Read CHAPTER III of An Example of Communal Currency‚ The facts about the Guernsey Market House, free online book, by J. Theodore Harris, on ReadCentral.com.

MUNICIPAL ENTERPRISE THE ISSUE OF NOTES

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 Etats d’une Livre Sterling) up to L6,000, the States undertaking not to issue any, under any pretext whatever, beyond the said sum before having previously cancelled the said L6,000.”

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 proposition.

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 L5,000 was wanted for roads, and a monument to the late Governor, while only L1,000 was in hand. They recommended that the remaining L4,000 should be raised by State Notes of L1, 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. 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 L1,250, 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 L5,000, which was borrowed at 4-1/2 per cent. 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 L1 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 L5,500 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 L5,500 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
  5,500

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
  150
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 Notes.

“Thus, at the end of ten years, all the Notes would be cancelled and the States would be in possession of an income of L150 per annum, which would be a return for the L3,000 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 L1,000 set aside for this purpose, take a further L300 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 L450 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.

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, 1822.

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 L1 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 L1 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 L1 Notes, the interest alone which would have been paid will suffice.”

On 23rd June, 1821, the States authorise the issue of 580 L1 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 L1 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 L1 Notes are issued to pay off the L5,000 originally paid for the Market in 1817 (see . “By this means the interest of L200 (sic) a year will be saved and applied moreover every year to withdraw from circulation L1 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 L20,000. In summoning the States on this occasion, the Bailiff, Daniel de Lisle Brock, 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 L5 Notes, not exceeding L8,000 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. 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 a) 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 L2,000 worth of L5 Notes was authorised. For we find that “The States appoint Josias Marchant, Pierre 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 L1 Notes up to L11,000 was authorised to be cancelled by the proceeds of rents.

In 1828 and 1829 issues of Notes were authorised for various purposes, including L8,500 for the College and L11,000 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, L1,000 was voted for cholera precautions, to be raised either at 3 per cent. interest or in L1 Notes. The latter course seems to have been adopted.

From the foregoing it will be noticed that during the 20 years over L80,000 worth of Notes were authorised by the States to be issued. These were mostly of the value of L1, though some L5 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.