Matthew De Sausmarez

Amongst several of the De Sausmarez family to bear this name, the Matthew De Sausmarez who lived in the island in the late 18th century is one of the best known. Amongst his titles was Châtelain of the Castle at Jerbourg, and it was he who built the Sausmarez Tower there, the only defensive tower of that era not following a military plan. It is unlikely that he did it out of altruism. J. Chepmell, in the MS Memoirs held at the Library, has some very unflattering things to say about him.

Another worthy was Matthew De Sausmarez, the elder brother of the Procureur,1 once upon a time the Guernsey Fellow of Pembroke and a M.A. of Oxford. He had a wonderful idea of his rights and dignities as Lord of Sausmarez and Grand Castellan of Jerbourg. One morning he called upon Sir John Doyle at Government Office and gave him to understand that, in case of invasion, should the French come within the precincts once belonging to his now ruined Castle, he should have the command of the troops, regular or militia, there and then arrayed against them. 'Depend upon it,' said Sir John, 'Mr. De Sausmarez, that your rights shall be carefully attended to.' He then bowed out the Castellan with much ceremony, but interjected—as soon as the door was shut—'Damned fool!'

The Lord of Sausmarez took delight in the exercise of any memorial right, however vexatious and obsolete. Once upon a time the family had a manor in Jersey called Sausmarez and their Guernsey tenants were wont to take them over to Jersey, but were not bound to carry them back. Master Matthew therefore took it into his head to have a progress to Jersey in lordly state, and accordingly summoned his unwilling vassals to perform this duty. They obeyed indeed, but took to care to manage the boat so as to wet their lord through and through, and ever and anon to put him in such bodily fear, that he never again would trust himself to the winds and the waves with a crew of such faithful lieges.² One of these false-hearted vassals was required to dress dinner for his lord, probably on some audit or special occasion. The service having been duly performed, the Master Cook of the Manor asserted his right of partaking of the dinner, sitting down in his dirty clothes and spitting on his black hands by way of exordium!

¹ Thomas De Sausmarez. Chepmell continues his reminiscences with this brother.

² Edith Carey, Folk Lore [stories collected from the country people, 1896], Vol I, p. 91.

Old Uncle Matthew de Sausmarez resolved to revive the old manorial right of the Seigneurs of Sausmarez, which was, that the Seigneur could insist on any of their tenants rowing him over to Jersey. This he did, and a Dr Bertrand steered. They chose a day of particularly low tide and landed him on the furthermost rock, saying 'Voilâ Jersey.' There they made him get out, and they turned round and rowed back again, while he had to run up the beach as hard as he could, so as to get out of the way of the tide, which was rising and rushing up the flat shore way.