Friday, 26 July 2013

Before the Rebellion by A.C. Saunders

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 other histories of Jersey.
It is interesting to see that Turkish vessels were around the English Channel, preying on shipping. These were probably the same ilk known as Barbary pirates, sometimes called Barbary corsairs or Ottoman corsairs. This may have also influenced "The Pirates of Penzance", as from medieval times and to later centuries, Penzance was subject to frequent raiding by Turkish pirates.
Captain Lewis Kirke was captain of the naval ship Leopard and was engaged in battles with Dunkirk ships and in a search for Turkish pirates near Guernsey. With his brothers, he was part of the expeditions to capture Quebec in 1628 and 1629. He served in the royalist army during the Civil War and was knighted in 1643.
Dr Peter Heylyn (1599 - 1662) was an English ecclesiastic and author of many polemical, historical, political and theological tracts. He incorporated his political concepts into his geographical books Microcosmus in 1621 and Cosmographie in 1657.
He had a small inheritance from his father, but was looking out for preferment, and became chaplain to the Earl of Danby, who was governor of Guernsey and Jersey at that time. When Heylyn visited Guernsey, he commented that " the island is generally very fruitful of corn, whereof the inhabitants have not only enough for themselves, but some overplus." He also noted that the use of seaweed (vraic) was one of the outstanding features of agriculture in the Islands.But he took the view that Jersey carried a larger population than it could well support and, in consequence, was overwhelmed by poverty and want:
"The other Villages lie scattered up and down, like those of Guernzey, and give habitation to a people very painfull and laborious; but by reason of their continuall toyle and labour, not a little affected to a kinde of melancholy surlinesse incident to plough men. Those of Guernzey on the other side, by continuall converse with strangers in their own haven, and by travailing abroad being much more sociable and generous. Add to this, that the people here are more poor, and therefore more destitute of humanity; the children here craving almes of very stranger; whereas in all Guernzey I did not see one begger."
Rybot comments on Heylyn's visit:
"Heylyn [1629] was much struck by the numbers and poverty of the people. He was told that there were between 25,000 and 30,000 persons on the island. Poingdestre [1682] states that it was commonly held that the population of the island was formerly 50,000, - but does not believe it. He thinks however, that the planting of orchards at the expense of wheatlands and the neglect of agriculture due to the frenzied manufacture of knitted goods had tended to diminish the population. He says that there are "not past twenty thousand" persons in the island.
Before the Rebellion
By A.C. Saunders
We hear that Jersey was continually being harassed by fear of invasion, and on 20th September, 1635, a Jersey vessel arrived at Pendennis Castle homeward bound from the Mediterranean. When in the English Channel and nearing her home port she had been attacked by six Turkish men of war and a certain French " Runegathos " on board one of the Turkish vessels told the master of the Jersey ship that twenty other Turkish vessels were on the  look out for vessels returning from the Newfoundland fisheries. After capture the barque had been taken to St. Malo, and when the Turks had taken what stores and cargo they required, she was allowed to continue her voyage. At that time England was not at war with Turkey but on the 3rd December, 1635, Captain Lewis Kirke writes to Secretary Coke that he has been instructed by Sir John Pennington to stand away towards Jersey and Guernsey to free these Islands from Turks and other pirates " and to range over our coast as far as Land's End."
Reference has been made to the Earl of Danby, who had been placed in charge of the defence of Channel Islands, and his chaplain, Dr. Heylyn, in his survey of Jersey and Guernsey gives a most graphic account of his voyage from Portsmouth to the Channel Islands during the month of March, 1629.
He explained that the Earl having been deserted by his chaplain owing probably to " the extremity of the season and the visible danger of the enterprise " he gladly accepted the offer of the appointment and went aboard His Majesty's ship Assurance, eight hundred tons, forty-two guns, on Tuesday, 3rd March, 1629. `.` Well manned with valiant and expert sailors and welcomed aboard (after the fashion of the sea) with all the thunder and lightning which the whole navy could afford from the several ships."
The fleet consisted of five vessels, the Assurance, two pinnaces called the Whelps, a ketch called the Minikin, and a merchant vessel called the Charles, carrying arms and stores to the Island. There were four hundred soldiers on board in four companies, two under Colonels Pipperwell and Connisby for Guernsey, and two under Colonel Francis Rainford and Captain Killargre for Jersey. The fleet was under the command of Sir Henry Palmer. They gradually made their way until they arrived at the Needles, a dangerous passage at all times except to those only who being well skilled " in these sharpe points and those dreadful fragments of the rocks, which so intituled them, could steer a steady course between them ; Scylla and Charybdis in old times nothing more terrible to, the unskilled mariners of those old days than those rocks of ours."
Once out in the Channel the wind began to blow and conditions became very uncomfortable, for the wind turning Eastward " all night we were fain to lie at Hull (as the mariners phrase it) without any sensible movement either backward or forward but so uneasily withall, that it must have been a very great tempest indeed which gives a passenger a more sickly and unpleasing motion." However they got in sight of Jersey when they discovered " a sail of French consisting of ten barkes laden with very good Gascoyne wine and good choyce of linen bound from St. Malloes to Newhaven for the trade of Paris and convoyed by a Holland man of war for their safer passage."
The two Whelps and the Ketch made chase and the guns of the Admiral's ship were fired and the Holland man of war " very sordidly and basely betrayed his charge before he came in reach of danger " and the afternoon was spent by Heylyn in watching the French vessels trying to escape from their enemies. It afforded him great pleasure to see the fight, especially as he knew it was his Lordship's pleasure to deal favourably with those poor men who chanced to fall into his power. Three of the vessels were captured but the rest escaped although they were fired at from the Admiral's ship. The fleet anchored that night in the port of " St. Ouen, one of the principal ports of the Island." The Islanders standing all night on guard thinking " by the thunder of so many great shot that the whole powers of France and the Devill to boot were now falling upon them." They landed next day in the Bay of St. Helier " Neer unto Mount St. Albin in the Parish of St. Peter and received visits from the gentry who came to attend His Lordship." Next day Lord Danby allowed all the French to return to their homes to their great rejoicing.
Some of the wine from the prizes proved to be very useful in the celebration of His Lordship's arrival. On Sunday, the 8th, Divine Service was held in the church, attended by all the principal inhabitants of the town, and the officers and soldiers and sailors, and Dr. Heylyn preached a most eloquent sermon from Psalm 31, " Offer unto the Lord thanksgiving," with reference to the good success of the voyage past and hopes for the like mercies in the time to come. The three barks were now exposed to public sale, and Dr. Heylyn's anger was aroused when he found that they had been purchased by " the Holland man of warre, whom they had hired to be their convoy, which gave me such a character of the mercenary and sordid nature of that people that of all men living I should never desire to have anything to do with them."
The people of the Island had to obtain permission from the Governor when they wanted to go elsewhere for business and pleasure, and when the Governor's authority was ignored matters were made very uncomfortable for the delinquents. Thus on the 27th of January, 1637, in an order made at Mont Orgueil Castle by Sir Philip de Carteret, Lieut.-Governor, Amice de Carteret of Trinity, Captain of the trained bands of that parish and one of the Jurats of the Island, was accused of having on two occasions left the Islands for foreign parts without first obtaining the permission of the Governor, and, although he pleaded ignorance of the law and without contempt and that he was not bound to acquaint the Governor but by way of courtesy, he was ordered to appear in London before the Privy Council within forty days of 18th January, 1637 " if he continues in his contempt and refuses to acknowledge his fault."
Even a Jurat was not exempt from the arbitrary ruling of the Governor, and Jurats in those days were at any rate, in their own opinion, persons of importance in the Island, the Seigneurs of St. Ouen, Rozel, Samares, and Trinity coming first and all the others according to the date of their election. They were great sticklers for the right of seniority, and we hear of Philip de Carteret of Vinchelez and Philip Lempriere of Dilamon appearing before the Privy Council in London to argue the question of their respective position among the Jurats, when Philip Lempriere was represented by counsel as he alleged " his inability to deliver his mind in English " but do Carteret appeared in person.
But serious times were coming on and these petty disputes had to be put on one side. England was gradually becoming embroiled in Civil War and John Hampden in Parliament rose and described the ship money as an illegal impost. Hampden was a man of peace. He hated war and was a grave honourable and intelligent citizen, respected by all, but determined to do his utmost to preserve the rights of his fellow countrymen. The King tried to curry favour with the Scotch people and visited Edinburgh where, by many concessions and conferring many honours, he managed to secure for himself a doubtful popularity.
But on his return to England in 1640 he was compelled to summon a new Parliament and among the members was John Pym, a Somerset gentleman of high character, cool temperament, and great eloquence, who had a keen sense of justice, and his ambition was to see that the rights of his countrymen were not trodden on. So at the age of fifty-six Pym became leader of the new Parliament, whose first duty was to try and undo the injustices which had crept in under the Royal Warrant.
Then Parliament began to enquire into the liability of those advisers of the King who had encouraged him to usurp their power and we see that Laud and Stratford were arrested and brought to trial. Both were executed, the latter under a bill of attainder after a long struggle. Deserted by the King, whom he served so well, he met his death bravely thanking God that he was not afraid of death. He had been brought over from his Government in Ireland to assist the King, and, as soon as his execution had taken place and the Irish people no longer felt the rule of his Lord Lieutenancy, then rebellion of the most savage nature broke out in that wild country and some fifty thousand English people were massacred in a most brutal and inhuman fashion.
The prosecutions against his friends somewhat cowed the King, but he was all the more firmly determined to regain the powers he had lost and many of the more modest members of Parliament were beginning to be afraid that they were moving too fast, and so in the House of Commons a Royalist party was formed and when the " Solemn remonstrance " was brought before the House it was only carried by eleven votes.
Royalists flocked to London and surrounded the King, who, determined to put down the activities of the new Parliament, appeared at the House supported by a number of his followers and demanded the arrest of the obnoxious leaders Hampden, Pym, Hollis, Strode and Haslerig. But the House had been warned and these leaders of Parliament were not present, and so Charles, encouraged by his followers, decided on war and raised his standard at Nottingham on the 23rd August, 1642, thereby beginning the great Civil War when the two opposing parties became known as Roundheads and Cavaliers.

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