Thomas Anley

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Thomas Anley (1757-1827)

Elected Constable of St Helier only to become embroiled in a protracted Court case with his defeated opponent; twice elected Jurat only for the Royal Court to initially refuse to administer the oath of office; Anley was a brilliant but eccentric character who was constantly at odds with the island's authorities yet became one of its most respected States Members.

Battle of Jersey

The son of Jean Anley and Magdelaine Dumaresq, and grandson of Constable of St John David Anley, Thomas was born in St Helier in 1757, and by the time of the Battle of Jersey 24 years later he was a Lieutenant in the Town Militia. He witnessed the capitulation of the Lieutenant-Governor Major Moses Corbet to French leader Baron Philippe de Rullecourt and the following day he led Militia troops through back lanes to join Major Francis Peirson's force on Gallow's Hill before the battle.

Election challenged

Anley was a popular man, particularly within the Militia, and in 1784 was elected Vingtenier of St Helier, Centenier the following year, and then Constable, defeating Jacques Lempriere Hammond, father of the future Bailiff. But the result was challenged and St Helier was without a Constable as the case dragged on for nine years, until both candidates dropped any further appeals and a new Constable was elected. One of the grounds for Hammond's challenge was that Militiamen had been intimidated into voting for Anley by their Colonel, Major and a Captain who had canvassed on his behalf.

Although only a book-keeper in a butcher's shop, Anley was promoted Captain in the Militia and clashed with the Attorney-General over styling himself Esquire when attempting to discipline on of his sergeants. He then, at a Parish Assembly, challenged the Attorney-General's expenses for a trip to England and was attacked by his son, James Pipon, outside the Royal Court. Pipon refused Anley's challenge to a duel claiming that he was "no gentleman".

New election

But by 1803 Anley's popularity had risen further and he was elected unchallenged as Constable of St Helier. This served only to heighten his conflict with the authorities and he clashed frequently with Lieut-Bailiff Sir Jean Dumaresq and in 1807 was fined by the Court for "indecent reflections on the first authorities in the country".

He decided that he might as well join these "first authorities" and stood for election as Jurat against the Seigneur of Avranches, Philip Marett, losing narrowly. A few months later he won the election for a further vacancy by the largest margin ever known. He obtained 1504 votes; Charles Chevalier, 237; Aaron de Veulle, 31; Philippe Le Vavasseur dit Durell, 2; Phipilpe Nicolle, 2; and Abraham Aubin, 1. But the Crown Officers challenged his suitability for the position and an appeal to the Privy Council followed over their claims that "for many years he has acted as clerk at a slaughterhouse, that he has repeatedly been brought before the Court, and has undergone humiliating sentences, that on many occasions he has used words tending to vilify the constituted authorities, that his conduct has been violent and tumultuous, and that he has rendered his loyalty suspect by speeches highly culpable".

Appeal rejected

The Privy Council considered that most of this claim was unsupportable but did decide that Anley's loyalty was suspect, and his appeal was rejected. Dumaresq and Lieut-Governor General Sir George Don clearly thought that the electors could not be trusted to choose Jurats and called for a Royal Commission, which came down on the side of having Jurats selected by the States and Crown Officers. The Privy Council, however, refused to countenance this change. Ironically, today, when the role of Jurats is far less powerful that it was at the start of the 19th century, they are chosen by the States and the legal profession and not by public election.

In 1816 Anley was again elected Jurat and this time he had the support of Don's successor as Lieut-Governor, Sir Hilgrove Turner. The Privy Council ordered the Royal Court to swear him into office.

Clashes with Lieut-Bailiff

This did not end his conflict with authority and he clashed repeatedly with the new Lieut-Bailiff, Thomas Le Breton. In 1818 he joined forces with seven other Jurats to refuse to attend any Court which Le Breton presided over because of his claimed "dissolute and profligate conduct".

Anley grew more and more eccentric in later years, wearing his hair in a pigtail tied in a red ribbon, sporting tight, short trousers and an old-fashioned coat which reached his heels and had enormous pockets in which were always secreted books and documents. He died at the age of 70.

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