Pierre Careye C5
1609 - 1671
Pierre was one of the most distinguished
Guernseymen of the Seventeenth Century showing bravery and
tenacity in carrying out his duties as a Jurat and
Lieut.-Governor under Parliament during a troublesome time.
Despite the difference in language, Pierre kept in touch
with the Parliamentary leaders in England in a marvellous
manner. From time to time, he was selected by the States to
proceed to England to lay various matters and complaints
before the English Parliament and received on various
occasions thanks for the way in which he carried out his
Escape from Castle Cornet
Pierre has become a noted figure in Guernsey history, namely for his
dramatic escape in 1643 cutting through the wooden floorboards with
his knife along with two others whilst imprisoned in Castle Cornet just in time to avoid death on the
gallows during the English Civil War. Also the lucky chance that the cannon trained on them missed
fire no fewer than six times whilst they made their way back to the Island.
At the time of the escape, he was acting as Sheriff having previously been elected on
25 May 1639. Subsequently, he was elected as Jurat on 22 Apr 1648. He had been acting as the Island's
representative in transmitting intelligence to, and receiving orders from, Lord Warwick, who in his
position as Lord High Admiral, could govern the Island only by proxy.
The story of his capture and subsequent Escape from Castle Cornet should be read by clicking
Many documents survive requesting various
duties to be performed by Pierre:
The Authorities in Guernsey were worried for the safety of Sark,
fearing a raid from Jersey, as the Royalists had command of
the sea around the Channel Islands. Pierre was sent over
there with the following instructions:
10 January 1644
We pray you, in the name of the States, to
repair to the Island of Sark, and prevail on the soldiers,
quartered there, to continue firm in their duty. Remind them
of our solicitude for their welfare, which we have shown by
obtaining one hundred crowns for their own use, which shall
be paid to them according to our request. You will,
moreover, re-establish the general affairs of the island in
such manner as your discretion and prudence think fit, so as
to create harmony and good will between the inhabitants and
the troops, for the benefit and service of the King and
Parliament. By so doing you will greatly oblige your
Signed: Robert Russel, Pierre de Beauvoir, Josias le Marchant, Thomas
Careye, Michael de Sausmarez, Jean Careye.
The people of Guernsey were not united in their support of Parliament,
and Pierre was instructed on several occasions to write to
the Earl of Warwick asking for help in suppressing local
insurrections organized from Castle Cornet by Sir Peter
Osborne. On 12 Sep 1645, a Dutch vessel brought news that a
large Royalist fleet was assembling in Falmouth with the
Channel Islands as their objective. The Parliamentarian
Commissioners were extremely concerned and requested Pierre
to go to England to solicit help in repelling the
anticipated attack. Robert Russel, the resident
Lieut.-Governor provided him with the following passport:
13 September 1645
To all admiralls viceadm. Capns & commanders both by sea &
land in service of King & parliament.
These are to certiffie you that this
gentleman Capn Peter Carey inhabitant of this Island of
Guernzey hath by many ample demonstrations evidenced his
affection and zeale to the parliamentary cause, and the same
hath at all tymes contributed his utmost, both of power and
ability, and is nowe by me imployed to the parliament about
some urgent affaires which concerne the wellfare and
security of this place, wherefore it is my desire that he
may be permitted to passe with what shall appartayne to him
both by sea and lande without any estoppall or hindrance
unto London, and from thence with like libertie to returne
again to this place, given under my hand and seale att
Guernzey aforesaid this 13th daye of September Ano Dni
14 September 1645
Instructions for Mr Peter Careye from ye Justice.
1. You will be pleased to go from hence to the admirall, who as we are informed lieth before Dartmouth
and to represent unto him the iminent danger in which we are unlesse we be assisted with shipping to oppose those that
the King doth intend (as we are informed) to send against this Island.
2. You will petition the Right Honourable the Lord of Warwicke to the end that wee may have ships to
guard us this winter, and wee desire that you will follow his lordship's orders and directions.
3. That the parliament will order what should be donne of the prisonners who are detained in the
Belfre either be send over, or released upon caution, many of them have not been the chiefe actors in last commotion, as
you may represent, but are silly fellowes who have greate families.
4. If you obtayne ships from the admirall be pleased to write by them that wee may know they are our friends.
5. In consequence of what wee have written to the committee of both Kingdommes wee desire that you doe
your best endeavours that wee may have our licences for wooll and others things, concerning this Island by the
meanes of the right honorable the Earle of Warwicke.
Being in London pray witt to us by way of ffrance and all other commodities.
Peter landed at Portsmouth on Friday 19 Sept., and arrived in London next
day. On the following Monday he received an order for two hundred muskets, which he entrusted to Henry de la Marche,
who was then in London on private affairs, to forward to Guernsey, and also the promise of a letter commanding the
Vice-Admiral to send such ships as he could spare to the defence of the Island. Two days later Parliament issued the following orders:
23 September 1645
It is this day ordered by the Lords in Parliament assembled that the committee for the Admiralty
doe give present orders to the Vice-Admiral to send sufficient shipping to defend the island of Guernsey.
Peter then procured the following letter from the Earl of Warwick to the Vice-Admiral, which he was ordered to deliver with his own hand:
29 September 1645
The parliament have been pleased to command me againe to undertake the gouvernment of Guarnzey &
Jersey, upon somme late informations given them from the Island of Guernzey of intention to disturb the safetie and
peace thereof, which were alsoe communicated to your selfe, the housse of peeres have given order that a convenient
number of shipps be sent for that Islands deffence, a copy of which order was sent unto you from the committy of the
admiralty. To which I shall only add my particular desire, that from tyme to tyme as there shall be occasion you will
be carefull of that Island, the preseruation of it in the parliament's power being of much importance, and that for
this end youl spare as many vessels as you may conveniently untill the danger lately represented shall be over, for
which end I hope alsoe to obtayne an order for land souldiers to be sent from hence: this gentleman Capn Peter
Careye goes downe purposely to receaue the desire of the Lt. Governor lately imparted to you to whome I pray give as good
a dispatche as you can, and so I rest.
Your very loving freind,
Due to this timely assistance given by Parliament to Guernsey, the Island was secured from external attack. Internally however,
hostile factions continued. The popularity of Peter and his cousin, Pierre De Beauvoir led to jealousy amongst a few of
his fellow peers. Henry de la Marche, of whom Peter had been associated with in many ways, had gone to London, on the
pretence of representing the States of Guernsey to obtain the remodelling of the existing Parliamentary Commission.
Whilst there, he brought a long series of charges against Peter.
Knowing that the journey from Guernsey to London was long and expensive, de la Marche may well have assumed that few could make the
trip to act as witnesses in order to refute the accusations. The Court, most of whom were favourable to Peter, were
alarmed at these proceedings and all, except Jean Fautrart, Piere de Lisle, Jean Le Pelley and Joshua Gosselin signed a
proclamation authorising Peter, at the expense of the Island to go to London and represent them before Parliament. The
proclamation gave Peter valuable backing in defending himself from the accusations by de la Marche and also it
instructed him to hinder and prevent according to the law and justice, the views of our opponents. This led to
Parliament understanding that Peter was the accredited representative and de la Marche the imposter.
The Lieut.-Governor, Robert Russel gave Peter the following passport and a certificate of his zeal and fidelity to the Parliament:
29 May 1646
To all admirals, vice admiralls, Capns & Commanders by sea.
These are to desire you to permit Capn Peter Carey a well affectioned inhabitant of this Isle of Guernzey
to passe with his sonne Mr Isaac Carey & daughter Mrs Martha Carey, together with their servant John Toupper and
what apprtaynes to them by & through your severall commands by sea and land without any molestation unto London.
Given under my hand and seale at Guernzey aforesaid this xxxth day of May Ano Dni 1646, Annoque. Robt Russel.
These are to certiffie unto all whome it may concerne that this gentleman Captain Peter Carey formerly
one of the commissioners of parliament for the government of this Island of Guernzey hathe upon all insurrections and
allarumes and other urgent occasions given very good evidence of his fidelity to the parliamentary cause by his
assistance of me with his personne & purse in what might conduce to the preservation of this said Island, and I
further certiffie that his faithfull accomplishment he hath much suffered by the ennemy in his personne and otherwise
which I thereby attest.
Dated at Guernzey this 29th of May 1646 and subscribed by your most humble servant, Robt Russel.
Peter's task was to strengthen the confidence of Parliament in its Commissioners in Guernsey, and to checkmate the schemes of
not only de la Marche, but three others, namely de Quetteville, Gosselin and Osborne. He drew up and presented
to the Council a declaration emphasizing that the Commissioners of Parliament in Guernsey had preserved the
Island to the obedience of Parliament, not withstanding the great oppositions and practices of the ill
affected there, and asking that they might be joined with any commission of inquiry that Parliament might send to the
Island, on the grounds that they had suffered most in their persons and estates in their support of Parliament, and also
they knew better than any other persons the enemies of the Parliament in that Island. In continuation, with
a hint as to the great cost and charges that their loyalty had cost them, Peter affirmed the great cost and
earnest desire that his Guernsey colleagues had to reform the Island and concluded by declaring the chief
opponents of reform and those that have sent them over as blind and delude the Parliament, so that by these means nothing of
their oppressions, concussions etc, may come to light, which of necessity must be known if the commissioners be joined to
the said commission.
We next hear of Peter in March 1647, when he resisted an attempt made by the Court to depose Pierre de Beauvoir from the office of
Bailiff. At this time, the de la Marche-Dobrée alliance temporarily had the upper hand over the de
Beauvoir-Careye alliance. On March 27th, the court, referring to de Beauvoir as having formerly held the office
of Bailiff issued an order that he should deliver the Seal of the Island into the hands of the Judge-Delegate,
in presence of the Court, which will meet for that purpose at the College, and the said de Beauvoir is commanded to attend
or take the consequences of his contempt.
The Court meeting did not take place in the customary Plaiderie for fear of it being within range of Castle Cornet's guns.
As Peter Careye was Sheriff, it was he who should have formally handed the Court's order to the Bailiff. This he refused to
do, asserting, quite correctly, that the appointment of the Bailiff lay, not with the Court, but of Parliament, or of
the Governor - the Earl of Warwick. Therefore he did not recognize any delegate or Bailiff, but Pierre de
Beauvoir, now established in that office by authority of the Lords of Parliament, to whom he, Peter Carey, had taken an oath
to pay obedience.
Peter also protested that the court's demand that the Bailiff should
surrender his seal was opposed to the usual practice of the island, and the incident showed how great was the need for
the intervention of parliament to obtain which he had gone to England in the previous year. Parliament moved slowly in
the matter, but at last, eight months after the court's attempt to depose the Bailiff, Pierre de Beauvoir, Peter
Carey and James de Havilland, the three former companions in captivity, again joining forces, obtained from Parliament an
order, passed on 3 November 1647, which appointed as commissioners four members of the House of Commons, Edmund
Ludlow, John Weaver, John Birch and John Harrington. Their mandate was to proceed to Guernsey, take evidence of the
grievances of the inhabitants and make a report as soon as possible to the speakers of both Houses of Parliament. They
were charged also to make regulations for the general government of the island, and to assess the damage to
property caused by shots fired from Castle Cornet in order that the sufferers might be compensated from the public revenue.
As soon as the commission had begun its work in the island, the two former enemies, Peter Carey and Henry de la Marche, found
themselves partners in an attack on Robert Russel, the Lieut.-Governor. in a deposition made by Peter, Russel is
accused of having seized part of the means of those individuals named by de la Marche without the privity
of the commissioners of parliament, and without having first lodged an information against them, so far as deponent knows.
A second accusation against Russel was that he, as Lieut.-Governor, had received the whole revenues of the island, and of this
had applied very little to the use of the public.