The central characters and timeframe

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A number of people feature very prominently in Jersey in the period before, during and after the English Civil War. A basic knowledge of the timing of major events in England and Jersey also helps understand what was happening in the island and why.

Timeframe

  • 1641 Outbreak of English Civil War
  • 1649 Execution of Charles I
  • 1651 Civil War ends
  • October 1651 Commonwealth troops seize Jersey
  • Michel Lempriere reappointed Bailiff
  • 1653-1658 Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector
  • 1658-1659 Richard Cromwell Lord Protector
  • 1660 Restoration of the Monarchy

de Carteret dynasty

This was a time when island affairs were dominated by the De Carteret family. Although not particularly popular, because of their authoritarian regimes, several members of the family have gone down in history as the most important islanders of any generation. The family had been prominent in the island from the days before the the split with Normandy in 1204 but, perhaps surprisingly, only provided three Bailiffs in the 13th-16th centuries. Things changed dramatically in the 17th century, and from the death of Jean Herault in 1626, and the appointment of Sir Philip de Carteret, the only person to hold the office of Bailiff for the next 200 years who was not a de Carteret was Michel Lempriere, known as the Republican Bailiff, because he was appointed after Jersey was raided by a Parliamentary force, only to be replaced by Sir George de Carteret when the monarchy was restored and Charles II became King.

Not only were ten de Carterets Bailiff in succession between 1660 and 1826, but most of the other important government posts were held by other family members or their supporters. Indeed, it is said that Michel Lempriere supported the Republican cause, not because he was anti-Royalist in an island which was steadfastly in favour of the monarchy, but because it was a way of opposing the virtual dictatorship of Sir George de Carteret and his family.

Charles was another important character in the story of Civil War Jersey, paying two visits to the island, once as Prince of Wales and then as King in exile after the execution of his father, Charles I.

King in exile

Charles II became King of England in succession to his father, Charles I, but he had to wait 11 years through the Civil War and the Commonwealth of England, before the Restoration of the Monarchy saw him recognised as King.

He twice visited Jersey in this period, once when still Prince of Wales before his father's death, and once while King in name only.

Diarist

Much of what we now know of these times was recorded in the diaries of Jean Chevalier, who is known as Jersey's Samuel Pepys. He produced a detailed record of what went on in the island from 1643-1651, but it stops abruptly with the

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