Amyas PAULET (Sir)

Born: 1536, Hinton, St. George, Somerset, England

Died: 26 Sep 1588, Hinton St. George, Somersetshire, England

Father: Hugh PAULET (Sir Knight)

Mother: Phillipa POLLARD

Married 1: Margaret HARVEY (dau. and h. of Anthony Harvey of Columbjohn, Devon) ABT 1548


1. Hugh PAULET

2. Anthony PAULET (Knight)

3. Joan PAULET

4. George PAULET

5. Sarah PAULET

6. Elizabeth PAULET

Married 2: Catherine HARVEY ABT 1570

Sir Amyas Paulet

by Nicholas Hilliard

First son of Sir Hugh Paulet and Phillipa Pollard, dau. of Sir Lewis Pollard of Kings Nympton.

Paulet went to Jersey in 1550 when his father was made Governor and immediately acted as his assistant. The following year he was sent by his father to complain to the Privy Council that officials in Normandy were refusing to hand over six thieves who had escaped from Jersey.In Apr 1555 Amyas Paulet and his friends Sir Arthur Champernowne and William Courtenay of Powderham were given passports to travel abroad for four months. He was sent to Paris with a letter for the Constable of France, and thence to Normandy, returning ultimately to Jersey with his prisoners.

In 1556 he was formally appointed Lieutenant-Governor and by the end of the decade he was effectively running the island in his father's absence. He kept this post until 1573. His father Hugh died that year, and Paulet was made Governor of Jersey, a post he held until his death. There was much concern at this time about invasion by the French and Paulet went on a spying mission to the Brittany coast to discover for himself whether ships and troops were being gathered. Nothing happened because the death of the French king brought a temporary cessation to threats against the Channel Islands. However, relations with nearby Normandy were not good, as shown by a letter from Amyas to his father:

"Mr St Aubin has been arrested by Mons Boisrougier of Coutances, and after fourteen days imprisonment dismissed with the loss of a goshawk and 20 ells of canvas. I wrote to this Monsieur for redress, but he answered he was sorry he had dismissed his prisoner, and that his stock was not better, advising me to look to myself, as he hoped to pluck me out of my house, as he had the Captain of Alderney. If I had the Queen's leave, I would ask no aid but the retinue of this Castle to pluck him out of his house".

Amyas continued his father's work on strengthening Mont Orguiel Castle, despite the lack of funds available from Queen Elizabeth. He wrote in 1557: "Though I have husbanded Her Majesty's money well I have been constrained to employ more than I received, and our walls want a third part yet". And in 1563: "I am much deceived, considering the depth of the foundation, the height and thickness of the walls, if a greater piece of work hath ever been done for the like sum". And again in 1573: "A strong piece of work, begun four or five years ago, lacks completion of one third. Four hundred pounds will be needed this year and four hundred next".

Like his father, Amyas was strongly anti-Catholic, although more Calvinist than Protestant. When the first Huguenot refugees poured into Jersey in 1558 he appointed some of the priests among them as Rectors and ignored his father's wishes, and to an extent those of Queen Elizabeth, over which prayer book should be used in island churches. His appointment to the Town Church of Guillaume Morise, a Huguenot minister from Anjou, led to the establishment of what Chroniques de Jersey described as the first "real Reformed Church in Jersey".

There was a second influx of Huguenots in 1568 and they, too, were welcomed by Amyas, although his father had reservations and wrote: "I approve my son's zeal in receiving these strangers, but I cannot like their continued abode in the isle. They should be passed on". But father and son got on well, despite these occasional disagreements, and in 1571 Amyas was made joint-Governor, becoming sole Governor on his father's death, probably in 1578, although there are no records of the transition.

Paulet led the elections in a disputed election for Somerset in 1571. His father was one of those who had been instructed by the Privy Council to see that suitable men were chosen, and it is interesting to see that he waited until 1572 before standing himself. Paulet’s fellow knight of the shire, George Rogers, was a personal friend. Paulet’s only known activity in the 1571 Commons was his appointment to the subsidy committee 7 Apr.

Paulet was a considerable landowner in south-west England. In spite of his frequent absences in the Channel Islands and elsewhere, he was regularly included in the commission of the peace for Devon and Somerset from 1573 until his death, although the Devon list for 1575 adds the comment ‘abiding in Jersey’ beside his name.

In 1576 Queen Elizabeth raised him to knighthood, appointed him Ambassador to Paris and at the same time put the young Francis Bacon under his charge. Paulet was in this embassy until he was recalled Nov 1579. Paulet’s copy-book illuminates his embassy to France. He saw no hope for the Huguenots unless they received help from abroad, yet in the face of his own puritanism he tried to forward the Alenηon marriage scheme. Always the courtier, in Nov 1577 he sent the Queen satin for two gowns, writing that although the silk was not ‘of so good price as I would wish’, the French Queen had very recently worn a gown of similar material. In 1579, he took into his household, the young Jean Hotman, son of Francois Hotman, to tutor his two sons Anthony and George. When the family returned to England, the tutor and his two charges settled at Oxford.

When Sir Amyas was recalled, Bacon remained in France till after the death of his father, which took place in Feb 1579. In Nov 1579, after many appeals to be recalled, Paulet left France, having written to Walsingham:

"I am Jack out of office, I thank God for it; yet I cannot forbear my wonted course, to write somewhat to Sir Francis Walsingham".

He told Burghley that he did not regret his period in France, saddened though he was by the death of his eldest son and another child. To friends who commiserated with him about his expenses he replied that he had lived ‘as good cheap’ in France as in England, and ‘could live here long time before it should pinch me’.

His duties increasingly meant that Amyas was absent from the island for long periods. He was appointed resident Ambassador in France for three years in 1576 and appointed Guillaume Lempriere, Seigneur of Trinity, his Lieutenant-Governor. He was clearly well trusted, because Queen Elizabeth's principal secretary Sir Francis Walsingham wrote: "Her Majesty wishes you in matters that concern her service to deal as you think fit, though you have no special direction, such trust she reposes in you". He was present in Jersey in 1583 for the swearing-in of his son Anthony as Lieutenant-Governor and his brother George as Bailiff, before leaving to join the Privy Council.

For the next few years Paulet divided his time between England and Jersey. He intended to spend the winter of 1582-3 in London, but finding ‘the sickness’ there returned to Devon. He received twenty-three votes in the period 1580-85. The Queen had been intending to make him a Privy Councillor, and he was sworn on his return to England, which was delayed by his ill-health. His letters from 1576 onwards refer frequently to bouts of sickness, and to his fear of developing gall-stones. Later in 1583 he was in Jersey, where at the beginning of 1585 he received a summons to become guardian of Mary Stuart at Tutbury.

Paulet was Mary Stuart's last jailer. He replaced the more tolerant Sir Ralph Sadler who had given Mary far more liberty. His first action was to take down Mary's cloth of state with her famous motto "In my End is my Beginning", which she had had hanging over her chair in all her prisons since the days of Shrewsbury. Paulet was a Puritan who found Mary irritating and tiresome as well as offensive to his high principles. He repeatedly ignored her complaints regarding her health and eliminated her outings to Buxton Baths on the pretext that by her alms to the poor she might gain popular support. She was not even allowed to take the air nor to receive any correspondence except from the French Ambassador. Her servants were treated in the same manner, while Mary's religious customs and convictions were thoroughly despised. He refused to baptise the child of Barbara Curle, one of Mary's servants, and proclaimed himself scandalised when Mary baptise the child herself according to Catholic rites.

Queen Elizabeth hesitated to take the final decision of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Other members of the Council appear to have put the responsibility of this step upon the Lord Treasurer Cecil. An alternative was suggested, that the Scots Queen should be taken off by poison. Sir Amyas Paulet boldly refused to be a party to such a criminal act. In a letter to Walsingham, Paulet refused to "make so great a shipwreck of my conscience, or leave so great a blot to my poor posterity, as shed blood without law or warrant". To William Davison’s suggestion that he should connive at Mary’s murder, Paulet replied:

"My goods and my life are at her Majesty’s disposition, but God forbid I should make so foul a shipwreck of my conscience, or leave so great a blot on my poor posterity".

By the time the Babington Plot was taking shape, Mary had had to be moved to Chartley due to her ill health. Elizabeth wrote to Sir Amyas Paulet:

"Amyas, my most careful and faithful servant,
    God reward thee treblefold in the double for thy most troublesome charge so well discharged. If you knew, my Amyas, how kindly, besides dutifully, my careful heart accepts your double labors and faithful actions, your wise orders and safe regards performed in so dangerous and crafty a charge, to would ease your troubles travail and rejoice your heart. In which I charge you to carry this most nighest thought: that I cannot balance in any weight of my judgment the value that I prize you at. And suppose no treasure to countervail such a faith, and condemn me in that behalf which I never committed if I reward not such deserts. Yea, let me lack when I have most need if I acknowledge not such a merit with a reward non omnibus datum.
    But let your wicked mistress know how, with hearty sorrow, her vile deserts compels these orders; and bid her, from me, ask God forgiveness for her treacherous dealing toward the saver of her life many years, to the intolerable peril of her own. And yet not content with so many forgivenesses, must fall again so horribly, far passing a woman's thought, much more a princess, instead of excusing, whereof not one can serve, it being so plainly confessed by the actors of my guiltless death. Let repentance take place; and let not the fiend possess her so as her best part be lost,which I pray with hands lifted up to Him that may both save and spill, with my loving adieu and prayer for thy long life.

Your most assured and loving sovereign in heart,
by good desert induced, Elizabeth Regina.

It was also during that time that he broke into her apartments while she was lying ill in bed and unceremoniously seized her money under Elizabeth's instructions. Paulet was entrusted with several letters from Mary to Elizabeth and others. He delayed dispatching these for fear that Elizabeth might be touched by them and revoke the Death Warrant. It took almost a year for the other letters to be received by the addressees. Paulet also attended Mary's execution and was Knighted after it.

He was rewarded after Mary’s execution with the chancellorship of the Garter.

Some months before his death he was included among the commissioners to treat for peace in the Netherlands, against opposition from the Catholics that the ‘gaoler to the Holy Queen and Martyress’ was a bad choice. In a list drawn up by Burghley in this year, headed ‘knights of great possessions suitable to be created barons’, Paulet’s name was included.

Paulet died in London on 26 Sep 1588 and was buried in the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields. However, his remains and monument were later removed to the Church of St George, Hinton St George, after the original church was rebuilt.

His will, which had been made nearly three years earlier, has a puritan preamble followed by a number of charitable bequests. His daughter Sarah, who was under 15, was to have £2,000 on her marriage, or two years after her father’s death. Paulet’s other children also received large legacies. The overseers to help his son Anthony, the sole executor, were the attorney-general, John Popham, and ‘my trusty and well-beloved friend John Coles’. His inquisition post mortem, taken in Jan 1589, lists 14 manors in Somerset, four in Devon, and a large house with an acre of land in Clerkenwell.

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