Francois Jeune

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Francois Jeune 1806–1868 Dean of Jersey and Bishop of Peterborough

The eldest son of Francois Jeune and Elisabeth Le Capelain, the future Dean Jeune was born at Peterborough House, St Aubin, on 22 May 1806. He was educated at Le Maistre's School, St Aubin, St Servan College, Rennes and Saumur University.


The Jeunes were a French Huguenot family and settled in Jersey during Elizabeth I's reign. They were early supporters of the Methodist movement and Francois' grandfather Francois provided a shed in his yard as a meeting place. His grandfather and grandmother went as missionaries to the West Indies, leaving their son in Jersey, where he was a miller. His religious convictions prevented him doing Militia drill on Sundays, which led to his being sentenced to eight days solitary confinement on bread and water.

After graduating from Saumur, the young Francois was persuaded by the Bailiff, Sir Jean de Veulle to continue his education at Oxford. He went to Pembroke College in 1822, leaving in 1832 after being Tutor of the College and then elected Fellow. He went to Canada as Secretary to the Governor-General Sir John Colburn.

He returned to England to become headmaster of King Edward's School, Birmingham from 1835 to 1838, resuscitating and remodelling the school. Since 1951 Jeune House has been named after him.

In 1836 he married Margaret Symons, daughter of Henry Symons of Axbridge, and two years later he was appointed Dean of Jersey and Rector of St Helier. He was instrumental in the construction of a new Rectory, the rebuilding of St Anastase Grammar School, the building of St Matthew's Church and St Mark's Church.

Durell case

But his time in office was not without controversy. He inherited a case from his predecessor, Dean Hue, which had led to the suspension of the Rector of St Saviour, Edouard Le Vavasseur dit Durell. Durell had been charged with sodomy and tried by the Ecclesiastical Court, but the Royal Court ruled that this was beyond the church court's jurisdiction. Dean Jeune took the case before the Privy Council, which backed the church ruling, and Durell retired into private life.

However, the case had split the island down party political lines, because Durell was a leader of the powerful Rose Party. Party newspapers Miroir, Impartial and the Jersey Gazette constantly attacked Jeune in the most vitriolic terms, and he was forced to confess publicly that he wished he had never returned to Jersey.

In 1843 it was announced that the British Government was considering splitting the Channel Islands from the Diocese of Winchester and appointing Jeune the islands' first Bishop, but this came to nothing, and later that year he moved to Gloucestershire as Canon and VIcar of Taynton.

Oxford University

In 1844 he was elected Master of his old Oxford college, where he initiated sweeping reforms, before leading a Government-appointed University Commission to reform the whole university.

He was Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University from 1858 to 1862, and Gladstone said of him that he would have made an admirable Chancellor of the Exchequer. He retained his connections with Jersey and was an adviser during the planning of Victoria College.

News of his impending appointment as Bishop of Gloucester leaked out and Queen Anne refused to sanction the appointment. But he was appointed Dean of Lincoln in 1864, and Bishop of Peterborough a few months later.

He visited Jersey in 1865 to lay the foundation stones of St Simon's Church and St James' School and died three years later.

His son Francis Jeune became Baron St Helier.

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