Channel Islands in the Normandy rolls

From Jerripedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Societe logo.png

Channel Islands in the

Normandy rolls

This article, based on a talk by G F de Gruchy in July 1918, was first published in the 1919 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

The text has been edited, and numerous references removed, to revert to how the talk would undoubtedly have been delivered, and to assist with readability for the general reader. Those interested in fuller details are advised to refer to the original 1919 bulletin in the library of La Société. A summary of this article has also been produced for Jerripedia.

Membrane 2 of the rolls of the Norman Exchequer, made at Caen in AD 1180, supplies the earliest direct contemporary evidence of the conditions ruling in Jersey before the separation of Normandy from England, any earlier evidence having to be gathered indirectly from the few existing charters relating to grants in the Island before 1180. Therefore these entries are of the first importance to students of our Island History, though hitherto they seem to have had but little attention paid to them. The writer offers the following notes upon what he has been able to discover concerning the entries relating to Jersey.

Three divisions

In the first place we find Jersey divided into three divisions for fiscal purposes, called ministeria, each under a minister or farmer of the revenues due to the Duke of Normandy. These ministeria were:

  • Groecium (Ministerium de Groceio) under Roger Godel
  • Crapout Doit under Richard Burnouf
  • Gorroic under Gilbert de La Hougue

The same Gilbert de La Hougue also farmed the revenues of Guernsey in this year himself, as he had done in 1179, apparently then through a deputy, Robert de Haverlant (Havilland). Guernsey formed the equivalent of one ministerium, but it appears certain that Sark, and probable that Alderney, were not included therein.

Other islands

Sark and Alderney had been granted to Mont St Michel circa 1042, but were resumed later by the Crown and granted to lay holders. In the rolls of 1195 there is an entry of 7L for balance of corn in Serc under the heading of escheats of the Bailiwick of the Cotentin, following upon the account of the sale of the woods of Richard de Vernon, Lord of Nehou, who had held Sark since before 1180, as had his father William before him.

In this account the charges of three men sent to the Islands to look into escheats were allowed. Richard de Vernon recovered his estates later. We know, from a charter of his passed in Sark in 1196, that his revenue from that island was the considerable sum of 80L, money of Anjou, and that he had a minister of his own there. The explanation why a great baron, such as Richard de Vernon, should visit Sark in 1196, is probably that it was his safest refuge just then. Following upon his private treaty with the King of France in 1195, by which he ceded his fief of Vernon in Normandy to France, his estates in Normandy and England were seized by Richard I. Also he was having trouble with his creditor the Jewish usurer Josce, son of Abraham, who in 1195 paid the Exchequer a fee of 1 mark of gold (20L) in connection with the recovery of this debt.

William L'Engineour (Latinized Willelmtts Artifex) was almost certainly lord of Alderney in 1180. He probably died shortly before 1198, in which year the Bailiff of the Cotentin accounted for 35L 15s yield of the land of Wm Enginneor. Probably then Sark and Alderney formed part of the Continental bailiwick in which lay the chief estates of their lords.

Of the smaller islands of the Channel group, Chausey was held by the Abbey of Mont St Michel at this period and for long after it was probably a dependency of Jersey, as Ecrehou certainly was, since this islet, then probably much larger than the present sea-eroded remnants, formed part of the fief of Pierre des Preaux 23 years later. Mont St. Michel also held Jethou and Lihou. Herm had been granted to the Abbey of Cherbourg in this reign. Probably these three islands were dependencies of Guernsey.

It is not certain that Brecqhou was held by the de Vernons with Sark, since in 1309 Lucia de Vinchelez, wife of John de Carteret, (her family was already settled in Jersey before 1180), claimed it as her ancestors' from time immemorial. The fact that Alan de Vinchelez was a witness to one of William de Vernon's charters regarding Sark, circa 1174, suggests the possibility that Alan held Brecqhou as a sub-tenant. Burhou, Les Minquiers, and the other islets seem not to have been mentioned so early.

The writer has used in this paper the title minister for the officials who administered these districts called ministeria, on the analogy of the titles vicecomes and ballivus for the administrators of a vicecomitatus or a ballia, but in the rolls themselves the title minister is not actually applied to those officials in Jersey. Perhaps the word minister may have been used at times for any Crown official, without implying the performance of any specific functions, but a precept of Henry I, quoted by Stapleton, speaks of vice-comitibus et prsepositis et ministris suis in quorum ministeriis which suggests that the word was then used to designate the holder of a special office.

It appears clear that during Henry II's reign the new term ballia became the usual name for an administrative district of Normandy, and ballivus the title of its chief officer. On the whole it seems probable that the ministri were identical in functions with the later ballivi, and that the use of the word ministerium, instead of ballia, in Jersey in 1180 was the survival here of an earlier term. For Guernsey the term ministeriurn is not used in the rolls, and we know, from the Act of the Court below mentioned, that the farmer of the revenues there in 1179 styled himself vicecomes. So that it would appear that the titles minister, vicecomes and ballivus, were sometimes borne by officials with identical functions.

Role of ministri

We may take it as certain that these ministri in Jersey were not merely farmers and collectors of the revenues, but were the chief administrative officers of their districts, in fact that their functions were of the same kind as those of the single Bailiff of the Island a century later, though their status probably was somewhat lower. As representative of the Crown each minister doubtless held his court, and exercised jurisdiction in cases that were not within the powers of the manorial courts on the one hand, or reserved for the higher courts of the Duchy on the other.

This is no longer mere conjecture, since Colonel de Guerin has kindly called the writer's attention to an act of the Royal Court (Curia Regis) of Guernsey in 1179, which is by far the earliest known act of a court in these Islands; from this we see that the court was presided over, and the act sealed, by Gilbert de La Hougue, the farmer of the revenues above mentioned. Analogy authorises us to assume that there were three Royal Courts in Jersey, one for each ministerium, in place of the single Royal Court of the next century and since.

Whether these courts had Jurats in thc 12th century remains an open question; neither the rolls, nor the act of 1179, mention them, but it would be rash to argue from negative evidence that the Jurats did not then exist, especially in the case of the rolls, as these are strictly concise business documents, mentioning matters of finance and nothing else. We observe, however, that the act of 1179 is signed by a number of persons in addition to the parties, and these may have been Jurats.

Regarding the jurisdiction of these 12th century courts, it is clear that this was strictly limited, since all three of the ministri were fined for exceeding their powers. By 1309 the Royal Courts claimed and exercised much more extensive powers, not however without opposition on the part of the Crown. It seems evident that the separation of 1204, by removing the Islands from the jurisdiction of the higher courts of the Duchy, enhanced the power and dignity of the local courts.

We will now take the three ministeria of Jersey in order and see what can be found out about them, and about the men and places mentioned in the entries relating to each of them.

Ministerium de Groceio

This is certainly the latinized form of Gruchy or Grouchy, as, both in these rolls and in early charters, we find the Latin forms de Groceio or de Grocei used for the Norman surname de Grouchy or de Gruchy, and for the places in Normandy, among others Gruchy in the Cotentin, from which the surname was derived.

Modern writers have made a needless confusion of this surname with that of the Norman family de Gruchet (de Groceto), also often mentioned in these rolls, who have left their name to the Fief de la Gruchetterie in Jersey, and even with the Jersey surname Grossier, which arc perfectly distinct names. This confusion is not the fault of the mediaeval scribes, whose spelling was fairly accurate. It was later, in the 16th and 17th centuries, that slovenly spelling became so general that names are most difficult to identify: witness the Extentes of 1528 and 1607. Stapleton's identifications of Groceium, first with Grosnez and then with Grantez, are but bad guesses, the worse because of his correct identification of the same name with Grouchy in the same notes.

There is nothing to connect the parish of St Ouen, in which Grosnez and Grantez are situated, with this ministerium. It seems probable that this ministerium, like that of Crapout Doit, took its name from that of an earlier minister who had held it. The father of the present writer, many years ago in the course of his researches among early Norman archives, noted a reference to "Hugo de Groceio minister Domini Regis" in Jersey AD lO89. The source of this note is most unfortunately lost, but if substantiated we have here a probable origin of the name of this ministerium.

The king must have been William Rufus, who thus would be proved to have held Jersey in this year. The surname de Gruchy in Jersey has been common in Trinity parish since 1300 at least; indeed was almost confined to that parish in early times. Also the Fief de Gruchy is in the same parish. There is a most significant entry in the Assize Rolls of 1309 concerning this fief, called "As Grouchees", to the effect that its tenants had to provide a house on the fief for the custody of the prisoners of the parishes of St John, St Laurence, St Helier and Trinity. This clearly points to there having been some administrative union between these four parishes, at some past time, in connection with the name Gruchy.

Other Island fiefs owed service of prison - Ponterrin in Trinity, La Hague in St Peter, the Franc Fief in St Brelade, and Anneville in St Martin - but unfortunately the Rolls of 1309 do not specify from what districts these prisoners came, except in the case of Anneville, where only prisoners taken on that fief were concerned.

Roger Godel, the minister, bore a surname found in Jersey in the records of the following century and a half. In a charter of Philippe d'Aubigny, circa 1218, O Godel figures as a witness with others of the chief Jersey families. This family gave its name to the Fief es Godeus, mentioned in the Extente of 1274, which is called Fief es Godeaus in that of 1311, when William, son of William Godel, held it, and was in Trinity; also to the Fief de la Godeliere, in St Helier, mentioned in the Extente of 1831, and called in that of 1274, the Fief de Nicolas Godel. The later bearers of this name have not been influential in the Island. Roger Godel appears to have held office until 1198 at least.

We will now take the ten items of account of this ministerium, one by one:-

  • Account and quittance for 25I 15s, balance of arrears of farm paid in to the Treasury. Farm is used in this article in its strict sense for a lump sum paid for the right to collect taxes, not in its modern sense of an agricultural holding.
  • Account of the farm of the year, 140L, of which 133L 8s had been paid in, and 4L 4s. remained owing. The balance of 2L 8s, value of 8 quarters of wheat, had been allowed to the Abbey of the Holy Trinity at Caen, as "statute alms". This procedure was in accordance with the rule of book-keeping of the Norman Exchequer, that the total annual farm was left unchanged year by year, and that any grants made by the Ducal Crown in land or rente had their corresponding revenues allowed as a deduction to the farmer, to whom the beneficiaries had to produce their charters. The Abbey of Caen had received grants in various parts of Jersey, so that their identification is difficult, and we find the Abbey figuring as a grantee in all three ministeria. We know that in 1309 the Abbess received a rente of 24 quarters of wheat due upon 24 acres of land in Trinity, and produced to the Justices Itinerant a charter of William the Conqueror, granting the then Abbess land which one of the succeeding Abbesses of Caen had subsequently leased to tenants for the yearly rente of 24 quarters. The 8 quarters of 1180 were almost certainly the proportion of the farm due upon this land, or upon part of it.
  • Account for 12L 15s, balance of old amercements - 9L 15s paid in - Gislebertus Imperator still owed 60s. If the amount overdue by this Gilbert Lempriere was an ordinary amercement for a contravention of law, it conveys nothing positive to us as to his parish. But if it were a fine on succession, and elsewhere in these rolls fines and reliefs occur in the same items as amercements, there is then a remarkable agreement with the full relief (60s) payable in 1274 on the fief of William Lempriere (Willelmus Imperator) in St Helier, and the full relief payable in 1309 by Ralph Lempriere on a carucate in St Helier, evidently the same fief. By 1331 this fief, called " es smpereres," had been reduced to half a carucate, and paid half relief (30 s). In any case the early Lemprieres in Jersey, the one ofl274 and the several mentioned in 1309, were all of St. Helier's parish. This surname is of course a well known Norman one, occurring in other parts of the Duchy in these rolls .
  • Account and quittance for 100s, for fine imposed upon the minister himself for having taken part in settling a case of maiming, thus infringing the prerogative of the Duke, to whose higher courts alone the jurisdiction in such cases of felony belonged.
  • Willelmus Legalitien rendered account for 6L. for his relief, 4L paid in and 2L still due. This is one of the forms of the old Jersey surname Gallichan. It was borne in the early Middle Ages by a family of importance as the double relief above shews, though later it ceased to be influential. Willelmus Le Galicien, quite possibly the same man as the above, had been accused of treason between 1212 and 1234, as we learn from a close letter of 1236. Ralph Galitan was a hostage for the Islands in 1214, if de ln Croix is correct. R. Galleto was a witness circa 1218, and Ralph Galician served on an inquest in 1254. In a close letter of 1241 we find a Ralph Gallichan, probably the same man, mentioned, whose wife Jeanne, of noble Norman family, had property in St Laurence and Grouville, and their son Robert was still trying to get this property in 1305, but unfortunately no indication of the parish in which these Gallichans had their own patrimony is recorded. In the Assize Rolls of 1309, we find a Ralph, son of Henry Gallicien, holding a petty fief, on which he had a dovecot, a proof of the present or past standing of the holders, in St Laurence. This is probably the fief La Forniore, held by Richard Gallicen in 1331. We can get no certain indication of the situation of the large fief on which relief was due in 1180, but St Laurence is the only parish in which we know the bearers of this name as holders of a fief at all.
  • Matilda de Sulleville rendered account and got quittance for 40s, fine and relief due on her land. This surname does not seem to occur again in Jersey, so we cannot identify her fief. The surname de Sulleville does not occur elsewhere in Normandy in these rolls, which suggests the possibility that it may be a copyist's error for de Sureville, the name of a Jersey family holding the Fief de Surville, in the parishes of St Helier and St John, from 1200 to 1274 at least.
  • Robert son of Vital accounted, and got quittance, for 50s, balance of fine on the chattels of his dead brother, an usurer. Similar fines on the death of an usurer are found in the rolls for other parts of Normandy, since by law his chattels escheated to the Crown. The names are not traceable, but if St Helier were already a town at this period there is some probability that a moneylender, or trader selling on credit, would be living in a town.
  • Roger Godel rendered account, and got quittance, for 26s 4d, yield of the land of Ricardi Normanni, who had been hanged. Norman and Payn are old Jersey surnames, too common to give much evidence of their probable parishes, but the earliest Payns known were in St Laurence and St Clement.
  • Richard Normant owed for having a record of a single combat. We learn that this mode of settling disputes prevailed here, as elsewhere in Normandy. He was evidently not the same man as his namesake above, and must have been a man of some rank, as the lower classes did not fight out their disputes in this manner. We do not find bearers of this name of any standing in the early Extentes, but Colin Norman was one of the hostages for the Islands in 1214, and therefore a man of standing, if the transcript of an order given by de La Croix is correct.
  • Roger Godel had quittance for 4L 4s, balance of the farm as above mentioned, now paid in to the Treasury.

The result of the above examination is that the ministerium included Trinity, and that there are indications that St Helier and St Laurence were included therein, while some connection with that of St John is suggested.

Ministerium de Crapout Doit

While this name is certainly in its origin a place name, it appears likely that the ministerium was named from some former minister, as we find the surname existing in Jersey as de Crapedoit in the Assize Rolls of 1309, de Crapoutdoit in the Extente of 1331, and de Crapedot, doubtless a corruption of the same, in that of 1274. Place names derived from proper names are very common in Jersey, but of course the reverse is possible, ie that the surname arose from the ministerium. We find an allusion this minisierium in a charter of sale by Jourdain de Barneville to the Abbey of St Helier of one carucate in confine de Crapoudoit. This charter must be dated between 1151 and 1170. Unfortunately it does not give the parish. The Abbey still held this carucate in 1236, as a mention in the calendar of charters sbows. The Abbot of Cherbourg, with which Abbey St. Helier had been incorporated, received large rentes in St Laurence in 1309, and in the pleas of Quo Warranto of that year, he alleged that these rentes were the yield of leases of the marsh of St Helier. Probably this marsh was so called from its owners, the Abbey of St Helier, not because it lay in that parish.

We observe that St Lawrence, and the marsh therein, lie "on the boundary" of St Peter, which is in the ministerium of Crapout Doit, if our identification of its situation be correct as stated below. But it must be admitted that we can hardly identify the marsh of St Helier with the carucate, since they were confirmed separately by Henry II, though the Abbot in 1309 may well have lumped the two grants together, since he did not produce the charter of Jourdain de Barneville, so evidently was unaware that it existed in his cartulary. The surname de Crapedoit occurs in 1274 in St Peter; in 1309 we find it in St Brelade and St Clement, and in 1331 in St Peter and St Clement.

The St Clement family was of some importance and held half of the Carucate du Homet, which holding was afterwards called Fief de Crapedouet. They did not hold it, however, until long after 1180.

Richard Burnouf (Burnulfus), the minister, bore a typical old Norman surname, found in these rolls in other parts of the Duchy, His name occurs as a witness to a charter of a grant of land in the Val de La Mare by Reginald de Carteret, probably of about 1180, doubtless passed in Jersey. Among other Jersey names: William the priest of St Ouen, William de Salinelles, William de Vinchelez, William de St Helier, Roger Horman and William Fondan. In the Greffe copies of charters we find mention of a Hugh Burnouf, son of Richard Bnrnouf, in 1234, very likely the son of the minister, and a Philip Burnouf a tenant of the Fief de Noirmont, in 1269. In the Assize Rolls of 1309 we find mention of a Robert Burnouf in Grouville, apparently a fisherman, while in the Extente of 1331 we find William Burnouf holding one bovate in St Lawrence, and mention of a petty "fief es Burnous" in tho same parish, Evidently the bearers of this name ceased to have any standing in the Island after the middle of the 13th century. Richard Burnouf seems to have retained office at least until 1198, as his name appears in the rolls of that year .

Under the ministerium. of Crapout Doit, eight items of account appear:

  • Richard Burnouf rendered account, and got quittance, for 22L 19s arrears of farm now paid in.
  • He rendered account for 160L farm of the year, of which he paid in to the Treasury 143L 10s and still owed 9L. The balance consisted of two allowances, for statute alms to the Abbey of the Holy Trinity at Caen 60s, the equivalent of 10 quarters of wheat, and for statute tithe to the Abbey of Mont St Michel 4L 10s.

As already observed, the possessions of the Abbey of Caen were widely distributed about the Island, so that the identification of these 10 quarters of wheat is difficult. In the pleas of Quo Warranto in 1309, the Abbess claimed as of old a grant by William the Conqueror of the bod of two freemen, a mill (Moulin de Ponterrin), and a grant, confirmed by thc same Duke, of the lands and tithes of Raynold his chaplain. We have seen above that part at least of this land can be identified as being in Trinity, but the fief of the Abbess of Caen as we find it in later times extended into the parishes of Trinity, St Martin and St John, aud in 1309 she took part of the tithes of St Peter, St Mary, Grouville, St Helier, St Ouen, St Brelade, St Clement and St Martin.

Unless some charter should throw a light upon the grant of which this allowance of 10 quarters was based, it appears hopeless to locate the land concerned. If the tithe to the Abbey of Mont St Michel was on specific lands, the choice is a little less complicated. We know of this Abbey taking half the tithe of the Church of St Ouen only, as claimed in the pleas of Quo Warranto of 1309, and might possibly identify this tithe with that of 1180, except for the fact that we know that the advowson of this church and the tithe were granted, not by the Duke, but by Philip de Carteret in 1167/8. In an earlier grant in 1125 to the same Abbey by Reginald de Carteret, Philip's father, we find mention of terra de elemosyna Regis que est Saneti Germani in Gerseio, as given with the Church of St Germain de Carteret.

It is not stated where this land lay. but presumably on the fief of St Ouen, whose seigneurs also held the fief de Carteret on the mainland. It seems a just possible solution to identify the allowance of 1180 with the original Crown dues upon this land.

In 1329 the Abbot, through the Prior of Suulement his representative, still claimed this 4L 10s, from the King's Receiver.

Mont St Michel held other property in 1180, the Priory of St Clement, in the parish of that name, a grant of Duke Richard II in 1025/6, the Chapel of Ste Marie de Lecq, in St Ouen, a de Carteret grant, and probably the Fief de Noirmont in St Brelade, but the date of acquisition of this last is uncertain, since in 1309 the Abbot could not produce the charter, nor remember which King or Duke had granted it, though he stated that his Abbey acquired the fief in exchange for its holdings in Alderney, resumed by the Crown.

Dupont's statement that Noirmont was granted in 1254 is incorrect, since Philippe d'Aubigny had confirmed it to the Abbey circa 1218, and the Abbey had held it in John's reign. The Abbey may well have held it for long before, since Alderney was probably resumed before 1087, and was in lay hands by 1180. In any case the expression decima tithe, can hardly apply to these holdings. On the whole the evidence, such as it is, rather points to St. Ouen.

  • Account and quittance for the 9L balance of farm due as above, now paid in.
  • Account rendered for balance of old amercements, 16L 19s. Paid in 14L 9s. Balance due 50s; 20s, by William the priest, and 30s, by Eudes Azor. If the charter of Reginald de Carteret, mentioned above, is correctly dated about 1180, then the William priest of St Ouen, who witnessed it with Richard Burnouf, was very likely the same man as this William the priest. In 1167 we know that Stephen was priest of this parish. As for Eudes Azor, this surname cannot be traced as surviving in the Island, so nothing can be learned from it.
  • Account rendered for 6L and 12d, balance of chattels of "Galfredi Ponheri". Paid in 12d. Still owing by Robert Merlin, Dean of the Island, 6L. We cannot trace this Geoffrey Ponher, but his surname occurs elsewhere in Normandy in these rolls, and there is no reason to suspect this to be a mistake for Poignart, Poingdestre, or Pontrel, as these surnames are quite clearly given elsewhere in these rolls. As for Dean Robert Merlin, his surname occurs in several parts of Normandy in the rolls, but does not seem to have survived in Jersey. Apparently this man is the first recorded Dean of Jersey. Presumably it was as representative of the Bishop of Coutances, president of the Ecclesiastical Court having jurisdiction over chattels of the dead , that he became liable for these chattels.
  • "Unfredus Presbyter de Mara" rendered account for 30s for balance of fine for chattels of Ranulph de Lestac, and got quittance. The first name doubtless means Humphrey de La Mare, priest. The surname de la Mare is an old Jersey one. In the Assize Rolls of 1309, we find William de la Mare (de Mara) holding half a carucate in St Mary, and in 1331 we find in the Extente that Jourdain de la Mare held the Fief Gounouare (Ganoire), and Colin de la Mare was on the jury, both in the same parish. Ranulph de Lestac bore a name that suggests an origin from L'Etac (in old documents l'Estac) in St Ouen. This surname does not seem to have survived in Jersey, though it did in Guernsey, as seen by the Assize Rolls of 1309.
  • Richard Burnouf rendered account, and got quittance for 10s for the terra Robelinorum. We can safely identify this land of the Robelins with the Fief de Robelinoys mentioned in the Extente of 1274, which we know from a petition to Edward III was in St Mary. In the Assize Rolls of 1309 we find also two allusions to heredes as Robelins and participes as Robelins, in this parish. The surnnme Robelin occured in the same parish in 1309 - Willinm son of Nicolas Robeleyn and Robert Robelyn. It has left its name to the present house called "La Robeline" in the neighbouring parish of St Ouen. The place Robelines in Jersey, mentioned in a close letter of 1218/9, is no doubt the same as the above mentioned land.
  • Richard Burnouf rendered account of a fine of 20L, of which sum he paid in 10L leaving 10L due, imposed upon him quia fecit concordiam de juditio ferri sine assensu Justiciae, or perhaps Justiciarum; ie for having made an agreement for ordeal by hot iron without the assent of Justice, or of the Justices. This entry shows that the ancient ordeal as a test of guilt was still in use in Jersey in 1180; it was only abolished by the Lateran decrees 35 years later. This fine was evidently imposed upon the minister for infringing the Ducal prerogative of jurisdiction in cases of felony, but the wording is more explicit than that of the similar entries in the accounts of the other two ministeria and of Guernsey. Presumably the Justice or Justices, without whose assent the minister acted, can only have been tho Justices Itinerant at the Assizes, which we know from a Letter Patent of Henry III (1218), had been held in these Islands in Henry II's reign. The fines were doubtless imposed by the Barons of the Court of the Exchequer.

The result of our examination of the evidence is that St Mary certainly, also St Ouen and St Peter with some probability, were included in the ministerium of Crapout Doit.

One item we should expect to find in these rolls, and under this ministeriurn if this identification be correct, is the relief payable by Reginald de Carteret of St Ouen, whose father Philip had recently died. It may have been accounted for in 1178 or 1179, but there is a more probable explanation of this omission. Among various items of account in the Cotentin in this year 1180 we find Reginald de Carteret debited 64L for balance of fine on his father's land, of which sum he paid in 33L 10 s and owed 30L 10s. It seems probable that this large fine covered both his land at Carteret and in Jersey. Confirmatory evidence is that we do not find any reliefs payable in Jersey by any other of the great houses holding lands both on the continent and in the Island, those of de Barneville, de Sottevast, de Briquebec, de Magneville, de Vauville de la Haye, and d'Ourville, for instance.

Possibly none of these incurred relief in 1180. But there is positive evidence of this practice in the rolls of 1198, where we find the yield of the land of Baldwin Wac in Guernsey accounted for by Robert de Sainte Marie Eglise, not in his accounts for Guernsey which he then farmed, but as a separate item among miscellaneous entries. The custody of the lands of the heirs of William de Magneville in 1198 appears in that year but we have no Jersey accounts of 1198 with which to compare this item. It is evident that, if the suggested practice of paying relief in a lump sum where the chief estates lay was usual, the revenue from the Island was considerably larger than appears in their accounts.

Ministerium de Gorroic

In this case we have no need to speculate about the name of the ministerium, since Gorroic, with some slight variants, is the regular early mediaeval form of Gorey, the port in St Martin and the site of the Royal Castle in the next century.

Of Gilbert de La Hougue, the minister, we know that he witnessed three charters of grants in Jersey, by Roger son of Ranulf in 1156, by Richard Bishop of Coutances in about 1168, and by Jourdain de Barneville, above mentioned, in 1151/1179. This last charter was also witnessed by Robert de Haverlant, Gilbert's deputy in Guernsey. Further we find his name and seal appended to the act of the Royal Court of Guernsey in 1179, above mentioned.

His surname was borne by a family influential in Jersey from the earliest records until the end of the 15th century. Robert de la Hougue was one of the witnesses to the charter of Philippe d'Aubigny, c1218, above mentioned. We find this surname borne by many in the Extentes of 1274 and 1331, and in the Assize Rolls of 1309, in various parts of the Island, but the most important holdings were in the eastern parishes, where the bearers held the fief of Everard in St Martin, es Philippes, and, through marriage probably with a Malet, La Malletiere, in Grouville, as well as a franc fief in St Saviour.

Gilbert de la Hougue, minister of Gorroic and Guernsey, as we gather from his having witnessed a charter in 1156, was elderly in 1180, and he had either died, or had lost one of his two offices, by 1195, as in that year Robert de Sainte Marie Eglise had the farm of Guernsey.

There are nine items of account under the ministerium of Gorroic:

  • Gilbert de la Hougue rendered account and got quittance for 9L 10s, balance of arrears of farm.
  • He then rendered account for 160L farm of the year, of which he paid in 147L 10s, and owed 50s. The balance was made up by allowances of 7L. statute tithe, and 10 quarters of wheat on mills taken at 60s, statute alms, both to the Abbey of the Holy Trinity at Caen. In this case we can positively identify this grant with that claimed by the Abbess of Caen in the pleas of Quo Warranto in 1309, amounting to the same total of 7L plus 60s, though the component parts are differently stated as 7L 10s, and 50s. These sums the Abbess claimed as due to her Abbey from time immemorial, but could not produce a charter for the grant. It is quite clear that the 50s was due upon the Moulin de Malet in Grouville, and that the 7L 10s was payable by the King's Receiver, but in this latter case no indication is given as to the land or district upon which the tithe was due; doubtless this had long been forgotten.
  • Next he rendered account and got quittance for 4L 14s, balance of relief of Roger Part Wastel. We cannot trace this name in the Island, and "Part" may be a copyist's error, but Wastel was a Norman surname, eg Hugo Wastel, one of the farmers of Rouen in the same year.
  • Next he rendered account, and got quittance for 27s, balance of chattels of Robert Malet, and for 30s, for fruit of the garden of Robert Malet while it was in the King's hands. There can be little doubt that this Robert Malet who had incurred a forfeiture was of the ancient family of Malet of La Malletiere in Grouville. It is probable that he was the same Robert Malet who is mentioned in 1223 as having died in the time of Hasculf de Suligny'a government, 1205-1212, whose son William Mallet was appealing to the King for the return of his father's fief, believed to be La Malletiere, confiscated by Hasculf on Robert's death while William was a hostage for his father in England.
  • Next he rendered account for 14L 3s, balance of old amercements, paid in 13L 13s and owed 10s, due by Waldrain, We cannot trace this name.
  • Next he rendered account and got quittance for 8s for the bovate of land of Richard Helduin, recovered by jury. All trace of thc name Helduin appears to be lost, so we cannot tell where this bovate of land lay. This entry is the only one in the Islands concerning "purprestures", or encroachments upon the Crown demesne, which, when recovered by the verdict of a jury, it was the rule of the Exchequer to include in the rolls as a separate item, not in the lump sum of the farm. Many such encroachments are mentioned in the Assize Rolls of l309. It is worth remark that the rent of the bovate, 8s, was in 1180 the same as we find by the Extente of l331 that many bovates paid then.
  • Next he rendered account for a fine imposed upon himself of 7L for having taken part in settling a case of maiming; he paid in 70s, and still owed 70s.
  • Finally he paid in and got quittance for the balance of 50s due for the farm of this year, as stated above.

The result of the above evidence is that the parishes of St Martin and Grouville were certainly in the ministerium of Gorroic.


The final conclusion of the writer with regard to these ministeria is that Groceium included the four middle parishes of Trinity, St John, St Lawrence and St Helier; Crapout Doit the four western parishes of St Ouen, St Mary, St Peter and St Brelade, and Gorroic the four eastern parishes of St Martin, Grouville, St Saviour and St Clement.

Alternative theory

There is an alternative theory that these ministeria did not include the whole Island, but only the Crown Demesne lands, excluding the lands of the seigneurs. This view seems to have been held as early as 1682 by Jean Poingdestre, but is inadmissible for several reasons: (a) The form of administration shown by these rolls does not make it at all probable that such small fiefs were outside of the general administrative scheme of the whole Duchy, indeed the policy of the reforms of Henry I and II makes the existence of such exceptions incredible. (b) The ministri collected relief from the seigneurs of fiefs (c) The Bailiff, successor to the ministri in the next century, was certainly the chief administrative officer for the whole Island, and (d) The hearth tax (focagium, fumagium, monetngium), part of the ancient revenue of the Norman Dukes, was payable both by the tenants of the King and of the seigneurs, with certain exceptions, as proved by the Extente of 1331, and by the yield in parishes where the Demesne lands were small or none, and by the pleas of Quo Warranto in 1309.

As we see from these pleas, the Abbot of Cherbourg was the only seigneur in Jersey who received this tax, but he claimed only that the proportion collected by the King's Bailiff on his fief should be returned to him. The Abbot could not produce a charter to support this claim. In Guernsey the Abbot of Mont St Michel received this tax in a similar manner, but only as a Royal grant, not of right as a seigneur. We cannot doubt that the ministri collected this tax in a similar manner in Henry II's reign, though it was not accounted for in 1180, being only due once in three years.


One observes that, on their present measurements, these divisions would have areas: Crapout Doit some 3,800 vergees more than Groceium, and this some 4,300 vergees more than Gorroic, while the amount paid for farms is not in proportion. The large extent of waste in Crapout Doit would partly explain this, as would the greater density of population in Gorroic, on the basis of the hearth tax returns of 1331, when Gorroic had the largest return, the other two divisions being about equal.

But these explanations do not fully meet the difficulty. An examination of the details of that part of these revenues which was received by the later kings, after the separation of Normandy from England, shows that the old ferme or rente censive gave the following yields in the Extentes of 1274 and 1331: Groceium 31L, Crapout Doit 84L, Gorroic, 121L, showing a far greater discrepancy than in 1180, due to the fact that the parishes of Trinity, St Helier, St John, St Ouen, and St Clement contributed little or nothing under this head.

Doubtless the explanation of the poor yields of these parishes lies largely in the grants made by John and Henry III out of their revenues in the Island. Three known grants, namely that to the annual value of 20L in St Helier to the Abbey of Bellozanne; that to the value of 60L in Trinity to Droge de Barentin; and that to the value of 20L in St Ouen and St Peter to Philippe d'Aubigny, go far towards equalising the proportions with those ruling in 1180.

But still we do not see why Groceium was assessed at such a low figure in 1180. An explanation would be that the revenues were chiefly derived from the Demesne lands, and that these were irregularly distributed over the Island. But an examination of the vingtaines (in some cases called cueillettes, ie collectorates), into which Jersey has from ancient times been divided for fiscal purposes, throws a different light upon this subject.

In the list in Falle's History of 1694, before modern redistributions, these vingtaines were 52 in number, of which 16 in Groceium, 18 in Crapout Doit, and 18 in Gorroic. Now these numbers are almost in exact proportion to the farms of these mimisteria in 1180, Groceium only being 2L 4s 5d below its correct proportion. But as the farms were in round figures, the proportion is practically exact. This can hardly be a mere coincidence, and is a confirmation of the division of the parishes into ministeria made above.

Moreover this fact would appear to point to the original farms having been fixed upon the basis of so much per vingtaine, or, what is much the same thing if we take the accepted theory that the vingtaines were originally groups of 20 households, at so much per house. The figure on this basis would be 8s 10d per house, which agrees fairly well with the fact that in 1331 the ordinary holding of a tenant, one bovate, paid dues averaging 8s 5d. We have here an indication that the Crown revenues at an earlier period, perhaps much before 1180, may well have been based upon a house tax, and not chiefly derived from the Demesne lands, and that the total figures for farm had been maintained in spite of subsequent changes in the population of the districts.


We are able to draw some other deductions from these entries in the rolls. For one thing it appears certain that the ministri were not officials sent from Caen, but Jerseymen, belonging to land-holding families of the Island, as they bore Jersey surnames, and the Godel and de la Hougue families in the the next century held fiefs in the same districts as we have attributed to the ministeria farmed by their namesakes in 1180: We cannot tell whether their posts were hereditary or not.

Then the minieteria were certainly not dependencies of any bailiwick or viscounty in the Cotentin. But perhaps the most valuable deduction, historically speaking, is from the fact that the whole allowances off the farm for Crown grants gave a total of only 19L 18s to two Abbeys. In other divisions of the Duchy there were large allowances to the farmers of payments out - for building and repair of castles, pay of soldiers and their provisions, expenses of the Crown officials and their salaries, support of leper houses, building and repair of bridges and roads, maintenance of gaols, the execution of justice - among many other items of expenditure connected with the defence and administration of the Duchy.

We must deduce from the omission of any such entries in the Jersey accounts that the Island had then neither any castles nor any paid military garrison. Indeed in 1180 the feudal levies probably provided amply for the defence of the Island, situated as it was far from the frontiers and the war zones of Henry II's wide dominions. The ministri made their profits out of the difference between the taxes collected and the farm paid, and it would seem that there were no other paid Crown officials. It appears that the Treasury took the whole nett revenue of the Island, and spent nothing out in return, unless there were subsequent payments out of the Treasury by writ, of which there is no evidence.

Doubtless, according to rule, the ministri had to give pledges for the payment of the farms, but in 1180 they had paid up iu full; unfortunately for us, as otherwise we might have learned the names of their sureties. From the fact that all three ministri were heavily fined for infringing upon the jurisdiction of higher courts, one may deduce that they found this practice profitable enough to warrant the risk of such fines. It seems quite possible that the fines and charges of their own courts went into their pockets, and that the fines that they accounted for were those imposed at the Assizes.

Ducal revenues

Now we will consider the amount of the Ducal revenues in Jersey, the items of which have been stated above, with Guernsey given for comparison, as follows:-

Groceium Crapout Doit Gorroic Total Jersey Guernsey
Farm 140 - - 160 - - 160 - - 460 - - 240 - -
Sundries 31 1 4 45 - - 29 2 - 105 3 4 80 3 -
Totals 171 1 4 205 - - 189 2 - 565 3 4 230 3 -

After deducting the allowances of 19L 18s, the nett revenue of Jersey was 545L 5s 4d. We may compare the farm of 460L with that of some other divisions of the Duchy: Cherbourg 150L 10s, Valognes 153L, Brix 200L, the Vicomte de Cerences 150L, the Vicomte du Cotentin 70L, the Vicomte de Coutances 50L, and on the other hand, with the farm of Rouen, one of the most important cities in Europe, which was 3,000L.

It will be seen that the farm of Jersey was comparatively quite substantial. The real gross income was greater than the farms, since the farmers had to make their profits out of it. But it is in the sundry revenue that Jersey shows up badly. Amercements, which gave a large yield on the Continent, here gave only 75L 17s, of which sum fines imposed upon the ministri themselves amounted to 32L.

Encroachments, a large source of revenue on the Continent, yielded 8s only. Either or both of two explanations meet this case: that the Islanders were more law abiding, or that the laws were more laxly enforced than on the Continent. Then we find that some Continental sources of revenue yielded nothing in Jersey, eg pasturage of pigs and cattle in the Crown forests, sale of wood from same, rent of stalls in markets, yield of fairs, dues on shipping, excise of wine, treasure trove - unless indeed some of these sources were covered by the fixed farm.

It is clear that the dues on drying fish (esperkeria) in Guernsey were included in the farm, since 25L were allowed to Vital de la Ville from this source by Royal letter in 1195 and in 1198. We know that Vital received 25L from Jersey also, making a total for the Islands of 50L, under a grant of Richard 1; so no doubt these dues were also included in the farm of Jersey, though we cannot tell how the collection was divided between the three ministeria.

We can estimate the total revenue of 1180 in present-day money by converting it into wheat, the staple food then as now, and so getting at the purchasing power of the ancient money. Assuming that the present Jersey quarter of wheat (of 256 Jersey ponnds) has remained practically unchanged since Norman times, as is probably the case, we find that the wheat for the Abbeys in 1180 was valued at 6s per quarter in Jersey, while a wheat rente in Guernsey was receivable at 4s per quarter, so that the Guernsey quarter was proportionately smaller then, as now, being only 176 Guernsey pounds.

At the price of 6s per quarter, the revenue of 545L gives us 1817 quarters. In November 1918 the quarter was worth about 70s, but this was a war price and unduly high, while on the other hand the average price of the last 50 years is too low, because it was result of "dumping" from abroad at below the cost of production here. Let us take 40s. as our basis. We then find that the revenue of 1180 was worth nett to the Exchequer the equivalent of £8684 sterling. This calculation gives a ratio of ancient money to present sterling 1:6. Other bases give a higher ratio; eg the board and clothing of a girl of good family, with her nurse and manservant, cost 18d per day in 1180. At least 12 times this sum would be needed now. Jersey then was by no means an insignificant part of the Duke's dominions.

Size and wealth of population

There is nothing in these figures to prove that the Island had in 1180 a small and poor population, as has been assumed by some historians. Seeing that agriculture was then the support of the great bulk of the population of civilized Europe, and that Jersey possesses a considerable area of some of the best arable land to be found in any country, the contrary assumption is much more reasonable. It is hard to see why Jersey in the peaceful times of 1180 should have had a materially smaller population than in 1331, after more than a century of wars and invasions.

We can calculate the population in 1331 fairly closely from the hearth tax estimates in the extente. These total 93L 5s at 12d per house = 1,865 houses at 5 persons per house = 9,325 persons. To this total must be added the exempted classes and their families, and the poor whose goods were below the taxable limit. We conclude that the population was upwards of 11,000 souls, a dense population for the Middle Ages, but one well within the resources of the Island to feed.

By comparing the revenues of 1180 with these shown by the extentes of 1274 and 1331, we find that they had dwindled considerably since the earlier date, doubtless due to the fact that the Kings, while increasing their revenues on the one hand by confiscating the lands of adherents to the French, diminished them still more on the other hand by grants to their supporters (the de Barentine and others) who had lost their Continental estates, and by later grants to other persons.

The figures are:

  • 1274: Total fixed revenue 435L. (Less than the farm alone in ll80). Price of wheat 10s per quarter = £1740 sterling, on above basis of calculation,
  • 1331: Totals of the parishes, plus customs, 376L. Price of wheat 10s per quarter = £1,504 sterling, on the same basis.

The increase in the price of wheat is an indication of the depreciation of the currency. The quarter taken for this calculation of price is legal measure of the Island (24 tierchonniers). Some fiefs had their own measures, eg Henout had a quarter of only 16 tierchonniers legal measure, very near to the Guernsey one.

End of system

Of the beginning of this system of administration in Jersey by three ministri we know nothing, and little can be inferred as to its end. As we have seen, there is a possibility that proof may be forthcoming of the existence of a minister so early as 1089. Of the farm of the Islands before 1179, the only mention we find is in the rolls of 1180, where the heirs of William de Courcy figure as debtors for moneys due by their father, including for Robertus Agnellis 200L of the Islands, and a quantity of oats brought from the Islands.

Presumably William de Courcy, who was a great noble and seneschal of Normandy, had farmed part of the Islands through Robert des Agneanx, or had made himself responsible for the farm due by Robert, shortly before William's death in 1176. This part was probably Guernsey, as none of the farms of the three Jersey ministeria reached 200L.

As to the end of the ministeria, unfortunately in the surviving fragments of the rolls of 1184 and 1200/1, and in the incomplete rolls of 1203, as well as in the full rolls of 1195 and 1198, the accounts of Jersey do not apppar, though those of Guernsey appear in 1195 and ll98 in the same form as in 1180. From the rolls of 1198, however, we know that two of the Jersey ministri, Roger Godel and Richard Burnouf, were debtors for fines of 2L each imposed upon them for not coming to the Exchequer.

If this default refers to 1195, or had occurred for several years, it would partly at least explain the absence of Jersey accounts. We notice, en passant, that an item on this same page refers to Silvestre de Furnet, doubtless the man who held the Fief de Rosel. In 1198 the presentation of accounts was a formality, as Richard I had given the Islands as an appanage to his brother John, to whom, not to the Treasury, the nett revenue was paid, as the Guernsey accounts show.

No doubt John got the Jersey revenue also. It seems probable that the system of three ministeria ended in the early years of John's reign, either in 1200, when John granted Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney to Pierre des Preaux as a fief, or in 1204, when all connection with Continental Normandy, and all dependence upon the Exchequer, ended.

Already in 1201 a letter patent of John speaks of the ballivi, not ministri, of Pierre des Preaux in the Islands. After 1204 a revolutionary change passed over Jersey, which was no longer a peaceful and revenue producing part of the great Duchy, but had become the frontier outpost of a distant kingdom, held only by great expenditure upon its defences, while many of the old families suffered forfeit and their places were taken by newcomers. Under these conditions it is not surprising that the old institutions were remodelled.


Willelmus Artifex

Charter of Willelmus Artifex dominus Alrenon, with the assent of his son Ranulf, of grants in Alderney to the Abbey of Cherbourg. This charter has been preserved in an inspeximus and is therein dated AD 1122; this date was at first accepted as correct by Dupont, and was marked as doubtful by Round because the Abbey was founded about 1145 only. The date 1122 is impossibly early, because William and his son Ranulf were both living in l187, when they witnessed a charter of Philip de Creully to the Abbey of Cherbourg. Dupont later corrected thr date to 1222, but this again is improbably late for William to have survived. As we have seen, there is reason to believe that he was dead in 1198; also the form of the charter auggests that it was passed before the loss of Normandy in 1204. The writer suggests the date 1172, or possibly 1182, the copyist having omitted an L, or the four score marks above the XX, from the original date.

Jourdain de Barneville

Charter of Jourdain de Barneville to the Abbey of St Helier. Dupont dates this circa 1130, believing it to have been passed before Bishop Richard de Brix 1124-1131 and confirmed by Henry 1. But it seems certain that it must have been passed before Bishop Richard de Bohon 1151- 1179 and confirmed by Henry II, because several of the persons mentioned therein, Jourdain de Barneville, Benjamin Abbot of St Helier, Magister Marcherius, Gilbert de la Hougue, and Robert de Haverlant, flourished circa 1170-1180, so cannot all have been present in 1130. Round dates this charter circa 1190, but this is too late, as both Bishop Richard and Philip de Carteret, a witness, were dead in 1180, and further the Abbey was reduced to a Priory in 1184. A safe range of dates then is between 1151 and 1179, probably nearer the latter.

Reginald de Carteret

Charter of Reginald de Carteret to the Abbey of St Helier. Round does not date this, but Dupont dates it circa 1130, believing it to havo been granted by Reginald the older (who in died in, or shortly after, 1125), father of Philip, not hy his grandson Reginald, son of Philip. If the Richard Burnulf, one of tho witnesses, is not an earlier namesake of the minister who was living from 1180 to 1198, this date is much too early. It seems much more probable that this charter is of about 1180, when Reginald the younger had recently succeeded to his father Philip's estates; it might even be later than 1184, as St Helier's is not called an Abbey therein. It then seems probable that the William de Salinelles, a witness, is the man of this name who had granted a tithe on his mill in Jersey in 1218, who witnessed the charter of Philippe d' Aubigny circa 1218, above mentioned, and was dead in 1221, as all of the witnesses, with the posaible exception of Ricardus Baudouer, were Jerseymen, A further reason for distrusting the date 1130 lies in the fact that this grant is not mentioned in the confirmation by Henry II of various posessions of the Abbey, dated by Dupont circa 1154.

Manorial courts

The existence of manorial courts in Jersey before 1180 is proved by the mention of that of St Ouen in a charter of 1135. The earliest surviving act of such a court appears to be that of tbe ecclesiastical fief of St Clement in 1363, which document shows how the court was constituted. Very little can be gathered from the pleas of Quo Warranto in 1309 on this subject, but some seigneurs claimed the right of gallows, while the Crown claimed the exclusive right of judging thief or felon.

Royal Court

Apparently the earliest direct mention of a Royal Court having jurisdiction in Jersey is in a charter of 1185, whereby Reginald de Carteret desisted from an action against the Abbey, for recovery of grants made by his ancestors, brought in the King's Court (in curia domini Regis Henrici). It is not clear whether this was a Royal Court in Jersey, or the court of King Henry II himself; perhaps the latter since grants at Carteret as well as in Jersey were involved. We note that plaintiff did not sue the Abbot, as his tenant, before his own manor court.


With reference to the statute tithes of 4L 10s, and 7L. (Crapout Doit, item 2, Gorroic, item 2), on reconsideration, in view of many similar items in the rolls, we cannot maintain that these were charged upon any specific land or church, as it seems certain that they were tithes granted upon sources of revenue. The corresponding amounts of revenue then would be 45L and 70L, sums much less than the farms of the two ministeria. Either then the farms had be all lower at the dates when the grants were made, or else the tithes were granted upon part only of the farmed revenues.

Ecclesiastical Court

Crapout Doit, item 5. It appears possible that the ecclesiastical court of the Deanery of Jersey existed in 1180, and had jurisdiction over these chattels, since this court was in existence in 1291.

Demesne lands

Demesne lands of the Crown. From the extentes we know that in the 13th and 14th centuries very little land was actually in the King's hands, apart from lands held from the Crown by fixed tenures. It is highly probable that the position was similar in 1180; if so, we have a satisfactory explanation why the revenue from encroachments was so trifling, and of the absence of the revenues drawn from the Continental demesne lauds.

Rente censive

There seems every reason to believe that the main source of revenue in 1180 was ferme or rente censive, called in the extente of 1214 redditus assisus, and in that of 1331 redditus qui ab antiquo vocatur firma regis. The other ancient annual tax, qreveria, yielded 16L 4s 9d only in 1331.

Personal tools
other Channel Islands
contact and contributions

Please support Jerripedia with a donation to our hosting costs