The story of Dean Bandinel

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The story of David Bandinel, first Anglican Dean of Jersey, is quite a 17th century tragedy, but a very long one!

Swiss studies

According to a letter written by his great-grandson, he had completed his studies at Geneva in Switzerland and wanted to travel around Europe, and it was while paying a visit at the house of Sir Nicholas Stallinge in Somerset, England, that he met the nobleman's granddaughter, Elizabeth, and fell in love.

They married in London at the end of January 1599, and, having found the countryside agreeable on the Channel Island of Jersey, they settled there at St Brelade.

In September 1601 Bandinel offered himself as a parish minister, and just under a year later officially became a naturalised British subject, clearing all bars to his appointment. Parishioners at St Brelade evidently took to the newcomer, declaring a "particular affection" for him and pledging financial support.

Nevertheless, there were worse times to come, and the public affection did not last. In 1606 the Royal Court of Jersey fined Bandinel for irresponsibly cutting down trees around his presbytery. In 1607 he was called before the parish Constable for defamation and forbidding a parishioner to partake of communion, and Elizabeth too was summoned for speaking defamatory words.

Later that year, a raging dispute over fishing tithes came to a head when Bandinel claimed a portion of all fish caught by St Brelade fishermen, in whichever bay they were caught. The fishermen protested, but in the end the Royal Commissioners decided in Bandinel's favour, decreeing that a fifteenth part of all fish should be sent to him. But this was not the end of the dispute. A year later fisherman Audrey Jehan was evidently still not following the official decree, and swore at Mrs Bandinel when she showed it to him. His punishment was being "flogged till blood ran".

Calvinist opposition

In spite of these parochial wranglings, Bandinel's ecclesiastical standing had not as yet been put in question. But when King James I ordered the appointment of an Anglican Dean for Jersey, and found Bandinel to be the most fitting candidate, the predominantly Calvinistic island was strongly opposed.

Finally sworn in on 15 April 1620, Bandinel faced immediate disapproval from the Royal Court, as the regulations for the office of Dean had not been finalised. Two of his fellow ministers, Samuel de La Place and Daniel Brevint, protested against Bandinel's oath on the grounds of its unscriptural basis

From then on de La Place refused to use the new Anglican Prayer Book at St Mary, and Bandinel "deprived him of his living", himself taking charge of the church and holding it in common with St Brelade for six years until 1626. At this time Bandinel's son James was ordained as an Anglican minister, having gone through a course of study at Christ Church College, Oxford. He was appointed minister of St Mary in place of his father.

In July 1626 Mrs Bandinel came to visit her son, who was to preach at St Mary,, but the Constable, Hugh Hue, on seeing her arrive, and knowing that she had come from the plague-ridden St Brelade, immediately ordered the whole congregation to leave, shouted "Plague carrier! Plague carrier!" repeatedly, and locked the church.

Although she left, Mrs Bandinel was evidently not having any of this, and returned the following Sunday to hear her son, but the furious Constable "thrust her out of church with a halberd" [a weapon consisting of a long shaft with an axe blade and a pick, topped by a spearhead].

A complaint was also brought against the hot-headed Constable for "profaning of the Church or communion table with the blood of a dog, which he stabbed with a knife, while the Minister was preaching".

The outraged Dean took to the pulpit the following week and made a reference to the Constable's behaviour being more suited to the "Papists of Queen Mary's days" than to "Protestants". Suffice it to say that the Constable mistook this to be treason and reported him to the Royal Court, who referred the matter to the Privy Council.

Privy Council

Bandinel was obliged to cross to London to explain himself to the House of Commons, no easy or safe journey in the 17th century, and on his return voyage in March 1628 his ship was captured by pirates. Robbed for all his money, the Dean was abandoned at Dunkirk on the French coast, and somehow succeeded in finding passage to Calais, from where he wrote home of his illness and poverty.

A year later he was back in Jersey, and decided to resign the parish of St Brelade in favour of St Martin. Presumably the conflicts at the former were becoming too great, and in 1634 he appointed his son to be Vice-Dean of Jersey.No doubt the island was beginning to get weary of the Bandinels' presence.

[Editor’s note: St Martin was considered the most important parish at the time as far as Church appointments were concerned, because it was home to Mont Orgueil Castle, where the Governor or his Lieutenant lived]

In 1635, a spinster of St Brelade had an illegitimate child, and one of the churchwardens accused the Dean of being the father. He was suspended temporarily and tried by the Bishop of Winchester, in whose diocese Jersey stood, and, although eventually cleared of the unreasonable accusation brought before him, the Dean was subject in the ensuing years to a barrage of criminal accusations.

The Dean's eventual tragic downfall was to come about through an unwise quarrel with Sir Philip de Carteret, who was both Lieut-Governor and Bailiff. Sir Philip had disliked the change from Calvinism to Anglicanism in Jersey, and had resented the rise to power of the Dean. James Bandinel supported his father in opposing Sir Philip, and the two formed an allegiance in London with other enemies of the powerful dignitary. But the Dean's old enemy de La Place was also in London, and called Bandinel before the House of Commons for being an oppressive delinquent. And so Bandinel began two or so months imprisonment in London.

Civil war

The English Civil War now began in earnest. De Carteret declared himself for the King, Bandinel therefore for the Parliamentarians, because, in spite of Royalist beliefs, he could not bring himself to be on the same side as his enemy. Bandinel's committee of Parliamentarians governed the whole island except for the coastal Mont Orgueil and Elizabeth Castles. De Carteret chose the latter for his residence, and for a long period of time lived with his large family within its walls. But when some of them became seriously ill and died, he was at the mercy of the Parliamentarians, led by Bandinel, for permission to bury them in his home parish of St Ouen.

Later Sir Philip fell ill, and pleaded Bandinel's men to let a man called La Cloche administer him the last rites. The committee at first thought this a ruse on Sir Philip's part to get in contact with his friends, but at length conceded by allowing Sir Philip's wife and ageing mother to visit, and another minister to give the last rites. He died soon afterwards on 23 August 1643.

Eventually Bandinel called a truce and offered his peacemaking services to the widowed Lady de Carteret. But the island's Governor was incensed at Bandinel's reconciliatory attempts.

Sir Philip de Carteret's Royalist nephew then arrived on the scene, and most Parliamentarian leaders left Jersey rapidly, aware that he would no doubt enact revenge on his uncle's opponents. But the two Bandinels stayed, in an attempt to maintain their ecclesiastical positions.


Discovered in hiding, they were imprisoned indefinitely in Elizabeth Castle and then Mont Orgueil. Two months later, having heard of the execution of one of their Archbishop friends, they feared for their lives anddecided to escape from prison. By gradually creating holes in their wooden cell door, they managed to escape into an ante-chamber which had a small window. On 10 February 1645 they lowered a makeshift rope (made out of napkins knotted together) out of the window and down the castle wall.

At this point it is probably best to transferto the writings of Chevalier, Jersey's contemporary diarist:-

"They waited for a night when it was blowing great guns, and trees were torn up by the roots, and one could scarce keep on one's feet inside the Castle. At the foot of the wall was a rugged rock, and at the bottom of this a steep slope down into the sea. The son climbed down first, but the cord was too short, and he fell on the rock, and every limb was injured. His father would fain have followed, and squeezed through the window sideways, but, when he essayed to descend, grasping the rope with his hands, it broke at the top, ere he was half way down, and he crashed on the rock head over heels, and lay unconscious with bones and body broken. His son marvelled much to see his father in so sore a state. At first he deemed him dead, but, perceiving that he was stillbreathing, he turned him on his back, covered him with a cloak, and fled."

The Dean was found dead in the morning by castle officials. He was later buried under a thorn tree in St Martin's churchyard. But to return to Chevalier:

"Though badly injured the son made his way into the country to seek a hiding-place among friends. His mother, his brother, and his brother-in-law durst not receive him, foreseeing that their houses would be searched, but they passed him on elsewhere. The same day a warrant was issued for his arrest at sight After two days he was found and arrested in the house of a widow in St Lawrence, where he lay abed suffering from his fall. He was taken back to the Castle, and, finding himself very weak, asked that prayers should be offered for him in some of the Churches."

When finally about to be brought to trial, James Bandinel was found too ill tocome before the court, so he was left in his castle cell, finally dying on 20 March. He was buried in St Martin's churchyard near his father. Having been married in 1628 to Margaret Dumaresq, James left two fatherless children behind.

Elizabeth, the Dean's wife, died almost exactly a year after her husband's demise, in February 1646, no doubt cut to the heart by the tragedy which hadsurrounded her.


On a happier note, the de Carteret and Bandinel families were reunited when, on 6 March 1700, George Bandinel, great-grandson of the Dean, was married at St Saviour's church to Elizabeth de Carteret, granddaughter of Sir Philip. Their grandchild was James Bandinel (1733-1804), the first Bandinel to move away from Jersey to England.

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