Ouie de paroisse

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An important source of information about Jersey families is the property transactions they entered into over the centuries and were notified in writing to the Royal Court and acknowledged. A large collection of these contracts is held by La Société Jersiaise and more are continually being unearthed in the attics and storerooms of old properties which have been in the same family for generations.

However, there was no obligation to register property transactions with the Court until the Public Registry (Registre public) was commenced in 1602 during the governorship of Sir Walter Raleigh. This followed earlier unsuccessful attempts to create a public registry during the French occupation (1461-1468) and again in 1562 and 1591. The records of the Public Registry are stored at the Jersey Archive.

Before contracts were registered in this way they were acknowledged verbally after Sunday service at the relevant parish church in process known as Ouie (Ouye) de paroisse - literally 'in the audience of the parish'. This solemnised the private transaction and made it binding on the parties. Some of these transactions were then written down and acknowledged before the Court. The practice of ouie de paroisse ended in 1842 when a law was passed forbidding the announcement of any civil business in or after church services.

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