William Corbet Le Breton

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William Corbet Le Breton


William Corbet Le Breton was a womanising Dean of Jersey, who is best known for being the father of actress and beauty Lillie Langtry

William Corbet Le Breton

Le Breton was baptised in St Helier on 17 March 1815. Educated at Winchester College, he was a fag to Lord Selbourne, who once beat him severely on the head with a frying pan for burning his bacon. He matriculated at Pembroke College, Oxford at 15; BA in 1835; MA 1837; Fellow of Exeter 1837-1842. He was ordained Deacon in 1839 and priest in 1840. He was curate of St Olave's, Southwark. After having spent several years in the ministry in London, was named Rector of Saint Saviour in December 1849, and installed on 17 January 1850. Eventually, by Patent of 11 January 1850, he was named Dean Of Jersey and sworn in as such on the 16th of that month. In 1875 he became Rector of Saint Helier replacing the Rev Philippe Filleul.

Dean Le Breton was an erudite man of a strong classic culture. He married in 1842 at St Luke's, Chelsea, Emily Davies, daughter of William Martin, and they had seven children, of whom Emily Charlotte, born on 13 October 1853, was the sixth. She went on to achieve fame as the Jersey Lily, a famous actress in the Edwardian era who was mistress of King Edward VII.

Dean Le Breton was very popular as a Rector and many couples living outside St Saviour chose to be married by him in his church. But his notorious womanising eventually led to his leaving Jersey and ending his days in the poor London parish of Kennington. He died in February 1888.

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