Guernsey Press

Sark Seigneur misses family milestone by day

SEIGNEUR of Sark Christopher Beaumont missed the 170th anniversary of the day his family became feudal lords of the island – by one day.

Sark Seigneur Christopher Beaumont missed the 170th anniversary of his family becoming the feudal lords of Sark by a day. But he celebrated with a glass of beer anyway. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31543023)

Mr Beaumont’s forebears bought the island on 4 December 1852 – exactly 170 years ago on Sunday.

‘I noticed the date on a bill of sale, an old parchment written in French that’s in a display cabinet, and I’d missed it by a day,’ said Mr Beaumont.

‘I thought: “Oh... I’ve missed it” and so I celebrated with a glass of beer.’

The bill of sale was signed by Marie Allaire, who bought the island for £6,000 – the equivalent of £661,632.94 today.

‘She bought the fief,’ said Mr Beaumont.

‘Her father, Jean, was basically a pirate.

'He was the wealthiest man in Guernsey and lived in what is now Government House. He’d lent the then-Seigneur – Ernest Le Pelley – some money to invest in a silver mine.’

The Le Pelley family could not keep up the repayments, and by 1852 owed £4,670 13 shillings and 4 pence.

Rather than foreclose, Marie Allaire, who was then a widow, paid the balance, wrote off the debt and became Dame of Sark.

Mr Beaumont took up the position in 2016, after the death of his father, Michael who had been Seigneur, for 42 years.

He is the 23rd Seigneur and the sixth seigneur from his family.

It was his father who, in 2008, oversaw the change in Sark from Europe’s last feudal state to its newest democracy.

Mr Beaumont said he would describe his role as to act as an outward facing PR machine for Sark.

His eldest son, Hugh, who has just finished a degree in theoretical physics, is next in line to take up the position.

‘Hugh, or number 24 as we call him, will take up the roll when its his turn.’

Mr Beaumont has also realised that his is now the longest-standing line of Seigneurs.

‘The de Carterets were 1565 to 1710 [145 years], and the Le Pelleys from 1730 to 1852 [122 years]. We’ve done 170 years.

'I realised that 15 years ago, but I didn’t bother mentioning it to anyone.’