Sir Hugh Paulet

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Sir Hugh Paulet - Governor of Jersey 1550-1578

Sir Hugh was the first member of the Paulet family to go to Jersey, sent there first in 1549 by the Privy Council after an abortive French raid and complaints against Henry Cornish, who had been appointed Lieut-Governor by the Governor, Sir Edward Seymour, in 1541. Cornish was Henry VIII's godson and Sir Edward was the King's brother-in-law, brother of his ill-fated sister Lady Jane Seymour, the King's third wife.

In 1549 Seymour, by then the Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector, was sent to the Tower of London amid allegations including a plot to seize the King and carry him off to Jersey. Paulet was sent to Jersey to investigate complaints against Somerset's officials and, arriving on Christmas Eve, he summoned the Royal Court to meet him there and, after a three-week inquiry he dismissed Cornish and headed back to England to present his report to the Council on 19 February 1550.

A month later he was heading back to Jersey having been appointed Governor for life of 20 March.

Early career

The eldest (or possibly second eldest) son of Sir Amias Paulet of Hinton St George, and Laura Kellaway, daughter of William Kellaway, of Hampshire, Hugh Paulet was born some time after 1500 and was a Justice of the Peace for Somerset and Sheriff for Devon and Somerset. He was knighted on 18 October 1536 and was in attendance at the baptism of Henry VII's only son, Edward, the future King.

He inherited his father's estate in 1538 and the following year he provided 40 fully armed men, 30 billmen, 20 archers and 14 others for the King's service. He was actively involved with the spread of the Reformation in the South-West and in the mid-1540s he served with the King in Flanders and played an important role in the seige of Boulogne, after which he was made Treasurer of the captured town.

He was Knight-Marshal of the army when anti-Reformation rebels were crushed in the West in 1549.

Mont Orgueil Castle as it appeared in the mid-17th century, largely as a result of the work carried out and instigated by Sir Hugh Paulet

Jersey

While Governor of Jersey he ordered the translation of the first Prayer Book into French and encouraged and advanced the progress of the Reformation in the Channel Islands. He was supported in this work by his younger brother John, who was appointed Dean in 1553 by the Bishop of Coutances at the request of the English Government. It did not appear to concern the Roman Catholic Bishop that he was appointing Jersey's last Catholic Dean to help revolutionise religious practices in the island.

Sir Hugh was concerned to improve Jersey's fortifications and continued with the work at Mont Orgueil Castle which had been started by Somerset and Cornish. He completed the great central tower and, according to the Chroniques de Jersey:

"He also strengthened well-night all the circuit of the castle walls, repaired and raised the road that entered by the garden gates, and fortified and enlarged the Rochefort Tower and the Douvres and divers other parts of the Castle".
"He obtained from the Queen many heavy cannon both of cast and wrought iron."

Paulet also strengthened the defences at St Aubin, turning the existing tower into a fort by building battlements round it. All this work could not be completed out of the funds which had been made available by Queen Elizabeth and Paulet wrote that he had advanced £1,400 out of his own pocket. The Chroniques also record Paulet's work to strengthen the Militia:

"He hald many General Parades and drilled the men hard, so that they would know how to man their bulwarks, for he had been all his life a Captain expert in war."

One of Paulet's grandest schemes was to move the town of St Helier from where it had developed at sea level to the hill where Fort Regent now stands, in order that it could more readily be defended. He had the support of the Privy Council, but the people of St Helier refused to be moved.

Reformation

The Chroniques lays the blame for the wholesale destruction of pre-Reformation ornaments (stained glass windows, roadside crosses and church decorations) firmly on Paulet:

"He was bidden to inquire into Obits and Masses and rentes bequeathed for Lights, Fraternities, and other unlawful things, also all Bells great and small, and Chalices, Ornaments, and Censers, and to pull down all Images and Idols in Churches and Chapels, likewise to demolish the Chapels themselves and the wayside Crosses and those in the Churchyards, and generally to extirpate, oust and abolish all idolatry, bigotry and superstition."

However, it was somethat unfair to level this accusation at Paulet because most of the work had already been undertaken by his predecessor, the Duke of Somerset, and all that was left for Paulet was to sell all but one church bell in each parish and use the proceeds towards fortifications.

Delegation

The new Governor still retained considerable responsibilities away from Jersey, both in the South-West, at Court in London and out of the country, and although he was actively involved in work in Jersey for the first nine years of his Governorship, he then delegated responsibility to his son Amias, as Lieut-Governor.

In 1562, when French Protestants surrendered Le Havre to Elizabeth I, she commissioned Paulet as adviser to Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, who was to take command of the garrison and act as high-marshal. Paulet arrived in the Aide with Count Montgomerie and £5,000 on 17 December. On 1 April 1563 he conferred unsuccessfully with the Rheingrave, was sent to England in June, and returned on 14 July with eight hundred men from Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. On 23 July he met the constable Montmorency, and on 28 July articles for the surrender of Le Havre were agreed upon. On the 29th the English evacuated Le Havre, bringing the plague with them to London. In November Paulet was one of the commissioners to settle the debts incurred in the expedition.

He was knight of the shire for Somerset in the parliament which met on 8 May 1572. A tomb in the north aisle of the church at Hinton St. George, with the effigies of a lady and man in armour, and an inscription, probably commemorates Sir Hugh and his first wife. The death date is given as 6 December, but the year is indecipherable. The Chroniques gives the year as 1572, but that is believed to be several years too early, and the most likely date is 1578.

In 1571 he had surrendered his Patent to the Queen in order that he and Amias might act as joint-Governors, but the Acts of the Royal Court do not record the swearing in of Amias as sole Governor.

Family

He married, about 1528, first, Philippa, daughter and heiress of Sir Lewis Pollard of King's Nympton, Devon, justice of the court of common pleas, by whom he had two daughters: Anne and Jane (married to Christopher Copleston of Copleston, Devonshire) and three sons: Sir Amias, Governor of Jersey; Nicholas of Minty, Gloucestershire; and George, Bailiff of Jersey. Before December 1560 he married, secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Walter Blount of Blount's Hall, Staffordshire, the widow of Sir Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College, Oxford. She died without issue in 1593, and was buried in Trinity Chapel. With her, Sir Hugh visited the college in 1560, 1565, and 1567, assisted the fellows in a suit against Lord Rich in 1561, and gave to the college.

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