |
    |                                               |
    | Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the  |
    | original document have been preserved.        |
    |                                               |
    | Typographical errors corrected in the text:   |
    |                                               |
    | Page 11  isue changed to issue                |
    | Page 61  VIII changed to VII                  |

       *       *       *       *       *

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