Sir Hugh Vaughan

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Governor 1502-1531
Sir Hugh Vaughan

Few students of history would dispute that Sir Hugh Vaughan
was the worst Governor Jersey has ever had

The members of Jersey's two main ruling families, the Lemprieres and de Carterets, who were forced to work with Sir Hugh Vaughan, successively fell out with him.


Vaughan was a Welshman of low birth who became a close friend of the future King Henry VII while he was in exile. He was appointed Gentleman Usher and Esquire of the Body to the King, Lieutenant of the Tower, Captain of the King's Guard, Bailiff of Westminster, Privy Councillor and Governor of Jersey, an office he held from 1502-1531.

His parentage is unknown. He married, probably for the second time, Anne Percy, widow of Sir Thomas Hungerford, and Sir Laurence Raynsford, and youngest child of Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland. He had one son, Rowland, and three daughters. In 1492 he killed Sir James Parker in combat at Richmond, Surrey, following a controversy regarding the arms that Garter had given him.


When he was appointed Governor in July 1502, Thomas Lempriere had already been Bailiff for seven years. The two were soon at loggerheads, not least because Vaughan seemed determined to make as much money as he could from his appointment. He was neither the first nor the last Governor to act in this way, but his behaviour particularly upset the islanders. Lempriere eventually went to England in 1513 to complain to the king about Vaughan's behaviour.

According to the Chroniques de Jersey Vaughan:

"gave himself up to so lewd a life that he was wont to seize young girls by force; wherefore they durst not walk alone on the roads for dread of him. Furthermore, if he claimed any man's heritage he would send a soldier from the Castle to fetch him to produce his title deeds, and, as soon as he saw them, he tore off the seal, and broke it in pieces. Moreover he beat divers persons so sorely, that oft times they were in no small danger of death".

Vaughan immediately removed Lempriere from office, despite the fact that Henry VII had ruled in 1485 that the Governor should no longer have the authority to appoint or dismiss Bailiffs and other officers of the Crown. Vaughan appointed Hélier de Carteret in his place, although their relationship was to be no better than that between Vaughan and Lempriere.

A Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the situation in the island, but its members supported Vaughan and the de Carterets.

Helier de Carteret's appointment was confirmed by Henry in 1514. However, whatever relationship he may have had with Vaughan to cause him to be appointed soon deteriorated to the extent that within two years a dispute between de Carteret and Vaughan was also referred to the King's council and de Carteret was suspended from office.

Prolonged battle

The exact sequence of events afterwards is in some doubt, and it was not until 1530 that de Carteret was again secure in his position as Bailiff, with Vaughan, having eventually been totally discredited, removed from office. It appears that during the initial suspension no appointment was made to replace de Carteret, although Thomas Lempriere may temporarily have been restored to his former office in 1515. Helier de Carteret won the first round of his battle with Vaughan before the Privy Council and was restored to office in 1516, but after seven years he was again suspended and the action dragged on for another seven years.

Their quarrel was over whether Trinity Manor belonged to de Carteret's brother in law, Drouet Lemprière, or to the Crown. Drouet had married de Carteret's sister Mabel, and inherited the manor on the death of his uncle. Vaughan claimed that the manor was forfeit to the Crown for treason, because Lempriere's uncle Thomas de St Martin had sided with invading French forces 60 years earler.

When the case came before the Royal Court, de Carteret gave judgment against Vaughan because de St Martin had been pardoned by the King for his actions. Vaughan, with his hand on his sword, threatened de Carteret:"If you do not decide in my favour, I will plunge this into your belly". De Carteret drew his own sword, opened the Court doors and let the public in to witness his judgment against Vaughan.

Their dispute went before the Privy Council, de Carteret accusing the Governor of interfering with justice. The legal proceedings dragged on thanks to the support Vaughan received from the powerful Cardinal Wolsey, despite the fact that in December 1521 de Carteret's position as Bailiff was confirmed by the King and the following year he was granted the Manor of St Germain in Jersey for life. A bribe of 500 gallons of Anjou wine seems to have ensured that Wolsey would adjourn the case term after term, allowing it to drag on for 12 years.

Vaughan then went on the offensive and challenged the King's grant of the Manor of St Germain to de Carteret, but de Carteret slipped over to Jersey and collected his rents before Vaughan knew he was there. Vaughan retaliated by appointing a succession of Acting Bailiffs to cut off de Carteret's official income.

Justice demanded

De Carteret eventually lost patience and demanded justice in Wolsey's Court when another adjournment was ordered. With Wolsey pretending not to hear, he shouted:"I demand justice or at least some show of justice". The Cardinal retorted:"Justice! If you had justice, you would be punished as a man who has wrought much harm to his country." De Carteret replied:"You do wrong to charge me with things you cannot prove."

This caused Wolsey to fly into a rage and he turned to the Lords of the Council and said:"Did you ever see such insolence? We can guess how he lords it in his own land, if he is so malapert here." He called for the Keeper of the Fleet Prison to take de Carteret away. But he responded:"Before you send me there, I beg you tell me why. Is it for demanding justice? You have kept me waiting in this city by your command for three years and more and I have not had a hearing. You have cut off my livelihood. My money is spent. I am a poor Gentleman with a wife and children, whom I cannot support as I should. Have I not good cause to protest?"

Wolsey replied:"You are a freak and quite unfit to rule." De Carteret said:"You cannot prove that". The Cardinal said:"I will show it you, sealed with the island seal." This was probably a reference to a petition from eight Jurats calling for de Carteret's dismissal from office, sent to Wolsey by Vaughan with Dean Richard Mabon, one of his succession of Acting Bailiffs.

The Bailiff responded:"That you cannot do, for I have the seal in my keeping." The Cardinal then suspended the sitting in a rage. But further pressure behind the scenes led him to concede defeat and the case was heard on the first day of the Michaelmas Term and de Carteret cleared his name and returned to Jersey in 1529 to take up his office again. Wolsey fell from grace in the same year and further complaints about Vaughan led to a Royal Commission being appointed and his dismissal as Governor.

Sir Hugh Vaughan died in 1536, and is buried with his wife, Anne Percy, in St Michael's Chapel, Westminster Abbey.

Predecessor Successor
Thomas Ovray
Sir Hugh Vaughan
1503 - 1531
Sir Arthur Darcy
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