Bras de Fer

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Bras de Fer, Trinity


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Property name

Bras de Fer

Location

Rue de la Hauteur, Trinity

Type of property

Early farmhouse refaced with classical facade

Families associated with the property

Datestones

These stones are included in the Jersey Datestone Register, without comment, but were wrongly believed by Joan Stevens to have been brought to this property from elsewhere [1]

  • FLS ILS 1664, which represents Francois and Jeanne Le Sueur [2]
  • PDR 1717, which stands for Dorey

Historic Environment Record entry

Listed building

An earlier farm house refaced with an impressive classical facade circa 1800. Shown on the Richmond Map of 1795. An existing house which was significantly extended and refaced at an unknown date, circa late 18th/early 19th century, when an impressive classical stucco frontage was introduced. Dated window lintels are from elsewhere and placed during recent alterations.

Old Jersey Houses

"This house was completely changed in size and character at an unknown date, perhaps as early as 1780, being given an impressive classical style south front in plaster, rather reminiscent of La Houge Boëte The north side shows exposed granite. The wing at right-angles has been too much altered to hazard a date. In recent alterations some dated window lintels have been brought from elsewhere and inserted [3] The situation is favoured, and the garden sheltered and luxuriant."

Perhaps because of her uncertainty about where the datestones originated, the author did not include them in the list in an appendix to Volume 2

History

This house, whose name translated means 'arm of iron' or `iron arm` recalls a very old Jersey family of the same name, which gave the Island three Bailiffs in the 14th century, Thomas 1378 and 1380-1391, and Giefrey 1395-1401. A third Brasdefer, Guillaume, was also Bailiff, in 1332.

The family held the Fief des Augrès, Guillaume Brasdefer, probably the same as the above, having been the first to hold it, in his case, "in right of his wife" in 1331, the wife having presumably been a des Augrès heiress, perhaps the sister of Thomas des Augrès, who held the fief in 1323. The des Augrès family had also played a notable role in medieval Jersey. In 1274 Guillaume des Augrès, the then Seigneur, was a Jurat. In 1292 Raoul des Augrès was a Jurat, as was a further Guillaume in 1308, who is known to have held the fief in the following year. [4] This house was, in fact, the original Les Augrès Manor. [5]

On the extinction of the male line of the Brasdefers, the Fief des Augrès passed by 1489 [6] into the Lemprière family, once again, in the female line, from a Brasdefer elder daughter and principal heiress. J.B. Payne, in An Armorial of Jersey, 244, 312, mentions that two of Geoffrey Brasdefer`s daughters married, respectively, Raoul Lemprière and Guillaume Payn. The Lemprières had inherited Brasdefer`s Fief des Augrès, the Payns inherited other land, but the Brasdefer chef-mainte [7] had passed, to judge by litigation between the years 1544-1572, with its land into the Godel family. This indicates the existence of a third daughter or co-heiress of Geoffrey Brasdefer, who must have married a Godel, of the once influential family of that name. He was likely also to have been a senior member of that family, as his descendants were the last of the Godels to hold a fief, being until shortly before 1544, Seigneurs of the Fief ès Godeaux, which fief adjoins that of Augrès, in the south of Trinity. The Godel`s home, inherited from the Brasdefers, retained that name but from this time, Brasdefer ceased being the Manoir des Augrès, although Philippe Godel, fils Thomas, on selling it in 1609, called it his "manoir".

It should not be confused with the current Les Augres, home to Jersey Zoo, which house, in the early 16th century, had belonged to the Larbalestier family and then to their heirs, Dumaresq. The latter family purchased from the above Lemprière heirs of the Brasdefers, their Fief des Augrès, as a result of which, the new seigneur`s "manoir" was on the Fief de Diélament! It is now the zoo headquarters.

The Godel dispute with their fellow Brasdefer heirs, Lemprière, began in January 1544/5 [8] concerning the sale by Richard Godel, son of Clement, of the Fief ès Godeaux to Jean Lemprière. The action was brought by Philippe Godel, "qui se disait Seigneur du Fief ès Godeaux" who, having a claim by way of retraite [9] to the fief and land sold by Richard Godel, is likely to have been his next brother, in order of seniority, or nephew.

Thomas Godel, son of the above Philippe, in his suit against the Lemprières in 1571 and 1572, [10] included demands for the return to his family of some former Brasdefer land, "Thomas Godel occupying and holding the land of the chef-mainte.... of Brasdefer, in right of his wife, formerly Seigneur des Augrès". For good measure, he also included a demand for the Fief des Augrès and the mill "that had belonged to Philippe Godel"! [11]

The long drawn-out suit, regarding the exact Brasdefer inheritance and latterly, the sale to the Lemprière family of the Fief ès Godeaux, was to the considerable detriment of the Godels. Litigation against two of the Island`s most powerful families, as the Payns had also been sued, which might have been successful if brought by an earlier Godel, proved disastrous. Thomas Godel's son, named after his grandfather, Philippe, was obliged in 1609 [12] to sell his house, "manoir" and land to Philippot Le Sueur, son of Gilles, whose descendant, François Le Sueur owned it in 1664.

To judge by the datestone, it had passed by 1717 into another Trinity family, that of Dorey.

In the early and mid-19th century, the Le Maistre family were the owners.

It should be noted, that until the 18th century, this property will have resembled, to a greater or lesser extent, the medieval stone manor house, which it had indeed been. There was no classical stucco frontage.

The exact date of the present house is not known, but it has probably been rebuilt at least twice.

Some Godel owners

Clement Godel (c.1470-by 1535) Seigneur du Fief ès Godeaux, father of Richard, who by 1544 had sold the fief, and of Drouet Godel. The latter married and was the father of Helière Godel, wife of Jean Le Breton senior, fils Servais, of Croiserie.

Philippe Godel (c.1500-by 1571) son or perhaps grandson of Clement. Philippe, who began his action for that fief against the Lemprières in January 1544/5, married the daughter of Robin de Gruchy, Centenier of Trinity, 1527. Philippe Godel`s brother-in-law, Matthieu de Gruchy, nephew Bernabey and great-nephew Robin also spent a considerable part of their lives in unsuccessful litigation; in Matthieu`s case, with Philippe himself!

Thomas Godel (c.1530-1608) son of Philippe, married Jeanne Le Marquand, daughter of Collas and of Agasse, his wife. Thomas resumed his father`s unsuccessful action against the Lemprières and Payns within a year of inheriting Brasdefer! He had a sister who married a Néel? and a brother, Helier Godel, husband of Collette du Heaume, daughter of Pierre. They had issue: Jean Godel, who married Elizabeth Le Boutillier, daughter of Francis; Thomas Godel and Judith Godel, wife of Jacques de Gruchy, her cousin.

Philippe Godel (c.1565- ) son of Thomas, married in St Helier in 1598, Genette (Jeanne) Chevalier, (d.c.1608) daughter of Guillaume. He may have married secondly Sara Journeaux, daughter of Jean and of Marie, his wife. Philippe had a brother, Jean Godel, and a sister, Collette Godel, who married 1.Thomas Pirouet and 2.Edmond Falle. It was Philippe who in 1609, was obliged to sell Brasdefer.

Controversial election

Jurat Philippe Le Maistre (1782-1853) owned the house in 1849 and left it to his daughter, who married Thomas Gallichan, an Ecrivain (Solicitor) and in turn left the house to her daughters. Philippe, who was eventually a Jurat from 1835 until his death in 1853, was involved in a controversial election to replace Jean Poingdestre.

In the election of 20 September 1831 he gained 1480 votes to 1226 for Jean Benest of St Helier. The result was contested and a number of electors opposed the swearing in of Mr Le Maistre on the grounds that he did not possess the required qualities to be Jurat. Mr Benest also petitioned and the matter was referred to the Privy Council. The electors who had protested the result complained that the Court would not hear their arguments and the Privy Council suspended the whole procedure for four years.

In 1835 the petitioners conveyed their wish to abandon their opposition and the Court decided to admit Mr Le Maistre to take the oath. Two days after his swearing in he obtained precedence over Jurats Bisson and Nicolle who had been elected since him. He was the son of Francois Le Maistre, of Trinity, and Elizabeth Jeanne du Pré, and nephew of Philip Le Maistre of St Lawrence.

Notes and references

  1. See below, note 3
  2. This stone is a mystery because the only recorded marriage of a Francois and Jeanne Le Sueur was in St Helier in 1839
  3. This was an erroneous assumption by Joan Stevens. The stones were doubtless moved merely from one part of the property to another, as the Le Sueur stone accords with that family`s ownership, as may also, in due course the Dorey stone, which Trinity family probably inherited or purchased from the last Le Sueur owner
  4. G.F.B. de Gruchy, Medieval Land Tenures in Jersey, (Jersey: Bigwoods, 1957), 78
  5. Whilst the house, later called Brasdefer, was the Manoir des Augrès, its owner, as seigneur, had the duty of riding into the sea to receive the King on his arrival and also to do so, on his departure from the Island. In this duty, he was accompanied by the Seigneurs of Rosel and Samarès. He had also to act, together with the Seigneur of Rosel, as the King`s butler, on such occasions: Medieval Land Tenures in Jersey, 88. This duty passed, by inheritance, to the Lemprière and then to the Dumaresq holders of the fief, by which time Brasdefer had ceased to be the manor
  6. Judging by the Lemprière genealogy, the actual division of the Brasdefer inheritance may have been in the early 15th century
  7. Principal holding
  8. Cour de Catel, Livre 9, in that date
  9. An ancient Island law enabling the next heir to reclaim part or all of the family`s inheritance when sold to another, on repaying the purchase price. Should the next heir be unwilling to reclaim the property, then his next relative, in order of seniority, can bring the action
  10. Cour d`Héritage, Livre 4
  11. This was the Moulin des Augrès, to which the seigneurs of that fief had always had a right. To claim the fief, included therefore, the mill
  12. R.P.3/24 (26th October 1609)
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