Popular History of Jersey Chapter 18

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Popular History of Jersey - 18:
The Monarchy restored


Lord Jermyn reappointed Governor

This is the 18th chapter of the Rev Alban E Ragg's history of Jersey, one of the most comprehensive histories of the island ever published

Good feelings

In no part of the dominions of the Crown of England was the Restoration hailed with more joy than appears to have been the case in Jersey where Charles II was proclaimed King by Edward Hamptonne, the Viscount, on 2 June 1660. The inhabitants were evidently tired of party feuds and the exercise of petty spite and private revenge, under which they had been alternately punished, or may be, in some isolated cases, rewarded, and the desire evidently prevailed to forget the past and hope for better things, as soon as the "good news" reached the Island; the Restoration, without doubt, being taken as a signal for the renewal of good feeling amongst the inhabitants.

Families, formerly entirely antagonistic one towards the other, became friendly and were linked in marriage, whilst other signs of peace and goodwill were not wanting. Immediately upon the Restoration, too, Sir George de Carteret, who, in the meantime, had been residing in France, became again connected with the government of Jersey, though only so far as concerned its military jurisdiction, relegating his judicial powers as Bailiff to his cousin, Sir Philip de Carteret, son of the Sir Philip who had formerly held sway: Michel Lempriere having been dismissed with the other Cromwellian favourites, and Lord Jermyn at the same time re-assuming his position as Governor.

Sir George retires

The following year, however, Sir George retired altogether from official life, and Sir Philip de Carteret was appointed in his stead, thus reuniting in his own person, once again, the combined offices of Bailiff and Lieut-Governor. In the same month (April), the Rev Philip Le Couteur was made Dean of Jersey, an appointment that had not been filled since the fatality which had happened to David Bandinel, 17n years previously.

Then, early in 1663, the day in fact after "Royal Oak Day", 30 May, as a reward for the personal services he and his late father, Sir Philip, had rendered to the Royal cause, a grant was made to Edward de Carteret, by Charles II, of the perquages (sacred roads leading from the churches to the sea, whereby any who had taken sanctuary might leave the Island if so inclined), together with other waste lands. What these were worth at the time, and the amount they realised about that period, will be found mentioned hereafter; meanwhile, as giving an insight into the matter, it may be added that a well-known district in St Helier was sold for the sum total of two hens' eggs. Then coming to 20 October of the same year, we have Charles II granting a charter confirming the liberties and privileges of the Islanders, whilst on the 28th of the following month he presented Jersey with a mace (still used at important functions of the Royal Court and the States of Jersey) as a proof of his affection for the Island.

French threat

Thus, for some little time, peace and comfort appear to have prevailed, to be quickly followed, however, by a narrow escape from a fresh invasion by the French. Charles II had only reigned a few years after the Restoration — scarcely four — ere the encroachments of the Dutch on both English trade and English property compelled him to take action. To understand the whole bent of this it must he remembered that a treaty of alliance evidently existed between the Dutch and the House of Bourbon, from which assistance was claimed by them. The French, however, seem at the time to have been playing that well-known game of running with the fox and hunting with the hounds; for Louis XIV assured Henrietta Maria, mother of Charles II, that his constant affection was towards England and its Crown, at the same time knowing that all the English naval forces were engaged against the Dutch, and that London was devastated with what has since become historically known as the Plague (1664), to be followed by the equally historical Great Fire of London, he once more determined if possible to seize on Jersey and the adjacent Isles, before Charles II, thus unfortunately situated, could send relief.

The plan was well conceived, and the inhabitants of St Malo, it seems, on the occasion, kindly offered to bear the expense of the whole expedition, on condition they should be reimbursed out of the confiscated estates of the Island, with the design of carrying off those inhabitants possessed of any fortune who escaped the general slaughter that was contemplated, in order to make room for settlements of their own.

Sir Thomas Morgan

But, however well conceived, the project was frustrated by means of the wife of one Marechal Taurenne, who, in consequence of the kindly friendship existing between herself and a Mr Daniel Brevint, a Jersey refugee, caused notification of the plot to be communicated to the Island. Charles II appears not only to have expostulated loudly on this fresh evidence of French treachery, but also to have sent to Jersey's aid Sir Thomas Morgan, whose courage and address were too well known, both at home and abroad, to allow of any further menace at the time, whilst daily supplies of food and other necessaries were forthcoming, such being sent thither by the same Royal hand.

Sir Thomas Morgan, it may be added, who was appointed Governor in succession to Lord Jermyn, arrived in Jersey on 12 January 1665, whilst Sir Philip de Carteret, Bailiff and Lieut-Governor, died on 15 September following, he being succeeded in his former office of Bailiff by his younger brother, Sir Edward, the military and civil powers never again being united in the same person, though for more than a hundred and fifty years after this date the appointment of Bailiffs on the Island was held by the de Carteret family, who, being chiefly non-resident in Jersey, in nearly every instance, elected Lieut-Bailiffs to act for them.


Under the Restoration, too, an Order in Council was issued containing a pardon to Philip Dumaresque, Seigneur of Saumarez, for political misdemeanour during the Civil Wars; the Rev Philippe Le Couteur was re-established as Rector of St Martin's, and the Rev John Durell given his choice of the livings of St Mary's or St Helier's as he thought best. And, among matters done in connection with the electoral rights of the inhabitants, the franchise, in 1668 (14 April), was extended to those who paid taxes as well as to such who came under the title of "heads of families", to whom it had been aforetime limited.

Then another thing, for the well-being of the Island, was effected about this time, by the ever-to-be-remembered "Charlie". In 1668 he had remedied the only defect then remaining in Elizabeth Castle, and one that he had evidently noticed during his stay upon the Island — ie be caused to be strongly walled in and mounted with ordnance, the long narrow neck of land that remained open and practically without defence between the Lower Ward and Fort Charles, commenced in October 1649, and built during its namesake's second stay in Jersey, thus giving Elizabeth Castle all the perfection, as a fortress, that it seemed at the time capable of.

Land sales

The stretch of land before mentioned as fetching the price of two eggs, was that known at the time (1664) as "La Cloture", and comprised the space between Sand Street and Seale Street, and just about that same period some meadows round St Helier were sold for an annual rent of 4 sous the perch; meadowland, too, in the parish of St Peter only brought 2 sols 6 deniers the perch, annual rent — a sol being about equal to 6 centimes, or less than one halfpenny of present money, and a denier less than a farthing. Three perches of land were sold in 1667 for two pots of wine, valued at 8 sous the pot, ie at the rate of 4d a Jersey gallon, annual rent, whilst some twenty years after, a time that we have not yet come to, but may as well be included under this heading, the land southward of Charing Cross, St Helier, and extending half-way up to what is now the present Broad Street, exchanged hands for 5 livres tournois annual rent: a coin of variable value, in early times and up to the reign of Edward III equal to an English £l; in 1734, worth about 2s each; and at this time (1667) only equal to one-thirteenth of £1. And the space from the bottom of Broad Street to the present Castle Street, and from thence to the sea-shore for just twice that sum.

During all this time, it must be remembered, the Island possessed neither pier, proper harbour, separate prison or house of correction (prisoners of all classes being confined in Mont Orgueil Castle), or college for educational purposes; the latter being a want much felt by the English residents in Jersey, since the bulk of the inhabitants were educationally very ignorant, and neither understood or spoke anything but their Norman patois; and it would seem that the credit of first stirring in these important affairs was due to the elder Sir Philip de Carteret, though it was not until the Restoration that any active measures were taken with respect to them. The whole matter was then taken up by Admiral Sir George de Carteret, who, though he never again made a permanent residence in Jersey, still took a vital interest in all its concerns.

Town house offered

In the first place he offered the States his town residence for a house of correction, but they, receiving no encouragement from the inhabitants, at length decided not to accept the offer. After this, Sir George brought all his influence to bear upon, and chiefly through his exertions succeeded in getting passed an Act authorising a special impot to be levied on wines and spirits, for the threefold purpose of erecting a harbour and pier at St Aubin's, the chief town upon the Island, and a college and house of correction in St Helier; power being granted to carry this Act into effect on 14 April 1669, and registered by the States on 24 July following, on which date a committee was appointed to select a site for the proposed college. This matter, however, fell through.

A site was selected and the price agreed upon, but it was afterwards abandoned on the plea that the spot was unsuitable and that the States were short of funds; the whole thing being afterwards left in abeyance for over two centuries. Educational matters, however, were not entirely overlooked in other quarters, for we find that George Morley, Lord Bishop of Winchester, in 1678, "taking into consideration that the inhabitants had not those advantages that were desirable, and that others enjoyed", founded five scholarships at Pembroke College, Oxford, for students of the Channel Isles, of which number three fell to Jersey.

St Aubin's Harbour

With regard to the harbour works at St Aubin's, these were vigorously taken up by Sir Thomas Morgan, the Lieut-Governor, who even went so far as to enter into an agreement with the States to complete them in four years time. His death, however, intervened, and these important works, commenced in 1670, on a grant given by Charles II, were suspended, though this time by a higher authority than Jersey law, it being done by an Order in Council dated 22 April 1681, on the assumption that "there was not so much advantage to be gained from them as had been represented" to His Majesty.

The States, however, wisely disagreed with this opinion, and petitioned against the Order being carried into effect; in consequence of which a subsequent Order came allowing the whole of the revenue derived from the impot to be devoted to the purpose, whilst the prison or house of correction was afterwards built, as we shall presently see, not from funds arising from the impot, but from a different and somewhat curious source.

Two years prior to the last-mentioned date an Order in Council was issued greatly affecting the Royalists, and not by any means to their prejudice, for according to it, the actual date whereof was 27 August 1679, the property then held by the "Parliamentarians", and which had been formerly sequestered in their favour, was ordered to be restored to its original owners. This year, too, saw the death of the much-respected Lieut-Governor, Sir Thomas Morgan, to whom the Island owed much, and the Militia of it in particular; the first regular uniform it ever possessed, in the shape of a scarlet tunic, was an idea suggested by Sir Thomas the year before his death, which occurred early in 1679; the veteran Sir George de Carteret having preceded him to the grave by about four months, he dying on 13 January of the same year.

Privileges confirmed

To Sir Thomas Morgan there succeeded a man of a very different stamp, Sir John Lanien, described as of an arbitrary disposition and with ideas entirely opposed to those of the inhabitants; so much so, in fact, that during his first year of office a serious conflict arose betwixt himself and the States, resulting in an Order in Council being issued confirming the privileges of the Island. His removal from office on the new accession being generally attributed to this cause, some items concerning which will be more fully gone into in the next chapter.

Thus far in connection with Sir John's Lieut-Governorship. Let it suffice to add that during his last year, on 11 September, there was ordered to be collected what was then called a petite custome, ie a small duty on all goods (in addition to the impot on wines and spirits) imported into the Island; the farming thereof being undertaken by a Mr Philip de Hardy, who, finding that he would only sustain a serious loss in connection with the affair, gladly relinquished his bargain, since which time the subject has never again been mooted.

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