Bailiff Sir Philippe de Carteret

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By A C Saunders

Three candidates

When Bailiff Herault died on 11 March 1626, Sir Philippe de Carteret took over the duties of his office until a successor was appointed. There were two other candidates besides himself, Philippe Lempriere, Seigneur of Trinity, and Philippe Maret, the former Denonciateur.

On 30 April 1626 Sir Philippe wrote from Elizabeth Castle to Secretary Conway stating that Jean Durell had just returned from London with the intelligence that His Majesty had been pleased to appoint him Bailiff of the Island, and thanked Conway for his good offices in obtaining the appointment.

He was all the more pleased because he understood that Philippe Maret's claims were being supported by the Duke of Buckingham. There is no doubt but that Philippe Maret must have been a man of determined character. He had been educated at Oxford and had followed the fortunes of Sir Walter Raleigh even to the extent of the Spanish expedition.

When Sir Walter was made Governor of the Island he made Maret the King's Receiver, and later on he was appointed Procureur, of which office he was deprived through the influence of Bailiff Herault and others. He was very unpopular and had been threatened with banishment from the Island unless he asked forgiveness for his contemptuous behaviour towards the Jurats of the Court.

In a State paper it was reported that it would have been against the customs and privileges of the Island for Maret to be appointed Bailiff, and yet, later on, when he was elected a Jurat in the place of Clement Dumaresq, he complained to the Privy Council that he was hindered from taking office by Lieut-Bailiff Elie Dumaresq.

Sir John Peyton had pointed out the necessity of an immediate appointment as several of the Jurats were unfit to carry on their duties. These included the Seigneur of Samares, who was in charge of a guardian, Clement Dumaresq, who was 94 years of age, and Philippe Lempriere, who obstinately refused to attend the sittings of the Court. It was impossible to turn these Jurats out of office if they wished to continue, for it was an understood custom in the Island that "once a Jurat and so to the grave".

Haughty behaviour

So Sir Philippe was appointed, and in 1634 Sir Thomas Jermyn, who had succeeded Sir John Peyton as Governor of the Island, appointed him as his Lieutenant. He was a man of high character and great ability, but made many enemies by his haughty behaviour and his keenness in acquiring all the well-paid positions in the Island for himself and his family.

Not only that, but he endeavoured to obtain the reversal of the several offices to members of his family, and thereby he aroused a feeling of discontent and injustice which furthered the plans of those who were anxious to obtain positions of importance in the Island.

On 4 July 1627 he was allowed by the Governor and Jurats to proceed to England in order to defend himself against the unjust pretences of a Mrs Perin (Rosel). This permission was granted with great regret, as the Island at the time was considered to be in great danger.

Spanish threat

Spain, notwithstanding the failure of the great Armada, still retained the prestige of her past grandeur and was considered one of the great powers of the world, and, in February 1626, the Council considered it necessary to warn the Governors of Jersey and Guernsey to take all precautions for the protection of the Islands as danger was to be expected, not only from the ships of Spain or Dunkirk, but "even from pirates and other desperate persons who may attempt the Castles and Islands, if not for conquest and to hold, yet for spoil and booty".

On 17 April 1626 Sir John Peyton advised the lieut-colonels of the different regiments to notify certain people to provide the muskets, corselets, and pikes, as appointed on the lists and "you are to reduce all the culivers to muskets and halberts and batoons to pikes and gorgets according to each man's ability".

On 22 August 1626 John Vavasour wrote to Secretary Lord Conway, that the Island was menaced by Spaniards who had a fleet of 60 rowboats of 50 to 60 tons each, and having on board 6,000 troops with an English pilot engaged at St Malo. Later Sir John Peyton found out that the Spanish fleet might possibly have been intended to drive the English out of Virginia.

The unfortunate expeditions of the Duke of Buckingham to the support of the Huguenots at Rochelle and the Ile de Re had aroused the enmity of Cardinal Richelieu, and it was rumoured that in hatred of the Protestant religion, he was preparing an expedition at St Malo to make a raid on the Islands, and had assembled 40 ships at St Malo for that purpose.

Opportunity was taken of Sir Philippe's departure for England to entrust him with obtaining from the Government certain arms and supplies for the defence of the Island. At that time the population of the Island consisted of 25,000 people, including 3,000 able-bodied men. Of these 900 were armed as musketeers, 400 as pikemen, and the remainder with bows, bills, and unarmed.

On 2 March 1628 we Sir Philippe arrived at Southampton and there he hired a Jersey vessel, the Sara, to load the arms, stores and other goods he had obtained for the provisioning and defence of the Island. They sailed, and when within two or three leagues of the Isle of Wight the Sara was captured on 10 March by a Dunkirk vessel and Sir Philippe and his company were taken prisoners to Dunkirk. Later on he wrote from Dunkirk that he was well treated and that the engineers, gunner, officers and some soldiers, who had been on board the Sara, had been allowed to return to England, naked, and he appealed that they may be furnished with apparel and sent to Jersey as the safety of the Island, even in his prison, seems to have been his first thought. Needless to say he had lost all his stores.

His imprisonment seems to have been very easy, for he was allowed to go to Ghent, but not to Brussels. When he appealed to be released, his application was opposed by the Archbishop of Mechlin, who importuned the Infanta that Sir Philippe should not be set free until a Scottish priest, then in the Gatehouse, should be returned to Flanders.

In reporting this condition Sir Philippe asked, if possible, for the priest to be set free, unless he were detained for treason, when he would prefer to remain a prisoner rather than that a traitor should escape his punishment. The question of ransom arose and was satisfactorily settled, for by 24 July Sir Philippe had returned to Jersey, and wrote from Mont Orgueil that the soldiers sent over for the protection of the Island did not get on well with the inhabitants, and he asked that a Commission be sent to Jersey for the better government of these soldiers. There were frequent quarrels, and Jurat Jean Le Hardy and Matthew Jambart were accused of wounding some of their defenders, probably in protecting their private property.

Mediterranean dangers

To show the dangers our sailors faced when trading in the Mediterranean we have only to read two letters from Pierre d'Auvergne to his uncle Jean d'Auvergne, his brother Andre d'Auvergne, and his brother-in-law Jean Robin dated respectively 22 June and 13 August 1625.

His ship had been captured by the Turks and he and his crew taken to the Castle of Saale, where they had been sold as slaves in the open market. A renegade, named Andre de la Rocque, had told the new owner of Pierre that he was a man of means in Jersey and could pay a big ransom, and so Pierre was put to the torture and was beaten with 500 strokes and had irons on him day and night.

As they could not arrange terms it was decided that he should be branded. When the irons were being heated terms were arranged that the ransom should be fixed at 6oo écus. He wrote home to his friends to pay the sum to M de la Pagineterre Lucrede at St Malo, and agreed that on his regaining liberty he would sell his lands and repay same. The mate had died three weeks after being captured and the cabin boy had turned Turk, but the rest of the crew were being tortured until their ransoms could be arranged. He asked his friends to pray God that he would give him grace to "die in the faith I have in him".

On 22 February 1628 the Bailiff and Jurats were allowed to levy a tax of one sol on every pot of wine sold by retail to meet the expenses for the defence of the Island and to raise a fund by petty customs for the erection of a pier.

In May 1628 notice was given to the fleet that news had been received that 50 to 60 sail of pataches and eight galleons were ready to come out of the ports of Biscay for a raid on the Channel Islands and captains were directed to stop any merchant vessels, and, if suitable, add them to the fleet.

On 6 May 1629, Sir John Peyton called attention to the friction between the troops and the Islanders, and stated that the latter refused to billet the soldiers and used them badly.

The Government were very anxious at this time about the protection of the Channel Islands, and early in 1629 they appointed Lord Danby, Governor of Guernsey, to take charge of the military defences. Sir John Peyton was now a very old man, and although his son acted as his lieutenant, possibly he was not considered to have sufficient military qualifications for the post, so after his inspection of the troops in Jersey, Lord Danby wrote from Castle Cornet "that he had been to Jersey and reviewed the trained bands numbering 1,200 men and found them ill-armed and worse in order".

Raid threatened

In 1630 Capt Nathaniel Durell warned Lord Danby that naval preparations were being made at Bordeaux and other ports for a raid and that French merchants were boasting that the French would soon capture the Channel Islands.

Evidently Sir Philippe was empowered to go to London to try to obtain a supply of munitions and necessaries for the defence of the Island, for on 2 May 1630 he wrote to the Lords of the Admiralty asking that the "Convention" or two of the whelps might be sent to Portsmouth to convoy him to Jersey as he understood that Dunkirkers and two French pinnaces were cruising about the Island and "he dare not put to sea in these dangerous times without a very good convoy, for it is to be feared that the enemy has intelligence of his voyage and will endeavour to carry him and the munitions into Dunkirk, as lately they have done where your petitioner was a long time imprisoned".

On 14 May 1630 the Privy Council directed the ‘’Pied Cow’’ with ordnance and proper equipments to be employed for guard and defence of the Channel Islands, and Sir Philippe wrote on 3 June that Captain Richard Plumleigh had taken him and his family on board at Cowes and landed them safely in Jersey.

Captain Francis Rainford had been appointed Lieut-Governor of Jersey, and on 23 June 1630 he wrote to the Privy Council that the coast of Jersey was infested by small armed vessels of Biscay, and as they sheltered themselves in shoal water he requested that some light vessels may be sent which could follow and capture them. He was not getting much assistance from the trained bands in the protection of the Islands, as they refused to comply with the regulations for watching the coast.

He appears to have had considerable difficulty with the parish of St Lawrence, so sending for the Constable he asked him why the regulations had not been complied with, but the Constable said that his parishioners were not bound to do any duty at the Tower, neither would they now begin.

Captain Rainford, upon this stubborn and mutinous reply, committed him to the Castle as an example to deter others. Evidently the result was not successful, for upon his confinement, most of his parishioners and all the Constables, and some Jurats, went to visit him as a martyr and one who had unjustly suffered for the maintenance of their privileges and liberty.

Captain Francis Rainford, the Lieut-Governor, fully recognised the dangerous condition of the Island, liable as it was to attacks from Spaniards, Frenchman, and pirates, but the people objected to support his efforts, and even the States, although they fully realised the danger of attack, considered that the defence of St Aubin's Fort should be undertaken, not by the people, but by the Governor, as in former times, when a cannoneer was employed to defend the Tower.

Civil unrest

Evidently the action of the Lieut-Governor had caused considerable unrest in the Island, and the people were ready with any excuse to avoid complying with his requests, and were roused to a mutinous state when he endeavoured to enforce his orders by threat or punishment.

Even Sir Philippe de Carteret was ready to support the action of the people, and the friction between the two principal men in the Island did not tend towards that mutual support necessary in times of danger. Philippe Pallot of Trinity was accused by certain merchants of Guernsey that he had piloted certain French pataches which had captured several Guernsey and English merchant vessels. He was arrested by the Governor of Guernsey and sent to Jersey, but the evidence against him was not conclusive and he was set free. The Lieut-Governor, however, was not satisfied, and he directed the officers of Trinity parish to arrest Pallot, which they did, but instead of bringing him before the Lieut- Governor, the officers took Pallot before the Bailiff, who allowed him bail.

The Lieut-Governor was very angry and issued a warrant to commit him to prison, but when the matter was submitted to the Council the Lord President decided that the case was a civil one and therefore came under the jurisdiction of the Bailiff.

Mr Rudd had been sent to Jersey to assist and advise as to the fortification of Elizabeth Castle, and he had to remain in the Island for a considerable time as the seas were infested by Biscayan pirates. The fortifications progressed very slowly, and Sir Philippe complained that the "slothfulness of the workmen and the backwardness of the labourers doth impose upon me intolerable pains and trouble". He also asked that he may be provided with the necessary funds to carry on the work.

New Governor

On 16 December 1631 the Privy Council notified the Jurats of Jersey that Sir Thomas Jermyn, Vice-Chamberlain of the Household, had been appointed Governor of the Island, but that he could not take up residence there as he was detained by his duties in England. Captain Francis Rainsford, now Sir Francis, continued as Lieut-Governor, and the question of the defences of the Island still occupied his attention.

The people were becoming very nervous about the dangers from the sea, and early in 1633 the people sent a petition to the Privy Council complaining that six or seven pataches of various nations, without commission, and living by piracy, infested the seas near Jersey and they asked their Lordships that sufficient vessels be sent for the protection of the Island.

In the same petition they requested that the French Ambassador may be asked to request his Government to forbid these pirates to use the ports in Normandy and Brittany, and especially a little island named Chosye between St Malo and the Islands.

Sir Philippe was becoming very unpopular among a certain section of the natives, and he requested the Council that action be taken against a certain Fiott and his wife in order, that they may be restrained from their vexatious proceedings against him. He quoted as an example that in the year 1585 Andrew Harris of Guernsey was sent to the Marshalsea for using indecent words against the Justices of Jersey.

Conditions in England were becoming very strained. James I died in 1625 and Charles I had ascended the throne. James had been King of England for over 20 years and during that period his Court had gradually fallen lower and lower in the estimation of public-spirited and thoughtful men. Charles I was a better man than his father and would have made a good King, had it not been for the influence of such men as Buckingham, Stratford and Laud.

William Prynne

It was during these troublous times that William Prynne arrived in Jersey and was on 17 January 1637 imprisoned in Mont Orgueil Castle, where he remained until 1641, when he was released by Act of Parliament. Prynne had suffered much from the independent spirit which permeated his writings against the tyranny of the age. His personality was such that when he came to Jersey he and Sir Philippe de Carteret became great friends. Later on when the Lieut-Governor was in difficulties, Prynne was able to help him through his influence with the House of Commons.

It was a wonderful friendship for two men who were so utterly different. Prynne, an enthusiast, was always exposing some injustice or criticising the actions of those who disagreed with him. He objected to " health drinking", which he described in his pamphlets as "Healthes Sicknesse", but it was for his pamphlet against Laud that he was sent first to Lancaster, Carnarvon, and then to Jersey as a prisoner for life.

The methods of the King had not been lost on the chief personage of the Island, for by 1637 Sir Philippe de Carteret had united in his person the offices of Lieut-Governor, Bailiff, and Receiver-General. He appeared to make use of his powers to fill most of the chief appointments of the Island with his own relatives and retainers, and further he endeavoured to retain the reversion of these posts for members of his own family. No wonder he aroused considerable anger and opposition in the Island, and a party was formed against his rule who considered themselves unjustly treated.

His unpopularity had even become known across the water, for in June 1629 Viscount Dorchester warned Sir Philippe de Carteret about the unpopularity he was acquiring in his native Island.

"I thank you for your last barrel, but your bribes will not cover your knaveries. I tell you that you have a trick to threaten those who come over as if you had all the power in your hands and you and your allies use the Kings' subjects as if they were your own. There are some who will prick a hole in your breeches."

It was evident that accusations may have been made against him at headquarters and Lord Dorchester warned him that he might expect a journey to London, but that he and the secretary "will do you the best service he can, and so will my Lord President Conway your noble friend as to the account you must give of the King's money, my Lord Treasurer has been informed that you have dispersed nothing of such great sums as it doth appear by many acts of your Court."

Civil war

Sir Philippe’s downfall came with the advent of civil war, and the rise to power of his opponents who supported the Parliamentary cause. He was forced to take refuge in Elizabeth Castle, where he remained until his death a few months later.

The Parliamentary party appear to have been in power throughout the rest of the Island except the two castles of Mont Orgueil and Elizabeth and yet they did not do much except protect themselves in the town of St Helier. They had no competent military leader, although D'Assigny did what he could, and tried to anticipate the possibilities of the Town Hill as a place of strength where guns could he placed to fire at the Castle. The Parliamentarians do not appear to have made for Sir Philippe's home at St Ouen, where his mother and children lived, and it would appear that if Sir Philippe had been a better soldier, he could easily have overcome the opposition aroused by the eloquence of those ministers of religion who hated him, and cared not how they brought about his downfall.

He was accused of all kinds of bad actions including "malignity, tyranny and unjust proceedings", and the poor people listened to their ministers as they raved against the Lieut-Governor and, in the confusion of their minds, were willing to follow leaders who knew what they wanted, and were able to express themselves accordingly.

The Pseudo-Matrix, written by Michael Lempriere, Henry Dumaresq and Abraham Herault, paints the worst picture possible of Sir Philippe, but this work is very one-sided.

That a man like William Prynne, an enthusiastic seeker after truth, should have formed so high an opinion of Sir Philippe is something to be considered in his favour.

The authors of the Pseudo-Matrix were men well qualified, but excluded from the possibilities of office owing to the places being filled by Sir Philippe's relatives and friends. It seems impossible to agree with Prynne that, under other circumstances, Sir Philippe might have been a staunch supporter of Parliament.

It is possible during the long winter evenings when the Lieut-Governor and his prisoner at Mont Orgueil Castle discussed the great problems of the day, they might have agreed in condemning some of the many irregularities which were carried out by order of the King and his friends. According to the Pseudo-Matrix a good deal of time was spent at the Castle in " riding, fiddling, dancing, drinking of healths, and lascivious and filthy discourse" in which Sir Philippe, his Lady and daughter and Prynne joined.


Sir Philippe was a genuine Royalist, and was ready at the risk of his life to defend the Island he governed in the interest of his King. In all the communications which he had with the opposite party, he was always ready to submit his conduct before a commission appointed by the King and his Parliament, but he would not go before a Parliament armed against their King.

He was not prepared to recognise the appointment of the Earl of Stamford as Governor of Jersey, and in all his actions during these troublous times he could always show that he was carrying out His Majesty's orders. He had sworn fidelity to his sovereign when he was appointed Bailiff, and Lieut-Governor, and it was that oath which he tried to honour when he took up arms against the Parliamentary party.

Both castles were at that time fully manned, and provided with great supplies of provisions, and ammunition, although in a letter to his Lady at Mont Orgueil he complained that

"Wee have provisions, and men enough ; but that my boats of beere should not come from the Castle, I wonder of. Wee drink a hogshead a day, and if I cannot have beere, I must turne most of my men to your Castell."

It is a remarkable fact that two foreigners such as Bandinel the Italian and d'Assigny the Frenchman should have acquired such power in the Island, especially as these men could have had no political grievances. They had come to Jersey poor and friendless and both had been assisted in their early days by Sir Philippe, and yet as time went on friendship changed into bitterness and by their inflammatory harangues they magnified the avarice of Sir Philippe, and did their best to make the ignorant people believe that he was capable of using his power to further his own interest only, without any thought of the misery entailed upon the people.

It is all the more surprising, seeing that he had a large following in the Island. If he had been a stronger man there would have been no necessity for him to seek protection behind the walls of Elizabeth Castle. His previous career showed that he was not devoid of courage. In earlier years he was always ready to support his predecessors in trying to curb the activities of previous Governors who were out for what they could make for themselves, and cared little how they acquired their wealth.

For the next seven years Jersey was under the rule of his nephew. All references during that period were full of praise of the great and noble knight, who had died for his country besieged by the Parliamentarians in Elizabeth Castle.

In most of our histories we find nothing but his praises, and Falle in his History of Jersey says very little about the history of that period, although he must have been fully aware of what had taken place. We hear of the disloyal activities of those Jerseymen who opposed the Royalist party, but there is much to be said in their favour, for generally speaking, they were men who were anxiously endeavouring to oppose injustice, and bring about the better government of the land.

Return to castle

Sir Philippe returned to Elizabeth Castle with his men and did little there until he died. His men did make one or two sorties, without success, and there is an account that, accompanied by a few men, he made a visit to his wife at Mont Orgueil Castle. He fired many guns at the town, but did little damage except to make himself more unpopular. There was very little bloodshed. And at Elizabeth Castle he remained until he died on 23 August 1643.

He had many times during the siege endeavoured to get in touch with the Parliamentary leaders, but they would have nothing to do with him, except to order him to give himself up for trial before the King and Parliament, which meant from their point of view Parliament alone. He was quite willing to submit his actions before the King and his Council, and submit to their decision, but he knew that if he submitted himself to Parliament, his days would be numbered, and his enemies would soon have brought his head to the block.

And so time went on, he trying to explain his conduct as legally praiseworthy, and they refusing to listen to anything but his absolute surrender. The conditions of the Castle at that time must have been anything but healthy, and soon after the commencement of the siege, one of his sons died there. The Castle was infested with rats, and later on Sir George had to leave it on that account and take up his residence in the Town.

But Sir Philippe could not do this, and the anxiety of the situation was beginning to tell upon his health. He was undoubtedly a man of good ability and was very popular among his followers for the kindly interest he took in their affairs.

But he was very unpopular with those who opposed him, and he had made many enemies through his grasping and overbearing character. He did many unjust deeds in trying to carry out his own wishes, and was capable of vindictive actions towards his opponents.

For many years he was all powerful in the Island, but probably he had inherited his lust of power and wealth from his mother who was a Paulet, a family who had ruled the Island for many years with a rod of selfishness.

His correspondence during the siege did not show him to be a strong man. He was full of explanations of his conduct, and although willing to submit his actions before the King and council, he knew that if he submitted himself to Parliament, his life would be in danger. He called a meeting of the States to be held at the Castle, after the siege began, well knowing that only his followers could attend, and then he increased his unpopularity by firing his cannon upon the Town, doing little damage but causing increased discontent.

And so the siege went on, the garrison, mostly French and Irish, being well provided with provisions and stores by Captain George Carteret from St Malo. Sir Philippe became seriously ill and his mother was permitted to see him, but his sister was prevented from accompanying her.

Every indignity which could be thought of was heaped on the sick knight by Bandinel, d'Assigny and others so as to make his last days as unhappy as possible. He asked that his favourite minister might be sent to him, but this was refused and only on the last day of his life was his wife allowed to visit him, arriving just in time to see him die. In the eyes of the Royalists he died as a hero, but according to Lempriere and his friends: " The islanders never rejoiced so much at any man's as they did at his death."

But whatever his faults or virtues no one can deny that he fought for his King and died in his service, and ended his life by forgiving his enemies. On 30 January 1644 Anne, Lady de Carteret, died at Mont Orgueil Castle, which, after the death of Sir Philippe, she had gallantly defended against the attacks of the Parliamentarian troops until the arrival on 19 November of Captain George Carteret as Lieut-Governor and Bailiff of the Island.

When he arrived there was no necessity for further action and, relieved of the anxiety of thinking for others, her health gave way and she died some two months later respected and admired as a great and noble lady, who, notwithstanding her great sorrow, had gallantly defended the cause she loved so well.

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