France and the Channel Islands


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



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Since 1453 Calais and its marches had been, with the exception of the Channel Islands (formerly part of the duchy of Normandy), the sole relic of the medieval empire of the English kings in France. The annexation of Tournai in 1513 seemed to presage a revival of the claims of the crown to its former possessions abroad. Tournai had sent deputies to the parlement of France, and in an attempt to resolve the problems arising from the capture of the city Henry VIII granted Tournai representation in the English Parliament. Reform of the administration of Calais in 1536 was likewise meant to strengthen the town's links with England and included two seats in the Commons. With the precedents of Tournai and Calais before him and the enfranchisement of Wales about to be implemented, the Earl of Hertford was perhaps encouraged as governor of the Channel Islands to write on 23 Dec. 1541 to the états of Jersey ordering them to return two Members to the forthcoming Parliament to help to advance the 'commonweal' of the island: the earl promised to do 'what I conveniently may that they may be admitted burgesses for the said  isle'. His letter was considered at a meeting of the états on 16 Mar. 1542 but with what outcome is not recorded. It is not known if the earl sent similar letters to any of the other Channel Islands.

Actes des Etats de Jersey 1524-96 (Société Jersiaise xii), 9-10; A. J. Eagleston, The Channel Islands under Tudor Govt. 34.

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard