Battle of Jersey commemorative walk
Islanders are invited to join a free of charge walk on Saturday 7th January 2023 commemorating the 1781 Battle of Jersey. Led by local historian Ian Ronayne, the walk starts at St John’s Church and ends in St Helier’s Royal Square where a ceremony and display marking the 242nd anniversary of the historic event will take place.
Walkers are asked to gather at 8.15 am for an 8.30 start.
The Battle of Jersey commemorative walk has been a regular fixture in the Island’s calendar for many years. First started by local historian and former army officer Frank Falle, it notably recalls the part played in the battle by Jersey’s historic Militia, a part time force raised for centuries from the Island’s male population.
Following the French invasion led by Baron De Rullecourt on 6th January 1781, the Militia mustered in their parishes to march on St Helier in support of British regular troops led by Major Peirson. Together, regulars and Militia fought the day’s culminating battle in the Royal Square, which following victory ensured Jersey would remain British rather than become French.
During the planned walk, participants will hear the story of that historic day and the important role played by the Jersey Militia to gain British victory. Once in St Helier, walkers can join a ceremony and display planned for the Royal Square, followed by a reception hosted by the Constable of St Helier in the Town Hall.
Commenting, Ian Ronayne said: “Thanks to the efforts of Frank Falle and the Constable of St Helier, this important event has become established and enjoyed by many people over the years. It is important to me that the tradition continues, both for the enjoyment it brings and the need to commemorative the bravery and commitment of those who fought for the Island back in 1781.”
About The Battle of Jersey
In the early morning of 6th January 1781 a French invasion force led by Baron Philippe de Rullecourt landed at La Rocque and marched on St Helier. Capturing the Island’s Lieutenant Governor, they forced him to sign a surrender document, seemingly achieving De Rullecourt’s goal of capturing Jersey for France. However, the young commander of local British forces, Major Francis Peirson, refused to accept the situation and mustered troops in opposition. These included the Jersey Militia, formed from local men expected to defend their Island in times of war. Advancing into St Helier, the local force attacked and defeated the French in the Royal Square, with Peirson tragically being killed in the fighting, along with De Rullecourt.
For many years, Jersey marked the battle’s anniversary with ‘Peirson Day’, recalling the part played by the young officer in saving Jersey from French rule. In recent years, the commemorative Battle of Jersey Walk and Royal Square ceremony has revived the spirit of the occasion.
About Ian Ronayne
Ian is a local historian, author and writer who specialises in the Island’s military history. A member of the Jersey Tour Guides Association, he regularly leads local walks and gives public talks on related subjects.