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.
With the "Common Council", we can see the beginnings of the States, and it is interesting that here it is the Bailiff who summons the States - "Common Council called the Assembly of these States composed of the Bailiff, by whose mandate it is summoned, of twelve Jurats, twelve Ministers and twelve Constables"; also notable is that "sometimes the Captains had been asked to sit at this Assembly"; matters were not fixed in stone.
Evidently matters were causing alarm bells to ring in England, and Commissioners were appointed to look at the state of the Island and how well it was being run; there seems to have been a certain amount of military funding going into private pockets rather than defense. It is interesting that the Commissioners also "were also directed to enquire into ecclesiastical matters and the election of a Dean and what jurisdiction he should have", which is very much what we seem to be having today with the visitation of Bishop John Gladwin. As Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun!
Bailiff Herault - Part 2
by A.C. Saunders
John Herault appeared in London, as directed, to answer the charge made by Sir John that John Herault, of St. Saviour, Bailiff of Jersey, had usurped his office of Governor and, at Whitehall in February, 1617, the decision was that Herault was acquitted of " Undutifulness to His Majesty or injustice in government, but not of heat of words for which we gave him a sharp reprimand."
The Bailiff was allowed sixty pounds to cover his expenses and directed to repair home to his charge, and it was decided that he should, besides one hundred marks a year as salary, enjoy the same rights and privileges as had been enjoyed by his predecessors. We think the charge of the military forces should be wholly in the Governor and the care of justice and civil affairs in the Bailiff.". The report of the Council was approved by the King, who directed it to be entered in the Council register.
But the King was not satisfied with the condition of affairs in the Island, In the fight between the Governor and the Bailiff many irregularities had come to light, and, on the 25th March, 1617, at Westminster, a Commission was granted to Sir Edward Conway and Sir William Bird, D.C.L., Master in Chancery, to proceed to Jersey to examine the forts and castles, the defects and negligencies in the service, both in the Civil and Military Government.
Their Commission gave them great and wide powers, for they were directed to take an inventory of all ordnance, armour, provisions and munition, of the number of the soldiers serving in the Castles ; ascertain whether any of the stores had been embezzled or sold, and if so, how much and by whom ; muster the inhabitants and take an inventory of their armour and munition ; examine the Martial and Civil Government and enquire into all extortions, oppressions, etc., committed of late years, ascertaining particulars of the offenders and examine into the dispute between Sir Philip Carteret, the Bailiff, and Philip Maret, who complained that he had been deprived of his office of Procureur.
The Commission, which was signed by His Majesty and Sir Ralph Winwood, gave them full power to take such order as may best advance our service and content our subjects. They were also directed to enquire into ecclesiastical matters and the election of a Dean and what jurisdiction he should have.
The Commissioners had a paper submitted to them descriptive of the Island at that time In it was stated that the King had a Sovereign Court composed of a Bailiff, twelve Jurats, Sheriff, Procureur, Attorney, Clerk, Prosecutor and Usher, and that there was a Common Council called the Assembly of these States composed of the Bailiff, by whose mandate it is summoned, of twelve Jurats, twelve Ministers and twelve Constables. Sometimes the Captains had been asked to sit at this Assembly and Peyton's Lieutenant, Aaron Messervy, wished the Acts of the Assembly to pass in his name, but the States decided that none had ever presided but the Bailiff.
The Ecclesiastical affairs had, prior to the Reformation, been under the Bishop of Coutances, but since then had been under the superintendence of the Bishop of Winchester.
So the Commissioners came to Jersey and Sir Edward Conway opened the Commission on the 3rd May, 1617, and in his speech stated that the King - our Sovereign - having received information of disorders of misgovernment in the Martial and Civil administration of the Island, whereof he has a singular care, and a great estimation of the love and loyalty of the inhabitants. He wound up his speech by informing his hearers that they had heard our Commission and " We do not doubt you will acknowledge what a just and loving Prince you have."
Sir William Bird also spoke : " That which the worthy gentleman to whom I am associated in this Commission has delivered to you in your own proper language, of the princely care His Majesty has of the safety and good government of his Island, though I be not so fit to express the understanding of all present, for my want of use of the French tongue, yet because I am a witness of what His Majesty out of his own mouth delivered to us, to the effect already spoken. I avow the truth of the same, and promise like diligence in discharge of this trust, without respect of any man, but a direct aim of the service of His Majesty and the good government of this country."
The Commissioners evidently meant business and their advent was a good day for Jersey. On May the 14th, John Bucknell -Master Porter of Mont Orgueil, delivered to the Commissioners his list of ordnance stores and provisions at the Castle, and on the20th May, Aaron Messervy, Captain of St. Saviour's Parish, delivered his muster roll showing that it contained the names of two hundred and twenty-four men, and that they had a falcon and a falconet with one hundred and twenty pounds of powder and six pounds of match, twenty-six balls for the falcon and sixteen for the falconet. The Commission asked for a return of the number of men charged with muskets and other furniture for the years of 1608, 1610 and 1617,giving the quantity of arms, munition, etc., for each parish for each year, also for any notes of musters in 1549 and 1562.
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