Jersey remained loyal to the monarchy during the early years of the English Civil War and the future King, Charles II was twice welcomed to the island before the war ended and he was able to claim the throne.
His first visit came in 1646 when, having as Prince of Wales been sent by Charles I to the West of England as the head of Royalist troops, he was forced to flee to the Scilly Isles when things went badly and then moved on to seek refuge in Jersey, knowing that the Island was staunchly faithful to the King.
On 17 April 1646 he arrived without fuss or ceremony on board the Black Eagle in company with, among others, Hyde, afterwards Lord Clarendon. 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 stay. There was no question of the Prince paying for his lodging and butchers and farmers were ordered to be present at the Market Place at 9 o'clock on market days, to sell to the royal purveyor.
This account of Charles's first stay in Jersey is based on the diaries of Jean Chevalier
- It was only an hour before sunset, and Carteret had to face the problem of finding accommodation for 300 uninvited guests. The Prince and Lords in Waiting were given rooms in the Castle; and horsemen rode to all parts of the island seeking lodgings for the rest. Even Hyde, though one of the four Councilors, and Fanshawe, the Prince’s Secretary, had to be content with beds in Town. “We quartered”, wrote Lady Fanshawe, “at a widow’s house in the Market Place, a stocking-merchant.”
- Though here we have a definite case of Royalty on the run, the pomp and pageantry of the Whitehall ritual were still punctiliously adhered to. There was a galaxy of Court officials, gentlemen ushers, gentlemen of the privy chamber, grooms of the bedchamber, pages of honour, pages of the backstairs, a master of the robes, a gentleman carver and a cup bearer.
- The Proud Black Eagle had brought a dazzling display of silver-gilt plate to the island, and this was spread on the table whenever the Prince dined. The boy sat in solitary state with a Doctor of Divinity standing on his right to boom forth a Latin grace. On his left the elderly Lords in Waiting stood gravely in a group. A page presented on bended knee a silver bowl for rinsing the royal hands. Kneeling squires offered dishes one by one, and the gentleman-carver cut a portion from those which the Prince had selected, tasted it himself to prove that it had not been poisoned, and then laid it before him. The wine was served by a boy cup-bearer who first sipped it himself, and, as the Prince drank, held a basin under his chin, lest a drop should soil his clothes.
- When Charles rode across the sands in the Town Church on Sunday, a hundred horsemen went before him; 300 musketeers followed with drums beating. His chair was placed in front of the pulpit, and the table provided for his books was covered with rose petals. The floor around his seat was sprinkled with sweet-smelling herbs. The senior Commissioner stood at his elbow to point out the passages in the Bible to which the preacher referred.
- More to Charles’ taste probably was a gift that Carteret gave him. He had already shown a love of seamanship, and on the voyage from Scilly he had stood for many hours at the helm. So Sir George procured for him from St Malo a gaily painted, two-masted pinnacle with 12 pairs of oars. He now spent most of his spare time sailing up and down St Aubin’s Bay, and he would allow no one else to touch the tiller.
- During his stay, celebrations included rejoicings, bonfires and the Royal Standard flying for the first time from Elizabeth Castle. A Grand Review was held on St. Aubin’s sand with firing of guns and beating of drums, and shouts of “long live the Prince” which Charles acknowledged by raising his hat.
- All the officers were graciously presented to the Prince and, on their knees, were graciously allowed to kiss the Prince’s hand. Then volleys were fired by the musketeers and two shots were fired from each parish gun, and the Prince, after having passed through the lines of troops, left a large gratuity to be divided among the soldiers, and retired with his followers to Elizabeth Castle.
On 24 April the Prince of Wales knighted Captain George Carteret and presented him with a patent as Baronet.
On 26 April Charles crossed from Elizabeth Castle to attend church in St Helier
With his mother, Queen Henrietta, directing Charles to leave Jersey and go to France, where she was in exile, his stay only lasted until June 1646. Before he left, the Prince sent a letter to “Our Trusty and well-beloved States of Jersey” dated 22 June 1646:
- Trusty and welbeloved we cannot before our departure hence — 24 June 1646 — but Express ye great sence and acknowledgement we have of ye Extraordinary proofes we have found during our Residence here of the good affeccons of ye Inhabitans of this Island to the Crown and to our Person, assuring you hereby that we shall Embrace and seeke all opportunitie to testiffie ye same By ye most reall wayes and so much we desire you in our name to make knowne to ye Islanders which shall make Good upon all occasions.
The Prince seems to have been generally welcomed by all, and to have enjoyed the hospitality of some of the island's most eminent households, frequently extending the hospitality of his affluent hosts to the provision of funds to supplement his own meagre resources. There was a general sense of disappointment when Charles sailed from the Island. He is said to have left behind a single riding-boot (still preserved in the armoury of Elizabeth Castle), in size adapted for a lad of 16.
He may have left behind something, or rather someone, of much greater importance because it is said that his departure was followed by the birth of his first son. Island gossip was that he impregnated a Jersey girl, who later gave birth to James de la Cloche du Bourg de Jersey. In a letter in 1665 Charles II acknowledged James as his natural son and described his mother as “a young lady who was among the most distinguished on our Kingdom, more from frailty of our first youth than from any intention or great depravity”.
When the Prince arrived in France, he deeply regretted ever leaving the Isle of Jersey. He left behind his popularity, support, financing, and the loyal zealous team under Carteret.
Three years later his father was dead and Jersey became the first of Charles II's realms to proclaim him as the new king.
This worked in Sir George de Carteret's favour because the existing prohibition against his previous highly successful privateering in the English Channel ended abruptly. The Prince “sent Carteret a bundle of Letters of Marque, signed by himself in ink, with a blank for the names of the captain and boat left for Carteret to fill in, and soon once more, Jersey privateers were making the Channel dangerous for ships flying Cromwell’s flag”
- Know that we, reposing trust and confidence in your courage, experience in sea affairs, a good affection to Us, do by these presents nominate and appoint you Captain of the good ship ………………………, giving you authority with your ship manned, equipped, and armed for war, to enter any River or Port of England, and, either there or at sea, to apprehend and possess, and in the case of resistance to sink, fire, or otherwise destroy, all ships together with their men, goods, and lading, belonging to any place or person of our subjects in actual rebellion against, or not in present obedience to Us, together with the ships, persons, and goods, of all their aiders and abettors.
- And to bring all ships, persons and merchandize as you shall take, without breaking the bulk or altering the property of any of the said goods, to our Island of Jersey, there to cause the same to be adjudged lawful prize by such Judge of the Admiralty as is settled there, and after such adjudication to pay the tenths and fifteenths to Our use to such person as shall have authority to receive the same.
- Provided that you do not permit any injury to be done to any ships belonging to subjects of any Prince or State in league or amity with Us,
- And that you make the Isle of Jersey the constant place of your abode, and obey the orders of the Governor there, whilst you enjoy the benefits our this Our commission,
- Provided that you enter into bond of one thousand pounds sterling to Us for the performance of all these particulars.
- CHARLES R
In addition to this naval win for Carteret, he received a highly unexpected prize. The execution of King Charles I caused considerable discontent within the Navy. One of their frigates, the “Heart” changed sides and, to the surprise of all, arrived at Jersey. Carteret, not one to miss an opportunity, took advantage of the fact that nobody knew this change of loyalties had occurred. He sent the Heart off to Guernsey to capture another ship, the “Secant”. The crew of the Secant, unknowing that the Heart had pledged their loyalty to the King, was an easy target and the captured ship and its prizes went to Jersey. An unusual characteristic of Carteret is revealed here. Although he did “imprison the Jerseymen and Guernseymen on board, he sent the others to St. Malo and gave each of them a piece of eight so that they might be able to pay their expenses in getting back to England”
In 1649 Charles again sought refuge in Jersey, arriving amid loud and demonstrative signs of joy on 17 September. The gunfire which heralded his arrival was heard off Guernsey, prompting the dispatch of two Republican frigates to investigate what was happening, but too late to capture Charles's vessels and prevent his arrival. 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. From sunset to midnight, Elizabeth Castle and the houses in St Helier were brightly illuminated. Philip de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, in keeping with the obligations of his position, rode into the sea up to his saddle girth, and bowing three times, welcomed "His Majesty" to Jersey.
On this occasion Charles was accompanied by his brother, the Duke of York, then about sixteen years old. He was well attended, some 300 persons composing the royal train, among them Lord Lane (Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal), the Earls of Cleveland and Brentford, Lords Wentworth and Hopton, Sir John Berkeley, Lord Percy and many other Royalist nobles.
The Royal party seem, on the whole, to have enjoyed their five-month stay. Charles and his brother passed the time in hunting, yachting, and other amusements. Charles made himself especially popular. He greatly impressed island officials by drawing 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 Prince inspected the island's defences and coastline and decided to build a fort with cannon at La Platte Rocque, to protect against any landing at Le Banc de Violet, thus anticipating the events of the Battle of Jersey by almost 150 years.
- For the winter of 1649-50 Charles was thus free from pressure. Ireland had fallen through. Rupert was in Lisbon, Hyde in Madrid, Montrose in Scandinavia, the Queen in offended dudgeon. There was nothing much to do, a situation by no means disagreeable to his taste.
- Throughout this time, aided by the skillful sea services of Carteret’s privateers, Charles maintained considerable correspondence with the mainland and his faithful followers. During a Grand Review on the sands of St Aubin's Bay on 31 October the King knighted Carteret’s son Philip, later to succeed him as Bailiff.
Charles corresponded and often met with his advisors throughout this time, and it was decided that he would eventually leave for Scotland. On 11 February 1650 Charles granted Carteret an island off the coast of Virginia called Smith Island.
Among Jersey households which played host to the Royal visitor was Hamptonne, owned by Laurens Hamptonne, the Vicomte and a staunch Royalist. In keeping with tradition he had, on de Carteret's orders, read the proclamation of Charles II as King. Charles rewarded Hamptonne by granting him Letters Patent by which his property was to remain in its entirety through future generations. The Patent also gave him the right to appear at the Assise d’Heritage with the other Seigneurs of the Island. This meant that the property thus had the status as a fief, and as such could have a colombier, since these were usually only allowed to be built on properties Seigneurial rights. Charles gave permission for Laurens Hamptonne to rebuild the square colombier, which was completed in 1674.
On 23 October, at Elizabeth Castle, Charles signed the historical declaration asserting his own rights and his determination to avenge his father's death.
The Duke of Buckingham arrived with a large retinue of nobles and attendants on 10 January, sent by Henrietta to hasten Charles's departure. Buckingham was sent to France by Charles on 2 February to advise his mother that he would meet her at Rouen. Fifty horses were purchased in Jersey for use in the overland journey to Breda. On 13 February he finally quit Jersey for Holland. 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. before embarking for St Malo on board Captain Amy's frigate (a notorious privateer).
Charles appointed his brother Governor of Jersey. Upon leaving the island the King made this promise to Carteret:
- Carteret, I will add this to you under my owne hand that I can never forgett the good services you have done to my father & to me and, if god bless me, you shall find I doe remember them to the advantage of you and yours; and for this you have the word of your very loving freind. Charles R.
Chevalier tells that, at the King’s second departure from the Island, the people did not grieve so much as they had done the first time and he tells us that the Jersey people fully expected that he was now starting on an expedition, which would, with the aid of his Scotch subjects, result in his regaining his throne of his ancestors and they all united in wishing him every success.
A lasting memorial to Charles II's time in Jersey came on 28 November 1663 when, in gratitude for his happy experiences in the Island, the King presented the Bailiff with a magnificent mace which to this day is carried before the Bailiff at the sittings of the Royal Court and meetings of the States Assembly. In the court and the States the mace is placed upright in front of the Bailiff’s desk.