JERSEY, the largest of the Channel Islands, belonging to Great Britain. Its chief town, St Helier, on the south coast of the island, is in 49° 12′ N., 2° 7′ W., 105 m. S. by E. of Portland Bill on the English coast, and 24 m. from the French coast to the east. Jersey is the southernmost of the more important islands of the group. It is of oblong form with a length of 10 m. from east to west and an extreme breadth of 61/4 m. The area is 28,717 acres, or 45 sq. m. Pop. (1901), 52,576.

The island reaches its greatest elevation (nearly 500 ft.) in the north, the land rising sharply from the north coast, and displaying bold and picturesque cliffs towards the sea. The east, south and west coasts consist of a succession of large open bays, shallow and rocky, with marshy or sandy shores separated by rocky headlands. The principal bays are Grève au Lançons, Grève de Lecq, St John’s and Bouley Bays on the north coast; St Catherine’s and Grouville Bays on the east; St Clement’s, St Aubin’s and St Brelade’s Bays on the south; and St Ouen’s Bay, the wide sweep of which occupies nearly the whole of the west coast. The sea in many places has encroached greatly on the land, and sand drifts have been found troublesome, especially on the west coast. The surface of the country is broken by winding valleys having a general direction from north to south, and as they approach the south uniting so as to form small plains. The lofty hedges which bound the small enclosures into which Jersey is divided, the trees and shrubberies which line the roads and cluster round the uplands and in almost every nook of the valleys unutilized for pasturage or tillage, give the island a luxuriant appearance, neutralizing the bare effect of the few sandy plains and sand-covered hills. Fruits and flowers indigenous to warm climates grow freely in the open air. The land, under careful cultivation, is rich and productive, the soil being generally a deep loam, especially in the valleys, but in the west shallow, light and sandy. The subsoil is usually gravel, but in some parts an unfertile clay. Some two-thirds of the total area is under cultivation, great numbers of cattle being pastured, and much market gardening practised. The potato crop is very large. The peasants take advantage of every bit of wall and every isolated nook of ground for growing fruit trees. Grapes are ripened under glass; oranges can be grown in sheltered situations, but the most common fruits are apples, which are used for cider, and pears. A manure of burnt sea-weed (vraic) is generally used. The pasturage is very rich, and is much improved by the application of this manure to the surface. The breed of cattle is kept pure by stringent laws against the importation of foreign animals. The milk is used almost exclusively to manufacture butter. The cattle are always housed in winter, but remain out at night from May till October. There was formerly a small black breed of horses peculiar to the island, but horses are now chiefly imported from France or England. Pigs are kept principally for local consumption, and only a few sheep are reared. Fish are not so plentiful as round the shores of Guernsey, but mackerel, turbot, cod, mullet and especially the conger eel are abundant at the Minquiers. There is a large oyster bed between Jersey and France, but partly on account of over-dredging the supply is not so abundant as formerly. There is a great variety of other shell fish. The fisheries, ship-building and boat-building employ many of the inhabitants. Kelp and iodine are manufactured from sea-weed. The principal exports are granite, fruit and vegetables (especially potatoes), butter and cattle; and the chief imports coal and articles of human consumption. Communications with England are maintained principally from Southampton and Weymouth, and there are regular steamship services from Granville and St Malo on the French coast. The Jersey railway runs west from St Helier round St Aubin’s Bay to St Aubin, and continues to Corbière at the south-western extremity of the island; and the Jersey eastern railway follows the southern and eastern coasts to Gorey. The island is intersected with a network of good roads.

Jersey is under a distinct and in several respects different form of administrative government from Guernsey and the smaller islands included in the bailiwick of Guernsey. For its peculiar constitution, system of justice, ecclesiastical arrangements and finance, see Channel Islands. There are twelve parishes, namely St Helier, Grouville, St Brelade, St Clement, St John, St Laurence, St Martin, St Mary, St Ouen, St Peter, St Saviour and Trinity. The population of the island nearly doubled between 1821 and 1901, but decreased from 54,518 to 52,576 between 1891 and 1901.

The history of Jersey is treated under Channel Islands. Among objects of antiquarian interest, a cromlech near Mont Orgueil is the finest of several examples. St Brelade’s church, probably the oldest in the island, dates from the 12th century; among the later churches St Helier’s, of the 14th century, may be mentioned. There are also some very early chapels, considered to date from the 10th century or earlier; among these may be noted the Chapelle-ès-Pêcheurs at St Brelade’s, and the picturesque chapel in the grounds of the manor of Rozel. The castle of Mont Orgueil, of which there are considerable remains, is believed to be founded upon the site of a Roman stronghold, and a “Caesar’s fort” still forms a part of it.