Abjuration in the Channel Islands

One day in the mid-1450s, as mariner John de Nermont of Guernsey later recounted, gentleman Simon le Cauf le younger came to him demanding money; John refused, and Simon attacked him.

John responded in self-defence, killing Simon. John ran to sanctuary in St. Mary’s church in the king’s castle (Ste-Marie-de-Castel?), and there “he abjured the isle” before the bailiffs of Guernsey and the twelve jurats.

Ste Marie de Castel church, Guernsey. Source

Guernsey – one of the Channel Islands, nearer to France than to England geographically – had long been under Norman/English rule although it was separate from the kingdom of England. Although I can’t find on quick research exactly what legal regime pertained there, it’s interesting that they used abjuration with a twist: there were no coroners, so the abjuration oath was sworn before other comparable legal officials (bailiffs and jurats).

It’s also interesting that he abjured the isle rather than the king’s realm more broadly. Could he go to England? In any case, the king pardoned Nermont of the homicide.


CPR 1452-61, 233

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