Monday, August 08, 2016

Isle of Jersey's Connection to Bath Town, North Carolina

Guernsey and Jersey - Channel Islands
A 22-year resident of Britain's Channel Islands described his little island home of Jersey, "a pleasant little island with super-rich people and an awful lot of crime." Alistair Mitchell is a geographer at  Le Rocquier School on Jersey, "dear little Jersey," just 14 miles off the Normandy coast of France and 100 miles from the south coast of England. 

This is the island exile of Victor Hugo in the nineteenth century and the place on which he wrote Les Miserables over the course of nine years. In 1853, the author began a series of more than one hundred secret séances there in order to connect with his dead daughter, Leopoldine. 

For North Carolina and its early port town of Bath, however, the Isle of Jersey holds an early eighteenth-century significance as the birthplace of one of its more well-known maritime residents. 

About Jersey's history - William I, having conquered England in 1066, brought Jersey and the other French isles, as part of Normandy, into the English domain. On the conquest of William's home of Normandy by the French, an attempt was made to reduce these islands back into French control, but most of them, including Guernsey and Jersey, remained part of England. 

A Topographical Dictionary of England, ed. Samuel Lewis (London, 1848) stated that landowners "as had possessions both in the isles, and on the main land of Normandy, were compelled to make choice of those they wished to retain, and abandon all claim to the rest."

Lewis, writing in Hugo's time, further provided that "arbitrary and tyrannical conduct of English governors and their deputies, and the rancorous broils which prevailed among the resident seigneurs under the feudal system," were effectually ended in the reign of Henry VII., "who with that view obtained from the pope a comminatory bull, and issued ordinances, comprised in thirty-three articles, for the government of the island, which continued in force until superseded by a regular code of laws in 1771."

Alistair Mitchell describes the island today:
The island has its own government and parliament, the States of Jersey, members of which are elected by the population aged 16 and over. It is a self-governing dependency of the UK, a Peculiar of the Crown, which stems from deals done with King John back in 1204. The island is further divided into 12 parishes, under the diocese of Winchester, each with a parish church... And who are the folk who inhabit this rock? There has long been a cultural mix. The locals of French origin were the first, establishing their own dialect of Norman French called Jerriaise, a language that is seeing something of a revival at present. Incoming Brits and Irish swelled the population, and in recent years migrants from Madeira, and more recently from Poland, have made their home here.
Jersey's Seal and Arms


In the eighteenth century, Royal Navy vessels like Greyhound, Portsmouth, Foresight, Assistance, and Swallow Prize have routinely patrolled the Channel Islands, convoying merchants carrying "Wool, Malt, Draperies, etc." Other vessels on patrol there have been Shoreham and Scarborough, of later fame in the Americas against pirates of the Golden Age. 
Parishes of Jersey

Ancestors or kinsmen of one of Jersey's "super-rich" citizens, wealthy former Bailiff of Jersey and member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, Alexander Moncrieff Coutanche, Baron Coutanche (9 May 1892 – 18 December 1973) left their island home for the American Colonies in the early eighteenth century.

Michel Coutanche, Sr. (1676-1733) and wife Marguerite Neel , raised a large family of seven boys and four girls in Trinity, St. John Parish, Isle of Jersey, many of whom became mariners by trade: Michel, Jr. (b. Nov 1708), Jean Coutanche (b. Dec 1713), Edouard (b. 1715), Marguerite (b. 1716), Elie/Elias (b. 1719; m. Anne Pipon of St. Helier Parish), Suzanne (b. 1721), Josué (b. 1723), Charles (b. 1724), Phillipe (b. 1726), Catherine (b. 1728), and Elizabeth Coutanche (d. 1728)Some of these would settle Newfoundland in Canada.

Isle of Jersey today - Mont Orgueil Castle, St. Martin.

Jean Coutanche, mariner and master of Providence set sail with his brother Michel for the port of Boston in 1734. 



AMERICAN Weekly Mercury. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) • From Thursday June 9, to Thursday June 16, 1737 • Page [2]

Jean and Michel Coutanche operated for a few years sailing from Boston to Philadelphia and New Jersey. While living in Boston, Michel met Mary Salter (b. 1718), probable daughter of Thomas and Mary of Charlestown. They announced their intention to marry on July 15, 1736 and wed August 3rd by the Rev. Joseph Sewell. Their son, Michel III was born just over a year later on August 13, 1737. Prior to his birth, on May 12, 1737, however, Michel Coutanche cleared the Boston Custom House for North Carolina for the first time. 

"Michael" Coutanche would make Bath Town his new home. NCPedia tells that "On 5 Mar. 1739, as Captain Michael Coutanche of 'Boston, in New England, Mariner,' he bought lots 24 and 25 in Bath Town," formerly belonging to Admiralty-Judge Edmund Porter.

Porter-Coutanche lots 24 and 25 highlighted in blue on an old map of Bath Town.
Michael's brother Josué, as "Joshua," appears to have also sailed in William, as "master, of North Carolina trade" on May 4, 1743 when he appeared in Greenwich, England and may have occasionally partnered with his brother in Bath Town. William, master Coutanche, also appeared in shipping lists in the Daily Gazetteer of London, sailing from Deal, Kent on July 14th of that same year, bound for Jersey. Josué returned to Pool that November, arriving from Newfoundland. 

Michael Coutanche, later sailing in the sloop Dolphin, transported Edward Salter, Jr. from North Carolina to attend school in Boston under the care of Capt. James Gold or Gould. Young Edward was likely the son of Edward Salter, the cooper, who formerly sailed on the 20-gun sixth-rate HMS Speedwell, Capt. George Moulton of Wapping, London with Martin Towler, who was serving on Henry Bostock’s Margaret when she was taken by Edward "Blackbeard" Thache on December 5th, 1717, just after they captured La Concorde, the slaver that they renamed the Queen Anne's Revenge. Edward Salter, Sr. remained in Bath Town where he lived a remarkably wealthy life, owning at least three ships, and one with £1200 worth of cargo in 1734, when he died. The executor for Salter's will was North Carolina surveyor and controversial politician, Edward Moseley.

Speculation of many is that Salter gained a portion of the gold dust or prize money from Edward Thache after wrecking the QAR in Beaufort Inlet on June 10, 1718. Another Salter family researcher's speculation concerning Edward Salter, Jr. is that he went to Boston - where his relatives lived - for his education, and that Michael Coutanche, as an in-law, transported him there. This would mean that Edward Salter was a kinsman to the family of Henry Salter of Massachusetts. 

Michael's wife, Mary Salter Coutanche, appears to have died around the time of his arrival in Bath Town. Michael then married Sarah Pilkington, daughter of wealthy merchant Seth Pilkington and his wife, Sarah Porter, the daughter of John Porter and widow of John Lillington. Incidentally, Edward Salter's daughter, Sarah lived with John's widow, Sarah Porter in the Lower Cape Fear for a number of years, alluding to the Salter-Porter-Pilkington-Coutanche connection.

An inventory of Pilkington's estate, conducted by Michael Coutanche on February 27, 1754, shows that Pilkington operated a general store in Bath Town. He sold stockings, felt hats, shot and powder, tallow, deer skins, sugar, molasses, all manner of general tools, and canoe sails with other maritime supplies. His three-and-a-half page inventory also included the usual possessions of a mariner of the times, including anchors, a "Mariners Compass," and copies of the Merchants Magazine. His membership in the 1% was well established by the ownership of twenty-six slaves and four white apprentices and his education by the numerous books and the map of North America in his possession.

Michael Coutanche was the executor to various wills and deeds of family and friends in Bath, including Richard Evans, Henry West, and James Brown. He also constructed the house known as the Palmer-Marsh House in Bath Town, which still survives today. 


Palmer-Marsh House in Bath, NC



Michael Coutanche served as Beaufort County representative from 1744-1745 when he was joined by Wyriot Ormond. Together, they represented the county until 1761/2, when Coutanche passed away. His will is in the North Carolina State Archives, but the best copy available was made by Wyriot Ormond and sent to the Isle of Jersey because of Michael's bequeathal of half of his estate in Jersey to go to his brother Josué's children: son Josué, Jr. and daughters Elizabeth, Marguerite, and Marie, and the other half, worth "10 cabots of wheat of rente" to the poor of St. John's Parish, sold in 1766 - common for Jersey wills of the time.  

Michael Coutanche's will copy of 9 Mar 1758 from Jersey Archives, page 1

Michael Coutanche's will copy of 9 Mar 1758 from Jersey Archives, page 2




Seymour Tower, Grouville, Isle of Jersey



12th Century Lady of the Dawn Christian Chapel is Superimposed on La Hogue Bie Dolmen, an Ancient Pagan Tomb on the British Isle of Jersey

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Read about North Carolina's piratical birthpangs in the Brunswick Town & Wilmington affair and the hero that saved the Port of Wilmington from the Family's political opposition, Capt. James Wimble





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