Michael Beaumont, 22nd Seigneur of Sark
|Beaumont in July 2012|
|Seigneur of Sark|
|Preceded by||Sibyl Hathaway|
|Born||John Michael Beaumont
20 December 1927
|Parents||Francis William Beaumont
John Michael Beaumont, OBE (born 20 December 1927) is the 22nd and presently reigning seigneur of Sark. He worked as a civil engineer before succeeding his paternal grandmother, Sibyl Hathaway, in 1974. During his rule, Beaumont saw the loss of many feudal rights enjoyed by the seigneurs. He is consequently often described as the "last feudal baron".
Beaumont is the son of the Royal Air Force officer and film producer Francis William Beaumont and his first wife, Enid (née Ripley). His paternal grandmother, Sibyl Hathaway, ascended as dame of Sark six months before his birth. Francis William and Enid divorced in 1937 as a result of his adultery with the actress Mary Lawson, whom he subsequently married. Beaumont's father and stepmother were killed on 4 May 1941, during the Liverpool Blitz, which left the 14-year-old Beaumont heir apparent to his grandmother. Beaumont worked as a structural design engineer for the British Aircraft Corporation in Bristol before moving to Shoreham-by-Sea, where he worked on Beagle Aircraft. In 1956, Beaumont married Diana La Trobe-Bateman. The couple have two sons, Christopher and Anthony.
In 1974, Beaumont's grandmother died and he succeeded her as Seigneur of Sark. The new seigneur swore fealty to Queen Elizabeth II in 1978, when she and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited the island for the first time since his accession. In 1990, a group led by a French nuclear physicist named André Gardes came to Sark to depose Beaumont and establish Gardes as seigneur, but the invasion attempt failed. During her 2001 visit, the Queen made the Seigneur Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
In 2008, Sark experienced a major change in the system of government. Described as "the last feudal baron", Beaumont remained the overlord of the island, but lost some of his feudal privileges. He is still the only person on the island with the right to keep pigeons and an unspayed dog. The first democratic elections on the island took place in December. Beaumont regrets the change and denies being a feudal lord.
Due to their poor health, the ageing seigneur and his wife moved out of La Seigneurie, the traditional residence of the ruler of the island, to a more manageable home in 2009. The residence was shortly thereafter rented to David Synnott and his wife, who are to occupy it until the end of October 2019. The rent is going to be paid through renovations, and Synnott said that the seigneur "is effectively making a large and generous donation to his successor who will benefit from the work". The heir apparent, Major Christopher Beaumont, who presently lives and works with his family in the United Kingdom and serves as a member of the Territorial Army, intends to move back to Sark upon inheriting the fief. In 2011, the seigneur declared that he would never consider selling his fief.
Form of address
Beaumont is properly referred to as "Mr Michael Beaumont OBE". He (along with his wife) has been addressed in a number of incorrect ways, including: "The Seigneur of Shark"; "His Excellency, the Governor General of Sark"; "The Sir of Sark"; "Lord Michael Beaumont"; "His Highness Sire of Sark"; "The King and Queen of Sark"; "The Lord of the Manor"; "His Grace, Michael Beaumont"; and "JM Beaumont, Head Gardener".
- Catalogue description for Document No. J 77/3752/4301. Divorce Court File: 4301. Appellant: Enid Corinne Beaumont. Respondent: Francis William Lionel C Beaumont. Type: Wife's petition for divorce [wd] 1937. The National Archives, Kew
- "News in Brief" The Times (London). 23 June 1938. (48028), col C, p. 14.
- Levy, Geoffrey (19 April 2008). "The last feudal baron: New laws to bring the island of Sark into the 21st century". The Daily Mail.
- "History of La Seigneurie". 2012.
- "Death of a Dame". Time (magazine). 29 July 1974. "Nearly all 560 subjects of the medieval fiefdom of Sark gathered last week around a gnarled oak tree in their parish churchyard to mourn Dame Sibyl Mary Collings Beaumont Hathaway, 21st Seigneur of Sark."
- "Sark - Isle of Sark, Channel Islands". 19 June 2009.
- "Lost world: the last days of feudal Sark". The Independent. 2006-10-26. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- "Grave affair. (Andre Gardes tries to take over Sark in the Channel Islands)", The Economist, 1 September 1990. Online at Highbeam.com.
- "MINUTES of the MICHAELMAS MEETING of CHIEF PLEAS". 1 October 2008.
- "Beaumonts’ move raises question of protocol". 29 September 2009.
- "Island of Sark 'is not for sale', says Seigneur". BBC News. 1 March 2011.
|Seigneur of Sark