Jean Poingdestre biography - 2
Jean Poingdestre, classical scholar, linguist, university tutor and fellow, lawyer, courtier, government secretary, Jurat, Lieut-Bailiff, and author of works on Jersey history and law, was a man of many qualities and achievements. In a cynical age of influence and trimming, he stands out as a devout, upright and incorruptible man.
He also led a curious double life, partly in Jersey, and partly in the universities and offices of state in England; in both cases, he distinguished himself, though Philippe Falle, who claimed to know him intimately, said: 'It was indeed a disadvantage to him, to act on so narrow a theater as this little Island, where he had not scope to exert his talents'.
Yet Poingdestre was a reticent man, and we know only a limited amount about him in either theatre.
Poingdestre was born in St Saviour's Parish, reputedly at Swan Farm, named after a 19th-century owner, Graves Chamney Swan. His father, Edouard (c1546-1622), was Seigneur of the Fief es Poingdestres, and twice Constable of St Saviour. The Poingdestres had been conspicuous in public service since the 14th-century, producing three Bailiffs in the 15th-century. Edouard had in 1563 married Margaret Messervy, and produced a son, Thomas, ancestor of the Poindexters of America.
Shortly after that Margaret died, and on 1 July 1606, Edouard married Pauline, or Apoline, Ahier (1570-1652). She was the daughter of Thomas Ahier (1525-1622) and Margaret Le Riolley (1539- ). Pauline produced Mary, born 1607; Jean, the subject of this article; Edouard, born in 1610, who died young; and Thomas, born in 1613, later Rector of St Saviour.
Poingdestre and Ahier are among the very rare old Jersey surnames which are not also found in Normandy, and the union of these two important families produced offspring of intellectual calibre, and in a parish which was and would be the birthplace of several distinguished men in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Jean was baptised on 16 April 1609 in St Saviour's Church, no doubt by the Rector, Nicholas Effard. The Rector's son-in-law, Jean's half-brother Thomas, was godfather. Jean was presumably brought up at Swan Farm, along with his siblings and step-siblings. Nothing is known of his childhood.
A note of 15 November 1618, probably in his handwriting, records that a comet had appeared in the constellation of Libra, presaging misfortunes which later occurred. We have no record of Jean's schooling: all the likelihood is that he went to St Mannelier, which was a short walk from Swan Farm, with a high academic standard. In 1622, his father Edouard died, and Nicholas Effard and others were appointed guardians of the children of Edouard and Pauline, all minors.
It is possible that Jean drew up the Crown Wheat Rental of 1625, as the well-formed hand in which it is written is similar to his, and the rental was among the Poingdestre papers bought by the British Museum in 1892. In 1625, 'the year of the three Lieutenant-Governors', he noted that the bell towers of St Martin's and St Peter's churches had been struck by lightning.
Jean was destined for Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Some Jerseymen sought university education in France, at Caen, Saumur or Paris, but the majority preferred the ancient English universities.
Jerseymen were already going to Oxford and Cambridge by the mid-sixteenth-century, and Jean's choice of Cambridge was probably through the influence of two men: first the Rev Nicholas Effard, his relative, who had matriculated at Jesus Cambridge in 1569, and later moved to Oxford, and secondly Daniel Marett, of Trinity, lecturer in Hebrew and Rhetoric at Cambridge, and a Fellow of Pembroke Hall.
Poingdestre matriculated sizar at Pembroke Hall in 1626. We know a certain amount about his thoughts and feelings owing to the remarkable survival of his commonplace and letter-book, now in the National Library of Wales. His Latin draft to Nicholas Effard, 'the best of all friends', dated 28 January 1628, says that he rejoices to hear that his daughter, Jeanne, is about to marry Jean Pinel.
- 'Without doubt God has blessed you so abundantly that you appear to have obtained more than that part of blessedness, which Psalm 128 had predicted for upright men'.
He also rejoiced that his half-brother Thomas' family had been increased by a son; this was George Poingdestre, who would emigrate to Virginia in about 1674, acquire land in Williamsburg and become a slave owner and ship owner.
Taking advice from Daniel Marett, he visited Sir Philippe de Carteret (1584-1643) in London. Poingdestre was so 'humanely' received by de Carteret that he confessed he would be devoted to him forever. The main purpose of his visit was to seek provision for his studies and those of his brother, probably the Edward Poyndexter who matriculated at Clare Cambridge in 1628.
Sir Philippe had been forced to leave St Alban's Hall Oxford in 1602, abandoning his own studies 'which he loved more than anything else in the world', and no doubt this would have informed his wish to support the Poingdestre brothers at Cambridge. Poingdestre had also sought financial support from 'Dominus Boma', and apparently from the Don Baudains fund, but without result; he did not receive funding from the Don Baudains until later in 1628.
In another Latin draft, of 31 July 1628, he complains to Effard that he is not getting enough moral support for his theological studies. 'I am wholly bound by philosophy, which (without sounding boastful) at this very time is not good for me. Theology thirsts for philosophy like a magnet for iron, one is the torch of the other, and a maid, and the man, who seeks her, when he has not first spoken to her...does not wander around with an inflamed torch in the darkness...'
His commonplace-book contains several rather mysterious pieces.There is a long essay on the assassination of Julius Caesar; a very short squib in Latin verse, as if from the English Parliament to the Pope, about the 'Sulphurous Conspiracy' that is, the Gunpowder Plot; an enigmatic piece, also in Latin verse, on a mother who 'dying begot me, and soon the same woman is begot from me...'; a piece in French verse to young women 'who are not hypocrites', advising them not to dissemble, and another to women who use cosmetics, asking them how God will recognise them when they have covered up His image with a 'lying mask'; a piece on thunder; a translation from Greek to French on humans who look like animals; a short piece on an ancient portrait of Voluptuousness (perhaps Cleopatra), and a translation from the Latin of Jerome Fracastor on the subject of Psyche sighing beside Cupid. There follows a piece, in French rhyming couplets, a reply to the 'so-called Donkey's Testament, addressed to Messrs of the Isle of Jersey'. The background to this is an old story which claims that some Jerseymen returning from Guernsey found that a dead donkey had been tied to their helm to slow their sailing. The Jerseymen put the donkey's head, legs and ears in the middle of a pie, which they sent back to the Jurats and gentry of Guernsey, where Jersey pies were much esteemed, bringing ridicule on the Guernseymen who opened it. The Guernseymen admitted sending the donkey, but denied that parts were returned in a pie.
The Donkey's Testament, to which Poingdestre replies, was Guernsey's response in verse, to Jersey. It is impossible to guess what the Guernsey Testament said, as Poingdestre's reply merely compares it sarcastically and at length with the braying of an ass.
The book contains two poems, one in French, one in Latin, expressing gratitude, in a cloud of classical reference, to 'Monseigneur le Baron Goring', in part for supplying him with 'ink, pen and paper'.This probably refers to George, Lord Goring (1585-1663), later 1st Earl of Norwich, who gave Poingdestre financial support. His son, also George Goring (1608-1657) was at Cambridge, perhaps entering as early as 1620 or 1621, and had been to Paris in 1628. Goring's biographer speculates that he might well have had a special instructor for a subject like French. If so, this would surely have been Poingdestre.
At this time Poingdestre's brother Edouard died. A long draft to his 'revered mother' Apoline, dated 26 March 1629, seeks to offer comfort. He asks her to moderate her sadness at the deaths of her son Edouard, her father and her husband (both of whom had died in 1622), to say nothing of her sisters [Marthe and Marie], all of whom had died in her presence. Would she wish, by her tears, to make them quit the Heavens for this world of corruption? He urged her to bear her afflictions with the patience of Job who lost seven sons and three daughters.
Poingdestre took his Cambridge BA in 1630, and his MA in 1633. He then migrated to Oxford, becoming a Gentleman Commoner of Exeter College from 9 October 1635 to 3 November 1636. On 4 August 1636, he had become the first Exeter fellow on the Charles I Foundation, established a month before. Unfortunately, he ceased to maintain his letter-book, and we know little of what he did at Oxford.
We do, however, have his portrait aged 27, which would place it in 1636 or 1637.The legend says Ce que te vois de l'home nest pas l'home, a metaphysical conceit which, like his early verses on hypocrisy; and consolation letter to his bereaved mother, seeks to distinguish reality from appearance, soul from body. The index finger of his left hand marks a place in a book which reads, in Greek, eidolon skias, a phrase from Aeschylus which means 'fleeting image', another comment on the ephemeral quality of life; his right hand or 'poingdestre', points to what seems to be a compass, perhaps indicating that he always sought guidance.
On 28 December 1635, Elizabeth, Queen Henrietta Maria's fourth child, was born. Poingdestre was among those celebrating the birth in Coronae Caroline, a collection of poems by Oxford men in English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. His contribution began Maths cedite Tympana: Ementita Iovis fulmina, cedite. On 17 March 1637, Anne, the Queen's fifth child, was born. Poingdestre contributed to the celebration, Flos Britannicus, veris novissimi.
Using his Latinised name, Ioh Poingdexter, he wrote a Pindaric Ode in Greek with a conclusion in Latin; and as Jean Poingdextre, French verse in rhyming couplets. The Queen must have been flattered to receive this tribute in her native tongue among all the Latin and English effusions.
Falle refers to the 'exquisite beauty and mastery' of his Greek penmanship, but the only surviving Greek script from him are two lines from Homer at the beginning of his Caesarea, written much later. Falle adds that Poingdestre was 'one of the best Grecians in the University, able to restore and give a new edition of Hesychius the Lexicographer [of Alexandria; fifth-century], which was long expected from him'. There is no other record of this work appearing, although his contemporary at Cambridge, Pearson, did make an edition of Hesychius' dictionary.
Curiously, Poingdestre mentions Hesychius in Caesarea, but this must be Hesychius of Jerusalem, a correspondent of St Austen (Augustine). Payne records that he produced emendations of texts of several Greek poets, some of which still exist in manuscript.
By this stage, he must have acquired a knowledge of the law; Duren says that he was a lawyer by profession.
Sir Thomas Jermyn was made the Queen's vice-chamberlain in 1628 and in 1631 had become non-resident Governor of Jersey. This may have been the means by which Poingdestre became tutor to the sons of Philip Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, who was the Lord Chamberlain. (Pembroke and his brother William were dedicatees of Shakespeare's First Folio).
On 29 June 1637, Edmund Taverner, Pembroke's secretary, wrote to Poingdestre in very warm terms to say that he had 'put my lord upon enquiry what may bee the reason that his stay should be forbidden (unless his comeing were without leave) and I believe he will speak with [Archbishop Laud] about it. I cannot give you any certaine resolution from Sir Tho Jermin...'
This is hard to interpret, but is consistent with the connection being made through the offices of the chamberlains.
Three of Pembroke's sons, Charles, Philip and William, were at Exeter. Charles and Philip had set off for France and Italy in May 1635; Charles probably died in Florence in 1636. The likelihood is that Poingdestre tutored Philip, and William, who had contributed Greek verse to Coronae Caroline. The tutorship may not have lasted long, because Philip Herbert married on 28 March 1639, and served in that year in the first Bishop's War.
On 1 or 2 November 1637, Jean Pallot, Regent of St Mannelier, wrote to Poingdestre in Oxford to say that his brother-in-law, Pierre Fautrart, would tell him of some injustice. At this time Fautrat was complaining to Archbishop Laud that he had less than £40 to sustain him as Rector of St Brelade; he had failed to make legal proof of his tide to the living of Paulerspury in Northamptonshire, where he had been rector from 1630 to 1631. This suggests that Poingdestre was seen to have some influence with the Church, perhaps with Laud himself.
He did not forget Jersey, and in 1637 gave two silver communion cups to St Saviour's Church. It seems that he had been paying for the food and upkeep of his nephew Philippe Poingdestre at Oxford. Philippe, son of his half-brother Thomas, had matriculated at Jesus on 15 June 1638.
On 21 December 1639, Poingdestre's full-brother Thomas, now Rector of St Saviour's, acted as his attorney in the Cour de Samedi. Poingdestre sought a bond from his half-brother for 75 escus. Philippe took his MA and later became Regent of St Mannelier.
In 1641, Poingdestre was ordained deacon by John Williams, Archbishop of York, in Henry VII's Chapel of Westminster Abbey. This probably marked the end of any active involvement with the Exeter Fellowship, from which he was finally expelled by the Parliamentary visitors in 1648, though it seems that he kept his right to room in the College and his emoluments throughout.
Poingdestre's epitaph states that he was for a long time secretary (ab epistolis) to Charles I. That might have been the formal position, but in practice it seems that he was under-secretary to various Secretaries of State. He was, in modern terms, like a senior civil servant advising a Minister of the Crown, acting as his agent, and dealing with his correspondence.
Charles had set up his headquarters in Oxford in October 1642. George Digby (1612-1677) became his Secretary of State and High Steward of Oxford in 1643. He had been a contemporary of Poingdestre's at Oxford. Digby was the first Minister whom Poingdestre served, and it is easy to see how he came to Digby's notice, and it may have been as early as 1643. Digby had countersigned letters from the King to the Jersey authorities in 1643 and 1644. Poingdestre himself said of the Civil War period that it was characterised by incompetence of jurisdiction, and he was in a better position than most to know.
The Civil War in Jersey can be dated to mid-1641, when Sir Philippe de Carteret declared for the King, but Dean Bandinel, Michel Lempriere and others formed a committee to support Parliament. In 1643, the militia and the government declared for Parliament. Sir Philippe retired to Elizabeth Castle, where he died on 23 August. The Royalists held out in Elizabeth Castle until 19 November 1643, when they were relieved by Captain George Carteret who, by force of personality and a degree of ruthlessness, persuaded the island to become Royalist.
It is likely that Poingdestre continued to serve Digby during this period, and up to the end of 1646. He may also have served Edward Nicholas, who had shared the secretaryship with Digby since 1645.
Chevalier, who kept a very detailed diary of events in Jersey from 1643 to 1651, the interregnum between the two periods of Parliament rule, does not mention his presence in Jersey till 1651. It is true that Benjamin La Cloche's diary, which covers 1617 to 1652, mentions that Jean Poingdestre was among those on guard in front of Mont Orgueil in October 1643, but there were other Jean Poingdestres.
The Poingdestre papers in the British Library include various documents or copies about current events, some probably in the hand of Poingdestre from the period between 1642 and 1645, but none proves that he was in Jersey.There are accounts of Jersey events in 1643, including an entry for 20 November when Lydcott embarked at Havre des Pas without supper.
Poingdestre was in Dublin, still in the service of Digby, at the beginning of 1646. On 2 January he wrote to 'Right Honourable' to apologise for not doing so before about the situation in Ireland. He could not add to what Digby had said about the affairs of Ireland. He confined himself to reporting on 'the the generall condition of these parts, and especially the English Quarters, which in my judgement is very sad, they being not onely reduced within a very narrow compasse of ground, but totally ruinated, the whole Countrie waste, and unhabited, Farms and Villages burnt down to the ground, not a Garrison of his Majesties'.
He then continued in numerical cipher, showing that he was trusted with secrets by the Royalists, ending with an attack on the Pope, saying that the duty subjects owe to their princes should be primary, 'but I doubt, that duty is taught at Rome, with as many limitations, as at Edenborough, or in Westminster it selfe...' This letter, his longest extant passage in English so far, shows that he had a good command of the language, and a robust style.
In April 1646 Digby went to Jersey to persuade Charles, who had arrived on 17 April, to become figurehead for a hare-brained scheme for a Royalist counter-attack from Ireland — 12,000 men were ready to cross to England — but Hyde and Culpepper opposed this. Digby was back in Dublin on 2 August, writing to Hyde and rejoicing on the proclamation of the peace. Poingdestre had written to Hyde the day before with details of the risks to the peace.
By the beginning of 1647, Poingdestre was in Jersey. On 16 January, he was elected guardian of the children of Jean Coutanche of Trinity. At that time, Hyde went to see him but found no books which could help him in his writing of the ' 'History of the Civil War ' '. It may have been on this occasion that he told Hyde about something done by the three Estates.
'Estates!' said Hyde, `Bona verba. Have you a privilege here of calling Parliaments? or of doing yourselves, what those assemblies use to meet about in France and Germany?' Poingdestre explained that he called those assemblies estates, though they could not meet without commission from the King, nor pass any action without his assent.
His 'humble advice' or rather report on the accommodation between Ormonde, the Lord Lieutenant, and the Confederate Catholics is dated 25 June, which might have been written in Jersey or, if he had returned, in England.
In 1648, Parliamentary visitors came to Oxford and took evidence from John Martin and Robert Hancock about their colleagues at Exeter. On 17 April the visitors required the sub-rector of Exeter, Henry Tozer, to admit Peter Fiott of Jersey in Poingdestre's place 'pretended to be void by his long absence'. Tozer refused to do so, and Sir Nathaniel Brent, Warden of Merton, expunged Poingdestre's names, but Tozer still refused to give Poingdestre's chamber and emoluments to Fiott. In the event, Poingdestre was expelled, along with Tozer, six others and Harding the Cook, not for absence but for his 'loyalism'.
Poingdestre had probably ceased being Digby's secretary at the end of 1646. In any case, Digby had lost the confidence of the Queen and was to enter the French Royal Army in 1648. It was probably at about this time that Poingdestre became secretary to the Duke of Buckingham. In about July 1648, Buckingham had narrowly evaded capture by Parliamentary forces, got to the Continent, and then returned.
The execution of Charles I in 1649 must have shocked Poingedstre who had among his books a collection of tracts entitled Caroli...innocentia.
At the end of April 1650, there was some talk of sending Buckingham as special ambassador to Germany, but in June he accompanied Charles II to Scotland. At this time, Poingdestre was at the Hague, acting as agent to Secretary of State Nicholas in Utrecht. Shortly after 31 May 1650, Poingdestre left the Hague with John Seymour, a member of the Western Association, and Jonathan Trelawney. Seymour went on to Scotland to present Charles with 'this perquisite for a successful rising'.
This must mark the end of Poingdestre's service to the Secretaries of State, Digby, Nicholas and Buckingham. He returned to Jersey to live on his private fortune, such as it was; he did not, as some sources state, go into voluntary exile. Meanwhile, George Carteret's Royalist rule in Jersey was coming to an end. On 20 October 1651 the Parliamentary fleet under Admiral Blake and Col James Haines appeared off Jersey. Haines (or Heane) led the land forces and later became the Parliamentary Governor of Jersey. Poingdestre was with Carteret in Elizabeth Castle with about 350 men — noblesse, clergy, merchants and garrison.
They discovered that Charles had escaped after the Battle of Worcester, arriving at Paris on 30 October. Jersey was not wholly under Parliamentary control, and it was still possible to slip out from Elizabeth Castle to France.
Carteret sent Poingdestre there on about 1 November to give an account to Charles of the garrison, armaments and provisions, Carteret adding that he hoped to be able to hold the castle for eight months. On hearing that the Parliamentary fleet had taken Jersey, Charles 'said not a word', but he sent to the French court, then at Poitiers, for help.
While Poingdestre was cooling his heels in France, on 9 November, a direct hit from a granadoe, let off by Thomas Wright, fire-master, hit the Abbey Church at Elizabeth Castle and the powder magazine below, causing a great explosion, loss of life, damage to property and demoralisation. By 24 November, Poingdestre had not returned, and the Council of Officers at the Castle sent Jean Durel, Carteret's chaplain, to tell Charles of the explosion and to ask for help, which Carteret said would only require des forces bien mediocres.
Two days after Durel's arrival, Charles sent him back with Poingdestre; they carried identical letters saying that the understanding between Cromwell and Mazarin meant that he could provide no assistance, and advising Carteret to get the best terms he could. In any case, as Hyde had noted in his work on the Civil War, Charles preferred to see Jersey in the hands of Parliament, rather than those of the French who would never return it.
Only on 3 December, when Heane had again summoned Carteret to surrender, did he disclose the contents of Charles' letter to his followers.The next day, Carteret sent Poingdestre to France again with whale-oil and other commodities to exchange for provisions in St Malo, and to seek further advice from the King on terms, but the ship ran aground between castle and town, and was set alight by Heane's men; Poingdestre managed to escape."
Carteret realised he had no choice but to surrender the Castle, though on advantageous terms. He did so on 15 December, and the articles of capitulation were drawn up by Poingdestre and Mr Bigge, who worked for Carteret. The terms in effect pardoned those in Elizabeth Castle, provided they committed no hostile acts against Parliament; in a secret clause, Carteret was to receive an advantageous £1,800.
Though Royalist in sympathy, Poingdestre managed to live quietly throughout the second Parliamentary rule of Jersey without difficulty, profiting from the amnesty included in the articles of capitulation he had drawn up.
Among his papers is a draft petition of the 'well-affected ofJersey', which seems to be in his handwriting.They had groaned under bad government, and the island was run by 'notorious delinquents' and 'lewd persons'. Those faithful to the Commonwealth should not be forced to exile themselves a second time.The complaint, with which Poingdestre seems to be associated to some degree, was not against the principle, but the practice, of Commonwealth rule.
At this time moves were afoot among the Royalists in France to appoint Poingdestre as Latin Secretary to Charles. On 24 February 1652, Hyde then in Paris, asked Nicholas whether Poindexter would be a good Latin Secretary should Charles go to Germany. Nicholas replied on 7 March to say: 'If you shall make Pointdexter desire to serve me in the place of a secretary I am so well satisfied of his honesty and abilities as I shall willingly entertain him'.
By 15 March Hyde had written about Poingdestre to Sir George Carteret, then in France. Two years later, Hyde wrote to Poingdestre, probably suggesting he take the Latin secretaryship, but Poingdestre did not reply. Jean Durel in France reported that Poingdestre 'sees little hope of the King's success, and hath no minde to condescend to what was required of him'. Durel would write to Poingdestre urging him to say 'yea or nay'. In the event, Poingdestre declined.
(By coincidence, John Milton, contemporary of Poingdestre's at Cambridge, and a pre-eminent Latinist, became Latin Secretary to Parliament at this time.)
We know little of his activities now. On 24 February 1652, his mother Apoline was buried at St Mary. In 1654, he was godfather to a baby at St Saviour, and at some stage in 1654 or 1655, he was consulted on arms by John Gibbon (1629-1718). He was a herald and antiquary, living in the island, and cousin of Robert Gibbon, the Parliamentary governor. John Gibbon would have been interested that 'Poingdexter' (right fist) is itself an heraldic term.
At about this time, he was consulted by Nathaniel Whyte, Receiver of Guernsey, about champart. He replied that champart, far from being an imposition or usurpation, was the most ancient, real and legitimate rente that could exist. In 1656 the Council of State referred an inheritance dispute, involving Joshua de Carteret, to Poingdestre, Laurens Hamptonne — both Royalists — and to the Parliamentary Governor and Bailiff, Col Gibbon and Michel and Jacques Lempriere, as experts on Jersey law. This suggests an easy accommodation between former Royalists and Parliamentarians.
In 1656 and 1657, he was a attorney for St Saviour's parish and served on the vestry. In about 1656, he began to acquire rentes, a practice he would continue until his death, whether he was in Jersey or in England. A rente is a mortgage, not a rent. Poingdestre would grant a sum of money and in exchange receive an annual payment, usually in wheat, secured on property.
Rentes could be bought and sold. Non-payment of the rente could result in imprisonment in Mont Orgueil or seizure of goods. In 1656, he began a case against Richard and Philip Fauvel for a rente he had bought from his nephew, Philip Poingdestre, whom he had supported at Oxford. The case was renewed in 1658, and dragged on to 1664 when he was in England; he used the case as an illustration in his Lois et Coutumes.
It is said that in traditional societies one's address is a place in one or more kinship networks, rather than a place-name. Thus we know a great amount about Poingdestre's obligations and credit, but do not know where he actually lived. It is likely that his half-brother Thomas, or after 1669 Thomas's son George, lived at Swan Farm; Poingdestre, as a widower with two minor children lately returned from England, might have lived anywhere.
He may, however, have lived in Grande Maison de Lempriere. It has not been possible to locate this house with any certainty, but it features frequently in the Poingdestre papers. A probable narrative runs like this:
Thomas Lempriere, Bailiff from 1495-1514, owned Grande Maison et chef Mesnage, Jardin de la Vallette, Jardin de Haute Ville, Clos de la Porte, Pre de Rozel and other fields, as appear in his partage of 1568. These fields are undoubtedly near Grainville. Three of them are mentioned in the 1619 partage of Thomas's grandson Hugh Lempriere (1530-1590). The property probably passed to Hugh's son, Philippe Lempriere, who went bankrupt in 1603, when it was taken by John Dumaresq, husband of the Dame de Samares.
Two years later Dumaresq sold it back to Marie Amy, Philippe Lempriere's wife. The property seems to have passed down to Mary and Susan, daughters of Philippe and Marie Lempriere, and from them to their sons, Thomas Payn and Matthew Le Geyt. Thomas Payn went bankrupt and the property of both cousins, in practice Grande Maison, various unnamed fields, and about 52 rentes, were acquired by Jean Poingdestre in 1657. This included Grand Clos de Lempriere, acquired from the Hamptonnes in 1611.
In 1658, Poingdestre demanded payment of rent (loage) of La Grande Maison from Marie, widow of Jacob Poingdestre; he was guardian of her children. He had already inherited the Grand Clos du Patier nearby.
Along with Grande Maison de Lempriere, it is likely that Poingdestre also owned Petit Pre de Lempriere, and also a vivier and colombier to the east of the house. This indicates that it was manorial, though still separate from the Fief of Grainville. In 1660, he sold Grand Clos (probably Grand Clos de l'Eglise), to his brother Thomas, the Rector.
It seems that he was trying to acquire a rectangular area of fields (if he did not own them already) bounded by Rue a la Dame, St Saviour's Hill, the road which led down to Grand Val Mill (probably Chemin de Carrel), and the Valley (Grands Vaux). These fields include La Vallette (des Maugers), Clos des Fosses, Clos des Maugers, Les Hureaux Lempriere, and Grand Clos Carre. Together with Grand Clos de Patier, and the land around Grainville, this represents a sizeable stretch of land between what is now Patier Road and Grands Vaux.
To the west was the land of his full brother Thomas, to the north-west, the land at Swan Farm still presumably in the hands of his half-brother Thomas or his heirs.
None of this proves, of course, that Poingdestre was living in Grande Maison, but when he wrote to his new wife, Anne Hamptonne, from England two years later, she was living in St Saviour, which suggests that they may have lived in Grande Maison together for a few months.
The quarter due on the property still attached to Grainville Manor when it was sold in 1873. This all strengthens the supposition that Grande Maison de Lempriere is indeed Grainville (the house was separate from the Fief Grainville, which was granted by Charles II to Sir George Carteret in 1643, and not sold till 1695).
The late John Poindexter Landers, one of George's American descendants, surmised that Jean Poingdestre might have been in Virginia with George for a short time between 1657 and 1659. This is partly based on an entry in Marion Turk's Quiet Adventurers in North America, stating that George left Jersey in about 1657; but the Jersey Land Registry shows that George did not leave until 1674 and, in any case, there is some evidence that Poingdestre was in Jersey at the time, for example, the court record of 23 October 1658 mentioned above with his demand for payment of lodge.
On 16 February, 1660, Jean Poingdestre, at the late age of 50, was married to Anne Hamptonne at St Lawrence's Church, presumably by the Rector, the Rev Josue Ahier, husband of Anne's sister, Elizabeth Hamptonne. Anne was the second daughter of Laurens Hamptonne and Marthe Bisson. She had been baptised at St Helier Church on 13 May 1632, and would have been brought up in St Helier or at Hamptonne, which had been acquired by her father in 1635; as a young girl she might well have come across those members of Charles's entourage who visited or stayed at Hamptonne in 1646 and in 1649.
On 29 May 1660, Charles was restored and on 2 June 1660, proclaimed King in Jersey. It looks as though Poingdestre was already planning to return to England for, two days before his marriage, he sold Grand Clos, which is just next to Grainville and to St Saviour's Rectory, to his brother Thomas. By 23 October he was in London, writing to Anne in St Saviour as Mon cher coeur.
He reported that he had been well received by George Digby, whose secretary he had been in the 1640s, and who was now Earl of Bristol. Bristol offered him some post at £137 a year, which may have been connected with his position as High Steward of Oxford University; but Poingdestre declined.This was just as well, as Bristol was shortly after displaced from the High Stewardship by Hyde.
Poingdestre was at the same time offered another posting. A later letter, of 3 December, to Anne shows that this was to be a mentor, at £100 a year for seven years, of a young lord who would live in Oxford until ready to travel. This eight-year-old boy was Charles Dormer, 3rd Viscount Ascott. Dormer's grandfather, Arthur Lord Capell, had been in Jersey in 1646 and 1647, but the connection was probably that his great-uncles, Philip and William Herbert, had been tutored by Poingdestre at Exeter College. Poingdestre 'sojourned with' the Warden of Merton, Sir Thomas Clayton; Dormer lived in the Warden's lodgings.
Anne was still in Jersey on 13 May 1661, but must have moved to Oxford by August 1661. This would have been difficult for her, as she did not speak English. Their first child, Charles, was born in the house of Richard Davys, stationer, in Schydyarde Street or St Mary Lane (now Oriel Street), and baptised in the Merton Chapel, on 15 May 1662.
Once again, the activities of Poingdestre in England are obscure. It seems that he was present on 29 August 1662, when the King and Council decided an inheritance case against Josue Ahier, his brother-in-law, and again on 10 May 1667 when Ahier's appeal was declared void. On 21 August 1665, he was copying Sir Thomas Leighton's Les Loix Coustumes et Usages de l'Isle de Guernesey (1582) in the library of Sir Robert Cotton in Westminster; he passed his copy to his brother,Thomas Poingdestre.
He was still composing Lois et Coutumes de Jersey in 1664, because it includes, most unexpectedly, a passage in Latin on the death in childbirth of Anne Hamptonne. He refers to her virtues: faith and morality, filial piety, submission to her husband, natural love for family and friends, charity for all, especially those in need, a piety neither disguised nor superstitious, wisdom and judgment beyond that found in her sex, and minus curiosa educatio (lacking an over-elaborate education ).
The child was Elizabeth, still pink from her dying mother's body. This carries a strange echo from an enigmatic entry in his letter-book of about 1629 which refers to a mother who 'dying begot me, and soon the same woman is begot from me'. This cri de coeur for his 'dear heart' is especially poignant; they had lived together in Oxford for only three years. He would live the rest of his life — 27 years — as a widower. Anne's remains were buried in the left choir of St Aldate's, Oxford, on 5 June 1664.
While he was in England, Poingdestre continued to buy up corn rentes. His attorneys in Jersey were his wife Anne (until she joined him), Laurens Hamptonne her father, Jean Pipon (juge commis) and Philippe Hamptonne. One transaction was sealed in London, the others in Jersey.
He was also acting in the case of Daniel Norman of Jersey, a Parliamentarian who had been a contractor for buying Charles I's property after his execution. Norman had returned to Jersey after it was taken by Parliament in 1651, and had become Viscount in 1655. In 1660 Norman moved back to England, and in 1665 was sued by the Queen, Henrietta Maria, for detaining articles of apparel, which are listed in the pleadings in the Poingdestre papers. In 1665, he gave Richard de Carteret, then at Merton, 155 livres tournois in exchange for a rente of 5 cabots. De Carteret later became Regent of St Mannelier; Poingdestre had also helped Philippe Poingdestre, now retiring as Regent, with financial help when he was at Oxford.
During this time, his tutoring of Dormer was successful, for the young man matriculated at Christ Church in 1664, and graduated MA from Merton in 1665. Poingdestre left Oxford for Jersey in 1668.This is when his contract to tutor Dormer would have expired, and it is likely that he continued his tutoring to the end of the seven-year period. Dormer was 16, and perhaps ready to travel. Nothing is known about Dormer's life, apart from the fact that he died before his own father, and in his minority, that is before 1673. Poingdestre must have left Oxford at some time before 31 May 1668, when he was godfather to Edouard Hamptonne in St Helier's Church.
Poingdestre was now a widower with two small children. Again, it is unclear where they lived. He still owned Grande Maison de Lempriere, which it is suggested is Grainville Manor, and was acquiring more land in St Saviour nearby. In 1684, he caused four announcements to be made during Divine Service, forbidding people from trespassing on his fields, Clos de la Porte, Clos de la Vallette des Maugers, Les Hureaux and Les Fosses, all of which are close to Grainville. This strongly suggests he was living at or near Grainville.
Poingdestre had privately agreed with the Bailiff, Sir Edouard de Carteret, that he should become his lieutenant; but he had first to be put on the bench of Jurats, which he cannot have relished as he found them stupid. A letter from Arlington, Secretary of State, dated 22 February 1668, was therefore issued recommending his election as a Jurat, without seeking the franchise of the inhabitants. He was duly sworn in on 27 May 1668. Francois Godfray says that Poingdestre was involved in drawing up the 1668 Extente; he certainly verified a copy against the original while still a Jurat.
After a decent interval of eight months, on 21 January 1669 he was sworn in as Lieut-Bailiff at the Cour d'Heritage, taking over from Jean Pipon. The Bailiff, about to leave the island, passed him the Seal en cour seante, and did not preside again for ten years, preferring his duties in London, including the post of Black Rod.
The Lieut-Bailiffship, only recently unsalaried, now produced some income. He appears as Lieut-Bailiff in contracts of the period; when they dealt with his own property, an attorney was appointed to represent his interests. Charles Trumbull, who visited Jersey in 1677, thought that this appointment threatened to make Poingdestre a creature of the de Carterets, who were in effect a cabal ruling Jersey.
The Actes des Etats show that Poingdestre presided regularly, four or five times a year, except for 1670 when there were no (recorded) sittings. In 1670, in the name of the three estates, he caused a petition to be sent to the King seeking his agreement for a tax on wool to help finance a new pier; the King agreed in June 1671.
On 30 December 1675 he again wrote to the Governor, Sir Thomas Morgan, to complain that 'our passports are slighted and our merchants and seamen exceedingly abused by those small picaroons, Ostenders and Biscayners, which are everywhere about us, so that it seems almost impossible to avoid them ... our commerce is almost at a stand, our merchants so disheartened'.
He asked Morgan to assist Sir George Carteret, Vice-Chamberlain, take the matter to the King. On 12 February 1676, Morgan, at Chaunston, Herefordshire, and afflicted with gout, referred the matter to Williamson. On 3 January 1676 he was godfather to Susanne, daughter of another Jean Poingdestre, at Trinity Church.
He continued helping finance Jerseymen at Oxford: in 1669, he advanced 88 crowns to Rachel de Beauvoir, mother of Philippe Le Hardy, for his expenses at Exeter; she gave 10 cabots rente in return.
On 15 June 1676, in the Cour de Cattel, he was replaced as Lieut-Bailiff by Philippe Le Geyt. Sir Edouard demoted him to jurat ostensibly because of his 'very passionate temper', but the real reason was that de Carteret wanted to place partial, and displace impartial jurats, in spite of the local maxim 'once a jurat and so to the grave'.
Charles Trumbull, who visited Jersey the following year, noted that Poingdestre felt discontent against the de Carterets for his 'degradation', but it would have made him much more impartial than had he continued in their service. Poingdestre's successor as Lieut-Bailiff was 'extreamely cautious not to disoblidge' his de Carteret patrons, and being of 'meane Discent and no Alliance' could not depend on merit or integrity, but rather more the favour of the de Carterets.
The implication is that Poingdestre had resisted improper pressure from the de Carterets to decide cases in their favour, expressing his impartiality in a passionate way. He also objected to the fact that the Bailiffship was semi-hereditary and held by a non-resident, and to the grant of percage and other waste land to the other Sir Edouard de Carteret.
In 1676, he was working with his successor Philippe Le Geyt to produce letters and 'relations' on the financing of work on the piers and provision of cartage to send to Sir George Carteret and to the Bailiff, seeking through them to get Royal assent.
Coustumes of Normandy and Jersey
In 1676, Poingdestre produced Les commentaries sur l'ancienne coutume de Normandie. Charles Trumbull thought that Poingdestre was 'undoubtedly the fittest person to compile a body of law, and is acquainted with all the Abuses in the Practise'.
Charles Trumbull, with his brother William, was in Jersey from 19 August to 29 September 1677. They were staying with their sister Deborah and her husband, Philippe Dumaresq, at Samares Manor. Again, the invisibility of Poingdestre is striking: he was a fairly close neighbour of Dumaresq, and they certainly knew each other. Like Poingdestre, both the Trumbulls were men of learning; William's nephew was Charles Dormer whom Poingdestre had tutored at Oxford.
Charles Trumbull wrote that he was waiting in vain to read Poingdestre, presumably his Commentary on the Ancienne Coutume of 1676, And yet there is no evidence of any meeting. It is likely that much of what the Trumbulls wrote, especially passages beginning 'as I am informed', including Charles's short paragraph on Poingdestre, came from their brother-in-law Dumaresq.
No doubt Poingdestre would have agreed with the Trumbull-Dumaresq version, including the overweening power of the de Carterets, but there is no evidence that he was the source.
As noted, he had begun buying rentes during his first period in England and his rente book, begun in 1678, shows about 250 names. Most of them owed him rentes in money or kind, in exchange for money he had passed to them. He made about 28s a year selling rentes. Those who did not pay on time might be taken to Court at his instance and imprisoned in Mont Orgueil.
Noe Le Geyt's failure to pay resulted in the seizure of his 'pommel croissantes'. The rente book shows that Poingdestre sought three sols rebate for every day that Thomas Rouet had worked for him, but had been overpaid.
On 3 July 1679, and again on 4 August, Le Geyt with Jurats Poingdestre, Dumaresq and Bandinel, along with Poingdestre's brother Thomas Poingdestre and the Greffier, George Syvret, were authorised by the States to classify the privileges, franchises, liberties and immunities of the Island. This seems to be a response to concerns expressed by Poingdestre himself as early as 1675, when he was still Lieut-Bailiff, but the proposition came from the Governor, Lanier.
In his preface to his Commentaires sur l'Ancienne Coustume de Normandie, Poingdestre wrote that a code was needed which set out what could be done in the Coustume, added to regulations and ordinances of the Privy Council. But Lanier revoked some ordinances confirmed by the Council and nothing was done until 1685.
Josue Ahier (1619-1693) was the son of Gyon Ahier of St Saviour's, another academic family: his uncle, Philip Romeril, had been at King's, Cambridge. He himself was educated at New College, Oxford, funded by the Don Baudains, and had translated from the French a work by Peter du Moulin as The Elements of Logick , 1647.
He married Elizabeth Hamptonne, the main inheritor of Laurens Hamptonne, leaving their initials on the Hamptonne colombier. As Rector of St Lawrence, he had married Poingdestre and Anne Hamptonne. He was thus Poingdestre's second cousin and brother-in-law. But they were on bad terms; furthermore, Ahier was of the Geneva school and Low Church; Poingdestre was probably, like his brother Thomas, High Church.
Charles had granted a Patent of Entail on 28 January 1650 to Laurens Hamptonne in return for services to his father, Charles I. Laurens died in 1665, his only son, Edouard, having predeceased him in 1660. Hamptonne's son, Edouard, had died without issue and Ahier claimed all the estate on behalf of his wife, Hamptonne's eldest daughter and principal inheritor. Poingdestre resisted this, claiming a share of the estate on behalf of his wife Anne, a younger daughter. The Jersey Royal Court decided in Poingdestre's favour on 26 April 1666, on the principle of gavelkind.
Ahier appealed to the Privy Council; it seems that he and Poingdestre were present; Ahier lost and was ordered to pay Poingdestre £10. Ahier lost an appeal on 10 May 1667, when both were present. Ahier then lost the enrolment of the Letters Patent and was granted a Warrant for their enrolment. Payne says that the King in Council reversed the Jersey decision and the entail declared good. The case rumbled on, because on 11 April 1682 a Dr Mallet was about to go to England about an appeal against one Ahier, Poingdestre with him. In the end Poingdestre lost, and Hamptonne has been held exclusively by the eldest son or daughter thereafter.
Poingdestre is best known for Caesarea, or, a discourse of the Island of Jersey. This is based on very extensive reading. Some of his notes from his sources have survived. (17 pages out of 79 are missing). They show his reading in the standard works, mostly published in the 16th century, which are mentioned in his text: Camden, D'Argentre, Gregory of Tours, Robert Cenau, Andre du Chesne, Papire Masson, Denis Sauvage, Petrus de Natalibus and others.
He also took notes from works of more marginal interest, which are not cited in Caesarea: for example, a Latin work on the companions of the Conqueror, a book on Norway by Albert Krantz, Charles Oiseau's Traite des seigneuries, Walter Map's De nugis curialiam, and two works by Orderic Vitalis. Caesarea also cites various works which are not mentioned in his notes (unless they were in the missing 17 pages): Robert de Monte, Selden, Heylin, William of Jumieges,Wace, Raleigh and others.
Caesarea begins with an apt quotation from Homer, in which Odysseus tells King Alcinous that his native island, Ithaca, '...is a rough land, but nurtures fine men. And I, for one, know of no sweeter sight for a man's eyes than his own country'. There follows a description of the island, agriculture, architecture, customs and governance, and shows an observant and well-informed writer. The second part deals with its history. Also surviving are some passages in his own hand which were much changed in the final version: on some prehistoric monuments and, a nice touch, on varieties of field mice.
He is sometimes inaccurate, and the comments of his earliest critic, Philippe Dumaresq, have survived. Dumaresq says that 'St Albin' is not used in local writings; that Mont Orgueil was not surprised, but delivered by Nanfant to de Bresse (Maulevrier); that he does not know of any hill with a spring on top; that a perch is 22 English feet wanting 2 inches; that enclosures were not so late as 100 years before; that there is no local record of mead, only beer, wine and cider; and that the figures for corn imports are wrong.
He does not agree that Bouley Bay and St Catherine's Bay are more suitable for commerce than St Helier; nor does he agree that Mabon built the chapel on Hougue Bie, only added to it. None of these criticisms were taken on by Poingdestre, though it is true that Poingdestre's original claim that the cliffs ofJersey are as high as a steeple, led Dumaresq to say that very few steeples are over 300 feet. This alone is omitted from Poingdestre's final version.
This may indicate that their relationship was not particularly close; and there is no evidence that Poingdestre was given sight of Dumaresq's own work, Survey of Jersey of 1685.
From internal evidence, he must have completed a first draft in 1682, and then lent it, or part of it, to Philippe Dumaresq. Dumaresq did, however, send Poingdestre's text, part of which he had just received, to his brother-in-law, William Trumbull, on 17th July 1683, inviting him to take a copy; this copy must be the one in the Trumbull papers, very similar to the one in Harleian 5417, but with some passages omitted.
Trumbull was asked to send it on to Sir Philippe de Carteret, which he still failed to do by 1684. (This Sir Philippe was grandson of the Sir Philippe who had helped Poingdestre with his education, and had been with him in Elizabeth Castle in 1643.) On 19 March 1684, Dumaresq sent Hatton further Poingdestre papers, including his copies from Cotton, ie Leighton's survey. It is not known at what stage he showed it to Philippe Falle, who was Rector Of Trinity and St Saviour from 1681, apart from a short absence in 1687-1698, and who based his own Caesarea (1694) on it.
There is another source for Poingdestre's general reading, unrelated to his work on Jersey. It comes in a list of books jotted in the margins of his much earlier letter-book. Whether these were books he owned, or read, or wished to read, is not clear. It includes several classical authors: Aristotle, Longinus, Lucan, Marcus Aurelius, Petronius, Phocylides,Thucydides and Virgil.
There are several works by fairly recent writers: Edward Brown's Travels in Europe and Maximilien Misson's New Voyage to Italy; Casaubon's Letters; Bernard Fontenelle's Conversations on the plurality of worlds; BalthasorVenator's satire on the German Diet; works by Ezechiel and Friedrich Spanheim; and by Gerard Vos.
We know from Hyde that, at least during the Parliamentary period, he did not have books on current affairs. Also in the margins of his old letter-book are a few notes showing that he was reading about Isaac Barrow (1630-1677) clergyman and mathematician. He noted with approval Tillotson's remark that 'he must either be a perfectly good, or prodigiously bad man that can read [Barrow's sermons] without being the better for them'. As one would expect, Poingdestre's reading matter was of high seriousness.
Poingdestre's Treatise on Medicine, which was given by a descendant to J P Landers, is in America. It is in Latin, with some Greek passages, and takes the form of six lectures, mostly on the digestive system, its ailments and cures. More obscure are some lines, in Latin verse, which appear in Johann Nicolai's Libellus de luctu Christianorum, 1739.
Nicolai quotes Poingdestre's lines, on the inevitability of death, with approval.They appear to come from a longer work, or perhaps collection by various authors, and printed rather than manuscript; but it has not been possible to trace any such work.
At the end of 1685 Privileges de Pile appeared; Poingdestre was involved in drawing it up. It was an abridged collection of statutes, charters and Royal ordinances, which had been set in motion by Lanier some years before. It was delivered to Roland Watson, Thomas Jermyn's lieutenant, on 9 January 1685. Notes on later grants (1341-1449) were drawn from a copy in the hand of Thomas Poingdestre, Rector of St Saviour.
At this time, Philippe Dumaresq, Seigneur of Samares, was involved in almost interminable litigation seeking to assert his precedence over the Seigneur of Trinity, Charles de Carteret. Dumaresq was also involved in a long-running dispute with all the de Carterets, who were trying to establish their precedence over all others not so named, regardless of their date of election, for example as Jurats.
Poingdestre would not have had much interest in the Samares-Trinity issue, but as a Jurat and opponent of the de Carteret cabal, he would have had strong views on the latter question.
On 12 March 1682 Dumaresq wrote to Sir William Trumbull: “Mr Poindextre, by reason of his degrees in the University, wch made him an Esqr there, might have some pretence but I am persuaded faire compliments will work with him.”
Dumaresq considered that gentlemen should have precedence over others, and the implication is that he would not press the question whether Poingdestre was a 'gentleman', in the hopes of securing him as counsel for litigation in England.
Even at a distance of 350 years, it is distasteful to see Dumaresq writing in these condescending and devious terms about a man who was his superior in so many ways.
On 12 June 1682, Dumaresq wrote to his brother-in-law, Sir William Trumbull that the bearer, Poingdestre, would 'acquaint you with our general design', and hoped to obtain an order at the Trial of Precedencies which he would send back to Jersey by way of France. On 19 July the Jersey Committee in London heard Poingdestre 'learned on behalf of himself and some of the Jurats' and Sir Edward de Carteret on behalf of John de Carteret, Seigneur of Vinchelez de Haut, and Jurat.
The matter was remitted to the Privy Council for 3 August 1682. At some stage the de Carterets, instead of pursuing their appeal, got a letter from the King, but Poingdestre, at great trouble and expense, got the letter suspended. It seems that Dumaresq now agreed with the de Carterets that their two families should have precedence, but that five Jurats including Poingdestre 'are absolutely resolved to oppose it'.
In other words, Poingdestre, who had used his forensic skills to thwart the de Carterets, now found that he was threatened by a de Carteret-Dumaresq deal.
But in 1683 Dumaresq reported that the Dean, Clement Le Couteur, had 'so temepered with some of our Jurats Poindexter and Bandinel that they were sure to carry the precedency to sitt in court'.
Thus Poingdestre was in England from about March to May in 1682, representing Dumaresq in London and briefing Trumbull on the precedence question. He also took a message from the Dean, Clement Le Couteur, to George Morley, Bishop ofWinchester. Poingdestre knew Morley 'very well', perhaps from his second period at Oxford (1661-1668) when Morley was Dean of Christ Church.
The issue here was abuse of the Tresor: wheat rente, given in the past by 'pious persons' for the upkeep of churches, was being spent on secular purposes like making journeys to England, upkeeping roads etc.
Poingdestre thought such secular expenditure should be made only in cases of urgent necessity. He was carrying a draft to Morley for the King's seal which would ensure that the Church could enjoy its tresor, as was the case in Guernsey. Poingdestre wrote to Leoline Jenkins, Secretary of State, on 17 November 1682; the subject is not known, but it may have been church tresor.
In 1684 both his children married: Charles to Anne Hilgrove in St Saviour's Church on 20 September; and Elizabeth to George Bandinel in St Martin's Church on 26 October. This must have prompted him to leave the empty nest himself, because on 28 August 1685 he bought a house and land at La Rocque, Grouville, from Jean Filleul, son of Jacques. Filleul would continue to live there during his lifetime and keep a vergee of land.
Poingdestre is recorded as occupying Le Mesnage Jean Filleul fils Jacques in 1688, but by 1689 he was occupying Mesnage de Payn, probably the house bought in 1668 by Charles Le Hardy, Constable of Grouville, but unidentified. Possibly the house was inherited by his son, Charles.
On 21 August 1690 the States required M de Vinchelez (a member of the de Carteret family), Mr Dumaresq and Poingdestre, or two of them, with various others, to work incessantly to produce a memorial for the King and Queen, and the Council, on the condition to which the island had been reduced. It is not known whether he contributed to the memorial in this, the last year of his life.
The Rev Philippe Falle was present at Poingdestre's 'last and most Christian Moments', and he buried him at St Saviour on 4 September 1691. The Latin epitaph on Poingdestre's elaborate monument, still to be seen in the church, comes from his son Charles who calls him the best and most loving of fathers.