By A C Saunders
On 29 May 1660, Charles II landed at Dover, and in his train we find our old friend Sir George Carteret, and, among the deputation receiving him, were Hollis and Fairfax. All moderate people were anxious for peace, and were tired of the continual struggle for power between the many parties who wanted their own way in the government of the country. The good news soon reached Jersey, and Sir Philippe de Carteret became Bailiff. The Earl of St Albans was appointed Governor, and had as his Lieutenant Captain Thomas Jermyn.
We can well imagine the unsettled state of the inhabitants, who during the previous 20 years had been under Royalist, Parliamentarian, Royalist and again Parliamentarian rule, with estates confiscated or heavily fined, as the different parties came into office.
Those who had owned property and been deprived of it, and those who had acquired such property without any permanent security of tenure, must have been of considerable interest to the lawyers who saw visions of much gain in settling the various disputes which must arise, now that the King had come into his own again.
Royalists who had been fined by the Parliamentarians, had many grievances, and hoped that their past services and losses would afford the King an opportunity to show his generosity. He did not fail, but he had little money, and most of what he had he wanted for his own use. There is no doubt that many royalists, in their loyalty to the throne, had sacrificed their all, to further the cause they had at heart. Rich men had had to spend long years in exile in the greatest poverty. These men welcomed the return of the King, and hoped that they would have their estates returned to them. They certainly deserved recognition for their past services.
It is very interesting to read some of the claims put forward, and how the applicants wished to be recompensed for what they stated they had done. Many asked to have the sale of a baronetcy, so that, by the sale of the same to some rich person who wished a title, they could fill their pockets. Others asked for offices already filled, and on 30 September 1662 an Order in Council was issued granting to Daniel O'Neil the sum of five shillings on every French vessel arriving in Jersey.
Although a general pardon had been granted, some of those who had acted as agents for Cromwell must have felt very uneasy. The country was ablaze with enthusiasm for the King, and the Members of Parliament were ready to do anything which they thought would please him.
On 2 June 1660 Charles II was proclaimed King for the second time in Jersey by Edward Hamptonne, the Viscount, amidst the acclamation of the people. All who could attended the ceremony and there was a great crowd in the Royal Square, whilst cannons were fired and bells rung. What with the beating of drums and the sound of "musick", Jersey must have been a noisy place on that day.
Even in the parish of St Martin, a stronghold of Parliamentarians, the tocsin was rung from 10 in the morning until 11 at night. People were glad to see the end of Parliament rule, when the people were oppressed by the soldiers and their churches desecrated. They remembered how Governor Gibbons had forced the inhabitants "with their cattel " to work at Elizabeth Castle, without pay, longer hours than under previous Governors.
The people of St Laurens had a special grievance against him for he made them work for two tides, with the result that on one dark night five people were drowned with some of their "cattel". No enquiry was made, but some of the "cattel " having escaped from drowning, they were seized by the soldiers at the castle, and slaughtered for their own use. Therefore, as they welcomed the return of the King to his throne, we find that Michael Lempriere and his friends found it advisable to disappear for a time.
On 30 October 1660 the States decided to send a Commission to London to lay before the Privy Council the condition of the Island, and authorised the Constables to levy in their parishes certain sums to be paid to the Commissioners for their expenses. There is no doubt but that Charles fully recognised the services of his Jersey subjects. They had sheltered him during his days of adversity, and at the risk of their lives, proclaimed him King after the execution of his father. Even those historians who are apt to criticise his actions severely, are always willing to agree that he was a good King to Jersey.
Oath of Allegiance
Now everyone was loyal in the Island and on 16 April 1661 the oath of allegiance was administered to all Jurats, Constables, and officers of the state. At that sitting it was decided that the oath of allegiance should be administered to all men, over 16 years of age in the several parishes, on the following 1 May. The undermentioned persons were ordered to see that it was done :
- Sir Philip de Carteret for the parish of St Ouen.
- Francis de Carteret for the parish of St Pierre.
- Helier de Carteret for the parish of St Marie
- Thomas Pipon for the parish of St Brelade
- Philip de Carteret for the parish of Grouville
- Elie Dumaresq for the parish of St Clement
- Le Greffier for the parish of St Martin
- Carteret La Cloche for the parish of St Sauveur
- Helier Hue for the parish of St Helier
- Josue de Carteret for the parish of St Jean
- Laurence Hamptonne for the parish of St Laurens
- Jean Pipon for the parish of La Trinite
The oath was very clear and left no room for a man who later on might wish to get out of it, and it included the following paragraph :
- "Je declarey et reueleray toutes treshisons, conspirations et machinations contre Sa Majeste et heritiers qui perviendront a Enes oreilles et a ma connoissance, dauventage Je jure et promotez que Je detest et abjure cette doctrine damnable ]e qui permet aux subjets de deposer deprive ou occire leer Roy."
Charles had in 1661 pardoned all those who, formerly against him, were willing to take the oath of allegiance, and in order to assist the authorities to settle the affairs of the Island as quickly as possible, he sent a regiment of soldiers, who landed in St Ouen's Bay. These men mistaking their mission and thinking they had to deal with a conquered country, treated the Islanders very badly, and demanded of the best of everything from the owners of the houses they passed on the way to the quarters allotted to them in the Town.
Charles confirmed the charters, and privileges of the Island, and as a proof of his gratitude to the people of Jersey, he presented to the States the mace now carried before the Bailiff when occasion requires. There is an inscription on the mace which recognises the loyalty of the inhabitants to the crown :
- "Charles the second, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, as a proof of his Royal affection towards the Isle of Jersey (in which he has been twice received in safety, when he was excluded from the remainder of his dominions) has willed that this royal mace should be consecrated to posterity ; and has ordered that hereinafter it shall be carried before the baillis, in perpetual remembrance of their fidelity not only to his august father Charles the first, but to his Majesty, during the fury of the Civil wars when the Island was maintained by the illustrious Philip and George de Carteret, Knights, Bailiffs and Governors of the Island."
From 1663 until the present day Jerseymen have had something to remind them that Charles took every opportunity to show his gratitude for the loyalty and protection which the Island gave him, at a time when he was hunted out of his native land by those who had put a price on his head.
On 20 May 1663 the States considered a letter they had received from Charles II, relating to the Juratships vacant under the new order :
- "Wee have thought fit pticularly to recommend ye enjoyne it to ye care that when you come to fill up ye said places so vacant and all others as they shall hereafter become void you take order that such persons onely be chosen as are of knowne loyalty and good affection to Us and our Governmt & of orthodox principles in matters relating to the Church."
Jersey people did not require anything in their endeavours to show their loyalty to the Throne, and those who had been in power during the rule of Cromwell had great difficulty in avoiding trouble and obtaining justice.
We hear of trouble between Michel Lempriere, the former Bailiff, and Jean Bailhache, who took their dispute before the Court. The States condemned Lempriere to pay Bailhache the sum of 333 crowns and interest. Lempriere felt that he had been unjustly treated and appealed, but the States refused to hear his appeal.
By way of "doleance", Lempriere took his case to the Privy Council, and their Lordships having heard the explanations of the Bailiff, and Jurats, gave judgment that "considering the injurious and careless culumniacons of the said Lempriere against the proceedings of the Bayliffe and Jurats "they decided that they approved of the said sentence, and in addition they ordered Michael Lempriere to pay John Bailhache the sum of 20 pounds sterling for costs and unjust vexations. Later on the Bailiff and Jurats charged Lempriere the sum of 40 pounds sterling for costs.
Lempriere was having a very had time after having been Bailiff for nearly ten years, and his enemies were only too eager to see his downfall. He evidently resented the judgment of the Privy Council, and being a man without fear, had made no effort to suppress his indignation at what he considered the injustice done to him.
Evidently the States had reported his conduct to the Privy Council, for, on 18 May 1664 at the Court of Whitehall an order was issued :
- "It has been reported to the Council that incivilityes and affronts had been cast upon the Bayliff and Jurats by Michael Lempriere, that, during the sitting of the Court Lempriere breaks into high and unseemly passion speaking disdainfully and scornfully of and against the Lieutenant Bayliff and Justices there assembled, saying some or one had done Unjust false and horrible things and calling Mr Elias Dumaresque, Seigneur des Augres (one of the Justices present) foolish fellow scornfully repeating what he had said, as dispicable and ridiculous in a most unhansome uncivill and unbecoming manner."
Lempriere was making his fight against odds, but he had no chance with his past record. Sir Philip de Carteret was Bailiff, and he remembered what had happened in 1643 when his namesake had died in Elizabeth Castle. Besides, a man who had been Bailiff of the Island under Cromwell had no chance of favour from the Royalists whom he had persecuted in the past.
So the Lords of the Council directed that Lempriere should in the Court make the following apology
- " I, Michael Lempriere, do hereby testify and declare before you the Magestrates and Justices of the Isle that my behaviour towards you was uncivill and irreverent at such time as you were mett and assembled about a Commission sent to you from the Lords of the Council and the business of Mrs Susan Dumaresq of the one part, and myself and others on the other part, and that I much misbehaved myself therein and was in too great a passion And I hereby begg Yr pardon for the same."
It must have been a terrible time for the ex-Bailiff, a fighter, and one who had earned credit for his just actions when he was chief Justice of the Island. But the Privy Council had no mercy, and the States were directed that if Lempriere refused to make the apology, he was to be kept in prison until he died. In any case he was to pay costs of 20 pounds for the trouble he had given.
Thus passes one of the prominent figures of Jersey life in the 17th century. He was a man of good education, who had suffered from the injustice in the land which precluded he and others from taking active part in the affairs of the Island owing to the principal posts being in the hands of the followers of the de Carterets. Condemned to death and hung in effigy, he had managed to escape from the Island and, later on, when his party were in power, even his opponents admitted that his judgments were honest, but unfortunately all documents relating to that period were destroyed.
When in office he wished to exclude the Rectors from participating in the affairs of the States, as he considered they talked too much, and probably his actions in this respect were remembered in the days when he was deprived of his Bailiffship, and was held up to ridicule by those in power.
He died on 1 February 1670, and we must recognise him as one of the principal men of affairs in Jersey during the 17th century. We must remember that for a long period after the Restoration, any good work done by a Parliamentarian was belittled and ignored, and held up to contempt and condemnation by those in power who revered the sacred name of the Martyr, King Charles I.
Thus all books and manuscripts of that time had no praise for any but those who belonged to the King's party and all records of the Parliamentarians were destroyed by order of the King.