Jurat and Lieut-Bailiff
Arguably the most distinguished member of the family over the centuries, Edouard Leonard Bisson (1797-1884) served as a Jurat for over 50 years and acting-Bailiff on two occasions. He was chosen by three successive Bailiffs as their Lieut-Bailiff.
Remarkably little is known about this man who presided over the States and the Royal Court on many occasions for nearly half a century.
He was first chosen as Lieut-Bailiff by Bailiff Sir Jean de Veulle, midway through his term of office in 1839. He had been elected Jurat seven years earlier at a time when he and his colleagues were frequently at odds with the Bailiff and, on one occasion, famously had him imprisoned in Mont Orgueil for contempt of Court in refusing to appear as a witness in a case involving Advocate Francois Godfray and the Lieut-Governor, Sir William Thornton.
Although he was de Veulle's appointee, it is likely that he would have already wielded considerable authority in these early days as Lieut-Bailiff.
Given his long service Jurat Bisson was a strange omission from G R Balleine's Biographical Dictionary of Jersey. Perhaps this was because only 50 years earlier Lieut-Bailiffs were considerably more important, being appointed by absentee de Carteret descendants who held the office of Bailiff but never visited the island, leaving their lieutenants to run the show.
Lieutenant of four Bailiffs
Lieut-Bailiffs only held office during the tenure of the Bailiff who appointed them, but it was open to a new Bailiff to continue their appointment or choose somebody else from the bench of Jurats. It is significant that Edouard Leonard Bisson held office until the death of Jean de Veulle in 1848, was then appointed Juge-Délégué until the appointment of Sir Thomas Le Breton as the new Bailiff later in the year, served as his Lieut-Bailiff for the next nine years, was again appointed Juge-Délégué until Jean Hammond was appointed Bailiff in 1858, served as his Lieut-Bailiff throughout his period in office until 1880, and then served a further four years as the next Bailiff, Robert Pipon Marett's Lieut-Bailiff, until his death in 1884.
Such is the paucity of information about Edouard Leonard Bisson's life that it is not clear whether he had any legal training before first being elected Jurat - it seems unlikely that he would have filled the position of Lieut-Bailiff over such a lengthy period without such a background - and very little else is known about his life.
It is known that he never married. He came from a clerical background. He was the son of Amice Bisson (1745-1812), Rector successively of St Brelade and St Lawrence, and Jeanne, nee Le Maistre (1748-1837), and grandson of Edouard Bisson, Rector successively of St Clement, St Lawrence and St Brelade.