Thomas Ovray

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Thomas Ovray (Overay) Governor of Jersey 1494-1506

Little is known of Thomas Ovray, except that he was a merchant, and several times Mayor of Southampton, who then became part of Henry VII's Court. Historian the Rev Philip Falle described his as "one of the best Rulers we ever had".

"Without being deficient in anything belonging to the Military Part of his Office, he more earnestly applied himself to make his knowledge in trade useful and beneficial to the Island, so that it flourished in his time, and as our Chronicler speaks devint riche et opulente, ie grew rich and wealthy. He constantly resided on his Government, lived beloved, and at his death was followed with Lamentations and Tears to his Grave in St George's Chapel within Mont Orgueil Castle, where he lies interred".

Shortly after his appointment King Henry VII issued his first Charter for Jersey, dated 3 November 31494, which, among other things, removed the nomination of the Bailiff, Dean, and other officers from the Governor to the Crown, and ordered that the Governor should possess no jurisdiction in Jersey, either secular or ecclesiastical, and that matters of contention between parties should be judged by the Bailiff and Jurats.

On 17 June 1495 Henry granted his second Charter amplifying and supplementing the previous one.

"By it was ordained that the Captain or Guardian (titles which, with that of Governor, appear to have been indiscriminately used until the year 1614, when it was ordered that the latter should be solely employed) on admission to office should be sworn and give sufficient security loyally to keep Mont Orgueil Castle for the King, and should not appoint any deputy or admit any soldiers except such as could be depended on for their faithful allegiance to the King and his heirs; they likewise being individually sworn in and held to be amenable to the law, if guilty of injury to any of His Majesty's subjects; the Governor, too, was specially bound not to interfere with the free exercise of trade; whilst Saturday was fixed upon as market day, and the price of provisions ordered to be regulated by the Royal Court — a power which was used subsequently for many years by the Jurats".
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