The de Gruchy Family

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The de Gruchy family

A history of the de Gruchy family by the Rev J A Messervy, translated from the French by Mike Bisson. Footnotes by Guy Dixon

Norman origin

The de Gruchy family, established in Jersey from a very remote period, is unquestionably one of the oldest of the parish of Trinity. Of Norman origin, it takes its name, in all probability, from the village and Seigneurie of Grouchy - in Latin Groceium - near Caen, [1] a locality mentioned in many documents, among others Charters of 1156 and 1176. There are also references to Ralph de Groceio in 1178 and Richard de Grocy in 1181.

Elsewhere a striking discovery has been made recently on the subject of the origins of the de Gruchy family by G F B de Gruchy, Seigneur of Noirmont. In a very interesting article which was published in the Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise in 1919 concerning the great Roll of the Exchequer of Normandy, 1180, it appears that Jersey was divided at this time in three districts, or Ministeria, each having a Minister, or farmer of the revenues of the Duke of Normandy. One of these districts was called Ministerium de Groceio, and had at its head Roger Godel. In all probability it obtained its name from Hugo de Groceio, Minister Domini Regis in Jersey, 1089.

It is open to supposition that this Hugh de Gruchy had lived in Jersey for a long time, where he had acquired properties awarded to him "en Fief" - which took his name - where he left descendants, and that it is from him, consequently, that the numerous branches of the de Gruchy family are descended.

Fief de Gruchy

The Fief de Gruchy (in Trinity) of which we have shown the origin, is mentioned elsewhere in the Assize Roll of 1309. We read, in effect, that the tenants of Fief ès Gruchies (feodum as Grouchees) had to provide a house on the fief for holding prisoners from the four parishes, St John, St Saviour, [2] St Helier and Trinity.

Equally we find in the Assize Roll of 1309 the names of several heads of this ancient family and all living in the parish of Trinity. We see that Ralph Larbalestier reclaimed possession from Geoffrey de Gruchy of three vergées of land in the parish of St Helier, and that because they had reached an amicable agreement without the permission of the itinerant judges, both of them were fined. A singular way, in truth, of encouraging people to come to an understanding rather than suing each other.

In the minutes of the pleas held in Trinity (1309) the following names appear: Richard de Gruchy, Estienne de Gruchy and Guillaume de Gruchy, all three fined for breaking regulations concerning the sale of bread and wine. A Guillaume de Gruchy, perhaps the same, was fined for having cited Jean de Barentin and Colin de la Lande to appear before the Ecclesiastic Court hors du royaume, probably at Coutances.

Some years later, in 1338, Radulphus, or Raoul de Gruchy, was among the defenders of Mont Orgueil Castle beseiged by the French Admiral Béhuchet.

The Fief de Gruchy, which was part of the assets of the de Barentin family, passed in 1382 to Guillaume Payn, by virtue of a division with Drouet Lempriere, having been acquired in 1367 from Philippe de Barentin.

1362 contract

In a contract of 1362 [3], (which was in the possession of Philippe de Gruchy) [4] appears the name of one of the contractors, Robin de Gruchy, son of Jean [5] This Robin was father of another Robin, as appears from two contracts passed by them in 1420 and 1437. Jean de Gruchy, son of Robin, who was living in 1471, possessed land not only in Trinity but also in St Saviour, which borders it.

We say in passing that the spelling of the name varied much in ancient times, and took the forms de Grochie, de Grouchie, de Groshie, de Grocie, de Gruchié, etc. Furthermore, for reasons which escape us, the name is found connected in ancient times with that of Mauger. We have, for example, found several times Matthieu de Gruchy, who was living in 1542, called Matthieu de Gruchy dit Mauger, as well as Matthieu Mauger dit de Gruchy. Sometimes even one said simply Mauger. We cite as proof of this strange situation the list of communicants of Trinity in 1613, in which the name de Gruchy does not appear at all, and all the members of the family living at this time in Trinity are designated Mauger. This is all the more remarkable because in the registers of marriages, baptisms and burials in the same era, these people were correctly called de Gruchy.

The surname 'dit Mauger' disappeared towards the middle of the 17th century. It is also important to note that in ancient times 'de Gruchy' was frequently confused with 'Gruchy', without the preposition 'de'. It was not until the middle of the 17th century that the distinction was neat and precise.

Clerics and officials

The family de Gruchy - or Gruchy - has given the island many clerics, as well as civil officials. We mention among the former [6], Clement de Grochie, of Trinity, who became a priest in 1491; Drouet Grouchie, in 1542; Sire Jean Gruchy in 1553, Rector of St Mary 1553-74; Maitre Olivier Gruchy, Rector of St Clement 1595-1614; his son Daniel Gruchy, who was Rector of St Peter 1627-51; the Rev Philippe de Gruchy, Rector of St Lawrence from 1730-47; Abbot Matthieu de Gruchy (younger son of Philippe de Gruchy, of Trinity, then of St Saviour, born in 1761). Having converted to catholicism, he went to live in France, where he became Vicar of Beauvoir-sur-Mer, in the diocese of Luçon. In 1785 he sent his mother Anne du Feu, a power of attorney from St Marsx in Poitou, where he then lived. A refugee in Jersey in 1792 during the Revolution, he returned to France in 1795 and was guillotined [7] at Nantes on 28 November 1797.

During the first half of the 17th century [8] the Rev George de Gruchy, was incumbent of Whilton, Northamptonshire, [9] Finally, in our time, the Rev Francis de Gruchy, after having been Hospital Chaplain for several years, was Rector of St Peter, 1897-1939.

Among the members of the family who held important civil positions, we list: Gilles de Gruchy, Constable of St Lawrence 1637-43; Elie de Gruchy, one of his sons, Mayor of Southampton, [10]; Martin de Gruchy, grandson of Gilles, notary in Jersey and then London, celebrated for his arguments with the Royal Court; William Philippe de Gruchy, Constable of St Saviour, 1862-72 [11]; his son William Lawrence de Gruchy, Constable of St Helier 1876-78, who became Jurat in 1878; John de Gruchy, currently Bailiff's Secretary, was formerly Deputy Viscount (1885-1894). [12]

Property owners

The senior line of the de Gruchys of Trinity possessed a considerable property which in 1847 took the name La Chasse, and has continued to belong to the de Gruchy family, although passing to a junior branch, for 60 years. A contract of 27 April 1619 informs us that the the representative of this senior line, Matthieu de Gruchy, elder son of Robin, had possession "by prerogative of seniority" of four and a half vergees of land which were to remain undivided with the eldest, in accordance with an earlier contract. Given that this was a tenth of the total inheritance the property must have been approximately 45 vergées in 1619.

Numerous branches issued from this senior branch. We mention, among others, those of Le Câtel, La Pièce Mauger, du Houguillon, des Hougues, De la Raulinerie, du Mont Billot, des Bouillons, de La Blanche Pierre, and still others, all in Trinity. Others settled in St Saviour (Maufant, Clos Bisson, Vingtaine de Dessous-l'Eglise), St Ouen, St Clement, St John, etc.

The particular branch which occupies us here settled at La Piece Mauger from 1726 to 1728, in these circumstances: Thomas de Gruchy, son of Thomas, son of Jean, bought by a contract of 10 December 1726 from Michel Lempriere, Seigneur of Diélament, Clos du Couillard, situated on the north of Clos de Bisson and on the west of Clos de Hardy, and also Camp du Nord of Clos de Bisson, at the south of Clos de Couillard, etc, all in Trinity, on the Fief of Diélament. Thomas de Gruchy was obliged to build a house of stone with two storeys, within two years.

Three years later a contract of rectification dated 12 July 1729, completed the preceeding one. It confirmed that the sale of 1726 included Piece de Mauger, on the north of Clos de Couillard, and that Michel Lempriere was obliged to create a ditch to separate this field from the rest of Clos de Bisson which remained in his ownership. Finally the contract confirmed that the ditch had been created and that the house had been built. The conditions for payment of rentes followed. The is the origin of the property known as Piece Mauger.


We have found there the date 1728, with the initials T D G - R V B (Thomas de Gruchy and Rachel Vibert). As extensions have been added to the original building we find, among others, T D G - M D F 1765, for Thomas de Gruchy and Marie du Feu; P D G - E D G with the date 1800.

It is interesting to note that four years after Thomas de Gruchy build the house called Piece Mauger, another de Gruchy, from a related branch, obtained from Michel Lempriere two plots ofr land adjacent to those sold to Thomas de Gruchy but situated in St Saviour on the Fief du Roi. A contract of 16 December 1732 tells us in effect that Philippe de Gruchy, son of Mathieu, bought from Michel Lempriere two plots called Clos de Bisson and Clos de Messervy, situated to the south of the land which Lempriere sold to Thomas de Gruchy, and to the north of the garden of La Chapelle, for a price of 4 quarters of wheat rente, 2 quarters of oats, 12 chickens, 216 hens eggs, and 40 livres tournois.

A house was built at about this time on the land acquired and it is in this house that Abbot Matthieu de Gruchy was born in 1761, as well as his sister Elizabeth, who married Philippe de Gruchy, of Piece Mauger. Another sister married Philippe Hocquard, from whom is descended Thomas Binet, who owns this proprty today, and from who we have had most useful information. The house, now called Maison du Buisson, was built on the site of the old Clos Bisson house, constructed in 1733, as indicated above.

Notes and references

  1. This is no longer thought to be the original seat of the family
  2. Messervy`s error for St Lawrence
  3. Now found to have been misread when J B Payne was producing his first installment of the Armorial of Jersey (1858). It was 1391
  4. Of La Chasse, below
  5. This parentage, due to the above mentioned 1858 misreading of the deed, is now shown to be incorrect. This Robin was brother, not son of Jean
  6. Messervy did not mention the 'priest de Gruchy', who features in the 1299 Roll of the Assizes, as this particular Roll had yet to be transcribed
  7. Executed by firing squad
  8. Error for 19th century
  9. Afterwards Rector of Little Bealings, Suffolk, 1854-70 and Vicar of Stoke St Millboro, Shropshire, 1871; the Rev Martin de Gruchy, (1694-1742), was Perpetual Curate of the Surrey chapelries of Elstead and Seale. Three 19th century de Gruchys, all native Jerseymen, were clergymen in North America.
  10. 1682 and 1697, having been Sheriff in 1677
  11. Error for 1872-82
  12. Since Messervy wrote the above account (1922), the following de Gruchys have served their Island in civil positions:
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