Francois de Carteret

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From A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey by George Balleine

Francois de Carteret (1601-1670) was a Jurat and Seigneur of La Hague.

Obligations

The eldest son of Jurat Helier De Carteret and Sara, daughter of Henri Dumaresq, Seigneur of Samares, he was born in 1601. His father died when he was only 15 and he inherited the Fief de La Hague, for which he had to maintain a prison and be answerable for the prisoners at his peril; the Fief es Ricards, for which he owed the King a pair of white spurs; the Fief des Nobretez, the Fief des Niemes, and the Fief de la Hougue Dirvault, all in St. Peter.

When he came of age and appeared before the Cour d'Heritage to make comparencs for his Fiefs, he fell out with his powerful kinsman, Sir Philippe de Carteret of St Ouen, Lieut-Governor and Bailiff.

"Sir Philippe demanded from Mons Francois homage on bended knee, but he refused, saying he owed such submission to no man but the King, to God on two knees and to the King on one" (Brevint's Diary).

On 20 February 1627 he was sworn in as Jurat, and the following year he was chosen by the States to superintend the building of the guardroom at St Aubin's Fort. In 1629 he built at La Hague the dovecot to which the manor was entitled, and in 1634 he rebuilt the house.

On the eve of Civil War Michel Lempriere and Henri Dumaresq were in London to protest against the de Carteret regime, and they seem to have mentioned Francois as an anti-Sir Philippe Jurat, for, when in 1643 Parliament decided to arrest Sir Philippe, Francois was one of the five Commisioners appointed to do this.

Letter from Castle

He was obviously taken by surprise. He did not refuse the commission, but kept rather aloof from his colleagues and signed none of their proclamations. He was absent from the meeting of the States at which Lempriere demanded Sir Philippe's arrest. A few days later Sir Philippe wrote to him from Elizabeth Castle:

"Aware of your influence with your fellow-commissioners, and never doubting your loyalty to the King and your love for your country, I adjure you, as I have often done before by word of mouth, by all that you hold most dear, to help me to keep the people peaceful in obedience to the laws, and to convince them that neither they nor you are justified in joining with any political party that will disturb our peace, in bringing troops to our island, or in executing any commission inconsistent with your allegiance".

Francois did not reply. In July he was excluded by name from the King's offer of pardon. In September, however, so Chevalier writes: "Mons de La Hague, who had always lagged behind the other committee men, and had tried to bring them into some agreement with Sir Philippe, seeing he could do nothing, severed himself from them. Therefore they called him traitor".

In October some of his party challenged him to declare where he stood. He replied ambiguously that he stood for King and Parliament. In November Lydcot, the Parliamentary Lieut-Governor, realizing that the Castles were impregnable, sent him with two others to Mont Orgueil to try to make peace with Lady de Carteret.

He returned with proposals to lay before the States, but on 19 November Sir George Carteret landed with Royalist reinforcements, and most of the Parliamentary leaders fled.

Francois remained. The Royalists evidently did not regard him as a rebel. He was not mentioned in the warrant for the arrest of the Roundheads, nor was he degraded from his Juratship. For more than two years he attended meetings of the States. But in April 1646, when the Royal Commissioners got to work, he had an unpleasant interview with them (quelque parole piquante). Next day he slipped away secretly to France "for the sake of his health".

"If the Commissioners had known of his hasty departure, they would not have let him go. It was thought he did this for fear of yet graver danger, for he had been mixed up with both sides, more through timidity than for any other cause. His own wish was to remain neutral" (Chevalier). But some weeks later he returned "holding his head high". In July he was back again in the States.

Refuge

When Parliament recovered the island in October 1651 he took refuge with Sir George Carteret in Elizabeth Castle ; but, when the Castle capitulated, he remained in Jersey, his life and liberty being secured by the terms of surrender. He was, however, blacklisted as one of the "chief Actors and notorious Delinquents against the Commonwealth", who were "for ever disenabled to bear any Office or Trust".

In 1655 he was degraded from his Juratship. Meanwhile the question of his property hung fire. Royalists were allowed to compound for their estates, but the fixing of their fines took time. In March he asked leave to lease his land, until Parliament's pleasure was known, pleading rather disingenuously that he had been "compelled to comply with others, when the island was under the command of the King's forces". This request was granted. In November he petitioned again to be allowed to compound by paying one tenth of his personal estate and two years value of the land. This offer was accepted and the fine fixed at £476. On 15 December the fine was paid, and the estate discharged.

At the Restoration in 1660 he resumed his position as Jurat, and in 1661 was appointed to administer the oath of allegiance to the men of St Peter. In 1665, on the death of the Bailiff, Francois, as the oldest Jurat on the Bench, was appointed Juge Delegate. He died in 1670 and was buried at St Peter on Christmas Day.

He left by will a field on the Quennevais and four cabots of rente to support the House that he had built for the poor of St Peter near the churchyard. He had married Judith, daughter of Germain Le Febvre, and had four children, Philippe, Cromwell's Judge Advocate, Francois, who became Seigneur of Dirvault, Helier, and Sara, who married Michel Lempriere, Cromwell's Bailiff.

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