Friday, 6 September 2013

The Prince of Wales Visits Jersey

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931),  by A.C. Saunders.
Jersey at this time was still in Royalist hands, and this chapter follows the arrival of the Prince of Wales, later Charles II of England. The text of his farewell letter has been uncorrected and stands as a good example of the fluidity of written English in the 17th century.
A note on currency mentioned, where Jersey was following French coinage:
1 Pistole is worth 10 Livres. Pistole is the French name given to a Spanish gold coin in use in 1537. The coin gave its name to the town of Trois-Pistoles, Quebec, where according to local legend, an explorer lost a goblet worth three pistoles in the river
1 ECU is worth 3 Livres 
1 Livre (Franc) equals 20 Sous or Sols 
12 deniers equals 1 Sous or Sol
The livre was the currency of Jersey until 1834.
The site has some interesting details:
"In 1653, a surgeon would earn annually 150 to 100 Livres; a joiner, 100 Livres; a carpenter, 75 to 100 Livres; a armorer/ worker, 100 Livres; a gunsmith/locksmith, 80 Livres; a locksmith, 75 Livres; a gunmaker/basic 75 Livres; a bricklayer, 80 Livres; a cobbler, 60 Livres; a tailor, 60 Livres."
"What could you buy with this money? In 1709, a horse sold for 40 Livres, and a beautiful beast, up to 100 Livres. Also in 1709, a cow was worth 50 Livres; a sheep,  5 Livres; a average pig from 150 to 200 pounds - 15 Livres."
The Prince of Wales Visits Jersey
By A.C. Saunders
On the 17th April, 1646, there was great excitement in           Jersey, for the people had been told that Charles, Prince of Wales, was arriving that day, and was on board the " Proud Black Eagle," 160 tons, 24 guns and commanded by Captain Baldwin Wake then lying at anchor off Elizabeth Castle. It was a proud day for Jersey that the King's eldest son should seek refuge in the Island, although thoughtful men began to realise that it showed the desperation of the King's cause in England. The Royalist party in England were fighting a forelorn hope, and in the following month King Charles sought the hospitality of his Scotch subjects with disastrous results to himself.
The Prince of Wales was accompanied by many lords, knights and esquires and his retinue numbered some three hundred. He was then about sixteen years of age, and for some time had had to accept responsibilities and face dangers which would have weighed down many an older man.
Prior to his arrival in Jersey, he had sought refuge in the Scilly Islands, but it was found by his advisers that these Islands were incapable of proper defence. Owing to the troublous seas between the Islands and the mainland, it was difficult to obtain sufficient provisions for the maintenance of the Prince and his followers. Besides it was known that he was living in the Islands and Sir Thomas Fairfax had sent him a summons to surrender, and, when that was ignored, some twenty seven parliamentary vessels surrounded the Island to prevent any assistance or provisions being sent to the Royal party. So his advisers decided to seek refuge further afield and it was thought that Elizabeth Castle in Jersey would offer the Prince sufficient safety, as, at that time, it was considered one of the strongest fortresses in Great Britain.
Taking advantage of a two days storm, which scattered the enemy's fleet, the Royalists accompanied the Prince on board the " Proud Black Eagle," and they all arrived safely off Elizabeth Castle. The people rejoiced in the trust given them, and on the 19th all the Island was illuminated by bonfires placed on every suitable hill in the Island, and later on a levee was held at the Castle where all the principal inhabitants were present. For a boy of that age to hold a court and charm everybody by his gracious manners was a very notable event, but he had been through a stern school and even to the last, with all his faults, Charles must have been a very charming personality.
But the Queen was not satisfied, and she wanted her son to be with her in France, notwithstanding the opposition of the members of the council who had been appointed by the King to safeguard the person of his eldest son. They realised the security offered by the Jerseymen and the wonderful castle, and felt sure that Charles would be a greater force if he remained on British soil than if he were a refugee in a foreign country. Besides if the worst came to the worst there was always the possibility of escape to France. However the Queen persisted, and Lord Colepepper was persuasive with the result that the young prince decided he would follow his mother's directions and join her, much to the grief of his council, who one and all asked for pardon if they refused to accompany him, as they considered that their duties finished when he accepted other advice than their's and placed himself under the protection of a Foreign King.
As soon as it was known that the Prince was leaving, the States decided to fix 22nd June 1646 as a day of fasting ; when all people were commanded to abstain from all food, drink and manual work and the ministers were instructed to exhort the people and remind them of their many sins, and no taverns were to be opened or drink sold that day.
But during his first visit in Jersey, the people were able to see much of their young Prince. Most of his retinue had to be quartered in the town, and the quarters were distributed according to the rank of the person requiring accommodation. The food was provided by the Prince and regulations had to be made to solve the difficulty of obtaining necessary supplies. An addition of 400-500 people meant a great strain on Jersey hospitality and the price of mutton was fixed at three sous the pound and a couple of pullets at eight sous. There were then a number of sheep in the Island, and we hear of complaints of dogs continually worrying sheep and lambs.
Lady Fanshawe, who accompanied her husband on board the " Proud Black Eagle," states in her memoirs " We set sail for the Isle of Jersey, where we safely arrived, praised be God, beyond the belief of all the beholders from that Island ; for the pilot not knowing the way into the harbour, sailed over the rocks, but being spring tide, and by chance high water, God be praised, Hs Highness and all of us came safely ashore through so great a danger."
Later on she says that Sir George Carteret " a man formerly bred as a sea boy " endeavoured with all his power to entertain his Highness and Court with all plenty and kindness possible both which the Island afforded, and what was wanting, he sent for out of France." She describes the people as cheerful and good natured speaking neither English nor good French but loyal to the King.
One of the first things Charles did after his arrival was to knight Captain George Carteret and Captain Baldwin Wake.
It was notified to the people that the Prince intended to attend worship at the Town Church on the 26th April 1646 and about one hundred mounted gentlemen of the Island proceeded to the Castle to escort His Highness to the town. The people flocked in from the country to see the procession and the church was gaily decorated for the occasion. A space was specially reserved for the Prince, whose chaplain conducted the service in English so that it was little understood by the majority of those inhabitants who had obtained entry into the church. Charles frequently attended service here during the month of May but later it was found more convenient to hold service at the Castle.
Then on the 27th April Charles made a tour of the Island and lunched with Colonel Philip de Carteret of St. Ouen's Manor at Mont Orgueil Castle, where de Carteret was Lieutenant, and, after lunch, the Royal party proceeded to St. Aubin's sands, where there was held a grand review.
This was a grand day for Jersey, possibly the first of the many reviews which have been held on St. Aubin's sands as years passed. It is said that nearly fifteen thousand people flocked to the sands to honour their Prince. The trained bands were in three divisions, and there was a number of horse soldiers who charged imaginary enemies to the great discomfort of the onlookers and often to themselves. The guns were fired and the men marched backwards and forwards and then the Prince, hat in hand, and all smiles and bows, inspected the men as he passed through their ranks. As he passed along the men shouted " Dieu sauve le Roi et le Prince ! " and when Colonel de Carteret came to the Prince after the inspection, the Prince made him kneel, and touching him on the shoulder with his sword, bade him rise up as Sir Philip. The Prince was so pleased with the review, and the loyalty shown, that he ordered his chancellor to distribute 900 pistoles among the soldiers, and that, needless to say, added considerably to the later rejoicings, although there was some talk that the money had not been fairly divided. It was a great day for Jersey, and for many years afterwards the people talked of the Grand Review. There was another review held on the sands on the 29th May, the Prince's birthday, and all round the bay bonfires were lighted from the hills, and the ships were illuminated, and much cider was drunk when the Royal Prince's name was mentioned.
Charles was very fond of the sea, and finding it inconvenient to await the tide for crossing to the mainland, he had a large barge built at St. Malo, which he used to make his journeys to and fro.
He had made himself very popular in the Island and the people were sorry to see him go, but the Queen was persistent and the Prince was only a boy and naturally the commands of his mother had great weight.
Charles left Jersey on the 24th June 1646 and two days before his departure he sent the following farewell letter to the inhabitants.
" Trusty and welbeloued We cannot before our  departure hence But expresse ye great sense and acknowledgment we have of Yr Extraordinary proofes  we have-found dureing or Residence here of the good  affeccons of Yr Inhabitants of this Island to the  Crowne and to our person, asureing you hereby that we shall Embrace and seek all opportunities to testiffie  ye same By Yo most reall wayes, and so much we desire yo in our name to make knowne to ye Islanders " which we shall make G'ood upon all occasions. And so we Bid yo very heartily Farwell. Given at our Court, at Jersey the 22nd June 1646. Charles P.  To our Trusty and welheloued, The States of the Island of Jersey."

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