St Martin and de la Court families

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St Martin and
de La Court families

This article by T M W de Guerin was first published in the 1919 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

De St Martin family

The de St Martins were one of the most prominent families in the Channel Islands, They produced three Bailiffs of Jersey, one of Guernsey, several Jurats of the Royal Courts of both islands, and several rectors; one, Symon de St Martin, being Rector of St Saviour and Dean of Guernsey early in the 14th century.

Drouet de St Martin

The first member of the family known to us is Drouet de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, who according to the Extente of 1274 held, in the parish of Trinity, 3 vergees of land of the forfeiture of Mayn Picotel and 2 vergees of the forfeiture of Emelote Beneyt, worth annually 5 bushels of wheat, and said by the jury of the parish to have been wrongfully withdrawn from the King, since the time that Drouet de Barentin was Bailli (1259-61).

In the Extente of Guernsey at the same date, we find the juries of the parishes of Torteval and St Peter-in-the-Wood also accusing Drouet de St Martin and Thomas de Wike (de Vic) "of having usurped from the King the multura of 80 tenants since the time of Drouet de Barentin, by whose permission they had done it, worth 30 sols, and this unjustly as they affirm".

The Assize Rolls of 1309 and 1320, and a deed at Warwick Castle throw light on this last entry, as they show that Drouet de St Martin had married Guillemote, and Thomas de Vic, Lucie, daughters and co-heiresses of Sir Henry Le Canelly, Knight, Seigneur of Le Canelly, an important Guernsey manor which stretched over part of the parishes of Torteval, St Peter-in-the-Wood and St Saviour.

It is evident that as Drouet de St Martin and Thomas de Vic were accused in 1274 of having usurped the rights in question since the time of Drogo de Barentin, they were already married at the time of the latter's last governorship of the Chaunel Islands, 1258-1261. In 1289 Drouet de St Martin, Philip dit Levesque and Philip Fondeuc, were appointed by Edward I as justices to investigate the case of the Abbot of Mont Saint Michel against Felicia, widow of Sir William de Chesney, concerning the fief du Comte, Guernsey.

Henry de St Martin

Henry de St Martin, eldest son of Drouet, succeeded his father as Seigneur of Trinity. In 1315 he had a lawsuit with his brothers Drouet and Philippot, who claimed a share of the "franc fief de la Trinite" but were nonsuited by the Royal Court, who declared the manor was not divisible. At the Assizes held in Guernsey, 1309, Henry de St Martin and his brothers John, Drouet, Symon and Philip were summoned to declare before John Fresingfeld and his fellow justices, by what right they and Avice de Vic claimed aid from their tenants in the parishes of Torteval and St Peter-in-the-Wood, suit of court, the right of chase and court of their tenants.

The de St Martin brothers declared that Henry de St Martin and Avice de Vic held the inheritance of 'Le Kenele' between them, and Henry and Avice declared that, with the exception of the 'aid' which they did not claim, their ancestors had enjoyed these rights from time immemorial. Through some subsequent redivision of lands between the brothers, the de St Martin's share of Le Canelly went to Sire Symon de St Martin, Rector of St Saviour, Guernsey, sometime before the Assizes of 1320.

Dispute with Dean

Henry de St Martin and bis brothers, Drouet and Symon, were involved at the Assizes of 1309 in the dispute between the Justices and Pierre Faleyse, Dean of Jersey, concerning clerks whom the Justices had caused to be arrested in Guernsey for citing men of the Isles to appear before the Bishop of Coutauces in Normandy, for causes belonging to the jurisdiction of the King's Court. After a long altercation between the Justices and the Dean, the latter excommunicated, in open court, the Justices, and all persons concerned in the matter, at the same time ordering the whole community, in the name of the Bishop, to obey him under pain of excommunication.

The Dean was immediately tried by the Justices and sentenced to imprisonment, but the crowd of sympathisers, who accompanied him, surrounded him and prevented the officials of the Court from effecting his arrest, and violently rescued him from prison. For this obstruction of justice the clerks and notables concerned were heavily fined by the Justices, Henry de St Martin and his brothers being condemned to pay "80 livres of their chattels" which were appraised at 40 livres, and their lands were ordered to be seized into the King's hands until the fine was paid.


In 1318 Henry de St Martin was Bailiff of Jersey, and a few years later, in 1327, he was Bailiff of Guernsey. He probably died in the following year, as in the Accounts of John des Roches for 1329-30 we find mention of the payment by his heirs of the 'relief' due to the King on succession to his fief. In 1331 his eldest son Richard was in possession of Trinity Manor.

John de St Martin, second son of Drouet, is probably the John de St Martin, priest, who appeared as proctor and attorney of the Abbot of Bellozanne and the Abbess of La Trinite, Caen, at the Assizes held in 1309. A John de St Martin had also held a fief in Trinity parish in 1295.

Third son

Drouet de St Martin, the third son, was Seigneur d'Escraqueville at the time of the Extente, 1331, and owed the King at Michaelmas 4 sols, 6 deniers of relief, 'which some people call greverie, although it is not'. He also paid 40 sols tournois for a windmill in St Ouen's parish, which he had erected on his fief without the King's licence. He either died without issue, or his descendants became extinct and the fief d'Escraqueville returned to the Seigneurs of Trinity, as in 1413 Janequin de St Martin, by an agreement with his brothers Drouet and Richard, received as his share of his father Jehan de St Martin's estate, le fieu descraqueville alias appeley laye en la paroisse de Ste Marie tant deniers froments terres et appartenances et aura le dit Janequin la 3e ptie de la graive et port de laic ... item il aura le quart de 16 quartd de froment de rente qui leur sont deus a heritage sur le fieu de la Trinite qui fut a Guille de St Martin leur frere. The fief d'Escraqueville was still held by the Seigneur of Trinity early in the 16th century.

Symon de St Martin

Sire Symon de St Martin, the fourth son of Drouet, first appears as Rector of St Saviour, Guernsey, in 1309. He became possessed of the de St Martin's share of the manor of Le Canelly in Guernsey sometime after 1309, and at the Assizes held in 1320 he was summoned to prove his right to 25 bouvees of land in the parishes of St Saviour, St Peter-in-the-Wood and Torteval. He replied that he and his mother, Guillemote Le Canelly, and their ancestors had possessed them from time immemorial.

In the accounts of John des Roches, Warden of the Isles, 1328-1330, he is mentioned as owner of a 'colombier' at Torteval, of which the ruins still exist. He also figures among those present at the famous meeting held in June 1331 at the priory of L'Islet, Jersey, (the old abbey of St Helier) where the notables of the Isles bound themselves together by an oath to defend their ancient privileges before the Justices in Eyre, Sir Robert de Scarborough and his companions, and he was also present when, on 27 June following, they appeared before the Justices at St Peter-Port, accompanied by a large number of people and formally demanded the recognition of the rights and privileges of the Islanders, when, on the refusal of the Justices to do so, there was a great tumult and uproar.

Dean of Guernsey

Later Symon de St Martin became Dean of Guernsey, and we learn from a Close Letter of 18 March 1354, that during one of the truces after the outbreak of the Hundred Years war, probably early in 1341, or in 1344, he went over to Coutances at the request of the Bishop to resign the office of Dean, and owing to the sudden renewal of hostilities be was detained there until the next truce. On his return to Guernsey, Thomas de Ferrars, the Warden of the Isles, restored to him his lands, which had been seized into the King's hands during his absence. After his death a few years later, John de Maltravers, then Warden (l348-1354), again seized his lands into the King's hands, which "together with a mill now in ruins" were "worth 20s yearly as in money, rent of wheat and other incomings". The King by the above mentioned letter of 1354, ordered these lands to be restored to Michel de St Martin, "Symon's kinsman and next heir, and aged twenty three years and more". Michel, as is shown by a document in the possession of R R Marett, of La Haule Manor, was son of Philip de St Martin, Symon's youngest brother.

Philip de St Martin

Philip de St Martin, youngest son of Drouet, held the fief of Quetteville, in St Martin, for which he owed the King 15 sols annually, and 60 sols 1 denier of relief, when occasion arrived: also 5 sols 22 deniers a year for a bouves of land in the same parish.

A Philip de St Martin was Jurat of the Royal Court of Jersey at the time of the Assizes held by Robert de Scarborough in 1331, and at the same date another Philip de St Martin was Jurat of the Royal Court of Guernsey. Philip, son of Drouet, was the father of Michel de St Martin who inherited in 1354 from his uncle, Sire Symon de St Martin, his portion of the fief au Canelly. Michel died without children and his estate had passed to his brother Richard de St Martin by 1366. Richard died the following year when his share of the fief au Canelly was divided between his two daughters and coheiresses, Alinor, wife of John Bernard and Avice, wife of Nicolas de Sausmarez, Seigneur of Sausmares, Guernsey.

The Guernsey branch of the family still continued in Philip de St Martin, Jurat of the Royal Court 1350 to 1379. Little is known of his descendants, but a John de St Martin, who married Jehanne, daughter of Guillaume La Perre, was a landowner at St Saviour, Guernsey, at the end of the 15th century, and his name appears frequently on the Plea Rolls of the Court of Fief du Comte and other documents of that period.

Richard de St Martin

Richard de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, eldest son of Henry, appears in the Extente of 1331 as holding a fief in St Peter's parish, Jersey, which had belonged to Henry, his father, for which he owed the King 60 sols tournois relief and suit of Court. He seems to have married a daughter of Philip de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, as according to a document of 1354 "Mons Regnauld de Carteret baille a Guillaume de Carteret son frere pour sa part de l'heritage de Philippe de Carteret leur pere la magnie (manoir) du fief Estourmy et le fief de Melesches excepte quatre quartiers de froment que Richard de Saint Martin y prend en cause de sa femme".

It is most probable that she was the Marguerite de Carteret mentioned in another document of 1432, whereby "Janequin de St Martin et Thomelin de St Martin font accord ensemble pour une maison et mesnage situee a la Trinite ... pres la maison John Sarre ou soulait demourer le dit Janequin audevant de ces heures ... et au sujet de 16 quartiers de froment qui furent du mariage de Marguerite de Carteret leur aelle.

Reconquest of Guernsey

Richard de St Martin was also one of the Jersey notables who during the governorship of Thomas de Holland, Earl of Kent, 1356-1357, assisted Thomas de Langhurst, deputy of Sir Otho de Holland, Lieutenant of his brother the Earl of Kent, in the reconquest of Guernsey, which had been captured by the French in the autumn of 1356.

On the news of the disaster reaching Jersey, de Langhurst, accompanied by Sir Regnauld de Carteret, Philip de Carteret, John de Garis, Richard de St Martin, Ralph le Empere (Lempriere), John de la Hougue, Denis Le Feuvre and other notable men of Jersey, with their followers, went over to Guernsey and after a fierce battle defeated the French force in the island and captured their commander.

The French captain ransomed himself for 80,000 florins, which the Jerseymen patriotically agreed to forego and exchanged him for the surrender of Castle Cornet, which was still held by the remnant of the French force. During their stay in Guernsey the Jerseymen killed a certain Guernseyman, named William Le Feuvre. According to their version they executed him for treason.

Nicholaa, William Le Feuvre's widow, instituted proceedings against them in the Guernsey Court for the death of her husband, but on 15 August 1357 the King directed that all proceedings against them should cease until further orders "in consideration of their action in recovering the castle, as Thomas de Langhurst had testified before the King that William was a traitor at the time of his death".

On the 25 August following, the King granted Reynold de Carteret and his fellows 40 Livres in aid of their expenses, "as on hearing that the King's castle of Cornet had been lately taken by his adversaries of France, they assembled their strength and after a severe combat took the captain of the castle, who ransomed himself from them by 80,000 florins (moutons) and although they might have taken those florins in aid of their expenses in recovering that castle, yet they surrendered the captain quit of ransom to the adversaries occupying that castle for the surrender of the castle to the King".

Later, on 12 November 1357, on the urgent entreaties of Nicholas, William Le Feuvre's widow, and his children, showing that William at the time of his death was under the King's special protection and no traitor, and that he had been killed out of "ancient enmity and their own malice" by the Jerseymen, the King revoked his letter of 15 August and ordered the Warden of the Isles to bring them before the Bailiff and Jurats for trial.

The Jersey notables were tried before the Royal Court of Guernsey, found guilty and banished from the island. Sir Regnauld de Carteret and Ralph Lempriere, who were not among those accused of the murder, were present at the trial, and protested in open Court at the sentences, saying that "they were as much to blame for the death as any of those impeached".

The Bailiff and Jurats promptly ordered their arrest on the charge of murder on their own confession, sentencing them to be detained in Castle Cornet "until such time as justice should be done to them". They were only released from prison by Letters Patent of the 2 March 1359, by which the King pardoned them their confession "having regard to their good services, especially in the recovery of the island and castle of Guernsey from the King's enemies, and because he understands they were not at the killing" and ordered them to be set at liberty.

Payne states that Richard de St Martin became Bailiff of Jersey, but from what we know of the Bailiff's history this seems most improbable. He seems to have left two sons, John, who succeeded him as Seigneur of Trinity, and Geoffrey, who was Lieutenant of Walter Huwett, Warden of the Isles, and who gave up his office and the castle of Mont Orgueil to Edmond Rose on 2 May 1372.

Bailiff of Jersey

Richard de St Martin, Bailiff of Jersey, 1367-1368. He was accused, with John Coke, Lieutenant of Walter Huwett, Warden of the Isles, of having, on the 2 May 1367, entered the house of Andrew des Augres by night, carried him off and imprisoned him in a dungeon in Mont Orgueil Castle, where he died through ill treatment, and where, according to his brother, Nicholas des Augres' statement "he lay still unburied whole and without decay".

Further Richard de St Martin carried off Andrew's goods to the value of 500 florins. On Nicholas des Augres' first petition to the Council, the King ordered William de Asthorp, Lieutenant of Walter Huwett in Guernsey, to warn Richard de St Martin to appear before the King and Council. This he refused to do. On this refusal the King ordered his arrest for disobedience and rebellion. Richard de St Martin thereupon fled to Normandy, and the King ordered his lands and goods to be escheated and a return of them to be sent the King in the octave of Trinity, 1368, at which date John Coke appeared and stated that Richard de St Martin had no lands or goods in Jersey.

The King then ordered John Knyvet, Chief Justice of England, to inquire into the matter. At Michaelmas 1368, Nicholas des Augres and John Coke appeared before the Council. John Coke in his defence stated that Andrew des Augres was a person of ill fame and accused of felony and treason, and that he had been arrested by the Bailiff and examined according to custom, at which inquiry it was found that both during peace and war, he had taken and imprisoned men of the King's allegiance and taken ransoms from them, therefore the Bailiff had arrested him and taken him to Mont Orgueil Castle and delivered him to the Constable of the castle for safe keeping pending his trial, according to the laws and customs of the island. The said 500 florins worth of goods being only put under arrest until his conviction or acquittal.

These statements were denied by Nicholas des Augres, and because "no matters emergent in the said islands should be determined except according to the laws and customs thereof" the King appointed Reynold de Carteret, John de Serf, John de la Bette, John Nicholas and William de Garis as Justices to investigate the case and do justice in the presence of the Jurats, according to the laws and customs of the island.

It is evident from the statement that the Bailiff Richard de St Martin had neither land nor chattels in Jersey, which could be seized into the King's hand, that he cannot have been Richard, Seigneur of Trinity, one of the large landowners of the island. Neither can he have been Richard, co-seigneur of Le Canelly, Guernsey, as the latter was dead in 1367.

Geoffrey de St Martin

Geoffrey de St Martin, Jurat 1353-1355, probably brother of Richard de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity. On 9 March 1348 the King appointed Drogo de Barentin, Jourdain Payn and Geoffrey de St Martin as Justices to hold an inquisition touching all persons prosecuting appeals against the presentation of Richard Corbyn, the King's clerk, to the church of St Martin le viel, and to arrest and imprison them in Mont Orgueil Castle.

In the same year he was farmer of the tithes of St Martin. A few years later he was imprisoned on some charge or other and on 15 August 1357 the King orders his release, with certain other men imprisoned with him, on their finding sureties to appear for trial at the next assizes, notwithstanding any agreements that they may have made with Otho de Holland, Lieutenant of Thomas de Holland, Warden of the Isles.

Geoffrey de St Martin was the father of John de St Martin, Jurat 1379-1392. He had also a daughter, who married Payn, Seigneur of Dielament, whose daughter Jenette Payn married her cousin Guillaume de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity.

Jean de St Martin

Jean de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, probably eldest son of Richard, whom he succeeded as Seigneur. He was Bailiff in 1370, probably for a term of years only, as he was again appointed Bailiff of Jersey on 12 August 1372, by the King, and held that office at the time of the invasion of Jersey and capture of Mont Orgueil Castle by du Guesclin in July 1373. After the recapture of the castle by Philip de Courtenay, Admiral of the Fleet towards the West, and Robert de Ferrers, in August 1373, and the reinstatement of Edmond Rose as Captain, John de St Martin was accused of having betrayed Mont Orgueil Castle to du Guesclin. He was arrested and imprisoned, first in Mont Orgueil Castle and afterward in the Tower of London.

On being brought before the Council to answer to the charges made against him he was acquitted and not only restored to the office of Bailiff but was also appointed by the King Comptroller General of the Channel Islands, 1 February 1374. At the same time the King sternly rebuked the Bailiff and Jurats of Jersey, for having "by their negligence, rebellion and frivolous answers" caused the ruin of the island, for having encroached on the King's prerogative in pretending to have knowledge of military affairs, and ordered them in future not to meddle in matters beyond their competence.

The return of Jean de St Martin in two capacities does not seem to have quieted the rival parties in the island. As Comptroller, his duties were to approve and control all the expenditure of the King's Receiver, Thomas de Appleby, and to audit his accounts. In consequence he was soon entangled in de Appleby's disputes with the Governor, Edmond Rose, and he accompanied him on his memorable interview with the Governor at Mont Orgueil, when on leaving the castle, de Appleby was stabbed by Nicholas Lowier, one of Edmond Rose's followers.

Later, Edmond Rose prevented Jean de St Martin from holding his Courts. Finally, these disputes of the island authorities seem to have been temporarily appeased by Thomas de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who was appointed Warden of the Isles on 12 August 1376. Shortly after the appointment of Sir Hugh de Calvelegh as Warden (12 December 1376) Jean de St Martin was arrested on the old charge of having sold Mont Orgueil Castle to Bertrand du Guesclin, and imprisoned in the dungeons of the castle.

His wife went to England to intreat the Council to liberate him. After long imprisonment and being without any communication from his wife, Jean de St Martin, fearing for his life managed (cum dei adjutorio, as he tells us,) to escape from the castle, and reaching England threw himself on the mercy of the Council. On 16 January 1387, Richard II granted him Special Letters of Protection, setting forth all that he had suffered at the hands of his enemies, and pardoning him for having escaped from prison.

Geoffrey de St Martin

Geoffrey de St Martin, brother of Jean de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, Jurat, 1368 to 1392. He was also Lieutenant of Walter Huwett, Warden of the Isles, and gave up that office, on 2 May 1372, to Edmund Rose, whom the King had appointed Lieutenant of Jersey, and Captain of Mont Orgueil Castle on 25 March, 1372.

On the arrest of his brother Jean de St Martin, Bailiff of Jersey, on the charge of having betrayed Mont Orgueil Castle to du Guesclin, in August 1373, he seems to have been appointed Bailiff, probably by Edmund Rose on his own authority, as shown by the following entry in Rose's Accounts for 1373:

"Et in feodis Galfridi Seynt Martyn baillivi xiij l vi s i d"

Again in 1880 he seems to have been acting as Lieut-Bailiff, or as Juge-Delegue, as the King wrote to him on 12 February of that year as follows:

"Rex Galfrido de Sancto Martino, uni juratorum suorum in insula de Jereseye"

ordering him to maintain in the possession of his cure, a priest whom the Warden of the Isles, Hugh de Calvelegh, had presented to a vacant living, whom the Bishop of Coutances refused to induct. The fact of the King's letter being addressed to him shows that he was the most important functionary of the Royal Court in the island at the time. Probably after Jean de St Martin's second arrest and imprisonment in 1377, on the old charge of having sold Mont Orgueil Castle to the French, the bailiffship was in abeyance pending his trial.

Thomas Trym

In 1377 Thomas Trym accused Geoffrey de St Martin, Clement Hardy, Geoffrey Hugon and Philip Le Feyvre of having entered the house of the said Thomas Trym, where he was sitting at wine with his companion, John Logge, and creating a disturbance during which John Logge was killed and Thomas Trym ill treated and horribly wounded and left for dead.

Geoffrey de St Martin and his friends accused Trym of the murder of John Logge, but after 22 weeks imprisonment he was pronounced not guilty and released. Trym thereupon petitioned the King that he might be allowed to sue Geoffrey and his companions for the death of John Logge before the Governor, or his Lieutenant, and not before the Bailiff and Jurats; as the said Geoffrey de St Martin was a "Jurat and so closely allied to the other said Jurats and Bailiff that the said Thomas will not be able to have justice before them".

The King commanded the Warden to see justice done. On 14 September 1378, Janaque de Calvelegh, Lieutenant of Sir Hugh de Calvelegh, reported to the King that he had inquired into the matter and that according to the privileges of the island of Jersey none of the inhabitants could be tried, except before the Bailiff and Jurats. We have no information as to the end of the case but as Geoffrey de St Martin's name appears as a Jurat for several years after it is evident that Trym's charges against him were not successful.

Jean de St Martin

Jean de St Martin, son of Geoffrey, Jurat of the Royal Court, 1379-1397. He is also probably the same man as Jehannet de St Martin, likewise son of Geoffrey, Jurat 1401-1404, and uncle of Jenette Payn, wife of Guillaume de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity in 1409.

By a contract of 8 June 1384 he purchased from Rauline d'Anneville, widow of Jaquet Hascoul, and daughter of Robert d'Anneville, Seigneur de Briel, Normandy, and of Robine du Tot, his wife, all that she had inherited in Normandy from her father and mother, for the sum of 8 quarters of yearly wheat rent. It being stipulated in the deed that if the war between England and France rendered it impossible for Jean de St Martin to obtain possession that the said rent would not be paid until peace supervened.

After the conquest of Normandy by Henry V, the King, on 12 April 1418, granted in tail male this "manor and fief of Breuil, and the lands of Robert d' Anneville and Robine du Tot, both deceased, together with the fief of Sartilly, all in the bailiwick of the Cotentin", to Jean de St Martin, of Jersey, by homage and the rendering of a pole axe to the King, as a reward of his services during the war. This Jean can hardly have been the same as the preceding and is probably Jean or Janequin de St Martin, the brother of Guillaume de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity.

Guillaume de St Martin

Guillaume de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, eldest son of Jean, married his cousin Jenette, daughter of Payn, Seigneur of Dielament by his wife, daughter of Geoffrey de St Martin. In 1399 he and his brother, Janequin de St Martin, sold the fief of Surville to Colin Blondel "au nom de Lucas de la Mare, le jeune, fils Lucas, pour 563 francs et demi et la moitie d'une pipe de vin".

Thomas de St Martin

Thomas de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, eldest son of Guillaume de St Martin and Jenette Payn, his wife, Jurat of the Royal Court 1438-1452. From documents formerly belonging to Trinity Manor, now in the possession of the Société Jersiaise, he seems to have had constant lawsuits with his relatives over the division of his parents' and grand-parents' estates.

It is probable that these may be the origin of his quarrel with his cousins Raulin and Janequin de St Martin, sons of Janequin, against whom he obtained Letters of Protection from the King both for himself and for John Maret, his Prevost, as well as an order forbidding them to enter his manor and molest his tenants or their cattle.

It would seem that they continued to threaten him, as he appeared before the Royal Court of Jersey on Tuesday next before the feast of St Nicholas, 1447, and obtained an order from the Court, reciting his Letters of Protection and ordering the Vicomte to again warn Raulin and Janequin de St Martin to obey them.

Thomas de St Martin and his son Thomas took part in the last stages of the Hundred Years war in Normandy, and were taken prisoners. To pay their ransoms Thomas de St Martin came over to Jersey and obtained license from the officers of the place to sell Trinity Manor. The manor was bought by his brother-in-law, Thomas de la Court, of Guernsey, who had married his sister Jenette de St Martin; the sale being ratified by Richard Neville, "by right of Anne, his wife, Earl of Warwick and Lord of the Isles", by Letters Patent dated 18 January 1452.

Thomas de St Martin then returned to Normandy and went over to the allegiance of the King of France. As according to an ordinance of Henry VI made in Normandy, anyone selling lands and within a year and a day withdrawing from the King's allegiance rendered such sale nul and void, Thomas de la Court, son of the above mentioned Thomas, therefore petitioned the King and on 12 March 1460 obtained the ratification of the sale.

De La Courts, Seigneurs of Trinity

Thomas de la Court, Bailiff of Guernsey, 1433 to 1436, probably son of Matthew de la Court, son of John, mentioned in the partage of the estate of Denis Le Marchant, 1392, and descendant of a very ancient family, one of whom, Matthew de la Court, son of Thomas, was Bailiff of Guernsey 1304 to 1309, and Lieutenant of Otho de Grandison, Warden of the Isles.

Thomas de la Court

Thomas de la Court, as already stated, married Jenette, daughter of Guillaume de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity by Jenette Payn. Two of her sisters also married Guernseymen, namely, Symon Le Cauf, Jurat, and Ollivier Le Feyvre. Thomas de la Court, as before stated, purchased Trinity Manor in 1452, from his brother-in-law, Thomas de St Martin, who had been taken prisoner with his son Thomas by the French and was compelled to sell the manor to pay his ransom.

The sale of this manor to a stranger seems to have given umbrage to the other members of the de St Martin family. First, John de St Martin, brother of Thomas - "le prochain her du vender" - and later Guillaume de St Martin, son of Janequin, attempted to withdraw the manor by retrait lignager but by sentence of the Royal Court of Jersey of 16 September 1456, Thomas de la Court, his son, was adjudged possesseur et saisy du dit fieu.

Probably it was these family dissensions that compelled Thomas de la Court to obtain Letters of Protection against his enemies from Richard, Earl of Warwick, dated 12 February 1452/3, and they may have had something to do with the arrest and imprisonment of Guillaume, Raullet and James de St Martin, sons of Janequin. Thomas de la Court died before 1455, when we find Jenette de St Martin mentioned as his widow.

Thomas, son of Thomas

Thomas de la Court, Seigneur of Trinity, son of Thomas and Jenette de St Martin, as before stated obtained from the King on 12 March 1460 the ratification of the sale of Trinity Manor to his father. He was Jurat of the Royal Court of Guernsey 1447 to 1468, and Lieut-Bailiff in 1467. He seems to have been held in high favour by Richard, Earl of Warwick, who in reward for his services gave him on 2 March 1463 all the manors and other possessions in Jersey of his cousins, John, Guillaume, Raullet and James de St Martin, which had been forfeited for:

la Rebellion et desobesience des dessus dits, lesqueilz se sont renduz et demeurent auec les Francoys ennemys et aduersaires du Roy nie souerain St ... a jouyr et user doresnevant plainement et paisiblement toute la vie du dit Thomas comme son propre heritage ".

Further, by Letters Patent of 1 April 1465, the Earl of Warwick appointed Thomas de la Court as his Lieutenant in Guernsey in the place of Denis Le Marchant, and in 1468 he became Bailiff of Guernsey in succession to Guillaume Caretier. We also learn from a document of 21 December 1474 that Thomas de la Court had actively assisted during the seige of Mont Orgueil Castle, under Richard Harliston, Captain or Governor of Jersey. He died in 1470 leaving two sons, Thomas and John.

Guernsey Jurat

Thomas de la Court, the eldest son, was Jurat of the Royal Court of Guernsey from 1482 to 1498. He does not seem to have obtained possession of Trinity Manor till four years after his father's death. Possibly the unsettled state of the administration of the islands after the death of Richard, Earl of Warwick, may have been the reason of the delay. Anyway he appeared before the Royal Court of Jersey on the 21 December 1474, accompanied by Richard Harliston, Captain of Mont Orgueil Castle and Governor of Jersey; and on the report of the Governor:

quil scauoit bien q Thomas de la Court pere de lavant dit Thomas auoit porte mys et souffert grantz coustages durant le temp du siege tenu deuant ledit Chastel et pareillement queil auoit vraye congnoissance que le franc fieu de la Trinite ouecq les aptenances dicelluy luy aptenoient de droict a heritage

the Gourt gave him possession as principal heritier du dit Thomas de la Court. Some ten years or more later he had to sustain a long lawsuit with his cousin Thomas de St Martin, son of John, for the possession of Trinity Manor and finally backed by Royal favour Thomas de St Martin compelled him to give it up in 1485 in consideration of "140 escus" (sept vins escus) "paiement de Jersey".

Janequin de St Martin

The history of the children of Janequin de St Martin, brother of Guillaume de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, is a curious one. We have seen that in 1447, their cousin, Thomas de St Martin, had obtained Letters of Protection from the King for "fear of Janequin and Raullet de St Martin, who seem to have not only threatened him but also John Maret, his prevot and the tenants of his manor.

Again in 1452, Thomas de la Court, shortly after his purchase of Trinity Manor, had to obtain Letters of Protection from Richard, Earl of Warwick, from his enemies in Jersey. Later, we find Guillaume de St Martin, son of Janequin, attempting to withdraw the manor by retrait lignager but the Royal Court of Jersey on 16 September 1456 adjudged Thomas de la Court: possesseur et saisy du dit fieu.

Then we find the whole of the brothers in conflict with Otys Colin, Captain of Mont Orgueil Castle, and Lieutenant of John Nanfan, Governor General of the Isles. On Wednesday before the feast of St Julian, 1456 Janequin de St Martin, son of Janequin, appears before the Royal Court, and shows the Court two wounds on his thigh and other injuries which he alleged had been caused by the soldiers living at the Castle of Gourey, under the command of Otys Colin, soy disant lieutenant en la dite chastel - as the Court rather contemptuously calls him, and entreating the Court to be placed under the King's protection, and also of that of "Monsieur de Warrwyk", for fear of the said Lieutenant and his followers. The Royal Court granted his request and ordered the Vicomte to notify the same to Otys Colin, so that he shall not cause injury to the said Janequin de St Martin, nor arrest him, nor cause disturbance nor hinderance to his person nor his goods, save by the Court's order.

Collette de la Roque

A few weeks later, on Tuesday after the feast of St Valentine 1457, Collette de la Roque, mother of Janequin de St Martin, appears before the Royal Court and petitions that the Vicomte be again sent to notify to Otys Colin that her son was under the protection of the King and of the Lord of the Isles, as they were "in fear and doubt of the said Otys". Also she entreats that the said Lieutenant be ordered to allow her three other sons, Guillaume, Raullet and James, whom he held in prison in Mont Orgueil Castle, to appear before the Royal Court to answer to such charges as would be made against them.

The Vicomte informed the Court that he had been thrice already to the castle and had been unable to obtain speech with the Lieutenant. The Court then ordered him to again do his duty. The Lieutenant's answer was to remove the prisoners, whom he seems to have arrested and imprisoned on his own authority, to Guernsey, out of the jurisdiction of the Royal Court of Jersey, and handed them over to Geoffrey Wallish, Captain of Castle Cornet, who imprisoned them in a dungeon of the castle.

Here they had lain grievously treated for nearly two years when on 30 September 1458, Collette de la Roque, their mother, appears before the Royal Court of Guernsey, pitiously complaining that her three sons, Guillaume, Raullet and James de St Martin, had been for a long time, and still were, imprisoned in the dungeons of Castle Cornet, by order of Otys Colin, and further that they had often suffered and still were suffering grievous bodily injury for lack of food, and that in contempt of all justice and of the laws of the island, as well as in contempt of Royal Letters Patent and of the orders of the Royal Court of Guernsey, addressed to Otys Colin, and Geoffrey Wallish, the Lieutenant of Castle Cornet under the said Otys, and also in defiance of the oath of John Nanfan, the Governor, to maintain the laws and customs of the said island.

The Court unanimously ordered Otys Colin to take the prisoners back to Jersey and hand them over to the Bailiff and Jurats of that island for trial, according to the King's orders in the said Letters Patent, so that the said de St Martins might have free opportunity to defend themselves against all their adversaries touching the matter for which they were arrested. And further, should the said Lieutenant refuse to obey their order, then the Court informed him that they would cease to have any official relations with him, and that he would be excluded from the Court until such time as be bad fulfilled their order, and had acknowledged publicly before the Bailiff and Jurats that he had repaired his offence according to right and reason.


Here our information of the matter ends but we must presume that Otys Colin obeyed the Court and that the prisoners were set at liberty. Two years later, after the defeat of the Yorkist party at Ludlow and the flight of the Earl of March and the Earl of Warwick to Guernsey and thence to Calais, and a few weeks after the appointment of John Nanfan, as Governor of the Channel Islands, for the third time, we find the King, evidently at Nanfan's instigation, appointing on 5 June 1460 Guillaume de St Martin, Procureur-General, and his brother Raullet (Radulphus) Comptroller General of the Isles of Guernsey and Jersey.

French invasion and treason

A few months later, in the spring of 1461, the French under Jean Carbonel, Seigneur de Sourdeval, invaded Jersey and captured Mont Orgueil Castle and the greater part of the island, and Pierre de Breze, Grand Seneschal of Normandy, who had planned the expedition, assumed the title of Seigneur des Iles. John Nanfan, the Governor, has been accused by some historians of having betrayed the castle to the French, but the true version of its surrender is probably that given in the Extente of Jersey 1528:

"Forfaicture of Saint Martins, that is to say, first Guille de St Martyn, Raulet de St Martyn, Jamys de St Martin, Guy de St Martyn, John de St Martyn and Thomas de St Martyn, whiche forfaicture in the pisshe of the Trinite and in divrs other pisshes in Jersey, and was forfaited by reson of treason of selling and delivering of the Kingis Castell wtin the isle of Jarsey .

Thus we see that not only the four sons of Janequin de St Martin, but also their cousins Thomas and Guy were concerned in this treason. As a reward, Guillaume de St Martin was appointed Proeureur-General of the Comte de Maulevrier in the Isles, and he also became Seigneur of Trinity. The Earl of Warwick, as we have seen, declared their estates forfeited and gave them to their cousin Thomas de la Court, Seigneur of Trinity, on 21 March 1464, but as Jersey was then occupied by the French, he cannot have obtained possession of them until Richard Harliston came over, in 1468, and besieged and captured Mont Orgueil Castle.

On the surrender of the castle the sons of Janequin de St Martin took refuge in Normandy and the manor of Breuil d' Anneville, which had been given to their father by Henry V, was restored to them. In 1499 we find it in the possession of John de St Martin, one of their descendants, according to an agreement, dated 10 September of that year, between John, Abbot of Cherbourg, and Maitre Guillaume Trubert, cure of Notre Dame d'Allonne, concerning the tithes and novales of wheat and other crops growing on certain lands in the said parish belonging to noble homme Jehan de Saint Martin, Sieur de Breuil. Their cousins, Thomas and Guillaume, sons of John de St Martin, also fled to France, but a few years later they were pardoned by Edward IV and returned to Jersey.

John de St Martin, second son of Guillaume de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, and Jenette Payn, married Jenette Le Hardy, sister and heir of Thomelin Le Hardy. He died and was buried at St Saviour in 1462. His wife, Jenette Le Hardy, died two years later and by her will dated 1464 she appointed Thomas de St Martin, her eldest son, and George Lempriere, her son-in-law, as her executors, as well as Sire Jean Hue, Rector of St Saviour.


Jean de St Martin left two sons, Thomas, who eventually became Seigneur of Trinity after a long lawsuit with Thomas de la Court, and Guillaume, Jurat; and one daughter, Thomasse, wife of George Lempriere, Seigneur of Dielament, who became heiress of Trinity Manor on the death of her brothers without issue.

Thomas de St Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, eldest son of Jean de St Martin son of Guillaume, was one of the supporters of the French in Jersey, during the occupation of Mont Orgueil Castle by de Sourdeval, He left the island on the surrender of the castle, but was afterwards pardoned by Edward IV, who on 16t October 1480 granted to "Thomas de Seint martin of the island of Jersey 'gentilman' who has been an adherent of the King's adversaries, whom the King has pardoned, that he may freely enter into certain lands lordships and fees of his ancestors to whom he is heir, in the islands of Gersey and Guernsey, as of the fee called 'le Fee de la Trinite'".

Then followed a long lawsuit with Thomas de la Court, owner of Trinity Manor, by right of his grandfather's purchase in 1452, from Thomas de St Martin. Thomas de la Court refused to give up the manor, and the Royal Court of Jersey not compelling him to do so, Thomas de St Martin petitioned the King, again stating that "one William de Seyntmartyn, his kinsman, within a year and a day of the said purchase, offered to the said Thomas (Thomas de la Court le viel) the sum paid for it in the presence of the whole parish of Holy Trinity according to the custom of the duchy in the island".

The King on 4 February 1483 orders the Captain, Bailiff and Jurats to "enquire whether the sum of money was offered as said, and if so, to put the said Thomas de Seyntmartyn in possession of the fee".

The dispute for possession of the manor dragged on two years longer, until the arrival of Dr Thomas Hutton, Commissioner, sent over by the King to examine into the administration of the Channel Islands, when an agreement was entered into, in his presence, between Thomas de St Martin and Thomas de la Court, whereby the latter consented to give up Trinity Manor to Thomas de St Martin for the sum of sept vingts escus paiement de cette Isle pr une fois payer and on 7 June 1485 both parties appeared before the Royal Court of Jersey and consented to judgment in favour of Thomas de St Martin in accordance with their agreement.

A few days later on 16 June 1485 they both appeared before the Royal Court of Guernsey and produced another agreement under their signatures whereby Thomas de la Court promised to deliver up to Thomas de St Martin all documents concerning Trinity Manor, which documents were handed over in the presence of the Court. The next day, 17 June, they again appeared before the Court to ratify, in Guernsey, the agreement for the handing over of the manor, Thomas de St Martin paying the first 20 escus of the repurchase money in Court, and Sire Thomas Henry, Rector of Notre Dame du Chastel and Dominic Perrin becoming his sureties for the payment of the balance.

Thomas de la Court then handed over a number of documents concerning Trinity Manor, which included a Patent of Henry VI, the deed of purchase of the manor, etc'. Thus ended the long lawsuit and Thomas de St Martin entered into possession of the old manor of his ancestors.

Thomas de St Martin

Thomas de St Martin seems to have lived chiefly in England. On 28 November 1485, Henry VII granted to Edmund de Weston and Thomas de St Martin, in consideration of their great services, the office of "Captain, Keeper and Governor of the island of Guernsey and Castle Cornet" to hold the same in survivorship, but on Edmund Weston's death, in 1509, Thomas de St Martin did not succeed him, and the governorship was given to Richard Weston, Edmund's son.

In 1488, Thomas de St Martin was gentleman of the household of Edward de Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, and later he entered the Royal Household, and in 1493 and 1497 we find him styled 'Premier Usher' to the Prince of Wales. He married an English lady, named Anne Brocas, and died at Easter 1515 without children. His only brother, Guillaume de St Martin, Jurat 1497-1499, predeceased him also leaving no issue, and the family became extinct in the male line.

On the death of Thomas de St Martin, in 1515, without issue, his nephew Drouet Lempriere, son of George Lempriere, Seigneur of Dielament, inherited Trinity Manor in right of his mother, Thomasse, only sister of Thomas de St Martin, and on 18 September of the same year he was confirmed in possession by the Commissioners of the King at an inquisition held at St Helier.

Thomas de St Martin's will, dated Monday before the feast of St James the Apostle, 1514, is among the documents from Trinity Manor in the Library of the Société Jersiaise. By it he made many bequests to the church of Trinity for masses for the souls of himself, Anne his wife, his father and mother, his brother and sister, and ancestors, as well as for that of Master John Neel, priest. He appointed as his executors Master John Larbalestier, Dom James de Carteret and Dom Leonard Triguel, priests, and Nicholas Hamptone. His will was witnessed by Dom Servaise Galichan and Dom Thomas Blampy, and signed in the presence of the Dean and of Drouet and Nicholas Lempriere, and the great seal of the Decanal Court was affixed to it at the request of the testator.


The account of the de Saint Martins, Seigneurs of Trinity, has been drawn up chiefly with the kind assistance of Mrs J A Messcrvy, whom I have to thank for the valuable notes she sent me, some years ago, from a collection of documents formerly belongiug to Trinity Manor, now in the possession of the Société Jersiaise. This information has been supplemented by documents referring to this family published from time to time in the Bulletins of the Société Jersiaise; also by a collection of 15th century copies of documents, in the possession of the Rev H G de C Stevens-Guille, St George, Guernsey, which throw considerable light on the history of this family during the 15th century, when the Guernsey family of de la Court was in possession of Trinity Manor.

Further the numerous references to the de St Martins in the Calendars of the Close and Patent Rolls and other official documents at the Record Office, London, give an amount of information on various members of the family during the 13th 14th and 15th centuries, and enable one to reconstruct their history more fully than that of any of the other medieval Channel Island families, with the exception of the de Carterets.

I have also to thank Mr R R Lempriere, of Rosel Manor, for the valuable notes on the Norman family of de st Martin, and to G F B de Gruohy, of Noirmont Manor, for various notes and suggestions.

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