To commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Jersey, Jersey issued a set of stamps and souvenir sheet that feature scenes from John Singleton Copley’s painting The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781.

The Painting

Painted by John Singelton Copley in 1783, The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781 is an oil on canvass. It was acquired by the Tate in 1864. It is classified as “figuartive art” which according to is the realistic depiction of living as well inanimate objects.

The Battle

The Battle of Jersey was fought between the French and British on January 6th 1781. The French forces under the command of Baron de Rollecourt landed on the 4th and 5th of January and made their way to St. Helier (the Capital of Jersey) and set up defensive positions in the market while the inhabitants slept. During the morning of the 6th, a French patrol surrounded Government House and the Governor of Jersey was captured and corced into signing a capitulation document.

The British forces failing to recognize the Governors capitulation now under the command of Major Peirson organized an attack that according to most accounts lasted about 15 minutes leading to a French defeat. During the battle Major Peirson was shot through the heart and died.