The escape of Avicia Lernaise: from Edith Carey's notebooks

The Bordiers.

Edith Carey translates this from the Latin, but does not include the original text.

Assize Roll 82 Ed. I (1303). Avicia Lerneyse

Ralph de Beauvoir, Jean Coquet, etc, Bordiers.1 Avicia was condemned to be burnt for killing her baby, and was taken away by the Bordiers to be led to the place where she was to be burnt according to judgment; to which Ralph and the others led her through the middle of the churchyard of St Peter Port. To where the chaplain and clerk of the same church came, and said that that place in the churchyard of the parish was a consecrated place where all ought to have refuge, and they as well as the aforesaid Avicia sought that they should not lead her from that place.

Notwithstanding this Ralph and the others led her to the place prepared to burn her—and afterwards brought her back safe and sound to the churchyard and left her there. She afterwards abjured the islands. Ralph and others were committed to jail because they led her through the churchyard instead of the King’s highway, whereby the judgment against her could not be carried out.

1 A specific class of landowner, whose Bordages came with specific duties and privileges. 'Warburton,' in his A Treatise on the History, Laws, and Customs of the Isle of Guernsey of 1682, explains that

Bordiers are such as hold lands or tenements from the crown, by the tenure of which they are obliged to perform certain services. Borde, in old French, signifies a house. Bordeau or Bordage is such a little tenement as these Bordiers hold. Of these there are upon the King's fief thirteen, who are called grands bordiers, of whom four at a time are obliged to appear in their course at the Courts of Inheritance every term, without which those Courts cannot be held. .... As far as their bordage extends, they are to perform the office of Serjeant. They are to attend the prévôt, as a guard, when he brings any criminal to be tried at the Court, and likewise when any such is condemned or sentenced, they are to assist the prévôt in conveying the prisoner to the place where the sentence is to be put in execution and there to attend until it be performed. (p. 59).

In History of the Guernsey Churches (staff) these Bordiers are named in full: Elerius Godwyne, Er[?] Pouncet, Ralph Gaffe, John Serle, Peter Frosse, Elie Durant, Galfro Rungefer (some of these surnames were retained in the names of the Bordages themselves).      [For Warburton, see Ogier, D., 'The authorship of Warburton's treatise', Report and Transactions of the Soc. Guernesiaise, XII 5 (1990), pp. 871 ff.].

In the Chief Pleas of 3rd October 1586, it was ordained that the 13 Grand Bordiers should attend the Michaelmas session of the Chief Pleas and all courts d'heritage in person, in both the upper and the lower parishes, each in turn, or be liable to a fine of 60 sous for each offence. They also had to act as bodyguard for criminals and to ensure the orders of the Court were carried out, but for this they were allowed to send substitutes. [See Ordonnances de la Cour Royale &c., Vol. I, p. 54.]

In 1607 Queen Elizabeth's Commissioners noted: 'The said Bordiers [....] do make their personal appearance at every Court of Chief Pleas, and are to attend also upon the King's Court at the Pleas of Inheritance, three of them every Court day by turn, and to guard all the felons and malefactors at the time of their trial and execution, of which last service some of the said Bordiers do complain.' The office was abolished in 1857. [From Edith Carey's Social Life in Guernsey in the Sixteenth Century, 1920.]

The Bordier was responsible for collecting all the 'rentes' or dues from the tenants and paying them to the Crown. The rentes owed by the tenants in each individual bordage are listed in the Extente of 1498.

20 June 1410. Pleas of Fief le Comte by Pierre Le Marchant, Seneschal, in presence of Guillot Le Feivre, Perrot Coquerel, Olivier Le Feivre, Richard de Beauchamp, Olivier de Beauchamp, Thomas de Peissons and Philippot de Beauchamp, Vavasours. Colin L'Estournel des Moulins, Prevost of the said Fief, fails in his action against William L'Estournel of Caubo and Perrot Vautier and other tenants of a Bordage called the Bordage de Beaucamp and the custodians of the Bordier, claiming that the said tenants must by law make collection of certain rents of capons, hens, loaves and eggs, or other rents due in the said Bordage; by judgment of the Court it was declared sufficient for the Bordier to accompany the Prevost to deliver the pledges (naons) for the said rents without actually collecting them (Seal, on tongue, brown wax, armorial, PETRI LE MARCHANT.) [From the Chobham MSS in the Library's Le Marchant Family files, originals now Nat. Archives.]