Jeune, Francis Henry (DNB12)
JEUNE, FRANCIS HENRY, Baron St. Helier (1843–1905), judge, was eldest son of Francis Jeune, bishop of Peterborough [q. v.], by his wife Margaret Dyne, only child of Henry Symons of Axbridge, Somerset. Born on 17 March 1843 at St. Helier, where his father was then rector and dean of Jersey, Jeune was sent as a boy to the school kept at Exmouth by Penrose, a teacher of great ability, though freely addicted to the use of corporal punishment. Thence he went to Harrow (1856-61), where he obtained a scholarship at the same time as the first Viscount Ridley and won many prizes, his English essays in particular showing an unusual amount of information, an original thoughtfulness, and a command of forcible English. When Lord Brougham visited the school on a speech day he pronounced Jeune's performance 'perfect oratory.' In 1861 he obtained a Balliol scholarship, and was placed in the first class in moderations in 1863 and in the final classical school in 1865. In 1863 he obtained the Stanhope prize for an essay on 'The Influence of the Feudal System on Character,' and in 1867 the Arnold prize for one upon 'The Mohammedan Power in India.' He was called to the bar by the Inner Temple on 17 Nov. 1868. In 1874, upon the establishment in its present form of Hertford College, he was made one of the original fellows.
Before his call to the bar Jeune worked for some time in the office of Messrs. Baxter, Rose, and Norton, the well-known firm of solicitors, and in 1869 he proceeded, upon their instructions, to Australia, to inquire into and report upon the evidence proposed to be adduced in support of the claim of Arthur Orton to be 'Sir' Roger Tichborne. After his return he was counsel for the plaintiff in the famous action of ejectment, Tichborne v. Lushington, which was tried for 103 days before chief justice Bovill, from June 1871 to March 1872, when the jury stopped the case, and the claimant was committed for trial for perjury. Jeune's leaders were Serjeant William Ballantine [q. v. Suppl. I], Mr. Giffard, Q.C. (now Earl of Halsbury), and Mr. Pollard. He held no brief in the criminal trial which followed.
Jeune won a great reputation as a junior of exceptional learning and industry, and a large proportion of his practice was in ecclesiastical courts, or before the judicial committee of the privy council. In ecclesiastical litigation he was engaged usually but not always on the evangelical side — that being the party to which his father, the bishop, had belonged. He was on that side in the Mackonochie case, in the litigation of Green v. Lord Penzance, in the cases of Dale, and Enraght, and that of Julius v. the Bishop of Oxford, and in Cox [Mr. Bell-Cox] v. Hake. Another case in which he appeared before the judicial committee was an application for leave to appeal by Louis Riel [q. v.], a Canadian who was hanged for armed rebellion in 1885. He served on the royal commission on ecclesiastical patronage in 1874, and on that on ecclesiastical courts in 1881, and before his appointment to the bench was chancellor of the dioceses of St. Albans, Durham, Peterborough, Gloucester and Bristol, St. Asaph, Bangor, and St. David's.
In 1880 he stood as conservative candidate for Colchester, and was defeated by two votes by William (afterwards Judge) Willis, Q.C. [q.v.Suppl. II]. After this election he sat with Messrs. Holl, Q.C., and Turner as a commissioner to inquire into the corruption reported after the trial of an election petition to have prevailed at Sandwich, then a parliamentary borough. The commission reported the existence of the most flagrant corruption. The borough was consequently disfranchised, until by the Redistribution Act of 1885 it became part of one of the divisions of Kent.
In 1888 Jeune was appointed a queen's counsel, and in June 1801 was elected a bencher of the Inner Temple. The last case of great importance in which he appeared at the bar was the prosecution before the archbishop of Canterbury (Benson), with assessors, of Edward King [q. v. Suppl. II], bishop of Lincoln, for alleged unlawful ritual. Jeune was counsel for the accused bishop, and the result of the trial was that some of the practices impugned were held to be lawful and others unlawful.
In 1890 the suggestion was authoritatively made to Jeune that he should again stand for parliament, with a view to his appointment as solicitor-general upon the occurrence of an expected vacancy in that office, but he declined the proposal on the ground that his health would be unequal to the strain of parliamentary and official work. In 1891 Sir James Hannen [q. v. Suppl. I] was created a lord of appeal, and Jeune accepted the office of judge of the probate, divorce and admiralty division in place of Hannen's junior colleague. Sir Charles Parker Butt [q. v. Suppl. I], who succeeded Hannen as president. Jeune was knighted in the usual course. The work of the division fell principally upon his shoulders for the following year and a half, owing to Butt's illness, which terminated fatally in May 1892. It was then determined to cure by legislation an ambiguity in the Judicature Acts as to the precise conditions in which a judge succeeded to the office of president of the probate division. An Act was passed creating a definite office of president of the probate, etc., division, with the judicial rank of one of the lords justices of appeal. The new arrangement practically involved that the president should always be a privy councillor. Of this office Jeune was the first holder.
Jeune's tenure of this office, which lasted thirteen years, was distinguished and successful. A sound lawyer and a strong man, he gave a conspicuous example of the patience and personal courtesy which towards the end of the nineteenth century became, more conspicuously than at some previous periods of legal history, characteristic of the judges of the high court. With the assistance of his colleague, Mr. Justice Gorell Barnes, now Lord Gorell, he made his small division a model of efficiency and despatch. The lists in probate, divorce, and admiralty were increasingly full at the beginning of each year, and arrears were practically unknown. In each of the three classes of work Jeune was an efficient and capable judge. Of admiralty work he had little or no special knowledge at the time of his appointment as a judge, but fortifying himself with much reading be speedily became sufficiently master of the necessary technical knowledge. He was naturally best known to the general public as the judge in divorce cases. In these delicate and sometimes difficult litigations he did much to restore to his court the decorum and gravity which had been most marked in the time of Hannen, and had somewhat declined during the presidency of Sir Charles Butt. In all three branches Jeune secured the confidence of those who practised before him.
When the liberal government came into office in 1892 a difficulty arose as to the payment of the judge-advocate-general, and Gladstone, acting on the precedent of the appointment to that office of Sir Robert Joseph Phillimore, first baronet [q. v.], when judge of the court of admiralty, eventually requested Jeune to add these duties to his own. Jeune accordingly held the office until 1904. He received no salary, but his services in this respect were recognised by his creation as K.C.B. in 1897 and as G.C.B. at the close of the South African war in 1902. During these ten years, as previously, the daily work of the office was performed by two deputies, one legal and the other military, but the finding of every 'general court-martial' had to be confirmed or quashed by the judge-advocate-general himself, who was also required to advise the sovereign personally in many cases, for which reason it was necessary that the office should be held by a privy councillor. Jeune was the last holder, as the post was practically abolished by statute in 1904, the title and some of the duties being transferred to a legal official of the war office. Jeune found that his tenure of the office occupied him for several hours weekly in time of peace, and during the South African war the addition to his public duties which it involved was considerable.
In 1898 and 1902 Jeune was chairman of board of committees respectively on the load line regulations as to winter North Atlantic freeboard, and on the effect of employment of lascars and other foreigners upon the reserve of British seamen available for naval purposes. In 1904 he was a member of Sir Michael Hicks Beach's commission on ecclesiastical discipline.
In January 1905, upon medical advice, he resigned the presidency of the probate, etc., division, and was created a peer by the title of Baron St. Helier. His failing health, which had been gravely affected by grief for the death of his only son in 1904, did not permit of his taking his seat in the House of Lords, and he died at his house in Harley Street on 9 April 1905. He was buried in the churchyard at Chieveley, Bucks.
Jeune married in 1881 Susan Mary Elizabeth, elder daughter of the Hon. Keith William Stewart-Mackenzie, and widow of Lieut.-colonel the Hon. John Constantine Stanley, second son of the second Lord Stanley of Alderley. His domestic happiness was complete and unbroken. His manifold activities and hospitable disposition brought him a large circle of friends, whom he entertained both in London and at his country house, Arlington Manor, Newbury, Berkshire. His only son, Christian Francis Seaforth (b. 1882), of the Grenadier guards, A.D.C. to Lord Lamington, the governor of Bombay, died in 1904, of enteric fever, at Poona.
In person Jeune was tall and of distinguished appearance. He was one of the first of the judges to wear a full beard and moustache, his forensic wig notwithstanding. An oil painting by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, representing him seated, without a wig, but otherwise in the state dress of a lord justice of appeal, belongs to Lady St. Helier, and is an admirable likeness. A cartoon by 'Stuff' appeared in 'Vanity Fair' in 1891.
[Private documents and personal recollection; The Times, 11 April 1905; Lady St. Heher's Memories of Fifty Years, 1909.]