Michael Beaumont, 22nd Seigneur of Sark

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Michael Beaumont
Michael Beaumont.jpg
Beaumont in July 2012
Seigneur of Sark
In office
14 July 1974 – 3 July 2016
Preceded bySibyl Hathaway
Succeeded byChristopher Beaumont
Personal details
John Michael Beaumont

(1927-12-20)20 December 1927
Died3 July 2016(2016-07-03) (aged 88)
Spouse(s)Diana La Trobe-Bateman
ChildrenChristopher Beaumont
Anthony Beaumont
ParentsFrancis William Beaumont
Enid Ripley

John Michael Beaumont OBE (20 December 1927 – 3 July 2016)[1] was the twenty-second Seigneur of Sark in the Channel Islands. He worked as a civil engineer before succeeding his paternal grandmother, Sibyl Hathaway, the 21st Dame of Sark, in 1974. During his rule, Beaumont saw the loss of many feudal rights enjoyed by the seigneurs, and he was consequently often described as the "last feudal baron".


Beaumont was the son of the Royal Air Force officer and film producer Francis William Beaumont and his first wife, Enid Ripley. His paternal grandmother, Sibyl Hathaway, ascended as the Dame of Sark six months before his birth.

Francis and Enid divorced in 1937 as a result of his adultery with an actress, Mary Lawson,[2] whom he subsequently married.[3] Beaumont's father and stepmother were killed on 4 May 1941, during the Liverpool Blitz, which left the 14-year-old Beaumont as heir to his grandmother.

Beaumont worked as a structural design engineer for the British Aircraft Corporation in Bristol before moving to Shoreham-by-Sea, where he worked on Beagle Aircraft.[4] In 1956, Beaumont married Diana La Trobe-Bateman, and the couple had two sons, Christopher and Anthony.[5]


In 1974, Beaumont's grandmother died and he succeeded her as Seigneur of Sark.[6] The new seigneur swore fealty to Queen Elizabeth in 1978, when she and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the island for the first time since his accession.[7]

In 1990, a French nuclear physicist named André Gardes came to Sark to depose Beaumont and establish himself as seigneur, but this one-man "invasion" attempt failed.[8][9]

During her 2001 visit, the Queen made the seigneur an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.[7]

In 2008, Sark experienced a major change in the system of government. Beaumont remained the overlord of the island, but lost some of his feudal privileges. He did retain the privilege of being the only person on the island with the right to keep pigeons and an unspayed dog.[8]

The first democratic elections on the island took place in December 2008. Beaumont regretted the change and denied being a feudal lord.[4] He did, however, appreciate the fact that it allowed his island to stay independent from Guernsey.[10]

Final years[edit]

Due to their poor health, the aging seigneur and his wife moved out of La Seigneurie, the traditional residence of the ruler of the island, to a more manageable cottage on their estate.[11] In 2009, they agreed to allow David Synnott and his wife to live in the Seigneurie for ten years—until the end of October 2019. The rent is paid through renovations, and Synnott said that the seigneur was "effectively making a large and generous donation to his successor who will benefit from the work".

Beaumont's heir, his son, Major Christopher Beaumont, lived and worked with his family in Britain and served as an officer in the Royal Engineers.[12] In 2008, he told the Chief Pleas that he intended to move back to Sark upon inheriting the fief.[13]

In 2011, the seigneur declared that he would never consider selling his fief.[14] Beaumont died on 3 July 2016 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Christopher.

Beaumont's widow, Diana, died on 1 December 2016.[15] She was eighty years old when she died, which was less than five months after Beaumont's death.


  1. ^ "Michael Beaumont: Seigneur of Sark dies aged 88". BBC News. 3 July 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  2. ^ Catalogue description for Document No. J 77/3752/4301. Divorce Court File: 4301. Appellant: Enid Corinne Beaumont. Respondent: Francis William Lionel C Beaumont. Type: Wife's petition for divorce [wd] 1937. The National Archives, Kew
  3. ^ "News in Brief". The Times (48028). London. 23 June 1938. col C, p. 14.
  4. ^ a b Levy, Geoffrey (19 April 2008). "The last feudal baron: New laws to bring the island of Sark into the 21st century". The Daily Mail.
  5. ^ "History of La Seigneurie". 2012.
  6. ^ "Death of a Dame". Time. 29 July 1974. Nearly all 560 subjects of the medieval fiefdom of Sark gathered last week around a gnarled oak tree in their parish churchyard to mourn Dame Sibyl Mary Collings Beaumont Hathaway, 21st Seigneur of Sark.
  7. ^ a b "Sark - Isle of Sark, Channel Islands". 19 June 2009. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Lost world: the last days of feudal Sark". The Independent. 26 October 2006. Archived from the original on 3 November 2007. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  9. ^ "Grave affair. (Andre Gardes tries to take over Sark in the Channel Islands)" Archived 4 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Economist, 1 September 1990. Online at Highbeam.com.
  10. ^ Lost world: the last days of feudal Sark | This Britain | News | The Independent Archived 1 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Lauren Collins (29 October 2012). "Sark Spring: A feudal feud in the Channel Islands". New Yorker magazine. Retrieved 12 December 2016. One night, Susan and David Synnott, an expatriate couple near their sixties, invited me to dinner at the Seigneurie, where Beaumont has allowed them to live, free of charge for ten years, in exchange for undertaking renovations.
  12. ^ "MINUTES of the MICHAELMAS MEETING of CHIEF PLEAS" (PDF). 1 October 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2013.
  13. ^ "Beaumonts' move raises question of protocol". 29 September 2009.
  14. ^ "Island of Sark 'is not for sale', says Seigneur". BBC News. 1 March 2011.
  15. ^ "Sark mourn loss of late Seigneur's wife". ITV News. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016. Her family announced earlier today that she'd passed away peacefully at home after "a long and happy life".
Preceded by
Sibyl Hathaway
Seigneur of Sark
Succeeded by
Christopher Beaumont