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A bailiwick ( /ˈblɪwɪk/ ) [1] is usually the area of jurisdiction of a bailiff, and once also applied to territories in which a privately appointed bailiff exercised the sheriff's functions under a royal or imperial writ. The bailiwick is probably modelled on the administrative organization which was attempted for a very small time in Sicily and has its roots in the official state of the Hohenstaufen.[ citation needed ]


In English, the original French bailie combined with '-wic', the Anglo-Saxon suffix (meaning a village) to produce a term meaning literally 'bailiff's village'—the original geographic scope of a bailiwick. In the 19th century, it was absorbed into American English as a metaphor for a sphere of knowledge or activity.

The term survives in administrative usage in the British Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands, which are grouped for administrative purposes into two bailiwicks — the Bailiwick of Jersey (comprising the island of Jersey and uninhabited islets such as the Minquiers and Écréhous) and the Bailiwick of Guernsey (comprising the islands of Guernsey, Sark, Alderney, Brecqhou, Herm, Jethou and Lihou). A Bailiff heads each Channel Island bailiwick.

A bailiwick (German : Ballei) was also the territorial division of the Teutonic Order. Here, various “Komtur(en)” formed a Ballei province.


The term originated in France ( bailie being the Old French term for a bailiff). Under the ancien régime in France, the bailli was the king's representative in a bailliage, charged with the application of justice and control of the administration. In southern France, the term generally used was sénéchal (cf seneschal) who held office in the sénéchaussée. The administrative network of baillages was established in the 13th century, based on the earlier medieval fiscal and tax divisions (the 'baillie') which had been used by earlier sovereign princes. [2] (For more on this French judicial system, see bailli, prévôt and Early Modern France.)

Bailiwick of Bicester Market End

At Bicester in Oxfordshire, the Lord of the Manor of Market End was the Earl of Derby who, in 1597, sold a 9,999 year lease to 31 principal tenants. This in effect gave the manorial rights to the leaseholders, ‘purchased for the benefit of those inhabitants or others who might hereafter obtain parts of the demesne’. The leaseholders elected a bailiff to receive the profits from the bailiwick, mainly from the administration of the market and distribute them to the shareholders. From the bailiff's title, the arrangement became known as the Bailiwick of Bicester Market End. By 1752 all of the original leases were in the hands of ten men, who leased the bailiwick control of the market to two local tradesmen. [3]

List of Bailiwicks

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Channel Islands</span> Archipelago in the English Channel

The Channel Islands are an archipelago in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two Crown Dependencies: the Bailiwick of Jersey, which is the largest of the islands; and the Bailiwick of Guernsey, consisting of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm and some smaller islands. They are considered the remnants of the Duchy of Normandy and, although they are not part of the United Kingdom, the UK is responsible for the defence and international relations of the islands. The Crown dependencies are not members of the Commonwealth of Nations, nor have they ever been in the European Union. They have a total population of about 171,916, and the bailiwicks' capitals, Saint Helier and Saint Peter Port, have populations of 33,500 and 18,207, respectively.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guernsey</span> Island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy

Guernsey is an island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy that is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown Dependency.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Guernsey</span> Historical development of Guernsey

The history of Guernsey stretches back to evidence of prehistoric habitation and settlement and encompasses the development of its modern society.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Politics of Guernsey</span>

Politics of Guernsey take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic British Crown dependency.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jersey</span> British Crown Dependency in the English Channel

Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey, is an island country and self-governing British Crown Dependency near the coast of north-west France. It is the largest of the Channel Islands and is 14 miles (23 km) from the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. The Bailiwick consists of the main island of Jersey and some surrounding uninhabited islands and rocks including Les Dirouilles, Les Écréhous, Les Minquiers, and Les Pierres de Lecq.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bailiff</span> Manager, overseer or custodian

A bailiff is a manager, overseer or custodian – a legal officer to whom some degree of authority or jurisdiction is given. Bailiffs are of various kinds and their offices and duties vary greatly.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crown Dependencies</span> Self-governing possessions of the British Crown

The Crown Dependencies are three island territories in the British Islands that are self-governing possessions of the British Crown: the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey, and the Isle of Man. They are not part of the United Kingdom (UK) nor are they British Overseas Territories. They have the status of "territories for which the United Kingdom is responsible", rather than sovereign states. As a result, they are not member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. However, they do have relationships with the Commonwealth and other international organisations, and are members of the British–Irish Council. They have their own teams in the Commonwealth Games.

The bailiff is the chief justice in each of the Channel Island bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey, also serving as president of the legislature and having ceremonial and executive functions. Each bailiwick has possessed its own bailiff since the islands were divided into two jurisdictions in the 13th century. The bailiffs and deputy bailiffs are appointed by the Crown on the advice of the Secretary of State for Justice and may hold office until retirement age.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bailiwick of Guernsey</span> British Crown dependency consisting of several islands

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is an island country off the coast of France as one of the three Crown Dependencies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British Islands</span> Term within the law of the United Kingdom

The British Islands is a term within the law of the United Kingdom which refers collectively to the following four polities:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bailiff of Guernsey</span> Head of the government of Guernsey

The title Bailiff of Guernsey has been used since at least the 13th century and indicated the leading citizen of Guernsey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bailiff of Jersey</span>

The Bailiff of Jersey is the civic head of the Bailiwick of Jersey. In this role, he is not the head of government nor the head of state, but the chief justice of Jersey and presiding officer of Jersey's parliament, the States Assembly. The Bailiff is also the President of the Royal Court. It is similar in role to the Bailiff of Guernsey.

The jurats are lay people in Guernsey and Jersey who act as judges of fact rather than law, though they preside over land conveyances and liquor licensing. In Alderney, however, the jurats are judges of both fact and law in both civil and criminal matters.

A bailiff was the king's administrative representative during the ancien régime in northern France, where the bailiff was responsible for the application of justice and control of the administration and local finances in his bailiwick.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coat of arms of Guernsey</span> National coat of arms of Guernsey

The coat of arms of Guernsey is the official symbol of the Channel Island of Guernsey. It is very similar to the arms of Normandy, Jersey and England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Outline of Guernsey</span> Overview of and topical guide to Guernsey

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Guernsey:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the Jews in Guernsey</span>

The history of the Jews in Guernsey dates back to well before the events of 1940–5. A London Jew named Abraham was described in 1277 as being from "La Gelnseye" (Guernsey). A converted Portuguese Jew, Edward Brampton, was appointed Governor of Guernsey in 1482.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Courts of Guernsey</span> Court system of Guernsey

The Courts of Guernsey are responsible for the administration of justice in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. They apply the law of the Island, which is a mixture of customary law dating back as far as the 10th century and legislation passed by the legislature, the States of Deliberation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Law of Guernsey</span> Corpus of law governing the island of Guernsey

The Law of Guernsey originates in Norman Customary Law, overlaid with principles taken from English common law and [French law], as well as from statute law enacted by the competent legislature(s) -- usually, but not always, the States of Guernsey

Bailiff usually refers to law enforcement officers involved with lower courts of the UK or providing courtroom security and order in the US.


  1. "Definition of Bailiwick". Oxford University Press. 2020. Archived from the original on May 28, 2020. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  2. Schneider, Zoë A.. The King's Bench: Bailiwick Magistrates and Local Governance in Normandy, 1670-1740. United Kingdom, University of Rochester Press, 2008.
  3. "The market town of Bicester." A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 6. Ed. Mary D Lobel. London: Victoria County History, 1959. 14-56. British History Online. Web. 23 June 2022.