The perquages of Jersey, the sanctuary paths of legend

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The perquages of Jersey, the sanctuary paths of legend

This article by Christopher Aubin was first published in the 1997 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise


The perquages, or percages, are an oddity supposedly found only in Jersey. Unknown in Normandy and England, they are not even to be found in Guernsey or the other Channel Islands.

Since the 17th century perquages have been equated in popular belief with sanctuary paths, which are said to have led from each parish church to the sea by the shortest, most direct route.

Before the Reformation, criminals and those accused of crimes who wished to escape prosecution could claim sanctuary in the church and were then allowed to leave the Island by walking down the sanctuary path to a boat, never to return: A romantic idea for which, on closer examination, there is no evidence.

The right of sanctuary was well known and used in Jersey. It is recorded since the 13th century and last occurs in the middle of the 16th century. Conversely, the perquages are only mentioned by name for the first time in 1526. This first record is believed to refer to the perquage through the marais at Saint Lawrence. It is, however, typical of the problems surrounding the perquages that the second occurrence of the term, some nine years later in 1535, an Act of the Royal Court declared that a road in Trinity was not perquage, a negative response and without explanation,

The aim of this article is to lift the veils that have for so long hidden the origins and purpose of the perquages. It is first necessary to understand the meaning and use of sanctuary and the source of the belief that perquages were sanctuary paths. From an understanding of the later history of the perquages, both their connections with Sir Edward de Carteret, to whom they were granted by Charles II, and their occurrences in the archive of the Island, it is possible to trace the perquages on the ground to see what a perquage was in physical terms.

This background information, coupled with a further understanding of the land law of the Island and Normandy, combines to give a clearer picture of the perquages. It will also identify other 'fossilised' perquages. Questions may be answered but many more are eventually asked.  

Right of sanctuary

The right of sanctuary is said to date from the time of Moses. Its practice in Jersey and the rest of Normandy, however, is enshrined in the Grand Coutumier de Normandie, a text written in c1235-1258. The text of the Grand Coutumier explains the practical aspects of Sanctuary:

Se aulcun damné ou fuytif s'enfuyt a l'eglise, ou en cymitiere ou en lieu sainct, ou il se aert [saisir] a une croix qui soit fichée en terre, la justice laye le doit laisser en paix, par le privilege de l'eglise, si qu'elle ne mette la main a luy. Mais la justice doibt mettre gardes qu'il ne s'enfuye d'illec. Et s'il ne veult de dens neufjours se rendre a la justice laye, ou forjurer Normandie, la justice ne souffrira d'illec en avant que on luy apporte que menger a soustenir sa vie,jusques a ce qu'il (se) soit rendu a justice pour en ordonner selon sa desserte, ou jusques a ce qu'il offre a forjurer le pays. Et le forjurera en ceste forme; il tendra ses mains sur les Saincts Evangiles et jurera, que il partira de Normandie, et que jamais n'y revendra; qu'il ne fera mal au pays, ne aux gents qui y sont, pour chose qui soit passee, ne les fera grever ne grevera, et mal ne leur fera ne pourchassera, ne fera faire ne pourchasser, par soy ne par aultre en aulcune maniere. Et que en une ville ne gerra que une nuict, si ce n'est par grand defaulte de sante; et ne se faindra [hesiter] d'aller, tant qu'il soit hors Normandie; et ne retournera aux lieu qu'il aura passes, ne a aultres pour revenir, ains yra tousjours en avant. Et si commencera maintenant a s'en alier; et si doibt dire (vers) quelle part il vouldra alier, ainsi luy taxera l'en ses journees, selon sa force et selon la grand quantite et longueur de la voye. Et si remaint en Normandie depuis que le terme que on luy donnera sera passe, ou se il se retourne une lieue arriere, il portera son jugement avec soy: car des que il sera alle contre son serment, Saincte Eglise ne luy pourra plus aider.

Appeals to Crown

Early references to sanctuary claimants in Jersey can be found in pardons and other documents emanating from the Crown. Having once left the Island, the accused, if guilty of any crime or not, was able to appeal to the Crown for clemency or a pardon.

Thus a letter dated 14 January 1234, from Henry III to the Bailiff of Jersey, orders a futher inquest into the fidelity of Alice, wife of Pierre d'Orival. A previous inquest in the time of Philippe d'Aubigné (Warden 1212-1224 and 1232-1234) had decided that her allegiance to the English Crown was questionable.

In fear of her life, Alice had fled to a church. She offered to submit to an inquest of 24 men, and it was for such an inquest that the Royal letter commanded the Bailiff to proceed.   A similar story unfolds around Guillaume Le Gallichan, on whose behalf the same procedure was ordered in a Royal letter of 27 November 1236.

Guillaume Porion and his son, Guillaume, a minor, having been accused of several crimes, took refuge in Trinity Church and abjured the Island. From prison in England they obtained a Royal pardon from Edward I (10 November 1274) and submitted themselves to the verdict of their neighbours.

An undated petition to the Crown shows Gylot Tongart as having fled to England to seek a pardon. Gylot admits having broken into a chest in Mont Orgueil Castle and stealing a sword and a pair of leather gloves which were found in his possession when he was taken. He was held in the house of William Le Petit, of Saint Helier, whence he escaped to the church in fear of death, and abjured the Island. In England the Chancery referred the petition to the King and the Bailiffs of the Island were commanded to certify the manner and cause of the abjuration.

The Jurors of Saint Lawrence in 1309 advised that Gregory de la Vergee fled to the church for stealing conies, but he gave himself up and was sent to England.

In Grouville the Jurors reported that Nichola, wife of Robert des Aubers, and Peter du Moutier both fled to the church and abjured the Island. The former for theft and the latter for murder.

Further evidence for the frequent claiming of sanctuary is also to be found in Grouville, where the Jurors referred to 15 perches of land in the parish where the King had had stocks for prisoners. The Crown Officers had previously ordered that, because these were too near to the church, prisoners should no longer be kept there but at the castle.

Murder of 9-year-old boy

Not all those who claimed sanctuary of the church left the Island. A sad, and apparently unsolved, crime is reported in 1309. The body of nine-year-old Robert Desnee, who had been murdered, was placed in the mill stream between Saint Peter and Saint Lawrence and left as if drowned.

Raulina, the wife of Nicholas Le Desnee, was suspected of the deed. Having placed guards around the cemetery to stop them from gaining access to the church, the Viscount continued with the search for the Le Desnees.

It appears that Nicholas and Raulina then entered the church without hindrance from the guards and remained there for more than 15 days. The couple eventually surrendered, but on being found not guilty of any crime, were discharged. However, because they had fled, their chattels were forfeit to the Crown.

The early records of the Royal Court show several claimants to sanctuary which was referred to locally as 'franchise de l'eglise'. Unfortunately there were not enough claims to show what effect the changes in State Religion, introduced in England with the successions of Mary and Elizabeth I, may have had.

Despite the case for continuous strong Calvanism in the Island, Catholicism was restored during the reign of Queen Mary (6 July 1553 - 17 November 1558) and sanctuary was still given.

In 1533 (jour Saint Gregor, 12 March) Denys Dolbel (doublel) had to pay costs incurred at the castle and provide pledges for his future good behaviour. In 1538 (10 March?) he was again in trouble for bad behaviour and theft. He was sentenced to banishment on the first available passage leaving from Saint Ouen, his chosen point of departure.

Holding the Bible and a cross, he swore, according to the laws and customs of the Island, to leave the Island and the lands of the prince and not to return without the latter's grace. Curiously there is no mention of sanctuary.

In 1533 the Court ordered that Andrieu Caudey be returned to the church where he had claimed sanctuary.

On 5 February 1535 Guille Machon at his request was taken from Saint Martin's church, where he had claimed sanctuary after confessing to theft.

One foot inside, one outside

In 1539 a new edition of the Grand Coutumier was published in Rouen by Guillaume Le Rouille. Le Rouille expands the chapter on De damnes et de fuytifs by adding a short commentary on the procedure. First the church (archbishop, bishop, official or dean) had to be advised so that the oath could be taken in the presence of its representative. The oath was then taken by the accused who stood with one foot on holy ground and one outside.

This procedure is reflected in the case of Pierre de Lisle in 1542. Pierre, a Norman merchant, had confessed to stealing five silver cups on 5 July. He escaped from the castle prison and claimed sanctuary in the town church. On 23 October, with one foot in the cemetery and the other outside, and with his hand touching the Holy Bible, Pierre swore to leave the Island never to return to the land of the King without Royal Grace (bany et foriure hors de ladite Isle et de toute la terre du Roy dangleterre ... sans jamais y retourner).

He was asked where he wished to go, and chose the first available boat to Normandy or Brittany. It is not evident if this extra long preamble, as recorded in the Court, reflects the practice locally, or if it is a reflection of the continental Norman procedure due to Pierre being a Norman, and/or the recent publication by Le Rouille.

George Balleine records Thomas Le Seelleur claiming sanctuary in Saint Martin in 1546. According to Balleine, Thomas escaped the gallows by walking down the perquage to a boat that took him to Normandy.

However, a different story unfolds in the records of the Royal Court. On 29 October 1534, based upon his confession of theft and the results of an inquest, Thomas was sentenced to be hanged. The sentence was not carried out. On 27 January 1547 Thomas claimed sanctuary in Saint Martin's church, the authorities were notified and the Constable, Centeniers and Vingteniers ordered to keep guard.

One of the Centeniers, Geoffrey Nicolle, was in trouble before the Court on the last day of January because Le Seelleur had escaped. Thomas gave himself up and surrendered to the verdict of 24 men, surrendering his right of sanctuary at the same time.

On 20 June 1553 Thomas is again before the Court, this time for stealing cattle. For this and taking into account his previous two appearances, he was again sentenced to be hanged. However, in fear of his soul being in eternal danger, Thomas then admitted having earlier falsely accused Charles Fraere and Edmond Bertran of stealing the cattle, and they had consequently been languishing in the castle prison.

Sentenced to hang

The Court decided to make him an example to others. It ordered that Thomas Le Seelleur be hanged till he was dead and that thereafter his body be left hanging till it rot without being given burial.

On 1 April 1557 Maryn Alayn and his wife were found guilty of theft; although they had not claimed sanctuary, they offered to leave the Island, this was granted.

The last recorded case of a claimant of sanctuary is Remy (Remigius) Le Hardy on 26 February 1558. Remy claimed sanctuary in Trinity church in the presence of Jean Poullet, Dean, and other officers of the Ecclesiastical Court, in whose records the case appears. Remy was ordered to remain there until otherwise ordered.

There is no formal cancellation of sanctuary, nor does there appear to be a definitive time after which it was no longer used. Sanctuary appears to have been abandoned by non usage, presumably with the change in religious ideas.

The same cannot be said of banishment. As noted, in 1557 Maryn Alayn and his wife were allowed to leave the Island. On 23 January 1640 Richard Picot was discharged from charges of theft. However, the Court thought Richard an undesirable element in society (a debauched blasphemer, player of games, frequenter of taverns, a harmful and pernicious member of the Republic) and ordered his banishment. He was sent back to prison until such time as an occasion presented itself when he could be sent away.

Jean Poingdestre

Jean Poingdestre (Lieut-Bailiff) writing in the later 17th century is the leading Jersey commentator on the Grand Coutumier de Normandie. In reference to Chapter 82 – De damnes et de fuytifs he remarks that it had been in vogue in the Island but that as there was no longer any right to sanctuary, there was no longer any forswearing of the Island.

This is reflected by Le Geyt, another 17th-century Lieut-Bailiff and commentator on Jersey law. Le Geyt confirms that forjurement was no longer in use in the Island. Nevertheless, forsaking the Island as an alternative to a custodial sentence has continued into the 20th century.

That forswearing was still practiced in continental Normandy is evidenced by its inclusion in Article 49 of the Coutume Reformée in 1585; this was in use till the late 18th century. Poingdestre, commenting on the Coutume Reformée, which was never adopted in Jersey, makes the only near contemporary statement on the demise of sanctuary.

Referring to franchise he says: Cela etant totallement abragé par la reformation de la Religion il n'est besoin d'en entamer le discours.

In France sanctuary was, in part, abolished by Louis XII (1498-1515). The Ordonnance of 1539 of Francois I (1515-1547), Article 166, removed franchise from debtors and civil matters and allowed judges discretion in criminal cases, any remaining rights having gone before the reforms of 1789.

The right of Sanctuary in England was restricted by the case of Humphrey Stafford in 1487 (high treason) and further modified by statute by Henry VIII (1509-1547) in 1529 and again in 1531 when abjuration was abolished, due to the loss to the realm and consequent defection of able and knowledgeable men.

This created 'Sanctuary Men' who were obliged to remain at specified places within the realm under penalty of death. The Stafford case was reduced to statutory form in 1534 and regulations for the Sanctuary Men were improved in 1536.

An Act of 1540 abolished all sanctuaries save churches, churchyards and certain named places; the right to claim sanctuary was also removed for certain crimes (murder, rape, burglary, robbery, arson or sacrilege).

Sanctuary was abolished by James I (1603-1625) in 1623 but some modified form continued for another century in defiance of the law.

These Acts are shown to have had no effect in Jersey. However, the Acts relating to the Confiscation of the Alien Priories and the Dissolution of the Monasteries and of the Chantries were acknowledged and followed locally but can have had no effect on sanctuary paths.

No mention of sanctuary path

The foregoing clearly demonstrates the long and much practised right of sanctuary in Jersey. It is to be noted that in these references there is not one single mention of perquage or a sanctuary path.

The often quoted source for the perquages being sanctuary paths is another work of Lieut-Bailiff Poingdestre. Caesarea or a Discourse of the Island of Jersey was written as an early introduction to the Island and was dedicated to James II.

Poingdestre was writing after the grant of the perquages to Sir Edward de Carteret and refers to them as having been lately a road 'of farre different vse'.

His measurements for the width of the perquages cause confusion (6 x 6 = 24) but he describes them as being of the same width as the highways of Normandy and derives 'perquage' from Perque or Pertica, a measure of 24 feet. These, he says, began at every church and lead by the shortest and most direct route to the sea, and had no known use other than for the conduct of those guilty of capital crimes who had taken sanctuary.

Turning to another of Poingdestre's learned treatises on Jersey law, he twice mentions perquages. Under the heading of 'public and private roads' Poingdestre repeats the point about perquages being so called because of their width and adds that there was a tradition that these roads were only there for those who had forsworn the Island to reach the nearest port Ce que fay refute ailleurs (in free translation 'which I have refuted elsewhere').

Writing in the same work under the heading of 'Common items or the apportionment of items' he expands further on his own ideas. He reports that perquages had, according to common belief, belonged in history to the church and served as passage for those who had taken sanctuary to leave the Island, but adds Ce que j'estime faux (again in free translation 'which I consider false').

Poingdestre refutes common rumour

How can Poingdestre be accepted as the source for this equation between perquages and sanctuary paths when he is only repeating common rumour which he himself clearly does not accept?

Poingdestre formulated his own theory as to the origin and purpose of the perquages.

He claimed that they were the widest of the Jersey roads and were for public use requiring the most space (army manoeuvres, processions and the like) but that the forsworn also used these roads. Poingdestre blames a misunderstanding of the import of Chapter 32 of the Grand Coutumier for this popular misconception.

Poingdestre's belief that the perquages often end in public roads without trace, and his belief that they were wide open spaces, indicates that perhaps he did not actually know their location.

His challenge that the local church authorities would have opposed the gift by Charles II to Sir Edward de Carteret, if they were church property, is valid even though the de Carteret family was once more in the ascendancy in 1663.

Poingdestre makes a clear warning to de Carteret not to interfere on the pretext of perquage in any public property or public right; he also emphasises the point that the perquages and waste lands on private fiefs belonged to the seigneurs of such private fiefs, and were thus not the property of the Crown to alienate.

De la Croix attributes an interesting quote to Le Geyt. Referring to the widths of Jersey roads, Le Geyt is quoted as stating that the 'percage' at 24 pieds was the old Grand Chemin Royal from the chapter on Damnes et Fugitifs in the Coutume, whence arises the ridicule fiction that the perquages were dedicated to that use.

Le Geyt is claimed to add that this is against all semblance of truth, the Coutume and the Glose show the error. This again supports Poingdestre's belief.

Royal grant

As intimated, Sir Edward de Carteret was the recipient of a Royal grant of the perquages.

Sir Edward was the youngest of the seven sons of Sir Philippe de Carteret, Seigneur of Saint Ouen, who held Elizabeth Castle for the Royalist cause until his untimely death during the Parliamentarian seige.

At this time Edward was with his mother, who was holding Mont Orgueil Castle. In 1649, when Charles II was in Jersey, Edward was appointed Cup-bearer to the King's brother, the Duke of York and future James II. He left the Island with the Duke in 1650 and spent two years with him in exile in Paris and Brussels. At the Restoration in 1660, Edward rejoined the Duke as Cup-bearer in London.


After the Restoration Edward petitioned Charles II with a request for a grant to him of the perquages.

His Petition Humbly sheweth, that there is a certaine thing called Percage in the Island, out of which ariseth some small proffitts and perquisites of the value of about ten pounds per annum, which ever since the decease of Gideon De Carterett, the uncle of the Petitioner (who had a Grant for the same) hath remained undisposed or granted either by your Majestie or Royal Ancestors. In tende consideration whereof and of the long and faithfull service performed by your Petitioner.
Your Petitioner humbly prays that your Majestie wilbe gratiously pleased to confere, the said Percage, to him and his heires, with all the proffitts, Rights and Immunities there unto belonging, and that without intreueding, either upon your Majestic's Revenues, or other the Rights, and Interest, and propriety of any particular persons in the Island.

Edward's uncle, Gedeon de Carteret, had been Vicomte from 29 July 1620. He was replaced by Laurens Hamptonne on 7 July 1621. Edward himself was to hold the office from 30 May 1668 until his resignation in 1683. In response to the petition, Edward's cousin, Sir George de Carteret, was asked to report:

Att the Court att Whitehall the 5th November 1662:
His Majestie takeing notice of the peticoner's services is gratiously pleased to refer this peticon to Sir George Carterett to examine the yearely value of the lands in the peticon menconed and to certefie in what manner and to whom it was formerly grannted and what may bee convenient for his Majestie to doe therein where upon his Majestie will declare his further pleasure.

Dispute over office of Vicomte

By which time Gedeon de Carteret had died. John Nicholls (Nicolle) was granted the office of Vicomte for the term of his life by Letters Patent of 25 February 1649. In the same Letters Edward de Carteret was granted the survivorship of the office of Vicomte and after him Philippe Payn in succession.

Nicholls was sworn in on the second day of the Cour d'Heritage of 25 April 1661. Payn was sworn in as a Jurat on 28 April 1664 reserving his survivorship to the office of Vicomte. Nicholls resigned and de Carteret was sworn in as Vicomte on 30 May 1668.

On 4 February 1669 de Carteret was about to leave the Island for an extended period and therefore appointed Philippe de Carteret as his deputy in accordance with his Patent. While he was still in London, Edward received a letter from Philippe releasing him from their agreement and allowing Edward to appoint another Deputy.

Edward therefore reached agreement with Philippe Messervy by indenture dated 26 August 1669 which was presented together with Messervy in Court on 20 January 1670. Elie Pipon, the Denonciateur, opposed the appointment on the grounds that he, as Denonciateur, was the preferable candidate. He added that he would have opposed the earlier appointment of Philippe de Carteret had he been aware of the proposal.

It is interesting to note that on 4 February 1669 the full Court had not sat because of the rigeur du temps. The Court debated the issue, found in Pipon's favour and duly swore him to office as Depute Vicomte for the period agreed between de Carteret and Messervy.

Messervy petitioned the King and on the 29 June 1670 the King in Council ordered the Royal Court to report its reasoning. Messervy was eventually sworn as Depute Vicomte on 1 July 1671 following upon the issue of a Lettre de Cachet, 12 April 1671; he remained in office until his death in 1674.

Elie Pipon, whilst retaining his office of Denonciateur, was sworn in as Depute Vicomte on 27 June 1674 and was in turn replaced by James Allain on 28 September 1680. Sir Edward de Carteret resigned in 1683 (probably October), but he had outlived Payn, who thus never became Vicomte, and was succeeded by James Corbet, who was appointed by Lettres Patentes of 21 November 1683 registered in Jersey on 28 February 1684.

Sir George's brief report was dated at Whitehall, 5 March 1663:

In [evidence?] to your Majestie's comand I have enquired as well as I could at this distance [&] likewise knowing something by my owne observation whilst I was in Jerzey [ ] part of the wast ground mentioned in this petition (which is not possesst by aine [one] but still remaines wast and in common is not worth above 10L yearly but do [not] know that it was ever graunted to aine person heretofore. All which I most [hum]bly submit to his Majestie's further pleasure.

Following upon Sir George's report, Lettres Patentes were granted to Edward de Carteret on 13 May 1663 which were enrolled by the Royal Court on 18 July of the same year.

Services to Charles II

The grant to Edward was in recognition of the services given to the King and his late father, Charles I, by both Edward and his late father, Sir Philippe de Carteret.

By the terms of the Letters Edward was granted not only the perquages but also other waste lands and buildings belonging to the Crown, together with lands abandoned by the sea. All these lands were to be held for an annual payment of five shillings sterling and were to be held 'as of the Manor of East Greenwich in Kent', in free and common socage.

This grant 'as of the Manor of East Greenwich in Kent' is unique in Jersey. It derives from English feudal practice, and was by the mid-16th century an accepted conveyancing shorthand expression for the granting or sale of Royal lands to be held indirectly from the Crown, as opposed to a grant in capite.

The formula interposed the manor of East Greenwich between the new tenant and the Crown. It was a preferable arrangement for the tenant, but it removed certain Crown privileges associated with direct (in capite) tenancies. It was much used in the sale of land deriving from the alien priories and in the granting of land in the Americas.

The first recorded sale by Edward of a section of perquage is a contract passed before Court on 19 October 1663. The sales of perquages and waste lands, usually to neighbouring landowners, continued until his death, as Sir Edward, in 1698.

Inheritance law complications

Under Jersey inheritance law the perquages would have been conquets and acquits in Sir Edward's hands as opposed to propres, ie they had been acquired from outside the family and not inherited.

Sir Edward was thus unable to dispose of them by will, a concept alien to Jersey law, and he was able only to leave his movable property to his young widow, Madelaine Durell. Sir Edward died without leaving any direct heirs.

There is no recorded partage and his property, therefore, was inherited by his closest collateral relative. In a collateral succession the degrees of relation were calculated by the Civil Method; Sir Edward's heir was thus his sister Anne, wife of Daniel Brevint (or Brevin).

Much has been written about Sir Edward's widow inheriting the perquages and selling them to Anne. This has doubtless been an attempt to explain why they were not inherited by the senior, manorial branch, of the family, which was then represented by the heirs of Sir Edward's nephew, Sir Philippe de Carteret ( -1693). However, such concoctions are unnecessary.

Madelaine Durell, widow and legatee of Sir Edward de Carteret, also enjoyed a right of ‘’douaire’’ (dower) on the real property of her late husband. On 25 May 1699 she transferred to Anne Brevin her right to the ‘’arrerages’’ (the product of rente, unpaid interest) of the rentes created in the sales of sections of perquage and which, as ‘’meubles’’, she had inherited by Sir Edward's will. Anne immediately started proceedings for the recovery of the outstanding sums.

Anne continued to sell sections of perquages, waste lands and the rentes created on earlier sales until her death in 1708, when she was succeeded by her two granddaughters, Charlotte and Sara Hussey. Her only daughter, Charlotte, who had married Sir Edward Hussey, died in 1695.

Charlotte and Sara still owned a few lengths of perquage which they sold, along with some waste lands and more rentes. Charlotte, who married Thomas Pochin, outlived her sister and was succeeded by her daughters, Charlotte, who married Charles James Packe, and Sara, who married the Reverend George Pochin.

Charlotte and Sara continued to sell rentes until 1775. Sara died without issue, but Charlotte's son and heir, Charles James, still claimed certain lands in right of the original 1663 grant to Edward. Indeed, he and his son, Charles William, were still agitating in 1818 and 1861, but their story is beyond the scope of the present work.

Perquages' value

Sir George's report valued the perquages as worth no more than an annual rent of ten livres. As noted, the grant to Edward was for an annual rente of five shillings sterling.

In his life time Edward sold most of the perquages. One of the early sales was to Philippe de Carteret, ‘’d'octeur en medicine’’ (sic), of La Hague and was for a rente of five shillings loyalle monoye d'Angleterre. This one sale paid the rent due to the Crown, all else was profit.

It is not possible to give an exact figure for the money and rente raised by Edward on the sales of perquages and waste lands. The monetary value of a rente could vary, some sales were by the perche (in length) but with no length or total consideration given, and some sales were for other rentes.

However, the perquage sales by Edward in his lifetime grossed at least 3,000 livres tournois. The locally current livre tournois was worth about two shillings sterling, ie a ratio of about ten to one. On this basis, the value of the perquage sold was approximately £300 sterling.

From the figures given in contracts of sale of rente, one livre tournois of rente was sold for between 26 and 28 livres tournois cash, giving a ratio of, say, twenty-seven to one. Thus the £300 cash would be equivalent to an annual rent of £11. Sir George's estimate was quite accurate. The waste lands sold by Edward raised at least another 1,700 livres tournois.

Having obtained a grant of the perquages and started the profitable business of selling them off, Edward soon ran into problems.

Notwithstanding the occasional perambulations of the Royal Court on its Visite Royale, or Visite des Chemins, the perquages had been encroached upon by many of the neighbouring land owners. Some sections of perquage had lain abandoned and unused.

The legal system was such that it could have coped with the necessary lawsuits to be brought by Edward, but it would have been a long, and doubtless costly process, as there were so many cases to be brought.

At the request of Edward on 5 September 1663, the Royal Court inspected the perquage in Saint Helier on 8 October 1663. They attended again on 23 October, in particular to delimit the perquage between the lands of Thomas Helgrowe (Hilgrove) and Jean Dumaresq. Progress was presumably too slow for Edward.

In order to by-pass the system Edward again petitioned the Crown.

On 2 June 1664, Edward de Carteret presented to the Royal Court a letter of 1 April 1664 from King Charles II, which was duly registered in the Livres de la Cour du Samedi. The letter was addressed to the Bailiff and instructed him, or his lieutenant, and at least three Jurats, with the assistance of the Crown Officers, to enquire into the encroachments and boundaries of the perquages.

If necessary they were to attend on the site of such encroachments and disputes and summon the owners and any witnesses. The final instruction was for them to put Edward in peaceful possession of all the lands that they believed (after due enquiry) belonged to him in virtue of the grant.

On 16 July 1664 the Royal Court again attended to the St Helier perquage at the further request of Edward, this time supported by his Royal Letter. The perquage was clearly defined. The perquage in St Brelade was also delimited as a result of these Lettres in 1666.

Locating the perquages

The sections of perquage can be plotted by using a combination of sources. The evidence from the sales by Edward de Carteret and his heirs can be added to the evidence available from other Court records.

The Visite Royale is nowadays held twice a year to visit two parishes in regular succession. Before the grant to Edward, when the perquages were still Crown property, or at least administered by the Crown, the perquages were subject to the jurisdiction of the Royal Court during the Visite Royale. The records of the Visites from 1613 to 1663 show many adjacent land owners being fined for encroaching on the perquages.

In St John on 16 June 1613, Andre Le Marinel was fined for obstructing the perquage with animal skins from his tannery. The next day, in St Brelade, the minor children of Pierre Bichard were fined for leaving their boat on the perquage.

On 6 July 1614, in St Helier, Noel Godel was fined for having built his wall on the perquage, Thomas de Soulemont for branchage and the heirs of Aaron Stocall and Thomas Filleul were fined half and half, because the perquage was found to have insufficient width between their properties.

At the next St Helier Visite, 10 July 1617, Noel Godel, Aaron Stocall and Thomas Filleul were still in trouble for the same causes. Indeed, on the last Visite to St Helier before the grant to Edward de Carteret on 8 July 1659, Aaron Stocall and, by then, Philippe Dumaresq in right of Thomas Filleul, were still in default.

There are a great number of examples of such and similar actions, many of them were as persistent in their defaults.

Other notable infractions include: the establishing of field banks, ditches and retting pits, the cutting of turfs and the planting of apple trees. It is also recorded that at least two claims were made to ownership of sections of perquage through acquisition from Royal Commissioners. Several cases show that exchanges of land had taken place with neighbouring owners.

Only once did the Royal Court specifically visit the perquages. On 8 September 1645 the Bailiff, assisted by five Jurats and in the presence of the Lieut-Governor and Royal Commissioners, inspected the ancient courses of the perquages.

They started at Beaumont and followed the perquage up stream from the sea, through the parishes of St Peter, St Lawrence, St Mary and St John to the south-east corner of the parish cemetery. The Court noted that the last section of perquage had long ago been exchanged with a neighbouring land owner and that it had previously led to the south-west corner of the cemetery.

They then appear to have travelled to St Peter and followed the perquage from near the cemetery to the sea at St Aubin. In each parish the Court party was accompanied by the Constable and 12 sworn parish men (‘’Sermentes’’).

It is curious to note that although the spelling of perquage or percage varies from document to document, and from time to time, that the scribe recording the 1645 Visite had very particular ideas. The spelling starts at Beaumont as 'perquage' but this has been defaced by the overwriting of a 'c' on the 'qu' and from Gargate mill up stream it is clearly written 'percage'.

How many perquages

There were only eight distinct perquages, but there are reasons for considering the existence of a ninth and possibly a tenth. These were (anti-clockwise from Saint Helier):

  • St Clement
  • St Catherine's Valley
  • Greve de Lecq Valley (west branch)
  • Les Vaux Cuissin
  • Le Marais du Val
  • Les Vaux
  • St Peter's Valley
  • St Peter's Valley - Saint Mary's branch
  • Grands Vaux/Vallée des Vaux

Except for Saint Clement none of these perquage 'names' mentions a parish or a church. That is a deliberate aim in the use of these names.

Saint Clement

Very little is known about the perquage in St Clement. It is mentioned only once. Abraham de Ste Croix (fils Collas) was the tenant of the bankrupt property (tenant apres decret) of Griffon and, on 26 January 1608 he sold a part of that property to Henry Hodson. The sale was of three adjoining pieces of land including le pray de la longue piece with its part of the perquage (avec sa part du percage).

Hodson sold part of his acquisition to Jean Grault four months later. De Ste Croix was then declared bankrupt. The two tenants were Grault and Charles Adverty, who bought out Grault. A second copy of the 1607 contract is recorded in the Registres des Decrets at the time of de Ste Croix's bankruptcy.

Despite thorough and extensive documentary searches of areas where these parties are known to have had property, no further occurrences or references to perquage have been found. It has unfortunately thus proved impossible to locate this perquage with any certainty.

The Hodson family was centred in the low lands to the south of Verclut, and it is presumably in this area that the search for the perquage should continue. However, the other potential site is Le Val au Moine lying to the north and west, upstream, of the parish church.

Saint Catherine's Valley

This is the perquage down which the unfortunate Thomas Le Seelleur would probably have wished to have had the option of walking to a waiting boat. It starts near Saint Martin's Parish Church and follows the stream to Saint Catherine's Valley and thence past La Mazeline to the sea. The start of the perquage is shown in the sales by Edward de Carteret and the ensuing lawsuits.

De Carteret sold on 12 November 1663 to Jean Le Hardy, all rights he had to the perquage from the steps at the north of Saint Martin's cemetery, passing through the Benifice lands, to the issues belonging to Le Hardy as part of his lands known as les fermes du sucq.

Le Hardy already claimed ownership of this section of perquage in right of his Lettres Patentes granting les fermes du sucq. However, the site of the northern part of Samuel Le Four's house was specifically retained by de Carteret, as Le Four had built on the perquage. Two days later de Carteret sold to Le Four the site of the northern part of his house as far as the offset (relief) of the ‘’clos du benefice’', this sale was for an annual rente of 40s 6d.

In 1661, before his purchase of a section of perquage, Le Hardy objected to the Visite Royale which tried to pass along a road that led from the house of Abraham Baudains towards the land of Amice Badier.

This track ran to the south of Le Hardy's land les fermes du sucq and to the north of the Benifice lands. The court ordered that the road be retained for public use, but allowed Le Hardy to keep the gates he had placed at its entrance.

In 1668 Le Hardy again claimed ownership of a small public road which ran past the west side of the cemetery and abutted, at its north end, the previously mentioned road. His claim, which was based on the sale by de Carteret, had led him to block the road, and he was actioned by the parish to reopen it.

A Veue du Vicomte was held. The road was confirmed as belonging to the Benifice of the parish and was to be kept open for public use, as it had been, for the passing of charue et charette baptesmes noces et enterrements.

De Carteret was then actioned by Le Hardy under the guarantee of his sale and duly ceded any claim he may have had. He also reduced the rente paid by Le Hardy from deux sous to six deniers sterling.

Site unknown

The site of the perquage had thus become indistinct and was unknown to the voyeurs at the Veue. However, the sale to Le Four stood; indeed, when Le Four's descendant sold his house in 1829 the purchaser was charged to pay the 40 sous rente.

Le Four's house has been demolished and the site reused. It stood immediately to the west of the public car park to the north-west of the church, the field to the north being part of the Benifice land. Part of this site, the north-east corner, is on perquage.

Jean Le Four had purchased the property from his father, Guillaume, in 1625. Guillaume had already sold the adjoining house to the south to Augustin Collas in 1607. This latter property passed through several hands and was sold in 1658 to Amyce Alexandre.

In both the 1607 and 1658 contracts, reference is made to the taking of water; in 1607 the purchase was without prejudice to the neighbourhood's use of water as of old, and in 1658 the purchaser was charged not to prohibit the neighbours from drawing water, as of old.

Comparing the contours on the ordnance survey map and the above contracts it appears that one of the springs furnishing the stream in Saint Catherine's Valley rose to the west of the church and flowed north and east; this is also the route of the perquage.

Le Hardy also purchased the waste land at La Croix and a further section of perquage on the east side of the road to Rozel. The next section downstream was bought by the heirs of Abraham Marie, who also owned the lands on the west of the road adjacent to Le Hardy's first purchase.

Both the sales by Edward de Carteret to Thomas Le Manquais and to David Bandinel refer to a spring (fontaine) lying between their respective purchases, which was to remain open for public use, as it had in the past. This is La Fontaine Gallie.

The Le Manquais sale, which specifically did not include the fonds of the public road (Rue des Vaux), stops at the property of the heirs of Nicolas Coignard. Collas Coignard and his unnamed wife purchased their property on 21 May 1614 from Clement Jennes. The property's title derives from the purchase by Thomas Baudain dit Perronelle from Jean Le Manquais of the site upon which he built the house, on 14 July 1607. The land bordered on its east the Common of the Fief de 1'Abbesse de Caen.

From the end point of the Le Manquais purchase to the confluence of the two Saint Catherine's Valley streams there is no recorded sale of any perquage. This can be explained by three possibilities:

  • The sale is not recorded
  • The minor heirs of Nicolas Coignard were unable to proceed with a purchase at the time and never did
  • The perquage was incorporated in the Common of the Fief a l'Abbesse de Caen which lies to the north-west of the stream.

In this latter case de Carteret may have come to an agreement with the tenants of the Fief, or the perquage may long since have been regarded as part of the common, if it did not actually form the common itself.

There were no mills on this south branch of the Saint Catherine's Valley stream. On the north branch, with which it joins just above the Dumaresq purchase, there was a mill sited approximately where it is crossed by the modern main road.

A malt mill is recorded here as having been sold by the Seigneur of Rosel in the early 17th century, though the mill seems to have been abandoned at about that time.

The perquage below the confluence of the two branches of the stream lies to the north of the Crown Fief (Fief du Roi) common and in part to the south of the common of the Fief of Rosel.

The next to last section of perquage was sold to the heirs of Sir Philippe de Carteret, Seigneur of Rosel. It ran along the Rosel cotils as far as the planque above Le Moulin de la Perrelle (also part of Rosel) and as far as the land of Droet Godfray.

Moulin de la Perrelle was the seigneurial mill for the Fief of Rosel. It is situated on the Fief to the north of the stream, though the original course of the stream is now difficult to distinguish due to both the existence of the German reservoir, which is an enlargement of the mill pond, and the works carried out in the last century when the valley became a quarry during the building of Saint Catherine's Breakwater.

Changes to the floor of the valley may have been made following upon the acquisition of part of the perquage by the heirs of Sir Philippe de Carteret in 1666.

Godfray's purchase was from the public road (at Le Moulin de la Perrelle) and went as far as the high tide mark, le plein de la mer.

Greve de Lecq Valley (west branch)

There are two streams that run north to enter the sea at Greve de Lecq. The eastern stream arises in St Mary and runs north-west, there is no perquage along this stream. Conversely, the western stream arises at Ville Bagot in St Ouen and runs north-east to Greve de Lecq; this stream was also followed by a perquage.

There are only three sales by Edward de Carteret that relate to this perquage. As they all sell the same section of perquage it is worth recording them in detail.

On 22 October 1663 Edward de Carteret sold to George Dumaresq all the perquage commencing at the jardin of Edouard Le Rues going north until the point of a piece of land called 'Le Maresquet' belonging to Jean de la Perrelle.

The perquage lay between Le Maresquet and the pré belonging to Edouard Le Rues. In addition, the sale included all the perquage running north from the point of Le Maresquet to the cotil belonging to Richard Gasnier, lying between the lands of Nicollas Le Montais and those of Servais Le Cerf. It was all on the Fief of Leoville in the parish of St Ouen.

On 3 December 1664, Edward de Carteret sold to the same George Dumaresq nine perches in length of perquage joining the northern end of the jardin of Edouard Le Rues following the valley between Le Maresquet of Jean de la Perrelle, son of Philippe, and the pré of Edouard Le Rues.

The sale also included the perquage starting at the cotil of Nicollas Le Montais and that of Servais Le Cerf following the valley towards the sea. This sale was said to cancel all other agreements and contracts between the parties.

In 1663 the sale had been for four sous tournois rente per perche for the first section and one sous six deniers rente per perche for the second section. In 1664 a total price was given for both sections of three livres tournois rente.

George Dumaresq was later declared en decret (Cour du Cattel, 20 June 1689) and Edward de Carteret was repossessed of the perquage. The tenants of George were Elie Dumaresq (his nephew) and the minor heirs of Benjamin Dumaresq, who sold out to Elie in 1695.

On 14 June 1690 de Carteret again sold this section of perquage to Jean Le Rues, son of Edouard. The description of the perquage was of a parcel of perquage lying between the lands of the said Jean and those of Philippe de la Perrelle and generally all that had been sold to George Dumaresq. Curiously, the sale was for a rente of only 40 sous tournois.

Jean Le Ruez’s grand-daughter, Marie (wife of Elie Le Gresley), sold the family house in 1761 to Edouard Hacquoil, son of Pierre. This sale included all the perquage that Jean had acquired from de Carteret and bound the purchaser to pay 40 sous rente to the heirs of Anne Brevin (née de Carteret).

Pumping station

Hacquoil's son, Philippe, sold the property to Elie Briard in 1800. From this contract the perquage can be traced forward in time. A section was sold in the 1980s to the Public of the Island as the site for a pumping station. The house still stands, on the east side of the lane that leads from La Ville Bagot to Leoville.

The next house to the north, which makes the corner with the lane that leads from La Ville Bagot to Greve de Lecq, is the de la Perrelle property. The heirs of Jean de la Perrelle received the property by the partage of Jean's late father, Philippe, of 17 October 1663.

Under the terms of this contract, in addition to the house they received Le Maresquet which measured 24 perch. When Philippe received it in the partage of his father's estate in 1624 it contained 27 perch and twenty pieds".

The lands to the south of the Le Ruez/Briard house belonged to the de Lecq Dumaresq families who were the tenants aprés décret of George Dumaresq, though it is unclear if their title derives from George Dumaresq.

The field to the east of the stream, Les Grands Jardins and that to the west, Le Clos du Menage de Maitre George, are both on the Fief of Leoville. There is no indication of the perquage having passed in this direction, it appears to have followed the northern most of the west branches of the stream to La Ville Bagot.

Contrat de bornement

Futher indications of the perquage in this area can been obtained from a contrat de bornement passed in 1606 between Jean de Carteret, Seigneur of Vinchelez de Haut, and Elie Dumaresq, Seigneur of Vinchelez de Bas.

This contract set out the boundary between the two fiefs. It started at the stream below the lands belonging to Edouard Hacquoil and followed the sea eastwards until reaching the 'greves de laicq' and the Fief Descracqueville. From there it followed the 'perquaige' and the track below the house of Benest Robert.

The Robert property passed to Guillaume Dumaresq in 1774; this is the house opposite the de la Perrelle house on the north side of the lane from Ville Bagot to Greve de Lecq.

There were no recorded mills on this perquage. However, on the east branch of the stream running to Greve de Lecq from St Mary there were two. Moulin de Lecq (or in older documents sometimes called Moulin du Ruaval) still stands towards the north end of the stream. It is fed principally by the east stream, but has of recent years also had a live water supply from the west stream.

Despite extensive researches of the neighbourhood, no documentary evidence has been found for this latter stream as a medieval supply for the mill. Moulin de Lecq had two ecluses, or mill ponds. The existing dried out pond is 'la grande ecluse'. The other, probably older pond 'la petite ecluse', was situated downstream of the first at the confluence with the next minor valley on its south, 'le vallet Codrey'.

'La grande ecluse' was established, or enlarged, on the site of Le Moulin de la Piperie, a site sold by the Crown to the Seigneur of Vinchelez de Bas in 1562.

Les Vaux Cuissin

The second perquage in the parish of St Ouen leads to the sea in St Ouen's Bay. There are only two sales, one by Edward de Carteret and one by Charlotte and Sara Hussey.

On 25 June 1664 de Carteret sold to Pierre Dauverne all the perquage beginning at the 'pont des Croix du Roy' and leading south-west, following the valley les vaux cuisin, until reaching the south-west edge of the lands belonging to Jean Dauverne, son of Jean, son of Jacques.

On 10 December 1715 Charlotte and Sara Hussey sold to Jean Vibert, son of Jean, all the perquage from that sold to Dauverne going west between Vibert's lands. Both sections of perquage are said to be on the Fiefs of Morville and St Ouen.

Pont des Croix du Roy is on Rue de la Ville au Bas at its junction with Rue des Nouettes. From here a stream descends down Vaux Cuissin to the sand dunes where its old course has perhaps been lost in Canal Vibert. Dauverne’s house is immediately north of the stream on the west side of the road.

Two articles have been published by Doctor Frank Le Maistre in the Annual Bulletins of the Societe Jersiaise concerning the Saint Ouen perquages. It is unfortunate that, having 'discovered' the existence of the second perquage through his local knowledge, when being presented with documentary evidence for its existence Doctor Le Maistre dismissed it as a scribe's error in locating the perquage on the Fief of Leoville instead of on those of Morville and St Ouen. He consequently identified all five sales as part of the Vaux Cuissin perquage.

Doctor Le Maistre further erred in his belief that the perquage had to lead to the church. Having correctly identified the pont des Croix du Roy as the starting point for the sale by de Carteret, the 1948 article extrapolates the perquage eastwards and then southwards to the parish church, whilst at the same time stating that there is no evidence for this extension.

Extensive research at the Public Land Registry into ownership of the fields to the east of the ‘’pont des Croix du Roy’’ in the area generally known as La Tihelle have produced no indications of perquage whatsoever.

These researches start from the early 17th century and the founding of the registry. Neither has evidence been found for a continuation of the perquage from the pont des Croix du Roy to the north-east along the public road which is known as Water Lane.

On three occasions the St Ouen perquages were inspected during the Visite Royale between the years 1613, when the records commence, and 1663 when the perquages were granted to Edward de Carteret.

On 5 July 1636 Thomas Jean was fined for having established a retting pit in the perquage stream. On 2 July 1657 Philippe Syvret, son of Jacques, was ordered to leave a sufficient width of perquage near his house and not to cultivate its edge on pain of a fine of 20 francs. On the same day Elie Jean was fined for having moved the water course from the middle of the perquage so that it flowed along one side where it had eroded the bank.

Jean was ordered to repair the damage and to reinstate the stream in its old course. He was also ordered not to appropriate the fonds of the perquage, but to leave it open for the benefit of the neighbourhood on the threat of a ten livres fine.

Le Marais du Val

There is only one reference to a perquage in Le Marais du Val. However, there are additional indications to its existence.

During the Visite Royale of 17 June 1613 the Royal Court passed along St Brelade's Bay, where they found a boat left on the perquage.

Jean Bisson meneur des enfans pierre bischard a l'amende pour un batteau trouvé sur percage appartenant auxdits enfans au pres du Temple de Saint Brelade".

At first sight this implies the so-called perquage at the south-east corner of the churchyard leading down a flight of steps to the sea. However, the Visite Royale is not supposed to retrace its route; once it has passed down a road it cannot follow that same section of road again, but must find an alternative route.

In 1613 the Court travelled west along the bay to the boat and then carried on in the Vingtaines des Quennevais and du Coin. Had they passed the south-east corner of the churchyard they would have been in the Vingtaine of La Moye and they would have had to continue up Mont des Croix towards La Moye.

A detailed history (from c1600) of the property lying to the south of St Brelade’s Church, adjacent to the supposed perquage, has failed to reveal any indication of perquage.

A stream enters St Brelade's Bay to the north-east of the church. This stream separates the Vingtaines des Quennevais and de la Moye. The land on both sides of the stream is on the Fief du Roi. The stream arises near La Moye school and follows Le Marais du Val to the sea.

There are no other records of perquage on this stream, either in the Court Records or in the sales by de Carteret and his heirs. However, there are indications of a lost perquage. The presumption is that the eastern part of the perquage was absorbed into the benifice lands and the cemetery to the north of the church.

A track runs alongside the western half of the stream from its source. This track is of unknown ownership, though this in itself is not uncommon for an old Jersey road. In 1905 the Crown sold several pieces of common in St Brelade to their tenants. One of these was a piece of land called Marais du Val, measuring two vergees two perch ten pieds. This bordered the land of Francois Philippe Le Cornu and Albert Le Gallais of La Moye House on its south, west and north.

Two houses to the north of La Moye House, in Marais du Val belonged in 1849 to the Queripel family and are shown on Godfray's map. The eastern one and its adjacent lands were sold by Emilie Queripel on 26 March 1853 to Philippe de la Haye; it bordered on its south La Commune or Marais du Val.

The western one with its adjacent lands was sold on 5 January 1856 by Emilie to Philippe Le Gallais of La Moye House, no south jointure being given. The houses are set back from the stream on its north side. Was this common the remains of a perquage?

There is only one supposed mill on this stream. Moulin du Grand Saut is shown on maps dating from 1679 to 1783. There is no documentary evidence for this mill and the proposed site indicated on the maps would necessitate the mill being either under-shot or horizontally wheeled. There were only two other possible under-shot mills in the Island at the time: Moulin de Friquet and Moulin de l'Hermitte.

Les Vaux

This perquage has been described by Julia Marett in an article published in the Société Jersiaise Annual Bulletin. Unfortunately, despite the evidence to the contrary, Miss Marett fell into the same trap as Doctor Le Maistre. Under the assumption that perquages start at churches, Miss Marett started her perambulation from Saint Peter's church.

As Miss Marett correctly states, the perquage followed the stream that rises near the church. The first section of perquage was sold by de Carteret to another Edward de Carteret on 20 October 1663, together with a small plot of waste land. The waste land was to the north of Edward de Carteret's property between the road and the perquage.

De Carteret was to leave a road of sufficient width to allow access to both a spring (fontaine) and the house of Thomas Herault which was between the perquage and the land of Philippe Maugier and his wife. The rest of the perquage he could join to the waste land as far as a boundary stone sited below the fontaine.

He also purchased the perquage from the boundary stone along his lands (which lay to its east) and those of Thomas Herault, Philippe de Carteret and Jean Balleine, until reaching further stones at the south end of the section of perquage.

On 15 June 1637 the Visite Royale considered La Fontaine Benite and, below it, La Fontaine de Bas, both of which were said to be sited on the perquage. They were both in poor condition and needed to be rebuilt for the benefit of the neighbourhood, the public and the Temple. It was decided that both should be repaired and that a lavoir be built at ‘’La Fontaine de Bas’’, the cost of the works was to be met by the principaux of the parish. La Fontaine Benite, which was thus clearly on the perquage, is not in the churchyard.

It was again considered on 25 August 1835, this time by the parish authorities at a parish assembly. The assembly was specially convened, following the very dry summers of 1834 and 1835, to consider digging a well and establishing a public pump near the church. The scarcity of water had caused hardship for the inhabitants of that part of the parish.

It was decided that a cast iron pump should be erected on the site of La Fontaine Benite. This pump, though refurbished, still stands and bears the date 1835. It is in the south-east corner of the junction between Rue de St Clement and Rue des Fosses. The perquage (going up-stream) follows the stream which turns east to La Fontaine Benite, one hundred yards south of the church. The perquage did not go to the church!

Edward de Carteret's house, La Retraite, lies to the west of Rue des Fosses opposite La Fontaine Benite. The Herault property, now known as Greenbanks, lies immediately west of La Retraite. The stream and the perquage passed between the two.

The next section of perquage, which was purchased by Elie Pipon, was adjacent to one of the commons of the Fief du Roi in Saint Peter.

The sale by Sir Edward de Carteret to Elie Grandin on 2 November 1675 was of the perquage leading to the south from Saut Falluet along La Billoterie. Here de Carteret gave a legal guarantee that the perquage was not subject to any third party's right of way.

No such guarantee was given in the sale to Helier Maugier on 9 August 1664, when it was agreed that if Maugier did not have peaceful possession of the perquage, he would be free of the rente created upon it in the sale.

On 19 December 1663 two sections of perquage were sold to Abraham Jamet and Jean Wealch. In these contracts, rights of way were created for Jamet. The Wealch sale included waste land immediately adjacent to the perquage.

Exchange for Alderney

Susanne Dumaresq, Dame of the Fief de La Haule and owner of Le Moulin d'Egoutpluie and its ecluses, purchased all the perquage co-extensive with her property on 18 June 1670. It is not apparent from the sale whether the perquage ran alongside the mill or the mill pond. The mill itself formed part of the Fief de Noirmont exchanged for the island of Alderney by Henry II or his predecessors with the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel. The stream, at its east end, forms the boundary between the Fief du Roi on its north and the Fief de Noirmont on its south".

On 18 May 1670, de Carteret gave a strip of perquage to the Parish of St Brelade. This was a road 13 pieds in width along the north side of the perquage and of sufficient height to allow carts to pass under any subsequent building that de Carteret may erect.

The strip was from the end of the meadow below the mill pond and reached as far as the sea. De Carteret undertook not to prevent the public from drawing water from the spring near the mill, as they had of old, and to allow access to the mill and other property from the part of the perquage that he retained.

De Carteret then sold the remaining strip of eleven pieds width to neighbouring owners.

Jacques Le Montais, who had acquired one such strip of eleven pieds from de Carteret on 3 October 1674, resigned it back to de Carteret on 15 August 1678. De Carteret then gave the same strip plus an additional length to the west to the parish of St Brelade. The parish was to establish lavoirs for the benefit of the public.

Charles Hamelin bought two pieces of perquage and several pieces of waste land at Saint Aubin.

In addition to the sales, the route of the perquage is clearly shown by the Visites Royales, not only the regular Visites, but also the specific visit to the perquage in 1645, when the Court was accompanied by Royal Commissioners.

On this latter occasion the Constable of St Peter reported that the perquage started near the cemetery (que le percage commence aupres du cimetiere) and followed the stream to Pont Brelade Alexandre without any encroachment au chemin. The Connetable of Saint Brelade reported that the perquage started at the Pont dudit Alexandre and followed the stream, except where it had been exchanged in 1620 by Thomas Rosze to the west of his jardin.

From there it again followed the stream without any encroachment, except where David Bandinel had exchanged the perquage above the ecluse of Le Moulin d'Egoutpluie. Below the ecluse the perquage again followed the stream, except where it had been exchanged by Jean Dumaresq and his wife to the west of his meadow.

The exchange of perquage by Helier Dumaresq is well documented by a Resort de Veue recorded in the Cour de Cattel on 29 October 1588. Following the inquest it was ordered that the exchange made to the south of the valley should remain as it was for the public good, being a more passable route for the chemin et percaige. The exchange was agreed by the Procureur du Roi and was effected at the same time as an exchange of the route of a separate public road.

The perquage then resumed its course along the faux bie to Saint Aubin without any public road (sans aucun chemin publicq). The faux bie was literally that, a false mill or canalised stream or a 'real' stream.

The other Visites in Saint Brelade record many persistent encroachments on the perquage. In 1613 Nicolas Blampied, Andre Boursette and Nicolas Careye and his wife were fined for having cut turf on the perquage. Careye, in right of his wife, la Dame de la Haule and owner of Le Moulin d'Egoutpluie, was also in trouble because the perquage was found to be of insufficient width alongside a meadow and missing altogether alongside the mill pond.

In 1616 Pierre Rose was fined for having made a retting pit in the perquage stream as were Augustin du Boys, Bastien Alexandre and Jacques du Pont.

On 20 June 1620 the Visite recorded the exchange made by Thomas Rose of a section of perquage to the south of the jardin belonging to Pierre Rose and his wife. Confusingly, the description of the exchanged land joins it to the perquage previously exchanged by Bandinel, whereas the 1645 visit implies that there was a section of original perquage between the two. The exchange was made in the presence of the Avocat-General, who gave his consent.

On 13 July 1642 Jean Sceelle, who had started building a wall near the perquage, requested the Visite confirm that he was leaving sufficient width for the perquage and that his works be allowed to continue. The Voyeurs and the jures were consulted and the perquage was measured.

Here it was referred to as the chemin du percage and was found to be in excess of 24 feet in width, plus reliefs, Sceelle was therefore permitted to continue. The road to the mill was acknowledged as being within the perquage.


The complaints against the owners of Le Moulin d'Egoutpluie continued. Notwithstanding the exchange mentioned in 1645, in 1650 Elie Maret and his wife were fined because the perquage was in a poor state of repair. In 1657 Susanne Dumaresq was fined for having built the wall of the ecluse on the perquage.

On 30 May 1666, the Royal Court visited the perquage in Saint Brelade to define its limits at the request of Edward de Carteret, who by then had the support of the Lettres Royales of 1 April 1664, and further to an Act of 5 September 1663. Fourteen pairs of opposing boundary stones were placed along the perquage.

The first pair separated it from the lands of Jean Seale and Thomas de Bourcy and the last were placed downstream, again between lands of Jean Seale, to the north-east of a spring. The only problem arose when the Court reached the section of perquage that had been exchanged by Susanne Dumaresq's predecessors, owners of the meadow above the ecluse of Le Moulin d'Egoutpluie.

Here de Carteret refused to acknowledge the exchange, even though it had been recognised on several occasions by the Royal Court and, as above noted, on the Visite in the presence of the Royal Commissioners. De Carteret's argument was that the Commissioners had not been specifically authorised and that therefore their approval was open to challenge, the Court found in Susanne Dumaresq's favour.

Saint Peter's Valley

The most northerly section of this perquage, starting from Saint John's Church and heading south, was sold by Edward de Carteret to Benjamin Lempriere on 5 December 1663. However, in 1645, at the time of the Visite with the Commissioners, it was recorded that in times past the perquage had run along Thomas Lempriere's meadow until it reached the south-west corner of the churchyard, but that it had been exchanged so that it led instead to the south-east corner. The stream in Saint Peter's Valley which the perquage follows rises near the the south-west corner of the churchyard.

The 1645 Visite, which followed the perquage upstream, records the next downstream section as still following the stream. It was sold to William de Carteret and others, except for two lengths of one perch at each end bordering the public roads. These were retained by Edward de Carteret.

The retained section to the north was to remain open. It abutted on to Rue de la Gombrette and the south section on to Neuf Chemin. The remaining section in Saint John was bought by Josue de Carteret, of Le Manoir de Saint Jean La Hougue Boête. This section was also partially in Saint Lawrence and in Saint Mary.

The 1645 Visite records another exchange at Clos du Pont. All of these sections of perquage were said to be on the Fief of Saint Jean La Hougue Boete.

In Saint Mary, the Visite of 1645 records that the perquage followed the stream, except where it had been exchanged in both Elizabeth Hue's and Edouard Regnault's meadows and the viviers of Jean Le Feuvre. From Chevre Rue north as far as the house of Hugh Hue the perquage followed its old course, the stream, but there was no chemin public, although Elizabeth Hue was obliged to suffer right of way to Hugh Hue.

The perquage followed the faux bie past the ecluse of Moulin de Gigoulande, the Crown Seigneurial mill for the Fief du Roi in the parish of St Mary. Part of the perquage sold to Aaron Journeaux had previously been exchanged from the other side of his meadow.

Philippe Laell bought two sections of perquage from Edward de Carteret in 1664, and his son Philippe bought a further section from Anne Brevin in 1710, by which time he had also acquired the section previously sold to Elie Le Feuvre.

The first sale bound Laell to suffer as tenants for the rest of the year those to whom de Carteret had already leased the section north of the ecluse of La Hague mill. Also included was the waste land on either side of the northernmost section of perquage.

Laell owned the malt mill which lies immediately downstream of Moulin de Gigoulande. A Grand Vue de Justice was reported at the Cour d'Heritage on 24 September 1691. It confirmed the earlier result of a Vue de Justice at which the land on either side of the perquage extending to the neighbouring lands was judged to be common. The sale of perquage to Laell effectively carved out a strip of land, 24 pieds wide, and left disputes as to the ownership of what was left on each side.

The 1645 Visite in St Peter recorded the perquage passing between Le Moulin de Tostin (also known as Le Moulin de la Hague) and its ecluse along the faux bie. Upstream from the ecluse it followed the stream between the jardins of Laell and Jean Huelin, where there was said to be '’chemin et percage’'. It was not mentioned alongside the ecluse.

On 25 May 1699 Philippe Laell was actioned by Anne Brevin to pay the rente he owed for the perquage he had purchased in 1664 at 2 sous 6 deniers per perche. Anne had right to the arrears by virtue of the transfer from Madelaine Durell, Sir Edward de Carteret's widow, effected the same day. The perquage was to be measured first.

Cour d'Heritage

At the Cour d'Heritage sitting of 23 May 1700, (although the Court was sitting on 3 September the Act bears the date of the opening day) Laell was again actioned by Anne Brevin to pay the outstanding rente. To measure the land in question Veue terme was fixed for the first Wednesday in the following November.

Henry de Carteret, Seigneur of La Hague and owner of Moulin de la Hague with its dependent Muse, was to be convened, as the perquage bordered on to the ecluse, the extent of which thus had to be defined. The ‘’Veue’’ was delayed on both 6 and 23 November, 7 December and again on 4 January 1701, when it was postponed to the first Wednesday in February. No record of the ‘’Veue’’ is to be found.

On 24 September 1702 Henry de Carteret was present at the opening of the Assise d'Heritage, where he was bound to appear both as one of the Jurats and as Franc tenant. At the end of the first session of business the Court was reconvened for the affairs of Jean Durell who had been sitting as Lieut-Bailiff.

Anne Brevint's attorney, who was the Lieut-Bailiff's son, Jean, brought an action of Loyal Devis, (to define a boundary) against Henry de Carteret, but the latter was found en default as he had already left the Court. At the next Assise, on 21 January 1703, de Carteret was again en default but was excused as he was ill. The action of Loyal Devis was deferred at the next Assise on 29 April 1703. Henry de Carteret suffered poor health and was excused attendance at the Court at each Assise for the rest of his life. He died in 1712.

Meanwhile, in 1710 Laell purchased a further strip of perquage from Anne Brevint and in 1713 he purchased from Charlotte and Sara Hussey all the rente he owed them for the perquages.

Remarkably, a collection of unbound notes of unknown authorship has survived relating to the action between Anne Brevin and Henry de Carteret. The three sheets of paper are headed (in free translation) 'Reasons why Henry de Carteret Gent claims not to be obliged to answer the action of ‘’Loyal Devis’’ brought against him before the Cour d'Heritage by Anne Brevin' and 'Reasons that Henry de Carteret gent humbly offers to the Court for which [damaged] holds not to be obliged to fix a date for (termer) Loyal Devis between Anne Brevint [damaged] on the action against him at the Cour d'Heritage to this effect'.

These notes give an interesting insight into the thoughts of one of the protaganists in what could have been a most informative legal action and are worthy of a detailed examination.

Several legal arguments surrounded Anne Brevint's powers of attorney. On 5, 6 and 12 October 1702, Martin de Gruchy had presented in Court an English power of attorney sent to him by a London merchant for registration in the Public Registry in Jersey. Although it had been witnessed by three well known Jersey merchants, the Avocat de la Reine, Anne Brevin's existing attorney, opposed its registration on the grounds that the power was worthless as it did not state where it had been signed and sealed. No defence was given.

De Gruchy, being a man of honour, could not act under an authority that he had openly acknowledged was defective before ten or eleven members of the Court. Jean Durell, Avocat de la Reine (1701-1726) was the attorney of Anne Brevin under a power signed in Lincoln on 29 January 1702, and registered locally on 18 April 1702.

Henry de Carteret

The unknown scribe of the notes suggested that, even if the power of attorney was effective, the action was brought against Henry de Carteret, who only claimed ownership, thus, as Anne Brevin did not recognise Henry de Carteret as owner, she could not action him in Loyal Devis as by her own argument he was not an owner able to answer.

The other reasons put forward on behalf of Henry de Carteret are:-

  • That the Patente granted to Edward de Carteret by the King could not be prejudicial to the public and was without prejudice to the rights of others.
  • That the perquages were public roads which had been regularly inspected by the Visites. The grant was thus legally void as all other roads were inalienable.
  • That there were no waste lands in Jersey, but that if there were any then they would have belonged to the seigneur of the Fief on which they were situate. Again the grant was null as Charles II could not have granted what was not his to grant.
  • That if the perquages were sanctuary paths they had been given to Henry VIII and Edward VI under the general terms of Acts of Parliament of 37 Hen 8 and 1 Edw 6. These acts, dated to 1545 and 1547 respectively, both concern the Dissolution of Chantries and Colleges and their seisin in the hands of the King. The scribe's argument was that if this were so, they would not have been subject to the Visite but would have been held by the Crown, as they had been by the religious houses, and would have been inalienable without the further consent of Parliament, again showing the grant to be null. It is difficult to understand how these Acts, any more than the earlier Confiscation of Alien Priories by Henry V, would have given possession of Sanctuary Paths to the Crown, a view clearly shared by the anonymous author. Property that fell to the Crown as a result of these Acts or

otherwise continued to be administered as it had been previously, it was not absorbed into the Fief du Roi.

  • That if the Court expressed astonishment at Henry de Carteret contesting the validity of a patente, there were many precedents:-
    • An ordonnance (quoted by Terrien, Livre XVI Chapter I) from Charles VII of France to the Juges of Normandy. Several persons had obtained letters from the French King which were either uncivil or had been obtained by giving false or untrue information. The Juges were ordered not to accept such Royal letters but to punish the perpetrators as they thought fit.
    • Reference is made to an Act of 2 Edw 3 concerning letters issued under the Great or Little Seales. The Act states: "Item it is accorded and established, that it shall not be commanded by the great seal nor the little seal to disturb or delay common right; and though such commandments do come the justices shall not therefore leave to do right in any point.
    • Further reference is made to an instruction not to accept Royal Letters when they are against the Law and to an Act of 20 Edw 3 where a similar order is repeated in stronger terms. The Act states: "We have commanded all our justices that they shall from henceforth do equal law and execution of right to all our subjects, rich and poor, without having regard to any person, and without omitting to do right for any letters or commandment which may come to them from us, or from any other, or by any other cause; and if that any letters, writs or commandments come to the justices, or to other deputed to do law and right according to the usage of the realm, in disturbance of the law, or of the execution of the same, or of right to the parties, the justices and other aforesaid shall proceed and hold their courts and processes where the pleas and matters depending before them, as if no such letters, writs or commandments were come to them; and they shall certify to us and our council of such commandments which be contrary to the law, as afore is said.
    • A work by an un-named Counsellor of the Temple 'The Govetnement and Lawes of England' is quoted: 'The King by the advise of his Privy Council doth publish Proclamations binding the subject provided they be not against the Statute or Common Law'.
  • That even if the Perquages had good title, Henry de Carteret had been possessed of the land in question (the ecluse of his mill) for more than 40 years, indeed for more than 100 years and that such possession was unquestionable and gave sufficient title under both the Customary Laws of Normandy and 'La Charte aux Normands'. This latter originates from two Royal ordinances, one of 19 May 1314, of Philippe Le Bel, concerning the prelates and barons and the other of 22 July 1315, of Louis X le Hutin, concerning the bourgeoisie. These were confirmed by two orders of Charles VII, of 7 October 1450, and 2 June 1458, upon his reconquest of Normandy. Although the Charte thus dates from after the separation of Jersey from continental Normandy in 1204 it is a statement, not a creation, of rights. Article 20 of the Charte confirms that 40 years peaceful possession gives title.
  • That Anne Brevin used her surname 'Brevint', which was against the usage of Normandy and Jersey where in judicial matters wives did not use the late husband's name after his death. Apparently Madame de Saint Ouen never did so during her widowhood. Anne Brevin’s attorney is accused of adopting English customs.
  • That, at the beginning of the reigns of the late King William and Queen Mary, Sir Edward de Carteret summoned the Court ‘’ex tempore’’ to the house of Lieutenant-Bailiff Le Geyt to give de Carteret possession of the waste lands in town where houses had been built towards the sea. This was opposed by Dumaresq, advocate for the inhabitants, and was judged to be too arbitrary. Sir Edward was dismissed and was to proceed in the usual form. This is cited as evidence that the authorities of de Carteret could be overturned.
  • That it is not unknown to break Patentes or other Royal authorities if they are against the law. An English lawyers' proverb is quoted '’Le Roy ne peut faire de tort car sil fait quelque chose qui soit de cette nature ce sont des suggestions malfondees son intention est que ce soit sauf autruy droit & que les Juges ny ayarrt esgard qu'aussy loin qu'il s'accorde avec les loix'’. Several famous examples are then given:-
    • The Statute 3 Car 1 (1627) is known as the Petition of Right. Commissioners had been assembling people and requiring them to lend money to the Crown and imprisoning them or summoning them to the Privy Council on their refusal. Others had been authorised to act under 'Martiall law' within the land and had been judging and executing offenders who would not have been executed under the laws and statutes of the realm.
    • Powers given by Royal authority for 'shipp money' were over turned and the procedures cancelled by Act of Parliament 17 Car 1.
    • Donations given to several persons by Patente under the Great Seale of forfeitures in Ireland were revoked by one act of Parliament.

Action not decided

Unfortunately, the action brought by Anne Brevin was never decided. Either because Henry de Carteret never regained his health sufficiently for the matter to proceed or because the action was withdrawn in the light of the arguments put forward on his behalf, or even as a result of agreement between Lael and Anne Brevin's heirs in 1710 or 1713. The evidence is clearly such that other parties supported the view held by Poingdestre that perquages were not sanctuary paths. The theory did not stand up to examination then; it does not now.

Downstream of Laell, Raulin Robin purchased a section of perquage which bordered on to the Common of the Fief des Nobretes. The next section as far as the road by Jean Le Grand's house (Oak Farm and Mont de l'Ecole) was purchased by Elie Pipon.

In September, de Carteret reached agreement with both the parish of St Peter and the owners of Moulin de Gargatte such that the perquage between the ecluse and the mill should be left open for the benefit of the mill and the public of the parish.

Doctor Philippe de Carteret, son of Francois de Carteret of La Hague, acquired the section of perquage between Moulin de Gargatte and Moulin de L'Houmel along the Mesnage de Gilles belonging to his father. Moulin de Gargatte was the Crown Seigneurial mill for the Fief du Roi in the parish of St Peter. Moulin de L'Houmel was a small malt mill on which a rente of four cabots of wheat was due to the Crown.

The next section was possibly not sold. A further section was sold in 1701, in two halves, to the Hamptonne family, after a ‘’Veue de Justice’’ decided its limits. It reached as far as the ecluse of Moulin de Quetteville. Moulin de Quetteville was the Crown Seigneurial mill for the Fief du Roi in the parish of St Brelade. Below the ecluse a section was sold to Jean Sealle in the same contract as his acquisitions in St Brelade.

Six perche was retained at the north end of the section sold to Josue de Carteret, which were to be left open. This was the furthest downstream sale in the valley and reached as far as the planque at Moulin de Quetteville.

Three sections

Between Moulin de Quetteville and the sea the perquage can be considered in three sections. The section between that mill and Moulin de Tesson, from Moulin de Tesson to the marais and across the marais to the sea.

Between Moulin de Quetteville and Moulin de Tesson there are several meadows, many of which are known as Les Pres de Tesson. They used to belong to the Crown, which probably derived title from the de Cheney family. Geoffrey de Cheney was killed at the Battle of Barnet in 1471, his eventual heir ceded the estates to Lord Broke in 1499 but the latter never gained possession of them.

The Crown had confiscated the estates after the Battle of Barnet and then, presumably, retained them. The 1274 Extente records that Le Moulin de Tesson et le pre were then held by the heirs of Guillaume de Chenny, of the escheat Guillaume Pynel, who had taken the side of the Normans after the loss of continental Normandy in 1204.

In the Extente of 1528 the mill was held by Pyers Lomeli for 14 escus. It appeared in the accounts of Saint Germain. Mrs Joan Stevens, in an article on Handois Manor, published a photostat of an interesting document from the British Museum. This is dated to 1583 and is an account of the yearly revenus of the Manner of Saint Jermayn (sic).

Though difficult to read, this document clearly refers to the same holding as that of Sir John Peyton in 1607 and recorded in the Extente. The 1583 document records the manor as being of ccviii acres xxi perques and xviii feet Jersey measure, each acre less than an English acre by more than a third part.

In fact, 2½ Jersey vergées are equivalent to one English acre. The 1607 Extente estimates the lands dependent from Saint Germain as about 210 vergées. The 1583 document mentions that the Manor includes a mill of small value. The mill in question was that of Tesson, but unfortunately a misunderstanding of the 1583 account has lead to the erroneous creation of a mystery mill at Handois.

In 1607 the Extente shows that the Fief of Saint Germain was held by the Crown, along with various sub fiefs including that of Chesnel (Chesnel = Cheney + Pinel) and the mill of Tesson which was valued at 58 escus per annum. The whole seigneurie was held by Sir John Peyton, the Governor.

On 25 April 1650 Sir George de Carteret produced to the Royal Court Lettres Patentes which were duly acknowledged in the Cour d'Heritage". These recorded the sale by the Crown to Sir George of the Fief of Chesnel, together with Moulin de Tesson and its dependant pres and cotils.

Civil War

These were promptly taken over again after the Civil War, when there was a bornement between Son Altesse (the local legal name for The Protector) and the owners of the adjacent meadows. Sir George regained possession after the Restoration.

Two pieces of meadow between the mills of Tesson and Quetteville were not included in the Pres de Tesson, though both abutted the perquage. Although there is no specific mention of the perquage in the sale to Sir George de Carteret, the absence of sales by Sir Edward de Carteret and his heirs would imply that Sir George had also acquired the perquage between the two mills.

Despite his heavy handedness with others it would perhaps have been unlikely that Sir Edward would have crossed words with his cousin, Sir George, over ownership of this part of the perquage. Unfortunately, the Visites after 1650 did not pass comment on this section of perquage.

The later sale by Lord George Carteret, Sir George's grandson, of Moulin de Tesson to Philippe de Carteret in 1695 did, however, include percage with the dependent lands.

The section of perquage from Moulin de Tesson to le marais was described by the 1645 Visite. The records show that there was chemin et percage between Denis Perrier's meadow and Pierre Gales' cotil, with the perquage being along Perrier's meadow, but that there was no chemin, only perquage between the lands of Thomas Salmon and Thomas Le Gros.

The perquage passed near Moulin de la Cave, an old malt mill (near what is now Ming's Restaurant). There were no sales by Edward de Carteret or his heirs of this section and it probably would not have been included in the sale of Moulin de Tesson to Sir George de Carteret.

Moulin de la Cave was leased by Jean Le Francois to Jean Fanouilliere and Judith his wife for a period of 15 years on 6 October 1602. The rental was to pay for the education of Le Francois's son in Jersey and for one year each in Guernsey and England to learn a trade.

There was also a Crown rente of two capons due on the mill. Jean Le Francois, probably the son, was declared en decret and the mill was sold by the tenants on 11 January 1622 to Mathieu Hubert and his wife. The lease, however, had included a meadow called Pre de Gibaut which was not included in the later sale but was owned by Philippe Perrier one of the tenants.

Perrier's son, Denis, sold Pre de Gibaut to Jean Bailhache on 2 May 1661. It was described as lying between the two bies and abutting on to another pre belonging to Perrier. The two bies in question were the leats of Moulin de Tesson (the tailrace) and Moulin de la Cave. The latter was fed by the side stream that comes from near the German Underground Hospital.

From Bailhache the meadow passed to Jean Denize who sold it on 17 April 1756 to Philippe Lempriere, when it was still described as lying between the two bies and abutting on to the pre of Thomas Bertault, in right of his mother, who was the daughter of Denis Perrier.

Lempriere then purchased two small strips of land, one from Elie Romeril and one from Thomas Bertault, which both lay between the bie from Moulin de Tesson and the public road. In summary, the Perrier meadow was split by the sale of the eastern part when Perrier retained the part to the west of the bie, the perquage ran along the west side of the meadow and became the public road, the small strip still held by Perrier's heirs lying between the bie and the road was then sold to Lempriere.

At the 1645 Visite the Constables of St Peter and St Lawrence, with their witnesses, advised that there were boundary stones on both the dunes and the marsh which delimited the parishes. However, they did not give a clear definition of the perquage through the marais.


A remontrance addressed to the Lieut-Bailiff and Jurats by the Constables of St Peter and St Lawrence on behalf of the Interesses of the marais was presented before the Cour du Samedi on 17 August 1667. It shows that de Carteret soon took matters into his own hands.

According to the Interesses, de Carteret had started to dig a trench or canal along a perche wide strip of land that he claimed in virtue of his grant, and had thrown the spoil to the sides so that he actually occupied more than a perche. In the course of the excavations, which passed by the foot of the parish boundary stone this latter had inevitably fallen over, this was expressly against God's Law and Man's Law.

De Carteret had even extended his excavations between Thomas Le Gros's meadow and Thomas Mollet and his wife’s orchard across the public road, which was thus impassable; a road used not only to reach the Common but also by Crown tenants in St Brelade to reach Moulin de Tesson.

The canal was of an extraordinarily great depth and de Carteret claimed to be able to establish a pond as well, all of which constituted a danger to the livestock of the Interesses, un precipice pour noyer et perdre le betail. The marsh was being drained and was consequently less fertile, to the prejudice of the Interesses, who paid rentes for the use of the water and had paid high property prices for the benefits of the marais.

The Interesses had seen the Lettres Patentes as they refer to the grant as having been made sauf autruy droit. They ask for redress for which they would pray to God for the prosperity of the addressees.

The Remonstrance requested that the Court find a remedy to their problems; de Carteret was summoned to be heard on the matter. On 3 September 1667 Vue termee was ordered for the following Friday the 13th. Unfortunately, though not unusually, the result of the vue is not recorded.

An agreement was eventually reached with the tenants of the Fief du Roi in Saint Lawrence. De Carteret gave up all claims he may have had to the fonds (ownership) of the marais in 1674 in exchange for three vergees of land, adjacent to de Carteret's meadows, and the canal which then separated the parishes of Saint Lawrence and Saint Peter. The

The water from Le Moulin de la Cave was to be allowed to flow into the marsh in times of drought. In times of flood, de Carteret was to allow the flood waters across the corner of his three vergees. All previous agreements reached between de Carteret and some of the tenants were cancelled. It was also agreed that the road that led from Moulin de la Cave was to be left open; perhaps this explains the disappearance of the middle section of perquage.

The meadow (Clos a Geon) that de Carteret owned in 1674 was the remainder of the inheritance he had acquired from Pierre Denize (younger son of Jean Denize and Jeanne Alexandre) in 1671, having sold most of the inheritance back to Pierre's eldest brother, Jean, in 1672. De Carteret had subsequently built a house on this land.

In January 1686 Sir Edward de Carteret gave all his canals and ponds together with his meadow and house to Jean Durell, his father-in-law, though he retained the usufruct of the house during his life. The sale included the '’voute’' that he had built near the sea to the west of the stream that flowed south-west around the Saint Peter marsh.

The earliest recorded use of the word perquage is from an Act of the Cour de Cattel of 1526. The court sitting was on 18 October and it is worth recording this, the earliest reference, in full:

‘’Le procureur du Roy et le denonciateur doibvent proubver vers eddouard blampy que dempuys le deffens de Justice il hau faulchy sus la comune du Roy et en outre le perquage’’.

Although the act does not locate the perquage in question it is probably at or near the marais in St Lawrence. Similar fines were imposed in 1527 for reaping in the marais against an earlier order from the Cour de Cattel of 13 June 1525 which prohibited reaping or the cutting of turfs before St John's day (24 June).

St Peter's Valley - St Mary's branch

There is a suggestion that there once existed a branch of the Saint Peter's Valley perquage that followed the side stream from near Moulin de Gigoulande north-west towards St Mary's church. The principal source for this is the Visite in 1603, but unfortunately the records of the Visites themselves only start in 1617.

This Visite is, however, recorded in the livres of the Cour du Samedi from a sitting on 25 September 1603. The Court had followed a supposed perquage from the cemetery at St Mary past the house of Thomas Guille to that of Jean Lael. Guille's house was La Fontaine to the west of the church, the Lael house was that of Philippe Laell above.

Various adjacent landholders had complained that the Court had only followed a track that some had heard tell was a perquage and had then proceeded to fine the owners for alleged encroachments on land they had held for upwards of 40 years.

On closer examination the voyeurs admitted that they had heard tell of the perquage from the elders of the parish, who likewise had heard tell from the elders before them, but they had not actually seen the perquage in over 40 years. The Court dismissed the fines and confirmed ownership.

One of the meadows adjacent to the stream is Pre de Betton, which was sold on the 9 April 1603 by Laurens Vibert to Michel Le Brocq. The meadow was described as including the issues between its western bank and the stream outside of the enclosed meadow.

On 14 April 1604, Jean Lael purchased from Gregoire Saulvage a strip of land and meadow below Saulvage's cotil on the other side of the road and lying between the road and the stream. It bordered on its south the lands of Michel Le Brocq. These sales presumably record the perquage or track.

Commissioners' report

The Commissioners' Report of 1515 adds further evidence for the existence of a road or perquage along this stream leading from St Mary's Church to Moulin de Gigoulande. Moulin de Gigoulande and 120 vergees of land known as La Tenue, had been leased to Guillaume Trachy in c1500. La Tenue is the property lying on the high land to the north-east of the St Mary branch valley and above Moulin de Gigoulande. The Commissioners also found that Trachy had blocked two roads near St Mary's Church leading to the sea and the mill.

It is not clear whether Trachy had blocked a public road or a perquage; one may expect there to have been a greater commotion from the populace if he had blocked a road.

The fonds of parish roads at the time generally belonged to the adjacent owner, with the public having no more than a right of way over the land. However, if the fonds of the road went with La Tenue, then it would have been the Crown's to grant, though still subject to the right of way.

Similarly, if it was perquage, then it could have been granted by the Crown together with the rest of the land. Can one rest on the voyeurs having heard tell of a perquage? Pass! Curiously, the house above the confluence of the two streams on the heights to the east is still known as Les Perquages.

Grands Vaux / Vallée des Vaux

The sales by Edward de Carteret and the 17th-century Visites of the perquage in Saint Helier are concerned only with the perquage which starts at Tunnell Street, near Lucas House, and leads along Hilgrove Street to the sea. However, there are traces of land that could be identified as perquage further up stream along both Grands Vaux and Vallee des Vaux branches of the stream.

The second earliest recorded use of the word perquage occurs in 1535. On 23 October 1535 the livres of the Cour de Cattel record a decision of the Court concerning the road that led from the house of Gracien Le Gros to the Chemin du Roi:-

Touchant le chemyn et matimore de entre John picquot et gracien le gros Il est trouvey apres le Raport de xii hommes sermentes que ledit chemyn nest point perquage dempuys la meson dudit gracien jusques au chemyn du Roy dont lesdits picquot et gracien en ont Requis Lettre

Although this is the second earliest recorded use of the word perquage it states that a certain road is not perquage. The Court at the time must have had an understanding of perquage and Le Gros must have had good reason and cause for believing that the road was perquage to have taken his case to the Court.

The act of 26 October is doubtless the result of an earlier act of 5 October ordering ’Veue termee on the following Monday between Le Gros and Picot.

A Crown rente can be traced through the Extentes. In 1528 Perin Le Gros owed two sums to the Crown, one quartier au propre and one cabot for la File de Carteret. In 1607 these rentes were due by Jacques Rondel for John Hamon in the discharge of Richard Benest, the entry for the greater sum adds that Benest was in right of his wife, the daughter of Gracien Le Gros. In 1668, they were due by Jean Le Masurier, son of Philippe for Rondel for Hamon though the smaller sum adds a stage in right of Martin Romeril. In 1749 they were due by Philippe Gruchy in right of his mother the daughter of Jean Le Masurier (son of Jean, son of Philippe).

Jacques Rondel, who had acquired a property in Trinity from John Hamon (son of Guille) upon which he owed the Crown rentes, sold it on 5 November 1603 to Philippe Romeril. His contract of sale states that the tenement had once belonged to Gracien Le Gros and that the greater sum due to the Crown was due for Perrin Le Gros, Gracien's father.

Romeril's son, Martin, sold the property to Philippe Le Masurier on 18 July 1607. The property was said to be on the Fief du Buron. From the Le Masurier family the property passed by inheritence to the de Gruchy (sometimes written as just Gruchy despite the popular belief that the 'error' does not occur) and Hocquard families and then to the Querées, the last of whom sold the house, then called La Lande, in 1947, still with the same two Crown rentes due on it.

La Lande forms the south-east corner of the junction between Rue de la Lande and Rue de la Petite Lande. The Chemin du Roi in question was doubtless that lying to the south, now known as Route d'Ebenezer, leading from Hautes Croix to Trinity Church. The road which was considered by the Court in 1535 was thus Rue du Pont des Oies, leading from La Lande to Route d'Ebenezer.

It is interesting to note that the most northerly source of the stream which flows down Grands Vaux is a spring just to the south of La Lande and which follows Rue du Pont des Oies to the junction with Route d'Ebenezer.

'Fossilised' perquage

Was the 1535 judgement wrong? Was the road perquage? Is all that now exists a trace of a 'fossilised' perquage? If the suggestion that perquages were 'eau publique' from source to sea is correct, then maybe the road was perquage and maybe Gracien Le Gros was right after all.

To the south of Route d'Ebenezer the stream passes through the Fief de la Trinité and possibly that of Dielament. Both fiefs formed part of the grant made by Henry III to Drouet (or Drogo) de Barentin in c1250 out of the then Royal Domain.

That the grant was carved out of the Royal Domain has been shown by a study of the Crown revenue in the Ministerium of Groecio in which the Crown rental between 1180 and 1274 was greatly diminished.

De Barentin was Senechal of Gascony and Warden of the Isles and his family had presumably recently lost its Norman estates by remaining loyal to King John, Duke of Normandy. It could be argued that the overriding factor in the grant was to maintain de Barentin's loyalty and that this was more important than the nature of the stream.

Indeed, two water mills were established on this stream on the Fief de la Trinité.

To the south again the stream flows into the Fief de Ponterrin. Moulin de Ponterrin was granted by Duke William, the Conqueror, to the Abbesse of Caen. Both upstream and downstream of the mill the meadows in the valley floor formed part of the Fief Common.

To the north of the mill the common was sold in two sections in 1800 by Philippe Ingouville, who had right from Thomas Le Hardy, the Seigneur.

To the south of the mill the meadow land was known as Pre de la Commune; it was sold in 1804 by Pierre Le Boutillier to Charles Le Quesne. Le Quesne was bound to perform the function of Prevot of the Fief de Ponterrin which was tied to the land. This tie was established in 1684 in an agreement which was reached between Pierre Le Boutillier (the prevot), the Dame and the tenants of the fief.

The land was then described as Petite Commune and was granted to Le Boutillier who, with his heirs in succession, was to perform the role of prevot in perpetuity in exchange for the land.

To the south of Ponterrin the stream crosses into the Parish of St Saviour and enters the Fief du Roi. The first section of meadowland is the common of the Fief du Roi in Saint Saviour. Along the west side of the common and to its south the stream nowadays forms the boundary between the Parishes of St Saviour and Trinity.

The Common was the subject of an agreement between the Crown and the tenants in 1803. It was to be enclosed and a gate established towards the public road; the future maintenance costs were to be met from the rental to be generated in leasing the meadow, it was also acknowledged that the Seigneur of Dielament enjoyed a right of way across the land.

The ecluse for Moulin de Louys Paul lies at the south end of the common and is to the north of Pre de l'Hommage, a meadow that until the early 19th century belonged to the Seigneur of Dielament, though the pre is in the parish of St Saviour, whereas the main part of the Fief is in that of Trinity.

The site of the original, or at least an earlier Dielament Manor lies to the west of Moulin de Louys Paul, which is to the south of the Dielament lands and is just in the parish of St Helier. This property had lost its manorial status by the end of the 15th century.

It was inherited by a junior branch of the Lempriere family in the c1507 partage of the property of the late George Lempriere. The senior side took the present manor.

Pre de l'Hommage passed with the new manor. On 18 July 1524 Janette, daughter of George Lempriere, gave the site of the old manor to Helier Bisson, priest, together with the two meadows to the south of Moulin au Mans (Moulin de Louys Paul), one of which was in the parish of St Saviour on the Fief of Grainville and the other in St Helier on the Fief of Meleches. The Fief of Dielament, as noted, was carved out of the Royal Domain.

Four mills

There were three corn mills and one fulling mill downstream of the common. Moulin de Louys Paul was built before 1537 by Thomas Le Mann on a bordage, with Crown consent in exchange for a rente.

Moulin des Grands Vaux was the Crown Seigneurial mill for the Fief du Roi in the parish of St Martin; Moulin de Malassis was also a Crown Seigneurial mill and was used by both the Crown tenants of the Fief du Roi in the parish of St Saviour and the tenants of the Fief of Grainville.

All three corn mills were thus under Crown control. The fulling mill occurs in the records of the 15th to 17th centuries and was owned by the La Cloche family. The stream then feeds the mill pond for Moulin de la Ville, which is sited near the confluence with the stream that descends Vallée des Vaux (Les Petits Vaux).

The stream in Vallée des Vaux at its north end forms the boundary between the parishes of Trinity and St John and flows south into the Fief des Augres. The origin of this Fief is lost in time but it is said to date from a Royal grant to a Gallichan or, as the name was then recorded, Le Galicien, at some time prior to 1274 when the Fief first appears.

The family were in Jersey by the end of the 12th century when they are recorded as making grants locally. There were at least two main branches of the family which both adopted the names of their holdings, viz de Handois and des Augres.

It has been suggested that the original Gallichan was a mercenary from Galicia in Spain rewarded for services rendered to Henry II by the grant in Jersey. The Fief des Augres had a watermill on Vallée des Vaux stream.

On exiting the Fief des Augres the stream enters that of Meleches, a large Fief probably created in the early 13th century by a Royal regrant of confiscated land with additional Royal Domain land. As with the Fief of Dielament, part of the Fief of Meleches can be shown to have been carved out of the Royal Domain.

Running along the stream on the floor of Vallée des Vaux are several long stretches of fief common, starting near Moulin Nicolle, an old converted malt mill, and leading as far as the ecluse of Moulin de la Ville (the mill had two ecluses, one on each stream).

This common is still to be seen today and is maintained by the parish. The principal common of this Fief in St Helier was at Westmount and along the coast as far as the General Hospital.

Moulin de la Ville was previously known as Grand Moulin du Prieur. It was granted by Henry II to the Abbey of St Helier, which was founded in c1155 and demoted to the rank of priory in 1179.

The streams from both valleys merge near Moulin de la Ville. The combined stream then powered Moulin de l'Hermitte, a small malt mill situated in what is now Le Geyt Road. A rente of two capons was due to the Crown on this mill. This mill is sometimes erroneously located in Le Geyt Street at Les Hemies.

Parish boundary

The stream continues its seaward journey. It separates the parishes of St Helier and St Saviour and the Fiefs of Meleches, on the west bank, and Grainville, on the east, as far as the bottom of Wellington Road, where the east bank of the stream runs into the Fief du Buisson, which is also in St Helier.

When the stream reaches Tunnell Street a branch known as Faux Bie flows west. The main stream continues its course and is known as Grand Douet. The junction with Faux Bie more or less marks the start of the St Helier perquage, as shown by the Visites and the sales by Edward de Carteret and others.

On 6 July 1614 the Visite passed along the perquage in St Helier. Noel Godel (in right of Clement Botterel) was fined for having partially blocked the perquage with a wall to the west of the Douet Godfray '’ou ledit percage commence'’.

Godel had acquired a small plot of land at the Planque Godfray from Clement Botterel in 1601. In 1602 he bought a house and Clos de Devant from Nicollas Descaudeville and his wife and in 1617 he bought a further plot of land from Philippe Le Cheminant. He sold all these lands and a one half share of Moulin de la Ville to Jean Le Hardy in 1628.

Godel was then declared en decret and in 1630 Jean Le Hardy, then tenant apres decret of Godel, sold the property to the latter's wife. In 1663, when the Royal Court, at the instigation of Sir Edward de Carteret, attended to the bornement of the St Helier perquage, they again recorded that they started near the house of Noe Godel.

In 1687 Godel's son, Noe, sold to Philippe Le Hardy the Clos de Devant to the south of his house and on the other side of the road, together with Le Parque, a small plot of land to the west of the clos and on the other side of the stream and extending as far as the perquage.

Le Hardy sold on to Jean Neel in 1693. The Godel house was sold in 1725 by Elizabeth Godel to Edouard Valpy, whose grandson, George, sold it in 1764 to Jacques Le Conte. Le Conte's daughter, Rachel, sold the site of the house in 1799 to David de Quetteville, whose son, Philippe, sold it to Thomas Baudains. His grandson, Thomas Edouard, still owned the land in 1873, when it was described as bordering Tunnell Street on its south. A six sous rente payable to the Crown can be traced through these contracts from the sale by Descaudeville to Thomas Edouard Baudains.

It would seem strange for a sanctuary path that lead from the parish church to the sea to start in Tunnell Street.

In December 1592, a disagreement arose concerning the perquage in Saint Helier. Alixandre Skiner and Francois Gruchy were fined for encroaching on the perquage. The former had recourse to Helier Dumaresq and the latter to Helier de Ste Croix, though Dumaresq claimed exemption from perquage.

The Court ordered an extract of the records showing exemptions and ordered a veue. The matter started before the Cour du Samedi but was transferred to the next sitting of the Cour de Cattel. In May 1593 Jean Faultrat and George Michel did not attend the Court, where the action was recorded as specifically relating to the perquage in the prays du coys. In October 1593 Jean Le Faultrat, Jean Le Brun and Edouard La Cloche were absent at the instance of Nicolas Lempriere, Helier Dumaresq and Aaron Stocall. The absentees had been required to advise the Court of the nature and width of the alleged perquage between the prays du coys.

In December 1593 Noel Le Geyt and Michel Le Geyt were absent. The court, however, ordered the witnesses to attend the next Visite. Unfortunately no more is heard, presumably the matter was successfully concluded at the Visite but the records have not survived. Only the definitive start of the perquage has been passed on.

Earlier dispute

An earlier dispute had arisen before the Royal Court concerning the St Helier perquage. On the penultimate day of November 1570, a veue was ordered for the Monday two weeks hence at the behest of the Procureur du Roi, who was complaining of encroachments on the perquage. Unfortunately the Resort du Veue has not survived, neither do the existing records show the specific section of the perquage which was in question.

From its artificial beginning at the Godel property, the perquage does not follow the stream. but cuts across the meadows. However, it does separate the fiefs of Meleches and du Buisson. The land to the west of the perquage is on the former and that to the east is on the latter.

The perquage and stream rejoin at the south-east corner of Pre de Rozel on the Fief des Augres. Only one of the pres to the west of the perquage is on a different fief, the Pre es Verrans or Pre du Rocquier is on the Fief es Verrans. This will be discussed later.

From the south-west corner of Pre de Rozel the perquage and stream cross Rue des Augres, or Bath Street, and then follow Hilgrove Street as far as the present day market gate, here the stream is diverted to the north but the perquage continued and led into the Royal Square, or Place du Vieux Marche.

On 5 September 1663 the Royal Court considered the perquage in St Helier.

On 8 October 1663 the Court visited the perquage and defined its physical width, starting at the lands of Godel and going as far as those of Susanne Dumaresq and Moyse Le Vavasseur dit Durel lying to the west of Pre de Rozel. The perquage was found to be of insufficient width and the parties concerned were ordered to make the necessary adjustments to their boundaries.

The Court proceeded along the lands of Thomas Hilgrove, where there were many encroachments. Those in the wrong reserved their right of action against their predecessors in title, but were fined for the benefit of Edward de Carteret.

The problems concerning the section between Thomas Hilgrove and Jean Dumaresq were adjourned for two weeks to allow the parties to consult their titles. De Carteret, out of his goodwill towards the public, ceded to the public the whole site of the Marchi save a small plot that he retained for the Corn Market (Halle a Bleds) for public use retaining the upper floors for his own profit.

The Court attended again on 23 October to delimit the perquage between the lands of Thomas Hilgrove and Jean Dumaresq. As he was the last to have built, Hilgrove was ordered to demolish as much of his buildings as necessary to furnish a perquage of 24 pieds width unless he could produce evidence to the contrary. De Carteret protested that nothing should affect his title to any terre vacante along the perquage.


On 2 June 1664 Edward de Carteret had presented to the Royal Court the letter of 1 April 1664, from King Charles II. This was followed on 16 July 1664, when the Royal Court again attended to the St Helier perquage at the further request of Edward, supported by his Royal Letter. On this occasion the measurements were taken with great care.

Between the properties of Thomas Hilgrove and Jean Ahier there were found to be 37½ pieds. From this was to be deducted the public road of 8 pieds, the stream equally of 8 pieds, including 4 pieds for the bed of the canal and 2 pieds relief on each side, and 1½ pieds relief for the walls on each side; this left 18½ pieds indicating that Hilgrove had encroached on the perquage by 5½ pieds.

Opposite Richard Dumaresq's house Hilgrove was said to have encroached 16 pieds. Between the properties of Abigail Dumaresq and Michel Lempriere there was a shortfall of 13 pieds and both parties were required to provide an additional 6½ pieds. Along this section the stream had been diverted to the north and the total width was thus 24 pieds for the perquage, 8 pieds for the public road and 3 pieds for the reliefs.

It has not been possible to ascertain the route of the perquage after Hilgrove Street with any accuracy, other than that it passed through the Royal Square and from there the perquage continued past the Corn Exchange and the parish cemetery. Its route from here to the sea is uncertain.

The site of the Peirson Hotel, the properties to the north and south of Vine Street and in part along Broad Street, derive title from 16th century sales by Royal Commissioners. The Commissioners' authority to sell lands, rentes and wastes was given by Lettre Royale dated the 27 June 1562. Les Chroniques, written in the 16th century, records these sales and the subsequent buildings: en la ville de St Helier, beaucoup de places vacantes ou main tenant est bastie plusieurs belles maisons et autres choses au profit et avantage de Sa Majeste?.

Unfortunately no copies of the sale documents have survived, but the properties can be traced through the Public Registry and the Crown Extentes. In the latter the properties are listed as 'For the New building edifyed within the Towne of St Helliers' and show a poulage rente.

At the Visite of 6 July 1614, Abraham Dumaresq complained of the Court passing across his property to which he claimed title from the Royal Commissioners; the Court had proceeded directly from Hilgrove Street to the Vieux Marché (now the Royal Square). The Court continued but allowed Dumaresq to appeal. Some of the voyeurs reported that the perquage had been said to pass along the yard of Nicolas Lempriere’s house and to turn into the Vieux Marché past the house of Pierre de la Rocque.

The Court again visited the area on 10 July 1617. Again Abraham Dumaresq protested, claiming that the perquage should pass in front of the house belonging to the heirs of Nicolas Lempriere. The matter was referred to the Cour de Cattel where it was discussed on 23 October of the same year. Veue termee was set for 6 November 1617.

Unfortunately the Resort was not recorded, but the outcome can be gleaned from the sales by Edward de Carteret to Jean Dumaresq son of Abraham. On 21 January 1665 de Carteret sold to Dumaresq the perquage and terres vacantes which joined on their north and south land belonging to Dumaresq and lying to the south of the house of Jean Dumaresq, son of Jean (this was the Lempriere house).

The sale also included 4 pieds to the west which were to be left open. On 20 March 1679 de Carteret sold to Dumaresq the 4 pieds, leaving open a 20 pieds road to the west towards the property of David Patriarche (this was the property of Pierre de la Rocque) to allow public access from the road to the north (King Street) to the Vieux Marché. The Dumaresq property through which the perquage thus passed is the isolated block, opposite Woolworth, including the Peirson Hotel.

The 1614 Visite, and those in 1624, 1627, 1630, 1634 and 1639, record encroachments on the perquage by the owners of the house that had belonged to de la Rocque (which eventually passed to Patriarche, this is the east end of the north side of Vine Street) and the occupiers of the estalles des souliers. Both parties were fined equally for faulte de laise.

Sir Edward de Carteret exchanged perquage for land on the Town Hill with La Vingtaine de la Ville on 2 November 1693. De Carteret ceded to the Vingtaine all the perquage from the land of the heirs of the late Jean Dumaresq above the Marché as far as the sea. The perquage across the Marché was to be maintained as it was and left open for the benefit of the public, notwithstanding his earlier act in 1663.

Corn Market

The States of Jersey proposed the building of a new Halle a Bleds (Corn Market) at their sitting of 25 Augus, 1668. The offer made by Susanne Dumaresq to build it at her cost in exchange for the possession in perpetuity of the upper floors was accepted.

Edward de Carteret (in right of the perquage and terres vacantes) relinquished all claims he may have had to the proposed site which was below (au bas) the Marché (that he had retained in 1663). A similar arrangement had previously been reached in the 16th century with Nicolas de Soulement concerning the old butchers' and corn markets on the south side of Vine Street, which he had built on land acquired from the Commissioners.

Continuing towards the sea there is no evidence for the route of the perquage which de Carteret had exchanged with the Vingtaine. It presumably passed around the north-west of the town church and along what is now Conway Street, skirting the benifice lands. In this region the perquage would have reached the land that formed the basis of several disputes entered into by those claiming title from Edward de Carteret to ownership of the sea frontage and which Edward himself tried to claim at the ‘’ex tempore’’ meeting at Le Geyt's house. This land has largely been reclaimed since the 16th century.

The spurious and the Dubious

In addition to the perquages described above there are several perquages which on closer examination are shown to be nothing more than the spurious and the dubious. There is no evidence for these; indeed, they can be shown not to exist or to be derived from compounded errors.

  • St Lawrence from the Church to St Peter's Valley
  • Les Perquages in St Helier - Perruques
  • Le Perquage or Castle Street
  • Saint Ouen
  • Bouley Bay
  • St Brelade's church - Le Coleron
  • Perquage map

St Lawrence to St Peter’s Valley

The route of the so-called perquage that led from St Lawrence’s Church to the sea via St Peter's Valley was published in 1946 by G S Knocker. Mr Knocker passed an undoubtedly pleasant Sunday morning, 13 September 1942, walking from the parish church along the track from the west end of the cemetery down the valley and on to the coast.

While his intentions were for the best, Mr Knocker admitted that he had carried out no research into the perquage, but thought it best to record what he saw before it was engulfed in waves of German rubble and a railway track. As is usual, Mr Knocker assumed that the perquage started at the church and then pursued the sanctuary path misnomer with commendable vigour.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence for this perquage; it is an unnecessary fiction created by the sanctuary path myth.

St Helier

Les Petits and Les Grands Perquages are recorded in Jersey Place Names as being on the Fief of Meleches, in the parish of St Helier. They were held by Noe de Gruchy and Ph Binet in 1814. This is no more than a copyist's error.

On 15 June 1805, Noe de Gruchy purchased a house and land from George Touzel. The lands included Le Grand Côtil des Perruques, le Côtil des Perruques, les Grandes Perruques and les Petites Perruques.

On 16 April 1814 Philippe Binet acquired the dime due on his fields from Clement Bailhache, included in the list of fields was ‘’les Perruques’’.

On 4 June 1814 Philippe Richardson also acquired the dime due on his field called ‘’les Perruques’’ from Clement Bailhache. Jersey Place Names correctly gives Richardson as holding Perruque in 1814. Under the same heading are recorded Le Cotil des Perruques, les Grandes Perruques and les Petites Perruques.

Le Perquage or Castle Street

There is no evidence for perquage here. Indeed, the whole area is on land reclaimed only since the mid-17th century. The south end of the street was reclaimed in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The north end, however, does derive title from Edward de Carteret. De Carteret sold an area of sand dune to Thomas de Quetteville on 30 April 1670, although the contract of sale records it as forming part of the ‘’terre vacante’’ the sale is indexed in the Table at the Public Registry as a sale of percage.

St Ouen

See above: La Tihelle

Bouley Bay

It has been suggested that a perquage ran down to Bouley Bay following the stream near Tas de Geon. No documentary evidence exists.

St Brelade’s Church

As noted above, there is no evidence for the supposed perquage exiting the south-east corner of St Brelade’s churchyard adjacent to the property known as Le Coleron. A detailed study of the property's history at the Land Registry back to 1630 shows it adjoined the cemetery but made no reference to perquage.

Perquage map

Reference must also be made to a map purporting to be a provisional map of the Jersey Perquages. This is printed as Drawing No 3 (facing page 28) in Old Jersey Houses, Volume 1. The map faithfully records the 'certain', 'probable' and 'possible' routes of the perquages leading from each of the twelve parish churches to the sea.

The 'certain' routes perpetuate the sanctuary path myths from the parish churches of St Lawrence, St Brelade and St Ouen (La Tihelle), as well as starting from St Peter's church instead of near La Fontaine Benite.

The 'probable' routes follow the perquages from the parish churches of both St Martin and St John as outlined above, and unexplained paths from the parish churches of both St Helier and St Clement to the sea.

The 'possible' routes include the postulated St Mary extension from St Peter's Valley and unexplained paths from the parish churches of Grouville, St Saviour and St Ouen (via Greve de Lecq) to the sea. There is also a suggestion of a sanctuary path route from Trinity church to the sea at Bouley Bay.

This map must be disregarded.


From the above several conclusions may be drawn. There is no record of perquage and sanctuary path being equated in historical documents, nor is there mention of a claimant of sanctuary following a perquage or any other specific path to leave the Island. Whilst this could be a result of random preservation of material, the evidence that the perquages did not actually go to the churches would, finally, be sufficient to disprove the myth.

The right of sanctuary in England, as affected by case law and statutes, is not reflected in Jersey. Conversely the English statutes concerning the Confiscation of the Alien Priories and the Dissolution of the Chantries and Colleges did affect Jersey. The property acquired by the Crown by the latter, including chapels and land as well as obits and rentes, was sold.

The fiefs and priories acquired by the Crown by the former were, and indeed in some cases still are, held by the Crown as separate holdings. They were not absorbed into the Fief du Roi. The Fief Courts continued to sit and to be administered independently and were known as the Bas Fiefs.

It is difficult to follow how any of these statutes could have transferred so-called 'sanctuary paths' from the Church domain to the Crown Domain and then allowed their absorption into the ordinary Crown organisation and their inclusion in the Visites.

The alternative suggestion postulated by Poingdestre that the perquages were the widest of the Jersey roads and were originally also used for army manoeuvres, processions and the like does not stand close scrutiny. Poingdestre could not have been fully aware of the routes of the perquages.

It would be difficult to equate army manoeuvres and processions with tracks which straddle streams and run along valley floors, though his comment that they were 'open' does imply maintenance or farming usage (perhaps grazing).

The perquages have long been accepted as being 24 Jersey feet wide, that is 24 pieds or 22 imperial feet. As noted above, there were many arguments over encroachments onto the perquages when they were found to be of insufficient width. There were also arguments about the land left in excess of 24 pieds once de Carteret had sold the perquages.

This was noted in St Peter's Valley near Gigoulande Mill and in the sale to Wealch in St Brelade. De Carteret also claimed any ‘’terre vacante’’ that there may have been in Hilgrove Street. The common in Vallée des Vaux is in excess of this width.


In St John in 1584 an enquest was held into the ownership of several strips of land between the perquage and Pierre Belin's hedge which were disputed between Belin and Clement Journeaux (probably Seigneur of Saint Jean la Hougue Bode).

The gens of the enquest reported that a perquage was of 24 pieds width, and any surplus belonged to the adjoining land owner. Journeaux was ordered to prove his title. The case was abandoned a year later on a technicality in that Journeaux had been incorrectly summonsed.

Were the perquages really 24 feet wide? Is this a circular argument brought about from the understanding of the origin of the word perquage, or has their width been standardised at some later time?

The word perche or perque (its Jersey French equivalent) would originate from the Latin pertica, (pole). The word percage or perquage is, in origin, a regular derivative of perche or perque (the supposed width) in Jersey French, or, if truly ancient, could represent a late Latin perticaticum (space measured out by one pole of standard length) or the act of such measuring. This proposal would require a Latin origin for the word perquage, but no Latin version is known.

Alternative derivations for perquage have been considered in the course of this study but they have been abandoned for linguistic reasons:- percaria (Corvees) and pourpresture (seizure on one's own behalf).

The streams

The outstanding feature of perquages is their association with streams. Except for sections that have been exchanged or can be shown to result from later arrangements, each perquage straddles a stream from its source to the sea.

The connection between the streams in Les Vaux, St Peter's Valley and Grands Vaux / Vallee des Vaux is Crown mills.

The one mill in Les Vaux is Moulin d'Egoutpluie, granted by Henry II, or his predecessors, before 1189.

There were eight mills in St Peter's Valley. The Crown Seigneurial mills for the parishes of St Mary, St Peter and St Brelade were all sited on this stream: Moulins de Gigoulande, de Gargate and de Quetteville respectively.

There were also three malt mills in the valley which owed rente to the Crown: Moulin à Bree at Valley Farm and Moulins de l'Hommel and de la Cave. Moulin de la Hague or de Totain is associated with Fief de la Hague and is in private ownership, its origins are lost.

There is, however, a rente due on it recorded in the Crown Extentes. Moulin de Tesson, though granted by the Crown in 1649, was the Crown's by forfeiture. It had been held by Guillaume Pynel, but was lost when he embraced the French cause in 1204 after the loss of Normandy. Pynel's land and mill were regranted to Guillaume de Chesney in 1244. The original, pre-1204, status of this mill is thus unknown.

In Grands Vaux there were seven mills upstream of the confluence with Vallée des Vaux. Moulins de Haut and de Bas were both attached to Fief de la Trinité, which was carved out of the Royal Domain by Henry III in c1250.

Moulin de Ponterrin was granted by Duke William, the Conqueror, to the Abbesse of Caen in cl060. Moulin de Louys Pol was built with Crown consent in the 15th century in exchange for a rente. Moulins des Grands Vaux and de Malassis were Crown Seigneurial mills for Fief du Roi in St Martin and St Saviour respectively, though the latter also served for the Fief de Grainville. The last mill on the stream was a fulling mill belonging in the 17th century to the La Cloche family.

There were only two mills in Vallée des Vaux. Moulin des Augres, belonging to the family of the same name, which was probably granted by Henry II to a Gallichan prior to 1180 when the heir owes relief. The second mill was another malt mill, Moulin de Nicolle, converted to corn in the 17th century with Royal consent.

Grant to Abbey

Grand Moulin du Prieur de la Ville was granted to the Abbey of St Helier by Henry II prior to 1179. There were three other mills down stream, all malt mills: Moulin de l'Hermitte and Moulin à Bree were on the stream above Tunnell Street. Moulin Debenaire was originally sited near Charing Cross but was rebuilt in the late 16th century on the same side stream, but near the Town Church at La Madeleine, on land acquired from Royal Commissioners.

By way of contrast the other main stream leading to Jersey's south coast flows down Waterworks Valley. Here the first mill only, which is the Crown Seigneurial mill for the Fief du Roi in Saint Lawrence, has a Crown connection. The rest are private and owe no rente to the Crown, even though some are actually on the Fief du Roi.

There is no evidence for a perquage in either Queen's Valley or Les Mouriers Valley.

One might have expected to find a perquage running the length of the streams in both valleys, along which there were Crown mills. The absence of any perquage could be due to its non-existence but it could also be due to the loss of all trace of its existence.

The land at the north end of Queen's Valley, in St Martin, belongs to the Crown and is known as Parcq de Belle Fontaine. To the south and on the other side of the main road, in St Saviour, is the King's Farm.

Both of these lands were in Crown ownership by way of forfeiture. The latter is the forfeiture Gasnier, Getruier or Garnier, as it is recorded in the Extentes. The former is possibly part of the lands of the Abbesse of Caen or of the Fille de Carteret forfeitures, with which it appears in the 1607 Extente, but may be unrelated to either.

Downstream of the King's Farm, which was also known as the Queen's Farm at the appropriate time, lies the ecluse and then the mill, of Moulin de Haut, a Crown mill since records began. Downstream again lies both the ecluse and mill known as Blanc Moulin, the Crown Seigneurial mill for the Fief du Roi in Grouville, together with Moulin de Beauvoir, a windmill. On either side of the latter water mill are Crown meadows.

At the south end of the valley lies Moulin Malet and its associated meadows, which were a dependancy of Fief es Malets, which Fief the stream then crosses. This is an unusual Fief in the arrangements allowing Crown tenants to grind at the Fief mill.

From there till reaching the sea the stream touches the common of the Fief du Roi in Grouville on its east bank; the west bank lies for some distance along land forfeited to the Crown in the 14th century by '’La Fille de Carteret'’.

Mourier Valley

Of the three mills in Mourier Valley, one was a 19th-century paper mill, one was a malt and fulling mill and the third was the Crown Seigneurial mill for the Fief du Roi in St Mary. This latter had been sold by the Crown prior to 1600, after which date it was sold with the verp of St Mary and two plots of land between the bie and the road (could these have been perquage?).

In part the stream borders onto the common of the Fief de l'Aumone which had been held by the Bishop of Coutances prior to the Confiscation, but the Bishop's title is unknown.

To the west of the malt and fulling mill the stream borders on its south-west the Commune du Nord of the Fief du Roi in St Mary and on its northeast the Common of the Fief de Saint Jean la Hougue Boete.

The only mill on the St Catherine perquage in St Martin is Moulin de la Perrelle, which belonged to the Fief of Rosel. The origins of the mill are unknown; there is no Crown rente due on it. It is possible, as Stevens suggested, that the original Rosel mill was sited nearer the manor.

This may have become the malt mill once Moulin de la Perrelle had been built. The Fief itself was regranted by Henry III in 1247 to Drouet de Barentin, Warden of the Islands, after its forfeiture by the de Fornet family, which sided with the French after the loss of Norrnandy.

The other three perquage streams are minor and have no recorded mills. There are many other minor streams without mills. There are, however, private mills to be found on some other streams. Neither Moulin de Longueville (or Darundel) in St Saviour, nor Moulin de Lecq on the east branch of the valley leading to Greve de Lecq, owed Crown rente.

The second mill on the latter stream is known only in the Crown sale of the ruined buildings in the 16th century. The single mill in Val de la Mare, Moulin de la Mare, was the seigneurial mill for the Fiefs des Vingt Livres and de St Ouen, there was no Crown rente due.

The remaining mill valley is Bellozanne, where there was a single mill, Moulin de Friquet, on which a Crown rente was due following its sale by the Crown. The mill was on the Fief de la Godelliere, but some of the resseants were tenants of the Fief a l'Abbe de Bellozanne.

Norman Practice

In continental Normandy visits were regularly held of the Crown water courses. Since the 16th century, these visits were recorded in the ‘’Proces Verbaux des Visites des Eaux et des Forets’’. Unfortunately the relevant fonds at the Archives of both St Lo and Caen were destroyed in 1944. However, some insight may be gleaned from other sources.

The river Merderet rises to the north of Valognes and flows south to join the Douve before reaching the sea in the Baie des Veys at Carentan. It was visited in 1446, 1553, 1554 and again in 1586.

One of the participants at the visit of 1553 was Gilles de Gouberville, ‘’Lieutenant des Eaux et des Forets’’. His daily diary and account book has survived and has been published.

De Gouberville, who lived at Mesnil-au-Val to the north of Valognes, records that the first stage of the visit took place on Tuesday 27 June 1553:

Nous allasmes dysner a Hemevedz, le procureur Vastel, maistre Pierres Collas et son clerc; nous y trouvasmes le Sr de Grosparmy. Appres disner, nous allasmes au Han et dela tout avalla riviere jusques a Fresville, puys nous en vinsmes. Il estoyt entre neuf et dix quand je passe par Vallognes.

The visit was completed three days later on the last day of June.

Des le matin, je m'en allé a Vallongnes, Symonnet et Lajoye avecques moy; de la nous allasmes, Berteauville et Nicollas Le Provost avecques nous, a Fresville parachever le cours des eauez. Nous fusmes aval la riviere jusques au port de Neufville, puys nos en vinsmes chez Symon de Brix, Sr dud lieu de Neufville, ou nos beusmes. En nos en revenant, nos le trouvasmes au Pont-Perche. Je m'en vins par Monstebourg; il estoyt six heures quand j'arrive céans

De Gouberville records an earlier visit on 19 July 1549, probably to the same river.

Des le matin je party de céans Guillaume, Campdepie et Herpin avecque moy pour aller au cours des eauez, nous passames par Vallongnes pour recueillyr l'advocat du Roy qui s'en vinst quand et moy, et maistre Guillaume Guardin pour greffier, nous montasmes sur l'eau au Han et fusmes jusques à la pescherye des Religieulx de Cherebourg, puys vinsmes monter à cheval chez le sieur de Beauchamp ou estoient nos chevaulx et de la m'envins coucher ceans, il estoyt viron dix heures de soyr.

In addition to the visits, de Gouberville was also in part responsible for the day-to-day policing of the water courses. In 1555 he was at Tourlaville. On 3 June he was advised that a moulin a drapz was being built on the Trotebec. He returned the next day with greater force and broke up the ecluse that one Ferrant Postel had established in the river course for the new mill.

On 21 September 1562, at the request of the Procureur des eaux et des forets, de Gouberville was present at the cleaning of the riviere des Prays at Tourlaville (pour curer ou fere parer la riviere des prays).

At its southern end the Merderet flows into the Douve. This latter having passed through Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte continues south-east and joins the Taute just north of Carentan before flowing into the sea.

The visitation of the Douve from St Sauveur-le-Vicomte to Le Fourc de Tautte fell to the Vicomte et Seigneur of Saint Sauveur-le-Vicomte and was carried out by his Vicomte, or the latter's lieutenant who had the power to remove and fine obstructions and abuses of the river and 'pescheries', whichever Fief they were on.

Early grants and charters from continental Normandy often listed with other appendages to a grant the expression cum ... aquis aquarum(ve) decursibus. This grant of a stream or water course is, unfortunately, absent in the very few Jersey references of the time".

Norman Law

L'Ancien Coutume de Normandie refers to both mills and water courses under the heading of ‘’Chapitre X – du senechal au duc’’.

A luy (le Senechal au Duc) appartenoit ... les eaues transmues dont le cours ancien estoit empesché il faisoit reduire en leur cours ancien, pourveu que la transmotion d'icelles ne portast dommage a aulcun. S'aulcun veult tourner eaue qui soit en sa terre, dont les deux rives d'icelles eaue soient assises en son fief, il pourra bien faire, pourveu toutesfois quant elle yssira hors de son Fief il la introduise en son cours ordinaire, et que en ce n'y ait dommage a aulcun. Pescherie ou moulin aulcun ne peut de nouvel construire, se les deux rives de la riviere ne sont assises eu Fief en quoy il ayt liberte.

This is reflected in La Coutume Reformee, Articles 206 and 210:

L'eau courante, comment se detourne.
Le Seigneur peut detourner l'eau courante en sa terre, pourvu que les deux rives soient assises en son fief, et qu'au sortir d'icelui il les remette en leur cours ordinaire, et que le tout se fasse sans dommage d'autrui.
Nouvelle pecherie ou moulin.
Nul ne peut faire construire de nouveau pecherie ou moulin, si les deux rives de la riviere ne sont assises en son fief.

Under the heading De l’office au Vicomte, Chapitre V, L'Ancien Coutume de Normandie refers to the Vicomte's jurisdiction of the water courses.

L'Office au Vicomte ... qu'il face tenir en droit poinct les anciennes voyes les sentes et les chemins, et qu'il face revenir les eaues en leur ancien cours qui sont remuées contre droit.

This also is reflected in La Coutume Reformée, Article 9:

Ainsi que les Rues, Ponts, Cours des eaux.
Doit ledit Vicomte faire paver les rues, reparer les Chemins, Ponts, Passages, et faire tenir le cours des eaux et rivieres en leur ancien etat.

Jersey Law

Poingdestre wrote commentaries on both the Ancien Coutume and the Coutume Reformée from the Jersey point of view. In relation to the Chapter of the Ancienne Coutume du Senechal au Duc Poingdestre confirms that the extract quoted above (from S'aulcun veult tourner ... ) contains de bonnes et utiles ordonnances concerning what he terms eaux publiques.

The chapter on L'Office au Vicomte he regards as superfluous as the jurisdiction of the Norman Vicomte was, and had been, a part of the jurisdiction of the Bailiff and Jurats. The Jersey Vicomte he regarded as a Sergent de l'Epée.

Turning to his manuscript commentary on the Coutume Reformée, Poingdestre relates his comments on Article 206 to the Chapter of the Ancienne Coutume Di Senechal au Duc. Poingdestre notes that the last words of the Latin text have been omitted by the reformers, such that a Norman seigneur was no longer required to have a specific right to build a mill if both banks of the river were on his fief.

Poingdestre adds that the law in Jersey necessitated that a seigneur had either a Royal grant or possession of the right from time immemorial to build a mill. Such a grant was clearly obtained for the building of Moulin de Louys Pol in Grands Vaux. There are several examples in Jersey of such consent being obtained in the 19th century for the building of wind and even steam-powered mills.

The Visite du Vicomte is recorded by Le Geyt. He states that the Vicomte had no jurisdiction at the Visites des Chemins where the Royal Court acted, but that the Vicomte acted on his own account, without the Court, on the Visite des Eaux. These visites, he states, were held in the parishes of Grouville and St Helier only.

The Vicomte swore in six witnesses (voyeurs) and was obliged to inspect the main streams in the two parishes to keep them in their ordinary courses and to cure flood problems. Le Geyt also makes the important observation that in his opinion the Vicomte acted only by tacit deputation in a similar vein to the Greffier acting on his own account to hold the court of the Fief d'Annvilie in lieu of the Bailiff and Jurats who were obliged to act themselves of old.

Le Geyt also records that the Vicomte received the fines imposed on the Visite des Eaux but had to reimburse the ’Recepte des Revenus du Roy, the Receiver, for the costs of a meal given to the voyeurs. As Le Geyt notes, an irregularity.

He comments on the Vicomte being referred to as the Juge des eaux et Forests as une petite raillerie.

Poingdestre distinguishes between eaues publiques and eaues particulieres. The former he defines as navigable rivers and streams of any size which pass through a village or town and are used for the community for mills and the like. No one is allowed to interfere with the water course to its detriment.

The eaux particulieres or private streams are for private usage, without interference within one's own land, though under Norman law the points of entry and exit of a stream into land, or a fief, could not be moved.

He adds a further definition that the private streams in Jersey are those down which the visite does not pass. Those that are visited are public as far as the visite extends, and can be private upstream from there. Le Geyt adds, under the title of '’de la Police de la ville de St Helier’' that one must not keep a tannery on a public stream (sur le bord de l'eau publique).

Just such an order was made by the Royal Court in 1615 when Jean Le Grand was ordered not to keep a tannery on a public stream at the instigation of the Procureur du Roi. The Le Grand property was perhaps that noted above in St Peter's Valley, which would confer eaux publique status on the valley stream.

Jersey practice

In practice, jurisdiction of the watercourses largely fell within the domaine of the Royal Court, though some seigneurial courts acted within the bounds of their fiefs. Moulin Debenaire was originally sited near the west end of town in what is now Sand Street. In the mid 16th century Pierre de Soulemont sold the mill to Estienne La Cloche, who also purchased two perches of waste land near La Madeleine from the Royal Commissioners with the agreed purpose of moving the mill and keeping water flowing along the stream to the south-west of the town.

Orders emanated from the Royal Court to La Cloche in 1562 and 1564 that he should clean the watercourse. Twice in 1577 de Soulemont, who had bought back the original mill, was ordered to allow water to flow in its ancient course along the south-west of the town, because the stream bed had become clogged with sand.

The Royal Court ordered on 14 November, 1579 that La Cloche should re-site the mill as originally agreed and compensate de Soulemont for his costs in restoring the old mill to working order. De Soulemont appealed. On 19 September 1584 the Court again ordered that de Soulemont should maintain a flow of water to the south-west of the town. These court orders followed upon reports from the Vicomte.

In 1595 the troubles were further upstream when the Vicomte was ordered to ensure the owners cleaned and maintained the stream. In 1598 the Court ordered the Vicomte to ensure that no one broke the bie or the stream banks but that the adjacent owners maintain them to allow free passage of water through the meadows to de Soulemont's mill.

A separate act concerning rights of wreck on the foreshore explains the importance of the continuing flow of water to the south-west of the town. The argument concerned the limits of the Fief de la Fosse and it was recorded that the douet de Hauteville still flowed towards the Rocquier Estur but that the stream flowing past the houses to the south of the town had been introduced to stop the sands from encroaching on the town; it was known as Douet de la Magdolaine (Madeleine). This water course came within the jurisdiction of the Royal Court but it was not perquage.

Six Sermentés (now equivalent to Constable's Officers in the Honorary Police) were sworn in for St Helier on 7 September 1560. They took oath for the good government of the parish as well as for the cours des eaulx. Although the actual oath then given has not survived, there was some interest in the water courses.

A Grouville stream had been removed from its ancient course in 1571. The Court ordered the Vicomte should attend and ensure that it was redirected to its ancient route. A similar order was made concerning a different stream in 1573.

Again in 1584 the court ordered the Vicomte to attend to a matter concerning the stream in St Helier. A tannery had been established near La Maison de Billot and the Vicomte was to investigate to make sure that the water was not becoming polluted.

In 1587 Thomas and Drouet Amy and Jean Bertram were en default against the Vicomte, who was actioning them to pay their contribution to the water fines (lamende des eaulx) in Grouville. The Vicomte was given power through the Prévot and the Constable to distrain upon their goods.

On the last day of April 1589 the Court recorded the inundations that had occurred to the meadows and adjacent roads in the parish of St Helier. These were attributed to the non-cleaning of the faux bies and the refusal of some landowners to allow the veue et visite du Vicomte.

Because of the suffering and public inconvenience caused, and considering that the Vicomte, of his office, was to maintain the water course ( ... les cours que ledit vicon a de son office a maintenir ... ) the Court ordered the faux bies be cleaned and that the Vicomte carry out his visits in the future as he did elsewhere ( ... en fera visite a ladvenir comme en ses aultres places ordinaires).

On 14 November 1590 Philippe Lempriere, son of Hugh, of La Maison du Roulx, was ordered by the Court to repair his wall near the house of Pierre Le Riolley so that it did not fall and block the stream.

Helier Hamptonne of Ponterrin Mill had raised the dam of the mill pond such that the lands up stream were flooded in 1591. Philippe Romeril and Pierre Le Boutillier were allowed to proceed with their action and the officier (Vicomte) was to attend.

The following month in St Clement, the Vicomte was to attend on site where the Sermentés des Chemins reported that the water had been turned.

The Court again considered the St Helier meadows in 1603 and repeated the order of April 1589. On 17 January 1605 the same matter was again considered concerning the water courses, the cleaning of the bies and the faux bies in the meadows.

The Vicomte was ordered to carry out his obligations and to clean below the planque de hauteville so that the water ran freely. The Vicomte was given power to seize goods of defaulters. An addition to the act extends it ... en tout cest Isle ou sestend cest charge.

In light of Le Geyt's views and comments concerning the Vicomte’s participation in the visite des eaux these 16th and 17th-century acts can be regarded as a mediaeval or post-mediaeval addition to the custom of Jersey.

Whether this addition could be attributed to a general revision or updating of Jersey custom following upon the ready availability of published editions of the Coutume de Normandie from the late 15th century is a topic beyond the scope of this present work. In dismissing the Vicomtes involvement the resultant distinction between streams is that some are publique and some are particulier.

It is principally the '’publique’' streams that are lined with Crown mills and that were subject to a visite. This visite in Norman law was by the Vicomte; it is acknowledged that the Jersey Bailiff carried out the functions of a Norman Vicomte.

The streams on the Fief Haubert de St Ouen came within the jurisdiction of the Seigneurial Court. In June 1612 Philippe de Carteret, the Seigneur, was authorised by the seigneurial court and by the use of his prevot, sergent or other court officers to stop anyone from diverting the stream from its old course with the threat of a 20 franc fine.

In June 1634 the Seigneur, at a court sitting, allowed Pierre Le Brun, son of Collas, to divert the mill stream (presumably Moulin de la Mare) on Saturdays, but on threat of a fine if he should do so on any other day.

Daniel Touet was ordered to reinstate the stream in its ancient course on threat of a fine, in May 1637. The action was brought by Estienne Carrel and concerned the stream that separates the fiefs of Vingt Livres and Luce de Carteret. At the Court sitting of 12 August 1669 Jean Le Sebirel and Philippe Bauche were both fined for having diverted the water course across the seigneur's lands without consent.


A comparable situation existed in Guernsey, where the Fief Le Roi was of different origin. In Jersey the Fief du Roi was the remainder after the Crown had granted out fiefs; in Guernsey the Island had been granted by Duke Richard II in 1020 half and half to the Vicomte of the Bessin and the Vicomte of the Cotentin.

Through a complicated history the former became the fiefs Le Comte and Saint Michel, and the latter in part became Fief Le Roi, though other fiefs have since been added for various reasons.

A commentary on the Coutumier de Normandie from the Guernsey prospective was published in 1826 by Thomas Le Marchant. The Prevot du Roi, in virtue of his office, was obliged to visit the water courses and to maintain them in their proper, ancient routes.

However, if the Prevot was challenged in his action, the case was referred to the Cour Superieure and the Bailiff and the Jurats.

1309 Assize Roll

The perquages appear only in the documentary record from 1526, but they must have existed earlier. The evidence put forward above is indicative of their existence from earlier times and their continued survival on certain fiefs as commons.

The 1309 Assize Roll records many instances of encroachments being made on the King's highway ( ... propresture de via regia) and on the King's common in ten of the twelve Jersey parishes. There are also instances in two parishes of encroachment of a different kind. In both Grouville and St Helier there were encroachments on the King's water course ... obstruxit cursum aque.

In Saint Helier the obstructions were:

  • William le Petit obstructed ij pied in width and vj perche in length *William of Rosel, junior likewise
  • William Aymer ij pieds and viij perches
  • William le Petit of Rosel ... ij pieds and v perches

In Grouville the obstructions were:

  • Peter Desert, iv perches
  • Peter le Fevre, iv perches
  • Robert le Desvee, likewise
  • Ralph Martyn, vi perches
  • Richard des Pres, iij perches
  • Gervaise le Desvee, iij perches
  • Richard le Desvee, likewise
  • Richard le Hurtour, vi perches

These encroachments are in the same two parishes recorded by Le Geyt as being subject to the Vicomte’s visit. The Le Petit family, of which three members appear to have fallen foul of the authorities in St Helier, were from Rozel, though they also had property in St Helier.

The family died out in the male line and the property passed to the de la Rocque family. One of the Le Petit holdings was the Fief es Verrans in Saint Helier, and it was the Prés es Verrans on that Fief which was noted above as adjoining the Snt Helier perquage. The obvious question - was one of the Le Petits fined in 1309 for obstructing the King's water course or perquage?

Although certain streams were defined as publique, what does this mean in an 11th century context, what notion of 'the public' then existed? It was a feudal society and any property that was not granted was retained by the Seigneur or by the Crown within its own domains.

Although no indication of a width of a 14th-century King's water course is given, they must have included more than just the stream bed. An encroachment onto the watercourse ii pieds in width for vi perches in length (1 foot 10 inches wide and 132 feet long) implies that more than the stream bed had been ploughed, an indication of a strip of land along the stream. Was it a perche wide?

A French red herring?

Under modern French law a riparian owner along a navigable river is subject by statute to certain servitudes. Along one bank of the river a Chemin de Hallage must be left: this is to be 7.80 metres in width. The owner may not enclose his land within 9.75 metres on the Hallage side and 3.25 metres on the opposite bank.

Prior to the metrication of measurements, the old Chemin de Hallage was of 24 feet in width and no enclosure was allowed within 30 feet of the river, or within ten feet on the opposite bank. These restrictions were servitudes on privately owned land. Their origin is to be found in an Ordonnance of Louis XIV of 1669 le fait des Eaux et Forets. These 24-feet chemins can be seen on the Plan Cadastral of the Orne and on the modern survey map.

Earlier orders existed concerning the Seine and its tributaries. These relate to navigation and to the transport of merchandise to Paris. An Edit of Francois I of May 1520 required that the riparian owners suffered and maintained the chemin de vingt quatre piedz de lé along their property as of old, it summarises an earlier ordonnance of Charles VI.

chemin au long des bortz et rivaiges desdites rivieres [the Seine and its tributaries], en quelque estat que les eaues soient, doibt estre de vingt quatre piez de lé, et les arches, gords, pertuys et tous autres passages estans sur lesdites rivieres doyvent pareillement avoir vingt quatre piedz de lé.

The ordonnance of Charles VI, of February 1415, establishes Regulations for the Prevot des Marchands et echevins de Paris and creates new related officers. Paragraphs 680 and 681 reflect the existence de toute anciennété of these 24-feet chemins along the Seine and its tributaries and prohibit any encroachment or blockage on them.

Jersey was occupied by the French from 1461 to 1468. Pierre de Brézé, Comte de Maulevrier, Grand Senechal of Normandy, was appointed Seigneur des Iles. As Grand Senechal of Normandy, de Brézé had been involved in the reorganisation and the administration of the province following upon its reintegration into France after the defeat of the English at Formigny in 1450. Would it be possible for de Brézé to have introduced a formal, standardised width for the existing Jersey water courses based on the servitude imposed on the riverains of the Seine?

This might seem an exaggeration of the effect locally of the French occupation, but its effects were long lasting. The origin, or at least the consolidation of an earlier origin, of the States of Jersey can be traced to the ordinances of de Brézé as can the practice of commuting outstanding rentes in kind due at Michaelmas to a money payment after the Taxe des ventes on Saint Lawrence day's.

Did de Brézé also reorganise the perquages and, in standardising their width, provide the name by which they were subsequently known?

No Latin version of perquage occurs in the documentary record. Does this suggest a post-Latin date for the origin of the word, which is first found in 1526? Was the word coined in the late 15th century from perque, the imposed width, and '-age’ a suffix derived from the Latin but used in its own right?

Evidence of such usage of ‘-age' can be seen in the word bedelage, which is known only in Jersey. It has been shown to have appeared in the first half of the 16th century by the addition of '-age' to the term bedel a name erroneously used in Jersey since that time to describe a sous-bordier. Perquage, as a post-Latin word, could then be interpreted as 'something which has been fixed at one perche?’.

The survival of the Perquages

Large areas of central Jersey were granted out in Fief by Henry II (1154-1189) and Henry III (1216-1272), other grants were made to Abbeys. Not all these grants were out of the domain, some were regrants of earlier confiscated or forfeited fiefs.

The grant made by Henry III to Drouet de Barentin of the fiefs of Dielament, Trinité and St Jean de la Hougue Boete are believed to have been new grants out of the Royal Domain, though the latter is unknown before the 13th century and could be a regrant. The first two ignore the perquage but the latter respects it, there are mills only on the Fief de la Trinité.

Henry III also granted the Fief of Meleches. This is known to be largely a regrant and it respects the perquage, which became a Fief common, though the perquage here is isolated by the earlier grant to the Abbey of Saint Helier.

De Barentin was also granted the Fief of Rosel by Henry III which again is known to be a regrant of an earlier holding. Again, the perquage is respected, though de Barentin or his successors do appear to have acquired a mill on it. He was a powerful man locally perhaps not above usurping rights.

Henry II granted the Fief des Augres out of, it is thought, the Royal domain. The Fief enjoys a mill and there is no perquage. He also granted Grand Moulin du Prieur (Moulin de la Ville) and Town Marsh to the Abbey of St Helier. This grant, if it included the perquage, would have cut the perquage.

Futher upstream, Moulin de Ponterrin was granted in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, again isolating the perquage upstream, which was subsequently ignored in the grant by Henry II to de Barentin.

Why should some grants respect the perquage and others ignore it? After the loss of Normandy the Island became a front-line state in sight of the enemy shore and it is conceivable, if not probable, that a Royal grantor was more concerned with the preservation of the Island and a loyal grantee than with streams.

Prior to that date, milling may have been relatively more important, though the circumstances prevailing at the time of any particuliar grant might be reflected in the terms of that grant. This topic is open to much speculation.

Another topic to be considered, though this again can be little more than speculation until further archaeological evidence is found, would be a change in mill type. Nearly all of the known water mills in Jersey had a vertical wheel and were fed by a water system based on mill ponds and leats.

This involves damming a water supply and running a leat along the side of a valley to the mill site, which itself is also usually on the side of the valley. The date at which this technology came into fashion locally is unknown.

An acknowledged earlier mill type, much used in the Scandanavian world, is based upon a mill with a horizontal wheel. These mills sat in the valley floor, usually straddling the stream which flowed underneath them, and they were fed by a small dam and a short shute parallel with the main stream.

Could the demise of the perquage be a reflection of a shift in technology from valley floor horizontal mills to valley side vertical mills? Could this change in milling technology be reflected in Norman Law?

It was necessary to have control of both banks to be able to build a mill - is this a reflection of the horizontal-wheeled mill sitting on the valley floor? It was also permitted to deviate a stream as long as its points of entry and exit to the property or Fief remained unaffected - is this a reflection of the vertical wheeled mill with its requirement of a mill pond and leat system set aside from the main stream?


The perquages were not sanctuary paths. There was no such thing as a sanctuary path. The myth equating sanctuary path to perquage and the consequential striking of a route from each parish church to the sea should now finally be laid to rest.

The right of sanctuary existed and was well used, there was no need for special paths. This is not to say that a perquage was never part of the chosen route followed by a forbani from his place of sanctuary to a boat, but such was not the raison d'etre of the perquage.

There were two main features shared by the perquage.

  • They were subject to the Visite des Chemins.
  • The mills along the banks of the streams followed by the perquage were principally either Crown mills or owed rente to the Crown.

From Norman and hence Jersey law it can be, and has been, shown that ownership and control of both banks of a stream were necessary for the right to build a mill, though in the latter Crown consent was also required.

Such streams controlled by a Seigneur were the eaux particulieres, which fell outside of the jurisdiction of the Royal Court and were not subject to the Visite des Chemins. Conversely, certain other streams were regarded as eaux publiques, these were visited by the Royal Court (Visite des Chemins) where the Jersey Bailiff carried out functions equivalent to those of a Norman Vicomte.

In the 14th century the eaux publiques or 'King's Water Courses' came within the jurisdiction of the Itinerant Justices. In the 15th century those that then still existed (not Vallee des Vaux and others, see above) may have been standardised to 24 pieds perche in width by de Brézé.

Perhaps the name by which we know them today originated from this standardisation, which has also added to the confusion as to their origin. In the 16th century they came within the jurisdiction of the Royal Court on the Visite des Chemins as perquage. In 1663 they were granted by Charles II to Edward de Carteret as one family's recognition of another's loyalty, devotion and service.

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