The Great Rebellion - Charles' second visit

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This is the sixth part of a 54-page article by F H Ellis first published in the 1937 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

The King's execution

Death of the King

When word reached Jersey of the death of King Charles I, afraid of possible disturbances, Sir George Carteret would not allow the news to transpire until he had taken precautions against a sudden rising. When it was announced there was consternation throughout the Island, the loyalists expressed the deepest grief and the disaffected party was too astounded to cause trouble. A few days later the Prince was proclaimed King at various places in the Island, amid salvoes of artillery and cries of 'Vive le Roi, Charles second du nom'.

In March the frigate Heart, fastest of all the Parliament ships, revolted in disgust at the murder of the King and came to Jersey for some months of most successful privateering, during which she took a number of valuable prizes, but eventually she was captured and her crew carried prisoners to London. During this year the Jersey pirates prospered exceedingly, it is said that between 1649 and 1651 the number of prizes brought in amounted to 79.

A fortnight after the death of Charles I, Parliament constituted the Council of State, with authority 'to use all good ways and means for the reducing of the Isles of Guernsey, Jersey and Scilly.' At its first meeting a committee was appointed for the business of Jersey, including Bradshaw and Dennis Bond, and to which Sir Gilbert Pickering, Mr Holland and Colonel Hutchinson were added soon afterwards. At the end of March, and again in May, the council of State was in correspondence with Fairfax and Cromwell and the Generals-at-sea as to how the reduction of Jersey might be effected, and as to what forces would be necessary, so that when either Blake, Deane and Popham should be at liberty all other things would be ready.

In reply to a request from Guernsey, directions were given concerning its civil affairs and the Crescent frigate was sent over to protect the Island shipping. Her captain was ordered not to remain anchored on the Great Bank, but to cruise about taking care to prevent men being transported to Guernsey from Jersey and elsewhere ; soon afterwards a second frigate was dispatched with similar orders. At the end of the summer Council gave directions to Colonel Heane, Governor of Weymouth, to keep a strict watch on Jersey and to Popham to send a squadron to Guernsey to prevent communication between the two Islands.

Sir George summoned

In June Sir George went to France in obedience to a summons from the King. A letter from St Germain at the end of July reported that the Royalists were 'waiting to know what will be the success of Ireland', and that it was thought that Carteret had received orders to prepare for the arrival of the King and his suite in Jersey so that he would be nearer Ireland should it be decided for him to go there.

In the absence of the Lieut-Governor, Sir Philip Carteret remained in command of the Island; when some Guernseymen captured three small boats in St Ouen's Bay he imprisoned the watch for not keeping a better lookout and hearing that ships were gathering in the Isle of Wight which he thought might be intended for an attack on Jersey, he reviewed all the troops and issued a proclamation that no ships might leave the Island without permission, and no person without a passport. He also deported several women of the disaffected party 'for talking too much'.

It was discovered that some dealers who had been at a fair in France had brought over a number of books describing the trial and death of the King and extolling Bradshaw and the other regicides. Thirty-six of these books were seized and burned by the public executioner in the presence of the dealers and a large crowd.

King's arrival

After an absence of eleven weeks, Carteret returned to Jersey to prepare for the coming of the King, who arrived from Cotainville with the Duke of York on 17 September. They were hardly in port before some Parliament ships appeared, a small squadron under Admiral Popham in the Happy Entrance, which two years later was to return to Jersey as Blake's flagship.

The ships had been cruising in the neighbourhood expecting that the royal brothers would cross from St Malo, but finding that the quarry had escaped them, after firing a few shots they cruised round the Island for several days and then sailed away. The King resumed his old quarters in the Governor's lodging in the Upper Ward while the Duke established himself in the absent Hyde's dwelling by the church. There were great rejoicings over the royal visit with salvoes of artillery from the Castles and at night-fall bonfires were lighted all over the Island.

Major Collins had been in France with Carteret and just before the latter's return to Jersey he arrived at Cornet Castle bearing a commission from the King to take up command there. Nothing was known of Sir Baldwin Wake who had been with his Majesty sometime previously, but had never returned to the Castle and his fate still remains a mystery.

The garrison received the stores brought by Collins, but refused to allow him to enter the Castle. They were doubtful if his commission indeed came from the King, and knowing that Wake and Carteret were on bad terms, they feared that the cause of their commander's non-appearance might be that he was imprisoned in Jersey. Collins had to return and Wake's deputy, putting another officer in charge, went to France to learn the King's pleasure. As Wake still had not returned in October, Lord Percy, the new Royalist Governor, appointed Colonel Sir Roger Burges, who took up command in November.

'Carteret the Rich'

Trethewy, writing to Hyde's secretary Edgeman soon afterwards, reports that Colonel Burges is at the Castle but not likely to remain there long as Carteret is not pleased at his appointment, which will probably hinder the reduction of Guernsey. There can be no doubt that all along Carteret had been anxious to get authority over Cornet Castle, which explains his ungracious conduct to Osborne and Wake and his desire to get his own man Collins installed. One historian goes so far as to say that though he behaved with zeal and gallantry, his devotion to the royal cause was largely inspired by his desire to preserve the immense power he possessed in Jersey.

Although he governed with severity he undoubtedly developed the resources of the Island with great skill and seemingly without much detriment to his own pocket. Marvell called him 'Carteret the rich' and Sir George himself told Pepys in 1667 that he was worth £50,000 when the King came in but had only made £15,000 since. The Flagellum Parliamentarium boldly accused him of robbing the King of £300,000. A letter from Nicholas to Lord Hatton written soon after the fall of Elizabeth Castle, when Carteret was in France, is significant.

"I am very confident that Sir Edward Hyde will not have a hand in making Sir George Carteret a Councillor, though he love him very well and hath reason to do so, yet I know he is a better friend to the King's business than to be a means to make Sir George Carteret a Councillor, which is not the way to recover the honour of the King's Council".

Early in the summer there had been some idea of Charles going via Jersey to Ireland, where Ormonde had won over Inchiquin by promising religious equality to the Roman Catholics and Rupert commanded the fleet at Kinsale, but in August Blake drove Rupert from the Irish Seas, Ormonde was defeated at Rathmines and Cromwell landed and began his ruthless campaign, so that by September the King's Council regarded the project less favourably.

Throughout the autumn there was much coming and going at the Castle, envoys were sent to various European countries in the hope of obtaining help for the royal cause and there were many debates as to whether Charles should go to Scotland. When, on 6 December, commissioners arrived from Edinburgh, opinion was still much divided, but finally at the end of the month it was decided that the King should meet the envoys from the Scottish Parliament at Breda on 25 March and early in the New Year the commissioners returned to Scotland.

Reduction plans

The Council of State was still considering the reduction of Jersey and in November it was arranged that this should be carried out by Fairfax and the Committee for Jersey with the help of the generals-at-sea and that for better secrecy and expedition President Bradshaw should have power to sign all necessary orders and money warrants. There were rumours that Rupert was coming to Jersey with a fleet for the reduction of Guernsey, which so alarmed Council that in November Bradshaw wrote two urgent letters to Coxe, Lieut-Governor designate, to embark his soldiers and proceed without delay and to leave the shipping of provisions in other hands.

The Guernsey Committee was ordered to inform the people that the troops were coming to protect them from danger from abroad 'which we have reason to fear' and to impress upon them that they would be no burden as they would come provided with food and money. Coxe was delayed at Weymouth by weeks of bad weather but at last on 1 January he arrived at St Peter Port with five companies of foot.

1650

On 30 January a solemn fast involving abstention from food, drink and manual labour until 5 pm was observed throughout Jersey to commemorate the death of Charles I. The King and his brother, attended by the Duke of Buckingham, recently arrived and the rest of the suite were present at service in St Helier's Church, draped in black for the occasion, when a long sermon was preached from the text 'And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah'.

Next day the King sent stores and a few soldiers to Cornet Castle which were safely landed, on her return journey the boat was attacked by an armed patache from Guernsey, but after a fight lasting three hours she succeeded in getting away without any casualties. On board was Colonel Burges, who came to consult the King and Carteret about supplies and reinforcements, as Lord Percy had done nothing and there were rumours that a fleet and 15,000 men were being mustered in England to combine with Coxe's force in an attack on Jersey. A Royalist newspaper reported 'a great fleet of Parliament ships are ready to set sail from Portsmouth and this grand Councell bath been in consultation to entrap the King in Jersey' and hopefully suggested that Burges might conquer Guernsey and that Coxe might be honest and deliver up the Island together with his five companies.

Coxe had summoned Burges a few days after his arrival in Guernsey and Burges had refused to surrender. Now Burges was dismissed for coming away without leave and Carteret again tried to get Major Collins put in command at Cornet Castle but as only a few months previously the garrison refused to accept Collins, the King reinstated Burges.

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