Elie Brévint, Presbyterian minister for Sark from 1611 until his death in 1674, was a scholar and antiquarian. His father Cosmé was Sark’s first pastor, settling there in 1565 with Helier de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen. Helier’s grandson, Philippe paid for Elie’s education at the seminary in Sémur and gave him a living in Sark where he remained a powerful voice through the troubled years of the Civil War and Restoration.
The sixteen surviving octavo notebooks are written in standard French but with some local spellings and an idiosyncratic system of contractions. They show Elie’s lifelong habit of recording miscellaneous information. He was curious about family anecdotes, shipping, the religious practices of different sects, proverbs, magic and the market price of turnips. More of a commonplace book than a diary, the notes are datable from 1619 through the Civil War till about 1660. The notebooks survived in the loft of Sark’s Manoir, which in Victorian times housed the minister, and were lent by Seigneur W.T.Collings (1853-1878) to the Revd G.E. Lee to transcribe. Lee managed 14 of the fascicules, leaving two particularly difficult gatherings which quote extensively in Latin and may have been sermon notes.