20th November 1820
Poet and bailiff Robert Pipon Marett is born
Like so many who became involved in the politics of Jersey – and beyond – Marett’s education prepared him for a life focused on law. He studied at Paris and Caen and was admitted to the Jersey Bar in November 1840. Twelve years later, he was elected constable of St Helier and, in this position, he instituted some far-ranging improvements to the town’s layout, particularly around the waterfront, with a view to attracting more visitors.
In February 1858 he was appointed Advocate-General for the island and his rise through the political ranks continued for the remainder of his life. Four years before his death he was appointed Bailiff, which he remained until he died on 10 November 1884, aged 64.
Marett becomes Bailiff
His investiture as Bailiff was a cause of great excitement and The Star reported on 6 April 1880 – the day after his swearing in – that “long before eleven o’clock the whole of the Court proper [had been] filled by ticket holders, who obtained admission through the private entrance”. The then Advocate-General, George Helier Horman, told that court that “if ever a man deserved well of his country it was he whom Her Gracious Majesty the Queen has exalted by conferring upon him the greatest honour possible to a Jerseyman. His talents were better known than to need that he should speak of them, and none more than himself felt how difficult it would be to replace him in the office he had vacated, but his ability, legal knowledge and experience, combined with his force of character, would leave an indelible impression on the history of his country”.
However, his mind was not always on either politics or the law: Marett had a creative side, too, and wrote extensively in Jèrriais under the pseudonym Laelius, often in La Patrie, the newspaper that he founded. He also helped found La Société Jersiaise.
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