Thomas Le Breton

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Sir Thomas Le Breton painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence, a painting which was put up for auction in 2011

Sir Thomas Le Breton - Bailiff of Jersey 1826-1831

Thomas Le Breton was the first resident Jersey Bailiff for 120 years, and the first since 1660 who had not been a member of the de Carteret family. He had been in effective charge of the States of Jersey and Royal Court for ten years as Lord Carteret's Lieut-Bailiff.

Le Breton was not popular, and when Lord Carteret died it was assumed (and hoped by many) that one of his nephews would be appointed Bailiff and that Jurat Anley would replace Le Breton as Lieut-Bailiff. This did not happen, however, and Sir Thomas was chosen, and served for a relatively trouble-free four and a half years.

Early years

Born on 29 September 1763, Thomas Le Breton was the eldest son of Dean Francois Le Breton and Elizabeth Penrose. He was educated at Winchester College from 1777 to 1783 and entered Jesus College, Oxford in 1783, moving to Pembroke a year later. At Oxford he was known as "handsome Tom" and excelled at Latin.

After graduating he returned to Jersey, joined the Militia cavalry and studied law. He was appointed an Advocate in 1799 and Attorney-General in 1802. This was not a popular choice, however, and the Royal Court refused to register his Letters Patent because he had been recommended by the Lieut-Governor, who was not supposed to interfere in the appointment of Crown Officers. The Privy Council over-rode this objection, describing it as "high contempt of His Majesty's Royal Authority".

Le Breton played a leading role in the Court's refusal to swear in Thomas Anley after his election as Jurat.

Adultery charge

In 1818, when he had been Lieut-Bailiff for two years, a blacksmith threatened to sue him for adultery with his wife. Le Breton paid £800 to silence him but his secret escaped and eight Jurats refused to work with him, bringing the Court to a standstill because a quorum could not be formed. The Privy Council appears to have been uninterested in Le Breton's indiscretions and censured the Jurats for "interrupting the course of justice", ordering them to return to their duties.

On 20 April 1825 Sir Thomas was knighted while in London and the following year he appeared before the Privy Council as Deputy of the States to complain about the French raiding Jersey's oyster beds off Gorey.

Family

Sir Thomas married twice, and there were four children of each marriage. His first wife was Anne, sister of Dean Corbet Hue and daughter of Jean Hue and Anne Dolbert. They married in 1790 and she died eight years later, leaving him with four young children, Thomas who was to become Bailiff in 1848, Jean, Francois and Anne. He then married Marguerite Hemery, daughter of Clement, Constable of St Helier. Their four children were Clement, who settled in Buenos Aires and was the father of Tomaso Le Breton, Argentine Ambassador to France during World War One; William, Eliza Margaret and Maria.

Sir Thomas resigned in 1831, when the Jersey and Guernsey Magazine wrote that accusations against him of indolence could be attributed to his ill health. He died at Bagatelle on 11 March 1838.


Bailiffs of Jersey
Predecessor Successor
Lord Carteret 1776-1836 Sir Thomas Le Breton
1826-1831
Sir Jean de Veulle
1831-1848
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