Jersey in the years leading to the Civil War

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Van Dyck's triple portrait of Charles I

The Great Rebellion, By A C Saunders, 1936

Sir Philippe de Carteret

At that time the principle personage in the Island was Sir Philip de Carteret, Seigneur de St Ouen, a man of strong ideas of his powers and one who, during the early years of the 17th century, had managed to aquire for himself and family all the principal posts in the government of the Island. Sir Philip was born in the year 1583 and, when he was 22 years of age, was made the senior Jurat of the Island, and at the age of 33 he received the honour of knighthood. On the death of Bailiff Herault in 1626, he became Bailiff of the Island and, five years later, he was appointed by Sir Thomas Jermyn as Lieut-Governor.

He married Ann, the daughter of Sir Francis Dowse, and in 1625 he and his wife purchased the Manor of Rosel from Abraham Payn but, having done so without permission from the King, he was fined for the offence. There were other candidates for the Bailiffship and the Duke of Buckingham was supporting the claims of Philip Maret. On the death of Bailiff Herault, Sir John Peyton wrote to Lord Conway that the assembly of the States had chosen Sir Philip as Judge Delegate until a new Bailiff was appointed and that the States greatly desired that he should succeed Mr Herault as Bailiff. Sir Philip, in a letter to Secretary Conway, said that the Governor was getting to be a very old man and that "The place might the better enable me hereafter to do His Majesty’s service and keep myself in some reputation".

In support of his application, de Carteret said that Maret would have great difficulty in carrying out the duties of the office, “Being unacquainted with the common country language of the Isle, the terms of our laws, customs and style of proceedings – hardly known to ourselves.”

Appointment as Bailiff

Sir Philip became Bailiff and one of his early duties was to examine and report on a petition sent from Jersey against James Bandinell, minister of St Mary and David Bandinell, Dean of Jersey, for having made "undutiful and factious speeches". Theron commenced the bitter enmity which had been aroused against Sir Philip in the minds of these Italian ministers who had been appointed to the Ecclesiastical Office in Jersey. After Bandinell became Dean his actions showed that he was fully determined to use his authority in safeguarding the honour and privileges of his office, and he soon was at war with his Churchwardens and many of the best educated people of the Island. His son was made Rector of St Mary, and the appointment was so unpopular that Constable Hue and others endeavoured to make his position as uncomfortable as possible – even using the Church itself as the scene of many unchristian activities.

Shortly after his appointment, the Dean suspended one of the Rectors for preaching against the use of the Book of Common Prayer in his church notwithstanding that the Rector tried to excuse himself on the ground of conscience. Therefore the high actions of the Dean aroused bitter enemies in the Island – possibly their Italian nationality may have helped this unpopularity – and people began to talk about the seditious tone of their sermons and how in one of them the Dean had stated “That we were under a worse reign than Queen Mary’s”, and the assistance of the Privy Council was sought for.

Soldiers sent to island

Meanwhile reports were frequent about the warlike preparations carried on in Normandy and the Council approved of the Bailiffs recommendation that 200 soldiers be sent to the Island to assist against any attack by the enemy. He had also recommended that an experienced captain should be sent over to drill the companies raised in the Island and complained that the Islanders were not very enthusiastic in arming themselves for the defence of their homes.Writing from Mont Orgueil Castle on 24 July 1628, Sir John Peyton and Sir Philip de Carteret in a letter to the Secretary replied: “As for the present state of the Island the people live in that security and carelessness that they cannot be brought to perform any duties but by constraint.”

They even objected to soldiers being sent from England for their protection – possibly because they had to pay for them and to house them – but the soldiers of those days were not always the most pleasant people to live with, and we find that later on Sir Philip referred to the many complaints made against the soldiers and pointed out that there were no means of punishing them – as the soldiers lacked pay. The men sent to Jersey were impressed, often men of bad character with no experience of military duties, and the Lord Lieutenants of the different countries were, from time to time, called upon to send men to various places as military units, and when in 1627 the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, was directed to impress and send 100 men for the defence of Jersey, he complained to the Council of the hardship of these frequent assessments as “The superfluity of men is gone and the labourers must serve the next time if the Lords do not spare the County.”

These men were entitled to three shillings a week – often not paid – and therefore it is no wonder that they looked for opportunities to make most of their military privileges, and banding together, they were liable to use their power to take advantage of the fears of the people. The soldiers were sent to defend the Castles and the people were ordered by the Governor to supply cider and wood for their use – on credit – but although some were willing, most parishes refused to obey the order as they said it was an innovation and against the privileges of the Island. Stores and arms, sent down for the use of the inhabitants were quite inadequate, and Sir Philip petitioned that he might be paid the expenses that he had incurred on behalf of the Government.

Visits to England

Sir Philip frequently visited England in connection with the duties of his office, and his voyages were often accompanied by great danger. On 15 October 1621 he writes to Mr Secretary Conway: “Your mare which was shipped with great difficulty but she has come safe and sound to me. I thought to have been in London shortly but my wife being brought to bed with a boy, winter has encroached so fast that I defer my journey until March.” In the same letter he said that the Jerseymen were short of arms and that the times are troublesome as “We are looked on from France with an evil eye,” but they were doing their best and one hundred and eighty-six persons kept night watches at the various landing places in the Island. He wound up by sending Lady Conway two best receipts for making mead and hypocras.

In 1625 it was reported that the King of Spain had 18 ships at Dunkirk and 12 ships at Ostend ready to pounce on British commerce, and the ships were of 200 to 300 tons each armed with 12 to 24 pieces of ordnance. Trade with England had become so dangerous and “So ill assured that the merchants are loath to venture.”

It must have been a very anxious time for Sir Philip as Bailiff with an old man as Governor of the Island and a population not very enthusiastic in facing the dangers which surrounded them. Then what little money, sent from England, was received after many delays and difficulties. In April 1626 a meeting was held in St Helier when the Lieut-Colonels of the Jersey regiments were told that they were to provide their men with the necessary arms, muskets, corselets and pikes for which “Presently money will be levied by distress.”

So much of the responsibility for the protection of the Island rested with Sir Philip and, when returning from England in March 1628 in the good ship “Sara” of Jersey with a cargo of arms and stores for the Island, the vessel was captured by one of the Dunkirk ships and Sir Philip was taken to Dunkirk as a prisoner where he remained for three months until he was ransomed and returned to Jersey.

In September 1629 Sir Philip wrote to inform the Secretary that five young Portuguese princesses had arrived in Jersey. They had travelled through France as ordinary people and were to wait in Jersey until the arrival of Dutch vessels which were to take them to their uncle, the Prince of Orange. Early in 1629 the French government issued a proclamation whereby it was forbidden to trade with the Channel Islands upon pain of death. Fortunately later on it was ascertained that the war was over for the time being.

In 1630 Captain Francis Rainforth was appointed Lieut-Governor, but he was not very popular as his zeal for the defence of the Island did not meet with the support of many of the people in the country who objected to being compelled to do duty at the Castle or elsewhere, and Sir Philip and Captain Rainforth did not get on very well, but some time after, Sir Thomas Jermyn was appointed Governor and he nominated Sir Philip as his Lieutenant.

On 8 July 1630 the Constable of St Lawrence refused to assist in the defence of Elizabeth Castle and said that although he was bound to maintain the privileges of his parish, there was no law which compelled his parishioners to do duty at the Castle. He was arrested, and, when he continued in his mutinous conduct, made prisoner in the Castle, where he was looked up to as a martyr by most Jerseymen.

Military arrangements

In 1629 the King wrote to Lord Danby, Governor of Guernsey, and placed in his charge the defence of both Islands, as was most natural, for at that time Guernsey was considered more important than Jersey, and he was directed to seek the cordial co-operation of Sir Philip de Carteret “In whose ability and care we place much confidence”, and on 19 March 1629, Lord Danby in a letter to Lord Conway, stated that he had visited Jersey and reviewed the trained bands to the number of 1,200, ill-armed and worse in order, and he suggested that a Commission for Martial Law be sent to Jersey to correct the many disorders there.

In the Bulletin of the Société Jersiaise, Vol 2, page II, we find a list of the names of those belonging to the militia in 1617 from the parish of St Saviour. They were armed with “Mousquets, harquebuzes, halbardes et fanquets,” and certain members of the company were appointed to use their horses to draw the faucon and demi-faucon belonging to the parish from place to place as required. The Captain of the company was Aron Messervy with Clement Journeaulx, Tambour, and Jean Durell, canonier.

The Island militia was divided into three regiments, namely:- South-West consisting of the men of St Ouen, St Peter, St Brelade and St Lawrence. North – St Mary, St John, Trinity, St Martin. South-East – St Saviour, St Helier, St Clement and Grouville. At the first sign of the approach of enemy, the church bells were rung and each militiaman rushed to the parish church to take up duty. Each parish had to supply six carts for the carriage of ammunition and provisions, and each Vingtenier was responsible for the cart belonging to his vingtaine. These carts could be used, if necessary and if the enemy managed to set foot on the Island, as barricades to hinder the progress of the enemy. Then 50 men from St Brelade and St Peter were to be available to assist in the defence of St Aubin’s Tower and pier; 70 men from St Helier and St Saviour to assist at Elizabeth Castle, and 70 men from St Martin and Grouville to assist at Mont Orgueil, and Colonels and Captains were directed to take the utmost care in seeing that their communication with the Lieutenant-Governor was properly maintained.


Things were very bad, the seas were infested with pirates, stores and provisions captured whilst on passage, and it was stated that 17 or 18 picaroons belonging to France were lying about the Island to pounce on and capture any passing vessel. Earlier, on 9 October 1625, Sir Philip had reported that the seas were infested with pirates – especially in wartime – and that trade and commerce with other parts of the Kingdom are thereby cut off, and he suggests that one of His Majesty’s Scouts shall be sent down to scour the seas between the Islands and to anchor there at convenient times. He added that if his suggestion were adopted then the States of Jersey would be prepared to maintain a skilful pilot for the proper navigation of the vessel. His proposal was adopted and Captain Lewis Kirke of the “Eighth Whelp” was directed to cruise along the coasts of Jersey and Guernsey and then to Land’s End and try and find the Turks and other pirates, but he had to face very bad weather and as he was provisioned only for 19 days and could not get beyond Cape Le Hogue, he returned to the Isle of Wight to await further orders.

Only small ships were considered as available for this service as the Admiralty decided that it would be dangerous during the winter months to send a large vessel to the Channel Islands owing to the many dangers to navigation.

We find many notices of pirates during the first half of the 17th century and people crossing over to the mainland had to take advantage of any ship of war which might be cruising in the neighbourhood. We hear of Sir Philip and his family after a visit to London and being ordered to report to Jersey, the Government directed that for his safe passage he should be transported by one of His Majesty’s ships, and therefore Sir Philip went down to Southampton and crossed over to the Isle of Wight where at Yarmouth the “Third Whelp” was awaiting them.

Then on 25 September 1635 the Mayor of Plymouth writing to the Council, advised that four Turkish men of war were in the Channel and that from Weymouth news had arrived that one of the Newfoundland traders had been captured off Scilly by six Sallee Men of War who, after having despoiled the vessel of her cargo and stores, sent her on her way telling the Master that there were nearly 20 other Turkish men of war looking out for the Newfoundland fleet. Another Jersey vessel was captured by Turks off Land’s End and the Council are warned that unless force is used to defeat these privateers, many thousands will be utterly undone and many able seamen would be lost to the country. It was a very anxious time for those engaged in the Newfoundland trade. The danger from Turkish pirates was very serious and we hear that on 27 June 1639 Captain Nicholas Effart returned to Jersey with his ship and had on board 17 Jerseymen whom he had delivered from slavery in Turkey, one of whom was his brother Peter. He was allowed one ecu per day during the voyage.

Objections to family rule

Sir Philip was now Seigneur of St Ouen, Sark and Rosel, Lieutenant Governor and Bailiff of the Island and Farmer of the Impot, and his brother Elie was Advocate-General, and nearly all the Captains of militia were members or connections of the de Carteret family to the exclusion of representatives of other worthy families on the Island.

Therefore it is with little wonder that, when the troubles in England began to arouse the attention of the intelligent members of Jersey families, those who were discontented with the state of affairs in the Island should associate their grievances at their exclusion from public life with the fact that the Lieutenant-Governor and Bailiff represented and were supported by the King and his party. They therefore took the side of the Parliament. In England we find that at the commencement of the trouble the leaders were men belonging to the nobility and landed proprietors. Many of the nobles resented the introduction into their order of men who had little merit other than that of obtaining the favour of a weak King who was ever ready to receive the flattery of courtiers. These men had few scruples in their determination to get on. Many nobles of ancient family therefore withdrew from Court and sought peace in their Castles and country houses where they still held power and were better able to nurse their grievances.

From time to time rumours of what was going on in England came to Jersey, often varying very much as the rumours came from Royalist or Parliament sources, but on the whole people took very little interest in what was going on. They had their own grievances to interest them and they cared very little at the time of what was going on elsewhere.

Calvinistic rule

Jersey, like the sister Island, became very Calvinistic after the Reformation and the Church made their own laws – or at least laws were made for them by those foreign Calvinistic leaders who had sought refuge in the Island and acquired power there. The Guernseymen were even more pronounced than the men from Jersey and a Synod was appointed which had its headquarters in Guernsey and those in authority gradually increased their power until at last the Bishop of Winchester was ignored and the liberty of the people and their home life ceased to be independent of religious interference. In Jersey the Jerseymen resented the new dictation from the Synod, and this abuse of power aroused considerable discontent among those who objected to the Church of England being described as “The relicks of the filth of Popery and the bishops as knaves, enemies of God and bishops of the Devil.”

The Common Prayer Book was used in the churches of Jersey until the seventh year of Queen Elizabeth, when, on request from some of the inhabitants, the Minister of St Helier was allowed to “Preache and celebrate after the manner of the French Church in London but with the provision that in all the other churches in the Island the book of Common Prayer should be used as in other churches in England.” At that time vacancies in the churches in Jersey were submitted by the Governor for the approval of the Bishop of Winchester.

But seven years later, after the Massacre of St Bartholomew in Paris, many French Pastors fled to Jersey keeping to their own form of worship, and little by little the use of the Book of Common Prayer was neglected and no action in the matter was taken by the Governor who had Puritan tendencies, and gradually, as their ministers increased in power, they introduced a new book of religious discipline which they caused ministers, magistrates and people to swear to. But they overstepped their power and many people complained to the Bishop of Winchester of the oppression and bitter censures issued by the ministers in their attempts to increase their powers and, in a petition to the Privy Council, they suggested that the Common Prayer Book should be used in all the churches of the Island, and that the ministers, instead of being under the orders of the Synod, should be placed under the guidance of the Dean, under the Bishop of Winchester. But the ministers cared little for any petitions and endeavoured to increase their power and exercise the greatest intolerance.

They even tried to direct the Governor as to his mode of living, but they overstepped the mark when they refused to allow Mr Messervy, a scholar of Oxford, who had been licensed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, to occupy the pulpit of St Peter to which church he had been appointed by the Bishop of Winchester after being nominated by the Governor of the Island. The matter was therefore referred to the Privy Council who appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Peterborough and the Bishop of Winchester to deal with the matter. Advocate Marret and Mr Messervy were on one side and the ministers’ case was supported by Messrs Bandinell, Olivier, Effard and de la Place. There had always been a threat that the Ecclesiastic Government of the Island might be placed under a Dean, and it is said that Mr de la Place was anxious to obtain the appointment, and, at the meetings held by the ministers to decide in private their course of action, Mr de la Place sent particulars to their opponents, and, when facing the special commission, the ministers could not support the claim they had so arrogantly asserted in the Island that they, as ministers of Christ, had full power to deal with the lives of the people in their parishes.

They made a very weak defence and it was therefore decided that a Dean should be appointed to act under the Bishop of Winchester and the Book of Common Prayer, published in French, should be introduced into the churches.

Appointment of Dean

They were directed to submit the names of suitable candidates for the new office of Dean, but, as each minister considered that he himself was the most suitable candidate and Mr de la Place expected the office, they took so long in discussing the matter that David Bandinell, an Italian and Curate of St Mary’s parish, went to London carrying with him a letter of recommendation from the Governor to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Bandinell was a clever man and made so good an impression that he was able to return to the Island as Dean, appointed by Letters Patent dated 8 March 1619.

A Proclamation was then made that the Common Prayer Book should be observed according to the laws and customs of the Island to the great rejoicing of the people who cried out “God bless His Majesty, we shall have our old religion back again.” Many of the old people remembered the times, or had heard their fathers talk of the good days, before the advent of the Calvinistic intolerance in the Island, and were not sorry to return to more normal conditions. The people in Guernsey, however, seemed to thrive under the puritan regime, many were the followers of the teachings of Snape and Cartwright, who, in their day, had acquired great influence in the Island. Cartwright and Snape were sent to the Channel Island, Cartwright as pastor of Mont Orgueil, and at a Synod held in Guernsey in 1576 they drew up a code of discipline which was the cause of the trouble in Jersey.

Dean Bandinell, when appointed, had full power to deal with ecclesiastical matters, and he and the several ministers of the parishes drew up a constitution for the church in Jersey for the approval of the Privy Council, but, in their proposed constitution they claimed so much power that the Bailiff and Jurats of the Royal Court appointed Jurats Sir Philip de Carteret, Joshua de Carteret and Philip de Carteret to appear before the Council with the result that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Lincoln and Winchester revised the Canons suggested by the Ministers and approved of the Canons so revised for all times unless changed with the approval and consent of the Bishop of Winchester and the Governor, Bailiff and Jurats of the Island.

Thus ended a great religious battle, and the people, tired of the petty religious tyranny which had been imposed on them, won, for as an ancient Chronicler said: “The Magistrates and more understanding people of the Isle, offended with the severe and unsociable carriage of the consistories, especially of late, since the unlimited empire of the colloquies hath made that government unsufferable. People had difficulty to keep themselves from censure and their houses from the diligence of the Consistorial spies.” Against their rule there was no appeal although the Ministers quarrelled with the Jurats in their endeavours to increase their powers which the Jurats disputed.

The consistory, an assembly of the minister and his elders, met each Sunday, when the conduct of the parishioners was subject to discussion, and if necessary, to discipline. And now the new Ecclesiastical Code was in full force with an Italian, Dean of the Island, and several foreigners as ministers of parishes. The church retained much of her power and they had to deal with a very ignorant and uneducated people who were easily swayed by the eloquence of the preachers who hesitated not to picture the horrors of Hell and the joys of Paradise. Amias de Carteret, the Bailiff of Guernsey was a great supporter of the Synod but it had lost power with the Jersey people, and the Jersey petition met with great favour with King James, who, having spent a miserable childhood under Calvinistic teachers, was well content to reduce the Islands to the uniformity of service and ecclesiastical government as used in England.

The ministers endeavoured to oppose the introduction of the new regime, and Sir Philip, after advising them that if they continued in demanding a continuance of their discipline then they must choose another to present their request. At the assembly of the States the Dean presented himself on 15 April 1620, and questions were then asked as to his proper seat in the States and he demanded that, as the Jurats were allowed to speak in the States with their hats on, he should be allowed to do so also. There was much petty wrangling at this meeting between the Lieutenant-Governor and the Bailiff and sundry followers of the Calvinistic party and Samuel de la Place, minister of St Mary, and Daniel Brevin, minister of St John said they would not acknowledge Bandinell as Dean or as their superior in anything, and that the word “Dean” was not mentioned in Holy Scripture.

The States

The great fight between the Governor and the Bailiff had been settled in 1618 when the duties of each were definitely defined, the Bailiff and Jurats now had full powers in all civil matters connected with the Island except in the case of High Treason, and when violence was committed against the Justices in the execution of their duties in carrying out certain of their political ordinances and regulations. At the same time it was directed that no new taxes or money should be raised unless with the consent of the people and as the Constables were recognized as the best qualified to represent the people who had elected them to office, it was decided that they should have seats at the States’ meetings. The States now consisted of Lieutenant-Governor, Bailiff, 12 Jurats, 12 Rectors, and 12 Constables, besides sundry officers. There were only six pleaders or advocates, two being the King’s Attorney and the King’s Solicitor, as “The people conceiving rightly that multitude of lawyers occasion multitude of businesse.”

The question of the seniority of the Jurats was settled by an order dated 30 July 1629, when it was decided that after St Ouen, Rozel, Samares and Trinity, the other Jurats should take their places in Court according to the dates of their election. Philip Lempriere of Dielament was the son of Hugh Lempriere, who had been Lieutenant-Bailiff of the Island, and, when his father died, Philip was elected Jurat in his place. When he came to the Court to take his seat he demanded that he should take his father's place and have precedence over Philip de Carteret, Seigneur of Vinchelez. The Court, however, refused to grant his request and decided that, as de Carteret had long since been on the bench, he should keep his place. Lempriere therefore refused to take his seat with the result that owing to the number of Jurats being under seven, the Michaelmas term had to be discontinued to the discontent of many people who wished their cases to be dealt with.

Sir Philip, then Lieutenant-Bailiff, therefore wrote, on 23 September 1624, to Secretary Conway that he had, in the Kings name, summoned Lempriere to take up his duties, and, as he refused to come to Court, had ordered him to be arrested and taken to the Castle. Bail was at first accepted, but Lempriere withdrew his bail and therefore he remained a prisoner in the Castle until his case was dealt with by the Lords of the Council. Among the Jurats, elected for life, one was insane and another over ninety years of age and therefore they were of little value to the Island.

The powers of the Governor and Bailiff were defined and it was decided that, as the Governor sometimes caused great discontent by refusing to call the States together, if the Bailiff and Jurats requested the Governor to convene the States the Governor should not defer the matter beyond 15 days unless he could prove to the Lords of the Council that it was prejudicial to the safety of the Island or to our interests.

Poorer classes

The people in Jersey were more or less in the power of the petty feudal Seigneurs, but gradually as education advanced they began to think for themselves and to realise the limitation of their lives. They were far better treated than those of their neighbours in France of a similar degree, for there the Seigneur had the power to hang his tenant, and as an old Chronicler says: “Those sheep which God and the lawes hath brought unto them, they do not sheer but fleece and which is worse than this having themselves taken away the wool, they give up the natural carkasse to the King.”

Whenever a peasant had a good year the lord immediately raised his rent and therefore the peasant was kept in a state of absolute misery. There, the people suffered under many taxes, especially the Gabelle de Sel, but in Jersey the people were free from all imperial taxes, and whenever a new tax was introduced to England a clause was always inserted excluding the inhabitants of Jersey and Guernsey, and they lived under a feudal system of free subjection. Therefore they had no grievance against the unjust taxation which had so aroused the indignation of thoughtful people in England.

A writer early in the seventeenth century describes the Jersey peasant as inclined “To a kind of melancholic surliness, living in poverty and they married within themselves like conies in a burrow.” They were kept well in their places, and laws were passed by which people who dressed above their station were liable to severe penalties, and on 23 September 1636 the States issued an order that the privilege of dress having been abused by persons of low condition, men and women, “Lorsque a leur etat et condition” in the use of lace, head dress of taffeta and thereby tending to the ruin and dissipation of their goods, it was ordered that no man, woman or child should dress above their rank, and women should not use lace above fifteen sous per yard for their headwear, and that only if taffeta were not used. And it was no idle threat, for people who failed to comply with this order were brought before the Jurats for contempt of Court and Constables, Centeniers and other parish officers were directed to keep a strict look-out on their neighbours to see that the Act was properly complied with.

Therefore there was some reason for the “melancholic surliness” of a people who were so carefully guided by both Church and State, and to the sturdy few, who were intelligent enough to study the changes of thought in England, it began to dawn upon them that their condition might be ameliorated although from reports received from the mainland it would appear that – “Factions increasing as men’s humours vary – most men governing themselves rather by passion than judgment and few regarding either religion or honesty in their answer of affairs of State.”

In Guernsey, the difference between the different grades of society was even more marked, and in their museum you can see three lanterns, one with three candles, another with two, and the third with one candle, and these lanterns were strictly limited to the use of members of the three grades in the social scale.

Seigneural courts

Seigneurs were very powerful in those days and each Seigneur held his little Court where people took their grievances, to be redressed or otherwise, and where the Seigneurs saw that their own rights and dues were not interfered with. If, in the eyes of the people, the Seigneur of those days was a great man, the Sergeant of the Fief was still more important if not so powerful, as he was supposed to have the ear of the Seigneur and saw that his orders were carried out. It was a position much sought after by those who liked a little power over their fellows, and we hear of one Nicholas de Carteret, being made Sergeant of the Fief of Hougue Boete on payment of “One mutton yearly,” and that as Sergeant, he had to attend the Seigneur when he went to Court and, for this and other services, he was allowed the free use of 25 vergees of good land. Probably other perquisites went with the office.

Thus our little Seigneurs went to Court in state, and the great Seigneurs in still greater state driving along the narrow country roads and lanes in their coaches sometimes drawn by four or six horses, or, riding into town accompanied by some of their tenants, and woe betide any unfortunate peasant who caused any obstruction on the journey by cart or otherwise. The great people in those days were very fond of pomp and ceremony, especially at times of festivity or mourning, and as a procession passed from one parish to another guns were fired, and other visible and audible signs of consideration were shown to the distinguished traveller – dead or alive.

There were few people in the Island in the early part of the 17th century who could read or write and even the Jurats had often but little education. Therefore it is not surprising that those educated Calvinistic refugees should have acquired such influence in the Island as most of them were men of strong character who were able to express themselves well in public, and their opinions carried very great weight. Therefore Sir Philip made a fatal mistake when he aroused the anger of such a man as Bandinell and others who had found a comfortable haven in our little Island after the terrible persecution they had suffered on the continent.

The majority of the lower classes, saturated as they were with feudalism, were more or less content to live under the conditions which had satisfied their forebears and there were always a very strong religious strain on their outlook and they were willing to look for guidance to their religious leaders.

Loss of popularity

Sir Philip went on his way and used his power to his utmost, stopping a ship here, fining a man for leaving the Island without his sanction, and gradually losing a popularity which had supported him in the earlier days of his career. He had a difficult people to deal with, people with few ideas but much interested in the affairs of their neighbours, people whose beliefs were saturated in witchcraft and sorcery which at that period dominated the minds of even educated people. Witches were publicly burned in those days, and so many rumours went round that often people were burned alive, that on 5 February 1628, a decree was issued that “Rumour states that many people were hastily buried before they were dead and to avoid such a disagreeable action it was ordered that no person should be buried until after 24 hours after their supposed death and in the meantime they should be attended by their relatives with face uncovered and those who ignored the order were liable to severe penalties.”

Thus feudalism ran riot and Sir Philip was head of the principal family in the Island. He was capable and not ungenerous and was kindly by nature, for when William Prynne arrived in the Island on 17 January 1637, and was imprisoned in Mont Orgueil Castle in charge of the Governor, Sir Philip de Carteret, the Lieutenant-Governor, treated him with such kindliness that Prynne was ever grateful. “To your great favour and humanity to me while exile, Prisoner in Jersey… Accept then this as a small pledge of my thanks unto you, till opportunity and better days enables me to find some other means to pay all that’s behind.” This he published in his book on Mont Orgueil after his release from captivity on 7 November 1641 by order of Parliament. It was all the more to the credit of Sir Philip when we consider the treatment under which Prynne had suffered prior to coming to Jersey through the violent persecution of Archbishop Laud who fully expected that the same treatment would be carried on here.

But Sir Philip, notwithstanding his autocratic and unscrupulous tendencies, was a humane man, and, later on, we will see that Prynne was not ungrateful and was able to use his influence in London to save Sir Philip from arrest and probably the scaffold. But alas, as Sir Philip’s power increased he wanted more and he added to the anger of the church by endeavouring to deprive his former friend, the Dean, of the tythes of the parish of St Saviour. These tythes formed part of the endowments of the Dean, who immediately brought the matter before the Privy Council, and their Lordships, by their orders of 5 May and 17 December 1642, decided against the action of the Lieutenant-Governor.

Hostile Church

The Dean like the Rector of St Helier and others were foreigners, notwithstanding the clause that preferential treatment should be given to Jerseymen for such appointments, - possibly if they came up to the standard of other candidates – and they were clever, eloquent and not very scrupulous men who were able to express themselves freely and when Bandinell realized that Sir Philip was trying to deprive him of his just fees, he and his friends became the Bailiff’s deadly enemies and used all their eloquence, in pulpit and elsewhere, to arouse the people against the man who had helped them to obtain their positions in the Island, and Sir Philip soon realized that he had made a great mistake when he began to touch the pockets of these men who had found such comfortable billets in our little Island.

The majority of the people, with feudalism in their blood, were more or less satisfied to continue under the conditions that had satisfied their forefathers and, therefore in Jersey it was not so much a struggle between the Parliament and the King – although doubtless many of the Bailiff’s opponents had studied and been guided by the trend of the thought in England – as a fight against a pro-Consul who had usurped for himself and his family all power and authority in the Island, and thereby aroused the enmity of those who had been excluded from the affairs of state.


The people were ill-disciplined and suffered under many hardships and trade was carried on under great difficulties. There were then some 60 or 70 small vessels owned by the Islanders but the want of a harbour caused great damage to shipping and added to those dangers to commerce caused by storms, fog and pirates. Only a very limited supply of sea coal was allowed to the Island which was brought by vessels carrying from six to 30 wagon loads of coal mostly from the ports of Swansea and Neath, and we read of the arrival in Jersey of vessels called the “Bonaventure,” “Star,” “Good Hope,” “George” and others. All locally owned, bringing the necessary fuel to the Island. Any coal, above the allowance, brought to the Island, was heavily taxed.

People in England knew but little about the Channel Islands and on 30 August 1635, Mr William Strode, the public orator at Oxford University, in a high-flown speech before King Charles at Woodstock, referred to the Channel Islands’ Scholarships as “The endowments for the benefit of those little outlying fragments of the King’s dominions, Jersey and Guernsey”, and in a Compendium of the laws of England by Mr H Curson, Barrister of the Inner Temple, published in London in the 17th century he describes the Isle of Jersey olim Caesarea “with a compass of 20 miles, sufficiently strong on account of the dangerous seas. It containith 12 towns or villages the chief being St Hillary and St Malo and four Castles. The ground is plentiful in grain and sheep, most of them having four horns of whose wool our Jersey stockings are made.”

It was a time when a bold and capable man, who could express his ideas clearly and knew how to influence the unintelligent masses, could obtain great power and the actions of Sir Philip de Carteret and his supporters gave orators great opportunities to point out to the people the great injustices under which they suffered. It was suggested by Prynne, after having been in captivity in Mont Orgueil Castle in charge of Sir Philip, who had treated him in a very humane manner, that had de Carteret had free choice he might have become an ardent Parliamentarian, and that he adopted the Royalist party because he was driven into the Royal fold by those who suffered from his usurpation of power. The people themselves wanted no change for as Chevalier says: “Pour la plus part le comun people guy ne desir q changement.” They followed their leaders and shortly after the death of Sir Philip they were quite ready to forsake the Parliament party and return to the ancient rule under Captain George Carteret.


Early in the 17th century the population numbered about 25,000 persons and in 1628 it was stated that of this number there were about 3,000 able bodied men – 900 armed with muskets, 400 with pikes, and the remainder with bows, bills, sticks, and unarmed. There was always a fear of invasion and there was a good reason for such fear for at the head of affairs in France was Cardinal Richelieu who hated the Protestants, and looked upon the Channel Islands not only as a place of refuge for Calvinists and others, but also as a danger zone of conspiracy.

Therefore French spies were very busy in the Island and in 1627, it was reported that Richelieu had gathered together some 7,000 troops at New Haven (Havre) ready to make a raid on the Channel Islands and Sir Philip writes to Lord Conway that he cannot leave the Island in a time of danger, as he was busy fortifying Elizabeth Castle, but he asks the Secretary’s assistance in defending his reputation which was suffering greatly by the columinous assertions of Mrs Rossel. We therefore realise that even as early as 1627 opinion was strengthening against the power he was aquiring to the detriment of those not belonging to the de Carteret family. We hear of Sir Philip writing to the secretary of the Duke of Buckingham recommending the case of John le Hube Gardenier, a protestant merchant, of St Lo, who had arrived in Jersey on his way to England to solicit the restoration of his bark and goods taken in the “Road of Conquest.” Gardenier brought letters from protestants of high standing, honour, and worth in Normandy who were accustomed to send intelligence of any matter which might concern the Island and who favoured the stocking trade in Jersey, without which the country could hardly exist.

Therefore Jersey was in a somewhat parlous state with possible invasion from without and discontent growing among the people against their Bailiff and Lieutenant-Governor. For three years from 1637 to 1640 Sir Philip had plenty of opportunity of learning something of the state of affairs in England in his conversation with his prisoner William Prynne, who was released from prison by order of the House of Commons in 1641, the year when Sir Philip and Dean Bandinell had their great fight over the tythes of the parish of St Saviour. England was then seething with revolutionary ideas against the suggestion that the King could do no wrong; the Reformers in Jersey, on a smaller scale, were encouraged by those who had suffered from the actions of the Lieutenant-Governor.


Chevalier appears to have known most of the people of importance at that time and we can imagine him watching the people from his windows as they gathered togethered in the Market Place to discuss the questions of the day. He could thus see any signs of unusual excitement and join the crowd with little delay. Possibly the news was only the successful return of some locally owned privateer, or the loss of some well known Jersey vessel, the illness or death of some prominent Jerseyman, or the arrival of someone who had brought news of the events which were so rapidly succeeding one another in England. Nothing was too small for his attention, and when he had gathered what was going on, he would withdraw and enter it into his diary. And thus for eight years we are able to get some idea of what was going on in Jersey from 1640 until 1651 when the Royalist rule ceased and the soldier of the Commonwealth had great difficulty in understanding why Jersey should not be treated as a conquered country. hevalier divides his journal into three parts:-

  • Gouvernement de Sire Phelipe Carteret;
  • Gouvernement de lisle de Luytent Lidet lauthorite du Plement;
  • The reduction of the Island by “Capitaine Carteret authorisy de sa Majeste.”

Arrest ordered

There were many capable men in the Island who were ready to join Bandinell and the Rector d’Assigny in bringing about the downfall of Sir Philip, and among them we find Michel Lempriere, Charles Maret, Francis de Carteret, Benjamin Bisson, Abraham Herault, Henri Dumaresq, Andre Durell, Philippe Le Boutiller, and in 1642 these men and others forwarded a petition to Parliament against the government of Sir Philip de Carteret, and the Parliament authorized five of the leaders who were Jurats of the Royal Court (Jurats de Carteret, Lempriere, Dumaresq, Bisson and Herault) to seize the person of the Bailiff and take him to London to answer the charges which had been made against him. This authority was in the name of the King and Parliament, and they were directed to call to their aid all those who were Bien affectionee aux Roy et p’lement et a mantenir la religion portestante les lois et libertes du people, et preulegges du p’lement. They were authorised to put down by force all those who supported the rule of Sir Philippe.

On 21 April 1642 the Lieutenant-Governor made a report before the States of Jersey, mostly composed of his own relatives and followers. He stated that he had just returned from London where he had gone to beseech Parliament to reform certain defects in the constitution of Jersey and to have their ancient privileges confirmed. Whilst there he had been in great danger for the Jersey Parliamentarians had made many charges against his government, which charges, instead of being presented before Parliament, had, through the influence of Prynne, been presented to the House of Lords where the King still had many followers. The Jersey delegation was therefore unprepared to submit their case in so cold an atmosphere and, when requested to prove their charges against the rule of Sir Philip, they made out such a poor case that the Lords decided that the charges were made out of personal animosity and that they were not proved, and Sir Philip was therefore allowed to return to Jersey where he was able to report to the States that, owing to the unsettled state of affairs between King and Parliament and the action of the malcontents, he had been unable to have their petition considered and the States therefore passed a resolution in which they disowned the action of the Parliamentarians and recognized the great services of Sir Philip to the Island.

At the same meeting of the States it was decided that, on the following Wednesday fortnight, a “public fast should be held in order to divert the wrath of God threatened for the divisions in the Kingdom and for the multitude of vices which reign. To profess the profanation of the Sabbath by dancing and frequenting taverns, confirming various orders in that behalf and giving powers to all officers to seize the violins of violin players and carry the players before the magistrate.”

Defence of the island

Sir Philip fully realised the unsettled state of affairs and had obtained from the King a commission supporting his administration and authorizing him to take all necessary steps for the defence of the Island. He therefore saw that the Castles at Mont Orgueil and Elizabeth were put in a proper state of defence and well provisioned, and he had the King’s commission read in all the churches of the Island. He presented this commission to the States at a meeting held on 1 February 1643 and a month later attended another meeting of the States accompanied by a large number of soldiers who guarded the entrance of the Court House during the meeting. There was a full attendance, the great majority being supporters of Sir Philip, but, notwithstanding this, Michel Lempriere, well knowing that he had but few followers in the States, had the courage to rise and read the orders he had received from the Parliament to seize the person of Sir Philip, Bailiff and Lieutenant-Governor of the Island, and send him a prisoner to England for trial. It was a bold action on the part of the Seigneur of Maufant, but he was not only a brave but also a very capable man.

His action caused great uproar in the Chamber, and he was howled down by Sir Philip’s followers, and seeing that it was impossible for him to obtain a hearing, he endeavoured to leave the Chamber to discuss matters with his followers outside but was prevented from doing so by the soldiers who guarded the doors. There was tremendous excitement among the people outside the Court, gathered there in favour of Lempriere and his party, and a warning having been received that the country people were flocking into town to seize Sir Philip, he and his supporters, under guard of the soldiers, left the Court and sought shelter in Elizabeth Castle where he remained, practically a prisoner, until his death.

The die was cast and civil war had commenced in Jersey and the first persons to take up arms in St Helier were Andre Durell and Philip Le Boutiller, Centeniers of the town. The order to seize Sir Philip had been brought to Jersey by Charles Maret of Trinity who afterwards became Receiver-General.

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