Friday, 9 March 2018

Notable Jersey People: G.O. Balleine

This is an occasional series which looks at the stories of past Jersey People, mostly from the wonderful biographical sketches of G.R. Balleine.

A bit of background to the "Gothenburg system" mentioned. It seemed to be a way to try and control excessive alcohol consumption while at the same time not going down the road to prohibition.

The Gothenburg or Trust Public House movement originated as an attempt to control the consumption of alcohol in the Swedish city of Gothenburg in the early 19th century. In 1855 a law was passed in Sweden making distillation of spirits at home illegal and the authorities in Gothenburg decided to award the retail spirits licences to a single company run as a trust. This trust aimed to control pubs and off licences in a way which would not encourage excessive consumption of spirits. 5% of the profit of the trusts went to the shareholders with the remainder being used to benefit the local community.
Notable Jersey People: George Orange Balleine (1842-1906), Dean
by G.R. Bailleine

Eldest son of George Balleine, merchant, and Marie, daughter of Jean Orange. Born in St. Helier's 31 Oct. 1842. Educated at Victoria College (1853-60 under Dr. Henderson, the future Dean of Carlisle.

His father had worked in younger days for the famous Jersey firm of Charles Robin & Co. in Gaspe at the mouth of the St. Lawrence in Canada, and all arrangements had been made for the boy to follow in his steps. His sea-chest was actually packed, when Dr. Henderson called, and pleaded that he might be allowed to sit for an Oxford scholarship.

He won an open scholarship at Queen's College, and added to that in 1863 the Taylorian University Scholarship. He gained a Double First in Moderations in Classics and Mathematics and again another Double First in the Final Schools, a feat that has been accomplished very rarely in the history of the University.

He was at once elected in 1865 Fellow and Lecturer of his College. In 1867 he .was ordained, and in 1868 he married Florence, daughter of Austen Gardner of Ash-next-Sandwich, and was presented by his College to the Rectory of Bletchington near Oxford.

Here he restored the Church, built new schools, and still kept in touch with the University, almost always having pupils in -his house, whom he was coaching for examinations, and in 1884 being Master of the Examination Schools at Oxford.

For many years he was one of the examiners for the Oxford Local Examinations. After seventeen years he moved to the Rectory of Weyhill in Hampshire. In 1888 the Deanery of Jersey became vacant through the death of William Corbet Le Breton.

Lord Salisbury appointed the .Rev. P. R. Pipon Braithwaite, who was Vicar of St. Luke's, one of the modern daughter-churches in the Town; but the States protested that he was inadmissible, because he was not a Jerseyman. This raised intricate legal and constitutional questions.

The Jersey Canons of 1623 prescribed that in appointing Rectors to the twelve ancient parishes natives or originaires must be preferred (preferes). What did `preferred' mean? Did it mean `given the preference', or did it mean `appointed' (as in the word `preferment')? And what was the meaning of originaire? Did it include all members of Jersey families, wherever they might have been born, or did it mean persons brought up in the island?

Could Braithwaite, who was born and bred in England, and whose father was a Yorkshireman, rank as an originaire, because his mother was a Pipon? Again, if he could not hold one of the Rectories, need the Dean be a Rector? Could he not become Dean, while remaining Vicar of St. Luke's? The Crown Officers in Jersey agreed that Braithwaite was not an originaire, but on the second point they were divided. So the problem was referred to Sir Edward Clarke and Richard Webster, the Crown Officers in England. They ruled on both points that Braithwaite's appointment was illegal; and therefore it was rescinded.

The vacant posts of Dean and Rector of St. Helier's were then offered to Balleine, and in July 1888 he was sworn in and instituted. For eighteen years he remained leader .of the Church in the island. G. S. Farnell, Headmaster of the College, wrote, "A truly wise chief, whose work was remarkable both for its quiet unobtrusiveness and efficiency". Durell described him as "quiet, dignified, a great scholar, a just man, tenacious of his position; neither the frowns of the great nor the uproar of the multitude could disturb him. His unswerving sense of duty, his unchanging principles would have left him unmoved amid the crash of a world in ruins" (Men I have known).

He had difficult and painful cases to decide as Judge of the Ecclesiastical Court, two of which involved the suspension of popular local clergymen. The States' Education Committee very largely accepted his guidance in all matters of education. More than once he tried to persuade the States to adopt the Gothenburg system of licensing, but here he had against him the teetotallers, who wanted total prohibition, and the liquor-sellers who were prospering under the existing laws.

In Church matters one of his aims was to bring the local Church out of its insularity, and to make it an active part of the Diocese of Winchester. He established a Decanal Conference, which he hoped would become a local Church Parliament, discussing and initiating plans for Church work in the island. This was followed a few years later by an Interdecanal Conference, when clergy and laymen from Guernsey and Jersey took counsel together.

And he saw to it that ten members, five clerical and five lay, were sent regularly to the Winchester Diocesan Conference. In 1891 he was appointed Honorary Canon of Winchester. On 29 March 1906, he died, and was buried in St. Saviour's churchyard.

He had four sons, George Reginald, Robert Wilfred, and Austen Humphrey, who all became clergymen in England, and Cuthbert Francis, Fellow and Sub-Rector of Exeter, Captain in the Rifle Brigade, killed in the First World War, and two daughters, Estelle Marguerite and Hilda Catherine Mary.

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