The Romeril family

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Article from the 1901 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise by the Rev J A Messervy, translated from the French by Mike Bisson

Let us say at the outset that we have no intention of giving here a complete and detailed tree of all the branches of the Romeril family; we limit ourselves, so far as genealogy is concerned, to the branch which was at one time the most important, that of La Fontaine in Trinity.

Normandy or Brittany?

Did the Romerils originate in Normandy or Brittany, and in that case, in which era did they become established in Jersey? Or is this family name one which was born in the island itself, in situ, along with many others? We push these questions to one side as impossible to resolve, at least at present, lacking information on this subject in the documents which we possess. The name of Romeril did not figure in the Extentes of 1274 and 1331, but that does not say that this family did not already exist in Jersey at that time.

In the 16th century Romerils were already very numerous in the island and in the 17th century one finds them established in six or seven parishes. In St John, above all, there were many branches and they were strongly represented in each vingtaine. For example, in 1698 three Clement Romerils were among the tenants of the fief Chesnel; the first was the son of Philippe, the second, the son of Jonas, and the third the son of Jean. In this era there was not much variety of baptismal names; those of Jean, Philippe and Clement reappear continually, which hardly makes the task of genealogists easy.

One of the most notable branches in St John was represented in the 18th century by Susanne Romeril, who married, about 1720, the Rev Pierre Joubere, Rector of Trinity, 1730-1765, and left among other children, two daughters, one married to Elie Neel and the other to Philippe Le Gros, of Catiaux, Trinity.

Other more or less important branches of the family were established for a long time in St Helier, St Saviour, St Peter and St Lawrence,

American colonists

In the United States of America we also find Romerils, descendants save for any error of Matthieu Romeril, originaire of St Lawrence or St Peter, who settled in New England before 1685; J A Rumrill, of Springfield, Massachusetts, is, we believe, his current representative. On the other hand, Simon Romeril possibly a relative of Matthieu, was one of the first colonists of the west of Massachusetts, and came from Jersey about 1650.

In the island of Sark we find in the 17th century a branch of the Romeril family; André Romeril, son of Guillaume, originaire, it appears, of St John, settled there in 1622.

La Fontaine branch

But we return to the particular branch which is the subject of this article, that of La Fontaine, Trinity, which has already been mentioned in a short notice on page 166 of the Buletin of 1892.

Philippe Romeril inherited La Fontaine, which belongs at present to the elder son of the late Jurat Elie Nicolle, and was a major landowner, having over 100 vergees. He became Constable of Trinity and was sworn in as Viscount on 19 September 1584, and Jurat in 1597. His son Martin Romeril, married the daughter of Michel Lempriere, Seigneur of Diélament.

There are good grounds for supposing that the Romerils of La Fontaine were fairly close relations of the St John branches. See, for example Registry book 8, pg 79 (partage of inheritance of Jean Romeril, son of Philippe), and Heritage, book 8, shortly after 29 January 1624. See also, in the Registers of St John, 1636, baptism of Clement, son of Clement Romeril, son of THomas (of Herupe), of whom the godfather was Edouard Romeril, son of Martin, of Trinity. We have not, however, been able to link them with any certainty to a common ancestor.

The Romerils of Trinity gave the island two Jurats, of whom one was also Viscount, and a number of Constables, Advocates etc.

Two Advocates

At the beginning of the 17th century there were two Advocates of the Royal Court called Jean Romeril; the first, the son of Leonard, was the uncle of the second, son of Philippe. Jean ROmeril, son of Leonard, lived sometimes in Trinity, the parish of his virth, sometimes in St Helier, "where he had an office"; it was, without doubt, an ecclesiastical office (see Acte of 1592, Ex 18). A contract of 1618 (see Registry, book 5, pg 160) tells us that he had a house built, not far, it appears, from Mare d'Ango in Trinity. The division of his heirs is found on page 311 of the 5th Registry Book, on 1 April 1620.

The other Advocate, Jean Romeril, son of Philippe, was at some time Seigneur of the fief Payn de la Houguette en Herupe at St John; he held the right from Hugh Le Gallais, son of Edmond Le Gallais, who took it from Antoine Payn (Registry book 2, 25 October 1605). The said Jean Romeril gave the fief back on 11 March 1609 (Registry, book 2 pg 345) to the said Hugh Le Gallais, who sold it on 22 April 1609 to Thomas Lempriere, son of Michel, for 15 écus (Registry, same book pg 330).

There was a dispute in 1604 between a Jean Romeril and his colleague at the bar, William de Carteret, for precedence on the Advocates' bench; see Heritage, book 7, 19 Jan uary 1605. Perhaps this was Jean, son of Leonard, who was sworn in as Advocate in 1577. As for William de Carteret, he took the oath in 1584; he was probably the son of Edouard de Carteret of St John.

Sark Minister's diary

The diary of Elie Brevint, Minister of Sark, 1612-74, tells us that Philippe Romeril gave £20 sterling of annual rente for students of theology; was this Philippe Romeril one of the younger sons of Martin Romeril, Constable of Trinity in 1597? We cannot confirm this, but he appears to belong to the branch of La Fontaine, which was, without contradiction, the richest and most in evidence of this era.

The Romerils of La Fontaine died out in the male line on the death of Madame Josue Le Couteur, née Marie Romeril. They are now represented by the heirs of the late Edouard George Le Couteur, Seigneur of St Jean la Hougue-Boëte.

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