From Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
The island of Herm, 3 miles N E from Guernsey, in the jurisdiction of which it is included, is about six miles in circumference, and, in 1821, contained 28 inhabitants. Since that time the population has been materially augmented by the erection of numerous houses for the accommodation of workmen employed in the quarries of granite with which the island abounds. Its appearance is diversified with hills and dales, and though upon a smaller scale than other islands of the group, it is little inferior to them in the picturesque beauty of its scenery. The northern beach, from which it rises to a considerable elevation, is extensive, and equal in the smoothness and firmness of its sands to Worthing or Weymouth. The bay of Belvoir, on the eastern side of the island, is seated at the base of a winding and sequestered vale embosomed in hills of gradual ascent and pleasing undulation, and is the favourite retreat, during the summer, of the ladies of Guernsey, who resort to this spot to collect the curious and beautiful shells which are peculiar to it. The air is mild and salubrious, and the soil is fertile, and of an average depth of three feet in that part of the island which is devoted to agriculture. The artificial grasses so much esteemed in England are indigenous to the soil, which yields in abundance wheat, barley, oats, lucerne, turnips, and every variety of agricultural produce. There are not less than thirty-three springs of pure water, which afford abundant facilities of irrigating the land in dry seasons.
The principal feature in the island are its inexhaustible quarries of granite, the qualities of which have been found by experiment to be superior to any hitherto discovered. Twelve cubic feet of Herm granite are equal in weight to thirteen cubic feet of that of Aberdeen, a proof of its greater solidity; but its chief excellence consists in its wearing sown rough and uniform in surface, when laid down in carriage roads, and thus affording a safer footing for horses: it can be raised from the quarries in blocks of any size and form, of which some have been raised exceeding one hundred tons in weight. The road leading to the East and West India docks in London was laid with this granite, under the direction of Mr James Walker, civil engineer; and on this great thoroughfare, which is traversed by the heaviest laden wagons in the kingdom, its excellent qualities of durability and resistance to friction have been fully demonstrated: it has also been laid down in Cheapside: this source of wealth was entirely neglected til the property of the island passed in to the possession of the late Hon. John Lindsey, brother of the late Earl of Balcarras, who, having died before he had carried in to operation his plans for working these quarries, Jonathan Duncan, Esq., son of the late Governor of Bombay, who became proprietor of the island, by marriage with the daughter of Mr Lindsey, carried that gentleman's plans into operation on a more extended scale.
Mr Duncan, at a vast expense, constructed a harbour, in which a vessel of two hundred and fifty tons burden might, under the protection of an excellent pier, load during the more boisterous weather, in perfect safety: also an iron rail-way from the quarries to the pier, from which six hundred tons per day may be shipped with the greatest ease. He built houses for four hundred workmen, an inn, a brewery, a bakehouse, and several forges for making the various implements used in the quarries.
There are some masses of stone at the northern end of the island, which are supposed, but upon no real authority, to be Druidical remains; and there are portions of an ancient building, thought to have been a chapel belonging to a hermitage existing here in the sixth century. In forming the gardens of the mansion-house, some coffins and skeletons were discovered, which were, probably, the remains of some refugees, who, during the religious persecutions of Charles IX of France, are imagined to have found asylum in that island.