Toby Jessel

Last updated

Philippa Jephcott
(m. 1967;div. 1973)
Eira Heath
(m. 1980)
Toby Jessel
Toby Jessel 1987.jpg
Jessel in 1987
Member of Parliament
for Twickenham
In office
18 June 1970 8 April 1997
Relatives Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted (great-grandfather)
Nellie Ionides (grandmother)
Oliver Jessel (brother)
Andrzej Panufnik (brother-in-law)
Roxanna Panufnik (niece)
Residence(s) The Old Court House, Hampton Court
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford

Toby Henry Francis Jessel (11 July 1934 – 3 December 2018) was a British Conservative Party politician, who was the Member of Parliament for Twickenham from 1970 to 1997.


Early life

Jessel was born at Bearsted in Kent on 11 July 1934, the son of Winifred Levy (1905–1977) and Commander Richard Frederick Jessel, D.S.O. (1902–1988), a Royal Navy officer. [1] He was the great-grandson of Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted, [2] and his great-great uncle was the judge George Jessel. [3] His sister Camilla married the Polish-born composer Andrzej Panufnik.

He received his formal education at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and at Balliol College, Oxford.

Political career

Jessel joined the Conservative Party, and served as a councillor in the London Borough of Southwark from 1964. The same year, he contested Peckham in the general election and then in 1966 twice fought Kingston upon Hull North, first in a by-election and then at the general election which followed. He represented Richmond upon Thames on the Greater London Council between 1967 and 1973.

He was elected as the Member of Parliament for Twickenham at the 1970 general election (the seat having been vacant since the death of Gresham Cooke on 22 February 1970), and held it for almost 30 years until being defeated in the 1997 general election by Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats.

Personal life

Jessel married Philippa Jephcott in 1967; they were divorced in 1973. [4] Their only child, Sarah, was killed in a car accident in 1976 at the age of five. He married his second wife, Eira Heath, in 1980. [2] Jessel's elder brother, Oliver, died on 21 June 2017.

Jessel resided at The Old Court House near Hampton Court Palace, for almost fifty years, until selling it in 2013. He died on 3 December 2018, at the age of 84. [4] He was a member of the Garrick Club and famously stood up in the House of Commons with his club tie sticking out of his trouser fly.

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  1. Richard Frederick Jessel DSO, DSC, RN at, accessed 7 December 2013
  2. 1 2 Obituary for Jessel in Peerage News, 5 December 2018.
  3. "Sir George Jessel". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  4. 1 2 "Obituary: Toby Jessel, irrepressibly energetic Conservative MP for Twickenham". The Daily Telegraph . 3 December 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2020.


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Twickenham
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