Sir George Carteret 1643-1646

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From Jersey in the 17th Century by A C Saunders

This excerpt from the book takes up the story of events in Jersey after the death under siege in Elizabeth Castle of Bailiff Sir Philip de Carteret.

Major Lydcott

The Parliamentarians in the Island found that, although they had numbers to support them, they had no one with military experience to guide them and three days after the death of Sir Philip, Major Leonard Lydcott arrived in the Island as Lieut-Governor under the Earl of Warwick who had been appointed Governor in the place of Sir Thomas Jermyn deprived of his office by the Parliament.

Michael Lempriere and his friends had made several petitions to parliament for expert assistance but had not suggested additional troops, with the result that Lydcott arrived in the Island with only a few officers and some ammunition. He expected to have no difficulty in obtaining possession of the castles as he had been informed that nearly all the inhabitants would support him. But there were two governors of the Island now, Jermyn and Warwick, and each described the other as a traitor. And on 3 October 1643, Sir Thomas Jermyn appointed Sir George Carteret as his Lieut-Governor and his appointment was approved by the King at his Court at Oxford.

Lydcott read his commission at the States meeting of 29 August 1643, and at the same meeting Michael Lempriere was sworn in as Bailiff. The Lieut-Governor endeavoured to take Mont Orgueil Castle which was bravely defended by Lady de Carteret and her son. In the meantime he was getting very unpopular and was having considerable friction with the members of his own party. He could not speak French and was a young man 28 years of age, and he soon realised that his stay in Jersey might be short and his departure sudden, and he therefore arranged to have a sloop always in readiness to take him away from the Island should he be compelled to do so. He was supported by very lukewarm followers who were very uncertain as to the state of affairs.

Rumours were reaching Jersey that the King's prospects were getting brighter, and the Cornishmen had arisen with enthusiasm for the Royalist party, and in July 1643 Waller's army was defeated with great loss, and Bristol and Exeter were taken by the King's troops. So it is not surprising that Jerseymen belonging to the Parliamentary party began to wonder whether they had taken the right side in listening to the vapourings of D'Assigny and Bandinel and to doubt whether they had not been the dupes of these foreigners whose actions had been animated by private hate.

Captain Carteret's arrival from St Malo

And so we hear of those who a few months before had been so bitter against Sir Philip trying to gain the favour of his widow. We even hear of the Dean trying to make his peace with her, forgetting that he had to deal with the widow and son of a man he had done so much to persecute. There was always Captain George Carteret at St Malo, who was keeping well in touch with the affairs of Jersey and was in readiness to come to the Island at the first favourable moment. Many persons went over to St Malo from Jersey to join his following and on 19 November 1643 he arrived off Gorey with three small vessels containing his followers and stores. He was immediately joined by the people from the parishes of Grouville and St Martin, and Lydcott, joined by Michael Lempriere and others, went on board the awaiting ship and made sail for Guernsey.

Early career

Captain George Carteret was a most striking personality during the period of the Rebellion and played a prominent part in his support of the Royalist party. He was born in the year 1599, and was the son of Helier Carteret of Jersey. He joined the King's navy at an early age, and, at the age of 40, was appointed Comptroller of His Majesty's ships. In March 1635 he was captain of the Mary Rose and was evidently considered a man of some importance, for on 12 June 1635, John Nicholls writes to inform him that there was a rumour throughout the town and Court that Carteret had been poisoned by two sailors whom he had compelled to go to sea in his ship, and expressing his joy at receiving a letter revealing "Carteret's miraculous resurrection from the dead".

He was then under the command of Sir John Pennington, and on 17 December 1641 Thomas Smith, writing from York House to the Admiral, states that Captain Carteret was in Town, and that the Admiral's daughter Elizabeth "was made a Christian on the 14th and was honoured with a gift of 30 pounds in a basin and ewer of yours, brought by your deputy Captain Carteret", and in the same letter Smith adds "Factions increasing as men's humours vary, most governing themselves rather by passion than judgement, and few regarding either religion or honesty in the censures of the state".

When Carteret was appointed Comptroller he writes to the Admiral on 25 November 1641 that he proposes to live in the Navy Office until he can get a better place, as he is to act as Comptroller of the Navy. Later on, on 6 January 1642, he writes to Pennington: "All things now are in so great distraction here that there is no thinking of doing anything, but everybody are providing for their own safety, as if everything were inclinable to ruin - but of this I am certain that our good King is much abused".

Soon afterwards Parliament appointed the Earl of Warwick as Admiral of their fleet, and at the same time Capt George had the refusal of becoming Vice-Admiral. Before sending his answer he applied to the King for instructions and His Majesty directed him to refuse the appointment, and Captain Batten was appointed in his place. So that the Captain was out of work for a time, and returned to his native island, but finding little to do he went over to join the King's forces in Cornwall with a troop of horse. But as the army was very short of ammunition, he went over to St Malo to buy and arrange for the necessary supplies, and he stayed there for some time, although on 27 July 1643 we hear that "Captain Carteret has been along the coast of Normandy and Brittany to hinder the Islands commerce in these parts, and has returned to France, where he is much favoured, to solicit shipping and men to make a descent on Jersey and Guernsey".

He was knighted for his service, and in 1645 was made a Baronet, and his name was always included among those who were exempted from pardon whenever there were any propositions for peace with the King. It was probably through his influence in France that the King of France by his order of 10 May 1643 directed all Captains and Governors of the maritime towns of Picardy, Normandy and Brittany and all officers of His Majesty's Admiralty - "not to permitt any of the inhabitants of the Isles of Gersey and Guernsey to transport any victualls or any other provisions and Merchandises out of this Kingdome unless they have a passe from Sir Philip Carterett and Osborne Governors of the said Isles."

Appointment as Lieut-Governor

On 3 October 1643 Sir Thomas Jermyn was appointed Governor and Captain George Carteret, Lieut-Governor, by warrant from the King given at his Court at Oxford, and, on 24 November 1643, Captain George took the oath of office at a meeting of the States held in Trinity Church, before Thomas Lempriere, Francis de Carteret, Philip de Carteret, Jean Payn and Philip le Geyt, Jurats, and Mr La Cloche, Rector of St Ouen, Mr de la Place, Rector of Grouville, Mr Gruchie, Rector of St Peter, Mr Faultrart, Rector of St Brelade, Mr Payn, Rector of St Lawrence, and Mr Poingdextre, Rector of St Sauviour, and the Constables of St Helier, St Ouen, St Martin, Trinity, St John, Grouville, St Lawrence, St Brelade, St Peter and St Clement.

The States soon set to work, for on 12 December 1643 they passed an Act against the profanation of the Sabbath by absence from church and employing the day in frequenting Taverns and they directed "that no taverns shall be opened or any person use them under penalty of a fine of ten francs". On 18 January 1644 it was ordered that all persons above the age of 15 "should take the oath of fidelity to the King at places and hours appointed by the Governor, as certain persons had omitted to present themselves to show their loyalty to the King". Captain George had been appointed Bailiff and special directions were given that the parishes of St Helier, St Martin and St Peter should be carefully dealt with as the ministers of these parishes, not natives of the Island, had with blasphemy striven to make trouble against the King, by speaking up for Parliament in the States and in their parishes.

King's Orders

On 10 February 1644 an Order was received from the King depriving Henry du Maresq, Abraham Herault, Benjamin Bisson and Michael Lempriere of their office as Jurats and directing the States to elect four honest and well affected persons in their place. Previously a Royal letter dated 30 January 1644 had been received by the Governor directing him to apprehend Michael Lempriere, Henry du Maresq, Benjamin Bisson, John Herault, Abraham Herault, Philip Bouttillier, Denis Gurdain, John Richard, Philip Messervy, Philip le Feubvre, John Maste, Thomas Durell, Charles Maret, Zachary du Hamel, David Bandinel, James Bandinel and Peter D'Assigny clerks "who have raised and fermented an odious rebellion against us there".

At the States meeting of 21 March 1644 it was decided to have an election to fill the places of the four Jurats, who contrary to the solemn oath taken at their admission to office, had "most trayterously and maliciously endeavoured the subversion of O' Royall Power and authority in the that Isle and sought to introduce another power derived from the pretended Houses of Parliament".

Fortunately for them, Du Maresq, Herault and Lempriere had managed to escape from the Island, but Bisson had remained at home and he was immediately seized and lodged in Elizabeth Castle. Here he remained for over 18 months, when he and others were brought before the Special Commissioners Poley, Vaughan and Janson, who arrived in the Island on 10 April 1645, to deal with all those who were to be tried for high treason.

Only one of the Commissioners could speak French. Vaughan was a Protestant and the others Papists, and Janson was a nephew of Sir Philip de Carteret. They soon commenced work and on 28 April they directed that all the goods and chattels of those parliamentarians who had fled from the Island should be forfeited, and the money thus obtained used in the defence and protection of the Island against the King's enemies.

Parliamentary supporters

The Commissioners had Mr Bisson before them on 5 June and had him transferred from Elizabeth to Mont Orgueil Castle. The Commissioners, by proclamation, directed that all fugitives should return to the Island within 15 days so that they might be able to defend their actions, and it is of special interest to Jerseymen that Chevalier gives the names of those prominent supporters of the Parliament in the Island - Michael Lempriere, Henry Dumaresq, Abraham Herault, Jean Herault (his son), Philipe Le Boutillier, Denis Le Guerdain, Jean Ricart, Philippe Le Feuvre, Pierre Dasigne, Charles Maret, Abraham Becquet, Andrey Le Vavaseur dit Durel, Henry Le Vavaseur dit Durel, Jacques Lempriere, Clement Lempriere, Ellie Chevalier, Daniel Norment, Moise Le Vavaseur dit Durel, Philippe Messervy fils Philippe, Thomas Lempriere, Benjamin Lempriere, Abraham Maugier, Nicholas Blampied, Jean Blampied fils Jean, Samuel Chevallier, Nicollas le Quesne, Jacques Maugier, Francois Luce, Thomas Bichard, Nicollas Drue, George du Maresque, Pierre Ricart, Thomas Robert fils Thomas, Phelipe Sallemon, George Sallemon, Ellie Huelin, Jean Le Dain fils Jean, Jean Le Feuvre fils Ellier, Josue Maret fils Jean, Jacques Setocal, Nicollas Efard, Jean Nicolle fils Jean, Pierre Luce, Edouard Luce, Pierre Le Galles fils Pierre, Thomas Pipys".

All these were named on the Warrant issued by the Commissioners, and on 12 July their names were called in Court and those who did not come forward were left to the Commissioners to deal with. Dumaresq, Herault and Lempriere were condemned to death and were to be hanged as soon as taken. In the meantime they were hanged in effigy and the property of all who had fled, poor and rich, was confiscated.

There was considerable bitterness in the ecclesiastical world over the action of the Parliament in England in condemning the Archbishop of Canterbury. He had been a man who had aroused very bitter factions in England by his pro-Roman tendencies, but in his immediate circle he was well beloved for his charity, and when the old prelate was brought to the scaffold he forgave his enemies, and apologised for the uncomfortable pulpit from which he was to preach his last sermon.

Dean's escape attempt

It stands to reason that, if the head of the Church could not escape from the block, the Dean of Jersey and his son the Rector would receive very little protection from their Ecclesiastical office. They had been lodged in Mont Orgueil Castle and they were confident that the Commissioners would sentence them to death. They had few sympathisers in the Island, where they had made themselves very unpopular, and so the father and son decided to attempt to escape from the Island. They were lodged in adjoining cells, and by means of a rope made by cords and napkins they tried to slide down the rope from a small window at the top of the Castle. The night was very stormy and unfortunately the rope was too short and when the younger Bandinel made the attempt he fell on the rocks and injured himself severely without, however, breaking any bones. The old man then took to the rope but when halfway down the rope broke and he fell on the rocks below. The son having somewhat recovered from the shock of his fall went to his father's assistance, but seeing that the Dean was insensible and terribly injured, he covered him with his cloak and hastened to make his escape. The father was found next morning, but was past recovery and died next day, whilst the son was captured two days later and brought back to the Castle. With his death the deanery became vacant and remained so until the Restoration when a Jerseyman, the Reverend Philip le Couteur, was appointed.

We hear little about Dean Bandinel except that he was very unpopular in the Island and, as an Italian, he did not seem to have the interest of his flock at heart. He was evidently a man of domineering character, and was ready to quarrel with his Constable or with the Lieut-Governor whenever his private interests were concerned; even Bailiff Herault, he excommunicated. His hatred of Sir Philip was very bitter and possibly, if he and D'Assigny had attended to their duties instead of using their influence to rouse the passions of the people, we would have had a very different record to give of Jersey during the Rebellion.

The son died in Mont Orgueil on 18 March 1646 after having lost his reason caused by the terrible experience he had passed through and fear of the possible judgment of a court which he had to face. Chevalier seems to be pretty certain that if brought to trial the Rector would have been condemned to death and publicly executed.

The Houses of Parliament were very wroth when they heard of Carteret's proceedings in Jersey, but at the time their hands were full with the affairs in England, and Ireland, and they could not spare sufficient men to assert their authority and so they confined themselves to passing an ordinance dated 16 September 1645, making void all Commissions and Warrants issued in his Majesty's name to Captain George Carteret, pretended Governor of Jersey, and directed that the said Carteret be called for a just account of his illegal proceedings against the well affected people of Jersey.

Guernsey

But Carteret was not a man to be frightened by words, he was a man of deeds, and so we hear of him looking towards the sister Island, where the Parliamentary party had full sway, except at Castle Cornet, Even as early as 7 February 1644 the States considered the question of the conquest of Guernsey. Charles had ordered James Ley, Earl of Marlborough, to proceed to Jersey with several ships and many men and the Earl had written to the States asking whether he could have the assistance from Jersey of thirty to thirty-five boats, each manned by six men, so as to enable his soldiers to disembark at Guernsey. Nothing came of this proposed expedition, but on 5 March 1645 a letter was received from Prince Charles from the camp at Launcester thanking the islanders for their loyal support of the Royal Cause and stating that by their loyalty they may be the means "to reduce ye Neighbours rebells by yr force, or at least by ye example of fidelity".

In the beginning of January 1646 the Earl of Warwick summoned Sir Peter Osborne to surrender Castle Cornet. The royalist garrison was then in a very bad way, and their provisions and stores were running short. The Governor saw no chance of help except from Jersey and he therefore sent a letter to Carteret: "I have these three years (in a continuell extremity of suffering) maintained this place (fed but from hand to mouth lyke a bird and kept in perpetual agonies and fearer, left still to the last extremitys) no man better knowes than yourself".

He informs Carteret that unless he can help him, his castle must surrender. Supplies were sent on 25 January but only reached Castle Cornet on 8 February. The parliamentarian vessels were on the lookout, and these were followed by others, so that Sir Peter was more at his ease and better able to enjoy "a little parcel of special tobacco and a dozen of pipes" which had been sent to him from Jersey. After the arrival of Charles in Jersey, we hear of Sir Baldwin Wake relieving the gallant Osborne from the great strain of defending the Castle.

It is surprising to follow the activities of Captain Carteret. He was a wonderful man, and, in Hoskins' Charles II in the Channel Islands, we hear of his sending money to Marseilles by one John Le Couteur to purchase the freedom of several Jerseymen, who had been captured by Algerian pirates, and sent as slaves on board their galleys. Le Couteur somewhat bungled his mission and spent part of the money in assisting men not Jerseymen, with the result that further money had to be borrowed from a local merchant, who had great difficulty in obtaining repayment of the sum advanced.

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