Poingdestre, Jean (DNB00)

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POINGDESTRE, JEAN (1609–1691), writer on the laws and history of Jersey, born in the parish of St. Saviour in the island of Jersey, and baptised on 16 April 1609, was the eldest son of Edward Poingdestre, by his second wife, Pauline Ahier. He was among the first to obtain one of the scholarships founded at Oxford by Charles I on behalf of Jersey students, and in 1636 was elected a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He was always considered an accomplished classical scholar, and held the fellowship till 1648, when he was ejected by the parliamentary party. Meanwhile he received an appointment under Lord Digby, and on the outbreak of the civil wars returned to Jersey, where he took part, under Sir George de Carteret, in the defence of Elizabeth Castle against the parliamentarians. After the capitulation of this fortress in 1651 he went into voluntary exile until the Restoration. In January 1668–9 the bailiff of Jersey nominated him his lieutenant, and he also became jurat. In 1676, however, he resigned his appointment of lieutenant-bailiff in deference to complaints which were made of the unconstitutional way in which he had been appointed jurat, but he retained this latter post until his death. During the last years of his life he occupied himself chiefly in preparing various works relating to the history and laws of Jersey. He died in 1691.

Poingdestre's history of Jersey (‘Cæsarea, or a Discourse of the Island of Jersey’), written in 1682, and presented by the author to James II, is one of the most accurate works on the island, and forms the basis of all that is trustworthy in Falle's ‘History of Jersey.’ But it is as a commentator on the laws and customs of Jersey that Poingdestre deserves chief commendation; and his works on this subject are superior to those of Philip Le Geyt [q. v.] In so far as they relate to the law on real property his ‘Commentaires sur l'Ancienne Coûtume de Normandie,’ and ‘Commentaires sur la Coûtume Réformée de Normandie,’ are of the highest authority. In 1685 Poingdestre was nominated one of the committee commissioned to draw up an abstract of the charters granted by various monarchs to the inhabitants of Jersey, and this work, known as ‘Les Privilèges de l'Ile,’ is still extant in manuscript.

[Ahier's Tableaux Historiques de la Civilisation à Jersey, p. 342; Le Geyt's Works, Preface and vol. iv. p. 65 also MS.; Falle's Hist. of Jersey (Durell's ed.), p. 279; La Croix's Les Etats, p. 58; Payne's Armorial of Jersey; Commissioners' Report, Jersey, 1860; preface to ‘Cæsarea,’ Société Jersiaise, 1889.]

P. L. M.