Rev Thomas Le Hardy
Thomas Le Hardy, who died about 1463, was a Rector of St Martin who was put on trial for plotting against the French occupants of Mont Orgueil Castle when they occupied the island during the Wars of the Roses.
He was the son of Jurat Clement Le Hardy, who married a sister of Sire Guillaume Lalague. His two brothers, Clement and Drouet, both became Jurats.
He is first mentioned as Rector of St Martin in 1432. In 1442 he bought the Fief of Meleches from Jean de Carteret, in whose family it had been for nearly 150 years. In 1461, during the Wars of the Roses, Pierre de Breze, Seneschal of Normandy, sent a force which seized Mont Orgueil. In 1463 Le Hardy was arrested on a charge of plotting to expel the Norman garrison.
The evidence at his trial tells a good deal about him. Since his parents married in 1381, and his brother Drouet was 72 in 1463, Thomas must have been an elderly man at the time of his arrest. As his duties included the Services in St George's Chapel in the Castle and in the Chapel of Rozel Manor, as well as those in St Martin's Church, he had an assistant priest living with him, spoken of as his chaplain.
Other members of his household were his 12-year-old cousin, Michel Payn, a manservant, and a lad of fifteen. He rode about his parish on a mule. Renaud Lempriere, Seigneur of Rosel, was his closest friend, and he was a frequent guest at the manor.
On the Thursday in Holy Week 1463 he went to say mass in the castle, and Carbonnel, the Norman Captain, asked him, as he understood English, to hear the confession of an English prisoner. This was John Harefoul or Hereford, one of Warwick the Kingmaker's men from the garrison of Calais, who had been captured in St Ouen's Bay while on a plundering raid.
At Le Hardy's trial it was alleged that during this interview he told Hareford that he, too, was a Warwick partisan, and pointed out his house from the battlements, and offered to hide him, if he could escape, until he could be smuggled to England.
In Easter week Lempriere and his wife and Le Hardy dined with Carbonnel at the castle. Hareford was also present. After dinner, so it was said, Le Hardy and Lempriere met Hareford in a court near St George's Chapel, and asked him whether he needed funds, and offered him 100 crowns if one night he would leave open the Rochfort sallyport, a small gate in the north-east corner of the castle.
This they strenuously denied. At Whitsun Le Hardy went to Normandy, and returned with news that Warwick had driven the indomitable Queen Marguerite, the heart and soul of the Lancastrian party, out of England. De Breze was her cousin, and it was strongly suspected that he had seized the Castle with her connivance. This blow to the Lancastrians suggested that Jersey might now get rid of the Normans.
The prosecution declared that on 11 August Le Hardy met Hareford, who had been released on parole, at Rosel Manor, and read him letters from England reporting the formation of four new Yorkist armies, and also a letter from Guernsey promising 60 men to rush the castle, when he should open the gate. Le Hardy also agreed to Hareford's additional demand that Carbonnel should be his prisoner.
On Sunday the 21st, after mass at St Martin, Le Hardy invited two officers of the French garrison to dinner (the prosecution implied that he hoped to draw them into the plot), and the party spent the afternoon in the manor gardens. After vespers there was another meeting in the manor of Hareford, Lempriere and Le Hardy, when, so it was alleged, a written agreement was signed and sealed. Obviously Hareford must have been acting from the first as a spy for the Normans, for most of this information can only have been obtained through him.
Two days later both Le Hardy and Lempriere were arrested. On 10 December they were brought for trial before Carbonnel, du Vieuxchastel, Marshal of the castle, and Guillaume de St Martin, a pro-French Jerseyman, who was Attorney-General.
The trial lasted ten days. We have the depositions of the witnesses, but unfortunately the last page of the manuscript is missing, so we do not know the result. Lempriere was apparently acquitted, for he was killed four years later helping to besiege the Castle. It looks as though Le Hardy was condemned, and his estates confiscated, for we find no later reference to him, and a contract among the Le Maistre manuscripts shows that on 1 May 1465 Raulet de St Martin. brother of the Attorney-General, was Seigneur of Melèches.