Jean Chevalier’s Diary – An Amazing (and largely unknown) Historical Document!

Have you ever spent a moment thinking about the word “journalist”? Because of modern media, we think of a journalist as someone who reports on news for the public media.  But in mid 1600s, a local Jersey man named Jean Chevalier was a journalist in the most basic sense of the word – he began a diary, capturing events in Jersey during the Period of the English revolution – starting in 1643 and continuing until parliamentary forces finally captured the island in 1651.  What is so remarkable about this journal is the level of penetrating detail it captured about people and events on the island – providing singular and often quite personal insights into day-to-day and historically significant events alike.  I’ve never seen anything like it…

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Why am I pursuing this Quest?

“Considering Sir Richard Lane’s spotless integrity, and his uniform adherence to his principles, – notwithstanding his comparative obscurity and his poverty, he is more to be honoured than many of his predecessors  and successors who have left behind them a brilliant reputation, and ample possessions and high dignities to their posterity”   — Lord John Campbell (1848 “Lives of the Lord Chancellors”, Vol 2)

Why is this quest so important to you? This is a question I have been asked quite often – and given the investment of time, energy and some money it has taken, it’s a fair question!

In the beginning, it was simple curiosity.  I bought the “Lane’s Reports” book because it was so fascinatingly old.  I wanted to find out what else there might be to know about it, beyond its age and the quill margin notes it contained. What could it tell me about the world it came from?  Whose hands had held it long before even the earliest family I have known even existed? Or, for that matter, before most of this country existed?

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The Heraldic Arms of Richard Lane

With each answered question a new mystery springs! Is it possible the sketch of Richard Lane’s arms in Jean Chevalier’s diary was drawn later, from Chevalier’s description? Or were they incorrectly presented on the pall over Richard Lane’s casket? Continue reading “The Heraldic Arms of Richard Lane”