Historian invited to give Jersey’s Joan Stevens Memorial Lecture

Huddersfield's Professor Tim Thornton is welcomed by Richard Falle, Advocate and Consultant to Jersey Law Firm Bois Bois Lawyers Huddersfield's Professor Tim Thornton is welcomed by Richard Falle, Advocate and Consultant to Jersey law firm Bois Bois Lawyers.

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 14:07:00 BST

Professor Tim Thornton delivers the prestigious memorial lecture at the invitation of the Société Jersiaise

Société Jersiaise logo CHANNEL Islanders have a passion for their past, and the University of Huddersfield’s Professor Tim Thornton has become influential as a leading contemporary authority on the complex and fascinating early histories of Jersey and Guernsey.

His latest honour was to be invited by the long-established Société Jersiaise  to deliver the prestigious Joan Stevens Memorial Lecture.  To a large audience that included major figures in Jersey politics and the law, he discussed the relationship between the Channel Islands and the law courts of Westminster over the course of several centuries. 

Book - The Channel Islands, 1370-1640: Between England and Normandy Despite the fact that Jersey and Guernsey jealously guarded the privilege, granted by English Royal charter in 1341, to retain their own Norman-French legal system – still in place today – some islanders took their disputes to Westminster.  Professor Thornton explored the reasons for these legal developments and the way local communities and the English crown responded.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield Professor Thornton is a historian of the medieval and Tudor periods who is influential for his research and publications on “peripheral” parts of Britain that were distant from centres of Royal power.

The Channel Islands have been a key area of research, and his books include The Charters of Guernsey (2004) and The Channel Islands, 1370-1640: Between England and Normandy.  Published in 2012, this was the first major history of late medieval and early modern Jersey and Guernsey to have appeared in several decades.

Professor Thornton has continued to work on the history of the islands and his Joan Stevens Memorial Lecture will be the basis for a new book, to be published by the Société Jersiaise.

Location map of Jersey Joan Stevens, who died in 1986, was a Jersey woman who became a popular historian of the island’s architecture.  A series of lectures is held to commemorate her, and over the years it has been delivered by leading historians that included Barry Cunliffe and Asa Briggs.  Professor Thornton has now joined this roster.

“It was quite an honour to be invited and it was marvellous to have an audience that included not only other historians but also a very wide cross section of the islands’ communities, including some prominent lawyers and a recent Bailiff of Jersey,” he said.

In the past, Professor Thornton has found that his work on the distant past of the Channel Islands has fed into current debate on political and legal issues and he is convinced that when Jersey and Guernsey seek to confirm their relationship with the EU and a post-Brexit Britain, history will once again be mustered during the argument.

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