Jean Lempriere ( -1534)

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Jean Lempriere, Bailiff of Jersey 1524-1528, Lieut-Governor of both Jersey and Guernsey

Jean Lempriere lived through turbulent times in Jersey. He was the only son of Renaud Lempriere, Seigneur of Rosel, son of Jean Lempriere and Jeannette Le Lorreur and Catherine Camell, daughter of John Camell of Shapwick, Dorset, and his wife Sybil. He was the first cousin of Thomas Lempriere who was Bailiff before Helier De Carteret, whom Jean replaced during his second suspension from office during a dispute with Governor Sir Hugh Vaughan.

Father killed

Jean and his sister Catherine were young children in 1463 when Renaud was arrested on a charge of conspiring against the French Occupation of the island and their mother pleaded for her two "beautiful children". Renaud was killed during the seige of Mont Orgueil in 1468 and was brought up with his step-brothers Richard and William Weston at Rosel Manor when his mother married Edmund Weston. The property became his when he came of age and succeeded his father as Seigneur.

He was appointed Jurat in 1487, a position he held until his death in 1535. In 1500 he was appointed Lieut-Governor between the death of Thomas Ovray and the appointment of Sir Hugh Vaughan in July 1502.

During his period in this office he ordered extensive repairs to be carried out to the walls of Mont Orgueil. This led to complaints being made to Royal Commissioners in 1515 that he had "by malice and subtlety, contrary to all right", made the island pay 300 crowns towards the costs, when he should have met all costs out of the estate of Thomas Ovray, of which he was executor. This complaint contrasts with the glowing testimonial he received from the States that "he had governed so honestly and well, maintained such discipline among the troops, and so scrupulously preserved and obeyed the ancient customs of the island, that all the inhabitants were well content with him and his good government".

Lieut-Governor in Guernsey

In 1523 he was acting as "Captain's Deputy" (Lieut-Governor) in Guernsey. Among the State Papers of Henry VIII is a long letter from Lempriere, which includes the following passages on island defences, espionage in France and trouble with English ships visiting Guernsey:

"I have taken two new gunners into wages. There are 40 men of the island, archers and arbalesters, sworn to come to the Castle, whenever I order them. They are doing their duty, fortifying their bulwarks, and making good watch day and night. I have bought the artillery that came from Flanders, and put it into the hands of the workmen who make the guns.
"Two young merchants have come to buy sheepskins and wool and I have promised them if they will do what I desire, they shall have liberty to sell and buy as much as they desire. I Have given them money and told them to inquir5e all the news of France. They will go hence to Rouen to buy merchandise, so as to avoid suspicion, and will return here. I wish you could obtain a safe conduct from the King for one or two boats to carry cider and wne. By them I should be able constantly to gather news"
"The men of the island are much displeased at the complaint made by Trubleville against the island, since he went to the King. They showed him perfect cordiality in the island, and he has done all that he could against it. He remained a full month watching the harbour, where he has done great mischief both to the King's subjects and to strangers. I warned him in a friendly way, then threatened, then arrested him, and put him and his petty Captains in the Castle, telling him I would keep him there until I knew the King's pleasure, if he did not restore the goods he hed plundered; on which they promised to make restitution, and I let them go".

Joint Bailiff

By working in Guernsey Lempriere avoided becoming embroiled in the long-running dispute between de Carteret and Vaughan, and was not one of the eight Jurats who had petitioned Cardinal Wolsey against being required to obey Helier de Carteret. In August 1524 he was recalled to Jersey to act as Joint-Bailiff with Dean Richard Mabon. Although there is some doubt over the status of a number of those appointed to stand in for de Carteret, Lempriere and Mabon's appointments seem to have carried the full support of the King.

"Forasmuch as there is matter of variance depending betwixt Sir Hugh Vaughan and our well-beloved Helier de Carteret, for the appeasing of which we have determined to call the same before us at Westminster. Know that, to the intent that our subjects shall have justice indifferently administered to them, We, having good confidence in our well-beloved Sire Richard Mabon, Dean, and our well-beloved John Lempriere, Gentleman, do appoint the said Dean and John Lempriere jointly to have custody of the Register Rolls and Seal of the Bailiff, Furthermore giving them full power and authority entirely and wholly to have the administration of justice within the isle during the variance betwixt the aforesaid parties, videlicet in Civil Cases only. In Criminal Cases, as the Dean is a spiritual person, and may not in that behalf meddle, we authorise John Lempriere only to have the ordering of Justice."

The official titles of Lempriere and Mabon seem to have been "Judge-Delegates (juge-délégués) commissioned and empowered by our Sovereign Lord the King and his worshipful and discrete Countil to act in all causes civil and otherwise pertaining to the office of Bailiff". They held office jointly until November 1527, although Lempriere seems to have continued for a few weeks until the appointment of Jasper Pen.

Ultimately the appointments of Lempriere and Mabon were found by the Privy Council to have been unconstitutional and they were required to reimburse Helier de Carteret with the income they received while in office.

Royal Commission

In 1531, with Helier de Carteret reinstated as Bailiff, Lempriere was one of two Jerseymen who, together with two Englishment, made up a Royal Commission to look into complaints against Governor Vaughan.

He died childless and his sister inherited his estate.

Full biography

From A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey

Jean Lempriere ( -1554) was Seigneur of Rosel, Lieut-Governor and acting Joint-Bailiff of Jersey.

Early years

The only son of Renaud Lempriere, Seigneur of Rosel, and Katharine Camel, we first hear of him in 1465 as one of the two "beautiful children" for whom their mother pleaded, when their father was arrested on a charge of conspiring against the French Occupation of the island.

Renaud was killed in 1468 during the siege of Mont Orgueil, and his widow married Edmund Weston. Jean was brought up at Rozel with his step-brothers, the future Sir Richard Weston and Sir William Weston. When he came of age, he entered into possession of the property. In 1487 he is mentioned as a Jurat.

In December 1500, on the death of Thomas Overay, he was appointed by the King "to have the government of our island of Jersey and of the soldiers therein, until we appoint another Captain". He held this post until July 1502, when he was ordered to hand it over to Sir Hugh Vaughan.

During his term of office he carried out extensive repairs to the walls of Mont Orgueil, and complaints were made to the Commissioners in 1515 that "by malice and subtlety, contrary to all right" he had made the island pay 300 crowns toward the cost of the work, when as executor to Overay's estate he had ample to meet all expenses.

On laying down office, however, he secured from the States a glowing testimonial that "he had governed so honestly and well, maintained such discipline among the troops, and so scrupulously preserved and obeyed the ancient customs of the island, that all the inhabitants were well content with him and his good government".

In February 1525 he was acting as "Captain's Deputy" in Guernsey. Among the State Papers of Henry VIII is a long letter from him stating:

"I have taken two new gunners into wages. There are 40 men of the island, archers and arbalesters, sworn to come to the Castle, whenever I order them. They are doing their duty, fortifying their bulwarks, and making good watch day and night. I have bought the artillery that came from Flanders, and put it into the hands of the workmen who make the guns".

He was busy organizing an espionage system to collect information about movements of French troops and ships:

"Two young merchants have come to buy sheepskins and wool, and I have promised them, if they will do what I desire, they shall have liberty to sell and buy as much as they desire. I have given them money, and told them to inquire all the news of France. They will go hence to Rouen to buy merchandise; so as to avoid suspicion, and will return here. I wish you could obtain a safe conduct from the King for one or two boats to carry cider and wine. By them I should he able constantly to gather news".

There had been trouble with some English ships anchored off St Peter Port:

"The men of the island are much displeased at the complaint made by Trubleville against the island, since he went to the King. They showed him perfect cordiality in the island, and he has done all that he could against it. He remained a full month watching the harbour, where he has done great mischief both to the King's subjects and to strangers. I warned him in a friendly way, then threatened, then arrested him, and put him and his petty Captains in the Castle, telling him I would keep him there until I knew the King's pleasure, if he did not restore the goods he had plundered; on which they promised to make restitution, and I let them go".

His work in Guernsey had kept him out of the long struggle raging in Jersey between Vaughan and the Bailiff, Helier de Carteret. He was not one of the eight Jurats who had petitioned Wolsey against being required to obey de Carteret. But in August 1524 he was recalled to Jersey to act as Joint-Bailiff:

"Forasmuch as there is matter of variance depending betwixt Sir Hugh Vaughan and our well-beloved Helier de Carteret, for the appeasing of which we have determined to call the same before us at Westminster, Know that, to the intent that our subjects shall have justice indifferently administered to them, We, having good confidence in our well-beloved Sire Richard Mabon, Dean, and our well-beloved John Lempriere, Gentleman, do appoint the said Dean and John Lempriere jointly to have custody of the Register Rolls and Seal of the Bailiff. Furthermore giving them full power and authority entirely and wholly to have the administration of justice within the isle during the variance betwixt the aforesaid parties, videlicet in Civil Cases only. In Criminal Cases, as the Dean is a spiritual person, and may not in that behalf meddle, we authorize John Lempriere only to have the ordering of Justice".

Their official title seems to have been "Judge-Delegates commissioned and empowered by our Sovereign Lord the King and his worshipful and discrete Council to act in all causes civil and otherwise pertaining to the office of Bailiff

They held office until November 1527, when they were superseded by Jasper Pen. Later the Council decided that their appointment had been unconstitutional and Lempriere was ordered to repay to de Carteret all fees he had received. In 1531 he was one of a Royal Commission, consisting of two Jerseymen and two Englishmen, appointed to inquire into complaints against Sir Hugh Vaughan. He was rewarded by a grant from the funds of the dissolved monasteries. He died childless on 10 April 1534, and his sister Catherine, wife of Dominic Perrin, inherited his estate. Thus Rosel passed to the Perrins for four generations.

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