Seigneur

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The Lord of a Fief, the possession of which entitled the owner to claim certain Seigneurial Rights, relics of the Feudal System. Great manors, such as St Ouen's and Samares, had the right of haute justice, in early times to condemn their tenants to death, later, if a tenant was sentenced by the Court, to hang him on the manorial gallows. The latter claim was often enforced as late as the 17th century, and in the case of Samares was confirmed by Patent in 1693. Property of criminals hanged or transported was forfeit to the Seigneur.

In the Middle Ages the chief burden, on tenants was the corvee, the carriage of the Seigneur's wood, wine, and hay. wherever required; but this had lapsed by the 16th century. Eperquerie, the first choice of all conger, had been commuted to essiage, a yearly tax of 6 sols on fishermen. Other rights lasted well into the eighteenth century: vraicq, the privilege of cutting seaweed ahead of other parishioners; verp, the fine on impounded cattle; gravage, one third of the goods washed up by the sea; chasse, the sole right to hunt or shoot on the fief. On some fiefs tenants had to bring their corn to be ground at the Seigneur's mill, and to keep the mill in repair. On some the Seigneur might build a colombier, and breed pigeons, which would feed on his tenants' crops. Seigneurs still claim the right to enjoy for a year and a day the revenue from the real estate of any tenant who dies without direct heirs of his body.

The fiefs generally continue today but are of sentimental and ceremonial value only, they are inherited or bought and sold fairly regularly.

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