Legend has it
that the original painting has a rip in the face caused by
Parliamentarian who mistook it for Charles and slashed it with his sword.
1609 - 1691
Jean was the eldest son of Edward, his father's second marriage, which
meant, by the laws of English heredity, that he would actually be viewed
as a younger son, and thus not to receive much in the way of inheritance.
Therefore, if he were to better himself, it must be by other means.
Younger sons of gentry often chose soldiering or religious orders to that
end, but young Jean Poingdestre led a scholar's life.
encouraged by his family, as well as his elder brother's in-laws, one of
whom was parish rector, Jean early received instructions in classical
reading and writing. When he reached maturity, we find Jean Poingdestre
attending Cambridge, and then Exeter College at Oxford, where records show
his name anglicized to John Poindexter. In 1635 he was elected fellow at
Exeter, and held that fellowship for twelve years. It was there that his
name became known.
John Poindexter was viewed as one of the most
learned men at the University. His written Greek was regarded as being as
beautiful as any set type, and his excellence in Latin remarkable. The
libraries at Oxford held Poindexter to eager studies, and his interests
were very wide. He wrote on medicine in Latin with his notes in Greek, and
was known widely as a legal expert and historian. Leading public figures
often sought his expertise in such matters.
In 1648, John's Oxford
days came to an abrupt end, when the Cromwellian upheavals caused the
expulsion of Royalist sympathizers from that exalted institution. Even
higher learning fell under the heavy thumb of Parliamentary rule under
Oliver Cromwell, and Poindexter returned, probably not without regret, to
his native isle. Jersey by then was known as a haven of Royalist
sympathies, and indeed, after the execution of King Charles I, the exiled
Prince of Wales, Charles II, was crowned at St. Helier. The newly crowned
King then sought refuge in Scotland, but Parliamentary forces landed on
Jersey the following year, and laid siege to Jersey's Elizabeth Castle.
John Poindexter was among those chosen just before the siege to carry word
of the impending crisis to King Charles II. Charles tried to enlist French
aid, but when that effort faded, Jean promptly returned home, and rejoined
his Royalist comrades in the castle.
When the castle fell to the
Parliamentarians in December of 1651, Poindexter wrote the treaty of
capitulation. It appears he was further involved in reconciliations with
Parliamentary leaders on Jersey. In return, the Parliantarians recognized
Royalist sympathizer Jean Poingdestre as among the foremost authorities of
Jersey law and customs. Yet he retained the favors of the Royal court, as
well. In 1652, the Secretary of State requested that Poindexter be made
Latin secretary for him and King Charles II. For reasons unknown,
Poindexter declined the office, which then went to the noted English
writer, John Milton.
It is possible that Jean Poindexter did not
remain on the Island, but accompanied his nephew, George, to the American
colony of Virginia between 1657 and 1659. By that time Oliver Cromwell was
dead, and King Charles II had regained the throne, albeit with the
Parliament still firmly intact. In that, more amicable political climate,
Jean reappears in Jersey records in 1659, and eventually moved with his
new wife and subsequent family to Oxford. He continued to enjoy a
reputation as a man of rare talents and expertise, and to frequent the
highest circles. King Charles II himself recommended that Jean Poindexter
be appointed a Jurat and Lieutenant Bailiff of Jersey, which office Jean
held honorably for eight years. Upon his resignation from the latter post,
he retained th office of jurat until his death.
His latter years
he devoted to study and writing, living sometimes at Oxford, sometimes at
home, and no doubt visited Normandy's libraries, as well. His fluency in
French, English, Latin, and Greek allowed him rare latitude in his
studies, some examples of which still survive today.
his most noted and beloved piece is called, Caesarea or A Discourse of the
Island of Jersey. Although written in antiquated and, to modem eyes,
dazzling Middle English, affection for his native shore shines in every
word. Rather than a dry chronological history of the Isle, it is precisely
what the title claims, a treatise on the multi-hued fabric that makes up
the Isle of Jersey. From its laws and customs, to the voluminous success
of its weavers of stockings and sweaters, his loving pen sketches a rich
portrait of his homeland. His only apparent purpose is to reveal his
affection for it to his British neighbors, and to no doubt foster their
interest in its people and commerce.
Jean Poindexter prefaces his
words with two lines from Homer's Odyssey; "A rugged isle, but a good
nurse of young men, and for myself no other thing can I see sweeter than
one's own land." Contemporaries and later biographers mourned that
Poindexter did not extend himself to greater lengths upon the world stage,
but in those fines, perhaps we see the true heart of the man. He would
lend of himself and his learning to posterity, but only Jersey could hold
his deepest affection. Jean Poingdestre, John Poindexter died on his
beloved island in 1691. A marble plaque laid to his memory in the St.
Savior Church remains to this day.
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Reverend James Preston
Poindexter 1819- 1907
Poindexter Military Roll of Honor
Poindexter, Colonel, CSA 1825-1869
Poindexter, Captain, CSA 1839-1911
Poindexter Gentry, Congressman 1809-1866
Poindexter, Governor of Hawaii 1869-1951
Poindexter, Ambassador 1868-1946
Poindexter, Admiral (Retired)
Poindexter, Astronaut, USN
John B. Poindexter, Captain, USA
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