Marguerite Dumaresq

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This biography of Marguerite Dumaresq was written by Philip Ahier and published in the Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise in 1966.

One hears a great deal in Jersey history of famous women, for example Marguerite de Carteret of St Oucn's Manor, but the story of Marguerite Dumaresq, the wife of Henri Dumaresq, the son of the eccentric Daniel, has still to be told.

She was the daughter of Abraham Herault, the Greffier of the Royal Court, who was a grcat supporter of the Parliamentarians during' the Civil War in Jersev.

Loyal wife

Marguerite Dumaresq was one uf the most loyal of wives during this critical period in the Island's history. Little did she realise when she married Henri Dumaresq that her subsequent life would be distracted and harassed; that her homestead at Samares Manor would be converted into a sort of concentration camp, and that she would only spend three years of conjugal bliss when her husband returned to Jersey in 1651, after eight years of exile.

Opposition to the de Carteret party in Jersey, who were staunch supporters of the Royalists, was the cause why a few Jerseymen (of whom Henri Dumaresq was one) associated themselves with the Parliamentarians.

When the Civil War actually broke out in the August of 1643, Dumarcsq was one of the five Jurats empowered by a Parliamentary Commission to apprehend Sir Philippe de Carteret, but the latter withdrew to Elizabeth Castle where he died later in that month.

Leonard Lydcott and his six relations endeavoured to secure the Island for Parliament in 1643. Henri Dumaresq could not capture Mont Orgueil where Lady de Carteret (the widow of Sir Philippe) was in charge of its defence.

Husband flees

When Sir George Carteret landed in Jersey on November 21st 1643, Lydrott, Henri Dumarcsq and many other Parliamentarians fled, so Marguerite Dumaresq had to face the music alone. She continued the working of the Manor in the early part of 1644, and, in her case, the Scriptural saying" one man soweth, and another reapcth," proved only too true, for, as will be noted, what she sowed, Sir George Carteret reaped.

In the meantime, Henri Dumaresq and his friends were having a very lean time in England. In a peroration entitled "The Lyar's Whip", they spoke of being three years without relief; suffering incredible wants, necessity and distress in the City of London. However, he eventually found a job at the Mint in London, earning the annual princely salary of £33 6s 8d.

In the August of 1644, Sir George began his depredations on the produce grown at Samares Manor, for Marguerite had sown wheat, oats, beans and peas. Sir George sent his men to commandeer as much garden produce as they could, so that the garrison at Elizabeth Castle could be fed.

Dean's death

The Dean of Jersey, James Bandinel, and his son, the Rev James Bandinel, had been imprisoned in Mont Orgueil as they were Parliamentarians. They attempted to escape in the February of 1645, by means of a rope, which unfortunately snapped half-way down, and both fell on to the rocks below. The Dean was discovered the next morning but died shortly after. His son managed to crawl to Samares Manor, hoping that Marguerite Dumaresq would shelter him, but she politely declined, fearing reprisals.

Sir George now got on the warpath and suspected that James Bandinel would be heading for the Manor, so he despatched a party of soldiers from Elizabeth Castle to hunt him out. It was all in vain, for the parson was discovered elsewhere and taken back to the Castle, where he died a few days after.

When Sir George's men got to Samares, all they could find was Henri Dumaresq's horse, which Marguerite had hidden in a cave. The horse had been fed and pastured at night time. The soldiers took away the horse for Sir George's use and, by so doing, prevented her from riding to the north of the Island and escaping by a friendly boat to England.

Three Royal Commissioners were sent by Charles 1 in April 1645 to investigate crimes of High Treason and then to pronounce confiscations on their estates. On October 5th 1645, Dumaresq was sentenced to be executed for high treason, but as he was absent from the Island,he was hanged in effigy in the Royal Square and all his goods and chattels ordered to be forfeited.

After this terrible humiliation, Marguerite had to suffer many other indignities. Every attempt was made by Sir George to break her spirit, but she survived all his efforts, almost to the end of his dictatorship.

Land offered to parishioners

His first attempt to break up the economy of the Manor came in early 1646, when the parishioners of St Clement were asked to take up leases of land within it either as arable or for pasture. H M Attorney-General, Helier de Carteret, and the Vicomte, Laurens Hamptonne, invited the folk in St Clement to take up terminal leases of parcels of land, but so great was the loyalty of the St Clementais to their absent Seigneur, that no one came forward for as Chevalier said: "They did not wish to become involved".

So a fresh device had to be thought out. Two 'neutral' supporters of Parliament, the Constable of St Clement, Helier Dumaresq (1637-1651, the first Jerseyman to join the Society of Friends) and Philippe de Soulemont, an Advocate of the Royal Court, rented the Manor lands for 1000 francs yearly (about £6 5s).

One third of the rent was paid to Daniel Dumaresq's widow, Marguerite's mother-in-law, one third to Marguerite, and the rest to Sir George Carteret, who, in describing these leases, used the word 'compost'. Here, probably, is the original meaning of the word signifying 'manurable'.

Sir George wanted some pigeon pies for his brother officers at Elizabeth Castle, and what could be better to achieve that end than to raid the Colombier at Samares? He sent his personal servant, an Englishman of the name of Wright, to collect some pigeons from the Colombier on May 18th, 1647.

Wright scaled the Colombier by using the pigeon holes as footholds, and holding on to those above him as hand rests, but he must have lost his nerve, for he fell, broke his legs and thigh bones, besides receiving many other injuries.

To her lasting credit, Marguerite had Wright taken into the house; she must have known something about bone-setting and first aid, for his wounds were dressed and his legs re-set. Gangrene, however, appeared. Chevalier says he suffered such severe pains that he died. He was accorded a military funeral at St Clement's Church.

So Sir George did not get any pigeons from Samares Manor and lost a faithful servant in the affair.

Passing messages

For some time, Sir George had been suspicious that Samares Manor was being used for the purpose of passing on news from Jersey to Guernsey, which (except for Castle Cornet) was supporting the Parliamentarians, and thence to England. He discovered through his spies that a boatman from St Malo had agreed with Marguerite Dumaresq to convey a message to her father, Abraham Herault, residing in Guernsey since 1643. Behind this scheme, the boatman was to inform the Guernsey people that Sir George intended to attack them and that Abraham Herault was to be alerted. Marguerite promised this boatman 40 crowns in advance for the delivery of the letters and 60 on his return.

But this French boatman double-crossed Marguerite Dumaresq, for he had informed Sir George what was afoot.

Sir George promptly came down to the Manor on the 3rd September 1648, bringing seven or eight men with him. Chevalier tells that Sir George knocked at the door, entered the house and there was the Frenchman with 40 crowns in his possession. The whole affair was a 'plant' for the Frenchman had no intention whatever of going to Guernsey, nor was he made a prisoner, for the simple reason that he knew how to navigate a sailing vessel and had previously promised Sir George that he would accompany him to Guernsey.

There were too many women chatter-boxes in Jersey for Sir George's fancy. Chevalier reported that these women could not bridle their tongues, and in the months of August and September of 1649 Sir George had them sent as prisoners to Mont Orgueil Castle, and ultimately deported, one of whom was Marguerite's female servant. Having got rid of this chatter-box, Sir George next determined to obtain the Dumaresq silver plate - the heirlooms of some centuries, The grapevine did its work well in 1650, as it can do now-a-days. In this way, Sir George learned that Henri and Marguerite's silver plate, copper utensils and books from their Library were deposited in some barrels in a house at St Saviour.

So once again Sir George was covetous. On October 22, 1650, with the Crown Officers as his bodyguard, he proceeded to the house where the silver was hidden. Here lived a married couple. Eventually, after some denials, the couple confessed that the silver was in these barrels. Sir George took away the silver plate and the copper utensils, but, not being literary minded, left the books. He ordered the former to be melted into coins and the latter to be converted into cannon. In spite of their denials, Sir George showed magnanimity by pardoning them.

Mother released

Marguerite Dumaresq's mother, Madame Herault, who had been detained at Elizabeth Castle from July 11th, 1649 to December end, 1650, was released and exchanged for some lady prisoner living in England, but she had to dwell at the Manor.

In spite of all Sir George's efforts to the contrary, both Marguerite and her mother were communicating with their husbands, so Sir George decided to turn Samares Manor into a 'concentration camp'. He lodged therein all the wives of the Parliamentarian supporters still living in Jersey until April 23fd, 1651 where they could chatter to their hearts' content. But Marguerite Dumaresq proved one too many for Sir George, so he banished her to France, where she remained until the arrival of the Parliamentarians under Admiral Blake and Colonel Heane in the October of 1651.

Henri Dumaresq returned to Jersey shortly afterwards and resumed his office of Jurat. He did not resign his post at the London Mint, but travelled backwards and forwards from Jersey to the City. He died in the early part of the December of 1654.

Marguerite outlived her husband by twenty-nine years, dying in 1683.

Henri Dumaresq and Marguerite his wife were blessed with four children, the most famous of whom was Philippe Dumaresq (1637-1690), who wrote a "Survey of Jersey" dedicated to James II and which inspired the Rev Philippe FaIle to write his History of Jersey in 1695, but it was only in 1935 that it was printed by the Société Jersiaise.

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