Martin de Gruchy (1666-1720) was the first notary in Jersey. The only son of Martin de Gruchy, Centenier of St Lawrence and Rachel de Carteret, daughter of Helier, of La Hougue, Attorney-General, he was born in 1666, and baptized in St Lawrence Church on 8 July, his grandfather being his godfather.
His father died when he was two years old, and he was brought up by Jurat Philippe Payn, of Grouville, his mother's second husband. In 1680 the latter obtained for him a grant from the Don Baudains, which enabled him to go to Gloucester Hall, Oxford. He returned to Jersey and became an Ecrivain.
In 1685 he married Sara Le Gallais, daughter of Jean, in the Town Church, and they firent leurs regards in St Lawrence Church, so the Register of that Church informs us, on the following Sunday. This refers to the custom of newly married couples making their first appearance in the Church of the parish in which they were going to live, wearing their wedding clothes.
He soon moved to St Helier and there he became the father of nine children: Rachel (1687- ), Jeanne (1600- ), Elisabeth (1692- ), Martin (1694- ), Jean (1696- ), Philippe (1699- ), who became Rector of St Lawrence, Elie (1702- ), Anne (1704- ), Florence (1705- ).
In 1698 he was elected Procureur du Bien Public of St Helier. Notaries, though now appointed by the Lord Chancellor, were then licensed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In May 1701 De Gruchy obtained from him a faculty creating him a Tabellion and Notary Public. This he duly registered in the Ecclesiastical Court. Jersey had hitherto known nothing of Notaries, and in May 1703 the Royal Court decided that such an office "tended to diminish the rights of the Bailiff and the authority of the Court", and forbad De Gruchy to practise.
In The Groans it is alleged:
- "Durell, the Lieut-Bailiff, resenting a suit which de Gruchy had brought against his eldest son, stirred up the spirit of the Bailiff".
De Gruchy appealed to the Privy Council, and, while waiting for his case to be heard, practised as a Notary in London. In May 1705 the Council ordered that the prohibition of the Court should be repealed, "and the said Martin de Gruchy permitted to execute his faculty with the same liberty that he might do in this Kingdom".
He returned to Jersey, and got this registered both in the Ecclesiastical and the Royal Courts. In the same year he was appointed Greffier of the Ecclesiastical Court.
In 1707 his quarrel with the Bailiff flared up once more. "Having offered to Sir Charles De Carteret, Bailiff, and to the Jurats in Court a cause about some appurtenances of his notarial practice, wherein the Bailiff thought himself concerned as being apprehensive it might be a diminishment of some of his perquisites, Sir Charles rejected the cause, and at the same time charged de Gruchy with an accusation about pretended defamatory words, gestures, and insinuations, which he alleged de Gruchy had spoken and acted against him.
Sir Charles publicly declared that they consisted that in private conferences Gruchy had called him His Excellency, and in discoursing of him with his friends he said was “rough as a veal pie". The actual charge, as recorded in the Court Rolls, was that he had "maliciously uttered many insults and defamatory words, both during the session of the Court and elsewhere, against the honour of the said Charles de Carteret, holding up to ridicule his administration of justice by gestures and shocking words and perverse insinuations". The Groans continues the story:
- "Gruchy having had occasion to go over to Guernsey, as soon as he was absent, they condemned him without jury or witnesses to beg upon his knees pardon of God, the Queen, the Bench, and de Carteret, and he was further condemned to an unlimited fine. The matter being brought to her Majesty in Council, it was transmitted to the said Magistrates; yet five or six months after it had been served upon them they attempted to assess the fine to 150 livres tournois. By Her Majesty's Order in Council of 30 December 1708 Gruchy was admitted to appeal".
He seems now to have decided to leave Jersey, for he did not prosecute his appeal, but settled in London as a Notary, and there he died in 1720. He may have been the author of the anonymous attack on Sir Charles de Carteret, published in 1709, Groans of the Inhabitants of the Island of Jersey by a Well-Wisher to his Country.