The Royal Court at Grouville

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The Royal Court

at Grouville

This article by Christopher Aubin was first published in the 2004 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

In the year 1518 the plague was raging in St Helier and thus the Court moved to the country parishes. On one particular day it sat in the relative safety of the house of Jean Payn, one of the Jurats, near Grouville Church. The events that there unfolded are recorded by Les Chroniques. Helier de Carteret, the Bailiff, with drawn sword and before the whole Court faced Sir Hugh Vaughan, the Governor, in a memorable showdown now depicted in stained glass at St Ouen's Manor.

The window at St Ouen's Manor

So says the legend. But did the Court sit in Jean Payn's house and where was it? History has left a house on the south side of the parish church known to this day as 'Grouville Court'. Was this really Jean Payn's house and was it here that the Bailiff drew his sword on the Governor?

The 1511/1515 enigma and the sitting of the Royal Court in 1518

The events that unfolded in 1518 were recorded in Les Chroniques, a work of unknown authorship dating to the 16th century eulogising the virtues of the de Carteret family; unfortunately, the original court records for the period have not survived. That the Royal Court sat in the property of Jean Payn, Jure, is recorded in Les Chroniques (chapter XV):

'auprcs de l' Eglise de la dire Paroisse, en la maison du nomme Jean Payn, qui pour lors ctoit un des justicicrs de la dite ile'

The case in question at the time concerned the estate of the late Thomas de St Martin, Seigneur de la Trinité. According to the Commissioners Report of 1515, de St Martin had died the previous Easter and his nephew Drouet Lempriere was acknowledged as his heir. In 1514 de St Martin had ceded to a younger nephew, Nicolas Lempriere, certain property in town inherited through the family. In 1518 the Governor, Vaughan, was trying to claim de St Martin's property forfeit to the Crown, and thus himself, because the de St Martin family had sided with the French in their occupation of the Island from 1461 until 1468. Although de St Martin had been granted a pardon in 1480 by Edward IV this is not referred to in Les Chroniques.

The Court was supposedly sitting in Grouville because the plague was raging in town. Perhaps in 1518 the Court sat in Jean Payn’s house because of its status, perhaps also because an earlier sitting of the Royal Court, at which Payn had presided, had previously acknowledged Drouet Lempriere's claim.

Although the Roles of the Royal Court have not survived, lettres granted to Drouet Lempriere are to be found at the Public Library. Jean Payn, sitting as Lieutenant to Thomas Lempriere, Bailli, with Pierre de Carteret and Regnault Le Loureur, jures, granted the lettres to Lempriere who had requested written confirmation of the Court's decision to recognise him as heir to the late de St Martin. The Court sitting was held on the Wednesday next following the Nativity of St Jean Baptiste. The year is more difficult. It dearly reads mil chine chen et. but the following word could be read as onze or more probably quinze (with a contraction symbol here expanded and underlined). Indeed, all published references to this document interpret the year as 1515 which, as noted above, would concur with the Commissioners and the de St Martin contracts.

However, Thomas Lempriere had been replaced by Helier de Carteret as Bailli in 1514 and hence Payn should not have been sitting as his Lieutenant in 1515, but could have been in 1511, before de St Martin had ceded various property to his nephew Nicolas. The 1511 suggestion must be ignored. There were troubles between the Governor, Vaughan, and both Thomas Lempriere and later Helier de Carteret, Baillis. The former he appears to have been instrumental in removing from office and the latter he dashed with. Perhaps Payn was the only person still able to sit at the time; without further contracts or Court records covering the period the problem remains. The Letters published by the Public Record Office for the reign of Henry VIII record Thomas Lempriere being appointed Bailli on lO November 1509 and Heller de Carteret on 12 May 1514. On 30 April 1513 Hugh Vaughan wrote to Dr Wolsey, the King's Almoner, advising that he had given the office of Bailli to de Carteret. Vaughan had evidently acted beyond his powers in appointing de Carteret and dismissing Lempriere. However, after the Royal appointment in May 1514 it would be unexpected to find Payn still acting in 1515 as Lempriere's Lieutenent.

The first Payn family

The records are silent on both this branch (d'auprès l'église) of the Payn family and their property until in 1594 the apperiement for the Fief du Roi in Grouvbille, the oldest extant apperiement, records Marguerite, widow of Anthoine Payn and daughter of Jean Payn, owing 21 sous to the Crown for the prévôté in her own right for property inherited from her father, Jean d'auprès l'église:

Margueritte delessie d'anthoine payn et fille de John payn daupres leglise de grouille pour son propre tenement meson mesnage et tous se43s alutres terres myelles et costils doibt xxj s et son ayde le Sieur de Samares

Jean was not an unusual name in the Payn family. Indeed, Marguerite's father-in-law, Anthoine's father, was Jean fils Charles (Constable of Grouvillel 1552-1558, died 1558). However, the epithed of d'auprèes l'église indicates that the family resided near Grouville Church. Unfortunately no specific property details are recorded in the apperiement.

Jean Payn is known to have been Jure from c1515 till his death in c1540; was he Marguerite's father or grandfather?

Anthoine died before 1594 and his wife Margerite died in 1614. Indeed, Jacques (James) is recorded in the Extente of Crown Revenues of 1607 as owing for Anthoine Pain in the discharge of Gefferey de la Hougue, 4 cabots of wheat rente and for the heirs or assigns of John Bertram, 3 cabots of wheat rente. In the 1528 Extente Giffre de lanthougue owes iiii cabots and John Bartram iii cabots. The property held by Jacques in 1607 was thus paternal inheritance and indeed Anthoine Payn's father Jean acquired de la Hougue property in the mid 16th century.

The second Payn family

Jacques Payn fils Anthoine gave ail his property, both real and personal, in Jersey to his son Jean (par Demission) on 12 September 1622. Jean was obliged to feed, cloth and house his father, who also retained use of a room, food for a horse and an annual income of 6 Escus sol and 30 cabots of apples. Jacques Payn fils Anthoine inherited the property from the partage of the estates of both his parents, Anthoine and Marguerite in 167. Although both the troisieme partie of the partage relating to the share inherited by their daughters and a subsequent sous-partage of the share inherited by their son Daniel are registered, the main partage is not registered.

The 7 cabots enigma

The 7 cabots due to the Crown by Jacques Payn fils Antoine was, in part, owed in the discharge of Geoffrey de la Hougue. In the 1500s Jean Payn fils Charles had acquired property from Jean de la Hougue but was challenged by Guilleaume de la Hougue in an action of retrait. It is unfortunate that the partage of Anthoine and Marguerite has not survived in its entirety, through this partage both the property of Marguerite from her father (Jean d'aupres l'eglise) and that of Anthoine fils Jean fils Charles passed to their children. The 7 cabots appears to have transferred fonds from one property to another in this partage, unless there has been an unrecorded purchase. It is possible that the rente was due on land inherited by Jacques in the paternal line but became 'associated' with all his property and then 'attached' to his main house, inherited through the maternal line.

Jacques' elder brother Jean was succeeded by his eldest daughter Susanne, who sold most of her property to Philippe Falle in 1642. Susanne retained the ruins at Les Houguiseries, where Faile was to rebuild a house. A rente of 10 cabots due to the Crown can be traced through the Extentes of 1668 and 1607 from Jean Le Hardy (who bought the property from Philippe Falle), Philippe Falle, and Jean Payn fils Jean fils Anthoine. Five cabots were due in the discharge of Jean de la Hougue and 5 for land Anthoine had acquired from the Royal Commissioners.

The third Payn family

Jean Payn fils Jacques sold to Jean Payn fis Edouard (4 September 1624) his house and surrounding lands together with other lands for a total of 21 quarters of rente of which one third was to be deducted during the life of Francoise Le Goupil, widow of Jacques Payn and Douairiere of his estate. No mention is made of 7 cabots due to the Crown. Jean Payn fils Jacques appears to have been in financial trouble for some time; on 28 May 1624 he sold 3 quarters 2 cabots of rente to Jean Payn fils Edouard as he owed arrears on 5 quarters 4 cabots of rente sold by engage in 1616, the money owed amounted to six vingt dix (130) Escus sol.

Jean Payn fils de feu Edouard took over the property of Jean Payn fils aisne Jacques after pursuing a decree against him. All subsequent transactors renounced their rights back to the purchase hy Jean Payn fils Edouard from Jean Payn fils Jacques on 4 September 1624. Jean Payn fils Edouard became tenant apres decret of the property of Jean fils Jacques at the Cour de Cattel, on the third and last day of the sitting of 14 December 1626.

Jean's eldest son Francois derived title from the partage of his father's estate on 5 October 1658. This contract was not registered at the time but following the Restoration it was duly registered, as was required, on 5 September 1661. Francois received Maison des Payns, the jardins adjoining, Jardin du Presbitaire, Clos de la Fontaine, Pray des Bouillons, Clos de la Porte and Clos de la Pelotte with petit Jardin de la Pelote. The whole measured 25 vergees and (inter alia) the following rentes were due: 7 cabots to the Recepte du Roi, 2 cabots to the Tresor of Grouville and 3 cabots to the Don Laurens Baudains.

Jean Payn fils Edouard (Jurat 1640-1650) lived at Les Pres and married Marie le Febure. His son, Francois, married Elizabeth Dumaresq. The Extente of 1668 records the heirs of Francois Payn fils Jean fils Edouard as tenant of the property of Jean Payn fils Jacques fils Anthoine as owing 4 cabots to the Crown for Geoffrey de la Hougue and 3 cabots for le Nepveu for Bertram. Francois' son and heir Jean Payn married Susanne Bertram and their daughter and heir Elizabeth married Pierre Marett.

The Marett family

The apperiement for Grouville of 1708 records Pierre Maret caux fille de feu Jean Payn as owning a house and 4 vergees 1 perche 20 pieds together with Closde la Porte, Jardin de la Pellotte and Clos d' Abraham Journeaux on the Fief du Roi for which 6 sous of prevott was due. The Extente of 1749 records Peter Marett in right of Elizabeth Payn, daughter of Jean as owing 7 cabots to the Crown. Their son and heir, Pierre, married Elizabeth Messervy and their daughter and heir Marie married John Williams, jnr.

During her lifetime, and with the consent of her husband, Marie alienated property by four contracts:

  • 5 March 1774 sold 18 quarters of rente on her house to Jean Williams snr
  • 13 March 1783 sold the main house facing west, the pressoir, outbuildings, the courtyards to the front and rear, the stackyard and the jardin, except for the croissee along the public road, to Jean Williams snr
  • 13 March 1783 sold 21 quarters 2 cabots to Aaron de Veulle, this had heen subject to retrait by Jean Williams snr
  • 13 March 1783 sold 6 quarters 7 cabots 3 sixtonniers and a langue de boeuf to Jean Williams snr

After the death of Marie Marett her four heirs (Philippe Payn in the Payn lineage, Elie Bertram in the lineage of Jean Bertram, Hugh Mallet in the lineage of Richard Bertram, and George Alexandre ca mat fille de George Marett in the Marett lineage) actioned Jean Williams snr before the Cour d'Heritage to produce his title to the various properties so that it could be cancelled. The four argued that in so selling her property Marie had unfairly benefited her husband, as heir to his father, to the prejudice of her own legal heirs contrary to the laws of the Island. The matter was first raised on the first day of the Court (but is there unrecorded) when Francois Marett, one of the Jurats, was appointed to decide on the admissibility of the action contested by Williams. On 23 June the Court found the case admissible; Williams appealed to the Privy Council, the court, however, decided they did not have time to decide on the merits of the case which was held over.

The case came before the Court again on 11 May 1786. The Court discharged Williams from the action and the four appealed. Williams obtained leave to continue his earlier appeal. The Greffier was to prepare collated copies of papers produced.

Philippe Payn purchased the property from Jean Williams snr on 31 May 1788, but Williams' title was only confirmed by contract agreement reached on 28 June 1788 with the four heirs (Philippe Payn in the Payn lineage; Elie Bertram in the lineage of Jean Bertram; Hugh Mallet in the lineage of Richard Bertram and George Alexandre ca mat fille de George Marett in the Marett lineage) of Marie Marett, wife of Jean Williams, jnr. From a later partage, 2 February 1793 between two of the four heirs, further family details come to light.

The partage was between Elie Bertram fils Philippe fils Elie fils Elie fils Jean fils aisne Servais and Hugh Mallet fils Hugh and of the late Sara Payn, his wife, fille de Thomas and of Sara Bertram, his wife, fille de Richard, one of the fils puisne of Servais, and was of the property they had inherited from Marie Marett fille de Pierre fils Pierre and of the late Elizabeth Payn, his wife, fille de Jean and of Susanne Bertram, his wife, fille de Philippe fils Servais and of rentes assigned to them by Jean Williams. The 1788 agreement followed the discharge of Jean Williams snr by the Royal Court from an action brought by the four who were not following up their appeal to the Privy Council and included the abandonment by Williams of his own appeal to the Council against the four and for a consideration of 8 quarters of wheat rente assigned by Williams to the four to be received on the property of the Reverend Henry Williams heir to his brother Jean. The four then proceeded to a partage of the rente.

The property purchased by Payn from Williams measured 27 vergees 33 perches 8 pieds and was on the Fief du Roi, except for Le Pre du Houguee, which was on the Fief Mallet. It was sold for 12 cabots 2 sixtonniers per vergee, in total 43 quarters 1 cabot 4 sixtonniers. Payn was to discharge 4 quarters 2 cabots 3 sixtonniers due on the property (of which 7 cabots were due to Sa Majeste, 6 cabots 3 sixtormiers to the Tresor and Charite of St Clement; 3 cabots to the Ecoliers of the Don Laurens Baudains and 3 cabots 1 poule to the Tresor and Charite of Grouville). Payn undertook to pay or assign in sums of at least 4 cabots a total of 38 quarters 7 cabots 1 sixtonnier 1/6. It was agreed that if any further sums of rente should be found to be due upon the property then Williams would compensate Payn at the rate of 333 livres 6 sous 8 denier d'ordre per quarter. Payn was bound to suffer the existing tenants of the property and rights of way across the property particularly to the fontaine in the north-west corner of Clos de la Porte.

In the same contract Williams sold to Payn the sum of 32 quarters 3 cabots 1 sixtonnier 1/6 due by Payn out of the above sum (so that Payn owed only 6 quarters 4 cabots) at 333 livres 6 sous 8 denier d'ordre per quarter a total of 10,816 livres 2 sous d'ordre.

Philippe Payn gifted a half undivided share of the property to Elie Bertram on 31 May 1788, this included the rentes that Payn acquired with the property which were due by himself having been created in his purchase.

Philippe Payn fils Philippe and Elie Bertram fils Philippe fils Elie sold the house described as having belonged to Pierre Marett fils Pierre to Edouard Touzel fils Edouard on 26 July 1788, together with Pre du Houguee (4 vergces 23 perches 19 pieds) Clos du Moulin a Vent (3 vergees 6 perches 18 pieds) and Champ du Moulin a Vent (19 perches 9 pieds). By a separate contract passed the same day Payn and Bertram registered a partage dividing most of the rest of [he lands they owned jointly in right of Jean Williams snr. Under the partage Payn took Clos de la Porte (4 vergees 38 perches 8 pieds) which lay to the north of the public road between the cemetery and Payn's existing lands, together with Grand Jardin or Jardin de la Pellotte (1 vergee 34 perches) upon all of which he paid 6 cabots 3 sixtonniers of wheat rente to the Tresor and Charite of St Clement. Bertram took le Clos des Fonds (3 vergees 29 perches 13 pieds), Le Jardin des Fonds (31 perches 12 pieds) and Le Jardin de Journeaux (2 vergees 10 perches 20 pieds) upon all of which he paid 3 cabots to the Ecoliers of the Don Laurens Baudains and 3 cabots 1 poule to the Tresor and Charité of Grouville. Mielle de Belle Hougue was retained in joint ownership. Edouard Touzel sold to Philippe Messervy fils Daniel on 6 September 1788.

The Marett family - Croissée

Philippe Payn also had title as one of the heirs of Marie Marett fille de Pierre heir of her brother Francois, who was son and principal heritier of his father Pierre fils Pierre to the Croissée. This was sold to Messervy on 6 March 1790. It included rights to tour d'echelle, and lumiere retained by Marie Marett upon the earlier sale to Jean Williams snr. The lumieres were towards the courtyard to the south and included the right to make further openings, the communication doors were to have been blocked and a new opening made on to the public road to the north as a main entrance.

Later history

Philippe Messervy fils Daniel sold to Jean Bourinot fils Pierre on 11 February 1792 the house that had belonged to Pierre Marett facing west and which bordered on the east, south and west the land of Elie Bertram, Thomas Labey and Philippe Canivet, ca ux, and on the north the public road, measuring 4 vergees, 2 perches, 5 pieds; the croissée (wing) acquired from Philippe Payn lying between the house and the pressoir along the public road situated in Grouville on the Fief du Roi.

Jean Bourinot fils Pierre sold to Jean Filleul on 2 December 1811 (7 cabots to Sa Majcste) and re-purchased the property from Filleul on l5 March 1812 (7 cabots to Sa Majeste). Bourinot was declared en Decret and Thomas Grey who was the tenant subroge was himself declared en Decret the tenant subroge apres Decret being George Snell.

The property known as Grouville Court was acquired by Charles Anthony Barsdorf and Cora Maria Jane Gosselin, his wife, by two separate contracts. Their first acquisition was from Avis Mary Snell 1 November 1919. Avis was the only daughter and heir of Henry James Snell who had inherited the property under the partage of George Snell, l September 1892. The Barsdorfs then purchased the rest of the property from Alfred de la Perrelle, 13 December 1919. On the same day de la Perrelle reimbursed the sum of 7 cabots of wheat rente due on the property to the Crown. He had purchased the property on 29 June 1907 from Mary Ann Le Neveu de la Perrelle, heir to the collateral succession of Jean de la Perrelle who had purchased from the same George Snell on 26 August 1876(7 cabots of wheat rente owed to Sa Majeste).


In 1518, did the Royal Court sit at the property now known as Grouville Court? This simple question has two aspects both of which need to be addressed; did the Royal Court sit in Jure Jean Payn's house in 1518 and if so, was it Grouville Court?

The only evidence for the Court sitting at Payn's house is Les Chroniques, a curious 16th century manuscript which, for all its pro-de Carteret bias, is accepted by scholars as basically true (at least for what it records in the 16th century, if not entirely accurate in the 15th). That the Court occasionally sat out of town be it for reasons of plague or business is known. It is quite conceivable that the Royal Court would have sat at Jure Payn's house in 1518. Corroborative evidence of the Court sitting is unlikely to be forthcoming: the Court records have not survived.

Jean is a common name in the Payn family and it was usual that descriptive epithets were customarily added to distinguish between one Jean and another (viz d'aupres l'Eglise or fils Charles). The epithet d'aupres l'Eglise was given to both Marguerite's father Jean and Jure Jean in Les Chroniques and is a strong indication of family ties. No positive proof has survived that the Jean Payn Jure in c1515 - c1540 from d'aupres l' eglise, was the father or grandfather of Marguerite Payn fille Jean, nor is there proof that Jean Payn Jure owned Grouville Court and that it was not subsequently acquired. Marguerite Payn fille Jean owned property in Grouville and her father was also described as from d'aupres l'eglise. It is only from her son that the title to Grouville Court can conclusively be brought up to the 20th century.

Although conclusive proof is lacking the research shows that it is quite possible that the Royal Court did indeed sit in Grouville Court, the house of Jean Payn, Jure in 1518.

  • Since originally writing the above article in 1998 the author has continued his varied research. He can now claim direct descent both from Jure Jean Payn (through Marguerite Payn) and from Bailiff Helier de Carteret.
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