Samuel de la Place

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Samuel de la Place 1580-1637 Rector and doctor

There were no doctors in Jersey in the early 17th century, and such medical care as was available tended to be in the hands of the clergy. Samuel de la Place, son of Huguenot refugee Pierre de la Place, who was Rector of St Ouen from 1576 to 1598, gained some knowledge of medicine during his education at Oxford, where he matriculated from Merton College in 1594.

Payment in kind

In 1600 he was ordained Rector of St Mary, supplementing his income by taking on a number of patients, including the families from the Manors of St Ouen, Trinity, Diélament and Longueville, among the principal families of the island. His ledger, which survives, shows that payments were largely made in kind, a bottle of senna, rhubarb and jalap costing a quarter of mutton, and a plaster for spleen, a dozen eggs.

When Jersey began to move towards Anglicanism in 1613, de la Place was one of four ministers sent to defend Calvinism before the Privy Council.

He was one of the main opponents of the appointment of David Bandinel as Dean in 1620. Together with Daniel Brevint he protested before the Royal Court against the oath Mr Bandinel was to take, and said they could not acknowledge him as Dean nor their superior in anything, that the word Dean was not found in the Holy Scripture, and that they had signed and sworn another Discipline.

The new Dean suspended de la Place, who left for Guernsey, where Presbyterianism survived another 40 years. He was appointed Rector of St Martin, Guernsey, and continued with his medical work. This was not the end of his involvement in Jersey church politics, and in 1640 he clashed with Bandinel before the House of Commons by presenting a petition against the Dean. Bandinel came off worst and was "committed to the Commons House for two or three months to the Serjeant's custody".

Assembly of Divines

In 1643 de la Place was one of two Channel Islands representatives at an Assembly of Divines at Westminster called to devise a new form of Church government. This process lasted six years. The members of the assembly took turns to open the meeting with prayers, but de la Place was excused this duty because English was "not his native tongue". He preached in London at the Huguenot Church in Threadneedle Street, and was invited to join the Colloquy, the central body of all the French churches in England. His apocalyptic preaching was highly controversial, however, and on one occasion "some hundreds of the faithful tried to prevent him from entering the pulpit", causing a riot.

In 1650 he returned to his Guernsey parish, where he lived for another eight years.

Family

He married Judith Bonhomme, daughter of Josué, Rector of St Lawrence. They had seven children, Samuel, a merchant at Malaga in Spain; Daniel, Greffier of Jersey during the Commonwealth; Josué, Rector of Trinity; Pierre, Rector of St Ouen; and Jean, Esther and Angelique.

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