Jeremie, John (DNB00)

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JEREMIE, Sir JOHN (1795–1841), colonial judge, was the son of John Jeremie, an advocate in Guernsey, where he was born 19 Aug. 1795. For some years he practised as an advocate in the royal court of Guernsey, and edited in 1815, with a preface and appendix of his own, ‘Traité sur la Saisie mobilière,’ a legal work by his father, who had died at Malta in 1810. In October 1824 he was appointed chief justice of the island of St. Lucia, and held this post for six years. His strong views as an abolitionist aroused much hostility among the West Indian planters, and the opposition which he met with from the government of St. Lucia led to his resignation. In 1831 his ‘Four Essays on Colonial Slavery’ appeared. This work had considerable influence, and was severely attacked by the upholders of slavery. In February 1832 Jeremie was appointed procureur-général, or public prosecutor, of the island of Mauritius. The colonists were disaffected towards the government owing to the measures adopted for the repression of slavery, and the appointment of so well-known an abolitionist as Jeremie was exceedingly unpopular. On his arrival at the harbour of Port Louis on 2 June he was prevented from landing until the 4th, when he came on shore under the protection of a military escort. His installation, which had been fixed for 22 June, was frustrated by the intentional absence of the judges, and on 20 July he was attacked in the streets by a mob. The governor of the island, Sir Charles Colville, thereupon directed him to retire, and he embarked for England on 29 July. On his arrival there on 29 Oct. he was ordered to return, and left England 6 Jan. 1833, arriving at the Mauritius on 29 April. During his second tenure of office an attempt was made to prosecute him for imprisoning and detaining some members of the volunteer patrols who had attacked the 87th regiment on 25 May. In August 1833 he charged the judges in open court with being notoriously interested in the slave-holdings, and with having recently incurred the censure of the colonial office for mitigating punishments for sedition and treason. The governor expressed disapproval of Jeremie's language; Jeremie resigned and quitted Mauritius on 28 Oct.

In 1836 he was sent out to Ceylon as judge, and on 15 Oct. 1840 was appointed governor of Sierra Leone. He was knighted 4 Nov. following, and in the same year published a ‘Letter on Negro Emancipation.’ He died at Sierra Leone on 23 April 1841.

[Recent Events at Mauritius, 1855, by John Jeremie; Haydn's Book of Dignities; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

E. J. R.