Popular History of Jersey Chapter 12

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A Royal visitor

Sir George de Carteret

In November, on the 19th day of the month, however, there arrived in Jersey one Captain Sir George de Carteret, of the English Navy, a young nephew of the late Sir Philip, who quickly changed the whole aspect of affairs, and whose coming, knowing as they did the decision of his character and the sternness of his justice, to say nothing of the spirit of revenge they had aroused in him, struck terror into the breasts of the Parliamentarian leaders and their party generally.

Major Lydcott, feeling that his power was gone, and knowing that even his own officers had burned their commissions in the presence of Lady de Carteret, fled from the Island two days after Captain de Carteret's appearance on the scene, being accompanied in his flight by Michel Lempriere, Pierre d'Assigny, Abraham Herault, and others. And on the 24th day of the month, at a meeting of the States of Jersey convened in Trinity Parish Church, Sir George, first having had authenticated the commissions he held, was sworn in as Lieut-Governor amidst a feu de joie fired by a guard of honour, and followed by a salute of 13 guns, thus restoring for a time the cause of the Monarchy on the Island, after which quick and effective measures were taken against the Parliamentarians.

Commissioners dismissed

The four Commissioners were dismissed from the bench for disloyalty, and a Royal warrant issued for the apprehension of the leaders of the opposing party, the chief amongst whom were the Bandinels, Jurats Lempriere, Dumaresq, and Herault, whose property was sequestrated; Michel Lempriere being condemned to be hung in effigy on Gallows Hill, as contumacious, whilst the rest were condemned to death. The Bandinels were committed to Mont Orgueil Castle with Dumaresq, though whilst the latter afterwards compounded his offence, as did many others, with a heavy fine, the former, father and son, after having made ineffectual and abjectly submissive overtures to Lady de Carteret, who rejected them with scorn, were left to their fate.

On 13 December, 1644, Captain Sir George de Carteret, who, by the way, had won his baronetcy a year or two previously for distinguished service in the Egyptian wars, was created a Vice-Admiral of the English Fleet and Comptroller of the Navy by Charles I, and the final scene in the whole was enacted 4 February 1645, when, in an endeavour to flee from the punishment that awaited them, the Bandinels, trying to escape from Mont Orgueil Castle, "met their fate", the son being fatally injured and the father killed in the attempt.

Privateers

Sir George, it may be added, soon afterwards withdrew himself from England, and being pretty well assured of the support of the inhabitants of Jersey, declared in favour of His Majesty's interests; whilst he subsequently caused a number of small armed boats to be fitted out — known to the Parliamentarians and others as "Jersey pirates" — to aid on the King's cause, by means of which such havoc was wrought as almost to paralyse the whole seafaring community round about the Channel. Of this more anon for, in order more clearly to keep up the sequence of events, it will be the better plan, before reverting to Sir George de Carteret's privateers to follow the doings of Charles II, both as Prince and King, so far as they are connected with the Island.

Prince Charlie

It will, no doubt, be remembered by readers of English history that Charles I, some three years prior to his death, and before the defeat of his troops at Naseby, had sent his son Prince "Charlie", as the Jacobites in Britain and elsewhere loved to call him, to the West of England at the head of numerous troops in the Royalist cause; and, as Charles I put it: "to take the boyishness out of him". The troops, however, in some way disappointed the Prince, and the result was that, being hard pressed by the Parliamentarians he fled to the Scilly Isles, from whence he sought refuge in Jersey, knowing that the Island was staunchly faithful to the King and would afford him a safe refuge; its also being in close proximity to France, to which the Queen had fled, evidently adding not a little to his motive for choosing Jersey as a spot wherein to shelter.

It was on the evening of 17 April 1646 that he arrived on board the Black Eagle in company with, amongst others, Hyde, afterwards Lord Clarendon, the arrival being effected quietly and without fuss or ceremony; whilst a few hours later the Doggerbank, of six guns, and a small gun-boat brought up the remainder of his retinue, consisting of the chief officers and subordinate servants of the household. Mont Orgueil Castle had been inspected by Lord Hopton to see if it would be suitable for a royal residence, but eventually it was decided that the Prince should stay in Elizabeth Castle, and there he remained during his two month sojourn; his retinue being diversely disposed upon the Island. This lodging seems to have been required gratis; and, by the right of pre-emption, butchers and farmers were ordered to be present at the Market Place at 9 am on market days, though they were not allowed to sell to anyone except the royal purveyor.

Two visits

However, the Prince seems to have been generally welcomed by all, and a sense of disappointment prevailed amongst many when, after two months residence, at the earnest desire of his royal mother, Prince Charlie summarily ended this, his first visit, and sailed from the Island on 25 June 1646, leaving, according to Dr Hoskins, as a memento of this, a single riding-boot (still preserved in the armoury of Elizabeth Castle), in size adapted for a lad of sixteen — the Prince, it must be remembered, was at the time only "well up in his teens" — made of coarse black leather, with a thick sole, and a high, many-pieced heel. Hyde, it may be added, wrote the greater portion of his "History of the Revolution" during his visit to Jersey.

After the death of Charles I the Prince, then claiming the title of King, again sought refuge in Jersey, arriving amidst loud and demonstrative signs of joy on 17 September 1649 — Charles I, it will he remembered, had been beheaded on 30 January previously. Guns were fired, bonfires were lighted on the heights above St Aubin, and the churches of each parish rang out their merry sounds of welcome; whilst, from sunset to midnight, Elizabeth Castle and the houses in St Helier were brightly illuminated; Philip de Carteret, lord of St Ouen's, in the meantime, in fulfilment of the tenure upon which he held his position, having ridden into the sea up to his saddle girth, and bowing three times, welcomed his "Majesty" to Jersey.

Narrow escape

On this occasion Charles II, who had been proclaimed King in Jersey by Sir George de Carteret on 17 February 1649, about a fortnight after his father's death, was accompanied by his brother the Duke of York, then about sixteen years old, and appears to have been fairly well attended, no less than 300 persons composing the royal train, amongst these latter being Lane (Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal), the Earls of Cleveland and Brentford, Lords Wentworth and Hopton, Sir John Berkeley, Lord Percy, Sir E Nicholas (Secretary of State), and many other Royalist notabilities. Charles II seems, after all, to have had a narrow escape of capture. The firing of the guns of welcome had been heard at Guernsey, which was at that time at deadly variance with Jersey, being strongly on the side of Cromwell, and strongly set against the King. Two frigates were immediately despatched from thence to see what the "fuss" was about, which, though they tried hard and nearly succeeded in capturing one of the boats comprising the Royal fleet, had eventually to content themselves with a demonstration of hostility in St Ouen's Bay, and returning home without further result.

The Royal party seem, on the whole, to have had a fairly pleasant time during their five months stay; Charles II and his brother spending their time in hunting, yachting, and other amusements, Charles making himself especially popular; and having a gift that way, he gave great delight to those in authority by drawing out, with his own hand, what was pronounced to be an excellent map of the Island, to do which he must have traversed, without fear of molestation or capture, nearly every portion of it. The map itself was afterwards discovered carefully preserved in a cabinet of curiosities at Leipsic.

Sir George de Carteret, too, was anything but idle. After the King's arrival he appears to have devoted himself to putting the Island in a better state of defence, adding to the fortification at Elizabeth Castle and other parts, and increasing the effectiveness of the Militia. It was about this time that he had the old Court House, which was in a dilapidated condition, pulled down, and a new one built upon its site; felling, somewhat arbitrarily, "what trees he chose" for the purpose of the new Court House, and for the extra work done at the Castle.

Departure

On 23 October 1649, Charles II, at Elizabeth Castle, signed the historical declaration asserting his own rights and his determination to avenge his father's death, and on 13 February he finally quitted Jersey for Holland (it having been arranged that he should treat with the Scots at Breda) though it is recorded that before his departure he held a Court at Elizabeth Castle, expressed his gratitude to the men of Jersey, and confirmed to them their ancient rights and privileges.

The brilliant Duke of Buckingham had arrived with a large retinue of nobles and attendants on 10 January sent by the Queen mother to hasten the King's departure; Buckingham being sent by Charles on 2 February to France to convey the information that he would meet her at Rouen. Fifty horses were purchased in Jersey for use in the overland journey to Breda; and all things being prepared and the weather favourable, the King embarked from Elizabeth Castle for St Malo en route for Holland, via Rouen on board Captain Amy's frigate (a notorious privateer) setting sail for Normandy with a light breeze from the SW.

It must not be forgotten, however, that a firmly-grounded belief exists upon the Island that Charles II stayed a night in a farmhouse at Bel Royal; it being held by some that the hamlet itself took its name, by Royal permission, from this incident.

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