Monday, 7 September 2015

The Accession of James II by A.C. Saunders

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

It's an interesting to note that England - and Jersey - was also facing a major refugee crisis. After the Edict of Nantes was revoked, Protestants faced grave danger if they professed their faith:

"All Protestants were forced publicly to abjure their faith, and those who refused to obey this law were treated with the greatest cruelty. They were driven to mass at the pike's point, and with halters round their necks."

It was recently highlighted in "Who Do You Think You Are?" the BBC programme in which celebrities trace their ancestors. Actor Derek Jacobi found he was related to a wealthy Huguenot at the Royal Court who lost much of his wealth, had to use bribes to leave the country (a past example of people trafficking), and  managed to escape to England.

Alan Crosby, writing on this notes that: "Sir Derek Jacobi's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? shows that persecuted people have been settling in England for centuries."

Crosby notes:

"I used to live in Norwich, where ‘the strangers’ – as they were known in the 17th and 18th centuries – became a very powerful and influential element in city business and social circles. They maintained their separate identity for many decades, with church services in their own languages and a strong sense of family ties carrying on for several generations, but gradually they assimilated. At one time, it’s been estimated, the ‘strangers’ and their descendants may have formed at least a quarter of the entire population of Norwich."

One of the lessons of history is that there is perhaps not so much to fear from migrant refugees, after all.

The Accession of James II by A.C. Saunders

With many apologies for taking so long a time in dying, Charles 11 ceased to reign on the 6th February, 1685, and his brother James, Duke of York, became King in his place. Before his death Charles openly joined the Catholic Church, to which he had belonged for several years.

It had always been known, that Charles' tendency had been towards his mother's faith, but the passing of the Test Act in 1673 had warned him that the people of England would not tolerate any return to the ancient faith. It was only when attempts were made to exclude the Duke of York from the succession in favour of Charles' illegitimate son that James' claims were recognized.

James at any rate had openly declared his faith, and was surrounded by those who were eager to support him in any action tending towards the return of the papal influence in the land.

Charles, during his fifty-five years, had had many ups and downs in his life. At the age of twelve he was present at the battle of Edgehill, and after that for many years he wandered from place to place in charge of guardians and tutors, often sorely pressed for want of money, sometimes made much of at the Court of France, and then cold shouldered as it suited the requirements of those in power.

Those nobles who surrounded him, oftimes men who had lost their all in supporting his father's cause, were eager to protect his person from danger, as with his life depended the possibility of their return to their own in England. His education was much interrupted, if not neglected, and he gained his experience of life in a very hard, and often sordid school. One thing he certainly possessed was a great charm of manner and natural wit, and when he first arrived in Jersey, although only sixteen years of age, he made himself very popular by the frank and courteous way in which he reciprocated the loyalty and hospitality of the inhabitants.

Whatever his faults, Charles had many followers, and he had always been a great favourite with the Jersey people, and therefore we are not surprised to find in the London Gazette (published by Authority) March 9-12, 1684, (should be 1685) the following " humble address of Thomas, Lord Jermyn, Governor, Sir Philip de Carteret, Baronet, Bailiff, with the Jurats and other officers of your Majesties Island of Jersey, with the Dean, Rectors, Constables, together with your Majesties Commission officers

"Most Gracious Sovereign, -We can affirm without vanity that we were excessively surprised with two contrary passions when we heard of our late Dear Soverign's departure to a better Crown, And of your Majesties being peaceably possest of that here below. For as the first could not but beget in us an exceeding measure of grief and sadness, who had felt the ease of his late government and been partakers of his special grace and favour, so the second did as much refresh our minds with joy and comfort, considering your heriocal vertues joined to an admirable sweetness of temper, which all the World is an eye witness of, and (which concerns us close) the many testimonies of special favour towards this Island, express from the time it had the honor to enjoy your Royal person to this hour, which things as they are happy prognosticks to all your subjects, as we humbly hope we may make of them a more particular application to us of this place. It remains that we on our parts acquit ourselves of those duties which good subjects are by the Laws of God and of the land to pay to a most Gracious King, and of those besides which our particular inclinations and obligations require at our hands : Wherein we trust in Almighty God never to be found wanting, as far as our Lives, Fortunes and utmost Endeavours can extend themselves. In which resolution we subscribe ourselves, and humbly pray for your Majesties long and happy reign over us."

This address, passed at St. Hillary on the 19th February 1684, was presented on the 8th March following to His Majesty by Sir Edward Carteret.

James II was proclaimed King by the Viscount on the 18th February, 1685, with all solemnity imaginable, and with all possible demonstrations of universal joy and satisfaction. The ceremony was attended by all the principal people in the Island, who expressed their joy by the discharge of canon, public bonfires, and drinking their Majesties healths. The Train bands, and all the people assembled being entertained by the Governor, the said Sir Philip, and Sir Edward de Carteret.

James had not the gracious manner of his brother, but he was considered as a man of honour, and as one who in times of danger and difficulty would still support an .unpopular cause. He knew that the Catholic Religion was much disliked by the great majority of his subjects, yet he openly attended mass and although people disapproved of his action yet they respected anyone who acted according to the dictates of his conscience. Besides he had given his word that he would not interfere with matters connected with the Church of England and the people trusted him.

Unfortunately at that time Louis XIV decided to revoke the Edict of Nantes (1685) and those Protestants who were unable to escape from France were deprived of their Civil Rights unless they joined the Catholic Church. Ministers were forbidden to preach, or teach, visit the sick, or wear ecclesiastical dress. All endowments of Protestant Churches were taken over by the Catholic priests.

All Protestants were forced publicly to abjure their faith, and those who refused to obey this law were treated with the greatest cruelty. They were driven to mass at the pike's point, and with halters round their necks. Any Huguenot trying to sell his estates, in order to flee the Kingdom was deprived of his property.

Under the rule of the " Dragonades " those who refused to comply with the new law, were left to the mercy of brutal soldiers who did what they liked with the unfortunate Protestants. By the violence and brutality of those in power, France lost nearly one hundred thousand of her best citizens.

Many of these refugees escaped to Jersey, and became the ancestors of some of our Jersey families. They told the inhabitants their tales of horror, and the many dangers they had faced in order to escape from the land of their birth. It was a terrible blot on the reign of Louis XIV, that an edict granted by Henry IV, should have been revoked at a time when Protestants and Catholics were working side by side in peace with one another, after those terrible years following the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew.

They told the people that when soldiers were quartered upon them they misquoted scripture, and told the owner " The Lord has said seek and ye shall find " and then they began to steal all they could, and woe betide those who interfered with them.

After a time rumours began to arrive in Jersey about the strange doings in London, how the army was being increased, how the officers were being selected from those who attended mass; and how James and his supporters were endeavouring in every way possible to acquire such power in the land as to force the people to revert to the Roman Catholic Church. Those in authority became very anxious and they wondered whether they had not been somewhat effusive in their address when they expressed their " joy and comfort " at his accession.

A Catholic Lt. Governor was appointed, and the officers of the garrison were changed in order that the soldiers should be under the orders of Roman Catholics. The Bailiff and Jurats recognized the danger, and they decided that half the troops in the fortress should be those belonging to the Jersey Militia.

And Daniel Brevint wrote of “troubled times ahead”.

1 comment:

James said...

we are not surprised to find in the London Gazette (published by Authority) March 9-12, 1684, (should be 1685)

That's an old genealogist's trap: until 1752 and the reform of the calendar New Year was celebrated on 25 March. Most church registers were subsequently dual-marked so a birth on 1st March 1685 would be shown as 1st March 1684/5