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by Blanche B. Elliott
Their history through succeeding generations is closely interwoven with the history of Jersey; their most striking characteristic has been a deep loyalty to their Dukes of Normandy, embodied in the persons of the monarchs of England. Nor is it too much to say that this, the most important of the Channel Islands, has been held steadfast and loyal to the English throne largely through the extraordinary patriotism and exceptional qualities of this family.
The de Carterets are of ancient Norman descent. The name Onfrey de Carteret is mentioned amongst those who followed William the Conqueror to England, and he was probably one of the Seigneurs of Normandy even at that early time.
The name Renault de Carteret occurs in a charter of 112$, ' of the famous Abbey of Mont St. Michel,
and he is accredited with being the founder of St. Ouen's Manor. During the latter part of the twelfth century the de Carterets discarded their non-heraldic " equestrian " seal, and took into use that shown in the drawings, namely three lozenges (or fusils) in fesse. On a charter in the archives of St. Lo is to be found the seal of this grandson Renaud (or Renault) de Carteret (who died about 1211;) with these arms, differenced with a label, the use of the label by him indicating, of course, that his father was alive and in possession of the arms here given. Renaud de Carteret's son Philippe married Marguerite d'Aubigny, niece of Philippe d'Aubigny, Keeper or Guardian of the Isles; and since then the de Carteret arms have shown four fusils in few, thus becoming identical with the arms of the d'Aubigny family
The colouring of these arms is: Gules (red), four lozenges or fusils in fesse, silver.
With the separation of Normandy from England, Renault de Carteret had to choose (with many others) between his possessions in Jersey and those in Normandy. Although he had far greater lands in Normandy, of which the town of Carteret still bears the name, yet he chose to throw in his lot with Jersey and remain faithful to the Duke of Normandy in the person of John of England. Had he decided otherwise, there can be no doubt that the history of Jersey would have been a different one. It would probably have been won over by France and placed on the same footing as the Chausey Islands, dependencies of France not differing from the mainland in government or speech.
Through the centuries, in each attempt of the French on the island, a de Carteret has sprung to arms and urged the brave islanders to a firm defence.
It was Philip de Carteret who assisted Sir Richard Harliston to .recover the island for the English Crown when the French had been in occupation for six years, as already recorded. Philip married the only daughter and heiress of Sir Richard, of whom the old Chronicler tells the following picturesque tale:
After Harliston, a new governor, Matthew Baker, was appointed, whose rule was one long injustice and tyranny, and to whom Philip was strongly opposed. One day, when Philip de Carteret was riding with his followers to attend the Cobue Royale ( The old name for the Royal Court house.), he passed Matthew Baker and his servant and satellite Roger Le Boutillier. The latter called out that de Carteret had dropped a paper, and when a servant was sent to collect it, Matthew Baker, to whom it had been handed, said it contained a serious matter and de Carteret would hear more about it.
Philip de Carteret arrived at the Court, and had taken his accustomed seat when Matthew Baker entered and accused the Seigneur of St. Ouen of high treason. Le Boutillier, who was a man whom de Carteret had saved from the gallows, threw down his gage against Philip, " who is guilty of the act of which he is accused."
The Seigneur of St. Ouen denied the accusation, and further objected that Le Boutillier was a man of low degree and a criminal from whom he could not accept battle. The Bailiff was placed in a quandary, yet, not daring to oppose the Governor by whom he was appointed to the post he held, he ordered both the combatants to Mont Orgueil to await the trial by battle, which was accordingly arranged.
All this we glean from the anonymous Chronicler, who states that Le Boutillier was well fed and looked after, while de Carteret was badly used and half starved.
Meanwhile Margaret, his wife, Harliston's daughter, hearing of the plight of her husband and guessing Baker's evil and obvious intent to ruin and slay him, acted like a true heroine in this old romance. She arose, leaving her baby of a few days old, ordered a boat, and set sail for Guernsey. Here she called upon a Jurat of Guernsey named Guillaume Beauvoir and asked him to get her a boat, although Baker who had already gone on to England to put his version of the case at Court—had asked the Guernsey captain to forbid that any boat should leave Guernsey.
Nevertheless a boat was procured, and Guillaume, like a brave knight to a lady in distress, accompanied the Dame de St. Ouen on her perilous undertaking. When they arrived at Poole they saw, to their dismay, that Baker was on the shore keeping a watchful eye on the incoming boats. But, says the Chronicler, God willed that a heavy hailstorm should come on at that moment, and Baker and his companions took shelter in a house, giving time for the lady and her cavalier to land.
A friend of Beauvoir's called Havilland provided horses, and at dawn the next day they started for London, the lady riding hard and fast for Salisbury, where she sought out her friend the Bishop of Winchester, a member of the Privy Council, who procured for the distraught lady an audience of the King ( Henry VII.). She pleaded her case so eloquently and successfully that she obtained an order for the deliverance of her husband under the Great Seal of England. So great had been the speed with which she had accomplished her journey that she was coming away from the Court as the astonished Matthew Baker reached it—and all he got was grave censure from King and Council for his conduct in the affair.
The lady of St. Ouen sped back to the port of Southampton and found a boat bound for Jersey, where she arrived only on the eve of the day fixed for the combat. She went before the Court of Justice and presented the King's command to set her lord free immediately, which was done to her own joy and the satisfaction of everyone. It was found that the scene of battle had been so arranged with hidden pits and traps that the Seigneur of St. Ouen had no hope of success—and his downfall would have meant a confiscation of his property and ruin of his family.
Margaret's act had the further benefit of drawing attention to the existing arbitrary powers enjoyed by the Governors and ultimately causing them to be curtailed.
Matthew Baker was later removed from office, and under Thomas Auvray, one of the best Governors the island ever had, there was peace for a short time and an end to party quarrels. On his death Sir Hugh Vaughan was appointed, and he began a series of injustices to the islanders. So arbitrary did he become that he drew his sword in court on the Bailiff —then Helier de Carteret—and threatened the Jurats if they would not agree with him. Helier de Carteret caused the doors of the Courthouse to be thrown open, so that the people could judge of the Governor, and drawing his own sword, dared him to move on pain of death. This caused a final breach between Governor and Bailiff; Vaughan deprived de Carteret of his position and they both went to put their respective cases before the King and his Privy Council.
Helier de Carteret, who was the second of Margaret and Philip de Carteret's many sons ( given by the Chronicler as twenty), was described as being handsome, wise, and prudent, and a good shot with harquebuses and having a great skill at archery. It was by his prowess that he attracted the attention of Henry VIII, with whom he became in great favour. The Chronicler states that Helier had found an invention that could shoot five or six bullets from one loading, and also had learned how to shoot two arrows at a time. This immensely pleased Henry, especially when Helier and his younger brother Jean, who was a marvellous runner and athlete, competed in the grand tourney between Charles V of Spain and Henry VIII and won prizes for the English side.
Meanwhile Sir Hugh Vaughan bribed Wolsey heavily to oppose the Bailiff. Wolsey, the great power at Court, arranged that the case Helier had come up to London to plead was put off from term to term, so that he was obliged to spend his substance in living in London and was denied his rights in Jersey.
At last, after several years of waiting, Helier determined to risk everything and end the matter one way or another as his money was coming to an end. Put off again and again, the last day of session of the Star Chamber came round. Helier attended and appealed personally to Wolsey for justice. The Cardinal at first affected not to hear, but Helier made his request once more in so loud a tone that it was impossible not to hear. He said Wolsey refused to allow him to leave London, then would not hear him and refused him an interview. Wolsey answered that he was unworthy to be in charge of the island, and Helier asked him to prove it. Finally, Wolsey rose and dissolved the sitting, but Helier had gained his point and the sympathy of the other members of the Star Chamber. His case was taken at the next sitting and the Bailiff was reinstated, Wolsey himself telling him to make out a bill for the various expenses he had incurred. His life was attempted several times in Jersey, it is thought at the instigation of Vaughan, but he lived to a ripe old age.
The next de Carteret of note we hear of was again Sir Philip de Carteret, Seigneur of St. Ouen, born in 1584 in the island of Sark, which had been granted to his grandfather by Elizabeth. He is described "as a man of considerable abilities, and in point of family and fortune the first person in Jersey." Sir Philip was Lieutenant-Governor of the island and in residence at Mont Orgueil when Prynne was banished from England and imprisoned there, and he treated Prynne hospitably, more as a guest than a prisoner. The friendship he formed with one whose political .views were so opposed to him was of the greatest service to de Carteret later.
Sir Philip appears to have carried generosity to a fault, for some of the bitterest accusations against him were that he filled all the principal posts in the island with his own friends and relations, while he also acquired two of the most important positions for himself, that of Bailiff and Lieutenant-Governor.
As a result of jealousy, twenty articles were published against him and were to be laid before Parliament in 1642, the prime movers being Henry Dumaresq, Seigneur de Samares, David Bandinel, the Dean of Jersey, his son James, and Michael Lempriere; but Prynne contrived that they were never presented to the Commons. They came before the Lords, however, who summoned Sir Philip to appear before them.
Instead Sir Philip returned hurriedly to Jersey, where he found the articles had been printed and circulated, and the bitterest hostility fanned against him. Durell says of the articles that " some were unquestionably true, the greatest part exaggerated and a few totally false."
His enemies took advantage of the dissensions of the civil wars and worked to place the island under Parliamentary control. At a momentous sitting of the States, after Sir Philip de Carteret had read a commission from the King, Michael Lempriere rose to say that he also had to lay before them a Commission from the Parliament to apprehend the Lieutenant-Governor and to send him to England to answer the charges against him. Uproar followed, and as word had been sent to Sir Philip secretly that the Militia were under arms, and the small force Sir Philip had with him was quite insufficient and would have rapidly been outnumbered, he withdrew precipitately into Elizabeth Castle, for he had previously declared that for his part he would keep the castles for the King. Lady de Carteret held Mont Orgueil, while the Parliamentarian Commissioners held the island and besieged and blockaded the castles, which were, however, provisioned by Captain (afterwards Sir George) de Carteret from St. Malo.
The letters of conciliation which Sir Philip wrote in the endeavour to make peace and at the same time hold the island loyal to the Royal cause, show him to have been a just and good man and refute better than any arguments the calumnies spread against him. Matters did not improve, however, as all his offers of conciliation were opposed by the malevolent rancour of two ecclesiastics, Dean Bandinel and Peter d'Assigny, a French refugee priest to whom de Carteret had granted the living of St. Helier. Even when de Carteret's son Gideon died in Elizabeth Castle, they would scarcely allow his tenants to come for the body to bury it in the family sepulchre at St. Ouen.
Meanwhile Sir Philip became ill, for the continued persecution and grief had undermined his health. At last, feeling himself to be dying, he wrote a letter to the Parliamentary Commissioners asking " in your Christian charity, that you would permit Mr. La Cloche, or any other that you will send with him, to administer unto me such comforts as are necessarie and usuall in these extremities, and that you will permit my poor wife to come unto me, to doe that last duty as to close my eyes. The Lord forgive you as I doe forgive you all."
Even this request was refused with taunts, and the entreaties of his aged mother of eighty years were set aside; it was only on his death-bed that his mother, a proud descendant of the Paulets, and his wife were permitted to see him. He died in August 1643 as a result of this vindictive persecution, and endured acute sufferings with his last breath rather than betray the cause of his Sovereign.
About three days after Sir Philip's death a young officer named Major Lydcott, who had been appointed by the Parliamentary forces as Lieutenant-Governor, arrived in the island. He brought with him a few officers, arms and ammunitions, but no troops, and the warrant for Sir Philip's apprehension, which his death now rendered unnecessary.
The oath was administered to Lydcott in French, of which he understood nothing, for in it he vowed fidelity to the King, and he proceeded immediately afterwards to attack the castles for the Parliamentary cause, imprisoning on board their ships those who ventured to oppose him and who declared themselves for the King. The same day the young Lord of St. Ouen, the eldest son of Sir Philip, who with his mother was holding the old castle, sent a letter into the town praying the gentlemen of the island that they would give him some assistance in keeping the castles for the King, but the letter was kept secret from the people and consequently no notice was taken of it.
The gossiping diary of Jean Chevalier gives us many interesting details of the life of the islanders at this time : how the " Refractories," or those even suspected of being infavour of the King, were punished and imprisoned on the slightest evidence. Tricks were also played on the " Well Affected," as in the case of a certain Captain Copping, who offered to the Parliamentary party that if they would victual his frigate he would take the boats of Captain de Carteret which were supplying the castles. This they agreed to do, and gave him thirteen barrels of beer and two fat oxen, while he helped himself to some sheep at Rozel, from which point he sailed away and took service with Captain de Carteret and the Royalist party!
Lydcott apparently saw that numbers of the islanders were disaffected, so he called all the people in the town to the market-place, where he administered the oath of allegiance to the Parliament, first to the principal inhabitants, one after the other, especially those whom he doubted, and then to the common people, whom he made raise their hands all at once.
Some did so, while others had the courage to turn their .backs, pretending they had not heard the order.
Jean Dumaresq, Colonel of four parishes, was deposed from his office and confined to his house because " he made difficulties about taking the oath." The parishes were then called upon to take the oath, and those of Grouville and St. Martin held out longest against doing so.
All this coercion, however, was of little avail and merely irritated the islanders afresh. The bombardment of the town from Elizabeth Castle continued, even after the death of Sir Philip, and the occupants would chivalrously run up the Royal Standard previous to commencing fire. A great number of shots were fired into the town, but the damage was small and many miraculous escapes are recorded by old Chevalier, his diary being a constant repetition of firing and counter- firing. Cannon-balls were sent through the roofs of houses, on to beds sometimes with occupants in them, down the chimneys, or " hopping down the stairs to meet you as you ascended them."
Meanwhile the old Castle, bravely held by Lady de Carteret, was being so sorely pressed from the land side that the garrison determined to play a ruse on the besiegers. A boat was accordingly put out to sea during the night containing some twenty soldiers from the castle, to whom had been given the finest clothes they had, with red cloaks, tunics, plumed hats, scarves, etc.
They returned an hour after the break of day, as though arriving from Normandy, coming under full sail from that quarter. They brought the boat in front of the castle, firing their carbines and pistols to attract the attention of the besieged. On landing, they were met at the entrance by Philip de Carteret, Colonel of the castle and the young Lord of St. Ouen. The visitors were received with great ceremony and ostentation—entering the castle first, with uncovered heads—and were greeted by three cannon-shots from the Castle. The news of their arrival ran round the island and reached the ears of Lydcott and the Committee, who were told that a boat full of grand gentlemen had come from Normandy, dressed in scarlet with servants carrying valises which were apparently very heavy (but were nothing but bags full of vraic!).
This had the desired effect, for the besiegers went to their posts before the castle most unwillingly after this. Indeed, the poor people were tired out with the quarrelling and factions, for as Chevalier puts it, they were " tres froids dans ces affaires." The besieged in the Castle, on the contrary, increased their activities, and made many successful sorties, seizing arms and ammunition and levelling the earthworks thrown up round the castle.
The wretched Lydcott, seeing how things were going, assembled the States and talked arbitrarily to the Jurats and Constables. In the midst of the discussion a messenger arrived, saying that four of his officers had gone to Mont Orgueil and given themselves up to Lady de Carteret and her son, and taking the Commissions they held from Parliament, had burned them in her presence. This put another complexion on the affair and two emissaries were sent to the Castle to discuss terms for peace. The answer was returned that nothing better was desired than peace, but that the besieged must communicate with Elizabeth Castle first; that meanwhile they wished the guard to be put down round the new castle (Elizabeth) so that its occupants could come and go as they pleased until they should have news of the King. The States were again called, and a further letter was sent to Lady de Carteret, who was now mistress of the situation. No reply, however, was necessary, as Captain de Carteret arrived at the old Castle and was greeted by a salute of cannon.
Lydcott, d'Assigny, Lempriere, and others took to the boat which Lydcott had taken the precaution to keep ready and fled from the island, while Captain de Carteret made a triumphal entry into the town, at the head of mixed Royalist troops of English, Scotch, Irish, and French, fully armed, with flags unfurled and drums beating, making a gallant company, which was soon joined by the loyal parishes of Grouville and St. Martin. The island was captured without a shot having been fired.
Madame de St. Ouen, who had remained faithfully at her post at the old Castle as her brave husband had held the new, and from which she had only once left to attend his death-bed, now felt the strain of these months of siege. She had never ceased grieving at not having been allowed to go to Sir Philip during his illness, and also for her son Gideon, who had died at the new castle. The further news that another son had been killed fighting for the King (though it proved after wards to be a false rumour) was too much for her brave spirit, and she died a few weeks after the Royalist triumph. Chevalier tells us that she was much regretted by the poor, as she was very good and charitable.
(Madame de St. Ouen was buried in the family vault actually before Sir Philip, as his body had been embalmed and lay unburied in the old chapel of the new Castle, at his own request, " until the King had come into his own again." That time had now come, and his body was taken on a litter covered in black, drawn by four horses with his coat-of-arms on each side of the litter, a black cross on the coffin, and above that his naked sword. A great company of musketeers carried their muskets under their arms and the halberdiers trailed their pikes behind with drums all covered in black—such is the picture Chevalier draws for us. The tenants of the late Seigneur walked near the body—followed also by a multitude of other people of both sexes and all ages—to St. Ouen, where he was buried. There was grand firing from the Castles as the body went out of the castle gate, and when it was lowered into the grave, the cannon of the twelve parishes were heard one after the other and then at the same time. Firing continued all over the island, and a volley of musketry was discharged over the grave; thus did the island pay honour to a great soldier and patriot, loyal unto death to his King.)
Meanwhile Captain de Carteret was acclaimed by the great majority- of the islanders, who were wearied of the inflictions of the Parliamentarian Commissioners. He had arrived from St. Malo, and such was the reputation of this remarkable man that everything fell before him. Of all this long line of de Carterets, Captain George de Carteret, later Sir George, is perhaps the most famous. The exact date of his birth is not given, but it is known that he went to sea at an early- age and rapidly made a name for himself, eventually becoming Controller of His Majesty's Navy. He is referred to by Lord Clarendon as " a man of great eminency and reputation in Naval Command."
(The family name is written " de Carteret," but Sir George generally omitted the " de " and signed himself " George Carteret.")
When the fleet was committed to the Earl of Warwick in opposition to the King, the post of Vice-Admiral was offered to Captain de Carteret. He asked the permission of his Sovereign to accept this high office, but Charles refused to allow him to do so, as it had been offered by the Parliamentarians. This Lord Clarendon regrets as a fatal error, for he considered that Captain de Carteret's interest and reputation in the Navy was so great that " he would, against whatsoever the Earl of Warwick could have done, have preserved a major part of the fleet in their Duty to the King." ' The immense sacrifice this must have been to Captain Carteret in so modestly and loyally renouncing the magnificent future thus laid open before him can be imagined ; but when told to refuse by his Sovereign, says Clarendon, " he prudently and without noise, did." ' He retired to St. Malo, and from there fed the royalist forces and ships with supplies and ammunition. He then came over to Jersey, as related above, to find it in the hands of the Parliamentarians and his uncle Sir Philip dead— loyally at his post—-but the two castles still bravely holding out for the King.
He called the States together and produced his separate appointments from the King to the offices of Lieutenant-Governor and Bailiff.
The historians are at one in explaining the autocratic behaviour of Captain de Carteret, but that he should be severe was rather to be expected after the events which had taken place. He was naturally hostile to persons who had so cruelly persecuted his uncle and had given the island over to the Parliamentarian rule.
He lived in a time when a breath of treason, however unfounded, could hang a man, and his behaviour on the whole, though autocratic, was not cruel. He committed the Bandinels to Mont Orgueil, but they were allowed to receive visits from their relatives until they were suspected of scheming, when this was stopped. Growing weary of their imprisonment, the Bandinels gradually picked out a hole in the stone wall of their room, and one stormy night they tied together a cordage of sheets and attempted to lower themselves on to the rocks below. It is stated that they must have been unaware of the great height of the wall of the Castle, or they would never have attempted it while they were in their senses. The younger Bandinel went first, and as the cord was too short he fell the rest of the way. The Dean then lowered himself, when the cord snapped and he was hurled on to the rocks below, where his son found him unconscious and he died soon after. The younger Bandinel, after roaming the island, at last found someone to take pity on him, but was captured and put back into prison, where he died delirious some months later, never having recovered from his escapade.
Captain de Carteret was now made a Baronet and ruled the island with a high hand. He manned a fleet of privateers which so harried the forces of Parliament and merchant shipping that they- created a terror in the Channel and provided him with funds to prosecute the Royalist cause. Later he raised a forced loan on he people to supply the Royal Exchequer. It is significant that Blake, the first naval officer of the day, and a large land army was sent to force him to surrender.
There is no doubt that Sir George is an outstanding figure in a turbulent time, yet a local historian somewhat belittles him and seems to focus on his faults. He' regrets rather quaintly that the impetuosity and magnificent loyalty of Sir George should have drawn ce -petit estat (as it is referred to in the old records) into the vortex of the civil wars. He rather shows that he would have wished the island to be whatever prudence would have permitted at the time, and mates the following delightfully naive and frank statement:
"If it had been possible to have then observed a strict neutrality, it would have, after all, been the most advantageous course. It would have been the best policy for Jersey to have abstained from all hostilities during those lamentable commotions, and not exposed itself to be crushed during the mighty struggle of the contending parties. The true interest of Jersey in all those critical emergencies, is to attend chiefly to the preservation of its Trade, its Charters and its Privileges, and by- its neutrality, to find no difficulty in conciliating afterwards whichever side may eventually happen to be the conqueror."(Durell)
It is not surprising, therefore, that he should not agree entirely with the unswerving loyalty of Sir George, whose personality must have been great and gifts of, administration and command quite exceptional. He made his own way entirely, nor is he said to have had a very- good education. He inspired such a man as Lord Clarendon with friendship and respect, while Charles seems to have depended greatly on him during his time of wandering and trouble. Pepys frequently mentions Sir George in his Diary and says of him that " he was the most passionate man in the world," and had great influence at Court.
He was granted the fiefs and manors of Meleches and Granville by Charles I in 1643 as a reward for his " good and faithful service bravely and successfully performed . . . against the Turks," and it was on this latter account that he was allowed to retain his possessions when he bargained so successfully with the Parliamentarians before he capitulated Elizabeth Castle, as has already been recorded.
In 1664 Charles II gave to Sir George Carteret the proprietorship of a large tract of land in North America which was named New Jersey. Philip de Carteret, Seigneur de La Hougue, was the first Governor of the new Colony. We are told that :
" In August 1665 Philip Carteret appeared among the tenants of the scattered cabins and was quietly received as the Governor appointed for the Colony by the proprietaires. . . . So feeble were the beginnings of the Commonwealth it was but a cluster of four houses, which was now called Elizabeth Town, and rose into dignity as the capital of the province."(Bancroft, History of the U.S.)
"The town was called Elizabeth after the daughter of Philip de Carteret, who became the wife of Sir George Carteret, Bart."
An interesting document is given in the fifteenth Bulletin of the Societe Jersiaise in the will of Philip de Carteret dated 1682, in Elizabeth Town in the Province of New Jersey. He leaves all his property, etc., to his wife within the province, " and all my goods and chattels, quick and dead, and all my negroes and other servants, excepting Black Jack who I set free from servitude from after the day of my burial."
This brings to light the fact that New Jersey is a colony from the island of Jersey and was granted originally to the famous Norman family of de Carteret. There is a curious old Act of States dated 1666 for the relief of the poor, in which it was recommended " to compel some of them, if necessary, to emigrate to the Colonies, to Ireland, or to New England."
So it is certain that New Jersey received some of her first immigrants from old Jersey.
On the Restoration, Sir George Carteret was made Vice-Chamberlain of the-Household of the King and a Privy Councillor, as a reward for his services, and resigned the office of Bailli of Jersey in favour of his cousin and brother-in-law. Sir Philip de Carteret, Seigneur of St. Ouen.
There remain now no direct heirs in the male line of this famous fighting family of de Carterets, who in turn held their island loyally for their King against all invaders. Sir George's son was killed in the King's service at sea, and his male descendants became extinct at the death of Robert, Earl of Granville, in 1776. Sir Charles de Carteret, Bart., Bailli of Jersey, was Gentleman of the Chamber to the Queen, and dying unmarried in 1715 was buried in Westminster Abbey. By the extinction of this illustrious line of great Jerseymen, the manor of St. Ouen loses much of its interest and importance, and its history and fame lie in the past. It is still held, however by a descendant of the female line. .
George III when at Weymouth in 1806 went on board a ship on which Sir Philip Carteret Silvester was an officer, and when he was presented to the monarch observed to Queen Charlotte, " This young man belongs to one of the most ancient and most loyal families in my dominion." (Durell)