Lempriere family in the 16th century
From A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey by George Balleine
This family originated in the Cotentin, where they possessed a small Fief de l'Emperiere at Crosvale, near St Sauveur-sur-Douve. They spread to other parts of Normandy, and established branches elsewhere. Toward the end of the 15th century a colony of them appeared in Jersey.
However, as early as the Extente of 1274 a Willelmus dictus Imperator (Guillaume dit l'Empereur) is mentioned as a Jurat, holding a Fief in the parish of St Helier known as the Fief of Guillaume l'Empereur. At the time of the Assize of 1299, a Raoul or Ralph Lempriere held this Fief, which consisted of 30 acres, and was known as the Fief es Empereres.
Other members of the family appeared before this Assize. Matilda, daughter of the late Guillaume Lempriere, sued Raoul for certain rentes, and Guillaume Lempriere, son of Guillaume, sued Raoul's sureties for 10 livres tournois. Jourdan Lempriere was fined for an assault, and Guilbert Lempriere was prosecuted for unjustly detaining a common. In another case a Philippe Lempriere was appointed an arbitrator.
The Raoul mentioned above is said in Payne's Armorial of Jersey to have been a son of Jean de Lempriere, Seigneur of Pont Ruilly, near Bricquebec in the Cotentin; but this seems only a guess and a bad one.
The French genealogist d'Hozier, who deals fully with this branch of the family, knows nothing of any such son; and, when Raoul's grandson Raoul bought Rosel Manor, the objection was raised that he was a Breton, and therefore incapable of holding land in Jersey.
The elder Raoul is more likely to have been a son of Guillaume, the first holder of the Fief es Empereres, who probably belonged to a branch of the family that had settled in Brittany. Raoul built a colombier (dovecot) on his Fief, but this was a privilege granted only to a limited number of manors, and at the Assize of 1504 he was ordered to pull it down.
Pound of pepper
He ignored this order and, when Justices Itinerant visited Jersey in 1509, he was prosecuted.
- "Ralph comes and offers our Lord the King a rent of one pound of pepper to be taken every year for ever, so that he and his heirs may enjoy the dovecot; and it is allowed" (Assize Roll).
By 1551 he was dead, for at the Assize in that year his son Thomas (who also held the Fief Torney in the same parish) was sued for not having paid the pepper. He pleaded that he had pulled down his father's dovecot, but the Justices decided that the fine had been promised for ever, and therefore must still be paid.
This Fief was long ago absorbed into the Fief of Meleches, but the pound of pepper continues to be paid today by the tenant of the latter Fief. Thomas' son Raoul bought Rosel Manor.