Strangers, vagabonds, and other disreputable characters

From an Order of the Royal Court of Easter 1726.

For a similar decree occasioned by 'the spirit of insubordination which is manifested in the neighbouring counties of England' see Ordinance respecting strangers of December 3, 1830 (Jacob's Annals, Postcript, viii, in the Library); Extra-parishioners, 1770; and Strangers, 1772.

Since the Law Officers have advised us that notwithstanding the existing Ordinances previously established in order to prevent the Island in general, and the parish of St Peter Port in particular, from being burdened (as it is at present) by a large number of Strangers, Vagabonds, and other Disreputable Characters, to the great detriment of not only the poor residents already here, but also to those with more means, who are burdened with heavy Taxes to provide for their wants, IT IS ORDERED, (the terms proposed by the said Officers):

1. That no Stranger may be deemed to have acquired, by dint of their residence in the said Island, a legal Settlement in any of the Island's parishes, without having obtained permission to settle from the Royal Court, by applying to one of the Law Officers, who will draw up an application [Requête] on his behalf, with the details of his family, occupation, place from which he has come, and any other particulars which establish his identity. The Officer will pass this Requête to His Excellency the Governor, who will in turn inform him if he has any objection which might prevent the Stranger's being accepted as an Resident [Habitant] of this Island. In addition the Stranger must let the authorities of the parish in which he wishes to settle have a copy of the Requête, so that it may be presented to the Court, and should ensure the parish officials attend the hearing so that they may raise any objections they may have.

2. That no Resident [Habitant] may be deemed to have acquired a Settlement in any parish of this Island other than his native parish, unless he has first obtained a Certificate from the Parish Officials, that is to say, from the Constables, Churchwardens, and Collectors,1 detailing how they accept and recognise him as a Resident of their parish; and should the said Officials refuse to recognise him, he may appeal to the Royal Court, whose order for him to be so recognised will be equally valid.

3. Any Stranger who is already in the Island, and any Resident Extra-parishioner, are required to fulfil the formalities outlined above within three months of this present Ordinance, on pain of being deemed as not having acquired any settlement in the parish in which they have previously [par le passé] resided.

4. And in order to ascertain which persons have the right to live [vivre] in the parish in which they dwell, by the means set out above, the Constables must give the Law Officers within a month, and every quarter thereafter, a list of the Strangers in their respective parishes. House owners or occupants are obliged without exception to give a true declaration of these Strangers to the Constables. Non-compliance will result in a fine of 20 pounds and an obligation to bear the responsibility of feeding them and their families should they sink into poverty.

5. Anyone who gives lodgings to any Stranger who finds themselves in the Island, whysoever they are here, or who rents them a house or part of one, must notify the Law Officers within three months of giving them lodgings or renting them the said house. Non-compliance will result in a fine of 30 pounds and an obligation to bear the responsibility of maintaining them should they sink into poverty.

6. And it is forbidden for any masters of ships, barques, or boats, to bring any Strangers, Vagabonds, and other Disreputable Characters likely to be chargeable to the public into this Island; non-compliance will result in their bearing full responsibility for the cost of their transport out of the island, whether in their own vessel or not, and to maintain them and their families, and being subject to a suitable fine to be determined by the Court.

At Easter Chief Pleas, 23rd April 1770, Samuel Bonamy, Ecuyer, presiding; Daniel de Lisle, Jean Guille, Jean De La Mare, Charles Andros, Thomas Dobrée, Richard De Beauvoir, Josué Le Marchant, Nicolas Dobrée, and Nicolas Reserson, Ecuyers, Jurats, present.

The Court, in complying with the Requête presented today by Messieurs Matthew De Sausmarez, Jr., and Pierre De Jersey, authorised representatives of the Heads of Families of the Parish of St Peter Port, having taken the advice of the Law Officers, have recalled the Order issued at the last Christmas Chief Pleas; and in order to clarify the 2nd article of the Ordinance of 18th April 1726, IT IS ORDERED THAT no child acquires any Settlement in the parish in which it is born unless the father of the said child has previously acquired one there; the said child is deemed to belong to the parish in which his father had his last previous Settlement. And the remainder of the said Ordinance of 18th April 1726 is confirmed as remaining in force in all its clauses.

1 The Churchwardens were originally known as Trésoriers; in the 16th century they were called Collecteurs ('du Trésor', that is, of church funds), as they were responsible for administering the money received from parishioners as poor relief; they are also referred to in records as 'Procureurs' or 'Attorneys' of the Church. In the Calvinist period the title Trésorier passed to the lesser post of Deacon, or Diacre, who assisted the Churchwardens, and the Churchwardens were then known as 'Anciens', or Elders. The Anciens also fulfilled a religious function. In 1632 the title Trésorier was restored to the Churchwardens; the Deacons then became known as Collecteurs. In 1662 the titles of Ancien and Diacre were dropped altogether, the Churchwarden Trésoriers, formerly Anciens, being officially known from then on as the Curateurs du Trésor. The deacons remained as Collecteurs; the term effectively means fund-raiser or tax collector. See Priaulx, T. F., 'Les Pauvres', Quarterly Review of the Guernsey Society, XXIV (2), Summer 1968, pp. 32 ff, and 'The Ecclesiastical side of Parish administration', QRGS, XXIV (1), Spring, 1968, p. 3.