Sir Amias Paulet

From Jerripedia
Jump to: navigation, search


Governor 1571-1590
Sir Amias Paulet


A previously wrongly attributed portrait of Sir Amias, which was correctly identified in 2019. The experts should have looked at the portrait (left) already in Jerripedia since 2010

Sir Amias Paulet (1532–1588) was an English diplomat, Governor of Jersey, and the gaoler for a period of Mary, Queen of Scots

Amias Paulet.jpg


He was the son of Sir Hugh Paulet and Philippa Pollard. His name is sometimes spelt 'Amyas' or 'Amice'. In 1559 he was made Lieut-Governor of Jersey, his father being Governor. He kept this post until 1571. He served jointly with his father Hugh, whose date of death is variously given as 1573 and 1578, continuing as sole Governor, a post he held until his own death.

In 1576 Queen Elizabeth raised him to knighthood, appointed him Ambassador to Paris and at the same time put the young Francis Bacon under his charge. Paulet was in this embassy until he was recalled in November 1579. In 1579, he took into his household the young Jean Hotman, son of Francis Hotman, to tutor his two sons Anthony and George. When the family returned to England, the tutor and his two charges settled at Oxford.

A fanatic Puritan who possessed a harsh character, Paulet was appointed gaoler of Mary Queen of Scots by Queen Elizabeth in January 1585, replacing the more tolerant Sir Ralph Sadler. He remained her keeper until Mary's execution at Fotheringhay Castle on 8 February 1587.

Paulet died in London on 26 September 1588 and was buried in the church of St Martin's-in-the-Fields. When that church was rebuilt, his remains were removed, together with the monument, to the parish church of Hinton St George.


He married Margaret Harvey, and their son Anthony succeeded his father as Governor of Jersey. By his wife, he had three sons and three daughters:

  • Hugh (1558- ), the eldest son, died before his father
  • Anthony (1562- ), was his father's heir
  • George (1565- ) by marriage with a distant cousin, Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Paulet, became the owner of Goathurst, in Somerset
  • Joan married Robert Heyden of Bowood, Devonshire
  • Sarah married Sir Francis Vincent of Stoke D'Abernon, Surrey
  • Elizabeth died unmarried


Sir Amias Paulet came to Jersey when his father was made Governor in 1550 and was immediately made his assistant. The following year he was sent by his father to complain to the Privy Council that officials in Normandy were refusing to hand over six thieves who had escaped from Jersey. He was sent to Paris with a letter for the Constable of France, and thence to Normandy, returning ultimately to Jersey with his prisoners.

In 1556 he was formally appointed Lieut-Governor and by the end of the decade he was effectively running the island in his father's absence. There was much concern at this time about invasion by the French and Paulet went on a spying mission to the Brittany coast to discover for himself whether ships and troops were being gathered. Nothing happened because the death of the French king brought a temporary cessation to threats against the Channel Islands. However, relations with nearby Normandy were not good, as shown by a letter from Amias to his father:

"Mr St Aubin has been arrested by Mons Boisrougier of Coutances, and after fourteen days imprisonment dismissed with the loss of a goshwak and 20 ells of canvas. I wrote to this Monsieur for redress, but he answered he was sorry he had dismissed his prisoner, and that his stock was not better, advising me to look to myself, as he hoped to pluck me out of my house, as he had the Captain of Alderney. If I had the Queen's leave, I would ask no aid but the retinue of this Castle to pluck him out of his house".

Castle work

Amias continued his father's work on strengthening Mont Orgueil Castle, despite the lack of funds available from Elizabeth. He wrote in 1557:

"Though I have husbanded Her Majesty's money well I have been constrained to employ more than I received, and our walls want a third part yet".

And in 1563:

"I am much deceived, considering the depth of the foundation, the height and thickness of the walls, if a greater piece of work hath ever been done for the like sum".

And again in 1573:

"A strong piece of work, begun four or five years ago, lacks completion of one third. Four hundred pounds will be needed this year and four hundred next."


Like his father, Amias was strongly anti-Catholic, although more Calvinist than protestant. When the first Huguenot refugees poured into Jersey in 1558 he appointed some of the priests among them as Rectors and ignored his father's wishes, and to an extent those of Queen Elizabeth, over which prayer book should be used in island churches. His appointment to the Town Church of Guillaume Morise, a Huguenot minister from Anjou, led to the establishment of what Chroniques de Jersey described as the first "real Reformed Church in Jersey".

There was a second influx of Huguenot refugees in 1568 and they, too, were welcomed by Amias, although his father had reservations and wrote:

"I approve my son's zeal in receiving these strangers, but I cannot like their continued abode in the isle. They should be passed on."

But father and son got on well, despite these occasional disagreements, and in 1571 Amias was made joint-Governor, becoming sole Governor on his father's death, probably in 1578, although there are no records of the transition.

Other duties

His duties increasingly meant that Amias was absent from the island for long periods. He was appointed resident Ambassador in France for three years in 1576 and appointed Guillaume Lempriere, Seigneur of Trinity, his Lieut-Governor. He was clearly well trusted, because Queen Elizabeth's principal secretary Sir Francis Walsingham wrote:

"Her Majesty wishes you in matters that concern her service to deal as you think fit, though you have no special direction, such trust she reposes in you."

He was present in Jersey in 1583 for the swearing-in of his son Anthony as Lieut-Governor and his brother George as Bailiff, before leaving to join the Privy Council, and then take up his role as jailer of Mary Queen of Scots. He was present at her eventual execution.

Predecessor Successor
Sir Hugh Paulet
1550 - 1578
Sir Amias Paulet
1571 - 1590
Sir Anthony Paulet
1590 - 1600
Personal tools
other Channel Islands
contact and contributions

Please support Jerripedia with a donation to our hosting costs