Channel Islands Genealogy
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Getting started with Channel Islands researchBailiwick of Guernsey and the States of Jersey.
The Channel Islands lie scattered along the Gulf of St. Malo, their closest point to France being just 8 miles from the Cherbourg Peninsula. They are British, but do not belong to the United Kingdom. Yet in the past they were ruled by France for only 200 out of the 900 years during which they were at the centre of a tug-of-war between the two countries. They are partly in the European Union, but do not bow the knee to Her Majesty's Government in Great Britain, but loyally toast the Queen of England, as "Our Duke of Normandy".
They have their own language, a Norman-French patois is still spoken, but everyone speaks English. They have their own banknotes, but deal in familiar pounds and pence sterling.
At the time of the Norman Conquest the islands, in return for staying loyal to the English Crown when King John lost his French possessions, were granted in 1215, rights and privileges that amounted to self-government, subject only to Royal assent through the Privy Council.
The islands' parliaments evolved gradually from the Royal Courts by the constitutions of King John. The bailliff, who presided over a court of 12 jurats, began to consult other leading members of the community -Les Etats, or the States as they came to be called - about the running of the island. It was not until the mid-18th century that the separate functions of the Royal Court and the legislative body, the States, were cleary defined, and not until the 19th Century that elected representatives began to sit in the States. Under a postwar reform that followed the German Occupation in W.W.11, the number of elected deputies was increased, and the jurats and rectors who had previously sat by right in the States were dropped.
The parishes continued to be represented, and the jurats were replaced by 12 senior statesmen, known as senators in Jersey and conseillers in Guernsey, whose purpose was to bring political maturity and continuity to the more democratic island parliaments.
Jersy's States Assembly now consists of the bailiff or deputy bailiff, 12 senators, 12 parish constables, 28 deputies, the dean of Jersey, attorney-general and solicitor general.
Guernsey's States of Deliberation comprises the bailiff or deputy bailiff, 12 conseillers, 10 douzaine (parish council) representatives, 33 people's deputies, two Alderney representatives (since that island comes partly under Guernsey's administration), HM Procureur (attorney-general) and RM Comptroller (solicitor-general).
Jurisdictions, Channel Islands Places
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Did you know?
The Society of Genealogists Library in London has the microfilm of the Guernsey Civil Registration Indices from 1842-1969.
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