16th December 1556
Guillaume de Beauvoir appointed dean of English Church in Geneva
The mid-16th century was a time of religious persecution. Whether you followed the Catholic or Protestant faith was far more relevant than it was today, since disagreeing with the monarch could cost you your life.
We saw this in the case of the Guernsey Martyrs who were burned at the stake for their protestant belief in 1556. The previous summer, a Guernsey trader called Guillaume (William) de Beauvoir had fled the island for Geneva. He was granted residency within the city and, on 16 December, was appointed dean of the English Church in Geneva. This appointment was re-affirmed on the same day in both 1557 and 1558.
Return to Guernsey
Guillaume de Beauvoir kept watch on events in England and, when Queen Mary died (8 February) and Elizabeth I took the throne, he decided that it was safe for him to return to Guernsey. With the change of monarch had come a change in the country’s favoured religion. Protestantism was now the order of the day.
This not only meant it was safe for de Beauvoir to practice his faith openly; it also brought other political opportunities. Catholic jurats were removed from their positions in the Royal Court and protestants were appointed in their place. One of the new appointees was de Beauvoir himself.
This was just the first step in his rise up the political ladder, however. In 1572, Guillaume de Beauvoir, having been thoroughly rehabilitated, was appointed bailiff of Guernsey. He served in that position until 1581.