George Orange Balleine
George Orange Balleine (1842-1906)
Dean of Jersey from 1888 until his death, and widely acknowleged as extremely successful in the post, he was not, however, the first choice to succeed William Corbet Le Breton.
The son of merchant George Balleine and Marie, daughter of Jean Orange, George Orange Balleine was born in St Helier on 31 October 1842 and educated at Victoria College and Queens' College, Oxford, where he won two double firsts. Before he got a scholarship to Oxford it had been intended that he should follow in his father's footsteps working for the Jersey firm of Charles Robin in Gaspé, Canada, but he became a Fellow and Lecturer at Queens' and then he was ordained in 1867.
He spent 17 years as Rector of Bletchington near Oxford, while still maintaining close ties with the University, and then moved to Weyhill, in Hampshire. When William Le Breton died the Rev P R Pipon Braithwaite, who was Vicar of St Luke's in St Helier, was appointed Dean of Jersey. This caused uproar in the States because despite connections to the island through his mother, Braithwaite was not a Jerseyman.
The States pointed out that the Jersey Canons of 1625 required that when appointing Rectors of the 12 parishes, natives or (originaires) must be preferred (préférés). This raised all sorts of legal arguments. What was meant by an originaire? What was intended by préféré: did it mean "given preference" or "appointed", as in the word "preferment"? Could Braithwaite become Dean and yet remain Vicar of St Luke's rather than being appointed Rector of St Helier?
Jersey's Crown Officers decided that Braithwaite could not qualify as an originaire but were divided on the issue of his appointment and sought a ruling from the English Crown Officers, who ruled that Braithwaite's appointment was illegal on both grounds.
George Balleine was then offered the posts of Rector and Dean and was to lead the Church in Jersey for 18 years, meeting throughout with the general approval of the clergy and islanders. The States Education Committee sought and accepted his guidance and Victoria College Headmaster G S Farnell called him "a truly wise chief, whose work was remarkable both for its quiet unobtrusiveness and efficiency". Rector and historian Edouard Durell described him as "quiet, dignified, a great scholar, a just man, tenacious of his position; neither the frowns of the great nor the uproar of the multitude could disturb him. His unswerving sense of duty, his unchanging principles would have left him unmoved amid the crash of a world in ruins".
Balleine wished the Jersey church to become more involved within the Diocese of Winchester and established a local Decanal Conference, which led to co-operation with Guernsey in an Interdecanal Conference, and regular involvement of Jersey's clergy and lay representatives at the Winchester Diocesan Conference.
Balleine and his wife Florence Gardener had four sons and two daughters. George Reginald, Robert Wilfred and Austen Humphrey followed him into the church and Cuthbert Francis, a Captain in the Rifle Brigade, was killed in the First World War
G R Balleine's Biographical Dictionary of Jersey