Will of Thomas de Lisle, 1627

16th September 2015

An extract from Mildred Brock's notes in the Library collection (Houses file), prepared for the meeting of the Société Guernésiaise on 22 July 1933.

In 1627, Monsieur Thomas  de Lisle died at St Pierre du Bois. He came from an island family which had for several centuries been connected with the western parishes.

Among the jurés of St Pierre du Bois mentioned in the Extente of Edward III in 1331 was a Jean de Lisle. In 1441 a Collas de Lisle bought from Dom Jean Revel, the Rector of the parish, the old Rectory which stood near the Maison de Haut, visited by the Société last year. It was considered too far from the church for convenience and was sold on condition that a new one was built. This Collas de Lisle had for a mother a daughter of Massy Paisant, a family name long extinct but retained as a place name in a district a little further down the road. Later in the 15th century a Jean de Lisle of Rocquaine is requently mentioned and was evidently a person of some importance, and the family name is common in records of the parish all through the 16th century.

The Thomas de Lisle with whom we are concerned was the son of Pierre, and was, acording to Jacob's Annals, born in 1582.

He was sworn in as a jurat of the Royal Court in 1607, and had evidently been Connêtable of St Pierre du Bois before this event as the Actes des Etats record that Leonard Le Mesurier was sworn in as Constable in his place in February 1607.

Monsieur de Lisle married twice, first, Catherine Lihou, daughter of Noel Lihou, and secondly, Thomasse Priaulx, the widow of Sieur Jean Guillaume. He had five daughters: Elizabeth, Anne, Rachel, Marie and Suzanne, who married respectively, Thomas Brouard, Jean Guillebert, Jean Brehaut, Pierre Corbin, and Jean Simon, all names then and now much connected with the parish.

His only son Pierre married in 1634 Anne, daughter of the Reverend Jean Perchard, Rector of St Pierre du Bois. He must have died comparatively young and his widow married Jean de Quetteville in 1654.

Both these marriages are recorded in the earliest marriage register of St Pierre du Bois church. It is noticeable that the name de Lisle does not occur in parish records later than the 17th century. Pierre and his son Thomas were both jurats of the Royal Court and this younger Thomas married first a Le Marchant, and secondly a de Beauvoir, so it seems possible that he was residing in Town and that the family's country connections ceased after the elder Thomas' death. [But see Mutiny in St Peter's, 1704, of which the protagonist is one of Thomas junior's sons by Martha de Beauvoir, William de Lisle.]

Mr Jean de Lisle of Plaisance, who died in 1829, was a descendant of the first Thomas, but he owned this property in right of his wife, Marie Le Messurier. It was not therefore a de Lisle estate through inheritance, and it was sold after Mr Jean de Lisle's death.

Although the original Thomas de Lisle was only 45 when he died, according to Jacob, he must have been a wealthy man and a charitable one. His will is long, and contains many private as well as public bequests.

The private bequests are interesting, and give an insight into the times. They include a broadcloth doublet to Jean Gallienne, grey broadcloth to Thomas le Gallez to make his trunk hose, and a hat to Pierre Jehan. Certain individuals also received sums of money to enable them to buy lambs to rear, and a sum of money was left to his maid Jeanne Digard, if still in his service, that she may buy herself une jeune vache (a young cow). Five poor persons were also to be clothed in broadcloth by his wife pour l'amour de Dieu.

Among his public bequests, a list of which is given in the Actes des Etats of 1627, he left: 15 quarters of wheat rent to be divided among the 10 parishes of the island for the benefit of their poor; 100 écus to form a fund for the education of poor scholars, desirous of studying for the Holy Ministry; 50 écus to be funded to increase the stipend of the Minister of the parish; 50 écus to be funded to increase the salary of the parish schoolmaster; 50 écus for the repairs of the parish church; and two sums of money to accumulate for the purpose of building an island House of Correction, should it be required. 

Another interesting gift was a silver cup, evidently already in use, for the administration of the Holy Communion in the parish church. This cup was sold to be melted down, over 200 years later in 1831, together with other pieces of church plate which had become useless, and with the proceeds of the sale new Communion vessels were brought, including the two silver cups now in use, one of which was engraved Don de Monsieur Thos. de Lisle a l'Eglise de St. Pierre du Bois, to perpetuate the gift of 200 years before.

His bequest to the poor of the parish of the Maison des Pauvres.