The King's Birthday, June 4, 1794

A Party given in honour of the King's Birthday by the Lieutenant-Governor in 1794. Elizabeth Ham in her autobiography said of the birthday celebrations: 'In those days (c. 1809) the officers of the Garrison always gave a Ball on the 4th of June, the King's birthday. These Balls always caused great heartburnings from their exclusiveness.'

Gazette de L'Isle de Guernesey, 14 June 1794.

Report of the Party given by the Hon. Colonel SMALL, Lieut.-Governor of this Island, for its principal residents, and strangers, on the 4th June 1794.

The guests arrived at the Lieutenant-Governor’s house between 9 and 10 in the morning, where each was received by him with all his usual politeness and elegance, and to the sound of music. The morning was spent in breakfast and pleasant conversation. At midday, M. the Lieut.-Governor and the officers of both the regular troops and the militia parted from the ladies and joined their regiments, which the Lieutenant-Governor in his fervent loyalty had ordered to assemble. Everything passed off in excellent order, and our brave militiamen, far from complaining about the loss of a working day, showed only joy and loyalty on their faces.

A view of Hougue a la Perre, attr. to Peter Le Lievre, in Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery

The troops formed the most respectable totality, the line extending for about a mile all along Glategny beach past the tonnelle-aux-pendus.1 The Lieut.-Governor went along the line and was saluted by every officer, all in absolute silence. Straight afterwards the troops fired three ordinary volleys, regiment by regiment, from left to right, and then a feu de joie [gun salute] in the same order. This arrangement, when added to the artillery fire, from the Castle, the Batteries, the Forts and the royal ships the Liberty and the Weazle, produced an admirable effect. All this was led by cannon signals from Fort Amherst.

After the militia was dismissed they shared in the Lieut.-Governor’s generosity when he gave each regiment a barrel of strong Beer. And demonstrating his thoughtfulness, he gave them the Monday of Pentecost off instead, in order to compensate the poorer members of the militia for the working day they had lost.

At the end of the review our brave warriors went off make their peace with the ladies for having spent so long away. A sumptuous feast was then served, and the rest of the day was spent in dancing and loyal songs and banter. Everyone was most enthusiastic in drinking the health of the royal family, my Lord Amherst and the Lieut.-Governor. Thus passed off one of the most pleasant parties imaginable, where beauty, joy, gaiety, hospitality and loyalty seemed to vie for pre-eminence.

The loyalty of the Lieut.-Governor was not only evident at his party. He was content only when he had put on a lantern show2 for the faithful subjects of this land, illuminating the very image of their good king and his august spouse—a perfect likeness—accompanied by the words 'Long live the King;' our ardent prayer.

M. the Lieut.-Governor had set up three tents on the lawn in front of his house, which were very comfortable and pleasant for his guests, whose path thereto passed under a triumphal arch garlanded with flowers. [From the French.]

1 In Guernsey, tonnelle could be used to mean the English 'tunnel,' often a culvert or drain, and the area is locally known as 'the Tunnel.' The 'Hanged-man's-tunnel' refers to the Hougue à la Perre. Cf. the Gazette de Guernesey, 4 February 1854.

2 'Illumination en transparents,' where an image on oiled or waxed paper is lit up from behind.

See The Queen's Birthday, 1803.