Michael Beaumont, 22nd Seigneur of Sark

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Michael Beaumont
Michael Beaumont.jpg
Beaumont in July 2012
Seigneur of Sark
In office
14 July 1974 – 3 July 2016
Preceded by Sibyl Hathaway
Succeeded by Christopher Beaumont
Personal details
Born John Michael Beaumont
(1927-12-20)20 December 1927
Egypt
Died 3 July 2016(2016-07-03) (aged 88)
Sark
Spouse(s) Diana Beaumont
Children Christopher Beaumont
Anthony Beaumont
Parents Francis William Beaumont
Enid Beaumont

John Michael Beaumont OBE (20 December 1927 – 3 July 2016)[1] was the twenty-second Seigneur of Sark in the Channel Islands.

He worked as a civil engineer before succeeding his paternal grandmother, Sibyl Hathaway, the 21st Dame of Sark, in 1974.

During his rule, Beaumont saw the loss of many feudal rights enjoyed by the seigneurs, and was consequently often described as the "last feudal baron".

Family[edit]

Beaumont was the son of the Royal Air Force officer and film producer Francis William Beaumont and his first wife Enid Ripley. His paternal grandmother, Sibyl Hathaway, ascended as the Dame of Sark six months before his birth. Francis and Enid divorced in 1937 as a result of his adultery with the actress Mary Lawson,[2] whom he subsequently married.[3]

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.[4]

In 1956, Beaumont married Diana La Trobe-Bateman, and the couple had two sons, Christopher and Anthony.[5]

Seigneurship[edit]

La Seigneurie

In 1974, Beaumont's grandmother died and he succeeded her as Seigneur of Sark.[6]

The new seigneur swore fealty to Queen Elizabeth in 1978, when she and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the island for the first time since his accession.[7]

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.[8][9]

During her 2001 visit, the Queen made the Seigneur Officer of the Order of the British Empire.[7]

In 2008, Sark experienced a major change in the system of government. Beaumont remained the overlord of the island, but lost some of his feudal privileges. He did retain the privilege of being the only person on the island with the right to keep pigeons and an unspayed dog.[8] The first democratic elections on the island took place in December 2008. Beaumont regretted the change and denied being a feudal lord.[4] He did however, appreciate the fact that it allowed his island to stay independent from Guernsey.[10]

Move[edit]

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 paid through renovations, and Synnott said that the seigneur was "effectively making a large and generous donation to his successor who will benefit from the work".

The new Seigneur, Major Christopher Beaumont, presently lives and works with his family in Britain and serves as a member of the Territorial Army,[11] intends to move back to Sark upon inheriting the fief.[12]

In 2011, the seigneur declared that he would never consider selling his fief.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Michael Beaumont: Seigneur of Sark dies aged 88". BBC News. 3 July 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016. 
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ "News in Brief" The Times (London). 23 June 1938. (48028), col C, p. 14.
  4. ^ a b Levy, Geoffrey (19 April 2008). "The last feudal baron: New laws to bring the island of Sark into the 21st century". The Daily Mail. 
  5. ^ "History of La Seigneurie". 2012. 
  6. ^ "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. 
  7. ^ a b "Sark - Isle of Sark, Channel Islands". 19 June 2009. 
  8. ^ a b "Lost world: the last days of feudal Sark". The Independent. 2006-10-26. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  9. ^ "Grave affair. (Andre Gardes tries to take over Sark in the Channel Islands)", The Economist, 1 September 1990. Online at Highbeam.com.
  10. ^ Lost world: the last days of feudal Sark | This Britain | News | The Independent
  11. ^ "MINUTES of the MICHAELMAS MEETING of CHIEF PLEAS" (PDF). 1 October 2008. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Beaumonts' move raises question of protocol". 29 September 2009. 
  13. ^ "Island of Sark 'is not for sale', says Seigneur". BBC News. 1 March 2011. 
Preceded by
Sibyl Hathaway
Seigneur of Sark
1974–2016
Succeeded by
Christopher Beaumont