Helier de Carteret (1477-1561)

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Among other sons, Philippe de Carteret and Margaret Harliston left Helier, Bailly of Jersey in 1515, who, according to Payne's Armorial of Jersey enacted a most prominent part in securing the political and social liberties of his countrymen.

New Governor

Baker had been succeeded as Governor of the island by Sir Hugh Vaughan, a man of low birth, but of extraordinary courage and martial skill, who, at his first induction into office, had gained the affections of the inhabitants, and become the bosom friend of the family of St Ouen. After a certain period, however, his conduct grew so reprehensible, that the following outrage fanned the resentment of those he had injured to a flame. Sir Hugh had coveted possession of one of the finest estates in the island, that of the Manor of Trinity, and to procure its confiscation from a member of the family of Lempriere, determined that a false charge should be brought against its late owner, Thomas De St Martin, as having been a traitor to England.

As wickedness seldom lacks an instrument, the Governor found a ready one in the person of Raulin Le Marquand, then Attorney-General of the island, who undertook to conduct the case. The alleged proofs were so flimsy that the Bailly, Helier De Carteret, was about to pronounce judgment against the Governor, when Sir Hugh, finding the case about to be decided against him, rose, and, after using most violent and threatening language to the Jurats, clapped his hand to his sword, exclaiming that if the Bailly did not deliver judgment in his favour, he would run him through.

Courthouse doors opened

The intrepid magistrate rose instantly and ordered the doors of the Courthouse to be thrown open (for at that time justice was administered privately), when the populace, crowding in, were awe-stricken to see the brave and unscrupulous Governor in the grasp of their Bailly, who, with his dagger at the throat of Vaughan, delivered a just sentence, and condemned Le Marquand, as having failed to prove his allegation.

Subsequently, however. Sir Hugh, by his influence with Cardinal Wolsey, caused Helier De Carteret to be involved in a long and expensive lawsuit in London, touching questions arising from this quarrel. He received, however, tardy justice from the Cardinal, through the intercession of the Duke of Norfolk, Lord High Treasurer, and Sir William Compton, whose friendship he had secured ; in connection, too, with the favourable effect de Carteret's firmness and courage had produced upon the Minister, when pleading before him in the Star Chamber. The King, to whom he was presented, and whose taste for fieldsports made him appreciate several ingenious inventions that Helier De Carteret had made in weapons of the chase, treated him as a friend, and conferred on him, as a special mark of favour, the fief of St Germain with its dependencies.

Atempted murder

After having placed several of his brothers advantageously in positions of trust at Court, he returned to Jersey, where he narrowly escaped being murdered by one Jasper Penn, a creature of Sir Hugh Vaughan, who had usurped the office of Bailly during his absence. He was among the most prominent Reformers of Jersey, and to him are his countrymen indebted for the exemption of being obliged to plead before the ordinary Courts of Law in England.

From a dread of the extension of the plague, which devastated the island in 1623, he is said, in compliance with a then prevalent, but erroneous, idea that paper and parchment were easy means of conveying infection, to have caused the Records of the Baillywick to be burnt ; a circumstance that may account for the scarcity of mediaeval documents in the island, and which often forms an insuperable bar to the progress of the local historian and genealogist.

Family tangle

He died in 1560, leaving an only daughter and heiress, Margaret, who was the wife, successively, of Clement Dumaresq, Seigneur of Samares, and of her cousin, Helier De Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen.

This is not quite the full picture of Helier’s family, however. ‘’The Jersey Biographical Dictionary’’ contains an entry for Edouard de Carteret, illegitimate son of Helier the Bailiff, stating he was born in 1518. The story given is that Helier was due to marry one English woman, but on the day of the marriage, and after he had spent the night with her, he went and married another English woman in another county. Edouard was the child of the woman left at the altar, and when Edouard was weaned he was sent to Helier to raise. The entry on the Bailiff says that Edouard was first born, albeit illegitimate, and that Marguerite, wife of Clement Dumaresq and the younger Helier of St Ouen, was child of the first marriage that did take place. If 1518 is correct and the sequence of events is correct, then Marguerite de Carteret was born after 1518.

The Dictionary gives Jehanne Colles as a second wife and states that Helier the Bailiff fathered her son Hugh when he was quite old and that he stayed with her brother Humphrey Colles during one of the legal wrangles. However, other sources show Jehanne Colles as the woman Helier married in England, who came to Jersey with him but subsequently left and remarried.

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Helier's family tree

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