Brevint family history
Cosme Brevint and his descendants - noted ecclesiastics
This article by Auguste Messervy, widow of the Rev J A Messervy, was published in the Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise of 1910. A number of articles were published after the Rev Messervy's death under his wife's byline, but it is believed that, although they co-operated on research during his lifetime, the Rev Messervy was the author of most of the articles published in his widow's name after his death. This article has been translated from the original French by Mike Bisson.
The family Brevin, or Brevint as it was later written, gave Jersey and Sark several distinguished ecclesiastics, one of whom later had important functions in England. This family originated in the parish of Angouville in Normandy.
Cosme Brevin, the first to come to Jersey, was born at Angouville, a commune in the Manche department with a railway station on the line from La Haye du Poits to Lessay, in about 1520. Several historians wrongly have him born in Angerville in Calvados. Angoville, or Angouville, as it was written then, is clearly written in the registers of Sark and St John, Jersey, as his birthplace.
He was sent when very young to study in Geneva and there he met several young islanders, such as Guillaume de Beauvoir, who became one of the most prominent men in Guernsey, Nicolas Gosselin, Jean Queste and Thomas Bertram, later Rector of St Brelade.
After embarking on a career as Regent of a school in Neufchatel, Switzerland, where he enjoyed the friendship of the reformer Farel, Brebin became minister of Etobon church in Montbeliard. He stayed there seven years and in 1559 became pastor of Montbeliard itself.
From there he moved to churches in Vaud; Fenestrelles, then Pinache, to which he had been warmly recommended by Calvin. In 1563, because he had initiated some discontent by his behaviour at the pulpit and irritated the government by his independence of language in political affiars, the civil authorities called for his removal. Relying on the support of a substantial portion of the people, he resisted for some time before withdrawing.
He nevertheless took away an excellent reference from the Vaud Synod: M Cosme Brevin was well respected by all, having some literature, preaching purely a sole Jesus Christ, being sober, chaste, charitable and irreprochable.
It is probably that Cosme Brevin then returned to Normandy, where he was born. In about 1569 the religious persecutions in France led him to seek refuge in Jersey. It was the era of religious wars which bloodied France and many Frenchmen sought refuge in the hospitable island of Jersey, so close to the coasts of Normandy and Brittany.
In Jersey Brevin did not take long to be noticed by Helier de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, whose esteem and affection he gained and who resolved to get him to work for him. The Seigneur had been occupied for several years with clearing and colonising Sark, which had been uninhabited and fallow for a number of years.
In the Middle Ages this island well merited the description given to it by Rabelais, in his Pantagruel, calling it ‘the island of pirates, robbers, bandits, murderers and assasins’.
In about 1564 Helier de Carteret and his valiant companions had started to recover Sark from its ruins, Their courageous initiative was rewarded by Queen Elizabeth, who raised Sark to a fief and gave it to Helier on condition that he established a certain number of families, between whom the land would be divided.
Thanks to the great authority Helier enjoyed in Jersey, he was soon able to carry out this project of colonisation and in a short time he had succeeded in installing 40 families in Sark, five from Guernsey and the rest from Jersey. In a few years the colony had flourished and in 1590 it counted nearly 400 souls.
It was to this little troop that the Seigneur of St Ouen wanted to give a spiritual leader; he laid eyes on the refugee Cosme Brevin, to whom he offered, and who accepted, the post of minister of this young colony. He arrived in Sark in this capacity in the spring of 1570, and established an ‘English model’.
Chroniques de Jersey
One of the authors of the Chroniques de Jersey, contemporary with Helier de Carteret and Cosme Brevin, paid homage to one and the other when he praised the Seigneur or St Ouen for having ‘placed in his island of Sark a minister who was a true servant of God, hating vice and excellent as to his life and his doctrine, as he made known in his sermons, because assuredly he neither denigrated nor flattered anyone large or small in his reproaches’.
It was Cosme Brevin who started, in June 1570, the first register of marriages and baptisms in Sark, following the instruction given to his fellow ministers in Jersey, Guernsey and the other islands on Friday 19 May 1570. He did not apparently keep a burial register.
Throughout his long ministry of 35 years, Cosme Brevin was several times at odds with the synods or conferences; his independent spirit led him to wish to conserve for Sark the greatest possible ecclesiastical autonomy; he was reproached for only being present at conferences twice in more than 30 years.
Cosme Brevin died in 1605. It is stated in the first book of burials of the Church of Sark: 'Cosme Brevin, first minister of the word of God in this island of Sark, an old man who has a good life, born in the parish of Angouville in Normandy, died the last day of April 1605'. A commemorative tablet has recently been erected in Sark in memory of Helier de Carteret and Cosme Brevin.
We only know the baptismal name Anne of Mrs Brevint. Their children were Daniel, Elie, Elisabeth, Anne, Esther and Marthe. Anne Brevint married Jean Le Prevost, a native of Rougeval, near Carentan, who settled in St Helier, where he died before 1631. Josue Le Prevost, their grandson, was, we believe, Senechal of the King’s fiefs in Jersey in 1693.
After the death of her husband, Mrs Brevint settled in Jersey, undoubtedly near her elder son, Rector of St John. She died there in 1617 and was buried at St John on 2 April. Her second son wrote in his diary: “My mother asked to be shrouded by two women, Marie Brun, of St Peter, widow of Collas Maugier, quarryman, and Blaisotte, sister of Collas and wife of Thomas Le Mottais.”
Daniel Brevint, elder son of Cosme, was born in Sark, where he was baptised on 4 January 1573. He probably studied at the Academy of Saumur, like many young men of Jersey and the other Channel Islands, who were destined for the Ministry, or some other liberal career.
On his return from France he put himself at the disposal of the Jersey authorities and proposed by the Rector of St Brelade he was chosen by the Colloquy in September 1592 to be master in charge of the parish school, as the most capable of the two candidates.
Regent of St Anastase
Three months later the post of Regent of St Anastase having become vacant following the departure of Ollivier Gruchy, Daniel Brevint was chosen by the Jersey Colloquy to replace him ‘as the most suitable it would be possible to find’.
The necessary steps were taken with the Seigneur of Trinity, who had the right of nomination of Regents of St Mannelier and St Anastase, and he having ratified the choice of the Colloquy, Deniel Brevint was appointed, and he was in charge of the school for a dozen years. In 1599 the Colloquy of Jersey asked if he wanted to dedicate himself to the Ministry in Jersey, and having received a positive response, he was urged to prepared himself.
On 11 Jun 1604 he was appointed Rector of St John by the ecclesiastical authorities of the time, despite the opposition, seemingly, of the Governor, Sir John Peyton, who resurrected a right of nomination which his predecessors had allowed to fall into disuse.
Some years later he married Elizabeth Le Sebirel, daughter of Thomas, and widow of Guillaume Le Goupil. From her first marriage Mrs Brevint had a daughter Elizabeth, born in September 1606, who in 1633 married Nicolas Esnouf, son of Abraham.) It seems that Mr Brevint had already become engaged to Anne Eschart, doubtless the daughter of Guillaume Eschart, Rector of St Peter; there were some slight difficulties relating to this, all resolved to the honour of Mr Brevint.
Of this, his first marriage, celebrated at St John on 29 April 1610, Daniel Brevint had two children, Rachel (1614- ) who married sea captain Thomas Bichard in 1636; and Daniel, of whom we will speak further, presented for baptism at St John on 11 May 1617 by Jean Le Febvre, son of Germain, who was Seigneur of St John La Hougue Boëte. Mrs Brevint died at the end of February 1631 and was buried at St John on 2 March.
Mr Brevint married for the second time on 18 December 1633 to Jeanne Dupont, daughter of Nicolas, and widow of Thomas Le Vavasseur dit Durel, son of Michel, of St Helier. There were no children of his second marriage.
He was Rector of St John for 46 years and died on Sunday 26 January 1651. The chronicler Jean Chevalier tells us that he was 'aged over 80, the oldest of all the Jersey ministers, and because of his age and infirmity he had not preached nor left his house for a long time. He had asked that his body be buried in the cemetery 'with the rest of his brothers and not in the the church, which is the house of God for the living, not for the dead'.
Before speaking of Daniel Brevint jnr we must say a few words about his uncle Elie, second son of Cosme. Although his baptism was not registered, to our knowledge - there is a gap in the Sark Registers from 1576 to 1588 - we have reason to believe that Elie Brevint was born in Sark about 1587. The Seigneur of St Ouen paid for his education and sent him to study at Saumur. At the Seigneurie of Sark the original contract by which Philippe de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, undertook to pay for him to be sent to study at Saumur has been preserved. He also built him a modest house, which, it is said, still exists, and guaranteed him a fixed income.
Elie Brevint was ordained in 1611 and from 1612 he was established as Minister of Sark where, since the death of his father in 1605, there has been no pastor in residence. The church had been served, not without difficulty, by Ministers or Rectors, such as Bandinel, Daniel Brevint jnr, Gruchy, etc, which Jersey had lent for several weeks at a time.
Elie Brevint married Susanne Slowley in 1626. She was a daughter of Robert Slowley, probably he who was Judge of Sark. She was the sister of Josue Slowley, Rector of Trinity, Jersey, from 1637 until his death in 1644.
Elie Brevint left a voluminous manuscript diary covering the period 1613 to 1664. Several copies have been made but the original remains in the possession of the Seigneur of Sark. It is not strictly speaking a diary written from day to day: One finds in it short paragraphs, a collection of proverbs, sayings, witticisms, descriptions of Italian towns, medical recipes, etc; interesting notes on some of the families of the islands, information on contemporary events in France and England.
It gives very few details of his own family. It tells us, however, that he had three sons, Elie, Daniel and Samuel, and a daughter. His son Samuel 'returned from England to Sark on 16 April 1664. He had learned English, reading and writing, arithmetic, the rules required for merchants, under an English schoolmaster aged about 25, named Philippe Cole. He had lived three months at Foye and the same at Lantglosse, a nearby parish.
Elie Brevint died in 1674 at the age of about 87, having been Rector of Sark for 60 years. We have no information on his children's descendants. [Editor's note: There are a number of highly inaccurate online trees which purport to show descendants of Elie's son Daniel, but he has been confused with Daniel, the son of Elie's elder brother Daniel. It is believed that Elie's daughter, not named in this article or the accompanying family tree, may have been Anne, born in 1627 and married to Jean Le Gros in Sark in 1649, but we have yet to verify this.]
We return now to Daniel Brevint jnr, son of the Rector of St John [and Elizabeth Le Sebirel]. Born in 1617, he was sent when very young to the Protestant Academy at Saumur, where he was a distinguished pupil. In 1634, at the age of only 17, he obtained the diploma of Master of Arts, then he spent some time as a teacher. His uncle's diary for 1635 records:"My nephew, Daniel Brevint, is in Poitou, a teacher of young gentlemen with the Minister of Pousauges.
In 1636 fellowships were founded at Oxford, at Exeter, Pembroke and Jesus Colleges by CharlesI at the instigation of Archbishop Laud, in favour of young people from the Channel Islands. Daniel Brevint and Jean Poingdestre were the two first Jerseymen able to enjoy this foundation. In 1637 Deniel Brevient was elected Fellow of Jesus College on the recommendation of the Dean of Jersey, all the Rectors and the principal habitants of the island of his birth.
He had some difficulty in integrating his Master of Arts diploma from Saumur at Oxford; he succeeded, however, despite the opposition of Laud, and was admitted as an MA of Oxford University on 12 October 1638. He remained at Oxford about nine years, it appears.
His attachment to the Royalist cause made him lose his fellowship at Oxford and even obliged him to leave England. He returned to Jersey, which supported the King, and became Rector of Grouville about 1647 or 1648, doubtless in replacement of Pierre Payn, who died in Juin 1647. It is one of the rare examples which we have of a father and son who were Rectors at the same time, his father, Daniel Brevint snr, being then Rector of St John.
On 25 November 1649 Daniel Brevint jnr had the honour of preaching before the King, in which terms which we learn from the Chronicler Chevalier:"The same Sunday his Majesty and his brother the Duke came in the morning to the Town Church of St Helier where Daniel Brevin preached in their presence in French ..."
Some months later it was he who administered the baptism of Philippe, eldest son of Sir Philippe de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, and his wife Anne Dumaresq.
During his time in Jersey Daniel Brevint had some quarrels with Jurat Josue de Carteret of St John; we don't know exactly what this was about, but it is probable that the dispute had something to do with the differences between Mr de Carteret and his father-in-law Jean Le Febvre, godfather of Daniel Brevint. This is an Act referring to this matter:
- "20 February 1648: On what Josue de Carteret and Daniel Brevint jnr have presented to the Lieut-Governor and Bailiff and Jurats several accusations in writing concerning the great distractions and wars which are all around us and which are well needed for the service of the King and preservation of this state to employ at present to supply and fortify us against our enemies, have postponed consideration of these accusations until after the next Day of St John. In the meantime it is ordered that they be held by the Greffier and the parties be permitted to have a copy.
The affair does not appear to have gone any further because there is no other trace in the Court Rolls and besides, Josue de Carteret left the island shortly after to retire to France.
On 14 April 1649 Mr Brevint set off for a journey in France, where he stayed several months; he returned on 7 September the same year. Shortly after, either in 1650 or 1651, he made a new voyage to France, in the course of which he received the Anglican orders of Deacon and was ordained priest on the same day, because of time constraints. This ceremony was held in Paris in the chapel of Sir Richard Brown, English Ambassador in France, accomplished by the Archbishop of Galloway. As to the exact date, there is disagreement between the Dictionary of National Biography and the work of Baron de Schickler (The Churches of Refuge in England). The first gives the date of 22 June 1651, the second that of 12 June 1650.
On his return to Jersey Mr Brevint continued his functions as Rector of Grouville until the middle of 1652. He did not leave Jersey immediately after the arrival of the Parliamentarians in October 1651, as stated by several historians. Here is proof of our assertion:
- 15 August 1657: Mr Elie de la Place in default to Mr Philippe de Soulemont, representative of Mr Daniel Brevint, demanded payment of half the benefice of the parish of Grouville for 1652 for which time Brevint had served.
It was therefore in the second half of 1652 that Mr Brevint left Jersey finally and moved to France. He became Minister at Compiegne and soon found himself in accord with the protestant notables thanks to the recommendation of Charles II, already a refugee in France.
His piety and his science gained him in high degree the esteem of Marshal de Turenne and his wife, the pious Charlotte de Caumont; he pleased them by his simple preaching and avoided any controversy. He became the teacher of the Turenne children and chaplain of his house. In his dealings with the Marshal's wife Mr Brevint knew so well how to interest her in Jersey, his little country, that he persuaded her to intervene with Turenne to prevent an expedition which was being prepared, in France, against the Channel Islands.
After the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 Daniel Brevint returned to England. His constant affection for the monarchist cause now had its reward. He did not delay in obtaining a new chair of Professor of Theology, and on 27 February 1662 the diploma of Doctor of Theology was conferred on him by the University of Oxford. He also preached in French at this time in the French Church of Savoye in London.
Later he became Prebendary of Durham and eventually, on 7 January 1682, he was installed Dean of Lincoln in place of Dr Michael Honywood, who had died. So we have a name to add to the group of distinguished men produced by Jersey in the 17th century who arrived in England in elevated positions.
Daniel Brevint had married Anne de Carteret, one of the daughters of Sir Philippe de Carteret, Bailiff and Lieut-Governor, who died at Elizabeth Castle in 1643. Sir George de Carteret having also married a daughter of Sir Philippe was therefore Mr Brevint's brother-in-law.
Of this marriage Daniel Brevint had a daughter, Charlotte, of whom we will speak in due course. She was baptised at Charenton on 23 September 1663. The Reformed Church of Paris had its Temple at Charenton, outside Paris. It is probably that the name of Charlotte was given to the child in honour of Princess Turenne, born Charlotte de Caumont.
Daniel Brevint died at Lincoln in the Dean's House on Sunday 5 May 1695 at the age of 78. He was buried in the choir of Lincoln Cathedral. He left a great number of works which can be found listed in the Dictionary of National Biorgraphy. Two of his French sermons as well as many of his writings which remain unpublished are preserved at the National Library in Parishin the Conrart Collection of Manuscripts.
Madame Brevint, widow of the Dean, found herself in 1699 heiress of the acquisitions and conquests of Sir Edouard de Carteret, Viscount of Jersey, her brother, who died without direct heirs. In addition she bought from the widow of Edouard, born Madeleine Durell, who had inherited them from her husband, the perquages and land which King Charles II had granted him.
However, Madame Brevint did not delay in disposing of these assets, at least in part, through the intermediary of her administrators in Jersey, Jean Dumaresq and Philippe d'Auvergne. Among others there were two contracts of 23 August 1701, by which the administrators sold perquage land to the child of Pierre Hamptonne and Jean Hamptonne.
Madame Brevint lived 13 years after her husband's death. She died in Lincoln on 9 November 1708 and was buried in the Cathedral at the side of her husband.
To finish we provide some information which we have been able to assemble on the descendants of Dean Brevint. His daughter Charlotte, his sole heir, we believe married Sir Edward Hussey, Bt, of Welbourne, Lincoln. From this marriage were born two daughters, Charlotte and Sara Hussey, mentioned in the Rolls of the Royal Court in 1723 as heirs of Anne Brevint, nee de Carteret, their grandmother. Charlotte Hussey was, in 1722, the wife of Thomas Pochin; Sara married Robert Cowdron. In 1770 the representatives of these two women were the Rev George Pochin, of Morcote, Rutland, and Charles James Packe.
In 1818 Charles James Packe was the principal heir of Charles James Pack and Charlotte Pochi, his wife, descended from Sir Edouard de Carteret.