The name Brecqhou derives from the Old Norse brekka, meaning slope or escarpment and holmr = island or islet.
Brecqhou has a surface area of 74 acres and is separated from Sark by a narrow sound, Le Goulliot Passage.
Feudal relationship with Sark
In Sark, the word tenant is used, and often pronounced, as in French, in the sense of feudal landholder rather than the common English meaning of 'lessee'. The landholdings of Sark are held by 40 tenants, representing the parcels of the 40 families who colonised the island.
Since 1929 the island of Brecqhou has been connected to the title of the tenement La Moinerie de Haut, one of the 40 tenements. Originally La Moinerie de Haut was a parcel of land in the north west of Sark that was owned by the Seigneur. When the Dame, Sibyl Hathaway, sold Brecqhou to Angelo Clarke in 1929, she transferred the seat in Chief Pleas connected to this parcel to Brecqhou.
Since 1993 the tenement of Brecqhou has been owned by the David and Frederick Barclay, the co-owners of The Daily Telegraph. The brothers bought the island for £2.3 million in September 1993. David Barclay is recognised as the tenant. The brothers drive cars on the island, and have a helicopter, both of which are banned under Sark law.
The rule of Sark over Brecqhou, disputed by the Barclays, is based on the retention of Seigneurial rights in the contract of sale in 1929. The Barclays argue that letters patent establishing the fief do not mention the smaller island. They claim that the Seigneurs lost any title to Brecqhou on selling the island then.
- 1966–1987: Leonard Joseph Matchan
- From 1993: David and Frederick Barclay
Leonard Matchan occupied Brecqhou until his death on 6 October 1987 and issued stamps in 1969. The Barclays have issued stamps annually since 1999.
In 2012 it was reported that the island is open to the public, by prior arrangement.