Balleine’s Biographical Dictionary of Jersey is a fascinating book. It contains short biographies of famous Jersey folk over many centuries.
The indexes in the back enable the reader to trace folk who have been successful in particular areas of life, like Writers, Soldiers, Philanthropists and Artists. In one category – Criminals – six men are listed. One of these is James de la Cloche.
Although James was alive in 1668, he was unknown after that year – until 1861. In 1861, in the archives of the Jesuits in the Quirinal in Rome, eight letters relating to him came to light and were then connected with James’ arrival entry in their Register of Admissions dated 11 April 1668. James’ crimes arose from being an impostor.
One of the letters was a certificate from King Charles II. It acknowledged the bearer, Jacques Stuart, as his natural (although illegitimate) son and indicated that he had commanded his son to live under the name of De La Cloche du Bourg of Jersey. A second letter from King Charles (who was a Stuart) stated that James had been assigned an annual stipend. The subterfuge deepened.
In fact James de la Cloche succeeded in obtaining support for himself for eight months in Rome and in obtaining considerable funds for travelling purposes. He then disappeared from Rome at the end of 1668.
Who was he? Balleine provides evidence to suggest that he was indeed a Jerseyman. De la Cloche was a well known name in Jersey at that time.
The interesting things about this impostor are, first, that he claimed Royal descent and, second, that he had a self-seeking motive.
But is that not the case with all impostors? It’s not much use arriving on the scene and claiming descent from someone unimportant. It’s not much use claiming to be important and then saying “I don’t want anything.”
In both those connections there’s something rather strange about Jesus Christ and his behaviour. The words in bold above are the opening words of the last book in the Christian Bible. This book, Revelation, shows Jesus in all his present glory. But it was written some 60 years after Jesus had died, risen and physically left this world. What was the point of that?
Also, the writer of the book of Revelation was a disciple of Jesus who also wrote a biography of Jesus – the Gospel of John. In that gospel John records that Jesus’ home town was Nazareth – a poor place. In fact, one man, on being told that Jesus came from there is recorded as saying, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
And, if Jesus was an impostor, what was his self-seeking motive? He had no place to lie down (unlike the foxes and birds). Judas held the funds that the group needed. When Jesus required a coin to illustrate a point of his teaching he had to ask for one to be brought to him.
Also, when healing others he often required the crowds first to be removed.
And Jesus did not claim aristocratic parentage. He sought no privileges, only to be with the needy. In fact, as John carefully explains in detail, he arranged his own crucifixion and death at the hands of sinners – death for others. Why then the book of Revelation?
Well, Revelation reveals the real Jesus Christ in terms of world history - world history being worked out daily in all our lives, even in Jersey, from the crucifixion onwards. We need to know that this “reverse impostor” is on the throne of world history. He’s the lamb sacrificed for others but alive forever.
The one who triumphed over self-seeking is the only one able – truthfully - to reveal that world history as it really is.