The Great Rebellion - War breaks out

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This is the second part of a 54-page article by F H Ellis first published in the 1937 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

When the Civil War broke out Jersey was not greatly concerned with affairs in England and the members of the faction were more anti-Carteret than anything else, but in order to gain support for their own designs they identified themselves with the Parliament, and after much perseverance secured a warrant, appointing a local committee vested with authority to arrest Sir Philip and bring him before the House of Commons.

Civil War battle

Uproar in States

At a meeting of the States in March 1643, de Carteret read the Commission of Array which authorized him to govern by martial law and by which all loyal subjects were called upon to assist him in putting the Island and its Castles in a state of defence, whereupon Lempriere read the warrant for his apprehension and an uproar ensued.

Thanks to the presence of his bodyguard he was able to evade capture and retreated to Elizabeth Castle. The malcontents inflamed the populace against him by denouncing him as a bitter foe to the Protestant faith, declaring that the King intended to restore Roman Catholicism through the instrumentality of Archbishop Laud.

The committee tried to negotiate but Sir Philip, while expressing himself ready to appear before the King in Council, firmly declined to put himself in the power of the Parliament. The committee then constructed a battery in the cemetery of St Helier's Church, to menace the approach to the Castle, which is built on an islet in St Aubin's Bay and is connected with St Helier at half-ebb.

To this Sir Philip replied by firing on the town, after warning the inhabitants to leave their houses. All through the spring and early summer the strife went on, there were conflicts whenever soldiers from the Castle attempted to buy provisions in the town and eventually a corps de garde was posted by the Committee ‘so that no dog could stir out' as Sir Philip wrote to Sir Peter Osborne, likewise besieged in Cornet Castle.

One day the Lieut-Governor managed to evade his enemies and reached Mont Orgueil Castle on the east coast where Lady Carteret and their son were also beleaguered. He made arrangements for its defence and after remaining one night, succeeded in getting back to Elizabeth Castle in safety, although d'Assigny tried hard to capture him.

He collected a body of men and ordered the Vingtenier to deliver up the keys of the parish arsenal, but this official, who was Jean Chevalier the chronicler, hoping to avoid bloodshed, refused to allow any arms to be taken. Later, under sanction of some of the committee, the doors of the magazine were forced open and the whole of the contents removed to the rectory.

Some drums were also taken from the constable of the parish and the militant rector assumed the functions of Vingtenier, Constable and Commander of the Rebels.

After an inflamatory sermon in the church, he provided members of his congregation with spades and picks, and set them to throw up earthworks on the Town Hill where a battery was made. Barricades also were erected near St Helier and more guns emplaced to menace the castle.

Sir Philip dies

When Sir Philip's second son died and he himself fell ill, his enemies persecuted him with countless petty tyrannies, denying him fresh provisions and spring water and the services of his chosen minister. Lady Carteret was only allowed within the Castle when he was already unconscious.

Sir Philip died on 22 August and three days later Major Lydcot arrived in Jersey as Lieut-Governor under Lord Warwick, who had been appointed Governor of both Islands in the previous June.

The malcontents had given assurance that there would be ready local support and had prevailed upon Parliament to send Lydcot to arrest Sir Philip, besiege the Castles and secure the Island. This was against the strongly expressed views of William Prynne, who had been imprisoned in Jersey from 1637 to 1641.

He warned the members of the Parliament committee that they were being misled, saying the castles were both strongly situated and fortified, that it would require a fleet as well as an army to block them up, as they could procure food from France without difficulty and that 100 men in each could easily hold them against all the Island troops, which he described as raw and timorous.

For a week or two some stop was made, but soon the committee yielded to importunity and Lydcot was sent over with a small staff and six brass cannon. Prynne's practical advice was given in writing and Hoskins suggests that it may have formed the basis of the operations put into force by Blake in 1651.

Having taken the oath of office, Lempriere being sworn in as Bailiff at the same time, the new Lieut-Governor proceeded to organise the siege of the castles, which both stood out bravely, Elizabeth Castle now under command of the seneschal, Mr Hungerford and Mont Orgueil held by Lady Carteret and her son.

He armed a force of militia and volunteers, fortified the Town Hill, strengthened the batteries and took possession of St Aubin's Tower, a small fort on the western side of the bay. There were frequent skirmishes, but the besiegers were invariably discomfited by the spirited sorties and sundry cunning strategems of the besieged.

After repeated reverses Lydcot became convinced that he had been grossly misled for, instead of finding the ready support promised, the Islanders were by no means wholly on his side, indeed there were many not even neutral. He soon learned that Bandinel and some of the malcontents were making overtures to Lady Carteret and that Captain George Carteret, nephew of the late Sir Philip, had rallied the fugitive Royalists at St Malo and was preparing a descent upon Jersey.

Captain Carteret lands

On 19 November Captain Carteret with a small party of exiles landed at Mont Orgueil. where they were received with demonstrations of joy. The local inhabitants lent ready aid to disarm and disperse the besiegers, while the men from the parish of St Brelade surprised the little garrison in St Aubin's Tower and imprisoned the commander.

All this so alarmed Lydcot that he and some of the committee fled to Guernsey in a small ship which had been held in readiness, and a number of the other malcontents made their escape in fishing boats. Captain Carteret marched to St Helier at the head of a detachment of soldiers, drums beating and colours flying. On 24 November at a meeting of the States in Trinity Parish Church he was sworn in as Lieut-Governor and as Bailiff and taking up his quarters at Elizabeth Castle he proceeded to establish order.

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