King John

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Lord of the Isles

King John


The first Lord of the Isles, given the responsibility of overseeing the administration of the Channel Islands and the enjoyment of their Crown revenues was John, second son of Henry II

He was known as John 'Lackland' because all his father's territories passed on his death to his elder brother Richard 'The Lionheart', who became King Richard I.

Richard made John Count of Mortain, in nearby Normandy and Seigneur des Iles "dum fuit comes Mortonii et dominus insularum" by an Act of 8 February 1198.

It is unlikely that John had much, if anything to do with the islands, save for receiving his due taxes and other revenues, and in the years preceeding his loss of England's French territories, including Normandy, to the French monarch, he may well have required Pierre de Préaux, his representative in Normandy, to oversee matters across the water in the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. When he succeeded Richard as King in 1199 it is not known whether de Préaux became Lord of the Isles or continued his responsibilities under some other title. The dates of appointment and the actual offices held by those responsible for the Channel Islands in the late 12th and early 13th century are very uncertain.


The rules of warfare in the Middle Ages were based on chivalry and trust. Frequently one side would offer hostages to the other to secure an agreement, and so it was when the Channel Islands were separated from Normandy in 1204 and King John wanted to ensure that the principal landowners in Jersey would remain faithful to his cause rather than reverting to their Norman ancestry.

Prominent families

It is believed that some 25 hostages from prominent Jersey families were sent to England in about 1206 onwards to assure the support of their families for the Plantagenet cause.

The hostages were taken to England and distributed among a number of custodians. Many of them are only known by their given names because family names were still not commonly in use at this time. Hostages held by Engelard de Cigogné are recorded as John and Ralph (probably Jean and Raoul) and those in the custody of the Sheriff of Northampton as Henry, Richard and William (probably Henri, Richard and Guillaume).

Only ten of the 25 hostages named in various documents of the time can be associated with particular families. Philippe de Carteret, the son of St Ouen Seigneur Renaud de Carteret; Colin Petit; William Malet, son of Robert; Colin Norman; Ralph Le Gallichan; Robert Hurman, Reginald Gervase Beket; Robert de la Roche and John de la Croix.

Undoubtdely the most important was Philippe de Carteret. Along with many other Jersey land owners with property in Normandy as well as the island, his father Renaud would have to have made a difficult decision as to which of his lands he was to sacrifice. His Normandy lands would certainly have been more extensive than those in Jersey, but in the island he was a 'very big fish in a small pond' and, along with several others, he chose to abandon his holdings in the Cotentin peninsula.

By 1208 when the islands had been secured by King John's supporters against the French the hostages were released from severe restrictions - Philippe de Carteret, for example, was given into the custody of his uncle Richard, Constable of Winchester - and by 1214 all the hostages had been returned to Jersey.

Lord of the Isles
Predecessor Successor
King John
Pierre de Préaux
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