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24 September 2014

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You are in: Guernsey > History > Local History > Jethou History

Jethou Island

Jethou and Herm from the air.

Jethou History

Even the smaller islands have a varied and complex history. We shift the focus onto Jethou, a small island not far from Herm.


The remains of menhirs (standing stones), dolmen and a grove in Fairy Wood show that the island was used for practicing early religions.

First Record

Jethou is first mentioned under the Viking name of Keitholm.

This is from 'Keithou' meaning 'a place of roaring' and 'holm' meaning 'Island'.

This may come from the noise of air being forced through the passage into the Creux du Diable.

This no longer happens because erosion over time has widened the passage.

Timeline of Tenants

In 1028 'Admiral' Restald was given the Island by Duke Robert of Normandy for his service.

On his retirement he bequeathed the islands to the Monastery of Mont St Michel. Doing this ensured he had a home for his retirement.

In 1158 Prince John Earl of Montaine granted the tenancy to Guillaume Chesney. He held the island until his death when it went back to Mont St Michel.

In 1270 Prince Edward granted Sir William de Chesney the right to keep a warren in the islands. This was in Jethou and the origins of the current large population.

On Sir William's death the Island again went back to the Monastery. This time to the representative in Guernsey, the Abbot of the Vale Priory.

When the French monasteries in the islands were suppressed under Henry V in 1414 then Jethou left the hands of Mont St Michel after 350 years.

Between this time and 1717 Jethou was not officially inhabited but may have been a home for pirates.

The end of this was when Charles Nowall rented both Herm and Jethou from the Crown.

From 1779 the island was held by Henry de Jersey and when he died in 1781 his son, Henry as well, took over until 1800.

Then Philip de Quesnel took the tenacy on for 21 years.

A joint tenancy of Edward Falla, Peter Le Cocq, Nicholas Le Feurve and Peter de Lisle took over but only for a year as in 1822 Jean Allaire became a tenant.

When he gave up his tenancy in 1852 the States of Guernsey took over the Island and quarried granite for four years.

In 1856 Mr Gee took over the lease but in it were the provisions that the Queen could work any mines or quarries and the Lt Governor of Guernsey could shoot rabbits on Jethou (this second was removed in 1867 under a new lease).

Perry Lindell and Giffard took over the tenancy in 1863.

In 1867 Lt Colonel Montague Fielden became the tenant of not only Jethou but Herm as well.

He was the tenant who brought forward the idea of a floating causeway between the two islands, although the States gave permission it was never built.

He was also the tenant discovered using the island as a storehouse for smuggling Brandy.

Following this the island stayed in the hands of caretakers between 1877 and 1890.

Then Sir Austin Lee became tenant until 1918.

In the next year the British Treasury installed John Drillot as caretaker.

In 1920 Sir Compton MacKenzie became tenant of both Herm and Jethou but gave Herm up in 1923 due to the high cost of both islands.

He left in 1934 selling the rest of the lease to an American called Fortington. They left in 1938 allowing long term residents the MacDonalds to stay in the island.

In 1948 Fortington's widow sold the lease to Lt Colonel Withycombe who opened the cafe.

The cafe was raided by Guernsey Police in 1954 for serving drinks outside of hours!

Between 1955 and 1956 Mr Watkins was the tenant.

He was followed by a Stockey who was around for two years.

In 1958 Group Captain Cliff DSO and his wife Margaret took up the lease.

From 1964 until 1971 the Faed family took over the tenancy.

last updated: 22/04/2008 at 17:34
created: 20/07/2004

You are in: Guernsey > History > Local History > Jethou History

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