4th May 1891

Jersey court fines man three months’ pay for swearing

When Emile F Bouchere “grossly insulted” Captain G Le Huquet on 4 May by calling him “a damned liar”, he could hardly have thought it would land him in court for using words likely to provoke a breach of the peace – nor that the penalty would be so harsh.

The advocates for either side argued over the facts of the case, and the circumstances that had led to the coming together on Gorey Common.

A doctor’s excuse

Bouchere, who was a member of the East Regiment, had been excused his duty of being on military parade by his doctor, who had given him an exemption certificate stating that he had laryngitis. Le Huquet had refused to accept it, as he’d seen Bouchere carting barrels around from as early as 7am, suggesting that he wasn’t suffering nearly as much as he claimed.

Bouchere admitted to the court that he’d sworn at Le Huquet and explained how sorry he was for having done so. However, the magistrate was having none of it, and he fined him £5 which, at the time, was considered a hefty amount. Labourers would have earned around nine shillings a week for working 10 hours a day, six days a week. With an old pound comprising 20 shillings, the fine amounted to around 11 weeks’ pay, which seems a high price indeed for what, today, would be considered a fairly mild insult.


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