Monday, 29 June 2015

Sir John Lanier by A.C. Saunders

Some more from A.C. Saunders “History of Jersey in the 17th Century”.

A few notes.

A "tod" is an old English measure of weight, usually of wool, containing two stone or 28 pounds (13 kg).

Currency is in pre-decimal English sterling - 12 pence (12d) = 1 shilling (1 s, sometimes put as 1/), 20 shillings equal 1 point (£1). The pound has changed value, but still remains.

Spellings are as original in Saunders per the documents. A cautionary note for grammatical and spelling fanatics - the language and grammar of the 17th century in the Island was still very much in a state of flux, and the Jersey spellings appear to follow a phonetic pattern. In particular note the final ‘silent’ "e" -which was sometimes a acting as a marker of a ‘long’ vowel in the preceding syllable.

Sir John Lanier by A.C. Saunders

In the 16th May 1679, Sir John Lanier was sworn in as 0 governor of the Island. He was a very distinguished soldier, who had fought under Monmouth in France where he had lost an eye. He did not remain long in the Island, but during that time he was very unpopular and was always in opposition to the Bailiff and Jurats.

In 1684 the opportunity was taken by the death of the Earl of St. Albans, who had in 1665 sold his life interest in the governorship of Jersey for an annuity of £1,000 a year, to appoint Lord Jermyn to be Governor and Lanier was recalled. He was made Colonel of the Queen's Regiment, afterwards 1st Dragoon Guards, and in 1688 promoted to be a Lieutenant General. He did good service in Ireland, and was at the Battle of the Boyne and later on became General in Flanders but being very severely wounded at the Battle of Steenskirk on the 3rd August 1692; he died a few days later.

During his early career as Governor of Jersey, he was so frequently away from his post, that an Order in Council was issued on the 28th July 1681, directing him to return to his post, and it was further directed that no Governor must leave his command without special leave.

The dispute between the late Governor, and the Bailiff and Jurats continued, the one asserting certain rights which the other side disputed. The Governor, who had been accustomed to order men to do this and that, irrespective of right or wrong, took very badly the opposition offered to him by the Bailiff and Jurats. His proposals were met by a quotation from the ancient laws of the Island, which limited the power of the Governor and possibly much irritation was caused by a considerable lack of tact on both sides.

At any rate when Bailiff Edward de Carteret supported by Jurats Charles do Carteret, Philip Payn, George Dumaresq, J. Poingdestre. Ph. Le Geyt, D. Bandinel, E. Bisson, Ph. de Carteret, Dean C. Le Couteur, Thos. Poingdextre, Recteur de St.-Sauveur, A. de Carteret, J. La Cloche, G. La Cloche, Ph. Richardson, Constable of St. Martin and Ph. Robin, Constable of St. Pierre lodged their humble remonstrance for themselves and the rest of the inhabitants of the Island and they certainly made statements which proved how much they disapproved of the conduct of their Governor. In the same remonstrance they had called attention to the many irregularities which had taken place during the time Sir Thomas Morgan was in Military charge of the Island.

As we have seen in a previous chapter, the Bailiff and his friends had lodged a complaint which had been read at a meeting of the Privy Council held on 24th May 1679, and their Lordships had directed that such grievances should be redressed and the order was registered in the Royal Court. However Sir John objected to the Order and obtained a suspension of same " pretending Y they had ben obtayned unknowne to him, & Y they conteined an empairement of his just dues, & were contrary to Yo. Ma. Service."

At first Sir John had assured Sir Philip and Sir Edward de Carteret " of his pticular furtherance of all Y blight conduce to Ye good of Ye Island." But evidently on second thoughts, he saw that if the said order was put in force the privileges of his office would be considerably curtailed ; therefore, we find that from henceforth he and the Bailiff were fighting for what each considered to be his just right and privilege.

In their reply to the Privy Council, they submitted a " fewe reflexions upon the subject " and blamed Sir John if they had to cast blame upon his predecessor, although they had refrained from complaining against Sir Thomas, at a time of danger, when wee thought more expedient for Yor service to endure those pressures from a person otherwise useful to this place, than to overhasten them."

The danger was not so pressing and the fear of invasion was passing by, and thus the military qualification of the Governor were held in lesser value. We must also remember that the tendency of the age was to get as much as possible by any means available, and the Governors probably found it somewhat difficult to keep up their positions in the Island on the regulated pay allowed to them. They were anxious to benefit by as many perquisites as possible.

Charles had granted to Mr. O'Neale, the power to levy a tonnage due on vessels for his lifetime, and the Governors, at his death, considered that they had a right to continue collecting the Revenues as a perquisite of their office. This was one of the complaints, which by their order of the 21st May, the

Privy Council had decided that the authority by which it was levied in the first instance in Jersey had not been sufficient, and that such authority should have been issued by Letters Patent under the great seal of England. They also pointed out, that the levying of the said tonnage dues was unpopular, and was against the interests of the Island.

Then they had the grievance of the 500 tods of wool which Sir John wished to continue. The Bailiff pointed out that Jersey wool was first used in the manufacture of stockings about the year 1599, and that as the trade increased, King James had first granted the Islanders a licence to import.400 tods out of England, and King Charles of blessed memory had added another 600 tods to the amount. That the " Usurper " had doubled the amount, and the allowance had been continued by King Charles II.

It was therefore very unfair for any Governor, to claim one quarter of their allowance as his perquisite, and sell the same at 2/6 a tod to any person in Jersey or England, who was willing to pay this amount, and thereby deprive the Islanders of their just allowance under the licence. There is no doubt that the Bailiff and Jurats were right in contending against the evil practice which had grown up, and they justly contended that such dues to the Governor could only be allowed, if supported by an Order under the Great Seal of England.

Sir John was following the action of previous Governors, and resented any question of his collecting the dues.

Then they questioned his rights to issue certificates for goods landed in the Island. They contended that although it was necessary, in his military capacity, for him to know what was being brought to Jersey, yet the Bailiff and Jurats had more permanent interest in the Island, and were better qualified to see that the regulations were properly carried out.

They also objected to his having the sole right to issue passports to ships, and passengers, and the seizure of ships and goods without an order from the Royal Court.. They also strongly objected to his having the appointment of the " Customer who should be an officer of great trust and authoritye having a large power to exercise either in good or evill, is at Yr sole and entire disposall of Ye Governor who placeth in each part a common soldier without any knowledge of Yor Royall Court or any oath taken there of faithfully discharging his Trust. And if he finds them not for turn, turns them out at pleasure."

No wonder there was unanimity among the Justices of the Island in fearing that the Governors were endeavouring to return to those old days when Bailiff Herault had fought their battles so yell. They were determined that the orders of the Privy Council on the subject should be upheld to the letter, and the Governor restrained from taking action outside the duties of his Office.

They had a grievance contained in twenty-nine articles, and the Bailiff and Jurats justified themselves by producing evidence that the Governors were attempting to encroach upon the privileges of the Royal Court to the great disadvantage of the people of the Island.

Lanier was a military man who had seen much good service and met many people. Probably he thought that he could carry on as he was accustomed to as a senior officer in the army, where whatever order he issued was immediately carried out and possibly he could not understand the Jersey character, and more or less looked down upon the Jersey laws and customs, as something not applicable to a man in his position.

But the Jerseymen stuck to their guns, and when opportunity came, Lanier returned to military duties, and died bravely, when fighting for his country, as a general in Flanders in August 1692. As a soldier, he left a name in history, but in his Governorship in Jersey, he was unfortunate in trying to maintain these irregularities of office which he had inherited from his predecessors.

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