Jean Bernard

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John Bernard's arms

Jean Bernard, Bailiff of Jersey, 1432-1444

Records relating to Bailiffs of Jersey in the early 15th century are very rare, and Jean/John/Johan Bernard is no exception. J A Messervy originally showed him as Bailiff from 1436-1442, but later stated that he was already Bailiff in 1432, with Pierre Morin as Lieut-Bailiff. Bernard was, according to Messervy, lieutenant of Lord of the Isles John, Duke of Bedford in 1433, which would have put him in total control of Jersey, if not the whole of the Channel Islands.

He was not a Jerseyman, but a member of the Bernard family of Isleham, Cambridge. He was buried there after his death on 23 March 1451. It is likely that he was born in 1394, the son of Robert Bernard and Elizabeth Lylling, with a pedigree on his father's side stretching back to Thomas Fitz Bernard 1125-1184. He married Eleanor Sakevyle (1404- ) in 1424 and they had a son John two years later.

An article in the 1970 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise notes that his seal, which appears on documents held by the Marett family, bore a pike, surrounded by a legend, in very small letters, which seems to read "Decora certius", which might perhaps be translated as "the surer course is seemliness".

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