Popular History of Jersey Chapter 10
The Pawlet family
In 1563 there was introduced into Jersey what was called, perhaps for want of a better title, "The Reform Protestant" religion, otherwise Presbyterianism, under the leadership of Guilleaume Morise, a powerful and eloquent divine, at one time a minister of Anjou, who eventually had assigned to him the parish church of St Helier ; Queen Elizabeth, by an Order in Council, 7 August 1565, granting permission to the Islanders to embrace that special form of worship which then, and for some years subsequently, became the established "religion" of Jersey - it nevertheless being formally annexed to the diocese of Winchester in 1568 (a project that had been hanging on and which had received the sanction of Pope Alexander since the year 1549).
Then followed the days of the sway of the Pawlets' power, and, concurrently with it, the consequences. In 1571 Amias Pawlet (the same on whose arm some 16 years later the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots leaned when walking to the scaffold) was made joint Governor with his father, Sir Hugh, and sole Governor on his father's demise the following year. In 1583, George Pawlet, younger brother of Amias, was sworn in as Bailiff; whilst Anthony, the son of Amias, first of all being Lieut.- Governor under him, succeeded his father as sole Governor during the latter's lifetime. And, as a result, there appears to have been neither peace, justice, nor security to those who did not dwell under the protective influence of their goodwill; each member of the family from their vantage ground of office or personal authority favouring and supporting the other to the violation, as it would appear, of the rights and privileges of the inhabitants; raising illegal contributions on the people, claiming services that were not due, deriving pecuniary benefits from unauthorised sources, and generally playing bat and ball between them with those that opposed their will.
Under the latter heading came most prominently John de Carteret (a relation by marriage of the Pawlets), Philip Journeaux, and Helier Dumaresq, three Jurats of the Royal Court, who in lieu of a fine were sentenced to imprisonment, 21 September 1587, for opposing the Lieut.-Governor, Anthony Pawlet, in the matter of the establishment of a new Court extraordinary, he making so bold as to prepare and obtain signatures to a petition to be presented to the Queen concerning it without the sanction of the Lieut.-Governor, on the plea that the spirit of opposition shown was a spirit of faction and sedition which it behoved, by all means, to quell and repress. And this view of the case being taken by the Imperial authorities, the action was approved by an Order in Council, 25 May 1688, and John de Carteret, as ringleader in the affair, was removed to the Marshalsea (of which place all readers of Charles Dickens have heard) until he should submit himself and acknowledge his fault.
In 1590, however, when Anthony Pawlet sought the office of sole Governor, notwithstanding the fact that by the decree of Her Majesty's Council it was at that time a crime in Jersey to blame the proceedings of a Governor or the Court and to petition the reigning sovereign, John de Carteret, though still in confinement, found means strenuously to oppose the appointment, in which matter he found an earnest supporter and associate in Jean Perrin, Seigneur of Rozel, the two combined gathering and adducing a long list of misdemeanours and wrongs in proof of Anthony Pawlet's unworthiness — John de Carteret being released from prison whilst the case was pending. The final result of the whole was that Pawlet received the appointment and was sworn in as Governor, 4 July 1590, whilst de Carteret was taken back to the Marshalsea, there to stay until he had given in his submission, though how long he remained in durance vile the historians of the period do not appear to have recorded.
But to revert for a few moments to events that took place during the time thus covered by the actions of the Pawlets, it is well worthy of record that there appeared in 1585 the Chroniques (a manuscript history of Jersey), anonymous, yet still a most valuable and interesting contribution to the annals of the Island, notwithstanding the fact that it is in no wise impartial as concerns the upholding of the de Carteret family, by a dependant or retainer of which it was most probably written. Then in 1586 we find that the greater portion of Elizabeth Castle was built, and that it was at this date that it received from Her Gracious Majesty the name it has ever since been known by; whilst, passing onto 1593, we come to the record of an inquiry into the state of Mont Orgueil Castle, soon to be dethroned from its proud position as the stronghold of Jersey in favour of the recently-erected Castle of Elizabeth, which was further strengthened and fortified by orders of the Queen, who, no doubt remembering the many attempts that had been made on Jersey, had in view other contingencies of the like sort; the work in this case being carried out under the superintendence of one Paul Ivy, of known reputation in his time as a skilful engineer.
This brings us to the year 1600, on 20 September, in which the name of the celebrated and brilliant, though subsequently unfortunate, Sir Walter Raleigh was added to the list of the Island's governors. And to him Jersey owes a debt of gratitude — over and above that due for his untiring zeal and intelligent interest shown in all that tended to its prosperity — for during his residence in the place, and in his first year of office), establishing the trade that has ever since been so prosperously carried on between the Island and Newfoundland; and also supplying what had been a long-felt need, by originating and causing to be set up a public Registry in the following year (1602), since which date, as can be personally verified by anyone interested in the matter, a most scrupulously accurate record has been kept concerning all matters relating to titles, transfers or mortgages on land or property; one important resultant feature, as simplifying the "land question" in Jersey, being that, in case of the loss of a title-deed or the like, an authenticated copy of such is as valuable on the Island as the original.
Sir John Peyton
On 10 September 1603 (the same year, it will be remembered, that Queen Elizabeth died), Sir John Peyton was sworn in as Governor in succession to Sir Walter — who, by the way, had enjoyed the Royal revenues of the Island on condition of supporting all the insular establishments and remitting to the Exchequer the annual sum of £300 — and four years afterwards we find quarrels and disputes breaking out anew between the Governor and the officials, though this time it was not the Bailiff, but the Procureur, Philip de Carteret and his party who were chiefly concerned, the result being that de Carteret was for a time suspended from his office by the Royal Court, he, nevertheless, was speedily reinstated by an Order in Council, dated 30 April 1607, because the removal of the Procureur from his office without the consent and knowledge of the King was "an undue attempt upon His Majesty's power and prerogative Royall"; whilst, as might easily be foretold, a Royal Commission was once more issued to inquire into and report upon the various grievances.
The chief points, however, brought out by the Commissioners, Sir Robert Gardiner and James Hussey, are interesting and of importance, and related to the relative value of French coins; the Governor's right or duty to call an Assembly of the States, the regulating and limiting of civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction; particularly certain charges made against Sir John Peyton of obtaining provisions, etc, under market price, with a view to personal benefit. The Commissioners remedied many abuses, checked the encroachments of the Governor, adding as a rider their opinion that Sir John "ought to be contented with the receipt of 200 good and sufficient muttons yearly", for which payment should be rated by the common price of the Island "according to the voices of two honest men, since Amias Pawlet had before that time been satisfied to be supplied annually (for the use of self and Castle)" with 200 muttons at 6½ groats apiece and beef at 20 groats".
For four years after this the chief thing worthy of note is the birth of Jean Poigndestre, April 1609, who afterwards became Lieut-Bailiff of Jersey, and famed, locally at least, as amongst the best of its legal commentators — the Island appearing to have enjoyed a time of comparative internal peace and quietness. But in 1611 another and fierce conflict arose once again in connection with the appointment of the Bailiff, Sir John Peyton strenuously opposing the nomination by the Crown of one Jean Herault, on the plea that in his own patent of office as Governor a clause was to be found giving him the exclusive right to do so.
Herault naturally petitioned against the Governor's doings, and in this matter gained a decided victory (on the strength of Henry VII's Charter), for his appointment was confirmed after some little delay, 9 August 1615, by an Order in Council, to which was appended the smart rebuff:—
- "We do likewise command the said Sir John Peyton and all other Captains or Governors of the said Island, present and to come, never to hereafter attempt or intermeddle anywise in the nomination, institution and appointment of the said officers, deane, viscount or attorney or any other public officer of justice within the said Isle."
Sir John, however, appears to have had no inclination to let the matter rest here, for we find him in the following year, 1616, drawing up numerous articles with a view to Herault's dismissal, complaining, amongst other things, that the said Bailiff "would not yield to him", on the plea that he had power, as had also the Lieut.-Bailiff, in himself, to punish the Governor personally and capitally, and that he was menacing the ruin of such as sought to uphold the Governor's office. This case was likewise decided in Herault's favour, 18 February 1617, and Sir John condemned in costs to the tune of £60. His Majesty in Council, moreover, acquitted the Bailly of any undutifulness to the King's Majesty, though reprehending him for the "heat of words" he had used.
Naturally enough a Royal Commission (which, though such become frequent enough to be wearisome, have the merit of making history for the Island) was held in connection with this and other affairs, it taking place during the same year, and being held by Messrs Conway and Birch, who were ordered to make it their duty to pay particular attention to those things appertaining to the advantage of His Majesty's service, both military and civil, and more particularly to the state of the castles and fortresses on the Island; and to inquire into and control the disputes between the Governor and the Bailiff — as no doubt they did, though without final or satisfactory result, as we shall shortly see. At the same time much good was effected otherwise. The deficiencies of the Militia were thoroughly gone into, and that body reorganised; whilst one beneficial outcome of the whole affair — certainly an unlooked for one on Sir John Peyton's part — was the appointment of a procureur or King's advocate, making an addition to the offices over which the Governor had no control.