Eleazar Le Marchant (1743-1832)

An excerpt from Guernsey in the Thirties: Remininscences of the late Rev. M. Gallienne, part V, in the Star, February 1901.

A very different man, in every respect, was Eléazar Le Marchant, Lieutenant-Bailiff of the Royal Court. He was always called 'Monsieur le Lieutenant' and was a pompous man, careful of etiquette, but very polite, even to me, a young lawyer's clerk, when I went to pay him some rents due to him by our clients. He wore a wig with a queue, a coat with silver buttons of a large size, knee-breeches and silver buckles. And indeed, he was a great man of that time, living in the Grand Bosq, what is now an old section of the Royal Hotel. His country house, in fact the house of his ancestors, was 'la Grande Maison' at the entrance of St Sampson's, a very different place to what it is now.

I remember a very good joke at his expense in the Court. A friend of his, Monsieur d'Estienne, also called Stephens, left in his will a clause by which his executors had to buy a gold snuff-box worth a hundred guineas, and present it to Monsieur le Lieutenant in memory of his old friend. Either in spite or by mere thoughtlessness, the executors got a heavy, huge, ugly gold box, of no use to anybody. Eléazar le Marchant refused it, and the matter came for settlement before the Court. Thomas de Saumarez pleaded for the executors, and with his hand outstretched, and five fingers apart (a favourite gesture of his), he said: 'Gentlemen, I see a perfect propriety in the whole matter, it is quite right that Monsieur le Lieutenant, owner of Le Grand Bosq and of La Grande Maison should also be the owner of this grand snuff-box, this fine work of art!' And for that reason, or for some more legal argument impressing the Court, Mr Le Marchant had to take the big ugly snuff-box. Half a century later I heard the end of the story. The last member of the Le Marchant family had some transaction with a gentleman in Alderney; as payment for his services he gave him the snuff-box which went promptly into the melting-pot and served to buy a watch and chain, now an heirloom in the Alderney family.