A glossary of Channel Island terms

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Glossary of Jersey terms


The colombier at Samares Manor

Jersey has many job titles, geographical terms, weights and measures and other words which are unique to the island, or have a meaning different to that found elsewhere.

This list and the descriptions to which it links, are partly based on a 1945 article by historian the Rev George Balleine and also on Christopher Aubin's 2011 book A Glossary for the Historian of Jersey.

The glossary includes a selection of words relating to the structure and positions in the era when Jersey was administered on a feudal basis, with power lying in the hands of the seigneurs of the fiefs.

This glossary is an introduction to some of the more obscure subjects to be found within our pages.


  • Abjuration, the process by which Huguenot Roman Catholic immigrants from France were required to renounce their religion
  • Acre - Ancient land measures equivalent to two Vergées.
  • Advocate, a lawyer with a right of hearing before the courts of Jersey
  • Appairiement, a formal list of the tenants of a fief with their holdings in that fief and rentes foncieres due. The tenants were subdivided into chefs de charette and aides. Each chef was responsible for being or providing the prevot on an annual rota, the aides assisted in the financing of the post. This system of organisation had evolved by the 16th century in replacement of the bouvée system. It also applied to the paying of prévoté, and on some fiefs the provision of the sergent and other duties owed by the tenants. New apperiements were periodically drawn up at the instigation of the court to allow for the change of ownership of land due to inheritance and alienation. The tenants were required by an Act of Court to produce aveux of their holdings and the rentes and services due on pain of saisie of the land held on the fief. A list of known surviving apperiements (the earliest example being that of the Crown fief in the parish of Grouville for 1595) is to be found in the Société Jersiaise library.
  • Apprécieur, a valuer of land. Each of the 12 parishes has appointed six since 1891.
  • Arpenteur public, land surveyor or measurer, qualified to provide land measurements for the Royal Court and also for private clients in connection with leases and property transactions.
  • Assize d'Heritage, an ancient land court unique to Jersey
  • Assize, a court trial before a jury
  • Assize Roll, a record of the triennial Crown Commissioners' visits in the 13th and 14th centuries
  • Attorney-General, the senior law officer in Jersey


  • Bailiff, the head of the island's judiciary and speaker of the States
  • Bailiwick, the Channel Islands are divided into the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey
  • Banon, land open to parishioners to graze their cattle
  • Billet d'Etats, the agenda and papers relating to a meeting of the States
  • Bouvée, a land measure from the 14th century and earlier, equivalent to 24 vergées. Those occupying a bouvée in Jersey had a significant standing in their parish. A caruée was equal to ten bouvées.
  • Branchage, cutting of roadside verges and hedges


  • Cabot, a measure of volume, unique to Jersey: an eighth of a quartier. Important in determining the value of rentes.
  • Centenier, the senior members of the Honorary Police
  • Champart, a levy of every twelfth sheaf harvested owed to the Seigneur of a Fief
  • Charabanc, the forerunner of today's coach
  • Chef rente, the rent owed by tenants to the Seigneur of a Fief
  • Chemin, a road
  • Chevauchée, inspection of the roads by the Feudal Court
  • Chief Minister, senior Minister of the island's government
  • Churchwarden, parish church officers
  • Clameur de Haro, an ancient legal injunction, unique to the Channel Islands, which can be invoked by any islander who believes he is being treated unjustly
  • Clos, a cul-de-sac
  • Colloquy, old church court
  • Colombier, a dovecot. Only the seigneurs of major fiefs were permitted to have colombiers, on the basis that the doves/pigeons fed on the grain in surrounding fields. An illegally erected colombier would have to be demolished, or a fine paid to allow it to remain.
  • Congé, levy paid by the purchaser of property to the Seigneur of a Fief
  • Consistory, old weekly church meeting
  • Constable (Connétable), the elected head of each parish.
  • Constable's Officer, junior members of the Honorary Police
  • Coutume, the customary Norman law which applied in the Channel Islands from 933 to 1204 when they were part of the Duchy of Normandy, much of it remaining in force to this day.
  • Crown Officers, the generic term applying to the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General
  • Cueillette, district of Parish of Saint Ouen - all other parishes have Vingtaines


E, F


H, I

J, K



  • Mession, the period between sowing and reaping of crops when land was not open for grazing (see Banon).
  • Militia, the Island's resident military force
  • Minister, political head of States department


  • Normandy, the closest French region, with links to picture galleries of towns twinned with Jersey parishes
  • Notary, legal official appointed by the Church


  • Ouie de paroisse, a verbal notification, made in a parish after Sunday service, of the terms of a private transaction

P, Q

  • Parish, 12 administrative divisions of the island
  • Parish Assembly, official meeting of parishioners
  • Partage, A legal agreement to divide inherited real estate between heirs
  • Poulage, levy on each dwelling house, originally paid in chickens, owed to the Seigneur of a Fief
  • Prevot, officer of Seigneural court
  • Principal, ratepayers entitled to attend Parish Assembly
  • Procureur du Bien Public, parish official
  • Quintelage - table of amounts due by each tenant of a Fief


  • Receiver General, administrator of Crown revenues
  • Rector, incumbent of parish church
  • Regent, schoolmaster
  • Rentes, an old form of mortgage
  • Retrait lignager, an old right by which any blood relation of a seller could buy back a property for same price as the buyer had paid, to keep it in the family.
  • Roads Committtee, elected parish committee
  • Royal Commissioner, appointed by the Privy Council to investigate complaints
  • Royal Court, the island's senior court of justice


T, U

  • Tenant, land owner
  • Terre à l'Amende (literally "penalty land"), private property on which the landowner has the authority to apply fines for unauthorised use


W, X, Y, Z

Further reading

  • A Glossary for the Historian of Jersey, by C N Aubin. This Jersey Heritage publication, still in print, is heavily weighted towards legal terms, but can be very useful for anyone conducting detailed research into their family history involving the study of contracts and other court documents.
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