Popular History of Jersey Chapter 4
Return of revenues
Undoubtedly it was about these times, ie during the 12th to the 14th centuries, that the ecclesiastical works of which Jersey is justly proud — the splendid sacred edifices, of which more will be said further on — were undertaken. But to keep a connected idea the best plan will, for the present, certainly be to record the general historical facts as they appeared.
During the reign of Edward I (1272-1307), we find that in 1274 the first "Extente" ie returns, were made of the revenues of the Island belonging to the King, and that Drogo de Barentin was succeeded in office as Guardian or Governor by Otho de Grandison in the following year; whilst there comes the account of another assault made upon Jersey by the French, resulting in a desperate contest: the Island being warmly defended by its brave people, who eventually compelled their foes to confess that the then inhabitants of the place were practically unconquerable; and, it may be added, it was during this seventh year of his reign, 1279, that Edward I granted to Jersey its public seal, which is still affixed to all important acts.
While Edward II reigned (1307-1327), Jersey, though not pregnant with foreign feuds, was remarkable for the many domestic grievances its inhabitants unhappily laboured under; forgetful of the faithful services for which his ancestors had been grateful, and in open violation of those rights which to a native are invaluable, not only public privileges and public grants but private inheritances and properties were called in question. No man was secure of aught he possessed, whilst, to put it in Mr Falle's own words: "There was no end of plying us with Quo Warrantos, and as if it had not been enough to be thus persecuted at home, the people were remitted to a long and chargeable attendance on the Court at Westminster" — there being, be it remembered, no South-Western or Great Western mail boats running at that time!
Jean de Roches (evidently a descendant of or related to the Peter de Roches who formed one of the Council of the youthful Henry III), was appointed the Island's Guardian the year following the accession of Edward III (1327-1377), who, very early in his reign, restored, by charter, those freedoms and independences of which the inhabitants of Jersey had during the reign of his predecessor been so unjustly deprived; not forgetting, however, to look after his own interests the while, for which purposes two Royal Commissioners, Robert de Norton and William De la Rue, were sent to inquire again into the matter of the Royal revenues.
They subsequently (1331) drew up another "Extente", from which we learn, amongst other things, some most interesting items relative to the manners and customs of the Island during the latter part of the Middle Ages. From it we glean, for instance, that de Barentin held the manor and fief of Rozel by homage, and that whenever the King of England visited Jersey he was bound to ride on horseback up to his saddle girths into the sea to meet his Royal Majesty, and was afterwards to act as the King's butler. From the same source, too, we find that Renauld de Carteret owed like homage as lord of the manor and Seigneur of St Ouen's, and relief, when due, of nine livres tournois (then about £9 English money), in addition to which he was bound to serve the King at Gouray Castle — which, by-the-bye, in the year 1404 had its name changed to Mont Orgueil, by which title it is known to the present day — at his own expense for the term of "two parts of forty days", finding horses and armour; that the Abbot of St Saviour's had to provide an annual dinner for the King, or the value thereof, for the priory of Bonne Nuit, that all the tenants of the Crown had to give personal service in the way of carting wine, hay and wood belonging to the King, and in keeping the Royal mills in repair.
Whilst from the fine Rolls included in the "Extente" it appears that a great source of wealth to the Crown arose out of the receipt of fines, which must have constituted a considerable branch of the Royal revenue, "since no one in those days thought of soliciting a favour of the King without a present in his hand". But pursuing his claim to the Gallic crown, the King again exposed the Island to the invasion of the French. Jersey's precarious position at the time, moreover, was represented to His Majesty by the English parliament, with the result that a proclamation was issued at Berkhamstead on 13 August 1340, to the mayors and bailiffs of the different towns round about, "to arrest, man, and victual ships in Portsmouth harbour and all other towns on the adjacent coast, and to transport Thomas Ferrars, knight (appointed Guardian of Jersey in 1338), to the relief of the Channel Islands".
Shortly after this the French wrought considerable havoc along the southern coasts of England and elsewhere in the Channel — Southampton, amongst other places, suffering severely; whilst Guernsey, after a brave struggle, was forced to capitulate. Jersey, however, though several times attacked and as frequently ravaged by the enemy under the command of Admiral Bertruchet during the years 1338 to 1345, opposed the completion of their triumphs, for though the invaders at one time succeeded so far as to set themselves down before Gouray Castle — during one fierce sortie from which Barentin, the Seigneur of Rozel, lost his life, his place being filled by Renauld de Careret, lord of St Ouen's Manor — they were at length obliged to raise the siege and reluctantly retire.