By Jeannine Kerwin

Biographies and Portraits

Sir George Carteret, as depicted here was a staunch supporter of both Charles I and Charles II. His unqualified loyalty to both father and son during the Civil War and his most generous hospitality towards the then young Prince Charles during his stay at Elizabeth Castle found him awarded the roles of the Vice-Chamberlain to the King, Treasurer of the Navy and member of the Privy Council upon the Restoration of Charles II. Several wonderful websites offer excellent short biographies or stories related to Carteret including: 1911 Britannica; Wikipedia; Jersey Evening Post; and his Descendent Chart. Carteret’s famous years at Jersey, where he defended the Island in the name of Charles I, declared Charles II King, and ran a lucrative Privateering campaign are captured in the 1896 book by the Reverend Alban Ragg A Popular History of Jersey, chapters XII-XV. For those interested in more information on Island of Jersey during the years of Sir Philip Carteret, George’s Uncle and father of his wife, Elizabeth, a selection from the book Jean Chevalier and His Times Prior to the Great Rebellion is available online. The site hosting this book extract is home to Le Cercle de Carteret who have extended an offer for ‘Family and Friends’ of the Carteret’s to take part in their upcoming activities, as updated on their site.

Prior to the Diary: The Jersey Years

The relationship between Carteret and the King is one of the rare “lifetime” relationships that Charles faithfully maintained. This relationship and extensive background on Carteret during his “Jersey years” is highlighted in this article. The following selection from that article, which is a quote from A.C. Saunders’ Jean Chevalier and His Times provides Saunders’ character sketch of Carteret, during his Jersey years:

There was not much sentiment about George Carteret. He knew what he wanted and was determined to get it. A great sailor and a faithful servant to the King and the Royal Cause, he realized that, when he became Lieutenant-Governor and had taken up duties in the Island, he would be in a very dangerous position, and that if he failed, the Parliamentarians would show him little mercy. He was a much stronger character than his uncle, the late Sir Philip [who had role prior to him], but had the same accumulative tendencies and was very fond of power and riches and, later on, was known in England as the rich Sir George. He was very brave and had very considerable organizing ability and he allowed few scruples to interfere with his plans for the good of the cause he had at heart, and he was determined to grant stern justice to those who, during the last year of his uncle’s life, had treated him so badly. The Parliamentarians had little encouragement to submit their grievances to his sense of justice. He would admit of no grievances and considered that for their past actions they deserved utmost penalties. Many fled from the Island, but during the next eight years those remaining could get little assistance or support from the English Parliament.

Sir George was all powerful in Jersey and, in all his actions, was supported by the members of the States who were always ready to follow his lead. Therefore he was always careful before taking any action in the Island to see that his conduct was in accordance with the legal procedure of the Island.

Therefore until 1651 he was the Dictator of the Island, and maintained the honour of the Royalist cause and, gathering together a number of ships and manning them with gallant mariners, he was able to spread terror among the English vessels trading to and from English ports, in the English Channel.

It is only a great man who could have done what he did in keeping the Royal Standard flying for nearly three years after the execution of Charles I, and historians in the past have done little justice to the gallant stand made by Sir George and his supporters in the little island of Jersey, a stand which required the greatest Admiral, Blake, with seventy ships and three thousand men to put down, and then only after Sir George had been granted full honours of war.

Notwithstanding his many faults and his lack of sympathy in his dealing with opponents, who were not faultless, he may be considered as one of the greatest leaders during the Civil Wars, and the Royalist stand in Jersey as one of the great epochs in history.

Carteret in the Diary

Sam’s early assessment of Carteret is that he is a “good-natured man’ and notes he is well positioned among other noteworthy individuals in the Kings’ Coronation Procession. Sam’s early Naval involvement with Carteret includes preparation of a letter for the Duke of York summarizing the poor financial state of the Navy; examining the Treasurer’s accounts; getting money from the Duke of York ;paying off ship debts; and happily recording his belief that Carteret is pleased with him.

An argument between Carteret and Mr. Coventry causes Sam angst and starts a string of Diary entries about Coventry’s bad feelings towards Carteret. Two months later, Sam records with happiness that Carteret has put in a good word with the Lord Chancellor on his behalf.

Conflicts arise in 1663 with a great dispute over the valuation of pieces of eight and Sam talks against Carteret. Further discord takes place over issues with the mast contract causing Sam to craft a letter to Carteret. A rather mistrusting Sam gets a vote of confidence from Carteret on the mast issues, and the two finally come to a positive understanding of each other. Sam is delighted to hear from Carteret that the Navy is finally out of debt.

Sam and Carteret find themselves collectively embroiled with an angry Lord Chancellor over issues related to the taking of trees from Clarendon Park for use by the Navy. Any angry Clarendon rages to Sam about Carteret and the issue continues in Carteret’s disfavor with Clarendon.

The relationship between Sam and Carteret will grow both professionally and to some extent, personally. As the Diary proceeds, Sam will find himself involved in more of Carteret’s personal life and family matters, which he will splendidly record. He will also find himself witnessing the fall out the record keeping issues of the Dutch War, where Carteret will become the target of accusations. As a result of these accounting issues, Carteret will be censured by parliament and in 1667 will leave his role as Treasurer of the Navy and will become the deputy Treasurer of Ireland, and no longer involved with Sam in the remaining years of the Diary.

Further Resources

Biographies and related non-fiction about Sir George Carteret are listed below. Carteret kept a Journal during his trip to the Barbary Coast in 1638, which was printed in limited edition in 1929. Jean Chevalier, a Jersey man, kept a wonderful diary during the years that Sir George was Governor of the Island. The original is in French but the Saunders books draws heavily on the Chevalier Diary. These books may be available through your local library (with the help of the research department) or are sometimes available through the used book search. Some may be available on the US Amazon or UK Amazon.

  • All for the King by G.R. Balleine
  • Jean Chevalier and His Times by A. C. Saunders
  • Sir George Carteret, Lord Proprietor of New Jersey, With a Notice of the Isle of Jersey, And a Brief Sketch of Lord John Berkeley by William Nelson
  • The Barbary Voyage of 1638 by Sir George Carteret

1893 text

Sir George Carteret, born 1599, had originally been bred to the sea service, and became Comptroller of the Navy to Charles I., and Governor of Jersey, where he obtained considerable reputation by his gallant defence of that island against the Parliament forces. At the Restoration he was made Vice-Chamberlain to the King, Treasurer of the Navy, and a Privy Councillor, and in 1661 he was elected M.P. for Portsmouth. In 1666 he exchanged the Treasurership of the Navy with the Earl of Anglesea for the Vice-Treasurership of Ireland. He became a Commissioner of the Admiralty in 1673. He continued in favour with Charles II. till his death, January 14th, 1679, in his eightieth year. He married his cousin Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Philip Carteret, Knight of St. Ouen, and had issue three sons and five daughters.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

11 Annotations

vincent  •  Link

More : George Carteret of Saltrum
Lots of discrepancies (need an army of Lawyers to decypher the original documents )
of c(o)urse there is money and family involved
one says 1599 year of birth others say 1610
Carteret, Sir George , c. 1610–1680, proprietor of East Jersey (see New Jersey ). He served in the British navy, fought for the royalists, and became (1643) lieutenant governor of his native island of Jersey. In 1663, with several others, he was granted the proprietorship of Carolina and in 1664, in conjunction with Lord Berkeley, was granted part of New Jersey. His widow sold his claim to 12 purchasers who joined with 12 others as the 24 proprietors of East New Jersey.

vincent  •  Link

Sir Geo: Carteret Bart. was Married to Lady Elizabeth(ref J.Evelyn)

Pauline  •  Link

From: A Hamilton on Sun 13 Jun 2004, 1:08 am | Link

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Place names

There is a borough of Carteret in New Jersey (across the Arthur Kill from Staten Island).

There was also a Carteret County in South Carolina (another colony George Carteret was involved with) but after being founded in 1685, it changed its name to Granville in 1708.

But there's a Carteret County on the coast of North Carolina.

Q  •  Link

When Carteret was Governor of East Jersey he was involved with trying to prevent Edmund Andros from invading and annexing NJ from NY. He failed and Andros ran the place until James II was deposed.

jeannine  •  Link

From the July 17, 1663 entry.
I just started reading Carteret’s biography, but am not far enough along to get a full picture of him. What is clear is that he did NOT like school,or his early teacher (Pipon), but loved the sea. Balleine in “All for the King”, says “George hated the school. He hated Pierre Pipon, the Regent. The syntax problems of the ancient Romans roused in him no spark of curiosity. In later life his ignorance of the classics shocked some of his colleagues. Once, when he saw hangings in the Duke of York’s chamber depicting a scene in Rome, he asked Pepys what the S.P.Q.R. on the standards stood for, “ignorance”, scoffed the Diarist, “not to be borne in a Privy Councillor; methinks a schoolboy would be whipped for not knowing”. Yet George’s schooltime was not wasted. Scores of his letters survive, which show that he could express himself in good grammatical English, remarkably good when one remembers that French was his native tongue. His spelling was better than that of many of the other courtiers, and the detailed Reports that he wrote of his two expeditions are admirably lucid and graphic. Moreover the intricate financial transactions that he had to control later, first as Treasurer of the Navy, and then as Vice-Treasurer of Ireland show that he must have been no mean arithmetician. Pierre Pipon had not wielded the birch in vain.” (p. 5)
George also left school at an early age to go to sea (around age 13 or younger). Lady Fanshaw (who knew him well) says in her Memoirs that he was “bred as a sea-boy”. (p. 5)

Another interesting point is that “no scandal marred his record”, so the libertine court of Charles II and the loose morals of the time did not seem to be a pull to him as there are no mentions of mistresses and his love letters to his wife during their courtship have a nice sincerity to them.
Finally, in a general context, Balleine says” Carteret was no dashing hero of romance like Montrose or Rupert, though, as many of his exploits show, as a fighting man he was utterly fearless: but we see him mainly as a sober, hard-working servant of the King whose Royalism was his religion. A simple, undeviating, almost doglike devotion to the Crown was the mainspring of all of his actions. He had his faults, including one bad one [which isn’t mentioned here],which we have tried not to disguise;but he remains an outstanding example of the Cavalier ideal of utter and unswerving loyalty, an ideal which his family enshrined in their motto ‘Loyal devoir’”. (p 2)

Bill  •  Link

Sir George Carteret had originally been bred to the sea service, and became Comptroller of the Navy to Charles I., and Governor of Jersey, where he obtained considerable reputation by his gallant defence of that Island against the Parliament forces. At the Restoration, be was made Vice-Chamberlain to the King, Treasurer of the Navy, and a Privy Councillor, and in 1661 was elected M.P. for Portsmouth. He continued in favour with his sovereign till his death, in 1679, aet. suae 80. He married his cousin Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Philip Carteret, of St. Ouen, and had issue three sons and five daughters.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

CARTERET, Sir GEORGE (d. 1680), governor of Jersey; of an old Jersey family; lieutenant in the navy, 1632; captain, 1633; second in command against the Sallee pirates, 1637: controller of the navy, 1639; offered a command by parliament, 1642; from St. Malo, Brittany, sent supplies and arms to the royalists in the west and in the Channel islands; sent by Charles I to Jersey, 1643; reduced the island; sent out privateers against English ships; gave a refuge to royalists, 1646; created baronet, 1646; granted estates in Jersey and America, 1649; surrendered to the Commonwealth forces, December 1651; vice-admiral in the French navy; imprisoned, August 1657; banished from France, December 1657; withdrew to Venice; treasurer of the navy, 1660-7; vice-chamberlain of the household, 1660-70; M.P., Portsmouth, 1661-9; a proprietor of Carolina, 1663; deputy-treasurer of Ireland, 1667-73; board of trade commissioner. 1668-72; naval commissioner, 1673-9.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.