Thomas Pipon

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Thomas Pipon (1677-1735), was Constable of St Brelade.

Family

The son of Jacques Pipon of St Aubin and Jeanne Le Brocq, he was baptised in St Brelade's Church on 5 March 1678.

According to a statement before the Privy Council he was "bred up to the sea", but later settled as a merchant in St Aubin. Between the Pipons of Noirmont and the Pipons of La Moye there was a bitter feud. Thomas belonged to the La Moye branch, his father having been a younger son of Jurat Thomas Pipon of La Moye, but in 1705 he married Susanne, sister of Philippe Pipon of Noirmont, and henceforth always sided with his brother-in-law.

Excommunication

In 1708 he succeeded his brother as Constable of St Brelade, and held office until 1715. A fierce quarrel was now raging between his brother-in-law and Jean Le Couteur, and Thomas got involved in it. An Act of the Ecclesiastical Court in December 1708 declared that

"Thomas Pipon, while selling as Constable the corn due to the poor and the tresor in St Brelade's Church at the close of Divine Service, presumed to insult, abuse, and slander Jean Le Couteur in a most outrageous manner, and even enforced his abuse with oaths, thus profaning the Church and causing great scandal in the parish. The said Pipon, having argued at length on many preliminary points, withdrew, declining to recognise the authority of the Court, though ordered to remain and hear his sentence. He is therefore excommunicate".

On the following Sunday his sentence was read from the pulpit:

”He is severed from the Body of Christ as a septic limb (un membre pourry) and all the faithful are commanded to shun his company".

This had the curious result of excluding him not only from the church services but from the parish assemblies, which were then always held in church. At the following Easter the Ecclesiastical Court refused to swear in the St Brelade churchwardens, because an excommunicated man, the Constable, had voted at their election.

In 1710 he joined his two brothers-in-law Philippe and Jean in waylaying one night his cousin Jurat Josue Pipon on his way back from Town, and wounding him with a sword. Thomas was arrested, but Philippe slipped out of the island, and his friends on the Bench postponed the trial until he should return.

Constitutional crisis

In 1711 Thomas became the cause of a constitutional crisis. The Greffier had to leave the island on business, and it became necessary to appoint a Deputy to take his place. The Bailiff, Sir Charles de Carteret, instructed the Lieut-Bailiff, Charles De Carteret, of Trinity, to nominate Pipon. The majority of the Jurats refused to accept him, as he was a defendant awaiting trial, and knew nothing of Court procedure; but the Lieut-Bailiff walked out of Court, thus closing the proceedings.

The following week the same thing happened. At the third meeting of the Court, when the Lieut-Bailiff and three Jurats left, the other Jurats remained and swore in Edouard La Cloche. the Registrar, who had acted as Deputy-Greffier several times before. The Bailiff indignantly appealed to the Privy Council, who decided that "such person as the Bailiff shall appoint be sworn in".

So Pipon took the oath. La Cloche however then refused to give up the books, and a new lawsuit was begun to recover them. Before this was tried, however, the real Greffier returned and resumed his duties.

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