Sir Anthony Paulet

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Governor 1590-1600
Sir Anthony Paulet


Sir Anthony Paulet, a painting attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts, the younger, a Flemish painter, purchased by La Société Jersiaise in 1957

Sir Anthony Paulet followed his grandfather and father as Governor at the end of the 16th century

Sir Anthony was the second son of Sir Amias Paulet and Margaret, daughter of Anthony Hervey. He was born in Jersey in 1562 and was the third generation of his family to hold the office of Governor in succession to his grandfather Sir Hugh Paulet and his father.

Mont Orgueil, as it probably looked after Paulet was ordered to stop development work and concentrate on a new castle

Elizabeth Castle

He has two main claims to fame, the most important being that he constructed Elizabeth Castle to replace Mont Orgueil as the island's main fortress, and the second that he is almost certainly the earliest Jerseyman of whom a portrait survives. Attributed to the Flemish artist Marcus Gheeraerts, the painting was acquired by La Société Jersiaise in 1957.

Before he was 21 he was Captain in Queen Elizabeth's Guard and in 1583 he married Kateryn Norreys (Norris), only daughter of Sir Henry Norreys of Rycote, who had been Elizabeth's guardian during the reign of her elder sister Mary. Anthony and Kateryn's arms are on the main gates of both Elizabeth Castle and Mont Orgueil. He continued the work of his father and grandfather to improve the island's fortifications against French and Spanish attacks. Unlike Sir Hugh and Sir Amias, Sir Anthony did not have major responsibilities outside the island and he was a regular presence at States meetings from 1583, when his father appointed him Lieut-Governor in place of his uncle George, who had become Bailiff, until 1596.

Constitutional dispute

In 1587 Sir George and Sir Anthony became embroiled in a serious dispute with the Jurats of the Royal Court. Three of them were raising a petition to the Queen to protest at the Bailiff's regular transfer of cases to the Cour Extraordinaire, claiming that he did this to obtain higher fees. They called for the Court to be abolished. Sir Anthony imprisoned the three Jurats in Mont Orgueil.

This incurred the wrath of his father, who wrote to Sir George:

"I wish that my son and you had taken another course. I do not find it felony or treason that the inhabitants should make a complaint to Her Majesty and procure the signs of such as are grieved. I think my son was ill-advised and worse counselled, when he committed these men to prison, for he exceeded the bounds of his commission, which forbiddeth to imprison, but only in martial matters. These things belong to you and the Justices, and not to the Lieutenant, whose place is to see your orders executed, and not to make himself a party".

Island divided

There was considerable opposition to Sir Anthony being appointed Governor to succeed his father, but it was not universal - islanders were split in two. His chief opponent was Jean de Carteret, Seigneur of Vinchelez de Haut. He had been held in Marshalsea Prison in London for contempt of court and on his release he laid charges against Sir Anthony, only to be put straight back in prison. He wrote to Jersey stirring up dissent, but on 4 July 1590 Sir Anthony was sworn in as Governor.

A further batch of accusations by Jean de Carteret, claiming that Sir Anthony had sold corn to the Spanish and sold cannon from Mont Orgueil for his personal gain led to Royal Commissiners Tertullia Pyne and Robert Napper being sent to investigate. They found that the cannon were ancient weapons bought by Amias Paulet as scrap metal and that the corn had been on a boat driven into San Sebastian in a storm and the Spanish had forced its unloading. Paulet was vindicated and de Carteret was forced to issue an abject apology and promise to cease stirring up dissent against him.

Death of soldier

But Paulet's problems were not over. The next controversy involved an old man called Michael Poingdestre who was accused of killing a soldier. Queen Elizabeth was to become personally involved and Paulet was eventually forced to give in. Initially, however, he had dealt with the matter in the highhanded manner for which he was known. He had written to Lord Burghley:

"One of our English Soldiers was so bruised by a very bad fellow of this isle that the poor man lived not above nine days after; whereupon action is intended against the offender, who deserveth no favour in so vile and notorious an act. I hear he intendeth to be a suitor for a pardon from Her Majesty. All honest men of the Isle desire greatly to see exemplary punishment done upon this evil member."

But "all honest men" did not support Paulet's view of the affair and he was asked by the Privy Council for further information. He wrote:

"He is hated generally throughout the Isles, for his cruel conversation and corrupt dealing, even from his youth. Though he hath gone about to produce testimony of good behaviour, it is manifest that those who signed are bad and vile people. The man is of wealth, and the Lord having by virtue of his indictment put both lands and goods into Her Majesty's hands, I hope she will advise to bestow this escheat rather upon the strengthening of this place than permit so evil a member to enjoy it".

But Poingdestre's wife Guillemyne had painted a rather different picture of the affair, as is shown in a letter from the Privy Council:

"Her husband by chance meeting Robins, a soldier, while gathering a herb called Wracke, as the inhabitants are yearly accustomed to do, on occasion of speech falling out, though one understood not the other, the soldier, presuming on his youth and strength, took Poingdestre, who was aged about 75 years, suddenly by the neck. But his foot slipt, and he had the fall without any apparent hurt, as he himself confessed. A few days after the soldier dying, occasioned by evil dietor some other like cause, Poingdestre is by malicious practice indicted. Good testimony is exhibited of the continual peaceable conversation of this old man, and that there was no secret malice betwixt the parties, never having seen each other before. It is very unprobable that a man of his years would attempt revenge on so lusty a young soldier."

The Queen was present at the Privy Council hearing and was "in pity much moved with this poor old man's distress". Paulet was ordered to release him, but it took another command five weeks later before he climbed down:

"He is not such an evil man as you writ, being, we are informed, of long time employed by yhourself as farmer of the tithes. We have cause to think this matter more hardly carried against him than is conscionable. We straitly command you not to proceed further in this cause, till we be better informed. You shall be directed from here. In the mean time set him at liberty on good bail, and suffer him to have possession of his lands and goods.

Paulet gave in grudgingly:

"I rather wish Poingdestre's conversion than his overthrow. I do not seek his blood, but shall be glad if the Queen will pardon him, provided his wilfulness be bridled."

Mont Orgueil v Elizabeth Castle

Paulet also corresponded with Burghley and the Privy Council over the island's fortifications. Military engineer Paul Ivy, with who he was working on the strengthening of Mont Orgueil, came to the conclusion that their work was wasted and that the castle was in the wrong place to be the island's main fortification. He wrote:

"Were it not for the loss of the great charges Her Majesty hath bestowed upon this place, I durst not be of opinion that one penny should be bewtowed upon it, for it is so evil-situated a place as it cannot possibly be worse".

The Council wrote back to Paulet:

"We have been informed that the Castle is very ill seated, and lieth subject to a mighty hill but 400 feet distant, and so overtopt by it, that no man possibly can show his face in defence of this side next the hill, which giveth us good cause to think Her Majesty's charges already employed to be to small purpose. We therefore require you to deal with Mr Ivy, and having his advice, to consider what were meet to be done, that neither Her Majesty nor the inhabitants be put to any idle expense."

After further exchange of letters the Privy Council decided to stop work on Mont Orgueil and build a new castle on rocks off St Helier. The Queen contributed £500, the States £400, and work started in 1593. Paulet and Ivy pressed on and were soon calling for the fortification to be manned, although stormy weather undid some of their work and caused much damage to equipment.

In 1595 Paulet was knighted. About this time he fell ill and, although he tried to carry on with his work in Jersey, his health worsened progressively until he died on 22 July 1600 while in England, bringing to a close a half century during which the Paulet dynasty had had a dramatic influence over the island. He was buried at Hinton St George on 22 July 1600 and succeeded as Governor by the illustrious Sir Walter Raleigh

Predecessor Successor
Sir Amias Paulet
1571 - 1590
Sir Anthony Paulet
1590 - 1600
Sir Walter Raleigh
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