Francis Le Couteur

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From Payne's Armorial of Jersey:


Another eminent man was the Rev Francis Le Couteur. He first entered Jesus College, Oxford, where he obtained an exhibition, and afterwards was elected Fellow of Exeter College. He resided some time at Oxford, but after taking orders, he accepted a curacy at Shrewsbury for a few years. His taste for travelling had led him to decide upon making the tour of Europe with a young gentleman, a design which was frustrated by the fracture of his thigh; he therefore returned to Jersey, where he was preferred to the living of St Martin, which he afterwards exchanged for that of Grouville.

One of the most stirring incidents in his life was the share he took in repelling the Invasion of the French under the Baron Rullecourt in 1781. As he did not reside at St Helier, he had not the opportunity of joining those who nobly refused to sign the capitulation of the Island, but by his decided conduct and contempt for "red-tapeism", he mainly contributed to the recovery of the battery of Platte Rocque, which the enemy had surprised en passant. Placing two guns, his own property, in position on the beach, he sunk two of the enemy's ships, and incited the lieutenant commanding a detachment of His Majesty's troops immediately to attack the battery, and disregard the articles of the capitulation, of which notice had by this time been received.

The officer remonstrated, and alleged that his commission would be forfeited, should he act in disobedience to his commanding officer. "Then I myself will indemnify you for its loss," said the patriot, and the battery was taken forthwith. This conduct was not the less brave, when it is considered that had Rullecourt held the island, his treatment of a Protestant clergyman, active in resisting his invasion, probably would not have served as a model of lenity.

With him also originated the plan of the excellent military roads, which now intersect the Island, although the chief credit of this improvement is popularly given to Lieutenant-General George Don, who adopted and carried out Mr Le Couteur's suggestions. To him, again, is due by his scientific experiments, the merit of having made the cider of the Island, at one time the staple article of home consumption, very superior in point of manufacture to what it previously was; a labour to which, with other improvements in local agriculture, he devoted, amid other and pressing duties, more than thirty years of his life. He published, in 1801, a work on the subject, which he dedicated to Sir J Sinclair; one which has since been translated into English, and which may be met with in the early editions of "Pitt's Survey of Worcestershire."

His son, Francis-John Le Couteur, who was born in 1773, received an academical education under the Rev John Dupre, whom he left to visit Paris, for the purpose of studying jurisprudence.

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