St Peter's perquage

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St Peter's perquage



This article by Julia Marett was first published in the 1947 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise. Since it was published the use of perquages as sanctuary paths has been disproved


Sanctuary

In the days gone by when men fleeing from justice could find safe harbour in the sanctuary of the Church, from each of the parish churches of Jersey, however far inland, a path led to the sea, and the criminal was still safe whilst he kept to this path and could then take his chance of escaping out of the island.

These paths, or percages, as they were called because they were a perch in width, have now nearly all disappeared, but their direction may in many cases be traced. They usually followed the flow of some stream winding along with many a bend from the high land of the island to the southern coast. The percages ceased to exist when all those in the Island were given by King Charles II on 30 May of the 13th year of his reign, to Sir Edward de Carteret, Viscount of Jersey, Cup Bearer to His Royal Highness James Duke of York, in consideration of the good services which both he and his father, Sir Philip de Carteret, had rendered to the King and to his father Charles I. This gift was entered in the rolls of the Court of Jersey on 18 July 1663 and immediately Sir Edward began selling parts of the percages to those who owned land touching them.

Manuscript book

In the La Haule Manor Library is an interesting and valuable manuscript book into which have been neatly written, probably by some clerk, copies of the contracts dealing with the sale of the percages and of the waste lands of the Island, which were included in the gift. The contracts dating from 1663 to 1697 are in the name of Sir Edward himself, those from 1700 to 1710 are in the name of Dlle Anne Brevin, Sir Edward's sister and heiress to his gift. She was the wife of Dr Brevin, Dean of Lincoln. The remaining contracts are in the names of Charlotte and Sara Hussey of Wellbourne, Lincolnshire, her granddaughters and heiresses. These date from 1713 to 1716 and deal mostly with repayment of rentes due to Sir Edward by the original transactions.

From these contracts I have put together those referring to the percage from St Peter's church to the sea.

Route follows stream

This percage followed the little stream which, rising near the church, flows ssw through St Peter's Common, under the common road, on through meadows to Saut Falluet, where again it is crossed by a road leading from St Peter's Arsenal. Between Saut Falluet and the Franc Fief Road, a little above the house now called Pont Rose, the stream leaves St Peter's parish and enters St Brelade. Then, passing under the Pont du Val, it flows south to Pont Marquet, where it is joined by another stream flowing down the little valley from La Fontaine, the residence of the late Viscount, Mr C Le Gros, to whose wife it belongs. Then the united streams flow SE to Greenville. As far as this the little stream can have seen few changes; it still runs its peaceable course through meadows, but after Greenville on its way to the sea, which it enters at St Aubin's harbour, it has lost its importance.

In the 17th century there was no main road to St Brelade crossing over the stream by a high and wide bridge. This was built only in 1865, and having been cut out of the hillside must have quite altered the appearance of the valley. In those days the stream, from near where the bridge is now, entered the mill dam which covered the site of what was recently a meadow, but having been raised by the deposition of the parish rubbish, is now cultivated and built over land round which the stream flows, and then passing beneath this main road enters the "prey de l'ecluse", the only bit of the mill property which still belongs to La Haule, though the owner of the mill in 1663, Susanne Dumaresq, left it to follow the entail of the La Haule property.

From this meadow, part of the stream was diverted to become the mill stream which flows behind St Aubin's Hospital, and which then, after turning the mill wheel, must have joined the main stream flowing down the valley and flowed free into the sea. Now, this mill stream has an ignominious ending flowing down ugly drainpipes by the side of the one remaining wall of the old Moulin Desgouttes-pluye, probably the oldest remaining bit of building in St Aubin, and then underground into the harbour.

Before roads

What changes there have been since in St Aubin. All the waste land of those days has been filled up and built over; then the stream flowed free through sandy soil and was crossed by planks before the houses or the only two roads, the High Street and the Rue du Moestre or Market Hill. There was then no harbour, no quay, no road along the coast between St Aubin and La Haule, all was sea shore and this waste land was part of the gift to Sir Edward de Carteret.

At this period, the second half of the I7th century, building on the waste land was just beginning, the older houses on the pier and in High Street belong to this period.

Landowners

These contracts show us who owned the lands all along the percage from St Peter's Church to St Aubin. The house near the church where the stream took its source belonged to an Edward de Carteret, then Constable of St Peter. It seems probable that the spring is in the property now named Les Issues. Its gardens are said to be east of the percage and west of the land of Thomas Heraut, Philip de Carteret and Jean Balleine, the house of Thomas Heraut being near that of Edward de Carteret.

Jean Balleine, son of Guilleaume, then buys the next part of the percage from the lane which divides the Fieu du Roy from the Fieu des Vingts Livres, a dependency of the Fieu Haubert of St Ouen, running south and south west to the road which crosses the common south west of Balleine's meadow; while Elie Pipon buys the part adjoining that of Edward de Carteret. Elie Pipon lived at the house now named La Fosse, near the Church; becoming Seigneur of Noirmont in 1766 In 1783 he sold the house and lands to Matthieu Horton.

After the road which crosses the common two houses stand one on each side of the stream. They were then owned by Jean Le Marquand and Abraham Dumaresq, who buy the percage adjoining their properties. The map of 1849 shows that Le Marquands and Dumaresqs were still at that date owners of these houses.

Between them and the Saut Faluet Road, strips of land were bought by Jacques Dumaresq, Philip Alexandre, Philip du Val and Pierre Becquet. Philippe Du Val lived on the road above opposite the Clos des Pauvres of St Brelade, the others probably at what is now Cherry Farm, but which was formerly three houses, one of which is now an outhouse.

Below Saut Faluet Elie Grandin buys the percage as far as the garden of the heirs of Thomas Mauger, on the fief of La Hougue Dirvault and along the meadow of Thomas Baleyne to La Billoterie, whose owner, Thomas le Gerche, also buys a strip.

Next Matthew Alexandre takes the percage west of his meadow, le pray de Sauvalerie, which is said to be on the Franc Fief, and another strip along le clos de Sbirel, which is on the Fief du Roy. Brelade Alexandre then buys what is left of the percage in St Peter's Parish, that is as far as what was then called Pont Alexandre, but is now named Pont Rose, and the continuation in St Brelade as far as the main Franc Fief road.

Here, the stream runs under the Pont du Val through the meadow to Pont Marquee; those who bought parts of the percage along it being Philip Horman of Pont du Val, Nicolas Orange of Le Couvent, of which only a wall remains, Guillaume le Bas of Highlands, Andre Orange, Nicolas Salmon, who owned the house named Le Vallon still belonging to his descendant Mr F Le Rossignol, Jean Rose, who lived in an old house Le Pre, dated 1735 and which is near Le Vallon, and Pierre le Brocq, who lived near Pont Marquet at what was known as Satchwell's cottage and is now owned by Mrs. Stapleton.

Streams join

Under the Pont Marquet two streams meet, the streams that form the boundary of the Franc Fief, and the united stream runs through the meadows to Greenville. David Le Feuvre dit Filliastre owned the old house on the west, south of the bridge, then came Elie Valpy dit Janvrin, Helier Mauger, who lived at La Gehennerie, an old house now belonging to Colonel Vatcher, and at Greenville itself, Jean Wealch, Abraham Janet and Jean Trachy.

A little stream rising near Tabor and flowing through Colonel Vatcher's property to join the main stream here divides the Vingtaines of Quenvais and Noirmont.

South of Greenville Thomas de Boursy owned the farm now called Orange Farm, after its late owner Mr J H Orange, then David Bandinel bought a strip and Suzanne Dumaresq of La Haule, who then owned the Moulin Desgoutes-pluye with its mill dam, mill stream and adjoining land, bought that part of the percage which adjoined her property. Nearer St Aubin John Le Couteur, Jean Seale and Jean Durell purchased what adjoined their properties on the east side of the stream and below the mill, Jacques Le Montais and Charles Hamlin.

Edward de Carteret also made two gifts of percage to the parish of St Brelade en consideration de Ia bonne affection qu'il porte au bien public de la paroisse. In I670 he gave as a public roadway thirteen feet in width all along the percage from the meadow belonging to Suzanne Dumaresq, below the mill dam as far as the sea, keeping the eleven feet of width of percage for his own profit. The roadway which he gives is to be of sufficient height for a cart to pass conveniently under it in case Edward de Carteret at any time wishes to build above it.

In I678 he gives the parish meu de zele et de bonne volonte pour l'avancement de l'interet du bien public de St Brelade the percage between the north east comer of the house of Jacques le Montais westward to the Moulin Desgouts-pluye.

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