He was known as John 'Lackland' because all his father's territories passed on his death to his elder brother Richard 'The Lionheart', who became King Richard I.
Richard made John Count of Mortain, in nearby Normandy and Seigneur des Iles "dum fuit comes Mortonii et dominus insularum" by an Act of 8 February 1198.
It is unlikely that John had much, if anything to do with the islands, save for receiving his due taxes and other revenues, and in the years preceeding his loss of England's French territories, including Normandy, to the French monarch, he may well have required Pierre de Préaux, his representative in Normandy, to oversee matters across the water in the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. When he succeeded Richard as King in 1199 it is not known whether de Préaux became Lord of the Isles or continued his resp-onsibilities under some other title. The dates of appointment and the actual offices held by those responsible for the Channel Islands in the late 12th and early 13th century are very uncertain.