Viscount

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Three Viscounts who between them held office from 1876 to 1929: Edmund Toulmin Nicolle (1917-1929), Gervaise Le Gros (1876-1894) and Reginald Raoul Lempriere (1894-1917)

Few roles which have been in existence so long can have diminished in importance to such an extent over that period. In ancient France the Vicomte was a very high dignitary. He was Vice-Count (Viceroy, Vice-President, Vice-Chancellor), and took the place of the Count or Duke, when absent. Later in Normandy a Viscount was appointed over each county, the Viscount of the Cotentin, the Viscount of the Avranchin, etc. A charter of 1179 shows a Viscount holding the King's Court in Guernsey.

In time the dignity of the name was forgotten, and the Viscount became a mere Court official. By the 14th century the Viscount in Jersey was the chief executive officer of the Court, appointed by the Crown to see that orders of the Court were carried out, to issue summonses, to make arrests, to keep prisoners in custody, to abate nuisances, to deliver seisin 'by the Viscount's rod'. He also acted as Coroner, and until 1885 the Public Markets were under his control. He read aloud Royal Proclamations in the Royal Square, was Comptroller of Weights and Measures and a member of the Prison Board.

Despite the change in importance of the position, its holders were invariably of high standing in the island, several from the 'ruling' de Carteret, Lempriere and Dumaresq families. Several went on to become Bailiff

From Wikipedia

The Viscount of Jersey has, since the 14th century, been the chief executive officer of the Royal Court of Jersey. Since 1930, court services have been provided by the Viscount's Department in conjunction with the Judicial Greffe. Until 1973 the Viscount was appointed by the Crown; since 1973 Viscounts have been appointed by the Bailiff of Jersey.

The principal function of the Viscount is the execution of the orders of the courts of Jersey. This involves managing fines, bail monies, seizures, confiscations, evictions, service of process, arrests for non-appearance in court and other enforcement procedures.

The Viscount manages jury selection and exemption, financial assistance to jury members and acts as surveillant for the jury.

The Viscount also acts as coroner to deal with matters relating to sudden or unexpected death, and administers estates of deceased persons.

In cases of insolvency, the Viscount administers en désastre proceedings.

The Viscount is among those who act as autorisé (returning officer) for elections in Jersey.

The Viscount acts as mace-bearer for the Bailiff of Jersey in the States of Jersey and the Royal Court of Jersey, and carries out other ceremonial functions.

The Viscount carried out other functions historically: till 1885 the Public Markets were under his control. He was Comptroller of Weights and Measures and a member of the Prison Board. He read aloud Royal Proclamations in the Royal Square. A notable action of the Viscount during the exile in Jersey of Charles, Prince of Wales, was the proclamation in the Royal Square of the Prince as King, following the execution of his father.

Until 1842 the Viscount was a member of the States of Jersey with a right to speak but not to vote. From 1842 until 1948 the Viscount sat as a member of the States without speaking or voting rights. The constitutional reform of 1948 removed the Viscount's membership of the legislature but the Viscount's Department continues to be represented at meetings of the States for the provision of executive services.

From Biographical Dictionary of Jersey

Viscount. Vicomte. In ancient France a very high dignitary, the Vice-Count, who took the place of the Count or Duke, when absent. Later in Normandy a Viscount was appointed over each county, the Viscount of the Cotentin, the Viscount of the Avranchin, etc. A charter of 1179 shows the Viscount holding the King's Court in Guernsey. In time the dignity of the name was forgotten, and the Viscount became a mere Court official. By the 14th century the Viscount in Jersey was the chief executive officer of the Court, appointed by the Crown to see that orders of the Court were carried out, to issue summonses, to make arrests, to keep prisoners in custody, to abate nuisances, to deliver seisin 'by the Viscount's rod'. He also acted as Coroner, and till 1885 the Public Markets were under his control. He read aloud Royal Proclamations in the Royal Square, was Comptroller of Weights and Measures and a member of the Prison Board.

Holders of office

Official list of Viscount's Department

13th Century

  • Jourdain de la Hougue 1258
  • Pierre Espiart 1299

14th Century

  • Mathieu Le Lorreur 1309
  • Richard de Jersey 1311
  • John de Jersey 1317
  • Guillaume de St Helier c1324
  • John de la Marche c1327
  • Johan de la Marche c1331
  • Raoul Mahy 1340
  • John de la Marche 1341
  • Johan Brone 1361

15th Century

  • Jean de la Rue 1408
  • John Stibbe 1435
  • Guille Dumaresq 1462
  • John Nicolle 1479

16th Century

  • Hélier de la Rocque 1517-1518
  • John Nicolle 1527-1533
  • John Payn 1534
  • Edouard de Carteret 1539
  • Nicolas Triguel 1542-1544
  • John Payn 1544-1549
  • Edouard de Carteret c1549
  • Nicolas de Carteret 1551
  • John Dumaresq 1557-1564
  • Gilles Lempriere 1564-1570
  • Hélier Lempriere 1570-1583
  • Philippe Romeril 1584-1597
  • Francois Nosserey 1597-1602

17th Century

  • Pierre de la Rocque 1602-1620
  • Gedeon de Carteret 1620-1621
  • Laurens Hamptonne 1621-1651
  • Edouard Hamptonne 1651
  • Daniel Norman 1653-1660
  • Edouard Hamptonne 1660-1661
  • Jean Nicolle 1661-1668
  • Edouard de Carteret 1668-1683
  • James Corbet 1685-1708

18th Century

  • David Bandinel 1708-1716
  • George Bandinel 1717-1728
  • George Bandinel jnr 1728-1742
  • Thomas Durell 1743-1785
  • Matthew Gosset 1785-1842

19th century

  • John Le Couteur 1842-1875
  • Gervaise Le Gros 1876-1894
  • Reginald Raoul Lempriere 1894-1917

20th century

  • Edmund Toulmin Nicolle 1917-1929
  • Charles Sydney Le Gros 1929-1945
  • Herbert Vyvian Benest, acting 1946-1965, 1965-1974
  • Philip Misson 1974-1981
  • Michael Wilkins 1981-
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