Bailiff's Chambers Liberation Archive

Scope and Content

The Bailiff's Liberation files relate to the period immediately after the Occupation of Jersey, 1940 - 1945. The files were organised by the Bailiff and his references have been kept throughout the catalogue. The files give a detailed account of the aftermath of the Occupation in Jersey. The collection includes a number of congratulatory messages on the Liberation of the Islands, a significant amount of papers relating to claims for war damages made by Jersey residents, papers concerning the movement of civilians and also demobilisation of service personnel in the months shortly after the Liberation and enquiries from relatives into servicemen lost near Jersey.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Moncrieff Coutanche was born on 09/05/1892, one of four children of Adolphus Coutanche, Notary Public, and Ina Finlayson. He was educated at Jersey High School, La Chasse Preparatory School, Victoria College and the University of Caen (which later honored him with an honorary doctorate in law) and went to Carlisle and Griegson's London Academy, intending to join the Indian police force, but was turned down because of a heart murmur. He then decided to become a lawyer. In the First World War he served at the Assistant Adjutant-General and Quartermaster General's Office, then worked at a munitions factory in Birmingham, and finally volunteered for the War Claims Commission, where he was posted to Belgium, served as a Lieutenant, and was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre and made Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Couronne. He left the army 1920 as a Captain. After a briefly returning to London, he came back to Jersey and entered the States in 1922. In 1924 he married Ruth Sophia Joan Gore, and a year later they had a son, John Alexander. In 1925 he became Solicitor General, and settled the matter of Imperial contributions by Jersey and Guernsey to the cost of the First World War. In 1932 he became Attorney General - the first to make an address for the prosecution in English, after introducing the necessary legislation - and on 27/08/1935 was sworn in as Bailiff. When it became clear in 1940 that Jersey would be occupied, the Lieutenant Governor was recalled to England along with all British troops in the Island and the Bailiff was sworn in as civil governor. Throughout the occupation he carried out the difficult task of continuing to govern the Island under the occupying forces, which he later summed up with the simple phrase 'I protested'. He was knighted in 1946 in recognition of his service and leadership during this time. He was active in the implementation of Reform Bill in 1948, which reformed the number of States Members and how they were elected. In 1949 he created the position of Deputy Bailiff, as the duties of being president of the States and judge of all divisions of the Royal Court were proving too much for one person (Cecil Harrison was the first to fill this position). At the celebration of Alexander Coutanche's silver jubilee as Bailiff 1960, a portrait painted by James Gunn RA and commissioned by the States was unveiled and hung in the Royal Court. On his retirement in 1962 he was made a life peer with the title Lord Coutanche of Saint Brelade in the Island of Jersey and the City of Westminster. He died on 08/12/1973, and was buried in St Brelade.

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Geographical Names