The name of this old West Country family is found spelt variously as Poulet, Poulett, Paulet, Paulett, Powlet and Pawlet. Although there is good reason to believe that Sir Hugh Paulet, the first to arrive in Jersey, changed the spelling of his name, and that of his descendants, from Paulet to Poulet, and signed his name accordingly, and that his grandson Sir Anthony changed the spelling to Poulett, the name has been standardised as Paulet throughout Jerripedia, mainly because that is how it was pronounced, regardless of how it may have been spelt by individuals.
The Paulets were directly descended from William de Ferrers, (see family tree) the 7th Earl of Derby and a prominent 12th century nobleman, who was himself descended from King Henry I of England and his father William the Conqueror.
The family had manors in Somerset, Devon, Wiltshire and Hampshire. Sir Amias Paulet, who was knighted in 1487 after the defeat of Lambert Simnal, was the senior member of the Somerset branch, which had its seat at Hinton St George.
Governors, Bailiff and Dean
His second son Hugh was appointed Governor of Jersey in 1550, and Hugh's younger brother John was appointed Dean, probably in 1553.
Sir Hugh's sons Amias and George were to rule the island between them, as Governor and Bailiff respectively, at times during the second half of the 16th century, and Amias's son Anthony succeeded him as Governor.
The Paulets derived their name from the village of Pawlet, near Bridgewater, in Somerset. The male line can be traced back 11 generations in the village to Hercules de Tournon (1155- ) whose son William de Tournon Paulet was the first to adopt the Paulet name.
It is remarkable that during the half century that successive Paulets served as Governor there were only 32 executions in the island for offences such as larceny, rape, piracy, murder and witchcraft. This was during a turbulent period when outrages were being committed elsewhere in the name of religion. Only George Paulet, during his three terms as Bailiff, was directly concerned in the administration of justice, but the whole family were clearly a great influence on the island's Royal Court and its officials. They came from a rural background and were better able to understand the island's way of life than those who were sent from the Sovereign's Court in London or were high-ranking military men.