The ancient title of ‘Seigneur du Fief ès Poingdestre’ has been acquired by American citizen James Kaye, from Colorado, U.S.A, for an undisclosed sum.
It is the first time that the legal title to this particular Fief (an area from Sorel Point on Jersey’s North Coast, down to Sion in the Parish of St John) has ever been sold on the open market, having only previously been inherited through 19 generations of a local family dating right back to 1544.
Most land in Jersey Fiefs and their Seigneurs were held in Feudal tenure, with allegiance to the Dukes of Normandy. The Fiefs generally continue today but are of sentimental and ceremonial value only as the title of ‘Seigneur’ no longer comes with the ownership of land, residential rights or property, but it still retains significant honour and privilege.
Its holder is required to attend the prestigious annual ‘Assise d’Héritage’ ceremony in the Royal Court in September where title-holders acknowledge their duty to the Crown, known as ‘comparence’, in a ceremony normally presided over by the Bailiff with the Lieutenant-Governor in attendance.
Seigneurs, originating from the French word for ‘Lord’ or ‘Dame’, enjoyed privileges and powers under the old feudal system, including typically practices like the ‘corvée’ – the carriage of the Seigneur’s wood, wine and hay wherever required – and receipt of ‘rentes’ (a form of debt or tax) recurring payments from tenants related to the agricultural productivity of their land. Most of the rights once enjoyed by Seigneurs were, however, abolished by law in 1966.
The purpose of this sale was uniquely and very generously to raise funds for Jersey Overseas Aid’s humanitarian relief work in the war in Ukraine.
The completed sale did not require the formal consent of the Crown but it did need to be formalised by a unique contract passed before the Royal Court. It was entitled to be purchased by anyone in the world, regardless of gender or nationality and the title therefore did not require the holder to be a Jersey resident.
Advocate Carl Parslow, Managing Partner said: “We were delighted to represent our client in what was a very out of the ordinary transaction. It was a privilege to be involved in this interesting legal matter, especially as our client was willing to travel all the way across the Atlantic in order to appear before the Royal Court in person to acquire an important part of Jersey’s history.
Upon his purchase, Mr Kaye said: “I’m incredibly honoured to be a small part of the rich and beautiful history of Jersey and very much look forward to building a future with the Island.”
Mr Kaye has also agreed to lend to the Jersey Archive a parchment detailing the family tree of the Le Quesne family who held the title of the Fief since the 1400’s.
Pictured: Left to right – Sue de Guelle (Parslows), James Kaye and Mel Guest (parslows)