Peter Monamy

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Peter Monamy

Peter Monamy.jpg

Long assumed to be a Jerseyman, 18th century marine artist Peter Monamy was the first to be honoured on a set of stamps by the independent Jersey Post Office in 1971. Further research showed that he was born in London of a Jersey family

A stamp issue from 1971, when Monamy was still assumed to be a Jerseyman ...

... and a complete set devoted to the artist only three years later. It must have come as some embarassment to Jersey Post to discover that the first artist they accorded the honour of a full set of stamps was born in London of a Guernsey family

Peter Monamy is only included in this section because for 300 years after his birth he was assumed to have been born in Jersey. However, a lengthy article by art historian Charles Harrison Wallace published in 1981 shattered this illusion by showing that he had been born in London, the son of a Guernseyman. The Monamy family first moved to Jersey from France several generations earlier.

Jersey stamps

Wallace's research was also published in the Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise in 1981, which must have caused some embarassment to the Jersey Post Office, which had issued a set of stamps depicting works attributed to Monamy in its Jersey Artists series only seven years earlier.

Wallace wrote:

A Monamy maritime painting from 1700
"The first recorded Monamy in the Channel Islands took the oath of allegiance before the Royal Court of Jersey in 1540 or 1544. The family's Jersey roots may go back before 1540, but although there is a report of a certain Gilles Monamy (of St Lo) being banished from the island for bringing in catholic books and holy water, it seems likely that the first settlers came as early refugees from the counter-reformation in France. The patriarch of both the Guernsey and Jersey branches seems to have been Étienne Monamy of St Saviour's parish, Jersey.
"Étienne had three and probably more children born in Jersey. One son, Clement, married Marie Ahier and had at least two boys, Moyse and Aaron. It is likely that from them are descended the present families of Monamy in Jersey, at first centred in the parishes of Grouville and St Clement. During Elizabethan and Commonwealth times Guernsey was much the most prosperous of the islands, and Étienne's other known son, André, moved to Guernsey, where he was later joined by his nephew Aaron.

Guernsey merchant

"André Monamy was a successful Elizabethan merchant, and became a man of substance in Guernsey. In 1569 he bought the house which is now the Savings Bank in the High Street of St Peter Port. He rebuilt it at the time of his second marriage in 1578 and lived there until he died in 1590. The house was sold in 1594.
"By his young wife, Bertranne Estur, he left four small children. His two sons, André and Elie, had both died by 1613, neither reaching the age of 25; but not before Elie had married Susanne Martin and fathered a son born in 1612.
"This André Monamy grew up in Puritan Guernsey, which had been a haven for Huguenot refugees from France since the St Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572. He became a prominent Cromwellian and pursued the Parliamentary cause with vigour. In 1643 he was one of twelve Commissioners appointed by Parliament and vested with the government of Guernsey. In 1651 he was a Lieutenant in the Militia and was involved in a proposed assault on Castle Cornet, which was the last Stuart stronghold to capitulate in the British Isles. In 1653 he was one of five new Jurats elected to replace five dismissed by Parliament on account of their Royalist sympathies.
Shipping off St Helier
"He inherited a farm from his maternal grandmother, and it is not impossible, though not entirely certain, that the farmhouse, within easy walking distance of St Peter Port harbour, is the one now known as "Monamy".

Dismissed as Jurat

"However, after about 1655 his impetuous qualities undoubtedly contributed to his downfall. In 1656, as recorded in the CSPD of Charles II, 1682, he got into financial difficulties; and in 1660 he was in turn dismissed from the office of Jurat upon the Restoration of Charles II. The centre of wealth and political influence in the Channel Islands shifted from St Peter Port to St Helier, Jersey, where the Carterets had remained loyal to the Stuarts. Litigation in respect of André Monamy's debts dragged on until after his death in 1680, a year before the birth of his grandson, Peter.
"He married twice, his second wife being Anne, daughter of Pierre Le Febvre de l'Espine and Catherine Carey, daughter of the Seigneur de Blanchelande. His four children were named Pierre, André, Marie and Catherine. André, or Andrew as he was known in London, probably lived from 1661 to 1727. He became a respectable merchant trading in salt and wool in partnership with his (presumed) cousin Daniel Le Febvre. He moved to and fro between Guernsey, London and Holland, as recorded in correspondence preserved in the manuscript department of the British Library. He married Marie Le Boutillier, the daughter of an advocate, in 1692; and seems to have died childless. His widow died in 1751. His youngest sister, Catherine, married Henry Perkins, Sergent of Guernsey, in 1685. The other sister, Marie, married a man called Maurice Perchard in 1670. I conjecture that this Maurice Perchard was a Jerseyman, and that the Jersey connections of the Guernsey family of Monamy would have been reinforced by this alliance.
A Monamy maritime painting from 1740

Nothing known

"In view of what will be related about Pierre, the last of the Parliamentary Monamy's four children, it is amusing to note that in 1927 Colonel de Guérin remarked that "of Pierre Monamy ... nothing is known". Clearly, his exploits were not recorded in Guernsey, even if they were known then or at any earlier time.
"Pierre Monamy's paternal grandmother was, as mentioned, Susanne Martin. She, in turn, was the granddaughter of a famous, or notorious, Guernsey merchant venturer called Nicolas Martin, who had been castigated by the Southampton Custom House authorities in 1569 for employing "extraordinarye and secrete meanes to land commodyties, whereby the Quene ys hindered greatlie of her customes ...". His descendant became an enthusiastic follower of this ancestral example. Born in 1652, Pierre Monamy probably left Guernsey for good in about 1670. By about 1675 he was in London. Since he is later seen to have had various Jersey confederates in the City, it is possible that he moved there via Jersey. In London he was called Peter."

And Pierre's son, born in London six years later, was called Peter and became one of the most celebrated British artists of his time. He was best known for his maritime studies and several of the best were set in Channel Islands waters, which, seemed to reinforce the view of Horace Walpole, in the fourth volume of his influential Anecdotes of Painting in England, first published in 1780, that Monamy was born in Jersey.

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