Joseph Farley's diary

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Joseph Farley, who was born in 1773, came to Jersey from Southampton in his teens. He had been hired by the Pipon family, prosperous local merchants, to act as their agent, or in other words, their chief accountant. He married Jane Elton, born in 1769, at St Saviour in 1791.

While in the island he kept a diary recording local and international events that interested him; for instance, the fall of Napoleon. The diary was given to La Société Jersiaise by one of Farley's descendants in the late 20th century.

It recorded many deaths and accidents, including a murder or two. Here are a few examples.


  • October 1796, Mr Dumaresq of St Lawrence murdered by one Doughty, he was hanged for it.
  • 9 September 1799: a soldier's wife found on the sands, murdered.
  • Mrs De Louche of St Lawrence was murdered by a private of the 96th Regiment by the name of Tommy on 28 January 1810. He was hung for it on 2 February. Later in the diary Farley noted that a body was found in a coffin under Gallows Hill in August 1827 by a Mr Thomas Servaton, while he was getting sand. He wrote: "Supposed to be the body of the man who murdered Mrs De Louche 16 years ago".
  • Rachel Le Page, a domestic servant, probably from Guernsey ‘was shoved down a staircase by Mrs Locket on December 23 1821 and died the next day’.
  • Three children were murdered in 1829 - one was found under the pier covered in stones. Another was buried in an orchard and the third in a meadow - all in St Helier during the month of February. Farley did not record their names.
  • A duel: Lieut Hogan, Surgeon of the 69th Regiment shot by Lieut Burrow, same regiment, in a duel, August 1798.

Garrison deaths

  • A soldier's wife and child were found drowned near Seymour Tower on 10 September 1799.
  • Sergeant Crooks was killed taking down a wall at Mr Marrett's of La Haule in April 1802.
  • Thomas Hamon of St Helier shot a soldier and was then shot himself in October 1805.
  • Lieut Wall was killed falling from the top of St Martin's signal post on 3 September 1807.
  • One soldier was killed and four wounded in a lightening strike while on duty at the top of the coastal tower at First Tower, on 5 September 1807.
  • On 7 November 1809 two Grenadiers of the 62nd Regiment were killed digging a well at Grouville.


  • Manon Le Cras of Le Coin fell into the brook near Capt Le Maistre's house and drowned on 2 June 1799
  • Philip Le Mesurier of St Aubin drowned near Elizabeth Castle on 15 August 1799.
  • Francis Le Boutillier and three other men drowned dragging for oysters near the Old Castle (Gorey) in 1811
  • Thomas Le Bas, son of Philip the ropemaker, drowned while bathing at St Aubin on 13 May 1811.
  • Mr James Ballayne and Capt Clement Le Feuvre, both of St Peter, drowned in St Clement's Bay on 4 June 1821. James Le Roux was with them, he saved himself.


Those who took their own lives, in a variety of ways, did not escape Farley's notice.

  • Mr Fleetwood, agent for the Transports, cut his throat on 7 April 1811.
  • Mr Payn, the bank clerk, shot himself at Grouville on 1 October 1812.
  • Woolbridge poisoned himself at George Beghin's on 27 September 1820.

A number of people hanged themselves, but probably the most unusual suicide was that of Isaac Coutanche of St Martin on 8 August 1824. He killed himself by gluttony, eating 18 raw eggs, drinking 10 glasses of gin, and and following that with a quantity of raw pork and 2 glasses of brandy. He was reported as being very ill and died two days later.


Jersey was made impregnable during the Napoleonic Wars and when peace came not all the ordnance was cleared. A number of people died stepping on mines. James Eggie at Noirmont on 2 September 1818 and a Mr Blampied at St John's quarry in March 1821.


In the early pages of the book there is an entry that reads: ‘Thomas Giffard had his leg broken by a horse on 4 August 1798’. Underneath is another entry with the date obscured: ‘Had it cut off’.

  • John Le Seward Cooper had his arm shot off and the other arm broken when firing off a field piece on the Town Hill on 4 June 1799. He was probably practising firing large guns with the militia.
  • Colonel Patriarche's manservant suffocated under a load of gravel in St John on 12 July 1819.
  • Faliaise and Tostevin, both Masons, (and probably Guernseymen) were thrown from a ladder by a cart passing in St Helier on 13 June 1823. One had his arm broken, the other his thigh.
  • Thomas Clement, a hairdresser in St Helier, choked to death by swallowing a live fish on 8 August 1823.
  • Peter De Lande of St John fell from a load of hay and was killed on 20 July 1796.
  • Joshua Anley, plasterer, fell from Mr Bailhache's house in St Ouen, killed 18 August 1797.
  • Charles Bisson, killed by a fall through a trap door in his house, 5 August 1802.
  • Clement Hastings of La Rue Sohier killed by his cart on Mont Arthur on 27 August 1802.
  • George Beghin's daughter fell out of a window and died on 28 November 1814.
  • Mr Wright, master tailor, burned his face desperately with some varnish, 8 December 1819.
  • Thomas Le Mesurier's house at Noirmont burnt to the ground on the 30 April 1807
  • St Helier, 26 April 1833: "A little girl, three years and a half, run over by a cartload of gravel, her name was Gill. She was killed on the spot.
  • 18 February 1833: A Frenchman by the name of Nicholas Le Cappelain, crushed in driving a cartload of furniture near St Saviour's Church, fell under one of the wheels which passed over his head. He died a few minutes after.
  • 18 June 1833: Hinchcliffe, son of the stonemason, was run over by one of the artillery guns in the Parade, St Helier and almost instantly died. He was ten years of age.
  • 30 December 1833: Two horses coming in contact with each other, one in an empty wagon belonging to Mr Pellier, the other loaded with sand, belonging to Mr Romeril, Charing Cross, St Helier, they were both killed by the shafts of each vehicle going through their chests.
  • 8 December 1829: John Vock had his hand shattered to pieces at the foundry of Mr George Vaudin - had it amputated.
  • 11 December 1829: Edward Hamon fell from the shed at St Helier and broke his thigh - amputated.
  • 13 February 1833: A man at St John had one of his arms shattered to pieces by one of the wheels of the windmill. Amputated by Dr Fixott - doing well.
  • 26 December 1829: James Pullin injured by the bursting of his gun - his hand was much fractured.
  • 23 December 1829: Mrs Lambert found dead in the snow at Noirmont
  • John Hawke killed in sinking a well at Gorey, fell 60 feet on 17 November 1832.
  • Henry Le Cras, the plumber, fell down a well at Mr Guillaume's house at Beaumont and broke his arm in two places on 7 February 1833.
  • Mr Terry, in sweeping a chimney at Mr Durrell's at St Saviour, the ladder slipped when he was at the top, he was cast down and fell on the greenhouse and was shockingly cut about the head, carried to the local hospital very ill on 13 May 1833."

Farley did not record the names of some of the younger victims of accidents. A young lad at St Lawrence killed grinding apples in a cider press, October 1805 and infant daughter of Philip Payn killed by a cart on 20 November 1809.

Maritime accidents

  • 7 December 1827: Peter Le Mesurier of Guernsey, on board the Neptune at sea, drowned.
  • William Baudains of St Peter fell overboard at Noirmont Point and drowned on August 27. Body found off the coast of France, September 1830.
  • Captain Detar and his mate found on board his vessel in St Helier pier - both suffocated by charcoal fumes - on 19 March 1833.
  • Francis Benest, ship's carpenter, near No 1 Tower, was crushed to death under the brig Brutus on St Helier Pier on 20 July 20.


  • 10 February 1829: Fire at the cow stables and cyder press house at La Hague (St Peter), with the man-servant burnt to death. The cows very much injured. The Chronique de Jersey of the following week reports that the man-servant's name was Joseph Wheeler and the owner Jean Pipon.
  • 15 March 1834: The Half Way House from St Helier to St John burnt down by a child in getting some shavings to light a fire

Family details

In a section on his employer’s family, Farley noted: “Joshua Pipon, my master's grandfather, died 29 July 1728" and " Joshua Pipon, my master's father, died 2 February 1785." This allows the family to be linked to Descendants of Nicolas Pipon (1437), in which the earlier Joshua (Josue) is seen to have been a Jurat and Lieut-Bailiff, and his son to have held the same positions. It is not clearly which of his sons was Joseph Farley’s employer, the only one showing in the family tree being Thomas, a renowned Advocate, Attorney-General and ultimately Jurat and Lieut-Bailiff, who is unlikely to have been a merchant as well. Thomas is included in George Balleine’s Biographical Dictionary of Jersey and his parents and date of birth are as shown in the tree, but there are no supporting marriage and baptism records.

Joseph, whose father was also Joseph, and Jeanne had nine children born in Jersey between 1792 and 1809 and baptised in St Brelade: Joseph (1792- ), Elizabeth Jeanne (1794- ), Thomas (1796- ), Jeanne (1798- ), Charlotte (1800- ), Jean (1802- ), Sally (1804- ), Marthe (1806- ), Susanne (1809- ).

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