Bailiwick of Guernsey

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Bailiwick of Guernsey
Bailliage de Guernesey
Location of  Bailiwick of Guernsey  (Bailiwick of Guernsey within circle)
Location of  Bailiwick of Guernsey  (Bailiwick of Guernsey within circle)
Status British crown dependency
Official languages
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups North European (predominant)
 •  Lieutenant Governor Vice Admiral Ian Corder CB
British Crown dependency
 •  Administrative separation from mainland Normandy
 •  Total 78 km2 (223rd)
30.1 sq mi
 •  Water (%) 0
 •  2014 estimate 65,849 (206th)
 •  Density 844/km2 (14th)
2,170.9/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2003 estimate
 •  Total $2.1 billionc (176th)
 •  Per capita £33,123c (10th)
HDI (2008) 0.975[1]
very high · 9th
Currency Guernsey pound, pound sterlingd (GGP, GBP)
Time zone GMT
 •  Summer (DST)  (UTC+1)
Drives on the left
Calling code +44e
ISO 3166 code GG
Internet TLD .gg
a. For occasions when regional distinguishing anthem required.
b. English is the only official language. French sometimes used for legislative purposes.
c. Now extinct.[2]
d. 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 Bailiwick of Guernsey.

The Bailiwick of Guernsey (French: Bailliage de Guernesey) is a dependency of the British Crown. It is ruled by the Crown in right of Guernsey. Created over 700 years ago, the Bailiwick comprises a number of islands in the English Channel which fall into three separate 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.


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[3]

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.[4] 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 Her Majesty,[5] has usually had a distinguished military service.[6]

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.[7]

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 the Second Crusade to the Holy Land in 1290.[8]:21 This can be assessed as the date of first creation of the two Bailiwicks.


Islands and islets belonging to the Bailiwick of Guernsey

Situated around Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found., 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.


Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State of the Bailiwick, ruling "by right of the Crown in right of the république of the Bailiwick of Guernsey"[9]

The British monarchy apparently relinquished claims to continental mainland Normandy, and other French claims including the ducal title, in the Treaty of Paris (1259), although monarchs (including female monarchs such as Queen Elizabeth II) have often been referred to, informally, by the title Duke of Normandy.

The 1259 Treaty confirmed that the Islands were held by the King of England in fief to the King of France, owing homage to France. In 1360 this changed when the King of France abandoned this right of suzerainty.[8]:21–22

Owing loyalty to the British Crown, not the UK Parliament at Westminster, the Bailiwick of Guernsey is a Crown Dependency.[10]


The Bailiwick of Guernsey is not a jurisdiction in itself, but a collection of three jurisdictions. It does not form part of, and is independent of, the United Kingdom.[10]

The Bailiwick of Jersey is a separate jurisdiction, and the two Bailiwicks together make up the Channel Islands.

People in the Bailiwick of Guernsey have never been represented in the UK Parliament,[5] nor in the European Parliament.[10]

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.


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,[5] 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[5] is the States of Guernsey.[11]


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.[11]

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.[12]


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)[5] is the Chief Pleas of Sark, with 28 elected members.[11]

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.[13]


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.[14]

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is represented at the United Nations by the United Kingdom, which is responsible for the defence of the Bailiwick.[5] The United Kingdom provides the Bailiwick of Guernsey with international representation. 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.[5] Pooling resources with Jersey, the Bailiwick established in 2010 an office in Brussels to develop the Channel Islands' influence with the EU,[15] to advise the Channel Islands' governments on European matters, and to promote economic links with the EU.[16]

While not a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Bailiwick of Guernsey is a member of the Commonwealth Games Federation and competes in the Commonwealth Games[17]

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a member of the British–Irish Council, represented by the Chief Minister of Guernsey.

See also


  1. Filling Gaps in the Human Development Index, United Nations ESCAP, February 2009
  2. F. Le Maistre, The Language of Auregny, Jersey/Alderney 1982.
  3. Marr, J., The History of Guernsey – the Bailiwick's story, Guernsey Press (2001).
  4. Berry, William. The History of the Island of Guernsey. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815. p. 213.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 "Background briefing on the Crown Dependencies: Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man" (PDF). Ministry of Justice.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Lieutenant Governors". Guernsey Royal Court.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Berry, William. The History of the Island of Guernsey. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815. p. 186.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Wimbush, Henry. The Channel Islands. A&C Black 1924.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Review of the Roles of the Jersey Crown Officers" (PDF). States of Jersey. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE BAILIWICK OF GUERNSEY". Guernsey gov.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "About the Bailiwick of Guernsey". Channel Islands Brussels Office.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. The Channel Islands. PediaPress.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Jersey Post celebrates the island of Sark". Sepac.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Bailiwick Seal". Guernsey Royal Court.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Channel Islands Brussels Office".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Guernsey and Jersey begin recruiting for senior Brussels positions" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Guernsey". Commonwealth Games Federation.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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