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Jersey - the American connection

One historical fact that I heard more than once on Jersey concerns the reasons why a US state came to be named after it. I have friends who live in the state in question, so I thought the story was worth retelling.

During the Civil War, Jersey remained loyal to the Crown, and in 1649 the Bailiff of Jersey, Sir George Carteret, allowed Charles I’s sons, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York (respectively, the future Charles II and James II) to take refuge there. They stayed at the Elizabeth Castle, a landmark located in St Aubin’s Bay that is only accessible from the rest of the island at low tide. Built in the late 16th century, it was for many years the residence of the Governor of Jersey (one of the most famous of whom was Sir Walter Raleigh; he has nothing to do with this particular story but he does have American connections, being credited with bringing potatoes and tobacco to England).

It was while the future Charles II was on the island that he was proclaimed as King by the afore-mentioned Bailiff (in Channel Islands terms, the Bailiff was and still is the chief justice). Although Jersey later had to surrender to Oliver Cromwell, Charles never forgot that Jersey was the first of his realms to recognise him as King. When the Dutch colonies in North America were acquired by England in 1664, he decided that Carteret should be rewarded for his loyalty. He gave him the lands between the Hudson and Delaware rivers – which is how New Jersey came to be named.

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