1967: the pub which banned Jèrriais

October 10th, 2010

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1967: the pub which banned Jèrriais

Office du Jerriaisalcohol, history, Jersey Evening Post, L'Assembliée d'Jèrriais

Another snippet from yesterday’s work in the Jersey Library. Controversy raged in the press in September 1967 after an alleged Jèrriais-banning incident in a pub.

Jersey-French ban “just a joke”
But licensee upsets customers

An allegation that the licensee of a local public house – the White Horse Inn at The Dicq – placed a ban on his customers speaking in Jersey-French has annoyed locals, upset visitors and resulted in two “vrai Jèrriais” leaving the establishment and one of them swearing never to go there again. But licensee Mr. James H. Lea says that if he said anything at all about banning Jersey-French, he said it jokingly. “There is definitely no ban,” he told me.

Last Friday evening, when Mr. Peter Desvergez, who is over 70 years of age, and lives at Dicq Road, met an old pal, Mr. E. G. “Shiner” Hacquoil, who lived in St. Ouen until moving recently to Le Squez Estate, they had a chat over a pint of beer in the public bar. Mr. Desvergez has been using this pub, on and off, for over 40 years, and Mr. Hacquoil since the time that he moved into the area. They naturally spoke in their native tongue – Jersey-French.

Several visitors were in this little bar and were intrigued to hear the language being spoken. They had no objection to it, but the licensee is said to have told the two to converse in English or not at all.


At first they ignored him. But when the request was repeated, they left the pub amid a certain amount of uproar.

When I questioned Mr. Lea, he told me that he did not deny mentioning, more in a joking manner, that the two concerned should speak in English, “as they might well be talking about me.” But the incident was so small in his view that he hardly remembered it.


But Mr. Cyril Le Cras who was fishing at The Dicq slip at the time, told me that he heard such a babel of raised voices, both in English and Jersey-French, that he left his tackle and went to see what the fuss was all about. He found both locals and visitors extremely indignant that Mr. Desvergez and Mr. Hacquoil should have been treated this way.

I visited the same bar on Saturday evening, when Mr. Maurice Goddard, who had witnessed the incident the previous night, greeted me with the claim: “You are 24 hours too late, you should have been here last night when two old Jerseymen had no option but to leave because they were speaking in Jersey-French.”

Several of the locals present confirmed that there had been an incident regarding speaking in Jersey-French. The claimed they had been given the option of speaking in English, or leaving, and they were thinking of making a complaint to Ann Street Brewery.

Local atmosphere

Two visitors who left on the mailboat on Monday said they were surprised and indignant about the way in which “two colourful characters” had been treated. They has enjoyed listening to a strange tongue which added local atmosphere to the bar. They have been frequenting the Farmers’ Inn at St. Ouen for this very reason.

Locals at the Farmers’ Inn say that they remember “Shiner” Hacquoil as a regular of their pub when he lived in St. Ouen. He always spoke in Jersey-French.

No objection

Mr. S. Goodrich, managing director of Ann Street Brewery Co. Ltd., said on Monday that he had certainly not received any complaint so far. There would certainly never be any objection to any language whatsoever being spoken in any Ann Street public house.

In fact, in the White Horse Inn, as many locals pointed out and Mr. Lea agreed, many of the Portuguese and Italians employed in hotels in the area gather during the winter and not unnaturally converse in their native languages.

“It would kill it”

Deputy A.C. Quérée, president of L’Assembliée d’Jerriais, told us “It is the Island language and part of the Island life. If the use of it was ever banned in public, it would kill the language. We all speak it in my home, and there is more spoken in the Parish of St. Ouen than anywhere else in the Island.”

Jersey Weekly Post 28/9/1967