Mary Jane Le Sauteur:
a family beset by tragedy
Mary Jane Jeandron, nee Le Sauteur
Mary Jane Le Sauteur was born in Melbourne in 1855, the first child of Thomas Le Sauteur, who emigrated from Jersey in 1853 on the clipper Eagle. He gave his address as Devon Villa, St Martin, Jersey when he married Mary Tetley, of Tasmania, in 1854. That was the St Martin farm where he was brought up by his parents, Edward and Mary Jane, nee Sohier.
Thomas had been in partnership with E Coutanche and a Mr Wigglesworth as builders in Richmond, Melbourne, but this partnership was dissolved the month before his marriage. He then went into the hotel business, leasing the Commercial Hotel in Richmond, but the business became insolvent in 1862, although the sale of fittings raised enough to discharge the insolvency.
Meanwhile two brothers for Mary Jane had been born, but neither survived 12 months. Thomas set up in business as a furniture dealer, but he died of consumption in 1863. Mary Jane and her mother Mary were left on their own, and when Mary died in 1868, Mary Jane had no family remaining in Australia.
At the age of 13 she set off back to Jersey, travelling cabin class on the clipper Highflyer, and went to live with her grandparents, farmer Edward and Jane Le Sauteur, at Devon Villa in St Martin. [Another family story suggests that Mary Jane travelled on the Argos as a servant to a Mrs Harrison and her three children. This, however, appears to be based on a misreading of a report in the Argus of Highflyer's departure from Melbourne in 1869. The report shows that Mrs Harrison, her three children and a servant were also on the vessel, but lists 'Miss Le Sauteur' separately].
All went well for two years, and the 1871 census shows that Edward was then 79, his wife 64, and Mary Jane, wrongly described as their daughter, still just 15. Tragedy struck again later that year when Edward died, followed the next year by Jane, and the couple's eldest son, Edouard Elie, who had emigrated to the USA.
Their daughter Jane had died in 1869, and it is not clear what happened to Charles and Alfred, born in 1829 and 1831, respectively, but whoever inherited Devon Villa, by 1881 it was home to farmer Elias Falle.
We have not been able to establish what happened to Mary Jane between the death of her grandfather and grandmother and 1879, when, at the age of 24 she married farmer's son and ship's carpenter Philip Jeandron. The marriage record describes Mary Jane's father as a builder, presumably how she preferred to remember him from happier times. At the time of her marriage she was stated to have been living in St Helier, so had presumably left her grandparents' home between 1872 and 1879.
Philip and Mary Jane's first daughter, Ethel Mary, was born in 1881, followed by Mabel the following year, Philip Edward, in 1884, Elsie and finally Lucille in 1888.
The 1891 census shows the family living at Dorset House, St Aubin's Road. Philip is described as a carpenter and the children were either at school or at home with Mary Jane, who is not shown as having any occupation.
Tragedy struck within weeks of the census when Philip died. His funeral was held at All Saints Church, St Helier, but the burial register does not show the cause of his death.
Mary Jane was left to bring up five children aged from two to ten.
The 1901 census shows her still living at Dorset House. Ethel and Mabel were working from home as tailoresses, Philip Edward was a railway porter, Elsie an ironer, and Lucille was at school. Ten years later Mary Jane had moved to 104 Halkett Place. Ethel had left home, as had Philip Edward, who had joined the Royal Navy in 1902. Mabel was still working from home as a dressmaker and Elsie and Lucille were ironers.
At no stage does Mary Jane appear to have worked; at least not according to the census returns. Whether from her husband, or perhaps more likely her grandparents, she certainly had an inheritance. In 1894 an application was made to the Royal Court on her behalf for permission to sell rente belonging to her late husband's estate to pay debts and 'for the proper maintenance of the children'.
In 1924 she sold rente on 49 King Street and and 6 Broad Street to Ann Street Brewery 'for the sum of twenty-two livres and fifteen chelins sterling'.
Ethel married John Peter Nicolle (1885- ) at All Saints, St Helier, on 19 April 1906, and the couple left for New York two days later. They moved to Canada, and apart from a brief return to England in 1916, appear to have remained there.
Mabel married Able Seaman Snowdon Charles Le Maistre (1885-1955), son of Charles and Emma, at All Saints in 1915. Their daughter Sheila May was born in Jersey on 23 March 1917. Tragedy struck the family again when Mabel died in July the following year. The cause of death is not shown in the St Helier burial register.
Mary Jane took on the task of bringing up her granddaughter. It is not known whether Snowdon remained in Jersey, but he was in the Armed Services at the beginning of World War 2 and then went to New York in 1943. He eventually died in Sheffield, Yorkshire, in 1955. Sheila married carpenter Arthur Fielding at All Saints on 25 July 1937, and a week later, perhaps feeling that her life's work was done, Mary Jane died in St Helier's General Hospital at the age of 81. She was buried in Mont a l'Abbe Cemetery.
Philip Edward married Ellen Louisa Weeks Farmer at St Andrew's Church, St Helier, in October 1914. He was a Royal Navy stoker, and his bride, who was born in Devon, was a domestic servant. The couple had two children, Royston Philip (1919-2012) and Maisie Phyllis Louise (1919-2003). Philip was the only one of Mary Jane's surviving children to remain in Jersey.
Elsie moved to Birmingham, where she married John Ernest Hitchings (1891-1957). They had three children, Phyllis Florence (1918-1981), Cyril Ernest (1920-1982) and Joan Elsie (1923-1993).
Lucille married soldier Walter Hammerton (1896-1963), who was stationed in Jersey with the South Stafford Regiment, in 1916. They married that year and when the regiment moved to Jersey from Lichfield, and then to Redcar, Lucille went with her husband and after the Great War ended they had three children.