Philippe Lempriere

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Philippe Lempriere (1718-87), who became Attorney-General, was the brother of Charles Lempriere and son of Jurat Michel Lempriere, Seigneur of Dielament, and Jane Corbet. He was born in Dielament Manor in 1718.

Family

Shebbeare wrote: "When a lad he was desned to the sea, and placed under the tuition of a master of a bark, who traded between London and Jersey" but he soon gave this up, and until his marriage he lived in his father's house.

In 1739 he married Julie Catherine de Varignon, daughter of Brigadier General d'Apremont, and moved into his wife's house at St Lawrence. In the following year, however, he settled in St John, where he became Colonel of the North-West Regiment of Militia.

In 1747 he was sworn in as an Advocate. In January 1750 he became Receiver-General. At this time it was the custom for the Receiver-General to contract to pay a fixed sum annually to the Lieut-Governor, who thus was relieved of the trouble of dealing with hundreds of small debts, and everything above that figure went into the Receiver's pocket. Lempriere was accused of being the harshest collector the island had ever known, always insisting on the payment of the uttermost farthing.

Moreover, since most of the King's Revenue consisted of wheat rentes, the Receiver's profits rose and fell with the price of corn, and Lempriere and his brother, the Lieut-Bailiff, were accused of taking steps to keep corn, and therefore bread, dear for the benefit of their own pockets. A third charge was that, since most of the fines inflicted by the Court went to the King's Receiver, his Jurat relations made these as high and as numerous as possible.

He gradually accumulated other posts. He was Commissary-General for Jersey and Guernsey, Store-keeper, Barrack-master, Paymaster of the Ordnance. He received 8s 6d a day for taking charge of the Invalids, a force of veterans stationed in the island as a supplementary garrison.

Seven Years War

During the Seven Years War he was Agent for the Sick and Wounded and Agent for Prisoners of War. Serious criticism was made against his work in this last capacity. In 1758 Colonel Forrester, Commander-in-Chief in Jersey, reported that he had "received informations of many and great abuses in the treatment of prisoners of war, not only with regard to their provisions, straw, and other necessaries, but of outrageous maltreatment committed by persons acting under Philip Lempriere".

He then visited the prison camp, and found these accusations true. He brought the matter before both the Royal Court and the States, but in each case the Lieut-Bailiff replied that they had no authority over the camp. Forrester could not even get a Jurat to take affidavits from the prisoners that he could forward to the Commissioners.

In 1758 Lempriere became Attorney-General. He now had to resign his post as Receiver. It would have been too scandalous for the Public Prosecutor and the Receiver of the fine to be the same person; but he secured the post for his brother-in-law, Edouard Ricard, and it was openly asserted that Ricard was only a screen behind whom Lempriere remained the real Receiver.

About this time too his wealth increased rapidly through his partnership in the very successful privateer, the ''Charming Nancy''. In December 1764 he inherited the Fief de Chesnel from his grandmother, Francoise de Carteret.

Revolt

In 1769 came the Anti-Lempriere Revolt. An armed mob invaded the Court, and compelled the Jurats to make Acts at its dictation. The Jurats took refuge in Elizabeth Castle, and from there sent the two Lemprieres and two Jurats as Deputies to the Privy Council.

But the English Government now realized that all was not well in Jersey. After Colonel Bentinck's investigation on the spot, many changes were made. Among others, Ricard was removed from his post as Receiver-General, and the old system of farming out the office abolished. Henceforth Receivers were officials with a fixed salary, who had to pay to the Lieut-Governor all that they received.

In 1771 appeared Shebbeare's Authentic Narrative of the Oppressions of the Islanders of Jersey in which all that could be said against the Lempriere administration was collected and set down in detail. Philippe resigned the Attorney-Generalship, and left Jersey never to return.

He built a house at Woodbury, Devon, where he died in 1787. The four children of his first wife died young. By his second wife Maria Weekes, he had no children.

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