The de Carterets
Adequately to chronicle or minutely to describe the distinguished deeds of this race of heroes, which has contributed in almost every age to exalt the national character and compass the internal prosperity of its native island, would occupy a volume ; a brief sketch only of its members and their most conspicuous actions must, therefore, in a work like the present, suffice.
This ancient Norman and noble feudal house, which possessed the attributes of haute noblesse and chevalerie, carries back its authentic history by regal and other records to a period anterior to the Conquest, when it held a high position among the powerful vassals of Normandy, and in which duchy it possessed, from the most remote times, the Seigneuries of Carteret and Angeville, with others of less importance.
In the reign of John the fear of losing the Channel Islands, which had been so recently severed from the Duchy of Normandy, attained to such magnitude that those feudal lords who held possessions there and in Jersey were ordered, under the penalty of the escheat of their insular lauds, to abandon those in France and to pay homage to the English king ; and among those who postponed all views of interest to those of duty and honour, and remained immovably fixed in their allegiance to England, the Seigneur of Carteret and St Ouen was prominently and illustriously conspicuous. His Norman lands and lordships, far excelling his estates in Jersey, were forfeited, while the Seigneurs De Paynell, De Commendes, D'Anneville, De Fournet, D'Orglandes, and others who were bidden to repair to Jersey, disobeyed the injunction, and became vassals of France.
Before entering upon the lineage of the family, necessarily compressed into a narrow compass, it may be well to observe that, whether for the greatness and importance of the public benefits conferred on its native island by this energetic and loyal race, either in war, whilst defending it against the frequent and well-sustained attacks of the French, or in peace, in the vigorous and fearless support and administration of its laws and civil institutions, as its chief rulers, and for many generations its hereditary Baillies, it stood pre-eminently distinguished among its countrymen during several centuries for the exhibition of those great qualities which added lustre to its exalted rank; and finally, in reward of its unswerving fidelity and great services to the English crown, raised it, in its second branch in 1681, to the dignity of the peerage, and to offices of the highest public trust and honour in the mother country, whilst one of its distinguished later members was created a Knight of the Garter.
Three times has the island of Jersey been rescued by the valour and sagacity of members of this family from the dominion of the French, events of unequalled importance in its history, and which will be duly noticed in their proper order.
The name is derived from the lordship of Carteret, situated on the opposite coast of Normandy, between Cherbourg and Coutances. The priory of L'Ecq, in the parish of St Ouen, was founded by one of its early Seigneurs, and the family possessed the patronage of the Priory de I'Islet, in the parish of St Helier, and of that of St Michael, in the parish of St Brelade.
Their own parish was, and continues to be, divided into six cueillettes, or "gatherings", whilst the remaining eleven are portioned off in vingtaines, or districts of twenty houses, which difference is accounted for by the surmise that, at a remote period, the parish of St Ouen was entirely possessed by this family, who divided it in this manner to facilitate the collection of its rents and dues.
The lordship or Seigneurie of St Ouen takes precedence, as first, among the five fiefs haubert of the island, and thence is styled the Grand Fief Haubert. It is held in capite, and owes suite de cour, as it is termed in Norman feudal phraseology—that is, the declaration of homage to the sovereign, made in a formal manner tri-annually before the civil tribunal of the island, in common with several other fiefs ; knight's service; and the sum of nine livres of France as relief, whenever the cause for its payment occurs. In war time, its Seigneur owed anciently military service to the King at the castle of Mont Orgueil, with men-at-arms and horses at his own cost — "lui tiers, l’espace de deux parts de quarante jours" and being of garde noble, this Seigneurie fell into the King's charge and custody during the minority of its heir ; and at the death or sudden removal from the island of the Captain or Governor of Jersey, the Seigneurs of St Ouen, by their tenure, replaced him in that important command until a successor was named by the King.
The first of this family of whom connected record is given is Guy De Carteret or Carterai, who was Lord of the Barony of Carteret, in Normandy, circa AD 1000, and who, from his skill in the chase, was surnamed L'Oiseleur, or the Fowler. He had two sons, William and Godfrey.