Edouard Dupre

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Today it would be difficult to imagine a Dean of Jersey being a prominent member of a political party, but it was not until after World War Two that the Rectors of Jersey's 12 ancient parishes lost their seats in the States and many had earlier been extremely active and controversial politicians.

Controversial Rector and Dean

One such was Edouard Dupre (1755-1823), who was Dean from 1802 until his death. He was highly controversial in this role, and earlier as Rector of St Helier, in which role he succeeded his father, Jean, who was married to Marie Millais.

Edouard Dupre was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, having obtained a grant from the Don Baudains in 1775. He was very successful at the university, obtaining his BA in 1776, MA in 1778 and DCL in 1780. He was elected a Fellow of his college.

When he took over as Rector of St Helier he was faced with the problem of the spread of Methodism to Jersey and the arrival of 2,500 French refugee priests. He was sympathetic towards the Methodists but frequently complained to the Bishop of Treguier that the French priests were only permitted to stay in the island if they refrained from proselytising.

As a Member of the States he tried unsuccessfully to prevent cockshying at live cocks. He was a supporter of Jean Dumaresq and the Magot Party and his name appears on several Magot petitions to the Privy Council between 1784 and 1787. His chief interest was clearly in the political arena because as a Magot representative at a political conference in 1784 he said that he would gladly resign his right to sit in the States as a Rector if Constitutional reform made this desirable.

Changing views

His views began to change, however, when he was frightened by the French Revolution, and he became strongly anti-democratic and sought to have the election of Jurats abolished.

As Dean he fell out with his churchwarden, Jurat Aaron de Ste Croix, a leader of the Rose Party which was the successort to the Magost, over his refusal to allow his Rector to retain any wine supplied for but not needed at the quarterly Communion, as was the previous practice. Insulting verses published by de Ste Croix's son in the Gazette de Cesaree led the Dupre to appeal to the Royal Court, and General Don, the Lieut-Governor, had to step in to restore peace.

But the antipathy between Dean Dupre and Jurat de Ste Croix continued and the latter started moves to have a second church built in the parish for Rose supporters. There were sufficient people living in the parish to make the Privy Council's support for this move inevitable and, despite the Dean's opposition, St Paul's Church was built and opened in 1817. But Dupre was having nothing of this and he forbade any of the island's clergy from preaching there and the church had to close.

Paulus Emilius Frossard, a refugee French priest, stepped in and offered to receive Anglican Orders, but his ordination was opposed by Dupre, who excommunicated him. The dispute went before the Royal Court, and the Jurats referred the complicated Church issues to the Privy Council, which ruled that Dupre has authority over the new church, which remained closed until after his death.

At the time of his death he was embroiled in another argument with Pierre Perrot, editor of the Chronique, the leading Rose paper, over a libel action. The case disappeared with his death.

Dupre and his wife Marie Patriarche had seven children.

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