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List of Viscounts of Jersey

The Deputy Viscount bearing the Royal Mace in 2008

The Viscount of Jersey (French: Vicomte de Jersey) has, since the 14th century, been the chief executive officer of the Royal Court of Jersey. Since 1930, court services have been provided by the Viscount's Department (French: Département du Vicomte)[1] in conjunction with the Judicial Greffe. Until 1973 the Viscount was appointed by the Crown; since 1973 Viscounts have been appointed by the Bailiff of Jersey.

The principal function of the Viscount (also referred to in Channel Island English by the Jersey Legal French title of the Vicomte) is the execution of the orders of the courts of Jersey. This involves managing fines, bail monies, seizures, confiscations, evictions, service of process, arrests for non-appearance in court and other enforcement procedures.

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

The Viscount also acts as coroner to deal with matters relating to sudden or unexpected death, and administers estates of deceased persons.[2][3]

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

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

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


The Viscount carried out other functions historically: till 1885 the Public Markets were under his control. He was Comptroller of Weights and Measures and a member of the Prison Board. He read aloud Royal Proclamations in the Royal Square. A notable action of the Viscount during the exile in Jersey of Charles, Prince of Wales, was the proclamation in the Royal Square of the Prince as King, following the execution of his father.[4]

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

The Biographical Dictionary of Jersey by Balleine says:

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


From To Viscount Deputy Viscounts
1708 1716 David Bandinel Richard Dumaresq (1715)
1716/7 1741 George Bandinel Sr. George Bandinel Jr. (1723); John Dumaresq (1731); Helier De Carteret (1735); Charles Marett (1741)
1741 1743 George Bandinel Jr.
1743 1785 Thomas Durell Philip D'Auvergne (1759-1761, 1762); Charles Marett (1761); Clement Le Montais (1763-1764); Nicholas Messervy (1764-1768); George Benest (1768)
1785 1842 Matthew Gosset Thomas Gallichan (1785-1796); Thomas-Louis Lerrier (1796); Francis Marett (1799); John Winter (1802-1812); Charles de Ste Croix (1812-1823); Philip Le Gallais (1823-1842)
1842 1875 John Le Couteur
1917 1929 Edmund Toulmin Nicolle
... ... ... ...
1946 1974 Herbert Vyvian Benest
1974 1981 Philip Misson[5] Dennis Ferbrache (1974-1981)
1981 June 2015 Michael Wilkins[6] Dennis Ferbrache (1981-1996), Peter de Gruchy (1996 to 2012),[7] Advocate Mark Harris[8] (2013-2015)
July 2015 Advocate Elaine Millar[9] Advocate Mark Harris


  1. ^ “Loi (1930) constituant Le Département du Vicomte”
  2. ^ Inquests and Post-mortem Examinations (Jersey) Law 1995
  3. ^ Departments of the Judiciary and the Legislature (Jersey) Law 1965
  4. ^ Balleine's History of Jersey, Marguerite Syvret and Joan Stevens (1998) ISBN 1-86077-065-7
  5. ^ "JEP Archive - 00012276.jpg". Temps Passe. Jersey Evening Post. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  6. ^ "Minutes of the States of Jersey" (PDF). States of Jersey. 13 October 1981. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  7. ^ "Deputy Viscount Peter de Gruchy retires". Channel News. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  8. ^ "New Coroner Appointed". Channel 103. January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Lawyers Chosen For Top States Jobs". Channel 103 web site. Channel 103. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015.[permanent dead link]

External links