Amy family of Grouville

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Amy family of Grouville



This article by the Rev J A Messervy was published in the 1938 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise, 18 years after his death. it hasbeen translated from French by Mike Bisson


The Amy family is without doubt one of the most ancient and most honourable of the parish of Grouville. We make no pretence of resolving the question of whether the family originated in England, or France, or elsewhere. The name could not have arisen in situ in Jersey, as did many others which have wrongly been attributed to a foreign origin.

We put to one side the question of origin and concentrate on what appears to us to be well established by authentic documents.

Castle defender

The oldest member of this family we have found in Jersey is Johan or Jean Amy, one of the defenders of Mont Orgueil Castle, beseiged in 1338 by the French Admiral Nicolas Béhuchet. Just because the Amys do not appear in the Extentes of 1274 and 1331, it should not be assumed that they were not already in Jersey at these times, but simply that they were not settled on the fiefs du Roi.

Four branches

However, from the end of the 15th Century four principal branches were already taking shape: those of Câtillon de Haut; Câtillon de Bas; a branch, probably of Petit Câtillon; and that of La Rue de Grouville.

In addition to the Grouville branches, there was also one in St Saviour, at the beginning of the 16th century, and at St Clement a little later, the branches of this family probably coming from Grouville. We also say in passing that there was also at St Saviour a family L’Amy or Lamy, probably with the same origin as the Amys; because we have found proof that Lamy and Amy were often used one for the other, particularly in ancient times.

Is it necessary to add that from the 18th century one finds branches of the Amy family in other parishes, notably Trinity, St Lawrence and St Helier? However, we don’t hesitate to say that the parish of Grouville was, so to speak, the cradle of the family.

Clergymen

This family have the island a number of clergymen, and it will perhaps not be without interest to note hear what we have learned about them.

  • Sire Johan(ou Jean) Amy, of Grouville, admitted to the deaconary at Coutances on 11 Dewcember 1502.
  • Sire Raulin Amy, probably of a generation earlier than that of Sire Jean. A French translation of his will, dated 1515. Is printed in De La Rcoix, Jersey, ses antiquités, son Histoire.
  • Sire Ralph Amy, about whom we have little information; we believe that he belonged to the Câtillon de Bas branch and died about 1561.

It is necessary to speak now of two contemporary clergmen both called Sire Jacques Amy, and both of the parish of Grouville. It has been very difficult to distinguish them, and to say to which of them is attributed the different responsibilities exercised by them, because the Rolls of Court, whether of Jersey or Guernsey, where they both live, do not sufficiently distinguish between them

  • Jacques Amy - the earlier was admitted as Deacon and priest on 19 March 1519 and in 1524 one finds him in the Rolls of Court, called ‘’Maitre’’ Jacques Amyh, which indicates that he continued his studies to Master of Arts, or some equivalent standard. Initially Chaplain in 1533 with Sire Lucas Falle, of Chapelle de la Hougue, founded by Sire Richard Mabon, Maitre Jacques Amy was in 1438 “Rector of the Schools of St Saviour”, which is to say Headmaster of St Mannelier, and was appointed Rector of St John on 28 April 1554. Having resigned in 1557, it seems that he then went to Guernsey, because one finds him as Rector of St Pierre du Bois in 1559. He died about 1575.
  • Jacques Amy – we pass now to the other priest of this name. He was admitted to the priesthood at Coutances on 17 September 1525, and one finds him generally called Dominus Jacobus Amy or Sire Jacques Amy, which allows him to be distinguished from his namesake in many cases, Maitre Jacques, or Magister Jacobus Amy. It is probably this Sire Jacques Amy who was in 1546 “Chapelain de la Messe”, founded by Collyn Le Guenetier.

Appointed Rector of St Saviour in Guernsey on 9 October 1547, he was appointed Dean of that island on 11 October the same year. He belonged, it appears, to the branch of Rue de Grouville. While Sire Jacques Amy was Dean of Guernsey , during the reign of Queen Mary, the bloody reaction, of which historians speak, took place. According to an Act of the Royal Court of Guernsey, Sire Jacques Amy was still Rector of St Saviour in 1572. He died, we believe, about 1586.

  • Sire Martin Amy, priest, son of Philippe Amy, of Rue de Grouville, did not hold any ecclesiastical position in Jersey to our knowledge. He was admitted to the priesthood at Coutances on 19 September 1547. Nephey of Sire Jacques Amy, de la Rue, he acted for many years as his curator in Jersey.

Other offices

Since 1600 it does not seem that any member of the Amy family has been a clergyman. On the other hand a large number of them have fulfilled municipal functions; no other family has probably provided as many Contables of Grouville as this. We have identified about a dozen from 1586 to the present time. The family also included a large number of Centeniers, Procureurs du Bien Public, Surveillants, Militia officers, etc

One is struck by the number of members of this family who have been among the principals of Grouville since the 16th century. Here are several examples which we have been interested to uncover.

  • 13 May 1539: The parishioners of Grouville (ie Sire Jacques Amy, Sire Philippe Jutize, Sire Thomas Baudains, Johan Jutize, Richard Amy, Philippe Amy, Francois Amy, Johan Payn, Blaise Laffoley etc) promised the Lieut-Governor to build a defensive tower between the beaches of La Rocque and the Castle.
  • October 1542, when, exceptionally, several of the principals of the parishes were allowed to sit in the States, the Constable of Grouville was assisted by five Principals, Sire Philippe Jutize, Richard Amy, Blaise Laffoley, Francois Amy and Thomas Amy.
  • 1547: Johan Mallet, Constable of Grouville, Ohilippe Amy, Centenier, Martin Jutize, Vingtenier, Johan Payn, de la Hougue, and Clement Amy complained that Johan Le Feuvre, Thomas Amy and Edouard Bertram had scandalously issued a banknote in the name of the parish, for the garrison of the Castle.
  • 1607: The Constables Officers of Grouville were Francois Amy, son of Francois, Francois Amy son of Clement, Jean Amy son of Thomas, Jean Journeaux, Jean Amy, son of Clement, George Touzel, Philippe Amy, Richard Fauvel and Richard Amy.

We don’t ignore that the Armorial of Jersey contains a genealogy of the Amy family, but it is incomplete and, on several points, inaccurate, particularly with reference to the 16th and 17th centuries. Without pretending to give here a complete and irreprochable work, we are forced to correct some of the errors which slipped into that work, at least those which we have been able to check. We have not revised the genealogical data of the Armorial to the present day, but we have followed two branches which are not in the Armorial, that is to say those of Petit Câtillon and Rue de Grouville.

Catillon de Haut

This branch, for a long time extinct in the masculine line, was it appears the senior branch of the Amy family and possessed a considerable heritage. The houses of Câtillon de Haut, situated in a beautiful and dominant position, still exist. They are described as well as the Croix de Câtillon, which they erected, by De La Croix.

Here is a resumé of some transactions made by members of this particular family:

  • 1576 Clement Amy bought in 1576 from William Dyrdo (Receiver-General) the Chapel of Notre Dame a Grouville. This chapel was part of the ecclesiastical possessions confiscated during the Reformation, and had been sold in 1563 by the Commissioners of Queen Elizabeth I, to Guillaume Durham, who relinquished it to John Poulet, who in turn sold it to William Dyrdo.
  • Francois Amy, son of Clement, and his son Philippe, in 1611 sold the cotils situated on the south of the Chapel, to Philippe Mauger and his wife Sara. This building was situated on the Fief du Roi between the land of Francois Amy and that of Jean Regnauld, son of Philippe.
  • The same Francois Amy sold in 1615 to Maitre Jean Pinel, Rector of Grouville, for his lifetime, a house situated near Grouville Church, to the west of the cemetery. One questions whether this house did not become the present rectory.
  • Several Amys of Câtillon de Haut were Constables of Grouville. One of them, Philippep Amy, Constable from 1700-19, was sued by Jean Filleul, Chef Sergent of Grouville, for having refused to carry out the haulage of hay due to the Crown. The Royal Court exempted Mr Amy from this service for all the time that he was Constable; but Mr Filleul appealed against this judgment, which was reversed by the Council, and Mr Amy was required to carry out the remainder of his services to the Crown.
  • The Amys of Câtillon de Haut are now represented by the descendants of the Poingdestres of Grainville House, St Saviour. A branch was maintained for a long time at Boulivot, and also provided important municipal officers to the parish of Grouville

Câtillon de Bas

The house Câtillon de Bas is situated opposite Câtillon de Haut, on the other side of the public road. It is notable that the fountain that serves the whole area is situation on Câtillon de Bas; this fact is mentioned several times in the Rolls of Court.

The name of Francois is fairly frequent in this line, as in that of Câtillon de Haut; also, is it not surprising that the Armorial confused Francois Amy, son of Clement of Câtillon de Haut, Constable and Captain of Grouville, with his namesake Francois Amy, son of Francois of Câtillon de Bas; what makes the mistake even easier is that the two Francois married Lemprieres, one from St Saviour, the other from Diélament.

The house Aumont, on which there was historically the service of bedelage, came into this family in about 1500 through the marriage of Drouet Amy with Guillemette Aumont. In 1658 the house Daumont, or d’Aumont – which is perhaps quite simply Câtillon de Bas itself – belonged to Jean Amy, son of Francois, while his brother Josué Amy possessed among other land the ‘’Courtils de Radier’’. The Amys of Câtillon de Bas lost it in the second half of the 17th century through a reversal in fortunes.

Jean Amy, son of Jean mentioned above, was placed under a curatelle and obliged to transfer his assets to Elisabeth Mallet, his wife; in 1705 their land consister of Val de Richard, Grands Vaux, Clos des Agneaux, clos des Hurettes, Clos d’Edouard, La Tanniere and La Rigondaine, all situated in Grouville, on the Queen’s Fief, in Vingtaine de la Rue.

In 1710 Philippe Amy, son of Jean Amy and Elisabeth Mallet, learned carpentry with Clement Aubin. However the descendants of Philippe succeeded in regaining their family fortune.

This line is now represented by Philippe Mourant Amy, son of the late Du Parcq Amy, Deputy of Grouville.

A junior branch of Câtillon de Bas, settled at Pied du Câtillon, we believe, in the person of Josué Amy, who was Constable of Grouville in 1666; many of his descendants were also Constables of their parish.

Petit Câtillon

A third branch of the Amy family was established from 1500 in an inherited property whch we have reason to believe was Petit Câtillon. This house which carries this name is still standing. It is a building which appears to be very old, situated on a road running parallel to the other Câtillons.

Helier Amy, who was Centenier of Grouville for a long time and reached an advanced age belonged to this branch. On 4 February 1591 Helier Amy sat in the States to replace the Constable of Grouville, and again on 14 July 1601, 13 September 1601, etc.

It is curious to state that he was in 1600 both Centenier and Vingtainer at the same time. In this double capacity he was involved in a case relating to the rabbits of Sir Anthony Poulet, Governor, and Gorey Common, where without doubt these rabbits were causing damage.

In 1610 Richard Amy, son of Helier, possessed land (some distance from his home) in La Haute Couture and Basse Couture, on the King’s Fief. This land was next to that of Francois Amy, son of Clement, and Francois Amy, son of Francois.

Through the 17th century this family lost its inheritage, and Richard Amy, son of Richard, anhd of Diane Cook, settled close to Gorey in the Vingtaine des Marais.

One of his descendants, Jean Amy, settled in St Saviour, probably on his wife, Catherine Gallichan’s inherited property. Their son Jean settled in St Helier and bought, by a contract of 30 January 1796, from Marie Le Vavasseur dit Durell, daughter of Henri, a house between those of Matthieu Messervy and Philippe Messervy, bordered on the north on the public road, for 15 quarters of froment de rent, and 1413 livres, 6 sous, 8 deniers tournois.

Among the present representatives of this branch, descendants of Jean Amy, purchaser of the above property, are Dr George Amy, of Nice, and Alfred Amy, of London and St Helier, the distinguished pianist and composer.

Rue de Grouville

We explain at the outset what is the Rue de Grouville. One does not mean either Rue Jutize, nor Vingtaine de la Rue in General, but a road bordered by houses running from the parish church to Pied du Câtillon. Undoubtedly this ancient road gave its name to the Vingtaine de la Rue.

Here are certain transactions made by the members of this branch which, in the 16th century, was of no little influence in Grouville, and produces several clergyment.

  • In 1624 Philippe Amy, son of Philippe, bought from Jean Nicolle, son of Edmond, houses and land measuring between 19 and 20 vergées, for eight cabots of wheat rente a vergée; these houses were situated in Grouville on the fief Astelle, Clos de la Cache and Clos du Rougetel being among them.
  • In 1625 Jean Amy, son of Philippe (elder son of the previous) and Elizabeth Alexandre, his wife, sold to Jean Payn, son of Edouard, a house and outbuildings on the side of Rue de Grouville, with 13 vergées of land, on which house was due the service of bedelage.

The Amys of La Rue lost their inheritance in the second half of the 17th century, and we find that in 1688 Helier de Carteret, occupied with the daughter of Edouard Jutize the properties of Jean Amy of La Rue.

Further notes

To finish here are some diverse notes which did not find a place above. Johan Amy, son of Jannequin, is mentioned in a contract of 1452. This is the Jannequin Amy who gave his name to Greverie de Jannequin Amy, also called Greverie de Longueville, and which is often mentioned in old contracts. In 1460 a contract was passed at Maufant between Raulin Amy, son of Hohan, and Johan Amy, son of Jannequin; Drouet Amy, son of Thomas, and Estienette, his wife, of Grouville, were parties in a contract in 1488, concerning his wife, son of Johan and sister of Raulin Binet. They passed a contract concerning land situated close to Maufant Chapel. (The old chapel which is no longer standing was situated, we believe, not far from Vieux Menage, Vingtaine de Maufant, St Saviour).

Several members of the Amy family held the position of ‘’Maitre Portier du Chateau et Garde des Prison’’ (Gatekeeper and gaoler at Mont Orueil Castle). Philippe Amy was sworn into this role in 1703 and was replaced some years later by his son Jean.

In 1739 a Charles Amy settled in Boston, America.
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