Lempriere

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Lempriere family page
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This is one of the most important families in the history of Jersey's politics and its 'aristocracy'


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A drawing by Jersey artist Millais of the Lempriere family in 1847

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Important family

The Lempriere family, long associated with Rosel Manor has been arguably the second most important in the history of Jersey after the de Carterets. It has provided a significant number of Bailiffs and, in the years when holders of that office were non-resident and appointed Lieut-Bailiffs to represent them, further important 'first citizens'.

One such, Charles Lempriere, was the founder of the Charlots, a political party which together with the opposing Magots, dominated island politics for a long period.

The Lempriere family outside Rosel Manor in 1865

Origin of Surname

There are two stories concerning the origins of the name, one comes undocumented from France the other from Jersey, in the writings of J Bertrand Payne.

The French associate the name with an annual village archery competition. The winner was known as the "Emperor" and the loser the "Empress": 'l'Empereur' and 'l'Imperatrice' respectively.

Payne, however, writing in 1862 has a far more romantic tale to tell. In 864 AD the Viking Rollo was returning from an expedition low on food, so he decided to replenish his stores by pillaging the settlement that is now Oslo. Their King, enraged at this action, banished Rollo and his followers from the land. They sailed off first to the Hebrides, then to southern England, and finally to northern France.

They made a considerable nuisance of themselves there by suppressing the local population, sacking large towns, and making no less than three attempts to take Paris. In order to diffuse the situation, the Frankish king, Charles III (the Simple), negotiated a peace. In return for a cessation in hostilities, Rollo was granted the area of land now known as Upper Normandy and he would have to pay homage to the king. Rollo would also be baptised and marry the king's daughter.

When Rollo went to meet the king he was asked to kiss the royal foot, a duty he declined, delegating the task to one of his followers. When this Viking approached the royal person, he grasped the foot and instead of stooping low, lifted it to his mouth, toppling the king from his seat! The nickname of Emperor was given to the warrior, in recognition of his diplomatic skills! The name has been corrupted to Lempriere.

The accuracy of this tale may be uncertain but it seems to be based around historical fact. Payne quotes William of Malmesbury and Dudo.

In a modification of this story, a jester at the Court of King Rollo, in trying to amuse the king, asked if he could take the title King if he were to overthrow Rollo.With Rollo in fits of laughter, the jester grabbed the king’s foot and threw him over the throne, saying “ I have overthrown the king, I am the King”! After the king forgave him, he allowed him to take the title “l’Empereur”, the Emperor, which wasn’t a title for the Vikings!

Family Origin

The family traces its origins back to 970 AD in the Morfontaine province of Champagne and Brie in what is now Normandy. There are two ancestral groups: those who settled on Jersey in 1270 AD, emigrating from Normandy; and those who remained in France, but emigrated to Jersey later. It is not known if these are connected. Some still remain in France. There are three main branches of the Jersey family: Rozel, Trinity, and St John La Hougue Boete. There are few remaining in Jersey, but there is a large group in Australia, as well as groups in New Zealand, USA, Canada, and the UK. Many of these groups have not been connected to the main family tree.

Lemperière exists in Normandy to this day. Lemprière only arises in families that have come from Jersey. The name Lemprière appeared in Jersey in the early 1300s when Thomas dropped the use of “de”, and continues to this day.

Payne's Armorial of Jersey

A detailed history of the family is included in this work. See full article.

Variants

  • Lempriere, 1299
  • Lamprier 1515
  • Lemperer 1378
  • Lemperiere 1363
  • Lemperere, 1309
  • Lempere, 1329
  • Lemperor c1328
  • l'Empereur
  • Lempreur
  • Lemprere
  • de Lempriere
  • dit Le Emperere 1274
  • dictus Imperator 1274
  • Imperator, 1180


Family records

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Family trees



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Church records



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Family histories and biographies



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Great War service



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Family wills


Family homes

Family photographs

Another Millais sketch of the Lemprieres

Lempriere coats of arms

Family gravestones

Click on any image to see a larger version. See the Jerripedia gravestone image collection page for more information about our gravestone photographs

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