Copyright ©2000, Graham Guille. All rights reserved.
The story I will try tell covers the last 1000 years so is a bit thin in
As far as I have been able to establish the very first Guilles were from
Norway. Around 950-980 there was a gradual movement of the Norse peoples
along the coast of northern Germany and what is now the French province of
Normandy (the land of the Norse)
The family is mentioned in several of the Norse Saga and their deeds are
recounted in some detail in the Faroese Saga.
By about the year 1000 some members evidently reached the Channel Islands,
a group of small independent 'mini' states which lie in the Gulf of
St Malo. The first mention in Guernsey records speaks of a marriage between
Mauger, the banished uncle of William Duc of Normandy (The Conqueror)
and Marie Guille in the year 1055. No supporting proof has been found for
The islands physical records begin in the year 1274 and in the parish documents
for the early years of the 1300s the name of Guille occurs frequently. By
1331 the are listed as land holders, title they retained until 1770.
Many of the family were engaged as merchants in the middle ages so they made
regular visits to London and are listed as members of the Huguenot 'cene'
or religious brotherhood. The Huguenot Society registers for the Southampton
district contain literally dozens of Channel Islanders and their families.
Quite if they were escaping religious intolerance or were simply 'gravitating'
to those who spoke their language is unclear. It must have been attractive
to settle among those whom you could understand.
The islanders have long been proficient seamen, often undertaking amazing
voyages. When Jacques Cartier, the famous French explorer was
'discovering' the St Laurence Seaway in 1534 he was stunned to
see eleven Channel Island fishing boats, loaded with cod going the other
The Guilles were prominent merchants and politicians thorough the years up
to the late 1700, often involved in semi legal piracy and the like. Huge
fortunes were made by ship owners during this period. The de Saumarez
family had a share in the sale of the proceeds of the cargo of the 'Manila'
Galleon captured by Anson of the 'Centurion'. Their share came to £137,000,
this at a time when the working wage of a tradesman might have been £6
Over the years the Guilles have been Bailiffs of the islands (a sort of civil
and military governor) Judges of the Royal Court and often head of
the local religious establishment. There have also been scoundrels and worse
among the family.
They are now in numerous countries world wide, mainly in the former
My branch of the family have lived on most of the islands in our group over
the years, we spent the war years in Britain as did many Island families.
Copyright ©2000, Graham Guille. All rights reserved. Please
send any errors, corrections, conjectures, updates, etc. to