Mutiny in St Peter's, 1704

From the Library's militia collection. A transcript by Edith Carey of a letter in French from a worried Lieutenant-Bailiff, Eléazar Le Marchant, to the absent Lieut.-Governor, Sir Edmund Andros, (here translated), and a contemporary copy of a petition concerning the same mutiny from William De Lisle in the St Peter's militia, to the Privy Council. Complicated family ties and nepotism, and a reflection of the bitter factional resentment felt towards Edmund Andros.

Mutiny in St Peter's, 1704

Eléazar Le Marchant and Sir Edmund Andros (1637-1714) were contemporaries, Eléazar having been elected jurat in 1688; he continued to serve as jurat during the period of Andros' tenure as Bailiff and then Lieutenant-Governor, which lasted on and off from 1674 until 1708. Le Marchant was Lieutenant-Bailiff from December 1702, and (acting) Bailiff from March 1703.

The cause of all this trouble was one William De Lisle, who had assumed he would become Captain of the militia company his late brother Thomas had commanded. The De Beauvoirs whom Le Marchant accuses of partiality were highly influential jurats and Queen's Officers. The absentee Governor of Guernsey, Christopher Hatton, had supported the Andros family in a feud with the De Beauvoir and Carey families, which manifested itself in much bitterness and anger during the Civil War, from which the Royalist Andros family had emerged victorious; no doubt Edmund Andros raised a wry eyebrow at the misdeeds of his enemies. This quarrel rumbled on, however, for just a few months after the De Lisle petition, in January of 1705, the majority of the jurats—James Beauvoir, Thomas de Lisle, John Carey, William Le Marchant, Pierre Carey, Pierre Martin, Thomas Fiott, and Pierre Priaulx—sent a petition to the Queen complaining about the power lodged in Edmund Andros [SP 47/2 No.s 81-4.]. They plead that since Edmund Andros was the Lieutenant-Governor of Guernsey, all military power was vested in him, and that because Charles II decreed that no man may be both Governor and Bailiff at the same time, he had resigned his office of Bailiff, which he had for life, and appointed in his stead as Lieutenant-Bailiff, Eléazar Le Marchant. They imply very strongly that Le Marchant is Andros' creature, for they say that Le Marchant's appointment means the whole power in the island, both civil and military, is therefore now vested in Andros. The petitioners do not think very much of Le Marchant's morals, or of the fact that he elected a deputy just before two cases were heard in which he had an interest. Andros has an answer: Le Marchant had been Lieutenant-Bailiff for a year before Andros himself was appointed Lieutenant-Governor, and there were no complaints made about Eléazar Le Marchant until he refused to comply with the petitioners, contrary to the duty of his office, possibly in this matter of William De Lisle.

The De Lisles and the De Beauvoirs were very closely related. This William De Lisle was son of Thomas De Lisle (b. 1639, Jurat 1674) and Martha De Beauvoir. In this very year, 1704, he married Martha De Beauvoir (d. 1751) daughter of James De Beauvoir I (for a portrait); this James De Beauvoir, his father-in-law, is the 'Monsieur des Granges' mentioned in Le Marchant's letter. (This title, associated with the property he owned, remained his until his death in 1719. He had been elected a jurat in 1679.) James was the son of the Parliamentarian Peter De Beauvoir des Granges and Ann Legge, and had married in 1658 Anne De Lisle (for a portrait) (b. 1641), who was the sister of Thomas De Lisle son of Peter (and William's aunt); thus William’s father-in-law des Granges was also his uncle-in-law.

William's sister Mary De Lisle married James De Beauvoir II (1675-1762), son of James I, and brother of Peter des Granges (after 1719), who was therefore also his brother-in-law. The James De Beauvoir who married Judith Germain in 1585 was William’s great-great-grandfather through his mother Martha De Beauvoir and his wife’s great-grandfather through her father James De Beauvoir des Granges. William’s brother Daniel De Lisle had married Elizabeth Carey in 1699 and had three children, one in 1701; his brother Thomas evidently died in 1704/5.

James De Beauvoir III (1703-1764) married Martha De Lisle (b. 1706) in 1726. William De Beauvoir (b. 1669) was appointed Comptrolleur in 1701; son of William De Beauvoir and Jane Le Hardy, he married Elizabeth Le Febvre.¹

Eléazar Le Marchant's letter


Although I made you aware at the end of my last letter of the 7th of this month of the difficulties I find myself in, and of the perpetual chaos in this Island, caused by factional strife involving several people, I nevertheless feel I must report to you the particulars of the mutinies and rebellions of St Pierre du Bois.

Some of the ringleaders were arrested by the Constables and imprisoned by order of the Commander in Chief, and, having been brought to court for examination today, most of them tried to use as excuse what Sergeant Lenfestey had told them on behalf of Lieutenant De Lisle, that they did not have to obey Captain Massey; Lenfestey had given them a talking to and assured them that De Lisle would guarantee they would not get into trouble, as you will see in more detail in these prisoners’ statements. One of these prisoners is accused of having started amother mutiny, by having got the parish militia to gather with their weapons at the house of one Jean Corbin in St Pierre du Bois, without the order of the Governor and against the express orders of Captain Massey not to assemble the troops without his order. This prisoner claimed, however, that it was a young lad called Le Moigne who was the cause of it, and on this basis the Procureur and Comptrolleur demanded the arrest of Corbin and his wife and of this Le Moigne; but the majority of the Jurats thought it better for them not to go to the Castle but instead be brought straight before the Court.

When it came to De Lisle, however, who was accused by most of the prisoners of being the prime mover in all this sedition, the Procureur and Comptrolleur showed no interest in him at all, and when I brought his case up Monsieur des Granges said that the Commander had pardoned De Lisle for the initial mutiny, and that I had been there at the time. That was not true, and when the Commander arrived he told des Granges he was mistaken; he replied that he had no doubt whatsoever that his son-in-law would have any trouble answering the charge, but he asked the Court to bear in mind that the second mutiny had happened by accident, and that the majority of the soldiers had given in and obeyed Captain Massey, but/ that just a few had not agreed to give in; that then the Governor’s order that these rebels be seized had led to another mutiny, which was unplanned this second time, and that his son-in-law had laid down his commission before this second mutiny took place and so could not be held responsible, despite the rebels' claim to have based their mutiny on the promises that De Lisle had made to them the first time.

Jurat Priaulx did not attend court while this was being discussed, but Mr James Careye told me that this was in case [his presence] worked against the prisoners and delayed their being freed, but that he would turn up for other meetings. I have no idea if he will or not, but I have decided not to consult him on anything until he has obeyed the Royal Order which suspends him until he has recused himself.

The way things are run here is an absolute disgrace; normally if anyone brings a case in which one of my relatives is involved, even if it involves very little money, I am removed from the bench, but here is a man who is charged with having caused a mutiny here in the island, and the Queen’s Officers, Attorney General and Comptrolleur who are after the rebels won’t or don’t dare to remove the Father and Father-in-law of the instigator of this rebellion, which shows you that more regard is paid to Jurats who are colluding with others to make a majority, than to the service and laws of Her Majesty. May God change things for the better for those of us who would do their duty.

I am, Sir, your very humble servant, Eléazar Le Marchant. [From the French: DAB.]


For more about conflicts of interest, see Relative disadvantages, 1709.

1705 De Lisle mutiny Petition

To the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty in Council, The humble Petition of William D’Lisle of the Island of Guernsey, Gent.

Sheweth:That the petitioner was for severall yeares Lieutenant of One of the Two Companies of the Militia in the Parish of St Peter Du Bois in the said Island, whereof Thomas D’Lisle Junior the Petitioner’s late Brother was Captain, which Trust the Petitioner faithfully discharged constantly demeaning himself with all due Submission & respect to the Commanders in Chiefe and other Superior Officers.

That the Petitioner’s said Brother dying in April last John Brereton Esqr Capt. Of a Company in the Regiment of the Honorable Brigadier Henry Mordaunt, being then Commander in Chiefe of the said island (in the Lieutenant Governor’s absence) ordered the Petitioner to assemble the said Company on the 28th day of May last, which the Petitioner did accordingly, at which time the said Commander in Chiefe presented to the said Company one Mr Thomas Massey for their Captain, and having so done went to view the other Company of the said Parish then also assembled, and after he was gone the greatest part of the Company to which the said Massey was presented, sate themselves downe, taking little/ Notice of the said Massy being unwilling as the Petitioner understood since to have him for their Captain in regard he had formerly left the Parish to which such Company belonged to avoid paying his Taxes in the said parish and at that time had no Command in the Militia. Upon which the Commander in Chiefe came back to the said Company and Ordered them to their armes and perceiving their aversion to the said Massey ordered the Petitioner to Exercise the said Company² which accordingly he did and the said Company was afterwards dismist without any Complaint on account of thsoe proceedings.

That the Petitioner after perceiving that the unwillingness of the said Company (who were Inhabitants of the said parish) to be commanded by the said Massey proceeded not only from their Dislike of him, but also from some hopes they might have of the Petitioner being appointed to succeed his said Brother as a Captain of such Company.

The Petitioner, to remove all Occasions of that kind, and for avoiding Disputes, resolved to lay downe his Commission as Lieutenant of such Company, and did actually about the second of June last wait on the said Commander in Chiefe and laid downe his Said Commission, and not only so but the Petitioner and his relations declared it to severall persons of the/ said Company, and desired and directed they might all be informed that the Petitioner had actually quitted & layn down his Commission as Lieutenant, and that the Company would do well to obey Captain Massey. Which proceedings of the Petitioner had that good effect that on the 5th of July last when the said Company was again assembled they submitted to accept the said Massey for their Captain and were Exercised by him to his own good likeing as he himself declared, but there hap’ning afterwards some noise in the said Company occasioned by Two persons which the Commander in Chiefe Ordered to be brought out and carried prisoners to the Castle, the same was opposed by the greatest part of the Company, who came about the Commander and declared they would all goe together or to that Effect. Whereupon the said Commander in Chiefe ordered them to their Ranks which they Obey’d and soon after were all dismist. But on the 7th of the said Month upon Complaint made by the said Commander in Chiefe to the Royal Court of Guernsey that seven Men in the said Company therein named, had refused to obey the said Massey in Termes tending to Rebellion and Sedition, and had opposed his seizing Two of them, the said seven persons were by Order of the said Court committed prisoners to the Castle where they remained close confined about Twelve days./

That the said Prisoners, being very uneasy under the hardships of their Confinement, accuse the Petitioner as the Occasion and Encourager of their Disorder hoping thereby to procure their own Enlargement and avoid a further prosecution and notwithstanding what the Petitioner had done to prevent any Disorder in the said Company, buy laying downe his Commission, sending the Company notice of it, and not being present at the Muster of the said 5th July when the Disorder hap’ned, the said Prisoners accusation against the Petitioner was admitted and then and not before the said Prisoners were enlarged upon their giving Security, and also making Oaths that they would appear to answer the Matters objected against them, and besides which such Security was also extended to oblige them upon penalty of their goods and Estates to furnish Witnesses to convict the Petitioner of the Crimes he was so unjustly accused of. And thereupon an action or process was on the 28th of July formed against the Petitioner in the said Royall Court in the name of Your Majesty’s Procurer and Comptroller for ordering and commanding the man in the said Massey’s Company as well on the 28th May as on the 5th July not to obey him the said Massey by which means a Sedition and Mutiny hap’ned in the said Company.

That/ in Order to make out his Charge against your Petitioner who was not so much as present the 5th of July when the Disturbance hap'ned or was Complained of by the Commander in Chiefe, the very seven men who were accused and imprisoned as the authors thereof and had obtained their own liberty by unjustly accusing the Petitioner and then stood bound to procure Witnesses against him, no one of the said Persons having to this day been prosecuted for their own offence.

That after these and many other hardships which the Petitioner hath undergone by an unreasonable and violent prosecution the Cause came to be heard before the Royall Court of Guernsey the 10th October last, at which time the said Court did not think fitt to give any Judgment against the Petitioner but have Transmitted the said Cause and proceedings under the Seal of the said Island to your Majesty in Council for your Royall Direction therein.

Your Petitioner therefore most chearfully Embraces this Opportunity of Submitting his Case to your Majesty Royall Determination most humbly Beseeching/ Your Majesty to Direct the same may be examined in to by a Committee of your Majesty ‘s Councill and that the Petitioner may have such Relief in the premises as to your Majesty’s great Wisdom and goodness shall seem meet. And your Petitioner is duly bound, shall ever pray &c.

A true Copy
Edward Southwell

At the Court of St James’s
The 3rd of January 1705

¹ 'Pierre de Beauvoir Jurat, married Thomasse Blanche, and had three sons, Guillaume [William], Pierre and Charles. William was the only one who married. William de Beauvoir, Jurat, married Jeanne, daughter of Jean le Hardy and had two sons and two daughters, Jeanne and Elizabeth, neither of whom married. The two sons were William, who became Comptroller and married 1. Elizabeth, daughter of Daniel Le Febvre; 2. Catherine Herivel, & 3. [-] Le Hardy of Jersey (he had no children); and Pierre, Captain of Infantry, who married but had no children.' From the De Beauvoir Family Files in the Library.

² For the way the militia of this period exercised, see Musket drill.