Thomas Le Breton Jnr

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Sir Thomas Le Breton - Bailiff of Jersey 1848-1857

Thomas Le Breton had hoped to succeed his father, also Sir Thomas Le Breton as Bailiff but he was only 40 at the time and the position was secured for Sir Jean de Veulle by his wife's uncle. However, when Sir Jean died in 1848, he at last secured the post, and held it for nine years until his death.

The son of Sir Thomas and his first wife Anne Hue, he was born in 1791. He had to resort to subterfuge to take the Law Course at Caen Univesity which was customary for the best Jersey lawyers. This was the middle of the Napoleonic wars and Thomas obtained an American passport under the name Thomas Burger and completed the course without anyone ever knowing that he was a British citizen. He was even presented to Napoleon as 'a young American'.

He was sworn in as an Advocate in Jersey at the age of 19 and in 1813 his father secured for him the appointment as Receiver-General. In 1820 he was one of the founders of the newspaper Constitutionnel, which was a mouthpiece for the Laurel Party, and he was promoted to Colonel of the Town Battalion of the Militia. He was to command the regiment he joined at the age of 15 for 30 years. His rapid promotion antagonised some of his fellow officers, particularly Captain Aaron de ste Croix, with whom he fought a duel on Samares Marsh.

Le Breton fled to France fearing that de ste Croix would die from the wounds he inflicted but returned after his opponent recovered. De ste Croix publicly accused him of using rifled pistols, but he was exonerated at an inquiry held by the Lieut-Governor, Sir Hugh Mackay Gordon.

He was appointed Attorney-General in 1824, and ten years later he clashed with the then Lieut-Governor Sir William Thornton, over the latter's appointment without reference of Le Breton of an Irish lieutenent as Major of the Town Battalion. Thornton suspended him as Colonel and accused him before the Royal Court of insubordination. However, he had the support of the whole island and his letters were found to contain "nothing reprehensible". For standing up to General Thornton he was presented with a sword of honour which 2,000 islanders had subscribed to buy.

When Queen Victoria visited Jersey in 1846 Le Breton commanded the Militia and rode at the head of the procession. He was knighted the following February at St James's Palace.

He was not particularly successful as Bailiff, struggling, as had his predecessor, to control strong-willed Advocates who repeatedly clashed before him.

He was not a popular man and had few friends at his death from a stroke in 1857. He and his wife, Frances Rawson, had no children



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Newspaper records


Bailiffs of Jersey
Predecessor Successor
Sir Jean de Veulle
1831-1848
Sir Thomas Le Breton
1848-1857
Sir Jean Hammond
1858-1880
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