The relationship between Jersey and New Jersey can be traced back to the English Civil War. During the 1640s, royalist Sir George Carteret held Jersey for the English Crown and also provided shelter to Prince Charles at Elizabeth Castle, a 16th century fortress built on a rocky islet close to our capital St Helier. Sir George’s loyalty was seen as a pivotal factor in the survival of the monarchy. King Charles awarded him property in the English counties of Cornwall and Devon and a tract of land in North America, which was named New Jersey on 24 June 1664. In telling this story, we must acknowledge that while Sir George indeed played an important role in our shared history, he was also one of the founders of the ‘Company of Royal Adventurers into Africa’, which traded not only in ivory and gold, but also in slaves – a fact not to be forgotten.
Jersey’s connection to the Americas continued, with many islanders emigrating to New England at the end of the 17th century and Jersey merchants built a thriving transatlantic business empire in the Newfoundland and Gaspé cod fisheries. Hundreds of Jersey men spent their summer months working in the region. The term ‘jersey’, as in the item of athletic clothing, originated from our Island during this time. The first jerseys were hard-wearing, hand-knitted jumpers worn as inner layers by local seamen. Later, they evolved into a type of common outerwear. Famous for a tight weave and an ability to retain warmth, jerseys became popular in the UK, Europe and the US. By the 1850s, the name ‘jersey’ had become synonymous with ‘sweater’ and, as American Football started becoming popular, jerseys provided an ideal clothing solution for players. Sports jerseys in the US today bear little resemblance to the original woollen garments.
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust was founded in Jersey in 1963 by the late Gerald Durrell, conservationist and author. In its mission to ‘save species from extinction’, the Trust works on projects worldwide. Durrell has strong links to the US through a charity established in 2014, American Friends of Durrell (AFD). Harriet McGeorge, sister of Gerald Durrell’s widow Lee, is a founding director. Programs supported by AFD include the conservation of tamarin monkeys in Brazil, various projects in Madagascar supporting a number of critically endangered species and habitats, and a recovery program in St Lucia for the rarest snake in the world, the St Lucia racer.
Jersey cattle are renowned around the world for the quality of the rich, creamy milk that they produce, which contains 20% more calcium and protein than from other breeds. For nearly two centuries, the main trade between Jersey and the US was in our cattle. Jersey cows were exported from the mid-1800s and up until World War II many thousands of animals left our shores to cross the Atlantic to new homes. Today, the Jersey breed is the second largest dairy cattle breed in the US, with more than a million cows, and is one of the main providers of rich milk, including for the vast cheese market. In 2018, the US hosted the 21st International Conference of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau in North Canton, Ohio. It was attended by over 300 delegates from 20 countries, and many other Jersey cattle events are held each year.
Jersey milk and cream from the Island of Jersey is used for Hotel Chocolat’s luxury ice cream recipe ‘Ice Cream of the Gods’. It’s sold in stores in New York and Washington DC. The ice cream is made by infusing a mix of Jersey milk and cream with pure roasted cocoa. CEO and Co-Founder of Hotel Chocolat, Angus Thirwell, explains, “We decided to call this recipe the ‘Ice Cream of the Gods’, for the heavenly flavour and after the name of the cocoa plant itself, Theobroma Cacao, which translates as ‘cocoa, food of the gods’.” This collaboration between Jersey Dairy and Hotel Chocolat began in 2017.
Jersey is ranked second in the world for broadband speeds, above the US, the UK and Japan (Worldwide Broadband Speed League 2020). We have a flourishing tech community, with a growing number of digital businesses and more than 3,000 professionals working in the sector. Areas of expertise include cybersecurity, digital marketing, software engineering, e-commerce and fintech, among others. Digital Jersey is dedicated to growing this digital sector and, as part of that goal, it is forming close links with research institutions and organisations around the world, including Princeton University and the New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA). Student placements between Jersey’s Digital Academy and some NJBDA establishments are being developed, as well as reciprocal speaking opportunities at major events.
“I think what makes Jersey stand out, versus many locations of a similar size, is that it truly is an international finance centre.”
Mike Byrne, Partner, PwC Channel Islands