Jean Herault

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Bailiff of Jersey
1615-1621, 1624-1626
Jean Herault

James I promised the office of Bailiff to Jean Herault in 1611

Jean Herault, Jersey's first new Bailiff of the 17th Century after the Paulet family era was brought to an end with the retirement of George Paulet, followed in the best traditions of his 16th Century predecessors by falling out with the Governor and being suspended from office and also imprisoned for a day.

Early years

He was the son of Thomas Herault and Mabel Nicolle, who was the sister of former Bailiff Hostes Nicolle. He was born in 1569, and little is known of his early life. He does not appear to have been in an administrative position in Jersey before his appointment as Bailiff in 1615. He had been promised this role, as soon as it became vacant, by King James I four years earlier, and he is believed to have paid George Paulet to persuade him to retire.

The first record of him in Jersey is when he bought half of Longueville Manor from his cousin Hugh, son of Hostes Nicolle, in 1595. He resold it soon after. He matriculated at All Souls, Oxford, in 1597 at the unusually late age of 28, but never obtained a degree. He held a Crown appointment under Queen Elizabeth, who died in 1603 and a year later there is a record of him being fined in Jersey for having "affronted the Court by the way he worded a remonstrance".

Royal Commission

He then returned to England and held an appointment under James I, who must have been impressed with his service because when he sent Royal Commissioners Sir Robert Gardiner and Dr James Hussey to Jersey in 1607 he told them: "For your assistance we have made choice of our trusty and well-beloved John Herault of St Saviour in regard of his experience in the language and customs of those isles, to attend you, whose service we require you to use, as occasion shall serve". This must have gone well because four years later Herault's was given Letters Patent for his appointment as Bailiff after George Paulet "in consideration of the good and willing service he has rendered and is rendering to the King, on the recommendation of the Duke of Lennox".

He got off to an inauspicious start with the Governor, Sir John Peyton, whose own letters patent gave him the right to appoint the Island's Bailiff. The dispute was referred to the Privy Council and Herault represented himself in front of the King, who ruled: "To constitute a Magistrate is one of the essential marks of our supreme power, an act regal, inseparable from our Royal Person. FOrasmuch as we always intended that a competent pernsion should be allowed to the Bailiff, we command that 100 marks be paid yearly out of the revenues of the island to Herault for life, over and above all other emoluments".

This was a double blow for Peyton, who now had a Bailiff he did not want, and had to pay him 100 marks a year out of his own pocket.

Red robes

Flushed with the success of his appearance before the Privy Council and the perceived support of the King, as soon as Herault was sworn in on 16 September 1615 he set about attempting to enhance his standing in the community by calling himself Monsieur de St Sauveur, a title usually reserved for Seigneurs, and High Bailiff, and becoming the first Bailiff to wear red robes, a tradition which continues to this day.

But he went much further, and claimed the title of Governor, claiming that Peyton was merely 'Captain of the troops'. He sent a long memorandum to the Privy Council to support his view that the Bailiff had greater authority than the 'Captain', stating: "The Bailiff keeps the King's seal. The Bailiff is the King's Representative. The Bailiff is required by his oath to see that the Captain keeps the Castles in repair. The Bailiff administers the oath to the Captain, and it is always the greater who administers an oath to the lesser. The Bailiff alone has the right to use the plural 'we'. Therefore it seems evident that the name of GOvernor may be more properly attributed to the BAiliff than to the Captain".

Although he claimed the support of the Vieux Coutumiers (old customs) of Normandy, and his stand would undoubtedly influence the future standing of the Bailiff in the Island, there was little precedent for his claims in the history of Jersey since its split from Normandy in 1204. Certainly the status of Bailiff had grown from the early days when the officer holder was little more than a servant of the Warden, to be hired and fired at will, but there had hitherto been no suggestion that the Bailiff was ultimately the Governor's senior. It would have been unthinkable that Herault's predecessor George Paulet would have been viewed as Peyton's predecessor, Sir Walter Raleigh's superior.


But Herault continued to act as if roles had been reversed and made constant complaints about Payton's alleged neglect of duty:"

"The Captain is sending his butler to be Master Porter of Castle Elizabeth, an office hitherto filled by gentlemen brought up to war. To put there his butler, who only uinderstands serving pots of wine at table, is as bad as to send him pilot to Muscovy. Castle Elizabeth has been abandoned of all its guard save one, who sent on market-day to all the taverns to seek his companions."

Herault suggested that rather than managing the Crown Revenues, Peyton should be given a salary and be expected to account for the revenues to an independent official. This, suggested the Bailiff, would greatly increase the King's revenue from the island.

Peyton now went on the attack. He instructed his Receiver to make life difficult for Herault by delaying payments of fees due to him. He appointed Jurat Aaron Messervy as his Lieut-Governor when he was out of the island, which annoyed Herault intensely and the two clashed continually and Messervy ignored Peyton's commands for him to attend Court, claiming that he was answerable only to the King. The situation was bound to come to a head sooner or later and Peyton provoked a Privy Council investigation by accusing Herault of "usurping the office of Governor".

Bailiff triumphs

Herault was summoned before the Council in November 1616 and Peyton's witnesses failed to appear. The following February it was clear that Herault had triumphed, although the Council's ruling made clear that they were not very happy with the way he had presented his case:

"We acquit the Bailiff of any undutifulness to the King's Majesty or any injustice in the civil government, but not from heat of words, which have unfittingly fallen from him, for which we thought fit to give a sharp reprehension. We hold it convenient that the charge of the Military Forces be wholly in the Governor and the care of Justice and Civil Affairs in the Bailiff."

This was a fundamental ruling as far as the island was concerned, and laid the groundwork for the subsequent development of the island's constitution. Peyton was understandably far from satisfied and the friction between Bailiff, Governor and local officials continued. But despite his enormous self-importance, Herault was honest and incorruptible and was to emerge unscathed from two further investigations into his conduct.

In 1617 he asked for a Royal Commission to be sent to investigate what was going on in the island, predicting correctly that he would again be vindicated. Two very senior Crown officials, Sir Edward Conway and Sir William Bird reported:

"We find good cause to clear the Bailiff of all personal imputations. His violence is rather in words to keep up his authority, than in act. We believe him, even by the testimony of his enemies, to be very sincere. His place is painful, and he diligent in the execution of it. Whereas Maret (the Attorney-General) laid foul imputations upon the Bailiff of bribery and unlawful proceedings, which upon examination were found by the Commissioners to be false and slanderous, it is ordered that Maret do acknowledge his offence, and make public satisfaction."

Following this investigation the Privy Council took the opportunity further to define the roles of Governor and Bailiff, making it clear that the Governor was "trusted by His Majesty with the charge and government of the island". It was ordered that the States could only meet with the permission of the Governor and that he had a power of veto over any matter he deemed "prejudicial to the King". This ruling was to cause significant problems in time to come.

Churchwardens dispute

Having also had it confirmed that he had precedence over the Governor in the Court and the States, Herault now overstepped the mark in a matter as relatively trivial as the swearing in of churchwardens. The new Dean, David Bandinel claimed that this was the perogative of the Ecclesiastical Court, but Herault said that it was his, and refused to allow elections to take place. Peyton complained to the Privy Council, who ordered the elections to proceed and summoned Herault to London in 1621 to explain himself. He did so too strongly for the Lord Chancellor's liking and was suspended from office and sent to Marshalsea Prison.

A civil servant, Sir William Parkhurst was appointed in his place and although Herault was released from prison the same day, he was forced to remain in London, where he was kept waiting for three years. He was offered a pension to resign, but refused and demanded a hearing, at which he was vindicated.

"His Majesty, finding no charge against the Bailiff, and holding it not suitable to remove an officer without sufficient cause, is graciously pleased that John Herault be reintegrated in his office with all perquisites, and that arrears grown due since his sequestration be forthwith paid to him."

Herault was unsure how he would be received in Jersey, but he need not have worried, because the States expressed their "joy at seeing him return happily". But not everybody was pleased to see him back and the Receiver refused to pay his arrears of salary, on the grounds that it had already been paid to Sir William Parkhurst. Herault appealed to the Privy Council, but lost. In 1626 he died.

The Rector of St Helier, in his funeral sermon, said:"

"Though he had fausts, as the wisest have, those faults never tarnished his virtues. We know how sincere he was in his Christian profession. God-fearing, constant in prayer, regular in public worship. He was a friend to everyone of good repute, and a scorner of the idle and profane. In private life he was studious, staid, sober, chaste, and generous, specially to poor students, whom he helped in their education, never sparing himself in the service of his country, sstaintain its righta and liberties, even at his own expense without help or support from anyone."

Certainly Herault had a major influence for the better over the relationship between Jersey and the Privy Council

Further reading

Bailiffs of Jersey
Predecessor Successor
George Paulet
1583-1586, 1587-1591, 1596-1614
Jean Herault
1615-1621, 1624-1626
Sir Philippe de Carteret
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