6th February 1878

Courts decide who owns St Aubin’s railway

Frederick Nalder, proprietor of the Jersey Railway, declared a Clameur de Haro when Rodney Pooley, who claimed to own the railway in question, tried to eject him. The two men ended up in court, with Nalder trying to sue Pooley to cover the cost of a fine that had resulted from the Clameur.

Yet the advocate general, acting on Nalder’s behalf, seemed less concerned about recovering his client’s costs than he was about the number of Jurats sitting on the bench. He wanted to see three men there alongside the bailiff, not the two who were present. The defence team wanted to stick with the two they had and pointed out that the law requiring three was obsolete. In the end, the defence prevailed, and the hearing could proceed… until the next objection.

Objection number two

Now there was a question over whether the advocate general should be allowed to represent Nalder at all, since he’d represented Pooley, the defendant, in the past. It seemed almost as though the two sides’ representatives were arguing for the sake of raising their fee.

Fortunately, the case avoided becoming a farce and at last the evidence could be heard. On 6 February, the tenant of the railway had transferred his rights to Nalder, who sub-leased it to Pooley for the next three years.

Yet one afternoon, just two weeks later, Pooley turned up on site and threatened to throw Nalder out if he didn’t leave of his own accord. He’d changed his mind about the lease, and now wanted to hand over the railway to someone else.

Clameur de Haro

It was to prevent this that Nalder raised the Clameur de Haro, but Pooley claimed it hadn’t been properly raised. The only occasion on which it should be used, he said, was when the claimant was being impeded from rightly accessing their own property. But the railway was not the Nalder’s property, was it, and Pooley had leased it to him voluntarily.

To further complicate matters, there was already a case ongoing over precisely who owned the railway and, Pooley pointed out, if he’d heeded the Clameur there was a chance the railway would have been temporarily closed while its ownership was decided. If this took 60 days or more, the States had the right to claim ownership itself, and then both men would lose it.

The case seemed so taxing that the court adjourned, and when the jurats and bailiff came back they sided with the prosecution, stating that Nalder had had every right to raise the Clameur – and to be on the railway.


FREE Jersey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Jersey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.



Other events that occured in February