Oliver Dobree and Catherine Stephens, 1693

Or was he a Dupré—and a Jerseyman?

From the Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 6th September 1693

Oliver Dubree a Parson, was indicted for perswading one Katherine Stephens to go with him to Jersey and Guernsey, and to the French King, and to King James. Mrs. Stephens was sworn and deposed that he told her that he would go to the aforesaid Islands, and possess himself of divers Castles there, and that afterwards he would deliver them up to the French King, and that she was to bring him to St. Germains to King James, to consult him about it; and that King James was to help him to Ships to carry on this Design; the Court ask'd her why she did not go with him; she said, because she did not think it convenient. (Court) How did he say he would do it? (Witness) Why he said that he would go with those Ships that he should have, and when he came to Jarsey and Guernsey, he would tell them that he was driven in thither by the French, &c. all this was look'd upon but as a frivolous Story, and not credited by the Court: This Mrs. Stephens being asked what Countrey and Religion she was off, she answered that she was a Scotch-woman and a Jacobite; and being ask'd what a Jacobite was in his Nature, she would give no Answer, but if the Parson had instructed her better, she might have been better provided: The Parson declared that she was abetted to swear against him in this matter by two Jesuit Converts, who turn their Religion any way to serve their own turns, which they do by Mental Reservation, &c. The Court directed the Jury, and told them, that it was but a frivolous and a groundless Indictment: So he was acquitted.

The given name Oliver was not at all popular at that period in Guernsey, mainly because of the population's adherence to the Discipline Ecclésiastique, which forbade 'pagan or idolatrous baby names, or names by which God is known in the Scriptures; or holy titles, such as Angel, Baptist, or Apostle.' This led to most children sharing a tiny pool of given biblical names, and the frequent use of these same few names within families is consequently a cause of huge frustration to the local genealogist. One of the most notable exceptions to this rule was the use of the name Olympe, borne for example by Olympe Roland, the wife of the Puritan minister Thomas Le Marchant, and his daughter, the five-times married Olympe Le Marchant. Look out too for Salomé [Le Mesurier] and Eve (but this type of rather exotic name can often be traced back to Jersey roots.) For a short study of given names at this period in Guernsey, see Salzman, J., 'Christian names in XVII Century Guernsey,'Quarterly Rev. Guernsey Soc., XI (1) Spring, 1955, pp. 14-15.