Lord John Paulet

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John Paulet's wife Elizabeth Kenn

Lord John Paulet (1586,-1649), the eldest son of Sir Anthony Paulet and Kateryn Norris was almost certainly born in Jersey in 1586. His father became Lieut-Governor in 1583, and apparently did not leave the island for the next six years.

His birth in the island cannot be proved, because the Town Church Registers only begin in 1596, and the Register of St George's, Mont Orgueil, is lost.

Education

His father died when he was 14. He matriculated at University College, Oxford, in 1601, but did not graduate. In 1603 he obtained a licence to travel abroad. He became a Cavalry Colonel in 1608, and in 1610 entered as a student of the Middle Temple. In the same year he was elected MP for Somerset at a by-election, but three months later this Parliament was dissolved.

Paulet's family seat was in the village of Hinton St George, Somerset. Edmund Peacham, the Rector, who had been appointed by Paulet's grandfather, was an outspoken Puritan. Already in 1603 he had been accused of "uttering in a sermon seditious and railing words against the King". In 1614 he was again arrested for high treason. Paulet, as patron of the living, was suspected of complicity, and was twice examined before the Council, but managed to clear himself.

King’s visit

In 1618 he was Sheriff of Somerset, and in 1621 MP for Lyme Regis. In 1625 Charles I visited him at Hinton, and at the King's request Paulet entertained for nearly a year the defeated Huguenot Admiral, the Duc de Soubise. In 1627 he was created Baron Paulet, and took his seat in the House of Lords. Immediately after this, however, he was in trouble again.

To provide money for the Fleet the King resolved to disafforest Neroche Forest near Ilminster, of which Paulet was Keeper. A letter from the King states:

"A rumour of this has stirred up some of the underkeepers to raise opposition, and they stick not to say that his Lordship doth animate them herein. The King is not apt to believe every report, and would be glad to believe better things of Lord Paulet. Take knowledge that this is the King's own words, intended for the service of the commonwealth, wherein he requires Lord Paulet's assistance, and shall measure his affection by the success of the business".

The storm blew over. Letters in State Papers show him living in Hinton with occasional visits to London, sending presents of Cheddar cheese to his friends in Town.

He still kept in touch with Jersey. In 1629 he wrote to Lord Dorchester, "begging his favour for Sir Philippe de Carteret and that poor island, and Mr Louveraine, the preacher, now in England, also one more of that island, Jean Nicolle, some of whose countrymen conjecture that he has less credit with you than he used to have".

Five months later he wrote again sending "thanks for favours conferred on Sir Philippe de Carteret". In 1631 he sent one of his daughters to Whitehall to be touched for the King's Evil. He evidently had little faith in the effect of "His Majesty's most blessed hands", for he made arrangements for her burial in London; but she miraculously recovered. "The return of the child", he wrote, "with so much amendment hath much revived a sick father".

Like his father and grandfather he was still a Puritan, and in 1633 he joined other Justices of the Peace in petitioning the King against the revival of Church Ales.

Navy

In 1635 he appeared in a new capacity. A strong Channel Fleet was assembling to protect British commerce from the French and Dutch, and Paulet was given command of the Constant Reformation, a vessel of 40 guns with 250 men.

Even here he maintained his reputation for hospitality. In June one of his officers records: "My lady Paulet and other ladies and many gentlemen and gentlewomen of great quality came aboard, and were nobly feasted and entertained". On 23 September Paulet was knighted at sea with his eldest son John on board the Mary Honour by Lord Lindsay, the Lord High Admiral.

His naval career was cut short. In the same month he was taken ill, and had to return home. When the Civil War broke out, it was assumed that the Puritan traditions of his family would make him a Parliament man; but be joined the King's side. Parliament voted him a delinquent, and issued a warrant for his arrest. Meanwhile he had retired to Sherborne Castle, and, when that was evacuated, to Wales. Here he was taken prisoner, but after a few weeks released.

Lyme Regis siege

He then raised 2,500 men round Oxford, and led them into Dorset. In January 1644 he took and burnt Lady Drake's house at Ashe, and then besieged Lyme Regis. In June the town was relieved by Essex, and Paulet withdrew to Exeter. He remained in that city as Commissioner until its surrender in April 1646.

He was sent a prisoner to London, a very sick man, and on the intercession of Fairfax was allowed to live in his own house at Chiswick. He was released on payment of a fine of £2,742, plus £1,500 to Lady Drake for burning her house, plus an annuity of £250 to Lyme Regis for the soldiers maimed in its defence.

He died on 20 March 1649, and was buried in Hinton Church, where a stately chapel was dedicated to his memory.

He had married in 1614 Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Kenn, and had three sons and five daughters. His eldest son John, who succeeded him, was the first to bring to Jersey the news of the King's execution (Chevalier), and was one of the defenders of Elizabeth Castle. The Anne Paulet who married Carteret La Cloche, Seigneur of Samares, and was buried in St. Saviour's Church on s8 April 1663, was probably Lord Paulet's grand-daughter. [Dic. Nat. Biog. and authorities quoted above.]

Note: The family name was usually spelt ‘Poulet’ by George Balleine in his A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey but Jerripedia has adopted the spelling ‘Paulet’, which is believed to have been used at the time the family was in Jersey. The surname is also found spelt ‘Paulett’ elsewhere.

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