John Paulet - Dean of Jersey 1553-1558?
The brother of Sir Hugh Paulet, Jersey's Governor since 1550, John Paulet was the second son of Air Amias Paulet, of Hinton St George, and Laura Kellaway. Sir Hugh inherited his father's estate, with an instruction to take care of his brothers John and Henry. He duly appointed John as Rector of St Martin when he became Governor.
The appointment was confirmed by the Bishop of Coutances, who was probably not too concerned about the presence of as Rector of the brother of an arch-reformist on the fringe of his diocese. It is believed that Paulet was simultaneously appointed Dean, but there is no record either of his appointment or his swearing in.
He was certainly Dean in 1555 because he tried to intervene in the trial of Richard Averty for infanticide, claiming that as a Priest, Averty had the right to be tried by the Ecclesiastical Court rather than the Royal Court. His intervention was disallowed by the Bailiff and Averty was hung. He was successful in 1558 in persuading the Jurats to spare the life of a thief, Rene Le Hardy, who had taken sanctuary in Trinity Church.
Acts of the Ecclesiastical Court survive from 1557 and show that Paulet followed strictly traditionalist lines during the reign of Queen Mary. He disciplined four Rectors who had married during the reign of Mary's brother, protestant sympathist Edward VI. On 20 March 1557 Jean Nicolle, Raoul de la Rocque, Nicolas Esnouf and Jean Vautier were sent to prison for a week on bread and water for refusing to separate, and three weeks later Nicolle and Vautier and their wives were threaatened with corporal punishment if they continued to meet. Later that year de la Rocque was ordered to walk barefoot in front of the cross in the procession in the Town Church on the following Sunday, holding a lighted candle, and to remain kneeling in the penitent's place in the chancel throughout mass.
Laymen did not escape Dean Paulet's crusade to establish Catholic morals and several were prosecuted for not living with their wives, and others threatened with imprisonment unless they kept their wifes in better order.
Relations between the Dean and his brother, the Governor, were not good and John Paulet decided to put his case to Queen Mary. But as his boat passed La Corbiere he learned from an inbound vessel that the Queen was dead, and decided to abandon his journey. He had presided over the Ecclesiastical Court on 12 November 1558, five days before Mary died, and his name does not appear in the Act Book after that. He appears to continue to have enjoyed the title of Dean and perform some functions, but he was replaced in the Court by Louis Gybault, Rector of St Helier, and as Rector of St Martin by Thomas Johanne.
Even after 1569, when John After was appointed Dean of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Chausey, he was still addressed as Mons Le Doyen by the Royal Court, which was presided over at this point by Jean Dumaresq. In 1574 he appears to have had responsibility for the schools of St Mannelier and St Anastase. Two years later, however, the Synod, by its Discipline Ecclesiastique des Iles de la Manche transferred all the Dean's functions to the Calvinist Colloquy, and Paulet retired to private life.
He may have become reconciled to protestantism, which was embraced by all his family, and he preached at both St Lawrence and St Brelade's Churches after their Rectors had died.
He married Marguerite Lempriere, daughter of Jean Lempriere, Seigneur of Trinity, in about 1568 and left a son Hugh and daughter Marguerite when he died about 1580, probably by committing suicide.
- A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey by George Balleine