Denis Guerdain

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Denis Guerdain

Physician Denis Guerdain ( -1668), was the second son of Michel Guerdain, Constable of Trinity, and Marie Stocall. Brother of Aaron Guerdain

Civil War

In the Civil War the Guerdains and Stocalls were zealous Parliamentarian families, and in 1643 Denis had tried to negotiate the surrender of Mont Orgueil to Parliament.

When Sir George Carteret recaptured Jersey for the King, he and his brother fled to England. He established himself as a Doctor in London, and in 1653 was Physician in charge of Ely House, the town house of the Bishops of Ely, which Parliament had converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers.

Everything did not run smoothly there, and in May the Council of State received a petition "from Dr Guerdain's patients at Ely House". A committee was appointed "to consider the abuses of Ely House and report the remedies thereunto". This committee exonerated Guerdain from blame, and declared that what was needed was stricter discipline; and the Council decided that "all patients in Ely House shall he liable to court-martial as though still in the army and be judged according to the articles of war".

On 17 May the Council ordered ‘the two Dr Guerdains’ to examine 220 sick soldiers and decide which were suitable for treatment at Bath.


By 1655 Denis Guerdain was practising in Jersey, and on 28 February when Cromwell nominated 11 new Jurats, he was one of those selected. But he declined to take the oath, perhaps because he had imbibed Quaker views about the sinfulness of oaths, perhaps because he was too good a Republican to recognize Cromwell as Protector.

In January 1659 the Acts of Court record:

“The Lieut-Governor and the Attorney-General pointed out that some Jurats were in England and others infirm, and so to the great prejudice of the community there were not enough to carry on the business of the Court. They urged that it was desirable that Dr Denis Guerdain, who had lately taken up his residence in the island and had been nominated by His Highness as a Jurat, should undertake this duty. The Court finding this suggestion reasonable appointed Mons Lempriere of St John and Mons Le Sebirel to wait on Dr Guerdain and prevail on him to accept the charge".

But the Deputation failed to persuade him. After the Restoration he made his peace with the authorities, and with his brother was elected an honorary fellow of the College of Physicians in December 1664. He died in May 1668, and was buried in Trinity churchyard,

In 1656 he had married at St Lawrence Marie Herault, daughter of the Constable of St Helier, and the Register states that they were married "in the New Style", ie by the Bailiff not the Rector, according to the decree of the Barebones Parliament that all marriages must be solemnized before a Magistrate. Like other of the Jersey Republican exiles in London, he had evidently adopted Anabaptist views, for none of his children were baptised till after his death.

Four of them, Martha, 12, Denis, 9, Marie, 7, and Jean, 5, were baptised together in Trinity Church in 1672, and Aaron, 12, was baptised at St Lawrence in 1677. His eldest son, Michel, became Fellow of Exeter in 1680.

Family tree


Guerdain family tree

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