The families of two Lieut-Bailiffs Philippe Le Geyt

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The families of two

Lieut-Bailiffs Philippe Le Geyt



This article by the Rev J A Messervy first appeared in French in the 1904 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise. It has been translated by Mike Bisson


The important social and political role which the Le Geyt family has played in Jersey, notably in the 17th and 18th century, is well known. There is no need to explain why they have been included in this series of studies.

Armorial of Jersey

It is true that the Armorial of Jersey devoted a short article to this family, but we do not think that it did it justice. The genealogy it gave only went back to the end of the 17th century and covered a single branch. We have tried to cover these omissions at least as far as they concern the two Lieut-Bailiffs of this name.

The oldest reference we can find to Le Geyt in Jersey is 1274. The Extente of this date mentions that ‘the 12 jurors of the parish of Grouville said that Philippe Dahbeny sold to Robert la Geyte ½ an acre of land du propre du Roi which Raoul la Weyte owns at present for three bushels of wheat and three chickens rente annually.

This Robert Le Geyt was already living around 1215. In 1331 Raoul le Gay owed an annual rent of 8 sols for a bouvée of land. According to a contract of 1419, Rauf le Jayt was living in the parish of St John. Forward a century and in the Extente of 1528 we find the following names of heads of family: Jean Le Geyt of St Helier; Philippot Le Geyt of Trinity; Thomas Le Gay and Rogier Le Gey of St Helier.

A document of 1546 relating to the tithes of St John mentions Ménage du Geyt near Verte Rue and Rue du Douaere.

Spelling variations

It can be seen that the spelling of this name varied frequently in ancient times; one also finds Le Gett, le Geict, etc. It is only from the end of the 17th century that one finds the name uniformely written Le Geyt. We also notice in the 16th and 17th centuries the existance of three surnames which seem to distinguish three well defined branches of the family. They are Le Geyt dit Rauvet, Le Geyt dit Le Maillier and Le Geyt dit Maret.

Le Geyt dit Rauvet

The suffix ‘Rauvet’ could have its origin in the fact that several members of the Le Geyt family had the ancient forename Raoul, Ralf or Rauf, and the latter could have given place to the diminuitive Rauvet. But this is only conjecture.

One also finds Rauvet dit Le Geyt or just Reauvet; at other times it was Le Geyt alias Rauvet, or Rauvet alias Le Geyt. The surname Rauvet was abandoned around 1700; however, in 1750 one still finds Elie Le Geyt dit Rauvet, son of Francois. In 1778 there is a mention of Ruelle and Clos de Rauvet at Mont-à-l’Abbé, St Helier, in relation, it seems, to land beside Mont Matgris.

It is Le Geyt dit Rauvet which is the main subject of this study, because it gave to our island two Lieut-Bailiffs, of which the first was the celebrated commentator on the laws and customs of Jersey. This branch was established in St Helier, on the Vingtaine du Mont-à-l’Abbé from 1580, and to all appearances probably much longer. But we will return to this later.

Le Geyt dit Maillier

This branch was also at Mont-à-l’Abbé in the 16th century. According to tradition, their main house was that which is called Chestnut Farm today.

The form Le Geyt dit Le Maillier was not ne varietur: one said sometimes Le Geyt alias le Maillier, sometimes Le Maillier alias Le Geyt, or just Le Maillier. We have also found in the registers of St Helier the feminine form La Maillière. In 1603 Marguerite la Maillère was buried in that parish. The surname Maillier seems to have disappeared towards the end of the 17th century.

Like the first branch, this one has given the island a number of Constables, Jurats, Royal Court officers, Army and Navy officers, etc. Instead of a family tree for Le Geyt dit le Maillier, we give here a few quick details on this notable branch, or at least of its most noteworthy representatives.

The first of them who, as far as we know, had important functions was Thomas Le Geyt, Constable of St Helier from 1580 to 1585. He was the elder son of Noel Le Geyt, son of Mathieu, son of Jean, and grand nephew of Sire Balthazar Le Geyt, priest, who was living in 1524.

Noel Le Geyt was Seigneur of Fief de la Carriere, at Grouville, which he bought from George Badier. His grandson Jean Le Geyt sold it on 18 July 1618 to Edouard Badier, son of George, for 51 ecus. The fief was acquired from Edouard by Hugh de Soulemont in the name of his wife, daughter of Thomas Le Geyt, then sold to Richard Fauvel on 11 November 1618, for 10 cabots of wheat rente.

Noel Le Geyt had married Jeannette, eldest daughter and principal heiress of Regnauld Le Lorreur, of Maufant, St Saviour, which family included several Jurats. John Milles (Millais) had married the younger daughter and co-heiress of Regnauld Le Lorreur.

Thomas Le Geyt (Constable of St Helier) the eldest son of Noel and Jeannette Le Lorreur, married Thomasse, daughter of Denis Le Moigne, son of Thomas, and was father of Jean and Noel Le Geyt. The eldest, Jean, Seigneur of La Houguette, St Helier, was a Centenier in the parish for a long time. He died in 1636 and was buried on 3 October.

The registers of St Martin tell us that the service was conducted by the Rector of St Clement, Richard Mollet. The younger, Noel, married Sara Perrin, daughter of Jean, Seigneur of Rosel, in 1609, and settled at Maufant, St Saviour, without doubt on the estate of his grandmother Jeannette Le Lorreur. His lineage continued there a long time.

Jean and Noel Le Geyt, sons of Noel and Sara Perrin, declared that they were supporters of the Royalist cause and were recompensed for their loyalty by the Prince of Wales in 1646.

In 1671 Noe Le Geyt, a descendant, possessed 55 vergees of land and a fish pond on the Fief du Roi, St Saviour.

Returning to Jeal Le Geyt, elder son of Thomas: by his second marriage to Susanne Lempriere, daughter of Philippe, son of Hugh, of Maison du Roux, St Saviour, he had two sons, of whom the eldest, Mathieu Le Geyt, born about 1628, was Centenier of St Helier and Procureur du Bien Public of the parish. He was the ancestor of Mathieu Le Geyt, Jurat 1729-34, Mathieu’s son Philippe, Jurat 1737-43, and Josue Le Geyt, Constable of Trinity 1779-82.

In 1785 this branch was represented by Matghieu Le Geyt who was the principal heir of his brother Philippe, son of Philippe, son of Mathieu, son of Mathieu, son of Jean. The home of this Mathieu was situated on the Fief de Bellozanne, Vingtaine de Mont-à-l’Abbé. It was without doubt the property now known as Chestnut Farm. We can add that Methieu Le Geyt, Lt-Colonel and Inspector of Artillery in the Militia also belonged to this family, as well as Philippe Le Geyt, Lt-Colonel in the English Army and for some time Colonel in the Militia.

Le Geyt dit Maret

This family was also established in St Helier from the 16th century; we don’t know where exactly its home was but on the other hand we have some information about the land it possessed. The partage of the estate of Pierre Le Geyt between Jacques and Jean Le Geyt did Maret, his sons, dated 1612, showed that Jacques, the elder, received Clos des Monts near the gallows, the picachon of Fosse Patier beside the land of Jean Le Vavasseur dit Noel, the field Clos Jean Le Brun of La Vasseterie, etc. The younger son’s inheritance included Clos de la Hèche at Mont-au-Pretre.

The form Le Geyt dit Maret disappeared at the end of the 17th century, but the line continued in St Helier under the name of Le Geyt. We believe that Sire Nicolas Le Geyt, of St Helier, who was admitted to the priesthood on 11 September 1508 belonged to the family Le Geyt dit Maret.

Sire Balthazar Le Geyt, priest, of the family Le Geyt dit Le Maillier, was one generation older than Sire Nicolas, and we do not know where he studied.

Philippe Le Geyt

We now turn to the branch which is the main subject of this article, Le Geyt dit Rauvet, and what we know of the ancestors of Philippe Le Geyt, Lieut-Bailiff and commentator.

We have little information on the oldest representatives of this lineage, before 1584, the date on which Jean Le Geyt dit Rauvet was appointed Denonciateur of the Royal Court. From 1602 Jean Le Geyt was the first Registrar of Contracts. He exercised this role and that of Denonciateur until his death in September 1604.

Philippe Le Geyt, the father of the commentator was the eldest son of Philip the Registrar and Catherine Romeril, daughter of Philippe, Viscount and then Jurat. He came of age on 5 September 1612, supported by Martin Romeril, his grandfather Nicolas Le Geyt, Jean Norman and others. We can conclude that he was born in 1592, reaching his majority at the age of 20. The St Helier baptism register only starts in 1596 and cannot corroborate this.

It mentions a baptism in 1602 of a Philippe, son of Jean Le Geyt and Elisabeth, but is we will see in the genealogy which follows, he was the son of another Jean Le Geyt. On 25 January 1612 Nicolas Le Geyt passed all his assets to Philippe Le Geyt (son of Jean, son of Nicolas) his grandson.

This Philippe Le Geyt went through all the stages of a municipal and judicial career. In 1617 he was appointed Vingtenier of Mont-à-l’Abbé and Mont Cochon; about 1 April 1625 he was sworn as an Advocate of the Royal Court. In May or June of the same year he stood in for the Attorney-General (incapable because of age) when the Solicitor-General was in England. On 28 August 1630 he was sworn in as Greffier-substitute in the absence of Jean Durel, and shortly after he became Greffier of the Royal Court. On 29 November 1642 he was sworn in as Jurat to replace Elie Le Montais, and in 1647 he was appointed to deputise for Philippe de Carteret, Lieut-Bailiff.

We recall the political role played by Jurat Philippe Le Geyt during the Civil War. A zealous partisan of the Royalist cause, he was one of those who held Elizabeth Castle with George de Carteret against Republican forces in 1651. When the Parliamentarians regained power he was fined twice his annual income. After the Restoration he was returned to his role as Jurat which he exercised until his death. He was buried at St Helier on 24 October 1669 in the middle of the church.

Commentator and Lieut-Bailiff Philippe Le Geyt was his eldest son, by his third wife, Jeanne Scelle, or Seale. By his first wife Jeanne de Soulemont he only had a daughter Jeanne, who married Philippe Dumaresq.

The fine study which R P Marett devoted to the Commentator is too well-known and completefor us to be able to add anything to it. We refer the reader to it and concentrate here on the career of his principal descendants. His younger brother Jean became Constable of St Helier on 7 December 1672 and died at a young age in August 1679. He left a son Philippe who became Lieut-Bailiff like his uncle.

Born in 1677 and presented for baptism on 13 May by Sir Philippe de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen and Susanne Dumaresq, his mother, he was successively Constable of St Helier from 1707, Attorney-General from 1708-09 and Lieut-Bailiff from 10 April 1729.

It must be remembered that at this time the Bailiff of Jersey, Lord Carteret, lived in England and never came to our island. His first, and for a long time, only lieutenant, Philippe Le Geyt, was thus in reality the main Magistrate of the island. He held this high office during troubled times: after some years of relative peace, the old political parties were reawakened and the disagreements between old rival families again started to upset the community and, what’s more, the just demands of the people were heard with more force than ever.

This state of affairs gave rise to the riots of 1730. We will not enter here into the role played by Mr Le Geyt during the course of these well-known historic events; we recall only that the Order in Council of 8 April 1731 which expressed the displeasure of His Majesty towards several Jurats involved in these affairs, expressed satisfaction with Lieut-Bailiff Le Geyt and some of his Royal Court colleagues.

The second Lieut-Bailiff Le Geyt gave to the parish church of St Helier a silver salver which served for a long time as a baptismal font; it is in use today to receive the offerings of the faithful. Philippe Le Geyt died in February 1747, only a few months after the death of Jeanne Dumaresq, his wife, by whom he had a large family.

Their eldest son Charles was appointed Constable of St Helier on 23 January 1727. He was also for a long time Commissaire des Iles, which is to say Commissaire in Jersey and Guernsey for prizes taken from the enemy.

He was the owner of two of the most beautiful houses in the town. The first, ‘ancient residence of two Lieut-Bailiffs Le Geyt’ , was situated in King Street; in 1827 it belonged to Abraham de Gruchy. The second came to him through the estate of Guillaume Dumaresq, his uncle; it was built ‘in front of Government House’, undoubtedly in the same road.

Charles Le Geyt sold this property on 19 February 1753 to Attorney-General Francois Guillaume Le Maistre, from whose family it passed to Mr Le Brocq, who owned it in 1827. But because the inheritance in question was part of the amortissement of Charles Dumaresq, father of Guillaume, Charles William Le Geyt (elder son of Charles) set about having the right of ownership annulled as prejudicial to his status as eldest son.

A corresponding action began on the same date on the subject of the fiefs of Saval and Triguel which had been sold on 3 August 1757 by Charles Le Geyt to Michel Lempriere (Seigneur of Dielament) which fiefs also formed part of the same amortissement. The original contracts must have been maintained, however, because the Lemprieres and Le Maistres remain in possession.

Charles William Le Geyt (eldest son of Charles Le Geyt and Marthe de la Faye) served in the English Army and became Captain of the 63rd Regiment of Infantry. He commanded the company of Grenadiers of the 25th Regiment at the Battle of Minden under the Prince of Brunswick. After 1763 he married Elisabeth Shebbeare, daughter of Dr Shebbeare, author of a history of Jersey, left the Army and settled again in his native island, where he died at the advanced age of 93. He was undoubtedly one of the last survivors of the Battle of Minden.

His eldest son, Charles William Le Geyt, a Major in the English Army, died during the life of his father without heirs, we believe. Another of his sons, George William Le Geyt, attained a high rank in the Jersey Militia. One of his sons Charles William Le Geyt became ADC to the Lieut-Governor.

Lt-Colonel Charles William Le Geyt left two sons. The eldest, William Bell Le Geyt, of Torquay, late Assistant-Commissary General of Ordnance, is the current representative of the family of Lieut-Bailiffs Le Geyt. The younger is the Rev Charles Arthur Le Geyt. He is now living in Jersey.

Cadet branch

A cadet branch also descended from the second Lieut-Bailiff Le Geyt, and established at Canterbury for a long time, is now represented by the hers of Admiral George Le Geyt, about whom the Armorial of Jersey and the Dictionary of National Biography have included articles.

We have a few words also about another line of Le Geyts, also coming from Le Geyt dit Rauvet, established it seems in the Vingtaine of Mont au Pretre, St Helier, in the 16th century. This branch already owned in 1600 the Menage du Pied de la Roque at St Saviour because we find in 1600 that Pierre Le Geyt of St Saviour occupied the home of Richard Mollet (apparently son of Nicolas). There is also proof in a 1601 contract.

About 1780 a younger son of this family, Daniel Le Geyt, bought from Amice Ahier a house and land near St Saviour’s Church. Susanne de Carteret, widow of Jean Ahier, abandoned her right of dower on this property in August 1780. This branch is now represented by Miss R A Le Geyt, who still lives in the house bought from the Ahier family by her ancestor Daniel.

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