Friday, 10 May 2013

Bailiff Herault - part 1

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931),  by A.C. Saunders. There is a lot of social history in Saunders, which throws up some quirky details that are often overlooked in the history of Jersey.

When one reads that Bailiff Herault was passionate for justice, but had an achilles heel - he was "a man of little tact and offered many opportunities to his enemies by the outspoken way in which he claimed his rights and denounced those who were against him" , it brings to my mind a number of politicians in the modern era in Jersey, and in particular, of course, former Senator Stuart Syvret. Of course, nowadays, one would not associate Bailiff's with reforms, but back in the 17th century, matters were very different.

Interestingly, Herault was in favour of a Dean returning to Jersey. The last Dean had been Richard Mabon, before the Reformation, and the next would be David Bandinell, part of James I's attempt to impose Anglicanism on the Calvinist Reformed Church in Jersey. Bandinell received Letters Patent dated 8 March 1619. Bandinell, however, did not survive the capture of Jersey by Parliamentary forces in the Civil War - he died in 1645, and the seat remained vacant under the Commonweath from 1645 to 1661. Indeed, a permanent continuity of Deans of Jersey only dates from the Restoration of Charles II.

Bailiff Herault - part 1
by A.C. Saunders

John Herault was born in or about the year 1570 at a place called " La Paloterie," in the parish of St. Sauveur. His parents were poor, and any education he had was obtained from local schools and his own unaided efforts. He determined to be a lawyer and in due course became Greffier of the Court, and was the medium by which correspondence was interchanged between the Governor and the Privy Council. The way in which he submitted cases before the Privy Council gave the English Government a very high opinion of his ability, and, when Gardiner and Hussey came to Jersey to enquire into the grievances of the inhabitants, they were instructed to consult the Greffier. His was the pen which wrote out the grievances of the Islanders.
For over half a century Jersey had had a military Government and the Bailiff had been a nominee of the Governor. In the patent of Governorship granted to Peyton he had managed to get inserted his right to nominate the Bailiff after Pawlet gave up office. It was well for Jersey that a man like Herault was Greffier at the time. He knew the hardships imposed on the people, and, being one of them, he used his great abilities in trying to limit the powers of the Governors to matters military. When Pawlet gave up office then the Crown nominated Herault to succeed him. He had shown the Privy Council that he was willing to fight for the cause of the Islanders, and that he was well aware of their grievances. The only way to bring about peace in the Island was by the appointment of a man to the Chief Magistracy who was determined to see justice in the land, and who was well acquainted with the laws of the Island.
Herault had a very difficult position to fill. Sir John Peyton and his followers were against him and trying to get him out of office and therefore he was all the more particular in fighting against the slightest infringement of any of the privileges attached to his appointment. In many cases his conduct appeared to be unnecessarily overbearing, and sometimes almost insulting to his opponents, and he often failed in those courtesies the lack of which he was always ready to resent when his own office was concerned.
When Aaron Messervy was Lieut.-Governor he was always quarrelling with the Bailiff, and eventually Messervy submitted a memorial to the Privy Council in which the complaint was made that the Bailiff treated the Lieut.-Governor as a subordinate. This Messervy was not a native and had not much consideration in the Island.
In February 1615, the Court was called by the Lieutenant who wished to preside, but he was informed that the chair had to be taken by the Bailiff according to the decision in the year 1606, and so the Lieutenant yielded with the proviso " that this should not prejudice him."
So Jean Herault was made Bailiff of Jersey, and on the 16th September, 1615, he took the oath of office before the Judge-delegate, nine Jurats and Aaron Messervy, Captain's Lieutenant, and swore to exercise the office to the Glory of God and the maintenance of the Reformed Church ; to be faithful to the King as Duke of Normandy, defend the country, punish traitors and malefactors, do justice according to the custom of the Isle and maintain its rights and privileges.
After taking the oath he assumed the judicial chair, and on 18th of November the Court decided to pay him one hundred marks a year from the 5th April, 1614, and other emolument which former Bailiffs had been entitled to.
Herault now comes in contact with Peter Maret, the Receiver and Procureur, who belonged to the party of the Governor who was often out of the Island, probably doing his best to belittle the Bailiff at headquarters.
The Bailiff writes on the 18th of March, 1616, to Secretary Winwood and suggests that a special Commission should be sent to Jersey to inquire into the state of affairs. He complains that the present Procureur, Peter Maret, is totally unfitted for the position, and that as he is Receiver of Revenue for the Governor, there is no one to submit any injustice done by the Receiver to the Courts as he is the Procureur. Herault pointed out that Maret had been brought up in Spanish seminaries, " got pernicious maxims, and refuses to give the ministers an account of his faith or to receive Sacrament." Maret was evidently another tool of the Governor, and the Bailiff complains on the 20th July, 1616, to the Secretary of State that Sir John is so vexed at his appointment that he and his friends do all in their power to " disgrace me and hinder me in my duties, caluminating me before the people when I am administering justice so that I have sometimes to dissolve the assembly."
In April, 1616, Herault calls attention to the state of the defences of the Island, and states that if Sir John Peyton and his agents can amass money enough they care not how the rest goes. He points out that there are only four poor men in each Castle, without officers, and suggests that there should be at least forty soldiers for Mont Orgueil and twenty-four for Castle Elizabeth, with the necessary officers, and that the stores and ordnance should be inquired into and that an independent Receiver should be appointed who would see that the money was properly expended.
He also suggests that a dean should be appointed over the ministers. He points out that the Lieutenant-Governor is guided by Peter Maret, who is very much disliked by the people.
Later on Herault complains that Sir John is sending his butler to be Master Porter of Elizabeth Castle, who has no acquaintance with war and only understands serving pots of wine and beer at table.
Herault was determined to uphold the dignity of his office, which he asserted was greater than that of Captain, and claimed that the Bailiff had to see that the Captain kept the Castles in repair as well as guarded. He also asserted that " None but the Bailiff had ever authority to use the plural we."
Evidently the Privy Council supported him with regard to Peter Maret, for he thanks Secretary Winwood for the justice done.
But he could not introduce all his proposed alterations without making many enemies, especially when he had the Governor and his friends against him. They were not going to allow him to usurp what they had come to consider as their rights, and accordingly they drew up a petition in which his indiscretions were magnified to such an extent that according to them he was unfit to uphold the dignity of his office.
Herault, who is described as Seigneur de St. Sauveur, therefore was very much surprised to receive from the Secretary a letter dated 3rd August, 1616. It was very short but to the point : " Upon information given against you, His Majesty is pleased that you shall be heard in your defence. I therefore require you to appear before the Privy Council at Court on 1st November next," and he was directed to substitute Philip de Carteret, " Seigneur de Hault Vinchelles," in his place as Bailiff in his absence.
The information had been laid by Sir John Peyton, who complained that Herault had declared that he was in charge of Jersey and that the Governor was only Captain of the Castle and muster master of the companies, and that he had asked the ministers to put the Bailiff before the Governor in their prayers. That the Bailiff professed to deliver the people from the tyranny of the Governors ; that he assembles the States without the direction of the Governor ; that he has displaced H.M. Procureur, whom the Governor had appointed according to his patent, etc.
The information was supported by Aaron Messervy, Lieutenant-Governor, and John le Hardy, H.M. Advocate.
Then on the 27th October, Philip Maret joins in the fray and asks for justice and liberty, as he has served seven years as Procureur, and in seeking to maintain His Majesty's prerogative and soliciting the people to receive the English form of prayer, he has been deprived of his office and kept close prisoner for two months.

He declared that the reason why he had incurred the animosity of the Bailiff, Sir Philip de Carteret, and others, was that the Bailiff took offence because he had insisted in using, according to custom, Justices' opinion whether Philip Bisson was finable or not for opposing a certain order which the Bailiff endeavoured to make of one shilling impost on every bottle of wine sold in the Isle ; opposing his claim to tavernage ; opposing his claim to le poids du Roy ; opposing his title of Seigneur de St. Sauveur, etc., etc. He also protested against Sir Philip de Carteret, who had wanted and obtained the Procureurship for his brother, Elias Carteret. And so ended the first period of the Bailiffship of John Herault. He had tried to alter things against the wishes of those in power, and is now called upon to justify his actions.
There was never any question of the honesty of the Bailiff. He was poor, and had great difficulty in supporting the position he held. He was fighting against a very -powerful -military usurpation by means of which the Pawlets had sought to gratify their own selfish aims to the detriment of the people they governed. Herault saw the misery of his countrymen, and as a man of great integrity and capacity, and learned in the law, he sought to obtain justice for his fellow-countrymen.
He had been appointed to his position by the King against the wishes of the Governor, who would have liked to have placed his own puppet as Chief Magistrate, but, unfortunately, Herault was a man of little tact and offered many opportunities to his enemies by the outspoken way in which he claimed his rights and denounced those who were against him.
Some of the rights so claimed seem very petty as we look at them from the present day standpoint. He was often made to appear as if he were trying for the advancement of his own personal importance instead of the defence of the slightest suggestion that the privileges of his office were in danger. The King had appointed Herault as his Bailiff notwithstanding that Sir John claimed the right to the appointment under his patent, but the latter's claim had been over-ruled under the Act of Parliament of 2nd July, 1536, by which the appointment of officers was reserved for the King alone, and the Bailiff and Jurats had to try all causes.
It was a fight between Sir John as Governor and John Herault as Bailiff as to who should be the Chief Power in the land. It was a bitter fight.

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