Sir John Lanier

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Governor 1679-1684
Sir John Lanier


Sir John Lanier's coat of arms

Sir John Lanier was another in a succession of unpopular Governors, who clashed with the island authorities almost from the day of his appointment. Although his military career is reasonably well documented, there is no information about how he came to be appointed Governor, and little about his term of office

John Lanier, son of John and Eleanor Lanier, was a professional soldier, and spent most of his time on the Continent. He distinguished himself in a troop of English Auxiliaries in France, and lost an eye at that time. He succeeded Sir Thomas Morgan as Governor of Jersey, and was then knighted by King William about 1688. In 1690 he was in Ireland where he led his troops to victory in the Battle of the Boyne.

Military career

At the accession of James II he was recalled, and put in command of a regiment of horse; he was colonel of the queen's regiment of horse, now the 1st dragoon guards in 1687, and he became lieutenant-general in 1688. He declared for William III, and was despatched to Scotland to take Edinburgh Castle, which surrendered to him on 12 June 1689. He subsequently did excellent service in the reduction of Ireland, but he had much trouble with the majority of his regiment, who inclined to James II, and frequently disagreed with his brother officers.

On the evening of 15 February 1690 he marched from Newry towards Dundalk, then strongly garrisoned by the Irish, with a thousand troops. The next morning, deeming it useless to make an attack on the town, he burnt a great part of the suburbs on the west side. At the same time a party of Leviston's dragoons, under his direction, took Bedloe Castle, and a prize of about 1500 cows and horses. At the battle of the Boyne, on 1 July 1690, Lanier was at the head of his regiment.

He was also present at the siege of Limerick in the following August at Lanesborough Pass in December 1690 with Kirke, and at the battle of Aughrim on 12 July 1691. Lanier was to have had a command under the Duke of Leinster, but on 26 December William offered him a pension of £1,500 a year on condition that he resigned his commission. Lanier refused to retire, and in April 1692 the king appointed him one of his generals of horse in Flanders, though his health was fast failing. He was badly wounded at the battle of Steenkirk on 3 August 1692, and died a few days afterwards. He is buried “beside his Lady, inside the Communion Rail” at St Anne’s church, Soho, London. His Lady was buried September 18, 1691.

In Jersey

By 19th century historian the Rev Alban E Ragg:

To Sir Thomas Morgan there succeeded a man of a very different stamp, Sir John Lanier, described as of an arbitrary disposition and with ideas entirely opposed to those of the inhabitants; so much so, in fact, that during his first year of office a serious conflict arose betwixt himself and the States, resulting in an Order in Council being issued confirming the privileges of the Island.

His removal from office on the new accession being generally attributed to this cause. Let it suffice to add that during his last year, on 11 September, there was ordered to be collected what was then called a petite custome - a small duty on all goods (in addition to the impot on wines and spirits) imported into the Island; the farming thereof being undertaken by a Mr Philip de Hardy, who, finding that he would only sustain a serious loss in connection with the affair, gladly relinquished his bargain, since which time the subject has never again been mooted.


Thomas, Lord Jermyn

Little is on record about Sir John Lanier's successor, Thomas, Lord Jermyn. He is sometimes shown as being in office until 1684, but it is more likely that his term ended with his death in 1703. That was the year his successor took office.

He was the third member of his family to hold the office of Governor in the 17th century. He was almost certainly the nephew of Henry Jermyn, who held the office before and after the Commonwealth period.

He was sworn in on 5 August 1684 to succeed Sir John Lanier and was in the island to attend the Royal Court sittings on 4 November and 16 December that year. He is described by the Rev J A Messervy as Baron of St Edmundsbury, a title he inherited from his uncle, the Earldom of St Albans having died out when Henry died childless.

In 1685 he appointed as Lieut-Governor Major Henry Boade, who had already served in the position under Lanier. Boade was sworn in on 20 April and replaced on 10 October by Captain Rowland Watson.

Predecessor Successor
Sir Thomas Morgan
Sir John Lanier
Henry Lumley
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