Nicolle history of St Helier - Chapter 20

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Social functions

It was customary in olden times, as it is still today, for the members of the Court and those who owe act of presence at the Assize d'Heritage, to dine together after the function was over at the Crown expense. This privilege of dining in the King's presence, theoretically of course, Edere cum rege, the correct expression, was a very ancient custom.

Custom revived

These banquets had apparently been permitted by the King's Receiver to fall into desuetude, probably at the instigation of the Governor, who in those days enjoyed the Crown revenues. But the Bailiff and Jurats, tenacious of their privileges, soon discovered that they were in imminent jeopardy, and, equal to the occasion, passed an ordinance calling upon the Receiver to revive the custom. Acknowledging the ancient right, he quietly acquiesced.

The Assize d'Heritage dinner was not the only feast over which trouble had arisen. It was customary when a Jurat or other official of the Court was admitted to office, for the newcomer to invite his colleagues to dinner, and at the close of each law term the Advocates were bound to entertain at dinner the rest of the Court.

On 15 January 1592 the Court ordered the Advocates to pay the cost of the customary repast under a penalty of a fine. Whether the Advocates' fees had diminished and they had deemed it advisable to practise retrenchment is not recorded, and it required the watchful eye of the Court to revive it.

On 26 May 1618 a curious Act of the Court related how Advocate Daniel Lempriere, wishing to plead in a suit, was warmly opposed by Jean Le Hardy, the Solicitor-General, on the ground that he had not paid his contribution to the cost of the last dinner offered by the Bar to the Court. The Bench ordered him to effect a speedy settlement.

An act of the Court of 25 September 1673 recorded that for some time past, those admitted to office had omitted to provide the customary feast and entertainment, and the Court deemed it right and proper that cognisance should be taken of this neglect, so that so excellent and praiseworthy a custom, whereby he who practised it evinced his friendship and his wish to be on good terms with his colleagues, should be revived.

So the Court solemnly proceeded to order, on the motion of the Attorney-General, that all those recently sworn into office, who had been so heedless of the rights of others, should invite the Court to dinner either at their own house or elsewhere at their cost. They were directed to do this before the following Christmas and it is important to note that they had to do so severally and not conjointly, each one fixing the day most convenient to himself and issuing his invitations according to the date of his admission to office. The Court expressly barred any attempt to combine in offering joint hospitality. Any refusal or neglect, moreover, to attend to this little matter was to be met by the Attorney-General providing "un honneste repas" - a substantial meal — at the cost of the disobedient.

Nicolle: The Town of St Helier
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