27th October 1747

Bailiff Sir Peter de Havilland was born

Sir Peter de Havilland, one of thirteen children, was born in St Peter Port on 27 October 1747. Sixty-three years later he was made Bailiff of Guernsey – a role that he fulfilled until his death in 1821 at the age of 73.

France and French

De Havilland was a native French speaker who spent three years in the coastal French town of Sete. There, he learned about the wine trade, but he chose not to settle upon this as his life-long career.

Instead, upon his return to Guernsey he trained as a lawyer and was sworn in at the age of 23. Unfortunately, by the time he’d turned 30 this, too, had come to an end. He was forced to resign from the law in order to sidestep the challenge of a duel.

It was now 1777 and he needed to find something else to do with his life.

Profiting from privateering

Like many of his wealthier contemporaries, he turned to privateering. Effectively waging warfare on behalf of the crown, a privateer would sink or capture enemy shipping on commission. Any ships that they captured would be sold, along with the contents, and the privateer would take a profit from the proceeds.

De Havilland himself didn’t head out to sea. Instead he invested in other privateers’ ships, thus earning himself an income without risking anything more than a little currency.

This was seen as a perfectly respectable profession at the time and it certainly didn’t harm his chances of election as a Jurat, which happened in 1785.

He invested his money in property, constructing Havilland Street, Allez Street, Sausmarez Street, Union Street and St John Street on his own land and selling plots along them to builders.

Finally, in 1810, he was appointed Bailiff and, in this position, worked with John Doyle to make sure Doyle’s proposals for building new roads to Rocquaine and Vazon were approved. As these were military roads, his support of them helped earn him a knighthood in 1817.

The de Havilland name is perhaps best known for its association with aviation. That’s because Peter’s great, great grandson was Geoffrey de Havilland, designer of the Comet and Mosquito aircraft.


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Other events that occured in October

Guernsey Post Office was established 1st
Guernsey switched to Reichsmarks 2nd
Sark was the target of Operation Basalt 3rd
Sark voted for democracy 4th
Guernsey lifeboat saved a Swedish schooner 5th
Jeeves actor died in Guernsey 6th
Sarnia Theatre celebrated its most successful year 7th
The Story of Adele H opened in cinemas 8th
Howards’ Way came to Guernsey 9th
Guernsey Ladies’ College opened 10th
A Trislander ate itself between Jersey and Guernsey 11th
The Channel Islands’ king set sail for England 12th
Major General Sir Isaac Brock died 13th
Footballer Matt Le Tissier was born 14th
Island FM brings commercial radio to Guernsey 15th
Channel Television saw off a rival broadcaster 16th
The first mines were dug on Sark 17th
Sark’s Stocks Hotel was damaged by fire 18th
Elizabeth College’s foundation stone was laid 19th
Hitler ordered the Channel Islands’ fortification 20th
Guernsey’s stone crackers demanded a pay rise 21st
The desalination plant opened 22nd
Sir Charles Hayward buys Jethou for £91,000 23rd
Guernsey Monopoly board game went on sale 24th
Dame Sibyl Hathaway chose her Desert Island Discs 25th
GUNS founder Charles Machon died 26th
Bailiff Sir Peter de Havilland was born 27th
A man “disappeared” from a Guernsey ferry 28th
Express & Star bought Guernsey Press 29th
The first lighthouses were built on the Casquets 30th
States of Guernsey voted to lower the voting age 31st