Laurens Hamptonne

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Based on A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey by George Balleine

Laurens Hamptonne (1600—1665), was Viscount when in 1649 he read the proclamation of Charles II as King.

Family

He was the son of Edouard Hamptonne, Constable of St Lawrence, and Elizabeth, daughter of Jean Dumaresq, Bailiff. The Hamptonnes had become the leading family in St Lawrence. Between 1539 and 1604 six were Constables, and Louis Hamptonne (Rector 1502-58) had built at his own expense the North Chapel of the Church and made slips to the shore for the vraicers (seaweed gatherers).

Laurens was born in 1600. His father died the following year and be was brought up by his mother's second husband, Jean Le Hardy, Solicitor-General. In 1621, when only 21, be was appointed Viscount. In 1639 he bought the house at St Lawrence still known as Hamptonne. His property in the parish then covered l00 vergées.

Civil war

It was part of the Viscount's duties to read aloud all public announcements at the Market Cross. A few weeks after the outbreak of the English Civil War, when Bailiff Sir Philippe de Carteret had withdrawn to Elizabeth Castle, and the Town was ruled by the Parliamentary Committee, he sent Hamptonne a proclamation to publish "enjoining the people not to take up arms with the factious", and declaring "the authors of the disorders rebels and disloyal, naming a few of the chief of them".

It is not surprising that the Viscount, though a Royalist, "made some difficulty" about proclaiming this. So on 11 June 1643 de Carteret provided him with a mounted escort. "It was Market day", writes Jean Chevalier, "and the English gentlemen who accompained him were newcomers, unfamiliar with our ways. When they saw the people running up from all sides to hear the proclamation, they took fright, and cocked their carbines, and retreated to the Castle. The Vicomte escaped in another direction".

Shortly afterwards he was arrested, and imprisoned on one of the Parliamentary vessels then watching Mont Orgueil, but a few days later the Committee, to the disgust of their more extreme supporters, ordered his release. "When Laurens Hampton was committed", complained De La Rocque, "after reading ye Commission of Array, the Committee at the intercession of Lempriere released him, and replaced him in his office. They were also continually drinking, eating, and keeping company with ye said Viscount".

He continued to live at St Lawrence, perhaps protected by his brother-in-law, Benjamin Bisson, one of the Parliamentary Commissioners.

Proclamation

In April 1644, when Sir George Carteret regained Jersey for the King, Hamptonne was ordered to seize the property of the Parliamentarians, an awkward job, for this consisted largely of rentes, and those who owed them were loth to disclose the fact. In 1645 he had to hang 13 of the Committee, including his brother-in-law, in effigy in the Market.

When news came in 1649 of the King's execution, he proclaimed Charles II as King in the Market on Saturday 17 February, at Elizabeth Castle on the Sunday, and at Mont Orgueil on the Monday, though Parliament had declared that anyone so doing would be hanged as a traitor. He then nailed the parchment to the door of the Court.

One of the Viscount's duties was to superintend executions. On one occasion a criminal flung the hangman from the scaffold, and climbed to the top of the gallows, and defied anyone to fetch him. The executioner, shaken by his fall, was helpless, so Hamptonne prodded the man down with the ladder. Le Geyt discussed at length whether his action was legally justifiable, and decided against him, as no one but the executioner can execute.

In June his son Edouard accompanied Carteret to France to arrange for the King's visit to Jersey, and, knowing that his father would soon be a Jurat, obtained from Charles Letters Patent promising him the Viscountship when his father should resign. In September the King arrived, and remained for nearly five months. The Hamptonne family believed later that the King had stayed in their house, and showed two trunks that he was said to have left behind, containing an embroidered fawn-coloured doublet and a blue satin vest, but this tradition is doubtful.

Chevalier, who kept a day-by-day record of all the King's movements, says :"If any of the island Gentry invited the Duke (the King's brother) to their house, neither he nor the King ever accepted the invitation; but the Lords of the Court used to accept, and the King counted this as a compliment paid to himself". The Hamptonnes also showed gifts received from the King, a pair of silver spurs, a brace of pistols, and a silver dolphin-shaped seal. When the King sold part of the Crown revenues in January 1650, Hamptonne bought rentes in St Brelade and St Lawrence for 2,040 livres tournois, and obtained the coveted right to rebuild the dovecot in his garden. The estate was also made "impartible and descendible to the eldest heir, and it shall not be lawful to dismember the same, any law or usage in the island to the contrary notwithstanding"

Jurat

In April 1651 Laurens was elected Jurat. When he took the oath he claimed that his long service of the King entitled him to a higher place on the Bench than that of a new member, whereupon Mr Le Geyt, Mr Jean Pipon, and Mr Thomas Pipon voluntarily agreed to yield precedence to him" (Chevalier). His son succeeded him as Viscount. Neither, however, enjoyed his honours long. In October a Parliamentary force landed in St Ouen's Bay, and Hamptonne with other Royalists took refuge in Elizabeth Castle. In December the Castle surrendered, and he was one of the three defenders whom the Parliamentary commander demanded, partly as hostages, partly as delegates to arrange terms.

These were very moderate. The besieged were promised life and liberty and permission to remain in the island, but they had to compound for their estates by a fine not exceeding two years revenue. Hamptonne decided to remain. In October 1652 Parliament referred to the Council of State a list of Proposals for Jersey. one of which was "that Laurens Hamptonne and his son Edouard, being notorious delinquents, be for ever disinabled to bear any office of trust". In August 1653 he was deprived of his Juratship; but otherwise he was not molested. By selling some of his other property he was able to retain Hamptonne; and for eight years he lived in retirement. In November 1654 he stood as godfather to the baby daughter of the Rector of St Lawrence, and in September 1659 he and the wife of Michel Lempriere, Cromwell's Bailiff, stood together as godparents to a son of Philippe Dumaresq.

In May 1660 news arrived of the Restoration, and on 2 June Hamptonne heard his son again proclaim Charles II as King. Laurens at once resumed his place as Jurat; and in 1663 became Lieut-Bailiff. On 2 February 1665 he died. A monument to him and his son is on the outer wall of St Lawrence Church.

Marriages

He married three times :(1) his cousin Sara Hamptonne, (2) Marthe ( -1636), daughter of Edouard Bisson, Constable of St Brelade and widow of Jean Herault, (3) Philippine Sealle, ( -1639), widow of Jean Botterel of St Ouen. Besides his son Edouard (1628-1651) he had four daughters, Elisabeth, who married Josue Allier. Rector of St Lawrence. Anne, who married Lieut-Bailiff Jean Poingdestre, Rachel, who married David Patriarche, and Sara, who married Philippe Payn, Deputy-Viscount. The St Martin Register describes this last wedding

"On 3 February 1663 Philippe Payn married Sara Hamptonne. As he left his manor in Grouville on his wedding morning, musketeers fired a volley. As he passed through Trinity with a fine array of the island noblesse, the parish cannons fired. Near Sieur Hamptonne's house two musket volleys greeted them. The discourse in which Philippe Le Couteur, Dean and Rector of St Martin, put the question to the damsel lasted half an hour, and was much admired. Sieur Hamptonne responded admirably, and gave the damsel's hand to the Dean, who placed it in that of Sieur Payn. They then went to St Lawrence Church, where the ceremony was celebrated. The parish cannons fired, and there were three musket-volleys. As they passed Elizabeth Castle on their way to Grouville, the Governor awaited them in his carriage at the end of the bridge, and two cannons fired from the Castle. St Helier also fired its cannons as they passed, and so did St Saviour and St Clement. On reaching Grouville the cannons fired, and the tocsin was beaten at their house".
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