In 1878 the discovery of a new variety of potato, christened the Jersey Royal Fluke, changed the Jersey Royal potato industry from that point on.
Until the discovery of the Royal, a selection of potatoes had been grown on the island. Then one day a Jersey farmer, Hugh de la Haye, spotted two enormous potatoes displayed on the counter in a local store. Hugh de la Haye purchased them and took them home. That evening, he invited some friends over for dinner. After the meal he showed them the two huge potatoes, one of which had 15 ‘eyes’ (from which new plants sprout).
The friends cut this particular potato into sixteen pieces which they took and planted on a ‘côtil’ above Bellozanne valley (a côtil in Jersey is a steeply sloping field, often overlooking the sea.).
The following spring, they produced a large and early crop. Strangely, though the parent potatoes and most of the new crop were round one plant produced nothing but uniquely kidney-shaped potatoes. And with this, the Jersey Royal was born! It was carefully nurtured and developed to produce the later varieties of Jersey Royals which now account for almost half of Jersey’s income from all agricultural products.
So what became of Hugh de La Haye? He was later honoured by islanders at a formal gathering with a testimonial and a purse of gold sovereigns.