On 30 January 1649 Charles I was beheaded at Whitehall, after a trial before Judges who were determined upon his death. He had in his last interview with the Duke of York advised him to escape out of the Kingdom, and the Prince, dressed in woman's clothes, had managed, through the assistance of Colonel Banfield, to escape to Holland in a small vessel then lying in the Thames.
England was now under military rule, and stern and ruthless it proved to be to the people of England. The tragedy of the King's death had not failed to arouse the sympathy of the people, and the parliamentary party was divided by many sects, who each saw that, by the adoption of the methods they favoured, a millenium would arrive.
Many people who previously had opposed the King regretted the extreme actions of those in power and feared the future course of events. Many of the ships of war became royalist, and put their officers ashore, and there was a growing desire among moderate men to see the return of settled government. But Cromwell and his army was now all powerful and Cromwell was a strong man. After routing the Scotch Army, he and his men soon put down all those who had endeavoured to upset his rule.
Proclamation in Jersey
Jersey, however, still remained a stronghold which defied his power, and thither on 17 September 1649 Charles II arrived in Jersey with the Duke of York. He had previously been proclaimed King on 17 February in the market place; the proclamation having been read by the Viscount by order of Sir George Carteret. There was a great concourse of people, and the proclamation was supported by trumpet, and drum, and the firing of many guns from the Castle. After the Viscount had read the proclamation, Sir George raised his hat and shouted "Long live the King", and the people in their enthusiasm flung their hats in the air as they welcomed the proclamation. The next day, after the sermon, the Viscount read the proclamation at Elizabeth Castle, with the same accompaniment of trumpet, drums and cannons ; and again the proclamation was made at Mont Orgueil in like manner.
The original proclamation is now on view at the Société Jersiaise and the text was as follows :-
"Comme ainsi soit que les rebelles out, par un attentat horrible, jetes leur mains violentes sur la personne du Roi Charles Premier, de glorieuse memoire, par la mort duquel les soveraines couronnes des Royaume d'Angleterre, Ecosse, France, et Irelande, appartiennent et succedent entierement et legitiment a son Altesse le Tres Haut et Tres Puissant Prince Charles : A ces causes nous, le Lieutenant Gouverneur et Bailly, et Jures de l'Ile de Jersey, assistes des Officiers du Roi, et des Principants d'y celle ile tous dun cur et d'une voix publions et proclamons que son Altesse le Tres Haut et Tres Puissant Prince Charles est maintenat, par la mort de notre dit feu Souverain de glorieuse memoire, devenu, par droit de legitime sucession, et ligne hereditaire, notre seul et legitime Souverain Seigneur, Charles Second, par le Grace de Dieu, Roi d'Angleterre, Ecosse, France et Irlande ; Defenseur de la Foi etc. Auquel nous reconnoissons devoir toute obeissance et fidelite, honneur et service, et prions Dieu, par lequel les Rois regnent d'etablir et d'ffismer le Roi Charles Second, dans tous ses Justes droite, et sur son Crone, et le faire rigner long-tems et heureusement sur nous. Ainsi soit-il. Vive le Roi Charles Second. 1649 le 17 de Fevrier."
It is very interesting to see the names of those who signed the proclamation, as showing the principal Royalists in the Island at that time. Each person who signed the proclamation knew that, if matters went wrong, they had rendered themselves liable to very severe punishment.
The signatures are as follows-
George de Carteret, Chevalier, Baronet, Lieut-Gouverneur et Bailly; Philippe de Carteret, Chevalier, Seigneur de St Ouen ; Amice de Carteret, Ecuyer, Seigneur de la Trinite; Francois de Carteret; Josue de Carteret, Elie Dumaresq ; Philippe Le Geyt ; Jean Pipon; Pierre Fautrart ; Josue Palot ; Helier de Carteret, Procureur du Roi ; Laurens Hamptonne, Vicomte Jean le Hardy, Avocat du Roi ; Philippe Dumaresq; Edouard Romeril ; Jean Seale ; Jacques Guillaume; Nicholas Richardson ; Nicholas Journeauix ; Isaac Herault ; Jean le Couteur, Abraham Bigg ; Helier Hue, Greffier.
Sir George Carteret
And thus Jersey held the proud position of risking much in being the first to proclaim Charles the Second as King of England, and this at a time when the Parliamentarians were getting stronger and stronger each day and their attention was being drawn daily to the Island by the many daring counter attacks under the guidance of Sir George Carteret.
It was a wonderful episode in English History that this man, governor of a small Island, with but a small following, should defy so powerful a man as Cromwell with his many supporters. But Sir George was a brave man of great ability, and he evidently had the capacity of inspiring his followers. We find that early in 1649 he had gone to France and left Sir Philip as his deputy, and did not return until 8 September, when he was able to announce that King Charles and his brother were on their way to take up residence in Jersey, and that he had arrived in time to make arrangements to send vessels to France to bring over the King and Courtiers and their baggage.
So Captains Sadlethon and Barnet, in their frigates, went over to Normandy with other vessels, including the barge made for Prince Charles during his previous visit, and the party embarked from Containville near Coutance where the King and his party had lodged the night before.
It was found however that the frigates could not come too near the coast so the barge was employed to take the King from the shore to the frigate. Captain Baudains commanded the barge, and when the King got on board, he was made so comfortable, and the sea was so smooth that he refused to go on board the frigate, and continued his voyage in the barge to Jersey where they arrived at 4 pm.
He was welcomed by a great discharge of guns from all the ships in the bay and the Castle. It was a day of rejoicing and excitement in Jersey, as apart from the firing of guns and muskets, the bells of the Island were rung until midnight, and all the hills were lit up by bonfires.
We hear of Sir Philippe de Carteret riding into the sea to meet his King, as he was compelled to do by the terms on which he held his Seigneurie. Then the next day all the horses, carriages and waggons and baggage were landed and the King and his brother, safe in Elizabeth Castle, had the pleasure of seeing the Parliamentary vessels prowling about the Castle too late to stop his landing. A large number of nobles and gentlemen were in the King's suite. The King was then about nineteen years of age, tall, with a good figure, a pale open countenance surrounded with a quantity of dark hair. He was dressed in a violet coloured coat, whilst all the members of his suite wore black.
Sir George had made great preparations at Elizabeth Castle for the reception of the King and his suite, but notwithstanding the additional accommodation provided, many people had to obtain quarters in the town, and at St Aubin, where all the houses were occupied by the families of sea captains, and those who followed the profession of the sea.
On 10 September George Dumaresq, who previously had fled from Jersey as a Parliamentarian, was so shocked by the execution of the King, that he returned to Jersey from St Malo to throw himself on the mercy of King Charles. He was kept prisoner at his brother's house until the matter could be dealt with, and we find him offering various sums of money to Carteret and others to advance the success of his petition, which eventually was granted.
On the arrival of the King, Sir George called the States together and it was decided that the several parishes should levy a rate so as to raise a sum worthy to be accepted as a present by the King, who was making himself very popular in the Island. We find him five days after arrival attending service at the Town Church. He was accompanied by his brother, the Duke of York, but the occasion was somewhat marred by heavy rain which prevented many of the country people coming into the town to welcome their King.
There were constant quarrels between the members of his suite as they discussed their different services to their King, with the result that in a duel between two captains, one was killed, and the other made prisoner and brought to trial. Evidently the prisoner had influence, for it was stated that the death had been caused by the deceased falling upon his sword, and so the King granted a free pardon to the survivor and he was released. But the King's advisors considered that these duels should be stopped, and on 1 October the King issued a proclamation, forbidding under severe penalties, the fighting of duels.
On 14 October the Duke of York was 15 years of age, so the birthday was celebrated by the firing of 15 guns from the Castle.
About this time Sir Peter Osborne decided to make his peace with Parliament. He had been living in St Malo since he had been deprived, through the influence of Sir George, of the Governorship of Guernsey and Castle Cornet. It had been suggested that his loyalty to the crown was weak, and evidently he was tired of living in a foreign land, for he willingly agreed to the terms of Parliament that he should pay a sum of money to the Exchequer, and also further sums to Guernsey, for the damage he had caused by the firing of cannons into the town of St Peter Port during the time he commanded the Castle 1641-1646. Lord Percy had been appointed Governor of Guernsey and he had Colonel Burgess as his Lieutenant.
We now come to a singular point of Jersey law where King Charles from Elizabeth Castle was able to exercise his Royal power of Clemency.
Jean Syvret of St Ouen had struck his father and the father complained to the Constable, with the result that Jean was taken before the Jurats. The Procureur having pointed out the heinousness of the crime, suggested that he had incurred the penalty of death, with which the Jurats agreed. Syvret had admitted that he had struck his father, but the penalty appeared excessive, and Sir George asked that the penalty be suspended until he had consulted the King. The father, realising the possible fate of his son for probably an impetuous action, joined with his wife and Jean's wife in pleading for mercy. The young King granted their petition, and Jean was set free with the determination to curb his temper in the future.
The King spent a busy time while in Jersey and the Jersey Militia were determined to show their loyalty by having a review on St Aubin's sands on 31 October. All able-bodied males from 15 to 70 were forced to join, and some 3,000 men assembled to greet the King. The King and his suite went along the ranks of the men and, as he passed the soldiers, they raised their hats and shouted " Long live the King ! " Muskets were fired in volleys and the parish guns did their best to add to the noise and confusion.
As the King passed up and down the lines, he was followed by many women, girls and children who tried to touch his person, for King's Evil.
At the end of his inspection the Captains of the several bands were presented, and kneeling kissed his hand, whilst the King touched the hat of each officer as they did so. As the King left the sands, escorted by the local cavalry, volleys of guns were fired to show the loyalty of the people.
On 5 November His Majesty attended divine service at the Castle to thank God for the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. The Reverend Daniel Lynch preached a most eloquent sermon, denouncing those who had attempted so diabolical a plot. After the service five guns were fired from the Castle.
Letter to Seigneur
Charles held a proper Court at Elizabeth Castle, and on 9 February 1650 he sent the following letter to the Seigneur de la Trinité:
- CHARLES R
- "Whereas our Trusty and Well Beloved Amice de Carteret, Seigneur de la Trinité in the Island of Jersey is obliged by the tenure of the Franc Fee de la Trinite to present one couple of Mallards to the King when he arrived in the Island. Wee acknowledge hereby that he the said Amice de Carteret, Seigneur de la Trinité before named, did a accordingly at our, late arrivell into our Island, present unto us one couple of Mallards. Wherewith we are fully satisfied. Given at our Court in Jersey this 9th day of february 1650 in the second yeare of our Reigne."
During the year Fort Charles was built, and the fortifications were strengthened at Elizabeth Castle ; but shortly after the arrival of the Duke of Buckingham in the Island, the King departed for Breda via France on 13 February 1650, leaving the Duke of York in charge until September, when he followed him.
As a parting gift to Sir George, the King gave him an Island off the coast of Virginia, called Smith's Island, with full authority to build castles, churches and frame such laws and regulations as he thought necessary for the proper government of the Island, and authorised him to fit out the necessary expedition for the purpose.
Sir George, notwithstanding his many other duties, fitted a vessel with all stores, tools and provisions necessary for taking over the Island. Having gathered together a number of emigrants who were willing to try their fortunes in the new land, the vessel sailed from Jersey on 16 May 1650, but early met with misfortune. She was captured on her outward voyage by Captain Green, commanding a Parliamentarian Frigate, and taken to the Isle of Wight. Sir George had to recognise the King's authority over the Island by an annual payment of £6 per annum.
The King departed from Elizabeth Castle on 13th Feb 1650, and going on board his yacht, accompanied by most of the Lords and gentlemen of his suite, he made for the waiting frigate in the bay commanded by our old friend Captain Amy. Sir George, the Duke of York and several prominent Jerseymen went on board to see him off.
Several took the opportunity of obtaining from the King his signature to patents, guaranteeing them certain offices as soon as Charles regained his throne. Some men went as far as Coutances, but the majority left the frigate as soon as the sails were set, and the vessel departed without the firing of guns or other demonstration as the captain was afraid of attracting the attention of some Parliamentarian vessels in the neighbourhood.
So King Charles departed from the Island leaving the Duke of York as Governor in charge of Sir George Carteret.