Clement Le Hardy

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Henry VII: Did he visit Jersey and stay with Clement Le Hardy?

Clement Le Hardy, Bailiff of Jersey, 1485-1493

Le Hardy was appointed Bailiff after the Governor, Sir Richard Harliston, left the island he had rescued from the French in disgrace, after being besieged in Mont Orgueil Castle for several months. Harliston was a victim of the changing fortunes of the Yorkists and Lancastrians in the War of the Roses.

Rapid promition

Le Hardy's could thank those same changes in fortune for his rapid promotion from Jurat to Bailiff, because he was personally appointed by Henry Tudor, Duke of Richmond, later to become Henry VII. At least that is what some historians have recorded, although whether Henry visited Jersey and was helped by Le Hardy is open to question.

Le Hardy was appointed Jurat in 1483. On 12 October of that year Henry, who was living in exile in Brittany, set off to try to regain the Crown of England from Richard III. Unable to land at Poole after his fleet was scattered in a storm, he returned to land in Normandy and then make his way back to Brittany by 30 October. Did he take refuge in Jersey on the way back to France? Historians differ.

Jean Poingdestre, writing in 1682 in Caesares, or a Discourse on the Island of Jersey suggests that he "passed by" the island when he fled to France, but Philippe Falle, in his Account of the Island of Jersey written 12 years later, says:

"Whether out of design or forced by contrary winds, he put into this island, where he lay concealed till he found an opportunity to get over."

Westminster Abbey inscription

This view is much disputed, and the Chroniques de Jersey, written a century earlier might have been expected to record the visit, if it took place and led to Le Hardy's appointment. The strongest evidence that it did, is to be found in Westminster Abbey, in an inscription on the monument to Clement Le Hardy's descendant Sir Thomas Le Hardy.

"Near the West door of the Choir, lieth interr'd the body of Sir Thomas Hardy, Kt, who died the 16th of August, 1732, in the 67th year of his age; and, according to the directions of his will, was buried in the same grave with his wife, who died the 28th of April, 1720.
"He was born in Jersey, and descended from Clement Le Hardy, who removed from France and settled in that island and was made a Justice (commonly call'd there a Jurat) in 1381, and was succeeded in the same office by his son and grandson. His great grandson, Clement, was made a Lieutenant-Governor, and had the office of Bailiff" (or Chief Magistrate of the island), with the Seigneurie de Mélèche, conferr'd upon him for life by Henry VII as a reward for the most important service he had rendered him when Earl of Richmond, after the disappointmcnt he had met with in his first attempt upon England, when, being separated from the rest of his Fleet by a storm, he landed privately in Jersey, intending to stay there till he could obtain leave from the French King to come into his dominions, and was shelter'd at the house of the said Clement, who protected him, and convey'd him safely to Normandy, at the hazard of his own Life, notwithstanding a Proclamation from Richard III, for apprehending the said Earl, had been publish'd in the island. His Descendants have on all occasions distinguish'd themselves to the utmost of their power by their loyalty and fidelity to the Crown.”

King's promise

The family holds a tradition that these words were spoken by Henry, upon leaving Clement Le Hardy upon the French beach. Giving his staunch and brave retainer a ring, as an earnest of future favours, he said: " Thus — until", a promise and a prophecy both subsequently amply fulfilled.

The Rev George Balleine, in his Biographical Dictionary of Jersey notes that, despite no confirmation of this visit by any English authorities, it may still have happened, because Henry would have had to pass Jersey on his way from Poole to Normandy and may well have wanted to learn whether he would be welcomed back in Brittany by the French King. Because Governor Harliston was a staunch Yorkist, Henry's visit would have had to be kept secret; and Le Hardy was made Bailiff very soon after Henry became King in 1485.

Henry VII showed much greater interest in Jersey than many of his predecessors. On 10 February 1486, only six months of his accession on 22 August 1485, he followed tradition by issuing a Charter confirming the islanders' privileges and rights. He was to issue further charters in 1494 clearly defining the roles of Governor, Bailiff and Jurats and establishing that only the King could appoint and dismiss the Bailiff.

Support for Governor

Little is known of Le Hardy's term of office, although he is known to have been a strong supporter of Matthew Baker, a companion of Henry in exile and at first joint Governor with David Philip and then sole holder of the post from 1488. A judgment which Le Hardy made in Baker's favour in a dispute over water mills was apparently found by Royal Commissioners to be unjust, and when Baker fell out with Philippe de Carteret and falsely accused him of treason, Le Hardy ordered de Carteret's imprisonment at Mont Orgueil pending a duel.

Eventually, though, Baker and Le Hardy were also to fall out. Baker had appointed Le Hardy as Lieut-Governor, and according to the Chroniques de Jersey he became more and more obsessed with his own importance.

"He was so mightily puffed up that his head was quite turned. Once, when the Lady of St Ouen's addressed him as Gossip (Compère) instead of saying Monsieur the Lieutenant, or Monsieur the Bailiff, he swelled with importance and snarled 'Madam, do you not know who I am?' She replied right courteously 'Are you not my gossip, Clement Le Hardy?' 'Certainly not', he retorted, 'am I not the Lieutenant and the Bailiff of Jersey?' 'Yes', said she, 'and you will be the first to be turned out'.

And so it happened, because Baker took objection to Le Hardy retaining Spanish wines and other wreckage washed up on the beaches of the King's fiefs for his own profit, and had him imprisoned, "where after a while he died covered with lice and vermin". This probably happened in 1494, because Baker was replaced as Governor early the following year and Thomas Lempriere was Bailiff by March 1495.


Clement Le Hardy married Guillemine Lempriere, daughter of Jean, Seigneur of Rosel, and they had four sons. Edouard was a Jurat from 1524; Jean settled in Dorset, and was the ancestor of the Hardys of Dorset, including Nelson's captain Thomas Hardy, and the novelist of the same name; Richard, a priest; and Guillaume

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