James Pipon - a postscript

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This article by A J N Young was first published in the 1989 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

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After his military service was over, James Pipon was appointed Commissary General in Lisbon. Here he stayed till 1819 and his work was described as that of a Principal Accountant dealing with Arms, Munitions and Stores of all sorts connected with the Peninsula War. As the detailed accounts in our Library show, this meant responsibility for colossal sums of money amounting, for the first two years, to twenty-two and a quarter million pounds sterling and reaching thirty-one million by 1819. He claimed that this was more than that for which any other Commissary of the period had had to provide accounts.

Owing to the death of his father in August, 1819, he became Seigneur of Noirmont.

After two months leave he was instructed to set up an office in London and was put on half pay, which he considered premature and unfair. But he was soon told, mistakenly as it turned out, that his services were no longer needed in London and he returned to Jersey for good in April, 1820.

For the next eight years he was subjected continually to queries from the Treasury about his accounts. How he was expected to answer these correctly, when all his papers were in London, it is difficult to understand. Nor was he allowed the pay to which he felt he was entitled, despite several appeals even to Wellington and Lord Beresford.

At last, however, the Audit Office relented and actually shipped his boxes, 17 in all, to him in Jersey. Much to the advantage of the Library of the Societe as this has proved to be, it was of little use to James, as the tiresome queries soon ceased, and he notes that he needed rooms to the size of 40 by 17 feet for storage of his boxes.

So, after all these years of drudgery, he felt himself treated harshly. All he received from a Government to which he had given the best part of his life, was a grant of £200 and relief from charges payable by him for errors in his accounts. It seems rather sad that such a worthy career did not have a happier conclusion.

James Pipon died in 1837 leaving, among a large family, a distinguished son, General Philip Gosset Pipon, who became Master Gunner. The genealogy of this family can be studied in La Société Jersiaise Annual Bulletin 1907, and their memorials are in the Parish Church of Saint Brelade.

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