3rd June 1845

Bailiff John Guille died in Plymouth

John Guille died on 3 June 1845. After a successful military career, he had become one of Guernsey’s most notable Bailiffs, and in that position he was a tireless defender of the rights of the Royal Court.

Guille was orphaned at an early age and brought up by his aunt. He joined the Guernsey Militia and was promoted to the rank of captain aged just seventeen, and colonel by the time he turned 23.

The year before his elevation to colonel, he had been elected to the Royal Court, where he served as a Jurat until 1835. At that point he became Lieutenant-Bailiff.

In this role he would have met often with other Lieutenants-Bailiff. They would each have discussed and decided on legal matters on behalf of the Bailiff. Naturally, this would have been an ideal proving ground for what would come next: his appointment as Bailiff in 1842.

Bailiff John Guille

He was appointed in December after Daniel de Lisle Brock had died three months earlier. Brock is remembered for building many of Guernsey’s earliest roads. He financed them by printing the island’s own currency and appears on the £1 notes issued from 1980.

Guille took his oath of office in early January 1843. It was an oath he was to take seriously, even if it should bring him into conflict with the Lieutenant-Governor, Major-General Sir William Napier. As Bailiff, Guille considered it his duty to defend the powers of the Royal Court – particularly when Napier seemed to believe that he had primacy.

The two men were locked in a political battle for much of Guille’s term of office. After less than two years, the strain of it started to show. Guille was forced to take a brief break on the mainland for the sake of his own health. He went to Plymouth, but rapidly declined.

When it became obvious that he wasn’t going to live long enough to make it back to Guernsey, his family rushed over to join him. They arrived in time to be with him when he died, aged 57, on 3 June 1843.


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