Jersey is divided into 12 parishes. All have a coastline
Origin of crests
The 12 Parish badges evolved to commemorate the Royal visit in 1921 of King George V and Queen Mary. The badges were designed by A G Wright, assisted by Norman Rybot, who redesigned them in 1923.
- St Helier: The two axes commemorate the beheading by Saxon Pirates in AD 555 of St Helier, Patron saint of Jersey.
- Grouville: Louis XI believed that the Kings of Hungary were descended from St Martin, born in Hungary. Their arms of eight bars of red and silver were placed on the saint’s shrine in the Cathedral of Tours. Grouville’s emblem shows the full eight bars, but St Martin has only seven.
- St Brelade: Legend has it that St Brelade prayed for land whilst searching for the Islands of the Blest. An island arose from the sea on which he celebrated Easter. As he departed so did the island. It was an enormous fish sent in answer to his prayers.
- St Clement: St Clement is the Patron Saint of blacksmiths and anchorsmiths. Legend has it that he was martyred by being attached to an anchor and thrown into the Black Sea.
- St John: The Maltese Cross is the emblem of the Knights of St John at Jerusalem (Knights Hospitallers). The stylised Maltese Cross is set on a green background to recognise the old name for the Parish church, St John of the Oaks, though the church was dedicated to John the Baptist.
- St Lawrence: St Lawrence, Bishop of Rome, was martyred along with six deacons and Pope Sixtus II by being roasted alive on a gridiron. The saint is always depicted by being tied to or holding a gridiron.
- St Martin: St Martin of Tours is the Patron Saint of St martin and Grouville, which is why their badges are similar. Both badges are based on the arms of the King of Hungary. It has seven bars to distinguish it from St Martin of Grouville.
- St Mary: The lily of the Annunciation of ‘Flwur de Lys’ has always been regarded as the special flower of the Virgin Mary.
- St Ouen: St Ouen, the Patron Saint of Normandy, founded a religious community on Jersey before the Viking invasions. He is said to have seen a miraculous cross, which told him to travel from Normandy to Jersey.
- St Peter: The crossed keys of Heaven and Hell have always been the symbols of St eter. The Parish church was dedicated to St Pierre dans le Désert, recognised by the gold border to the crossed keys.
- St Saviour: The Parish church, St Sauveur de L’Épine, was dedicated to Jesus Christ. Hence, the crown and nails of the cruxifixion though ’Épine‘ means thorn and may suggest a relic of the crown of thorns.
- Trinity: The most curious of the Parish badges. The triangle obviously represents the Holy Trinity. God (deus) in the centre is (est) father (Parter), Son (Fillius) and Holy Ghost (Spiritus) whereas none of the members of the Trinity are of themselves (non est) God.
Each parish is headed by a Constable (French: Connétable; Jèrriais: Connêtabl'ye) who is elected for a three-year period by the residents of the Parish. The Constable also has a seat in the States of Jersey.
Procureur du Bien Public
The Procureur du Bien Public (two in each parish) is the legal and financial representative of the parish, elected for a three-year term as a public trustee for the funds and property of the parish and empowered to enter into contracts on behalf of the parish if authorised by a Parish Assembly.
A Roads Committee is also available to offer advice on a range of issues, chiefly related to the roads. This committee is the highway authority for parish roads in each parish. In accordance with the Loi (1914) sur la Voirie it oversees the repair and maintenance of by-roads in the parish, establishes boundary stones, examines planning applications that fall within its responsibilities, supervises refuse collection, adjudicates fines during the Visite du Branchage, and proposes new road names, when necessary, for approval by the Parish Assembly. The Constable presides over the Roads Committee, which also includes the Rector and three Principals of the Parish [five Principals for St Helier] elected for a term of three years by the Parish Assembly.
In St. Helier, the larger committee also undertakes additional non-statutory responsibilities with regard to parks and other matters, and acts as an advisory body to the Constable. By convention, the two Procureurs du Bien Public of St Helier attend meetings of the Roads Committee, but cannot vote.
The Parish Assembly elects two Roads Inspectors for each Vingtaine (or Cueillette in St Ouen) for a three-year term of office. Roads Inspectors are responsible for the repair of by-roads of the Parish and have to ensure the instructions of the Roads Committee are carried out.
There is an Honorary Police force in each parish.
Honorary Police officers have, for centuries, been elected by parishioners to assist the Constable to maintain law and order. Officers are elected as Centenier, Vingtenier or Constable's Officer each with various duties and responsibilities.
The Honorary Police were the only police in the island before the appointment of paid police officers for the Parish of Saint Helier in 1853, later to serve the whole Island.
All Honorary Police officers must live in the Parish at the time of their first election or, in the case of St Helier, be a ratepayer or mandataire of that Parish. If an officer moves out of the Parish during their term of office, they may continue their term of office with the approval of the Attorney-General and the Constable of the Parish and may stand for re-election provided there is no break in service.
A person may be nominated for election as a member of the Honorary Police if, on the day of nomination, they are at least 20 years of age and less than 70 years of age.
A Parish Assembly is the decision-making body of local government, comprising ratepayers and electors of the parish.
The Parish Assembly:
- sets the annual domestic rate according to the budget proposed by the Consstable;
- elects members of the municipality, including the Roads Committee, Roads Inspectors, Vingteniers, Constable's Officers
- recommends liquor licences to the licensing bench
- adopts road names
- authorises the Procureurs du Bien Public to enter into contracts in the name of the parish
- may discuss other matters as proposed by the Connétable, or at the written request of a number of members of the Assembly