Lemprieres, Seigneurs of Diélament

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An 1859 drawing of one of the entrances to Diélament Manor

Lemprieres, Seigneurs of Diélament From Annual Bulletin XLII of La Société Jersiaise by the Rev J A Messervy, translated from the French by Mike Bisson

Brief mention in Armorial

Notes on the Lemprieres of St John – a branch of those of Diélament - were published in the Bulletin of 1902. They were only touched on in the Armorial of Jersey by Payne, and merited more than a quick mention in that work.

Today we would like, with the help of new documents, which have come to our knowledge since the publication of the Armorial, to try to complete, and correct on certain points, the genealogy of one of the principal branches of the Lempriere family, those who were Seigneurs of Diélament, who played a considerable role in the history of Jersey, and continue in a direct line to our era. For the derivation of the name of Diélament see Vol 6 of the Bulletins, p307-308.

The Fief of Diélament is the largest of the Fiefs of the Parish of Trinity, that in which is located Trinity Church and Augrès Manor, etc. We remember briefly to begin with how this Fief, which belonged previously to the de Barentins, passed into the hands of the Lempriere family.

de Barentin sale

In 1367 Philippe de Barentin sold to Raoul Lempriere and his brother-in-law Guillaume Payn, jointly, all his inheritances, comprising the Fiefs, Seigneuries and Manors of Rosel, Samarés, Diélament, St Jean-La-Hougue- Boëte, etc.

For 15 years these acquisitions remained undivided between Lempriere and Payn. But in 1382, shortly after the death of Raoul Lempriere (Jurat for more than 30 years) his son Drouet Lempriere divided with Guillaume Payn the fiefs, land, appurtenances, etc acquired in 1367, Drouet Lempriere having for his part, of the four important fiefs, those of Rosel and St Jean-La-Hougue- Boëte, with their appurtenances, and Guillaume Payn, those of Samarés and Diélament with their appurtenances.

In 1409 Guillemote Payn, wife of Robert Camel, and her sister, wife of Guillaume de St Martin, of Trinity, divided certain inheritances, and the share of Guillemote included the Fief of Diélament, the Manor and Dovecot of Diélament, etc.

Four years later, in 1413, Guillemote Payn authorised Robert Camel, her husband, to sell the Fief of Diélament with its appurtenances to five buyers, Johan Lempriere, Seigneur of Rosel, Regnauld Le Lorreur, Clement Le Hardy, Perrot Le Lorreur and Johan Poingdestre (Vol 4 of the Bulletins, 1901, p418). This sale was made for a price of 1,000 crowns and two pipes of Gascon wine.

Bailiff Johan Lempriere

We have reason to believe that Johan, or Jean Lempriere, who was Bailiff for several years, bought out his co-purchasers a short time later and became the sole Seigneur of Diélament, and that one of his younger sons, George Lempriere, had this fief in the division of his assets. In 1489 George Lempriere was Seigneur of Augrés (See Chroniques de Jersey p 46). It is curious to see that in 1489 “the said Jean Lempriere (Seigneur of Rosel, son of Renaud) received homage from the men of the Fief of Diélament that they did not owe to the King on account of that fief according to the contents of the Extente”.

It was perhaps fashionable in the 15th century for the Lemprieres of Diélament to become owners of an important property, sometimes known as Maufant Manor, situated not far from Diélament Manor , but in the parish of St Saviour. This property may have been inherited about 1457, through the marriage of the same Jean Lempriere (son of Drouet, son of Raoul) to Jehannette Le Lorreur, a member of one of the most notable families, at this time, in the parish of St Saviour; a family which has given the island, from its many branches, several Jurats, a Bailiff, a Viscount, etc. This Le Lorreur marriage was not known to the authors of the Armorial. In a contract of 1508, it is a question of a house and household, situated in St Saviour, on the King’s Fief, between the house of Drouet Lempriere and that of Philippot Horman.

Maison de Maufant

There is something curious to note on the subject of this ‘’Maison de Maufant’’: In the 16th century, and perhaps already before, the eldest son of the Seigneur of Diélament, when he married in the lieftime of his father, went to live at “Maufant Manor”; for this reason – and we have every reason to congratulate ourselves – many of the dates of baptisms, marriages and burials concerning the family are found in the parish registers of St Saviour, which had already started in 1541, whereas those of Trinity only date, for the baptisms, from 1625. At other times it was a younger son who settled at Maison de Maufant when his elder brother had inherited Diélament.

Open here a short bracket to advise the reader not to confuse the Lemprieres of the Seigneurie of Diélament, who sometimes lived at Maufant, St Saviour, with their parents, the Lemprieres who lived at Maison de Roux, also in St Saviour, but who were descendants of Raulin Lempriere, Seigneur of St Jean-La-Hougue- Boëte, one of George’s brothers. For example, the Armorial confused Hugh Lempriere (son of Michel) Seigneur of Diélament, with Hugh Lempriere, son of Philippe, of Maison du Roux; itis the latter, and not the Seigneur of Diélament, who was Solicitor-General for ten years. Sworn in on 21 April 1580, he died ten years later and was buried at St Saviour on 19 July 1590.

Constable of St Saviour

We now return to George Lempriere, younger son of Jean, Seigneur of Rosel and Bailiff. He was never Jurat, as we had believed, but he was Constable of St Saviour for several years. The initials GL which can still be seen on a wall of St Saviour’s Church are without doubt his. We remember too that the arms of Lempriere are still visible on another part of the church. We have reason to believe that these arms were sculpted there in memory of a Lempriere who belonged to the branch of the Seigneurs of Diélament.

George Lempriere, who was still alive in 1489, had married Thomasse de St Martin (daughter, we believe, of Jean de St Martin and Jeannette Le Hardy) sister and eventual heiress of Thomas de St Martin, the last seigneur of Trinity of the name, who died without direct heirs about 1515. That is how Drouet Lempriere, their eldest son, became in 1515 – already aged about 40 – possessor of the Franc Fief and Seigneurie of Trinity, as heir of his uncle Thomas de St Martin. (See Commissioners Report of 1515, 7th year of Henry VIII, p4).

Drouet Lempriere was Jurat for 20 years. He died in or before 1522, leaving from his marriage to Mabel, an only daughter of Philippe de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, three young children who initially had as guardian their uncle Edouard de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, and later Helier de la Rocque, Jurat and Seigneur of Saval.

Jean Lempriere, the eldest son of Drouet, born about 1513, came of age in 1533 and was, for several years at the same time, Seigneur of Trinity, Augrés and Diélament. He was the sole Seigneur of them at the end of December 1541, at which date William de Carteret was Sénéchal of the Fief of Diélament.

AFter 1547 he was also Seigneur of La Hougue Dirvault: he had obtained this fief, by a contract of 4 December 1547, at the same time as a house and land – 24 vergees – from Clement Langlois and Katherine Binet, his wife (daughter of Guillaume Binet). Eventually on 24 April 1570 Thomas Lempriere appeared at the Assize d’Heritage as Franc Tenant for the fief of Diélament.

Act of Cour de Catel

An act of the Cour de Catel of December 1573 states that Thomas Lempriere had the right to a dovecot, like his predecessors at Diélament Manor, and confirmed his seigneural rights. This act was printed in the Bulletin of 1916, p 195. It would perhaps be interesting to see, on the subject of this dovecot, that, by a contract of 9 November 1580, Thomas Lempriere, Seigneur of Diélament, sold to Barthélemy Grandin a house and outbuildings for a certain price of rente: further, the said Grandin undertook, himself and his heirs, to “empty and clean the dovecot of Diélament when it is required”, but one addes that when he had accomplished this service he must have “a quarter of beverage and half a farthing sterling of bread”.

This Thomas Lempriere, son of Drouet, once Constable of St Saviour, was sworn in as Jurat on 13 ay 1557, and held this officeuntil his death, a little before 18 April 1583, that is to say for 26 years – and not fifty as one wrongly believed. His wife, of whom we only know her baptismal name, Allés (or Alice) could not have been from Jersey, because in none of the contracts or acts in which she figures is her family name mentioned. We don’t think that she was a de la Rocque, as stated in the Armorial; there has been confusion between her and the wife of Thomas Lempriere, son of Philippe, of Maison du Roux, St Saviour, who was called Jeanne de la Rocque, and was the daughter of Pierre de la Rocque, Attorney-General.

Thomas Lempriere (son of Drouet) was also Seigneur of the following minor fiefs: Petit Rosel, Vanesse, La Gruchetterie, Escraqueville and Sauvalle at St Peter.

Michel Lempriere, only son of Thomas, was Attoprney-General for 14 years from 1570-1584. In 1582 he was chosen by the States as one of their Deputies in England.

In 1577 Etienne La Cloche, tenant and occupier of Moulin de Malassis “released Michel Lempriere from all services, etc”.

St Saviour baptisms

Michel Lempriere was only Seigneur of Diélament for one year because he only survived his father for this short space of time. He seems to have lived much longer in Grande Maison de Maufant at St Saviour than Diélament Manor.; also all his chidren were baptised at St Saviour. He died shortly before 1 May 1584, leaving two sons and four daughters. By his will, approved on 20 Mai 1584, Michel Lempriere gave nine cabots of wheat rent to the poor of Trinity; the will informs us that his father, Thomas Lempriere, gave wheat to the poor of this parish.

Hugh Lempriere, eldest son of Michel, was baptised in St Saviour on 25 August 1562, and had godparents Hugh Perrin, Seigneur of Rosel, Gilles Lempriere (later Seigneur of Trinity) and Pierre Faultrart. He was destined to have a full career. Very well educated, well versed in the knowledge of the laws and customs of his island, he had a high reputation among his contemporaries, and filled some of the highest positions accessible to him.

But before being appointed to any of these positions he was one of the rare seigneurs of fiefs who had a seat in the States by virtue of his fief: see Act of the States of 24 March 1590 and of 4 February 1591. Advocate of the Royal Court for two years, from 1590 to 1592, he was sworn in as Jurat on 22 April 1592; chosen as Deputy of the States in England on 24 March 1590, 17 December 1593 and 24 May 1603, he was, with Thomas Olivier, Rector, sent as a Deputy of the States in England to obtain confirmation of the privileges of the Island.

Lieut-Bailiff

On 17 September 1601 Hugh Lempriere took the oath as Lieut-Bailiff, nominated by Bailiff George Paulett “for the good of Justice and the expedition of cases which are presented in abundance as one of the most experienced and knowledgeable in the laws and customs of the island”. Bailiff Paulett having resigned in 1614, the Lieut-Governor Aaron Messervy appointed Hugh Lemprieur as Judge Delegate. Accepted by the Jurats he was sworn in on 10 June.

He became Lieut-Bailiff again with the nomination of the new Bailiff, Jean Herault, and took the oath on 12 September 1616. Five years later, when Jean Herault was temporarily suspended from office, Hugh Lempriere was chosen by Governor Jean Peyton to act as Judge Delegate; but modest as well as capable, Mr Lempriere hesitated for some time before accepting once more this position and only submitted to the pressure of his colleague Jurats.

Finally, on 27 August 1622, Hugh Lempriere was sworn in as Lieut-Bailiff for the last time, through the nomination of the new Bailiff, Sir William Parkhurst, and he fulfilled his duties until his death two years later.

Contracts

We summarise here some contracts passed by Hugh Lempriere. In 1589, by a contract of 12 April, Hugh Lempriere, eldest son and principal heir of Michel Lempriere, eldest son and principal heir of Thomas Lempriere and his wife Eallesse, transferred to Richard Hamon and his wife Jeanne Lempriere, daughter of the said Thomas and his wife, through division of heritage, 10 quarters of wheat rent; to Edouard Messervy, son of Edouard and Marguerite Lempriere, his wife (also a daughter of the said Thomas and his wife Allès) six and a half quarters of wheat rent, with the fief of Sauvalle at St Peter; and to Elizabeth Messervy, sister of Edouard and wife of Michel Bisson, three quarters and two cabots of wheat rent . On 23 March 1605 Hugh Lempriere took the inheritance of of Thomas, his brother, from their father only, for the sum of 30 quarters of wheat rent and the fief of Escraqueville, of which Thomas Lempriere eventually became Seigneur.

Hugh Lempriere, Seigneur of Diélament, was buried at Trinity on 24 April 1624. He left four sons: Philippe, Michel, Hugh and Nicolas. Hugh Lempriere, the third son, was Constable of Trinity for some months, and died without marrying at the age of 31. He was buried on 13 November 1639, at Triniy Church, “well loved and regretted by all those who knew him: canons were almost fired at his burial”. These interesting details are provided to us by the registers of the neighbouring parish of St Martin, and not by those of Trinity.

Philippe Lempriere, eldest son of Hugh and Sara, his first wife, eldest daughter of Jurat Helier Dumaresq, of La Haule, succeeded his father as Seigneur of Diélament, and was also Seigneur of Surville, a fief inherited from his mother. He was sworn in as Jurat on 23 September 1624, probably as a replacement for his father, but refused the same day to sit, because the Court had declined to satisfy him on a question of precedence on the bench between himself and Philippe de Carteret, Seigneur of Vinchelez-de-Haut. Philippe Lempriere was sent to the Castle as a prisoner for this affair, eventually presented before the Privy Council, which gave judgment in favour of Mr de Carteret.

This affair lasted until 1629 – see Orders in Council, Vol 1, pp 127, 142, 146 and 148; and also Vol 5, p151 and subsequent.

Curious phrase

We cite on this occasion the curious phrase which is found in the report of the Council, dated 30 January 1629, but entered in Jersey’s roles only in 1818:

“And the said Carteret alledged further that the said Fee of Dillament was formerly holden of that of Rossell and by the said Lemprier’s grandfather then the Queen’s Attorney was putt into the Rolle of Franctenants” etc (Vol 5 Orders in Council p 152) This evidently refers to the appearence, in 1570, of which was have spoken above, of Thomas Lempriere (father of the Attorney-General) at the Cour d’Heritage.

Philippe Lempriere died in 1632 at only 40, leaving two minor sons, who had as guardian initially their grand uncle Thomas, then their uncle Michel Lempriere, and finally Marie Le Montain, their mother, became their guardian in 1644. In September of that year she appeared before the Cour d’Heritage representing her minor children, for the Fief of Diélament, but was not admitted “because of her sex”. (Heritage 11, 26 September 1644).

Philippe Lempriere (son of Philippe), scarcely of majority in 1651, declared for Parliament, and the Royal Court sent him to prison at the Castle, and confiscated his fief and his goods for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the King. (Heritage 12, 25 September 1651). But this sentence does not seem to have been executed because barely a month later the Parliamentarians returned to power in Jersey and Philippe Lempriere, restored to liberty, took possession of his inheritance. He died two years later, without marrying, and was buried at Trinity on 1 October 1653.

Succeeded by brother

His brother Hugh succeeded him as seigneur of Diélament and of Surville. This latter fief was taken from him about 1669 by George Badier (Heritage 1669) by virtue of the right of lineage. This Hugh Lempriere, confirmed of age on 9 April 1653, declared in favour of Parliament in his turn: he was sworn in as Jurat under Cromwell on 28 April 1657, but the Restoration of Charles II three years later forced him to retire to private life. He died without heirs on 15 Septeber 1685, and not 1698, as we had believed, and was buried ate Trinity Church, where the monument erected to his memory by his widow Marguerite Le Cloche can still be seen.

All his inheritance passed to his first cousins, of whom the eldest, Michel Lempriere, son of Michel, became Seigneur of Diélament; we will speak of him shortly. But we come now to Michel Lempriere, son of Hugh Lempriere (Lieut-Bailiff in 1601, etc) and of his second wife, née Jeanne Hérault. We do not have the date of his baptism, which must have taken place at Trinity, for which baptism registers did not start until 1625. However, we know that he was declared to achieved his majority at 20 years of age on 23 Dec ember 1626. He was, therefore, born during or towards the end of 1606.

Michel Lempriere probably moved early to Maufant Manor, inherited from his ancestors, and was known by the title ‘’Monsieur de Maufant’’ because, as Jean Chevalier the diarist said, “his house was the most important of the Vingtaine of Maufant”. Already in 1638 the name of ‘’Monsieur de Maulfanc’’ appeared in the Rolls of the Court.

We see, elsewhere, through a contract of 23 August 1666, that Michel Lempriere, younger son of Hugh, reached an agreement with Hugh Lempriere (Seigneur of Diélament), his nephew, by which the said Michel was confirmed in possion of his part of the inheritance of Hugh Lempriere senior, of Maufant Manor with its dependences, as well as the fiefs of Vanesse and petit Rosel being reunited and reattached to the Seigneurie of Diélament “without from then being capable of separation”.

Michel Lempriere, son of Michel de Maufant who was Bailiff) divided the inheritance of Maufant between 1729 and 1732 in several parcels to various buyers, who were Philippe Payn (son of Philippe, son of Philippe), Thomas de Gruchy, Jacques Drelaud (son of Louis) and his brother André Drelaud, Jean Godfray (son of Edmond) and Philippe de Gruchy.

Political career

We now return to Michel Lempriere and speak of his political career. The worthy son of an eminent father, he was sworn in as Jurat on 19 January 1637 – he was 30; he soon took an active part in public affairs and found himself at the head of the side opposed to Philippe de Carteret, Bailiff and Lieut-Governor. He had, however, been chosen as ‘’Juge Commis aux causes’’ of the Bailiff, and also of Lieut-Bailiff Amice de Carteret; this latter nomination took place on 4 June 1640.

But the political difficulties which then troubled England so gravely had their counterpoint in Jersey and Michel Lempriere, in great part because of opposition to the powerful rival family of de Carteret, did not hesitate to declare, like many of his colleagues, in favour of Parliament.

We recall here that he was one of the authors of a political pamphlet entitled ‘’Pseudo-Mastix: The Lyar’s Whip’’, printed in the Bulletin of 1888.

We cannot here in the limited space at our disposal retrace completely the important role played by Michel Lempriere in Jersey in the events of this era. We refer the reader to different historical works which cover these questions in detail and restrict ourselves to summarise in broad strokes the principal acts which concern him.

Parliamentary Commissioner

In 1642 he spent a fairly long time in England in connection with the political affairs of Jersey. On his return in 1643 he was one of the five Jurats who had been nominated Parliamentary Commissioners to seize Philippe de Carteret, etc. We do not enter here into the details of this well known conflict, and we restrict ourselves to recalling that by virtue of a Letter of the Parliamentary Committee, dated 1 August 1643, naming him Bailiff of Jersey, Michel Lempriere was sworn in as Bailiff on 29 August 1643, only a matter of days after the death of Philippe de Carteret at Elizabeth Castle.

As is known, this first administration of Michel Lempriere as Bailiff only lasted about three months, because on the arrival of Captain George de Carteret in Jersey towards the end of November 1643, the Parliamentary Governor Lidcott, Mr Lempriere and many other party chiefs, left the island for refuge in England.

In their absence the Royal Commissioners instituted proceedings against the Parliamentary chiefs and Mr Lempriere naturally had his turn. The diarist Jean Chevalier recounted the sudden change of fortunes with strong and picturesque detail; see his diary page 197 and following, for the sentencing to death of the former Parliamentary Bailiff. Chevalier also tells us how, when George de Carteret (Bailiff and Lieut-Governor) had need of building wood for the public works which he had undertaken, he ordered the felling of the magnificent full-grown trees at the Maufant home of Michel Lempriere.

Return to office

However, eight years later, the wheel of fortune having turned full circle – to use a favoured expression of the diarist – Michel Lempriere returned to Jersey with the Parliamentary army of Colonel Haynes, and took back his office of Bailiff at the end of October 1651.

This second administration lasted a little more than eight years, and was a period of tranquillity, order and prosperity for Jersey. Mr Lempriere proved to be a skilful administrator, honest, conscientious, and the good keeping, under his direction, of the Archives, both of the Greffe and the Registry, is justly observed; even his political opponents had to recognise his talents as a man of the States and the Chief Magistrate.

It is during this period of political prosperity that Mr Lempriere married, at the age of about 51. He married on 31 March 1657 at St Peter, Sara de Carteret, daughter of Francois, Seigneur of La Hague (his old colleague as Jurat and Parliamentary Commissioner) 24 years younger than him.

The Restoration of Charles II, in 1660, brought an end to the most eventful political career of Michel Lempriere. He retired to France, at Coutainville, in Normandy. But Mr Lempriere did not delay his return to the island of his birth and soon obtained Letters Patent of Pardon from King Charles II, sealed with the great seal of England. This document, dated 9 November of the 12th year of the reign of Charles II (1660) gave him a full and complete amnesty for all his political acts, “faults or ecclesiastical or religious transgressions commited before 10 June of that year, either by himself or his supporters”. Finally it is expressly stipulated that Michel Lempriere could resume ownership of all his possessions which had been confiscated because of his political affiliation, “notwithstanding any Act of Parliament contrary to this pardon”.

This voluminous parchment, written almost entirely in Latin, today in the possession of R R Lempriere, was probably registered in Jersey in the first Book of Patents, which sadly disappeared “during the wars”. This loss is noted in the Rolls of Court, at the beginning of the oldest volume of Patents which exists.

Private life

Michel Lempriere returned entirely to private life from 1660. Did he continue to live at Maufant Manor or did he move to the town? Of that we cannot be precise. All his children born after the Restoration were baptised in St Helier, by Jean Dumaresq, pastor, who was a cousin of Mr Lempriere through his wife. This family link suffices perhaps to explain the baptisms in St Helier and not at St Saviour.

Michel Lempriere died in February 1671, leaving four minor children. He was buried in St Helier’s Church. “Michel Lempriere Gentilhomme, Seigneur of Maufant, deceased, was buried in the Church of St Helier, the 14th day of the month of February 1670 (1671 by today’s calendar); the tomb was made across the north pillar which is close to the door to the bell tower. (Register of burials of St Helier).

R R Lempriere, the current representative of Bailiff Michel Lempriere, has placed, as pious homage to the memory of his eminent ancestor, a wall plaque in the Church of St Helier, very close to the place where Michel Lempriere was buried.

  • This article continues with the lives of Michel Lemprieres descendants, and will be translated for inclusion here when time permits.
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