Sir Amias Paulet

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Amias Paulet, Knight

Also Known As: "Sir Amyas Paulett"
Birthplace: Hinton St. George, Somerset, England
Death: Died in Hinton St. George, Somerset, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Hugh Poulet, Gov. of Jersey and Philippa Paulet
Husband of Margaret Hervey
Father of Sarah Vincent; Hugh Paulet; Sir Anthony Paulet, Governor of Jersey; George Paulet; Joan Haydon and 1 other
Brother of Nicholas Pawlett; George Paulet; Jane Copleston and Anne Paulet

Occupation: Diplomat
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir Amias Paulet

Amias Paulet

Sir Amias Paulet (1532 – 26 September 1588) was an English diplomat, Governor of Jersey, and the gaoler for a period of Mary, Queen of Scots.

He was the son of Sir Hugh Paulet and Philippa Pollard. His name is sometimes spelt 'Amyas'. In 1559 he was made Lieutenant Governor of Jersey, one of the Channel Islands, his father being Governor.[1] He kept this post until 1573. His father Hugh died that year, and Paulet was made Governor, a post he held until his death.

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.[1] Paulet was in this embassy until he was recalled November, 1579. In 1579, he took into his household, the young Jean Hotman, son of Francis Hotman, to tutor his two sons Anthony and George. When the family returned to England, the tutor and his two charges settled at Oxford.

A fanatical Puritan with a harsh character, Paulet was appointed gaoler of Mary, Queen of Scots, by Elizabeth in January 1585, replacing the more tolerant Sir Ralph Sadler.[2] He remained her keeper until Mary's execution at Fotheringhay Castle on 8 February 1587.[3]

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. 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. 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 Amias 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 goshwak 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".

Amias continued his father's work on strengthening Mont Orguiel Castle, despite the lack of funds available from 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, Amias 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 Amias, 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 Amias was made joint-Governor, becoming sole Governor on his father's death, probably in 1578, although there are no records of the transition.

His duties increasingly meant that Amias 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, and then take up his role as jailer of Mary Queen of Scots. He was present at her eventual execution in 1587. He was the appointed Chancellor of the Order of the Garter.

Paulet died in London on 26 September 1588 and was buried in the church of St Martin's-in-the-Fields. However, his remains and monument were later removed to the parish church of Hinton St. George, after the original church was rebuilt. Through his son Anthony, he became an ancestor to Diana, Princess of Wales.


Paulet, Amias (1874). Morris, John, ed. The letter-books of Sir Amias Poulet, keeper of Mary Queen of Scots.

He married Margaret Harvey, and their son Anthony, succeeded his father as Governor of Jersey. By his wife, he had three sons and three daughters:

  1. Hugh (b. 1558), the eldest son, died before his father.[4]
  2. Anthony (b. 1562), was his father's heir[1]. Married Catherine Norris. [4]
  3. George (b. 1565) by marriage with a distant cousin, Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Paulet, became the owner of Goathurst, in Somerset[1]
  4. Joan married Robert Heyden of Bowood, Devonshire[1]
  5. Sarah married Sir Francis Vincent of Stoke D'Abernon, Surrey[1]
  6. Elizabeth died unmarried.


  1. "Sir Amyas Paulet (1536?-1588)". Luminarium
  2. Paulet, Amias. Morris, John. ed. The letter-books of Sir Amias Poulet, keeper of Mary Queen of Scots.
  3. The Visitation of the County of Gloucester: Taken in the Year 1623, with Pedigrees from the Herald's Visitations of 1569 and 1582-3 (1885), Maclean, John, (Publications of the Harleian Society: Visitations, volume 21. London: [Harleian Society], 1885) , vol. 21, p. 121. "Sir Amyas Pawlett of Sandford Peverell in com Devon."


  • _______________________
  • PAULET, Amias (c.1533-88), of Hinton St. George, Som. and Sampford Peverell, Devon.
  • Family and Education
  • b. c.1533, 1st s. of Sir Hugh Paulet by his 1st w. Philippa, da. of Sir Lewis Pollard of King’s Nympton, Devon. m. Margaret, da. and h. of Anthony Harvey of Columbjohn, Devon, 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 1573. Kntd. Oct. 1575.
  • Offices Held
  • Lt. gov. Jersey Apr. 1559, jt. (with his fa.) gov. Nov. 1571, sole 1572; j.p. Devon from 1569, Som. from c.1573; custos rot. Som. c.1577; ambassador to France Sept. 1576-Nov. 1579; PC 1585; guardian of Mary Queen of Scots 1585; chancellor of the order of the Garter Feb. 1587-early 1588; commr. in the Netherlands Feb. 1588.1
  • Biography
  • 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. When in England he was active in local affairs. He served under his father in Jersey for some time before being officially appointed lieutenant governor, and he resided there regularly until 1571, except for a period early in 1567. Protestantism was strong among the islanders, and until 1587 the Paulets found little trouble in governing them. During his first period of active control (1559-71) he appointed a Huguenot minister from Anjou to the most important benefice in Jersey. He also obtained the Queen’s permission for the form of service used by the French protestants in London to be introduced at St. Helier, afterwards extending it unofficially to the other churches on the island. He welcomed Huguenot refugees to the Channel Islands in 1568, although his father (whose religious views were less pronounced than his own) advised him to limit their numbers, and he took care to see that Jersey was fortified against a possible French attack.2
  • Paulet returned to England in time to head the poll in a contested 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.3
  • 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 Alençon marriage scheme. Always the courtier, in November 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 November 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’.4
  • 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. 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. Several months before this 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. He arrived at Tutbury in April 1585, remaining as Mary’s custodian there, and later at Chartley and Fotheringay, until her death. A harsh gaoler, he was congratulated by Elizabeth on his vigilance, but 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.
  • He was rewarded after Mary’s execution with the chancellorship of the Garter.5
  • 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. He died on 26 Sept. 1588, and was buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. His will, which had been made nearly three years earlier, has a puritan preamble followed by a number of charitable bequests. His daughter Sara, 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 Col(l)es’. His inquisition post mortem, taken in January 1589, lists 14 manors in Somerset, four in Devon, and a large house with an acre of land in Clerkenwell.6
  • Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
  • Author: N. M. Fuidge
  • Notes
  • This biography is largely based upon Copy-book of letters written during [Paulet’s] embassy to France (Roxburghe Club, 1866) and Letterbooks of Sir Amias Paulet, ed. Morris.
  • 1. Collinson, Som. ii. 167; Vis. Devon, ed. Colby, 168; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 200; Add. 1547-65, p. 490; Add. 1580-1625, p. 242; G. R. Balleine, Biog. Dict. Jersey, 652 seq.; SP12/121, f. 29; CSP For, 1575-7, p. 385; 1579-80, p. 98; 1587, p. 473; CSP Scot. 1585-6; 1586-8, passim; Ashmole, Order of the Garter, 1672, p. 521.
  • 2. Wards 7/23/56, 40/82; CPR, 1563-6, p. 196; Trans. Devon Assoc. lix. 260; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 515; Add. 1547-65, p. 490; Add. 1566-79, p. 29 et passim; St. Ch. 5/P1/27; A. J. Eagleston, Channel Islands under Tudor Govt. 90; HMC Hatfield, i. 274, 342.
  • 3. Add. 48018, f. 294; PCC 40 Tirwhite; Som. RO Phelips mss; CJ, i. 83.
  • 4. CSP For. 1577-80, pp. 93, 403; 1578-9, p. 485; 1579-80, p. 96.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 73, 200; CSP For. 1577-8, p. 621; CSP Scot. 1584-*5, p. 558 et passim; 1585-6, p. 657; 1586-8, pp. 288, 292.
  • 6. CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 242; Lansd. 104, ff. 51 seq.; Som. Arch. Soc. Proc. lxxiv (plate vi); PCC 27 Leicester; C142/167/78.
  • From:
  • _______________________
  • Sir Amyas Paulet1
  • M, #1436, b. 1536, d. 26 September 1588
  • Last Edited=14 Oct 2006
  • Sir Amyas Paulet was born in 1536 at Hinton St. George, Somerset, England.2 He was the son of Sir Hugh Paulet and Phillipa Pollard.2 He died on 26 September 1588 at Hinton St. George, Somerset, England.2
  • He held the office of Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey between 1559 and 1571.2 He held the office of Ambassador to France in 1576.2 He was Custodian to Mary, Queen of Scots in 1585.2
  • Child of Sir Amyas Paulet and Margaret Harvey
    • 1.Sarah Paulet+1 b. 1557, d. 13 Jun 1608
  • Citations
  • 1.[S8] BP1999 volume 1, page 23. See link for full details for this source. Hereinafter cited as. [S8]
  • 2.[S1916] Tim Boyle, "re: Boyle Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 16 September 2006. Hereinafter cited as "re: Boyle Family."
  • From:
  • ____________________________
  • Sir Amyas (Amias) Paulet
  • M, #72319, b. circa 1542, d. 26 September 1588
  • Father Hugh Paulet b. c 1510, d. Dec 1572
  • Mother Phillipa Pollard b. c 1520
  • Sir Amyas (Amias) Paulet was born circa 1542 at of Hinton St. George, Somersetshire, England. He married Catherine Harvey, daughter of Anthony Harvey, circa 1565. Sir Amyas (Amias) Paulet died on 26 September 1588 at of Hinton St. George, Somersetshire, England.
  • Family Catherine Harvey b. c 1545
  • Child
    • Sarah Paulet b. c 1575
  • From:
  • ______________________
  • Amyas PAULET (Sir)
  • Born: 1536, Hinton, St. George, Somerset, England
  • Died: 26 Sep 1588, Hinton St. George, Somersetshire, England
  • Notes: Governor of Jersey, Ambassador to France, and jailer to Mary of Scotland; he received twenty-three votes in the period 1580-85. Paulet was Mary's last jailer. 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. By the time the Babington Plot was taking shape, Mary had had to be moved to Chartley due to her ill health. 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.
  • Father: Hugh PAULET (Sir Knight)
  • Mother: Phillipa POLLARD
  • Married 1: Margaret HARVEY ABT 1548
  • Children:
    • 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
  • From: PAULET (Sir)1
  • _______________________
  • Links
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Sir Amias Paulet's Timeline

Hinton St. George, Somerset, England
Age 21
George, Nympton, Somerset, England
Age 24
Hinton St. George, Somerset, England
Age 24
Hinton,St George,Somerset,England
Age 25
Age 29
Somerset, UK
Age 32
September 26, 1588
Age 55
Hinton St. George, Somerset, England
- present
Jailer of Mary Queen of Scots