The Corbett One Name Study


Lillie Langtree

The Jersey Lillie

Lily's real name was Emillie Charlotte Le Breton and she was born on 1 September 1853 the daughter of Reverend William Corbet Le Breton, Dean of Jersey, and his wife Emillie. She married Edward Langtry in 1874. She died in 1929 and was buried in St. Saviour's church Jersey.

Her father Dean Corbet le Breton was born in 1815, the eldest son of William Le Breton and Jane Hue, sister of Dean Corbet Hue.

Dean Corbet Hue was one of ten sons of Jean Hue and Anne Dolbert. and was baptised in St Helier. The church register for 1769 shows he was named for his godfather Moise Corbet, the Lieutenant Governor.

The Biographical Dictionary of Jersey gives a few more details about William Corbet le Breton (1815-1888). He was educated at Winchester College and 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 fifteen; B.A. 1835; M.A. 1837; Fellow of Exeter 1837-42. He was ordained Deacon in 1839, and Priest in 1840. He was Curate of St Olave's, Southwark. He married, 1842, at St Luke's, Chelsea, Emily Davies, daughter of William Martin, and they had seven children. Francis Corbet, Clement Martin, Trevor Alexander, Reginald, Maurice, William and Emily Charlotte.

When Lillie was seventeen she fell in love with someone who was a year younger. Details of their meeting and their courtship are few and far between. Lillie herself makes no mention of the affair in her somewhat reticent autobiography, The Days I Knew, and it is easy to see why. The boy was, in fact, the son of Lillie's father - the result of an illicit liaison between the dean and a local woman. To prevent the association of his daughter and son developing, he had to tell Lillie the truth. The shock must have been considerable for she had always regarded her father with great respect, devotion and admiration. She recalled later that he was a remarkably handsome man, and she was convinced that he could have cut a fine figure on the professional stage. As it was, he cut a much shabbier one in Jersey society. His womanising over the years became too much to bear and, in 1880, he was required to leave the island. He ended his days, deserted by his wife, in the poor London parish of Kennington. He died in February 1888. There is no mention of his fall from grace in Lillie's autobiography. He was buried in St Saviour's churchyard, where Lillie was to find her final resting place some 40 years later.

Although this is not a Corbet family it is of sufficient interest to include especially as it gives another reason for the name appearing as a forename in addition to it being the mother's surname. Additionally there is a reference to Moise Corbet.