Thomas Pipon, Attorney-General

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Thomas Pipon (1736-1801) was an Advocate who compiled a collection of Jersey laws, which became known as the 1771 Code. He was rewarded by being made Attorney-General and was ultimately a Jurat and Lieut-Bailiff. He was appointed Lieut-Bailiff in 1801 and held office for less than a year before his death. He should not be confused with another Thomas Pipon who was Lieut-Bailiff from 1795 to 1800.

Law review

The son of Jurat Josue Pipon of La Moye and Rachel Hocquard, he was born in 1736 and sworn in as an Advocate in 1761. In 1768 he was appointed one of the two trustees of the new General Hospital. When Colonel Bentinck was sent to Jersey after the riot of 1769, one task given him was:

"To select a proper collection of the most useful and necessary Laws out of that immense Chaos of them now confusedly scattered through the many Books of the States and the different Courts, to be established by way of a permanent system for the Political Government of the country, by which means every individual will know how to regulate his Conduct, and be no more obliged to live in continual dread of becoming liable to punishments for disobeying Laws it was morally impossible for him to have knowledge of".

Bentinck appealed to the States to appoint someone with a good knowledge of local law to help him, and they selected Pipon. He borrowed the manuscripts of Philippe Le Geyt, and by their help and by piecing together Orders in Council, Acts of the Court, Reglements of the States, precedents from cases decided in Court, and fragments from the old Coutumier of Normandy, he produced the first Code of Jersey Law.

Bentinck said:

"I cannot without ingratitude pass by doing justice to Mr Pipon's superior judgement and indefatigable application with the most anxious zeal for the true interest of his native country, as I have experienced daily the strongest proofs of them during the whole course of this very laborious task".

On 6 September 1770 Bentinck presented the Code to the States, and after much discussion it was sent up on 20 October to the Privy Council for approval. In December the States appointed Pipon their Deputy to explain the Code to the Council, allowing him a guinea a day for his expenses. On 28 March 1771 the Council approved the Code, and declared that "all other Laws heretofore made in the Island shall be henceforward of no force and validity". Pipon was rewarded for his work by being made Attorney-General. He was sworn in on 4 April.

Militia

In 1770 he was Captain of the La Moye Company of the South-West Regiment of the Militia, and in 1778 became Colonel of the Regiment. When the French invaded Jersey in 1781, Moyse Corbet, the Lieut-Governor, was captured, and sent for Pipon as senior Crown Officer to sign with him the capitulation. Pipon ignored the message and led his regiment to St Helier. In the battle which followed, they charged along Broad Street into the Market Place (now the Royal Square), and played a leading part in the victory.

In 1786 the Magot Party appealed to the Privy Council for leave to establish trial by jury in civil and criminal cases. After much correspondence the Council, bewildered by the intricacies of Jersey Law, in 1789 commissioned four Jerseymen, of whom Pipon was one, to draw up a statement of the actual procedure in the Jersey Courts. The result was two valuable reports, one by Pipon and John Thomas Durell (Statement of the Mode of Proceeding in the Royal Court of Jersey ), representing the Charlot point of view, the other by Jurat James Hemery and Jean Dumaresq, representing that of the Magots. In 1797 Pipon was sent as Deputy of the States to the Privy Council to support various Acts dealing with tumultuous assemblies, taverners, and the duty on spirits. In January 1801 he was appointed Lieut-Bailiff, but he died in December

He married Jeanne, daughter of Thomas Pipon of St Aubin, and had ten children, of whom Josue became Solicitor-General, James Receiver-General, John Constable of St Peter and Philip Captain in the Navy.

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