The Le Quesnes of Burrard Street

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Le Quesnes of Burrard Street:

Bread, cider and plumbing,

building and quarrying


W18LeMasurierLorry.jpg


Le Quesne and Co store next to the Mechanics Institute in Halkett Place


The Le Quesne family, of Burrard Street, started out as bakers and were later in the drinks and plumbing businesses over a long period


Thomas Daniel Le Quesne was born in Trinity in 1822 [1], the son of grower Charles Le Quesne (1779-1832) and Jeanne, nee Gallichan, who had married in the parish in 1799. Thomas married Anne Sophie de Gruchy, daughter of mason Jean, also from Trinity, in 1852, and was described in the marriage register as a carpenter.

By the 1861 census he had moved to the town of St Helier and was in business in Waterloo Street as a baker, employing one man and one boy.

By 1871 he had moved his baking business to 9 Burrard Street, where he lived with Anne Sophie and their children: Thomas Daniel, who worked for his father, Mary Ann, Charles John, Adolphus John, Louisa Margaret and Ann Sophia. Also living with them was Jane de Gruchy, Thomas Daniel's aunt.

Thomas Daniel was widowed by 1881, when the census showed him still working as a baker at 9 Burrard Street. His son Adolphus John, described as a wholesale grocer, lived with him, along with his three sisters. The younger Thomas Daniel was living two doors down at 5 Burrard Street, widowed at 26, and with a two-year-old son, also Thomas, living with him.

By 1891 Thomas Daniel snr had moved away from Burrard Street and was living in Clarendon Road with his daughter Ann Sophia, a wool broker.

Family and businesses

None of his three sons followed Thomas Daniel into baking, but all of them established very different but successful businesses:

Thomas Daniel

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Thomas Daniel Le Quesne jnr (1854-1919), the eldest of the three sons, was in business as a plumber by 1881, when the census showed him employing four men and three boys at 5 Burrard Street.

He had married Emma Le Sueur in St Helier in 1878 and their son Thomas Charles was born the same year. Emma died in 1880 and Thomas Charles in 1884. Thomas Daniel was married for a second time in 1881 to Laura Jane Le Gros (1860- ) and they had six sons and four daughters. [2]

The plumbing business is still thriving in 2020, trading as Thomas Le Quesne Ltd, it is one of the island's largest plumbing businesses, based at Rue des Pres Trading Estate.

Charles John

Second son Charles John Le Quesne took a similar course to his elder brother and founded the building business which carried his name for 130 years, until it went into liquidation, after the family sold out, in 2011. Charles John was also involved in quarrying in Jersey. He bought Mont Mado Quarry from Charles de Gruchy in 1907. When he died, his family took over running the business and, in due course, purchased the rest of the property from Josué Sarre in 1931.

In 1933 the family formed a company, Charles Le Quesne Ltd to take over the business. After the transfer they continued to run the company - and its successor company, Charles Le Quesne (1956) Ltd. until the business was sold to Michael Weaver who, later, sold it again, leading to its ultimate collapse.

Mont Mado was sold to the States, as was the quarry at La Crete (Archirondel). La Moye Quarry, where the desalination plant now stands, and the land around it, were given to the people of Jersey and the States had to come to ask the family for a variation of the Deed of Gift when they wanted to let part of it to the Waterworks to build the first desalination plant.

The Le Quesnes also owned La Perruque Quarry on the north coast at La Saline, St John, from which they extracted stone to build the sea wall from First Tower to Saint Aubin. Charles Le Quesne employed the latest technology whenever it made easier the work of extracting the stone and transporting it to the other side of the island.

The quarry was already deep, having been worked to provide stone for the construction of St Helier Harbour, and a steam engine and cable hoist were used to remove stone from the quarry floor, with horses pulling loads of stone up the steep narrow track to the cliff top.

At the start of the 20th century Mr Le Quesne bought a steam traction engine to haul the stone in wagons to St Aubin's Bay, followed by a larger road locomotive, which was driven by George Biles, preceded by a man walking ahead carrying a red flag.

The road surface was designed to cope with horses and carriages, not vehicles of this size and weight, and as the road became damaged, with deep ruts and potholes turning to mud when it rained, complaints from St Lawrence parishioners grew more vociferous.

Eventually the Constable, Edward Voisin, put a stop to it by standing in the road to prevent the locomotive proceeding and Mr Le Quesne agreed to provide stone to repair the road, reverting to horse-drawn transport from then on.

Obituary

On 6th June the Jersey Critic 6 June 1925

We heard with great regret, last Tuesday, of the death of Mr Charles John Le Quesne.

We had not always seen eye to eye with Mr Le Quesne. His views on many subject were not ours; his opinions on many points differed widely from those we held. But one thing we gave him credit for all at all times - an unswerving determination to stand by his principles.

One must always respect a man who, whatever his views may be, never alters them except under conviction. And this can be said of Mr. Le Quesne that he had the full courage of his opinions. No man ever said of him that he lacked courage.

He could have taken a far more prominent part in public affairs than he actually did had he been more a man of the world. He would have held far higher posts than ever came his way had he been prepared to give and take, to make allowances, to grant one here to gain a foot there. But he wasn't that sort of man. Once he had made up his mind he wouldn't give a fraction of an inch. What was right was right and what was wrong was wrong. He always saw things like that; it was a matter of temperament.

A man of this type makes few intimate friends, and Mr Le Quesne was never what one would call a popular man. He never went out of his way to court popularity, and we feel sure that, in his mind, he despised that sort of thing utterly. True he opposed Mr Ferguson for the Constableship of St Helier last year, but we think we are right in saying that on that occasion he honestly believed that the parish would be safer under his administration than in the hands of Mr Ferguson. If it was a mistaken idea, he was none the less sincere in it.

Mr Le Quesne was a tremendous worker, and for years those who knew him best realised that he was overdoing it, and that unless he took things more easily the strain would break him. But he couldn't take things easily. Active to a degree, both in mind and in body, he simply couldn't take a rest. So long as he had the strength he had to be up and doing, and even when desperately ill his thoughts still turned to work, his business, his many activities in various parts of the Island.

Last week, although very far from well, he insisted on being present at the Town Hall Assembly. He remained to the end, and went home a dying man. When it was known a day or two afterwards that double pneumonia had supervened it was realised that the end could not be far off, and that Charles Le Quesne would be seen no more.

He was a comparatively young man yet, but it must be remembered that since his boyhood, every year had been a strenuous year. His was a life crowded with work, and viewed in the light of accomplishment it was a very long one. The island is full of monuments to his enterprise, his skill, and his indefatigable industry. And of how many of us will that be said when we are gone?

Charles Thomas Le Quesne

Charles Thomas

Charles John Le Quesne (1859-1926) married Susannah Anne de Faye, daughter of Philippe (1822- ) and Anne, nee de Faye (1832- ). They had three sons and five daughters [3]. The eldest son, Charles Thomas (1885-1954) who married Florence Elizabeth Eileen Pierce-Gould, was educated at Victoria College and Exeter College, Oxford, where he received a two 1st Class degrees in 1906 and 1908.

He was called to Bar, at Inner Temple, in 1912. He took silk, becoming a King's Counsel in 1925. In 1950 he returned to Jersey and was appointed Lieut-Bailiff. Up to this point the Royal Court's judgments were written in French by the Greffier, rather than the judge, expressing the reasons for the court's decision only very briefly. Charles Thomas Le Quesne changed the language of judgments to English and adopted the common law style of the judge giving detailed reasons for his decision.

He and his wife had four sons and one daughter. The eldest was Charles Martin (1917-2004), the distinguished diplomat Sir Martin Le Quesne. Their second son was Leslie Philip Le Quesne (1919-2011), who became Professor of Surgery at the Middlesex Hospital and their third son was John Godfray (1924-2013) who became Sir Godfray Le Quesne QC.

John Adolphus

Youngest son Adolphus John le Quesne married Augusta Esther Luckarift, daughter of John, a carter, in St Saviour in 1882. They had five children and by 1901 had moved to Belmont Lodge, Simon Place, although his business continued in Burrard Street.

Adolphus John, having started out as a wholesale grocer, is usually described as a wine merchant, but his business covered the full range of alcoholic drinks and 'Sparkling Champagne Cider' was his speciality at the end of the 19th century, when he was in partnership with John Henry Neel. When Mr Neel died in 1906, Adolphus bought his share in the business.

As the picture at the top right of the page shows, the business later had premises in Halkett Place, as well.

By 1940 the emphasis had switched from cider to beer.


Le Quesne wine merchants in 1912

Notes and references

  1. According to his marriage record, but in 1825 according to the 1871 census
  2. See family tree for details
  3. See family tree for details
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