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On May 8th 1945 from the balcony above Alexander Moncrieff Coutanche Bailiff of Jersey announced that the Island was to be liberated after five years of German military occupation

Alexander Moncrieff Coutanche, Baron Coutanche (9 May 1892 – 18 December 1973) is a former Bailiff of Jersey and member of the House of Lordsmarker in the United Kingdommarker.

Early life and education

Coutanche was born in Saint Saviour, Jerseymarker; the younger son and third child to Adolphus Arnold Coutanche (1856-1921) and Jane Alexandrina Finlayson (d. 1909). He was educated at Jersey High School and Victoria Collegemarker before going to study law at the University of Caenmarker. He then attended Carlisle and Gregson's London Academy with the intention of entering the Indian Civil Service. However, although he passed the entrance examination for the Indian Civil Service, he was rejected on health grounds due to the discovery of a systolic heart murmur.

Early career

Having studied law before attempting to enter the civil service, Coutanche entered the chambers of John Beaumont at the Middle Templemarker in 1912. He aimed to practise at the Chancery bar, but was instead called to the Jersey bar in 1913. Upon the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Coutanche served as an assistant to a government secretary in Jersey. He was ineligible to join the Inns of Court regiment due to his previously discovered heart murmur. Therefore, he went to work at a munitions factory, rising from a worker through to management level. He was called to the English bar in 1915.

In 1917, he volunteered for work with the War Claims Commission and was posted to Belgiummarker with the rank of Lieutenant. During his time in Belgium, he won the Belgian Croix de Guerre and was appointed chevalier of the Order of the Crown . He left the army in 1920 with the rank of Captain. He returned to his chambers in Londonmarker, but then had to return to work at the Jersey chambers due to the illness of his father.

He was elected a Deputy of Saint Helier in 1922, and married Ruth Sophia Joan Gore in 1924.

Attorney-General and Bailiff of Jersey

In 1925, Coutanche was appointed Solicitor-General, and went on to reform the department of the law officers and reorganised the States Greffe of the States of Jerseymarker. He was promoted to Attorney-General in 1931. In 1935, the bailiff of Jersey, Charles de Carteret, retired. Coutanche was promoted to this office. As the last bailiff appointed before the passage of a law on the Bailiff in 1936, he was the last bailiff appointed for life and the last under the sole prerogative of the Crown without the obligation to consult the States of Jersey.

As the bailiff of Jersey also fulfills the function of Deputy Governor, Coutanche took on the additional role of Governor of Jersey when the island was demilitarised in 1940 by King George VI. He was knighted in 1946. He was made a life peer in the Birthday Honours of 1961 taking the title of Baron Coutanche, of St Brelade in the Island of Jersey and of the City of Westminster. He retired as bailiff in 1961. During the period when he was simultaneously a member of the legislatures of Jersey and the United Kingdom he sat as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords; upon his retirement as bailiff he took the Conservative whip.

He was an honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple and Doctor of Laws of the University of Caen.


  • Mr Alexander Coutanche (1892-1912)
  • Alexander Coutanche, Esq. (1912-1917)
  • Lt. Alexander Coutanche, Esq. (1917-1920)
  • Capt. Alexander Coutanche, Esq. (1920-1946)
  • Sir Alexander Coutanche (1946-1961)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Lord Coutanche (1961-1973)



  • Memoirs of Lord Coutanche
  • The Times, obituary 19 December 1973

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