Sir Abraham James Lainé, KCIE (1876-1948)
Early Life and Education
Abraham James Lainé was born on 26 August 1876 to Abraham Lainé and Rachel (née Mahy), of Rue Piette, Castel. He was educated at Elizabeth College from 1889 to 1895, after which he attended Pembroke College Oxford as a King Charles Scholar until 1900.
Career in India
- 1900: Entered the Indian Civil Service, appointed Assistant Magistrate and Collector in Bengal at the age of 24.
- 1904: Transferred to Assam as Assistant Commissioner.
- 1906: Promoted to Joint Magistrate and Deputy Collector, East Bengal and Assam.
- 1911: Received the Delhi Coronation Durbar Medal.
- 1915: Promoted to Deputy Commissioner, Assam.
- 1922: Promoted to Second Secretary to the Government of Assam and appointed to Assam's Legislative Council (to 1930, and 1930-1935).
- 1928: Promoted to Officiating Commissioner, Assam Valley Division.
- 1929: Promoted to Officiating Commissioner, Surma Valley Division.
- 1 January 1930: Made a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire and member of the Assam Executive Council. Promoted to Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam and Revenue Member of the Governor's Executive Council in the same year.
- 1934: Appointed Finance Member and Vice-President of the Governor's Executive Council.
- May 1935: Received King George's Jubilee Medal.
- 3 June 1935: Made a Knight Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire (K.C.I.E.).
- 20 June 1935: Appointed Acting Governor of Assam.
- 3 December 1935: Retired to Guernsey at the age of 59.
Return to Guernsey
Elected a Jurat of the Royal Court in 1938, Sir Abraham also took over as President of the States Ancient Monuments Committee and became first President of the Essential Commodities Committee. On 19 June 1940 he was chosen by Ambrose Sherwill as Vice-President of the States Controlling Committee and put in charge of food supplies.
World War II
Sir Abraham is best remembered in Guernsey for his opposition to the registration of the "Order for Measures Against the Jews" on 23 October 1940, which the German occupying forces required the States to pass into law. There was a widespread belief that there were no Jews remaining in the Island, and Sherwill himself told the Bailiff and Jurats that the Order would hurt no one in the Island. Furthermore, Sherwill was anxious to avoid conflict with the Germans at this juncture as the lives of the British officers Nicolle and Symes hung in the balance. In his memoirs, Sherwill commented:
- "The honour of refusing to concur in its registration fell to Sir Abraham Lainé who, when called on as a Jurat to vote on the matter, openly and categorically refused his assent and stated his grave objections to such a measure. This courageous act of his should never be forgotten."
The Germans did not retaliate against him for this, but it was noticed that when his house, Le Gardinet in Castel, was requisitioned on 5 October 1941, he was given only three hours notice to leave. He then moved to ‘Thistlewood’, Choisi, St Peter Port.
Sir Abraham died at ‘Thistlewood’ on 22 February 1948.
- Marr, L James, Guernsey People, Phillimore, 1984
- Sherwill, A, A Fair and Honest Book - the Memoirs of Sir Ambrose Sherwill, Stephen Devonald, 2006
- Who's Who in Guernsey, 1937