Bailiwick of Guernsey

The Bailiwick of Guernsey (French: Bailliage de Guernesey; Guernésiais: Bailliage dé Guernési) is one of three Crown dependencies.

Separated from the Dukedom and Duchy of Normandy by and under the terms of the Treaty (or Peace) of Le Goulet in 1204, the Bailiwick comprises a number of islands in the English Channel which fall into three separate sub-jurisdictions: Guernsey, Alderney and Sark.

A bailiwick is a territory administered by a Bailiff. The Bailiff of Guernsey is the civil head, and presiding officer of the States of Guernsey, but not of Alderney or Sark. He is the head of the judiciary of the Bailiwick.

Bailiwick of Guernsey

  • Bailliage de Guernesey  (French)
  • Bailliage dé Guernési  (Norman)
Location of the Bailiwick of Guernsey (green) in Europe (green & dark grey)
Location of the Bailiwick of Guernsey (green)

in Europe (green & dark grey)

Guernsey sm02
StatusCrown dependency of the Crown
Official languages
Jurisdictions Guernsey
Queen Elizabeth II
Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder KBE CB
• Responsible Minister
Sir Oliver Heald QC,
Minister of State for Courts and Justice

• Total
78 km2 (30 sq mi) (223rd)
• Water (%)
• 2014 estimate
65,849 (206th)
• Density
844/km2 (2,185.9/sq mi) (14th)
GDP (PPP)2003 estimate
• Total
$2.1 billion (176th)
• Per capita
£33,123 (10th)
HDI (2008)0.975[1]
very high · 9th
CurrencyPound sterling
Guernsey pound
(local issue)
c (GBP)
Time zoneUTC (Greenwich Mean Time)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
Driving sideleft
Calling code+44d
ISO 3166 codeGG
  1. For occasions when regional distinguishing anthem required.
  2. English is the only official language. French used for certain limited legislative purposes.
  3. The States of Guernsey issue their own sterling coins and banknotes (see Guernsey pound).
    • +44 1481 (landline)
    • +44 7781 (Sure Guernsey Ltd)
    • +44 7839 (Guernsey Airtel)
    • +44 7911 (Jersey Telecom / 24 Seven Communications Ltd)


The history of the Bailiwick of Guernsey goes back to 933, when the islands came under the control of William Longsword, having been annexed from the Duchy of Brittany by the Duchy of Normandy. The island of Guernsey and the other Channel Islands formed part of the lands of William the Conqueror. In 1204 France conquered mainland Normandy – but not the offshore islands of the bailiwick. The islands represent the last remnants of the medieval Duchy of Normandy.[2]

Initially there was one governor, or co-governors working together, of the islands making up the Channel Islands. The title "Governor" has changed over the centuries. "Warden", "Keeper" and "Captain" have previously been used.[3] The Bailiff stands in for the Governor, or more recently the Lieutenant Governor, if the latter is absent, for a short term or for longer, for instance during the five years of the German occupation of the Channel Islands. The Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey is the Lieutenant Governor of the Bailiwick of Guernsey and, being the personal representative of the British monarch,[4] has usually had a distinguished military service.[5]

Originally the local courts in Guernsey were "fiefs" with the lord of the manor presiding. Before 1066, a superior court was introduced above the fiefs and below the Eschequier Court in Rouen and comprised the Bailiff and four Knights; the court heard appeals and tried criminal cases.[6]

Otton de Grandson, then the Governor of the Islands, delegated the civil powers to two separate bailiffs for Guernsey and Jersey before he went on crusade to the Holy Land in 1290.[7]:21 This can be assessed as the date of first creation of the two Bailiwicks.


Guernsey location map
Islands and islets belonging to the Bailiwick of Guernsey, shown within the Channel Islands

Situated around 49°34′00″N 2°23′00″W / 49.5666°N 2.3833°WCoordinates: 49°34′00″N 2°23′00″W / 49.5666°N 2.3833°W, Alderney, Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and some other smaller islands together have a total area of 78 square kilometres (30 sq mi) and coastlines of about 50 kilometres (31 mi). Elevation varies from sea level to 114 m (374 ft) at Le Moulin on Sark.

There are many smaller islands, islets, rocks and reefs in the Bailiwick. Combined with a tidal range of 10m and fast currents of up to 12 knots, this makes sailing in local waters dangerous.


The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a separate jurisdiction in itself, and is in turn also three separate sub-jurisdictions. It does not form part of, and is separate from (but is not independent of, or from) the United Kingdom.[8] The two Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey together make up the Channel Islands.

The Islanders have never had formal representation in the House of Commons of the British Parliament,[4] nor in the European Parliament.[8] Those Islanders who were not somehow qualified and eligible in their own right to register to vote and to vote in the United Kingdom under the Representation of the People Acts as overseas voters, were excluded from the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum.

A unique constitutional position has arisen as successive British monarchs have confirmed the liberties and privileges of the Bailiwick, often referring to the so-called Constitutions of King John, a legendary document supposed to have been granted by King John in the aftermath of 1204. Governments of the Bailiwick have generally tried to avoid testing the limits of the unwritten constitution by avoiding conflict with British governments.


The bailiwick comprises twelve parishes, Alderney, Sark and ten on Guernsey. Each parish has a parish church from the 11th century, with strong religious control exercised initially from the French Catholic church and for the last 500 years from the English church. Over the years the religious aspect of the administration of each parish has been reduced in favour of democratically elected douzeniers.


Each jurisdiction has inhabited and uninhabited islands and its own elected government. All three legal jurisdictions need Royal Assent from the Privy Council on its primary legislation. Each jurisdiction raises its own taxation,[4] although in 1949 Alderney transferred its rights to Guernsey.


The island of Guernsey has a population of around 63,000 in 24 square miles (62 km2) and forms the legal and administrative centre of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. The parliament of Guernsey and of the nearby inhabited islands of Herm, Jethou and Lihou[4] is the States of Guernsey.[9]


With a population of around 1,900 in 3 square miles (7.8 km2), Alderney has its own parliament, the States of Alderney, which has ten elected members and an elected president.[9]

From 1612 Alderney had a Judge appointed, with similar judicial powers to a Bailiff; but on 1 January 1949 the island adopted a new constitution, giving up some independence, moving closer to Guernsey and confirming that it is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.


Sark has a population of around 600 who live in 2 square miles (5.2 km2). Its parliament (together with the inhabited island of Brecqhou)[4] is the Chief Pleas of Sark, with 28 elected members.[9]

In 1565, Helier de Carteret, Seigneur of St. Ouen in Jersey, was granted the fief of Sark by Queen Elizabeth I. He received letters patent granting him Sark in perpetuity, on condition that he kept the island free of pirates and that the island was occupied by at least forty men to defend it. Despite most families coming from Jersey, Sark remained within the Bailiwick of Guernsey.[10]


Three Leopards Shield
Duchy of Normandy three leopards symbol

There is no flag or coat of arms for the Bailiwick of Guernsey. In historic times, the governor would have used his personal symbols before a generic flag for use by the governor was created.

In 1279 Edward I granted a Seal for use in the Channel Islands. In 1304 separate seals were provided to Jersey and Guernsey. The provision of separate seals is one of the earliest indications of the separate identity and personality of the two Bailiwicks. The seal comprised three leopards (or lions), a symbol taken from the original arms of the Duchy of Normandy.[11]

The United Kingdom and Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are responsible for the defence and also for formal international, intergovernmental and consular representation of, and the foreign affairs generally, of the Bailiwick.[4]

While not a member of the European Union, the Bailiwick has a special relationship with it, under Protocol 3 of the UK's Treaty of Accession 1972 to the European Community.[4] Pooling resources with Jersey, the Bailiwick established in 2010 an office in Brussels to develop the Channel Islands' influence with the EU,[12] to advise the Channel Islands' governments on European matters, and to promote economic links with the EU.[13] The effect of the UK leaving the European Union is uncertain. The UK have confirmed that the Crown dependencies position will be argued in the Brexit negotiations.

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is in the Commonwealth (Commonwealth of Nations), although not as a member, in its own right. The Bailiwick is also a member of the Commonwealth Games Federation, and competes in the Commonwealth Games[14]

In 1969 Royal Mail relinquished control of postal services in the Bailiwick,[15] with Guernsey then being recognised by the Universal Postal Union.

Since 1999 the Bailiwick of Guernsey has been a member of the British–Irish Council, currently represented by the Chief Minister of Guernsey.


  1. ^ Filling Gaps in the Human Development Index Archived 2011-10-05 at the Wayback Machine, United Nations ESCAP, February 2009
  2. ^ Marr, J., The History of Guernsey – the Bailiwick's story, Guernsey Press (2001).
  3. ^ Berry, William. The History of the Island of Guernsey. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815. p. 213.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Background briefing on the Crown Dependencies: Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man" (PDF). Ministry of Justice.
  5. ^ "Lieutenant Governors". Guernsey Royal Court.
  6. ^ Berry, William. The History of the Island of Guernsey. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815. p. 186.
  7. ^ Wimbush, Henry. The Channel Islands. A&C Black 1924.
  8. ^ a b "BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE BAILIWICK OF GUERNSEY". Guernsey gov. Archived from the original on 2016-02-15.
  9. ^ a b c "About the Bailiwick of Guernsey". Channel Islands Brussels Office.
  10. ^ "Jersey Post celebrates the island of Sark". Sepac.
  11. ^ "Bailiwick Seal". Guernsey Royal Court.
  12. ^ "Channel Islands Brussels Office".
  13. ^ "Guernsey and Jersey begin recruiting for senior Brussels positions" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  14. ^ "Guernsey". Commonwealth Games Federation.
  15. ^ Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue: Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps 1840–1970. 112th edition. London: Stanley Gibbons, 2010, p. GB31. ISBN 0852597312
British Islands

The British Islands is a term within the law of the United Kingdom which since 1889 has referred collectively to the following four polities:

the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (formerly the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland);

the Bailiwick of Guernsey (including the jurisdictions of Alderney, Guernsey and Sark); and

the Bailiwick of Jersey;

the Isle of Man.The Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey are Crown dependencies and are not a part of the United Kingdom. The Parliament of the United Kingdom on occasions introduces legislation that is extended to the islands, normally by the use of Orders in Council. For this reason it has been found useful to have a collective term for the combined territories. Dating back to 1889, a statutory definition can be found in the Interpretation Act 1978.The term The United Kingdom and the Islands is used in the Immigration Act 1971.British passports issued in the UK have the wording "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" on their cover. In the Crown dependencies, this is replaced by "British Islands – Bailiwick of Jersey", "British Islands – Bailiwick of Guernsey" or "British Islands – Isle of Man". These passports are issued to all British citizens resident in the jurisdiction in question.Section 5 of the Interpretation Act 1978 provides that "in any Act, unless the contrary intention appears" the expression "British Islands" is to be construed according to Schedule 1 of that Act, which contains the following paragraph:

"British Islands" means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Subject to paragraph 4(2) of Schedule 2, that paragraph of Schedule 1 applies, so far as applicable, to Acts passed after the year 1889.Paragraph 4(2) provides:

The definition of "British Islands", in its application to Acts passed after the establishment of the Irish Free State but before the commencement of this Act, includes the Republic of Ireland.


Burhou (pronounced ber-ROO) is a small island about 1.4 miles (2.3 km) northwest of Alderney that is part of the Channel Islands. It has no permanent residents, and is a bird sanctuary, so landing there is banned from March 15 to August 1st. The island's wildlife includes a colony of puffins (declining in numbers) and many rabbits.

It has no landing stage as such, but visitors use a small inlet. In rough weather it may be impossible to land.

The Guernsey botanist E. D. Marquand called it, "the most desolate and lonely of all the islands in our archipelago." He once had to spend the night there, as his return journey was delayed by fog.

The 1906 book, The Channel Pilot states –

The States of Alderney member, John Beaman has political responsibility for the island.

Capital punishment in Guernsey

Capital punishment in Guernsey was abolished for murder in 1965 and abolished for all offences in 2003.Prior to abolition, the death penalty had not been used since 1854. The last person to be executed in Guernsey was the English murderer John Tapner, who was hanged on 10 February 1854.


Caquorobert, also known as Caguerobert, is an uninhabited island in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. It is located near Herm, 250 m to the east.

The climate in the area is temperate. The annual average temperature in the channel is 10° C. The warmest month is August, when the average temperature is 15° C, and the coldest is February, with 5° C. [ 2 ] The average annual rainfall is 1 127 millimeters. The rainiest month is January, with an average of 186 mm rainfall, and the driest is September, with 33 mm rainfall.


Crevichon is an islet off the west coast of Herm, immediately to the north of Jethou, in the Channel Islands

According to Dr S.K. Kellett-Smith, it means "isle of crabs, crayfish or cranes". Like other names in the region, it is Norman in origin. A thousand years ago, the water level was ten feet lower, making these creatures far more abundant there.


Jethou ( zheh-TOO) is a small island that is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. It is privately leased, and not open to the public. Jethou is immediately south of Herm and has an area of approximately 44 acres (18 ha).

Languages of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

The linguistic situation of the Bailiwick of Guernsey is quite similar to that of Jersey, the other Bailiwick in the Channel Islands. English is the official language, French is used for administration, there are several varieties of Norman language used by a minority of the population, and Portuguese is spoken by immigrants in the workforce.

Le Moulin

Le Moulin is the highest point in Sark and is also the highest point of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown Dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy, with an altitude of 114 metres (374 ft).

Les Casquets

Les Casquets or (The) Casquets ( kas-KETS); is a group of rocks 13 km northwest of Alderney and are part of an underwater sandstone ridge. Other parts which emerge above the water are the islets of Burhou and Ortac. Little vegetation grows on them.

Les Hanois

Les Hanois reef, a group of rocks to the south-west of Guernsey also known as Hanoveaux, are the westernmost point of the Channel Islands.The reef has claimed many shipwrecks over the centuries, such as HMS Boreas ( Royal Navy) in 1807. See List of shipwrecks in the Channel Islands.

It is the location of the Les Hanois Lighthouse operated by Trinity House which was built in 1862 from Cornish granite using a novel dovetail system to lock each stone with two others. It was built in the hope of reducing the number of ships being lost on the reef on the west coast of Guernsey, it undoubtedly saved a number of ships. However the wrecks continued, the last disaster being the MV Prosperity in 1974, a freighter lost with all hands.

Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey

The Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey is the representative of the British monarch in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a Crown dependency of the British Crown. The role of the Lieutenant Governor is to act as the de facto head of state in Guernsey and as liaison between the governments of Guernsey and the United Kingdom. The holder of this office is also ex officio a member of the States of Guernsey but may not vote and, by convention, speaks in the Chamber only on appointment and on departure from post. The duties are primarily diplomatic and ceremonial.

The Lieutenant Governor has his own flag in Guernsey, the Union Flag defaced with the Bailiwick's coat of arms.


Lihou () is a small tidal island located just off the west coast of the island of Guernsey, in the English Channel, between Great Britain and France. Administratively, Lihou forms part of the Parish of St. Peter's in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and is now owned by the parliament of Guernsey (the States of Guernsey), although there have been a number of owners in the past. Since 2006, the island has been jointly managed by the Guernsey Environment Department and the Lihou Charitable Trust. In the past the island was used by locals for the collection of seaweed for use as a fertiliser, but today Lihou is mainly used for tourism, including school trips. Lihou is also an important centre for conservation, forming part of a Ramsar wetland site for the preservation of rare birds and plants as well as historic ruins of a priory and a farmhouse.

List of Governors of Guernsey

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British crown dependency off the coast of France.

Holders of the post of Governor of Guernsey, until the role was abolished in 1835. Since then, only Lieutenant-Governors have been appointed (see Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey).

A roll of honour of the Governors and Lieutenant Governors of Guernsey from 1198 to date has been installed at Government House.

List of islands of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

The Bailiwick of Guernsey (French: Bailliage de Guernesey) is a British Crown dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy.

List of laws of Guernsey

This is an incomplete list of Laws, Ordinances and Orders in Council of the States of Guernsey.

Guernsey passes between 30 and 60 laws a year.

Outline of Guernsey

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Guernsey:

The Bailiwick of Guernsey – British Crown dependency located in the Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy.As well as the Isle of Guernsey, the bailiwick also comprises Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou, Burhou, Lihou and other islets. Although the defence of all these islands is the responsibility of the United Kingdom, Guernsey is not part of the UK but rather a separate possession of the Crown, comparable to the Isle of Man. Guernsey is also not part of the European Union. The island of Guernsey is divided into ten parishes. Together with the Bailiwick of Jersey, it is included in the collective grouping known as the Channel Islands. Guernsey belongs to the Common Travel Area.

Rugby union in the Bailiwick of Guernsey

Rugby union in the Bailiwick of Guernsey is a popular sport. Outside the island of Guernsey itself, it is occasionally played in Alderney and Sark. Sark has its own rugby team, although it regularly has to pick up "guest" players to make up its numbers. It has no national competitive side of its own, and is not affiliated to the IRB in its own right. For this reason, it has no IRB ranking.

Scouting in Guernsey

Scouting in Guernsey is organisationally part of the Scout Association of the United Kingdom, covering the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the Channel Islands, which are not part of the United Kingdom.The Guernsey Scout Association is the largest co-educational youth organisation within the Bailiwick of Guernsey. As of 2016 over 700 young people and 150 adults are members, belonging to the 10 groups in Guernsey and 1 in Alderney.

The Bailiwick Commissioner is Nick Paluch.

There are no separate Districts.

The administrative centre is located at Les Maingys Activity Centre and Campsite which offers over 17 acres of beautiful Guernsey countryside.

A large modern activity centre with an indoor climbing wall and sports hall. Many other activities such as archery, football, volleyball and other sports take place.

The centre also boasts two large meeting rooms and a commercial kitchen to cater for small, large and corporate events.

Alongside the centre is a traditional Guernsey Farmhouse, known as the Hostel, which sleeps 32 and is hired out to all. On site there is also a reservoir where canoeing, rafting and other activities can take place. The site also has a large campfire circle. During the German occupation in World War II, Scouting was banned, but continued undercover.

States of Guernsey

The States of Guernsey (French: États de Guernesey) is the parliament of the British Crown dependency of Guernsey. Some laws and ordinances approved by the States of Guernsey also apply to Alderney and Sark (the other component parts of the Bailiwick of Guernsey) as "Bailiwick-wide legislation" with the consent of the governments of those islands. All enactments of the States of Guernsey apply to Herm as well as Guernsey, since Herm is wholly owned by the States of Guernsey.

When constituted as a legislature, it is officially called the States of Deliberation. When constituted as an electoral college, it is officially called the States of Election.

Legislation passed by the States is termed Laws (Loi), which take effect in the island by Order-in-Council. Minor and secondary legislation does not require the assent of the Queen-in-Council and are known as Ordinances (Ordonnances).

Bailiwick of Guernsey
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