TRANSCRIPTS FROM THE OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE GUERNSEY ROYAL COURT,
WITH AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION AND HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION.
JOHN LINWOOD PITTS,
Membre de la Société des Antiquaires de Normandie.
Editor of "The Patois Poems of the Channel Islands;" "The Sermon on
the Mount and the Parable of the Sower, in the Franco-Norman Dialects
of Guernsey and Sark," &c., &c.
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
—Exodus xxii, 18.
THOMAS M. BICHARD, PRINTER TO THE STATES.
[All Rights Reserved.]
EDGAR MacCULLOCH, Esquire,
F.S.A., LONDON AND NORMANDY, AND MEMBER OF THE FOLKLORE SOCIETY,
BAILIFF OF GUERNSEY,
WHOSE HISTORICAL RESEARCHES HAVE TENDED SO MUCH TO ELUCIDATE THE
ANCIENT CUSTOMS OF HIS NATIVE ISLAND,
BRIEF RECORD OF ONE OF THE DARKEST CHAPTERS IN ITS CHEQUERED ANNALS
WITH SENTIMENTS OF THE HIGHEST RESPECT AND ESTEEM.
Venena magnum fas nefasque non valent Convertere humanam
Horace, Epod. V. 87-8.
In presenting to the public another little volume of the "Guille-Allès
Library Series," it affords me much pleasure to acknowledge various
kindnesses experienced during its preparation. From Edgar MacCulloch,
Esq., F.S.A., Bailiff of Guernsey, I have received several valuable
hints and suggestions bearing upon the subject; and also from F.J.
Jérémie, Esq., M.A., Jurat of the Royal Court. I am also particularly
indebted to James Gallienne, Esq., Her Majesty's Greffier, for his
uniform kindness and courtesy in allowing the fullest access at all
times to the Archives under his care, not only in respect to the
subject-matter of the present publication, but also in other
historical researches which I have wished to make. I am equally
obliged to Mr. E.M. Cohu and Mr. H.J.V. Torode, Deputy-Greffiers, and
to Mr. A. Isemonger, Bailiff's Clerk, for various information and much
ready help, which materially facilitated my investigations. All these
gentlemen have my cordial acknowledgments and best thanks.
Guernsey, December, 1885.
represented on the title page is
that of the Guernsey Bailiwick. It was first granted by
Edward I. in the seventh year of his reign (1279), and bears
the inscription: S. Ballivie Insule de Gernereye.
Table of Contents viii.
Witchcraft in Guernsey 1
The Witches' Sabbath 2
The Devil's Ointment 2
Three Women burnt for Heresy in Guernsey 3
Witchcraft in Jersey 4
Ordinance of the Royal Court 4
Women Hanged and Burnt *4
Mr. Philippe Le Geyt's Opinion 5
Later Superstitions 5
The Pricking of Witches *5
Sorcerots, or Witches' Spells 6
Torture of Witches in Guernsey *6
" Scotland 7
General Persecution of Witches *7
On the Continent *7
In America *7
In England 8
In Scotland 8
Confessions of Guernsey Witches under Torture 9
Collette Du Mont 11
Marie Becquet 15
Isabel Becquet 16
Depositions against Collas Becquet 22
Note on the Guernsey Records 27
Witchcraft Trials in Guernsey, 1563-1634 28
The Story in Brief of the Guille-Allès Library 33
The Witchcraft superstitions of the Channel Islands, sad as they were
in their characteristics and results—as is abundantly evidenced by
our judicial records—were but a part and parcel of that vast wave of
unreasoning credulity which swept across the civilised world during
the Middle Ages, and more or less affected every class of society, and
all sorts and conditions of men. From the lists given in the following
pages (pp. 28-32), it will be seen that in about seventy-one years,
during the reigns of Elizabeth, James I. and Charles I., no fewer than
seventy-eight persons—fifty-eight of them being women, and twenty of
them men—were brought to trial for Sorcery in Guernsey alone. Out of
these unfortunate victims, three women and one man appear to have been
burnt alive; twenty-four women and four men were hanged first and
burnt afterwards; one woman was hanged for returning to the island
after being banished; three women and one man were whipped and had
each an ear cut off; twenty-two women and five men were banished from
the island; while five women and three men had the good fortune to be
acquitted. Most of these accused persons were natives of Guernsey, but
mention is made of one woman from Jersey, of three men and a woman
from Sark, and of a man from Alderney.
With regard to the gatherings at the so-called Witches' Sabbaths,
there can be no doubt that—quite apart from the question of any
diabolic presence at such meetings—very questionable assemblies of
people did take place at intervals among the inhabitants of many
countries. Probably these gatherings first had their rise in the old
pagan times, and were subsequently continued from force of habit, long
after their real origin and significance had been forgotten. Now, it
would be very easy for these orgies to become associated—particularly
in the then superstitious condition of the popular mind—with the
actual bodily presence of the Devil as one of the participants; while
it is also not improbable that, in some cases at least, heartless and
evil-minded persons worked upon the prevailing credulity to further
their own nefarious purposes. Our esteemed Bailiff has offered a
suggestion or two of considerable value on this point with regard to
certain Guernsey phases of the superstition. He thinks it highly
probable that some of these deluded women were actually the dupes of
unprincipled and designing men, who arrayed themselves in various
disguises and then met their unfortunate victims by appointment. This
idea is, indeed, borne out to a great extent by some of the
particulars stated in the following confessions. For instance, some of
the women assert that when they met the Devil he was in the form of a
dog, but rather larger; he always stood upon his hind legs—probably
the man's feet; and, when he shook hands with them, his paw felt like
a hand—doubtless it was a hand. Another suggestion of the
Bailiff's is also worth notice. It is that the black ointment so often
mentioned as being rubbed on the bodies of the so-called witches, had
a real existence, and may have been so compounded as to act as a
narcotic or intoxicant, and produce a kind of extatic condition, just
as the injection of certain drugs beneath the skin is known to do now.
These suggestions are certainly worth consideration as offering
reasonable solutions of at least two difficulties connected with those
strange and lamentable superstitions. In one way or other there must
have been some physical basis for beliefs so widely extended and so
terribly real. Imagination, of course, possesses a marvellous power of
modification and exaggeration, but still it requires some germs of
fact around which to crystallise. And it is to the discovery of the
nature of such germs that a careful and conscientious observer will
naturally turn his attention.
While speaking of the burning of Witches in Guernsey, I may also
refer for a moment to the three women who, in Queen Mary's reign
suffered death by fire, for heresy, because the reason of their
condemnation and punishment has caused some controversy, and is often
associated in the popular mind with a charge of sorcery. Dr. Heylin in
his Survey (page 323), says:—
Katherine Gowches, a poor woman of St. Peter-Port, in
Guernsey, was noted to be much absent from church, and her
two daughters guilty of the same neglect. Upon this they
were presented before James Amy, then dean of the island,
who, finding in them that they held opinions contrary to
those then allowed about the sacrament of the altar,
pronounced them heretics, and condemned them to the fire.
The poor women, on the other side, pleaded for themselves,
that that doctrine had been taught them in the time of King
Edward; but if the queen was otherwise disposed, they were
content to be of her religion. This was fair but it would
not serve; for by the dean they were delivered unto Helier
Gosselin, then bailiff, and by him unto the fire, July 18,
1556. One of these daughters, Perotine Massey, she was
called, was at that time great with child; her husband, who
was a minister, having in those dangerous times fled the
island; in the middle of the flames and anguish of her
torments, her belly broke in sunder, and her child, a goodly
boy, fell down into the fire, but was presently snatched up
by one W. House, one of the by-standers. Upon the noise of
this strange incident, the cruel bailiff returned command
that the poor infant must be cast again into the flames,
which was accordingly performed; and so that pretty babe was
born a martyr, and added to the number of the holy
Parsons, the English Jesuit, has asserted that the women were felons
and were executed for theft, while other apologists have described
them as prostitutes and generally infamous in character. The original
sentences, however, which still exist at the Guernsey Greffe, and
which I have examined, conclusively settle the question. Both the
ecclesiastical sentence, which is in Latin, and the civil sentence,
which is in French, distinctly describe the charge as one of heresy,
and make no mention whatever of any other crime as having aught to do
with the condemnation.
It has been questioned too whether a child could be born alive under
such circumstances. Mr. F.B. Tupper, in his History of Guernsey
(page 151), says: "We are assured by competent surgical authority that
the case is very possible"; and he further mentions that in a volume
entitled Three Visits to Madagascar, by the Rev. Wm. Ellis,
published in London, in 1858, a precisely similar case is stated to
have occurred in that island. A native woman was burnt for becoming a
convert to Christianity, and her infant, born in the flames, was
thrust into them again, and burnt also.
Lord Tennyson refers to this Guernsey martyrdom in his historical
drama of Queen Mary (Act v. Scene iv.). It is night-time in London;
a light is burning in the Royal Palace; and he makes two "Voices of
the Night" say:—
First:—There's the Queen's light. I hear she cannot live.
Second:—God curse her and her Legate! Gardiner burns
Already; but to pay them full in kind,
The hottest hold in all the devil's den
Were but a sort of winter; Sir, in Guernsey,
I watch'd a woman burn; and in her agony
The mother came upon her—a child was born—
And, Sir, they hurl'd it back into the fire,
That, being thus baptised in fire, the babe
Might be in fire for ever. Ah, good neighbour,
There should be something fierier than fire
To yield them their deserts.
With regard to Witchcraft in Jersey, I have not had an opportunity of
personally examining the official records there. I find, however, some
information on the subject, given by M. De La Croix, in his Ville de
St. Hélier, and Les Etats de Jersey, upon which I have drawn. In
the way of legislation, the Guernsey Court does not appear to have
promulgated any penal statutes on the subject, being content to treat
the crime as one against the common law of the Island. In Jersey on
the contrary, Witchcraft was specially legislated against at least on
one occasion, for we find that on December 23rd, 1591, the Royal Court
of that island passed an Ordinance, of which the following is the
Forasmuch as many persons have hitherto committed and
perpetrated great and grievous faults, as well against the
honour and express commandment of God as to the great
scandal of the Christian faith, and of those who are charged
with the administration of justice, by seeking assistance
from Witches and Diviners in their ills and afflictions; and
seeing that ignorance is no excuse for sin, and that no one
can tell what vice and danger may ensue from such practices:
This Act declares that for the time to come everyone shall
turn away from such iniquitous and diabolical practices,
against which the law of God decrees the same punishments as
against Witches and Enchanters themselves; and also in
order that the Divine Vengeance may be averted, which on
account of the impunity with which these crimes have been
committed, now threatens those who have the repression of
them in their hands. It is, therefore, strictly forbidden to
all the inhabitants of this island to receive any counsel or
assistance in their adversities from any Witches or
Diviners, or anyone suspected of practicing Sorcery, under
pain of one month's imprisonment in the Castle, on bread and
water; and on their liberation they shall declare to the
Court the cause of such presumption, and according as this
shall appear reasonable, shall be dealt with as the law of
In 1562 two women were executed in Jersey for witchcraft. One of them
named Anne, a native of St. Brelade's, was burnt at St. Helier's;
and the other, Michelle La Blanche, expiated her crime at the gibbet
of the Hurets, in the parish of St. Ouen, because criminals dwelling
on the Fief Haubert de St. Ouen, were, in accordance with custom,
required to be executed within the boundaries of the said Fief—seeing
that it possessed a gallows-right—and their goods and lands became
forfeited to the Seigneur.
In 1583 a rather curious point of law was raised in connection with a
pending witch-trial at St. Helier's. On the 15th of February in that
year, a suspected witch named Marion Corbel, who had been imprisoned
in the Castle awaiting her trial, suddenly died. Whereupon her
relatives came forward and claimed to be heirs to her goods and
chattles, seeing that she had not been convicted of the imputed crime,
and urging that her death put an end to further criminal proceedings.
The Queen's Procureur, however—it was in the reign of
Elizabeth—contended that death was no bar to the completion of the
indictment, although it had effectually removed the criminal from the
jurisdiction of the Court, as far as punishment was concerned. The
very reasonable claim of the deceased woman's relatives was therefore
set aside, and the defunct of course being found guilty, her
possessions reverted to the crown.
Again, forty years later, in 1623, an old woman of sixty, named Marie
Filleul, daughter of Thomas Filleul, of the parish of St.
Clement's, was tried before a jury of twenty-four of her countrymen,
and found guilty of the diabolical crime of Sorcery. She was therefore
hanged and burnt as a witch, and her goods were confiscated to the
King [James I.], and to the Seigneurs to whom they belonged.
It may be interesting to note here the opinion of Mr. Philippe Le
Geyt, the famous commentator on the constitution and laws of Jersey,
and one of the most enlightened men of his time, who for many years
was Lieutenant-Bailiff of that island. He was born in 1635 and died in
1715, in his eighty-first year. In Vol. I., page 42, of his works,
there occurs a passage of which the following is a translation:—
As Holy Scripture forbids us to allow witches to live, many
persons have made it a matter of conscience and of religion
to be severe in respect to such a crime. This principle has
without doubt made many persons credulous. How often have
purely accidental associations been taken as convincing
proofs? How many innocent people have perished in the flames
on the asserted testimony of supernatural circumstances? I
will not say that there are no witches; but ever since the
difficulty of convicting them has been recognized in the
island, they all seem to have disappeared, as though the
evidence of the times gone by had been but an illusion. This
shows the instability of all things here below.
Coming down now to within a century ago, we find an article in the
Gazette de Jersey, of Saturday, March 10th, 1787, complaining of the
great increase of wizards and witches in the island, as well as of
their supposed victims. The writer says that the scenes then taking
place were truly ridiculous, and he details a case that had just
occurred at St. Brelade's as corroborative of his assertion. It
appears that a worthy householder there, had dreamed that a certain
wizard appeared to him and ordered him to poison himself at a date
which was specified, enjoining him above all things not to mention the
incident to anyone. The poor silly fellow was dreadfully distressed,
for he felt convinced that he would have to carry out the disagreeable
command. At the same time he was quite unable to keep so momentous a
secret to himself, and so he divulged the approaching tragedy to his
wife. The good woman's despair was fully equal to his own, and after
much anxious domestic counsel they determined to seek the good offices
of a White Witch (une Quéraude), with the hope that her incantations
might overcome the evil spells of the Black Witch who was causing all
the mischief. This White Witch prescribed lengthened fasting and other
preparations for the great ordeal, and on a given night she and the
bewitched householder, together with his wife and four or five trusty
friends with drawn swords, shut themselves up in a room, and commenced
their mysterious ceremonial. There was the boiling of occult herbs;
the roasting of a beeve's heart stuck full of nails and pins; the
reading of certain passages from the family Bible; a mighty
gesticulating with the swords, which were first thrust up the chimney
to prevent the Black Witch from coming down, and anon were pointed
earthward to hinder him from rising up; and so the ridiculous game
went on. The only person who benefited was of course the imposter, who
was paid for her services; while we may perhaps charitably hope that
her dupes also were afterwards easier in their minds. The writer adds
that many other persons besides this man at St. Brelade's, had
latterly believed themselves bewitched, and had consulted wizards, who
were thus driving a profitable trade.
Among the indications and symptoms of a witch, are reckoned various
bodily marks and spots, said to be insensible to pain (page 20),
inability to shed tears, &c. The pricking of witches was at one time a
lucrative profession both in England and Scotland, one of the most
noted prickers being a wretched imposter named Matthew Hopkins who was
sent for to all parts of the country to exercise his vile art. Ralph
Gardner, in his England's Grievance Discovered (1655), speaks also
of two prickers, Thomas Shovel and Cuthbert Nicholson, who, in 1649
and 1650, were sent by the magistrates of Newcastle-on-Tyne, into
Scotland, there to confer with another very able man in that line and
bring him back to Newcastle. They were to have twenty shillings, but
the Scotchman three pounds, per head of all they could convict, and
a free passage there and back. When these wretches got to any
town—for they tried all the chief market-towns in the district—the
crier used to go round with his bell, desiring "all people that would
bring in any complaint against any woman for a witch, they should be
sent for and tried by the person appointed." As many as thirty women
were brought at once into the Newcastle town-hall, stripped and
pricked, and twenty-seven set aside as guilty. Gardner continues:—
The said witch-finder acquainted Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson
that he knew women whether they were witches or no by their
looks; and when the said person was searching of a
personable and good-like woman, the said colonel replied and
said, 'Surely this woman is none, and need not be tried;'
but the Scotchman said she was, for the town said she was,
and therefore he would try her; and presently, in sight of
all the people, laid her body naked to the waist, with her
clothes over her head, by which fright and shame all her
blood contracted into one part of her body, and then he ran
a pin into her thigh, and then suddenly let her coats fall,
and then demanded whether she had nothing of his in her
body, but did not bleed? But she, being amazed, replied
little. Then he put his hands up her coats and pulled out
the pin, and set her aside as a guilty person and child of
the devil, and fell to try others, whom he made guilty.
Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson, perceiving the alteration of the
aforesaid woman by her blood settling in her right parts,
caused that woman to be brought again, and her clothes
pulled up to her thigh, and required the Scot to run the pin
into the same place, and then it gushed out of blood, and
the said Scot cleared her, and said she was not a child of
If this precious wretch had not been stopped he would have declared
half the women in the north country to be witches. But the magistrates
and the people got tired of him at last, and his imposture being
discovered, he was hanged in Scotland. At the gallows he confessed
that he had been the death of 220 men and women in England and
Scotland, simply for the sake of the twenty shillings which he
generally received as blood-money.
The belief in Sorcerots, or witches' spells of a peculiar kind,
mentioned in the Depositions (pages 22,
23, &c.) receives curious
modern confirmation by a kindred superstition still current among the
emancipated negroes of the United States. It was described in a letter
on "Voudouism in Virginia" which appeared in the New York Tribune,
dated Richmond, September 17, 1875. Mr. Moncure D. Conway, in quoting
this and commenting on it in his Demonology and Devil-Lore (Vol. I.
pages 68-69), says that it belongs to a class of superstitions
generally kept close from the whites, as he believes, because of their
purely African origin. Mr. Conway is, however, probably mistaken about
the origin, seeing that the same belief prevailed in Guernsey three
centuries ago. The extract from the letter is as follows:—
If an ignorant negro is smitten with a disease which he
cannot comprehend, he often imagines himself the victim of
witchcraft, and having no faith in "white folks' physic" for
such ailments, must apply to one of these quacks. A
physician residing near the city [Richmond] was invited by
such a one to witness his mode of procedure with a dropsical
patient for whom the physician in question had occasionally
charitably prescribed. Curiosity led him to attend the
seance, having previously informed the quack that since the
case was in such hands he relinquished all connection with
it. On the coverlet of the bed on which the sick man lay,
was spread a quantity of bones, feathers, and other trash.
The charlatan went through with a series of so-called
conjurations, burned feathers, hair, and tiny fragments of
wood in a charcoal furnace, and mumbled gibberish past the
physician's comprehension. He then proceeded to rip open the
pillows and bolsters, and took from them some queer
conglomerations of feathers. These he said had caused all
the trouble. Sprinkling a whitish powder over them, he burnt
them in his furnace. A black offensive smoke was produced,
and he announced triumphantly that the evil influence was
destroyed, and that the patient would surely get well. He
died not many days later, believing, in common with his
friends and relatives, that the conjurations of the "trick
doctor" had failed to save him only because resorted to too
From the above it is evident that the natural tendency of wool and
feathers to felt and clog together, has been distorted, by widely
different peoples, into an outward and visible sign that occult and
malignant influences were at work.
As to the manner in which wizards and witches were put to the question
in Guernsey—that is tortured until they confessed whatever was
required of them—Mr. Warburton, a herald and celebrated antiquary who
wrote in the reign of Charles II., has given a circumstancial account,
the correctness of which may be relied on. His Treatise on the
History, Laws and Customs of the Island of Guernsey, bears the date
of 1682, and at page 126 he says:—
By the law approved (Terrien, Lib. xii. cap. 37), torture
is to be used, though not upon slight presumption, yet where
the presumptive proof is strong, and much more when the
proof is positive, and there wants only the confession of
the party accused. Yet this practice of torturing does not
appear to have been used in the island for some ages, except
in the case of witches, when it was too frequently applied,
near a century since. The custom then was, when any person
was supposed guilty of sorcery or witchcraft, they carried
them to a place in the town called La Tour Beauregard, and
there, tying their hands behind them by the two thumbs, drew
them to a certain height with an engine made for that
purpose, by which means sometimes their shoulders were
turned round; and sometimes their thumbs torn off; but this
fancy of witches has for some years been laid aside.
It will be noticed in the subsequent Confessions of witches (page
11, &c.), that a number of colons (:) are inserted in the text where
they would not be required as ordinary marks of punctuation. These
correspond, however, to similar pauses in the original records, and
evidently indicate the successive stages by which the story was wrung
from the wretched victims. They are thus endowed with a sad and
ghastly significance, which must be borne in mind when the confessions
are read. It must also be remembered that these confessions were not
usually made in the connected form in which they stand recorded, but
were rather the result of leading questions put by the inquisitors,
such as: How old were you when the Devil first appeared to you? What
form did he assume? What parish were you in? What were you doing? &c.,
Melancholy and revolting as all this is, yet the tortures made use of
in Guernsey were far from possessing those refinements of cruelty and
that intensity of brutality which characterised the methods practiced
in some other countries. Let us take as a proof of this, the notable
case of Dr. Fian and his associates, who were tried at Edinburgh, in
the year 1591. The evidence was of the usual ridiculous kind, and a
confession—afterwards withdrawn—was extorted by the following
blood-curdling barbarities, as is quoted by Mr. C.K. Sharpe, in his
Historical Account of the Belief in Witchcraft in Scotland:—
The said Doctor was taken and imprisoned, and used with the
accustomed paine provided for those offences inflicted upon
the rest, as is aforesaid. First, by thrawing of his head
with a rope, whereat he would confesse nothing. Secondly, he
was perswaded by faire meanes to confesse his follies; but
that would prevaile as little. Lastly, hee was put to the
most severe and cruell paine in the world, called the
bootes, who, after he had received three strokes, being
inquired if he would confesse his damnable actes and wicked
life, his toong would not serve him to speak; in respect
whereof, the rest of the witches willed to search his toong,
under which was founde two pinnes thrust up into the heade,
whereupon the witches did say, now is the charme stinted,
and shewed that these charmed pins were the cause he could
not confesse any thing; then was he immediately released of
the bootes, brought before the King, his confession was
taken, and his own hand willingly set thereunto.... But this
Doctor, notwithstanding that his owne confession appeareth
remaining in recorde under his owne hande-writing, and the
same thereunto fixed in the presence of the King's majestie,
and sundrie of his councell, yet did he utterly denie the
same. Whereupon the Kinges majestie, perceiving his
stubbourne wilfulnesse, conceived and imagined that in the
time of his absence hee had entered into newe conference and
league with the devill, his master, and that hee had beene
agayne newly marked, for the which he was narrowly searched;
but it coulde not in anie wice be founde; yet, for more
tryall of him to make him confesse, hee was commaunded to
have a most straunge torment, which was done in this manner
following: His nailes upon all his fingers were riven and
pulled off with an instrument called in Scottish a turkas,
which in England wee call a payre of pincers, and under
everie nayle there was thrust in two needles over, even up
to the heads; at all which tormentes notwithstanding the
Doctor never shronke anie whit, neither woulde he then
confesse it the sooner for all the tortures inflicted upon
him. Then was hee, with all convenient speed, by
commandement, convaied againe to the torment of the bootes,
wherein he continued a long time, and did abide so many
blowes in them, that the legges were crusht and beaten
together as small as might bee, and the bones and flesh so
bruised that the blood and marrow spouted forth in great
abundance, whereby they were made unserviceable for ever;
and notwithstanding all those grievous paines and cruell
torments, hee would not confess anie thing; so deeply had
the devill entered into his heart, that hee utterly denied
all that which he had before avouched, and would saie
nothing thereunto but this, that what he had done and sayde
before, was onely done and sayde for fear of paynes which he
had endured. After this horrible treatment the wretched man
was strangled and burnt.
The following list gives a few—and only a few—of the direful results
to which this widespread superstition led. The instances are chiefly
taken from Dr. Réville's History of the Devil, and Haydn's
well-known Dictionary of Dates:—
At Toulouse a noble lady, fifty-six years of age, named
Angela de Labarète, was the first who was burnt as a
sorceress, in which special quality she formed part of the
which took place in that city in the year
1275; at Carcasonne, from 1320 to 1350, more than four
hundred executions for witchcraft are on record; in 1309
many Templars were burnt at Paris for witchcraft; Joan of
Arc was burnt as a witch at Rouen, May 30th, 1431; in 1484
Pope Innocent VIII. issued a bull against witchcraft,
causing persecutions to break out in all parts of
Christendom; during three months of the year 1515, about
five hundred witches were burnt at Geneva; in 1524 many
persons were burnt for the same crime in the Diocese of
Como; about the year 1520 a great number suffered in France,
and one sorcercer confessed to having 1,200 associates; from
1580 to 1595—a period of fifteen years—about nine hundred
witches were burnt in Lorraine; between 1627 and 1629, no
fewer than one hundred and fifty-seven persons, old and
young, and of all ranks, were burnt at Wurtzburg, in
Bavaria; in 1634 a clerk named Urbain Grandier, who was
parish priest at Loudon, was burnt on a charge of having
bewitched a whole convent of Ursuline nuns; in 1654 twenty
poor women were put to death as witches in Brittany; in
1648-9 serious disturbances on account of witchcraft took
place in Massachusetts; and in 1683 dreadful persecutions
raged in Pennsylvania from the same cause; in 1692, at
Salem, in New England, nineteen persons were hanged by the
Puritans for witchcraft, and eight more were condemned,
while fifty others confessed themselves to be witches, and
were pardoned; in 1657 the witch-judge Nicholas Remy boasted
of having burnt nine hundred persons in fifteen years; in
one German principality alone, at least two hundred and
forty-two persons were burnt between 1646 and 1651,
including many children from one to six years of age; in
1749 Maria Renata was burnt at Wurtzburg for witchcraft; on
January 17th, 1775, nine old women were burnt at Kalish, in
Poland, on a charge of having bewitched and rendered
unfruitful the lands belonging to the palatinate; at
Landshut, in Bavaria, in 1756, a young girl of thirteen
years was convicted of impure intercourse with the Devil and
put to death. There were also executions for sorcery at
Seville, in Spain, in 1781, and at Glarus, in Switzerland,
in 1783; while even as late as December 15th, 1802, five
women were condemned to death for sorcery at Patna, in the
Bengal Presidency, by the Brahmins, and were all executed.
In England the record of Witchcraft is also a
melancholy chapter. A statute was enacted declaring all
witchcraft and sorcery to be felony without benefit of
clergy, 33 Henry VIII. 1541; and again 5 Elizabeth, 1562,
and 1 James I. 1603. The 73rd Canon of the Church, 1603,
prohibits the Clergy from casting out devils. Barrington
estimates the judicial murders for witchcraft in England,
during two hundred years, at 30,000; Matthew Hopkins, the
"witch-finder," caused the judicial murder of about one
hundred persons in Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, 1645-7; Sir
Matthew Hale burnt two persons for witchcraft in 1664; about
1676 seventeen or eighteen persons were burnt as witches at
St. Osyths, in Essex; in 1705 two pretended witches were
executed at Northampton, and five others seven years
afterwards; in 1716, a Mrs. Hicks, and her daughter, a
little girl of nine years old, are said to have been hanged
as witches at Huntingdon, but of this there seems to be some
doubt. The last really authentic trial in England for
witchcraft took place in 1712, when the jury convicted an
old woman named Jane Wenham, of Walkerne, a little village
in the north of Hertfordshire, and she was sentenced to be
hanged. The judge, however, quietly procured a reprieve for
her, and a kind-hearted gentleman in the neighbourhood gave
her a cottage to live in, where she ended her days in peace.
With regard to the mobbing of reputed sorcerers, it is
recorded that in the year 1628, Dr. Lamb, a so-called
wizard, who had been under the protection of the Duke of
Buckingham, was torn to pieces by a London mob. While even
as late as April 22nd, 1751, a wild and tossing rabble of
about 5,000 persons beset and broke into the work-house at
Tring, in Hertfordshire, where seizing Luke Osborne and his
wife, two inoffensive old people suspected of witchcraft,
they ducked them in a pond till the old woman died. After
which, her corpse was put to bed to her husband by the mob,
of whom only one person—a chimney-sweeper named Colley, who
was the ringleader—was brought to trial and hanged for the
The laws against witchcraft in England had lain dormant for
many years, when an ignorant person attempted to revive them
by filing a bill against a poor old woman in Surrey, accused
as a witch; this led to the repeal of the laws by the
statute 10 George II. 1736. Credulity in witchcraft,
however, still lingers in some of the country districts of
the United Kingdom. On September 4th, 1863, a poor old
paralysed Frenchman died in consequence of having been
ducked as a wizard at Castle Hedingham, in Essex, and
similar cases have since occurred; while on September 17th,
1875,—only ten years ago—an old woman named Ann Turner,
was killed as a witch, by a half-insane man, at Long
In Scotland, thousands of persons were burnt for
witchcraft within a period of about a hundred years, in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Among the victims were
persons of the highest rank, while all orders of the state
concurred. James I. even caused a whole assize to be
prosecuted because of an acquittal; the king published his
work on Dæmonologie, in Edinburgh, in 1597; the last
sufferer for witchcraft in Scotland was at Dornoch, in 1722.
CONFESSIONS OF WITCHES UNDER TORTURE.
LE 4 JUILLET 1617.
Devant Amice de Carteret,
Ecuyer, Baillif, présents, etc.
SENTENCE DE MORT.
Collette Du Mont, veuve de Jean Becquet, Marie, sa
fille, femme de Pierre Massy, Isbel Bequet, femme de Jean Le
Moygne, etant par la coutume renommée et bruit des gens de longue main du
bruit de damnable art de Sorcellerie, et icelles sur ce saisies et apprehendées
par les Officiers de Sa Majesté, apres s'etre volontairement sumis et sur
l'enquete generale du pays, et apres avoir été plusieurs fois conduites en
Justice, ouïes, examinées et confrontées sur un grand nombre de depositions
faites et produites à l'encontre d'elles par les dits Officiers, par lesquels
est clair et evident qu'auraient, par longeur d'années, le susdit diabolique art
de Sorcellerie, par avoir non seulement jété leur sort sur des choses
insensible, mais aussi tenu en langueur par maladies etranges plusieurs
personnes et betes, et aussi cruellement meurti grand nombre d'hommes, femmes,
et enfans, et fait mourir plusieurs animaux, recordés aux informations sur ce
faites, s'ensuit qu'elles sont plainement convaincues et atteintes d'etre
Sorcieres. Pour reparation duquel crime a eté dit par la Cour que lesdites
femmes seront presentement conduites la halte au col au lieu de supplice
accoutumé, et par l'Officier criminel attachées à un poteau, pendues,
etranglées, osciées, et brulées, jusqu'à ce que leur chairs et ossements soient
reduits en cendres, et leurs cendres eparcées; et sont tous les biens, meubles,
et heritages, si aucun en ont acquit, à Sa Majesté. Pour leur faire confesser
leurs complices, qu'elles seront mises à la question en Justice avant que d'etre
Before Amice de Carteret,
Esq., Bailiff, and the Jurats.
JULY 4th, 1617.
SENTENCE OF DEATH.
Collette du Mont, widow of Jean Becquet; Marie, her
daughter, wife of Pierre Massy; and Isabel Becquet, wife of
Jean Le Moygne, being by common rumour and report for a long time past
addicted to the damnable art of Witchcraft, and the same being thereupon seized
and apprehended by the Officers of His Majesty [James I.], after voluntarily
submitting themselves, both upon the general inquest of the country, and after
having been several times brought up before the Court, heard, examined, and
confronted, upon a great number of depositions made and produced before the Court by the said Officers; from which it is clear and evident
that for many years past the aforesaid women have practiced the diabolical art
of Witchcraft, by having not only cast their spells upon inanimate objects, but
also by having retained in languor through strange diseases, many persons and
beasts; and also cruelly hurt a great number of men, women, and children, and
caused the death of many animals, as recorded in the informations thereupon
laid, it follows that they are clearly convicted and proved to be Witches. In
expiation of which crime it has been ordered by the Court that the said women
shall be presently conducted, with halters about their necks, to the usual place
of punishment, and shall there be fastened by the Executioner to a gallows, and
be hanged, strangled, killed, and burnt, until their flesh and bones are reduced
to ashes, and the ashes shall be scattered; and all their goods, chattels, and
estates, if any such exist, shall be forfeited to His Majesty. In order to make
them disclose their accomplices, they shall be put to the question before the
Court, previous to being executed.
Sentence de mort ayant esté prononcée à l'encontre de Collette Du
Mont, veuve de Jean Becquet, Marie, sa fille, femme de Pierre
Massy, et Isbel Becquet, femme de Jean Le Moygne, auroyent
icelles confessé comme suit:—
CONFESSION DE COLLETTE DU MONT.
Premier, la diste Collette immediatement appres la dyte sentence
donnée, et avant que de sortir de l'auditoire, a librement recognu
qu'elle estoit Sorciere; toutesfois ne voulant particularizer les
crimes qu'auroit commis a esté conduite avec les autres en la Maison
de la Question, et la dite question luy estant applicquée, a confessé
qu'elle estoit encore jeune lors que le Diable en forme de chat:
s'aparut à elle: en la Paroisse de Torteval: lors qu'elle retournoit
de son bestiall, estant encore jour, et qu'il print occasion de la
seduire, par l'inciter à se venger d'un de ses voisins avec lequell
elle estoit pour lors en querelle pour quelque domage qu'elle auroit
receu par les bestes d'yceluy; que depuis lors qu'elle avoit eu
querelle avec quelcun, ill se representoit à elle en la susdite forme:
et quelquefois en forme de chien: l'induisant à se venger de ceux
contre lesquels elle estoit faschée: la persuadant de faire mourir des
personnes et bestes.
Que le Diable l'estant venue querir pour aller au Sabat, l'appelloit
sans qu'on s'en apperceust: et luy bailloit ung certain onguent noir,
duquel (appres s'etre despouillée) elle se frotoit le dos, ventre et
estomac: et s'estant revestuë, sortoit hors son huis, lors estoit
incontinent emportée par l'air d'une grande vitesse: et se trouvoit a
l'instant au lieu du Sabat, qui estoit quelquefois pres le cimetiere
de la paroisse: et quelques autres fois pres le rivage de la mer, aux
environs du Chateau de Rocquaine: là où estant arivée s'y rencontroit
souvent quinze ou saize Sorciers et Sorcieres avec les Diables, qu'y
estoient là en forme de chiens, chats, et lievres: lesquels Sorciers
et Sorcieres elle n'a peu recognoistre, parce qu'ils estoyent tous
noircis et deffigurés: bien est vray avoir ouy le Diable les evocquer
par leur noms, et se souvaient entre autres de la Fallaise, et de la
Hardie; dit confesse qu'a l'entrée du Sabath: le Diable les voulant
esvosquer commencoit par elle quelquefois. Que sa fille Marie, femme
de Massy, à present condamnée pour pareill crime, est Sorciere: et
qu'elle la menée par deux fois au Sabath avec elle: ne scait par où le
Diable la merchée: qu'au Sabath appres avoir adoré le Diable, lequell
se tenoit debout sur ses pieds de derriere, ils avoient copulation
avec luy en forme de chien; puis dansoyent dos a dos. Et appres avoir
dansé, beuvoyent du vin (ne scait de quelle couleur), que le Diable
versoit hors d'un pot en ung gobelet d'argent ou d'estrain; lequell
vin ne luy sembloit sy bon que celuy qu'on boit ordinarement;
mangeoist aussy du pain blanc quj leur presentoit—n'a jamais veu de
sell au Sabath.
Confesse que le Diable luy avoit donné charge d'appeler en passant
Isebell le Moygne: lors quelle viendroit au Sabath, ce qu'elle a
fait diverses fois. Qu'au partir du Sabath le Diable l'incitoit à
perpetrer plusieurs maux: et pour cest effect luy bailloit certaines
pouldres noires, qu'il lui commandoit de ietter sur telles personnes
et bestes qu'elle voudroit; avec laquelle pouldre elle a perpetré
plusieurs maux desquels ne se souvient: entres autres en ietta sur
Mes Dolbell, ministre de la paroisse: et fut occasion de sa mort
par ce moyen. Par ceste mesme pouldre ensorcela la femme de Jean
Maugues: toutesfois nie qu'elle soit morte par son sort: qu'elle
toucha par le costé, et ietta de ceste pouldre sur la femme defuncte
de Mr Perchard, successeur ministre du dit Dolbell, en ycelle
paroisse, ycelle estant pour lors enceinte, tellement qu'elle la fist
mourir et son fruit—ne scait quelle occasion luy fut donnée par la
Que sur le refus que la femme de Collas Tottevin luy fist de luy
donner du laict: elle fist assecher sa vache, en iettant sur ycelle de
ceste pouldre: laquelle vache elle regarit par appres en luy faisant
manger du son, et de l'herbe terrestre que le Diable lui bailla.
Sentence of Death having been pronounced against Collette Du Mont,
widow of Jean Becquet; Marie, her daughter, wife of Pierre
Massy; and Isabel Becquet, wife of Jean Le Moygne; the same have
confessed as follows:—
CONFESSION OF COLLETTE DU MONT.
First, the said Collette immediately after the said sentence was
pronounced, and before leaving the Court, freely admitted that she was
a Witch; at the same time, not wishing to specify the crimes which she
had committed, she was taken, along with the others, to the Torture
Chamber, and the said question being applied to her, she confessed
that she was quite young when the Devil, in the form of a cat:
appeared to her: in the Parish of Torteval: as she was returning from
her cattle, it being still daylight, and that he took occasion to lead
her astray by inciting her to avenge herself on one of her neighbours,
with whom she was then at enmity, on account of some damage which she
had suffered through the cattle of the latter; that since then when
she had a quarrel with anyone, he appeared to her in the aforesaid
form: and sometimes in the form of a dog: inducing her to take
vengence upon those who had angered her: persuading her to cause the
death of persons and cattle.
That the Devil having come to fetch her that she might go to the
Sabbath, called for her without anyone perceiving it: and gave her a
certain black ointment with which (after having stripped herself), she
rubbed her back, belly and stomach: and then having again put on her
clothes, she went out of her door, when she was immediately carried
through the air at a great speed: and she found herself in an instant
at the place of the Sabbath, which was sometimes near the parochial
burial-ground: and at other times near the seashore in the
neighbourhood of Rocquaine Castle: where, upon arrival, she met often
fifteen or sixteen Wizards and Witches with the Devils who were there
in the form of dogs, cats, and hares: which Wizards and Witches she
was unable to recognise, because they were all blackened and
disfigured: it was true, however, that she had heard the Devil summon
them by their names, and she remembered among others those of
Fallaise and Hardie; confessed that on entering the Sabbath: the
Devil wishing to summon them commenced with her sometimes. Admitted
that her daughter Marie, wife of Massy, now condemned for a
similar crime, was a Witch: and that she took her twice to the Sabbath
with her: at the Sabbath, after having worshipped the Devil, who used
to stand up on his hind legs, they had connection with him under the
form of a dog; then they danced back to back. And after having danced,
they drank wine (she did not know what colour it was), which the Devil
poured out of a jug into a silver or pewter goblet; which wine did not
seem to her so good as that which was usually drunk; they also ate
white bread which he presented to them—she had never seen any salt at
Confessed that the Devil had charged her to call, as she passed, for
Isabel le Moygne: when she came to the Sabbath, which she had done
several times. On leaving the Sabbath the Devil incited her to commit
various evil deeds: and to that effect he gave her certain black
powders, which he ordered her to throw upon such persons and cattle as
she wished; with this powder she perpetrated several wicked acts which
she did not remember: among others she threw some upon Mr Dolbell,
parish minister: and was the occasion of his death by these means.
With this same powder she bewitched the wife of Jean Maugues: but
denied that the woman's death was caused by it: she also touched on
the side, and threw some of this powder over the deceased wife of Mr
Perchard, the minister who succeeded the said Dolbell in the
parish, she being enceinte at the time, and so caused the death of
her and her infant—she did not know that the deceased woman had given
her any cause for doing so.
Upon the refusal of the wife of Collas Tottevin to give her some
milk: she caused her cow to dry up, by throwing upon it some of this
powder: which cow she afterwards cured again by making it eat some
bran, and some terrestrial herb that the Devil gave her.
CONFESSION DE MARIE BECQUET.
Marie, femme de Pierre Massy, appres sentence de mort prononcée a
l'encontre d'elle, ayant esté mise a la question, a confessé qu'elle
est Sorciere; et qu'à la persuation du Diable, quj s'aparut à elle en
forme de chien: elle se donna à luy: que lors que se donna à luy ill
la print de sa patte par la main: qu'elle s'est oint du mesme onguent
que sa mere s'oignoit: et a esté au Sabath sur la banque pres du
Chateau de Rocquaine, avec luy, où n'y avoit que le Diable et elle, se
luy sembloit: en la susdite forme en laquelle elle la veu plusieurs
fois. A été aussi au Sabath une fois entre autres en la ruë, Collas
Tottevin; que toutes les fois qu'elle alloit au Sabath le Diable la
venant querir luy sembloit qu'il la transformait en chienne; dit que
sur le rivage, pres du dit Rocquaine: le Diable, en forme de chien,
ayant eu copulation avec elle, luy donnoit du pain et du vin, qu'elle
mangeoit et beuvoit.
Que le Diable luy bailloit certaines pouldres: lesquelles pouldres ill
luy mettoit dans la main, pour ietter sur ceux qu'il luy commanderoit:
qu'elle en a ietté par son commandement sur des personnes et bestes:
notament sur l'enfant Pierre Brehaut. Item, sur la femme Jean
Bourgaize lors qu'estoit enciente. Item, sur l'enfant Leonard le
CONFESSION OF MARIE BECQUET.
Marie, wife of Pierre Massy, after sentence of death had been
pronounced against her, having been put to the question, confessed
that she was a Witch; and that at the persuasion of the Devil, who
appeared to her in the form of a dog: she gave herself to him: that
when she gave herself to him he took her by the hand with his paw:
that she used to anoint herself with the same ointment as her mother
used: and had been to the Sabbath upon the bank near Rocquaine Castle
with her, where there was no one but the Devil and her as it seemed:
in the aforesaid form in which she had seen him several times: She was
also at the Sabbath on one occasion among others in the road near
Collas Tottevin's; every time that she went to the Sabbath, the
Devil came to her, and it seemed as though he transformed her into a
female dog; she said that upon the shore, near the said Rocquaine: the
Devil, in the form of a dog, having had connection with her, gave her
bread and wine, which she ate and drank.
The Devil gave her certain powders: which powders he put into her
hand, for her to throw upon those whom he ordered her: she threw some
of them by his orders upon persons and cattle: notably upon the child
of Pierre Brehaut. Item, upon the wife of Jean Bourgaize, while
she was enceinte. Item, upon the child of Leonard le Messurier.
CONFESSION D'ISABEL BECQUET.
Isebelle, femme de Jean de Moygne, ayant esté mise a la question,
a tout aussytost confessé qu'elle est Sorciere: et que sur ce qu'elle
tomba en querelle avec la Girarde, sa belle-soeur: le Diable en
forme de lievre print occasion de la seduire: se representant à elle
en plain jour dans une ruë pres de sa maison: et la persuadant et
incitant de se donner à luy: et que l'aideroit à se venger de la dite
Girarde et de tous aultres: à laquelle persuation n'ayant icelle à
l'instant voulu condescendre: aussy tout disparut: mais incontinent
luy vint derechef au devant en la mesme ruë, et poursuyvant sa
premiere pointe: l'exhortoit aux mesmes fins que dessus: cela fait,
ill la laissa et se retira, apres luy avoir, au prealable, mis une
pochée de pasnés; qu'elle portoit pour lors, une certaine pouldre
noire envelopée dans ung linge qu'il mist: laquelle pouldre elle
retint par devers soy. S'aparut à elle une autre fois en mesme forme
au territoire de la ville, l'incitant dereschef à se donner à luy, à
quoy ne voulant icelle condescendre luy fist adonc requeste de luy
donner une beste vive: lors de ce pas revint ches elle querir ung
poullet, qu'elle luy apporta au mesme lieu où l'avoit laissé, lequell
ill print: et appres l'avoir remerecie luy donna assignation de se
trouver le lendemain avant jour au Sabath, avec promesse qu'il
l'enverroit querir: suivant laquelle promesse, estant la nuittée
ensuivant, la vielle Collette du Mont venant la querir, lui bailla
de l'onguent noir qu'elle avoit eu du Diable; duquell (apprès s'estre
despouillée) s'oignit le dos, et le ventre, puis s'estant revestuë,
sortit l'huis de sa maison: lors fut à l'instant enlevée: et
transportée au travers hayes et buissons, pres la banque sur le bord
de la mer, aux environs du Chasteau de Rocquaine, lieu ordinaire où le
Diable gardoit son Sabath; là où ne fut sytost arivée, que le Diable
ne vint la trouver en forme de chien avec deux grandes cornes dressées
en hault: et de l'une de ses pattes (qui lui sembloyent comme mains),
la print par la main: et l'appellant par son nom, luy dist qu'estoit
la bien venuë: lors aussytost le Diable la fist mettre sur ses genoux:
luy se tenant debout sur ses pieds de derrière; luy ayant fait
detester l'Esternelle en ses mots: Je renie Dieu le Pere, Dieu le
Fils et Dieu le St. Esprit; se fist adorer et invocquer en ses
termes: Nostre Grand Maistre aide nous! avec paction expresse
d'adherer à luy; que cela fait, ill ont copulation avec elle en la
susdite forme de chien, ung peu plus grand: puis elle et les aultres
danserent avec luy dos à dos: qu'apres avoir dansé, le Diable versoit
hors d'un pot du vin noir, qu'il leur presentoit dans une escuelle de
bois, duquell elle beut, toutesfois ne luy sembloit sy bon que le vin
quj se boit ordinairement: qu'il y avoit du pain—mais n'en mangea
point: confesse qu'elle se donna lors à luy pour ung mois: ainsy
retournerent du Sabath comme y estoyent allés.
Que seconde fois fut au Sabath, apres que la vielle Collette l'eut
esté querir et qu'elle se fist oindre d'onguent cy dessus;—declare
qu'à l'entree du Sabath eut dereschef copulation avec le Diable, et
dansa avec luy; appres avoir dansé, à sa solicitation de prolonger le
temps, se donna à luy pour trois ans; qu'au Sabath le Diable faisoit
evocation des Sorciers et Sorcieres par ordre (se souvient tresbien y
avoir ouy le Diable appeller la vielle Collette, la premiere, en ces
termes: Madame la Vielle Becquette); puis la Fallaise; appres la
Hardie. Item, Marie, femme de Massy, fille de la dite
Collette. Dit appres eux, elle mesme estoit evosquée par le Diable,
en ses termes: La Petite Becquette; qu'elle y a ouy aussy evosquer
Collas Becquet, fils de la dit vielle (lequell la tenoit par la main
en dansant, et une que ne cognoist la tenoit par l'autre main): qu'il
y en avoit viron six autres que ne cognoissoit: que la dite vielle
estoit tousjours proche du Diable: que quelque fois tandis que les uns
dansoyent les autres avoyent copulation avec les Diables en forme de
chien: et estoyent au Sabath viron trois ou quatre heures, non plus.
Qu'estant au Sabath le Diable la mercha en haut de la cuisse: laquelle
merche ayant esté reuisitée par les sage femmes, ont raporté avoir mis
dedans une petite espingue bien avant, qu'elle n'a point senty, et
n'en est sorty aulcuns sang; ne scait par ou le Diable a merche les
autres: que les premiers venues au lieu du Sabath attendoyent les
autres; et apparoissoyent tous les Sorciers et Sorcieres en leur
propre formes: toutesfois noircis et defficgurés, et ne les pouvoit en
Que le Diable apparoissoit quelque fois en forme de boucq au Sabath;
ne la veu en autres formes; qu'au departir, ill se faisoit baiser la
derriere, leur demandant quant reviendroyent: les exhortoit qu'eussent
à adherer tousiours a luy: et faire des maux, et pour cest effet leur
bailloit certaines pouldres noires envelopées dans ung drapeau, pour
en ietter sur ceux qu'ils vouloyent ensorcerer: qu'au departir du
Sabath le Diable s'en alloit d'un coste et eux de l'autre: appres les
avoir toutes prinses par la main: Qu'à l'instigation du Diable elle en
a jetté sur plusieurs personnes et bestes: notament sur Jean Jehan,
lors qu'il vint chez elle querir ung pourceau. Item, sur l'enfant
James Gallienne, et sur aultres: Item, sur les bestes de Brouart
Que c'estoit le Diable qui fut veu ches le susdit Gallienne, en
forme de rat et bellette, ycelle estant pour lors aux environs de la
maison du dit Gallienne, et s'estant venu rendre à elle en
resemblance d'homme, la frapa de plusieurs coups par le visage et
teste: dont estoit ainsy meurdie et deschirée lors que fut veüe le
lendemain par Thomas Sohier. Et croit que la cause de ce
maltraitement fut pour ce que ne voulut aller avec le Diable chez le
Qu'elle n'alloit point au Sabath sinon lors que son mary estoit
demeuré la nuict en pescherie à la mer.
Que lors qu'elle vouloit ensorceler quelcun, sa poudre estant faillie,
le Diable s'aparoissoit à elle, luy disant qu'allast en querir en tell
endroit qu'il luy nommoit, ce qu'elle faisoit, et ne falloit d'y en
CONFESSION OF ISABEL BECQUET.
Isabel, wife of Jean le Moygne, having been put to the question,
at once confessed that she was a Witch: and that upon her getting into
a quarrel with the woman Girarde, who was her sister-in-law: the
Devil, in the form of a hare, took occasion to tempt her: appearing to
her in broad daylight in a road near her house: and persuading and
inciting her to give herself to him: and that he would help her to
avenge herself on the said Girarde, and everybody else: to which
persuasion she would not at the moment condescend to yield: so he at
once disappeared: but very soon he came again to her in the same road,
and pursuing his previous argument: exhorted her in the same terms as
above: that done, he left her and went away, after having previously
put her a sackful of parsnips; she then took a certain black powder
wrapped in a cloth which he placed; which powder she kept by her. He
appeared to her another time under the same form in the town district,
inciting her anew to give herself to him, but she not wishing to
comply, he next made a request to her to give him some living animal:
whereupon she returned to her dwelling and fetched a chicken, which
she carried to him to the same place where she had left him, and he
took it: and after having thanked her he made an appointment for her
to be present the next morning before daylight at the Sabbath,
promising that he would send for her: according to which promise,
during the ensuing night, the old woman Collette du Mont, came to
fetch her, and gave her some black ointment, which she had had from
the Devil; with this (after having stripped herself) she anointed her
back and belly, then having dressed herself again she went out of her
house door: when she was instantly caught up: and carried across
hedges and bushes to the bank on the sea shore, in the neighbourhood
of Rocquaine Castle, the usual place where the Devil kept his Sabbath;
no sooner had she arrived there than the Devil came to her in the
form of a dog, with two great horns sticking up: and with one of his
paws (which seemed to her like hands) took her by the hand: and
calling her by her name told her that she was welcome: then
immediately the Devil made her kneel down: while he himself stood up
on his hind legs; he then made her express detestation of the Eternal
in these words: I renounce God the Father, God the Son, and God the
Holy Ghost; and then caused her to worship and invoke himself in
these terms: Our Great Master, help us! with a special compact to be
faithful to him; and when this was done he had connection with her in
the aforesaid form of a dog, but a little larger: then she and the
others danced with him back to back: after having danced, the Devil
poured out of a jug some black wine, which he presented to them in a
wooden bowl, from which she drank, but it did not seem to her so good
as the wine which is usually drunk: there was also bread—but she did
not eat any: confessed that she gave herself to him for a month: they
returned from the Sabbath in the same manner that they went there.
The second time she was at the Sabbath was after the old woman
Collette had been to fetch her, and she anointed herself with the
ointment as above stated;—declared, that on entering the Sabbath, she
again had connection with the Devil and danced with him; after having
danced, and upon his solicitation to prolong the time, she gave
herself to him for three years; at the Sabbath the Devil used to
summon the Wizards and Witches in regular order (she remembered very
well having heard him call the old woman Collette the first, in
these terms: Madame the Old Woman Becquette): then the woman
Fallaise; and afterwards the woman Hardie. Item, he also called
Marie, wife of Massy, and daughter of the said Collette. Said
that after them, she herself was called by the Devil: in these terms:
The Little Becquette: she also heard him call there Collas
Becquet, son of the said old woman (who [Collas] held her by the
hand in dancing, and someone [a woman] whom she did not know, held her
by the other hand): there were about six others there she did not
know: the said old woman was always the nearest to the Devil:
occasionally while some were dancing, others were having connection
with the Devils in the form of dogs; they remained at the Sabbath
about three or four hours, not more.
While at the Sabbath the Devil marked her at the upper part of the
thigh: which mark having been examined by the midwives, they reported
that they had stuck a small pin deeply into it, and that she had not
felt it, and that no blood had issued: she did not know in what part
the Devil had marked the others: those who came first to the place of
the Sabbath, waited for the others; and all the Wizards and Witches
appeared in their proper forms: but blackened and disfigured so that
they could not be recognised.
The Devil appeared sometimes in the form of a goat at the Sabbath;
never saw him in other forms: on their departure he made them kiss him
behind, and asked them when they would come again: he exhorted them
always to be true to him: and to do evil deeds, and to this end he
gave them certain black powders, wrapped in a cloth, for them to throw
upon those whom they wished to bewitch: on leaving the Sabbath, the
Devil went away in one direction and they in the other: after he had
taken them all by the hand: At the instigation of the Devil she threw
some of the powder over several persons and cattle: notably over
Jean Jehan, when he came to her house to look for a pig. Item, over
the child of James Gallienne, and over others. Item, over the cattle
of Brouart, and of others.
It was the Devil that was seen at the said Gallienne's house in the
form of a rat and a weazle, she herself being then in the
neighbourhood of Gallienne's house, and he [the Devil] came to her
in the form of a man, and struck her several blows on the face and
head: by which she was bruised and torn in the way that she was seen
the next day by Thomas Sohier. And she believed that the cause of
this maltreatment was because she would not go with the Devil to the
house of the said Gallienne.
She never went to the Sabbath except when her husband remained all
night fishing at sea.
Whenever she wanted to bewitch anyone and her powder happened to have
been all used up, the Devil appeared to her and told her to go to such
a place, which he named, for some more, and when she did so, she never
failed to find it there.
DEPOSITIONS CONTRE COLLAS BECQUET.
Le xvij Mai 1617.
Susanne Le Tellier, veufve de Pierre Rougier, depose que son mary
estant decedé, trouva des sorcerots en son lict; et qu'en son djt lict
mortuaire, il se plaignoit esté ensorcelé par Collas Becquet, avec
lequel avoit eu dispute, sur laquelle dispute luy dyt que s'en
repentiroit; et la dessus fut prins de m...[A] duquel fut douze jours
malade; qu'ils trouverent quarante-quatre sorcerots en l'oreiller de
son enfant, que les uns estoyent fait comme herissons, les autres
comme pommes, et les autres plats comme la rouelle de la main; et du
fill de chanvre entortillé avec de plumes.
Susanne, femme de Jean Le Messurier, depose que son mary et
Collas Becquet plaiderent à jour passé ensemble; qu'allors ils
avoyent ung enfant ayant de viron six semaines, et comme elle le
despouilloit au soir, pour le coucher, il tomba sur l'estomac du djt
enfant une beste noire laquelle fondit si tost que fut tombée,
d'aultant qu'elle fist debvoir de la rechercher et ne peut jamais
apercevoir qu'elle devint; incontinent l'enfant fut prins de mal et ne
voulu teter, mais fut fort tormenté; que s'estant avisée de regarder
dans l'oreiller du djt enfant y trouverent des sorcerots cousus de
fil, et les ayant tirés et bien espluché la plume de l'oreiller, y
regarda sept jours appres et y entrouva derechef avec une febve noire
percée; dequoy, ayant le djt Becquet ouy qu'il en estoit suspecté,
sa femme vint ches la deposante comme le djt Becquet estoit à la
mer, et luy djt qu'à raison du bruit que la deposante avoit sucité sur
son mary, iceluy Becquet fuetteroit le djt Mesurier, son mary, et
elle, et les tueroit; qu'apres cela la deposante fut ches eux leur
dire que ne les craignoit, ny luy ny elle, de ce qu'ils la menacoyent
de tuer son mary et elle; qu'ayant la deposante un jour six grands
poulets qui couroyent appres leur mere, ils sortirent de leur maison
et revinent au soir; et un à un se mirent a saulter en hault contre la
cheminée et manget la scie, qu'ils moururent tous un à un, à voy
...[B] comme ils sautoyent, jusques au dernier qui dura en vie jusqu'à
une heure devant le jour qu'il mourut; que depuis que l'eurent declare
à Mr Deljsle et les eut menacés, il a amendé à son enfant et se
Collas Rougier depose que son frere Piere Rougier en mourant
chargeoit Collas Becquet de sa mort.
Collas Hugues raport qu'estant en une nopsce y survint Collas
Becquet jouet avec sa belle-fille, laquelle le rebouta; et des le
mesme soir elle fut frapée de telle facon qu'on pensoit qu'elle
mourust à chacune heure; qu'elle est demeurée mechaignée de coste, et
trouva un des sorcerots en son lict, qui pour lors furent monstrés à
Messrs de Justice qui estoyent à tenir des veues à St. Pierre; que
la djte fille tomboit quelque fois y terre toute aveuglée.
La femme du djt Hugues depose tout de mesme que son mary.
Jean De Garis, fils Guillaume, depose qu'il y a viron deux ou
trois ans qu'ayant presté quelque argent sur un gage à Collas
Becquet, luy demandant son argent, ou qu'il feroit ventiller son
gage; luy repartit le djt Becquet à feray donc ventiller autre
chose; qu'estant le djt de Garis arivé en sa maison, trouva la fille
malade et affligée; qu'ils trouverent des sorcerots et aultres
brouilleries par plusieurs fois à l'oreiller de leur enfant; mais que
la mere du djt Becquet estant venue en la maison du djt de Garis,
luy donna à boire de l'eau et la moitié d'un pain comme avoit esté
conseillé de faire; depuis ne trouverent plus rien à l'oreiller du djt
enfant; toutesfois pour eviter les djts sorcerots, ont toujours depuis
couché leur enfant sur la paille; croit que ce mal leur ariva par leur
Mr Thomas de Ljsle depose que Thomas Brouart, qui demeure en sa
maison, ayant appellé le fils de Collas Becquet, sorcier, il arriva
qu'il fut un jour trouvé au lict du djt Thomas grand nombre de vers,
et les ayant le djt Sieur de Ljsle veus, les jugea comme une
formioniere, tant estoyent mouvans et espais, et à peine en peuvent
vuider le dit enfant, l'ayant mis en plusieurs endroits; qu'appres fut
le djt enfant accueillis de poulx de telle maniere que quoyque luy
changeassent des chemises et habits tous les jours ne l'en pouvoyent
franchir; et qu'ayant le djt Thomas Brouart un corset tout neuf, fut
tellement couvert de poulx qu'on n'auroit peu cognoistre le drap, et
fut contraint le faire jetter parmy les choux; surquoy fait menacer
aultre Massi de la batre si elle ne s'abstenoit d'ainsy traiter son
enfant; qu'estant revenu trouva le djt corset parmis les choux denue
de poulx, lesquels du depuis ont quitté le djt Brouart.
Jacques le Mesurier depose qu'il y a viron deux ou trois ans qu'il
rencontra Collas Becquet et Perot Massi, quj avoyent du poisson,
et d'aultant qu'ils lui debvoyent de l'argent, il voulut prendre de
leur poisson à rabatre, mais ne luy en voulant bailler, eurent quelque
dispute; sur quoy l'un des djts Becquet ou Massi le menacerent
qu'il s'en repentiroit; qu'au bout de deux ou trois jours il fut saisi
d'un mal que le brusloit, et quelques fois devenoit tout morfondu,
sans qu'on le peust eschauffer, et sans aulcune relache; qu'il fut en
ces tourments pres d'un mois. Collas Becquet entendit que le
deposant le chargeoit d'estre causte de son mal, et menacoit qu'il
tueroit le djt deposant; mais bientost appres fut le djt deposant
guery; dit de cuider et de croire les djts Becquet et Massy, ou un
d'iceux, fut cause de son mal.
DEPOSITIONS AGAINST COLLAS BECQUET.
MAY 17, 1617.
Susanne Le Tellier, widow of Pierre Rougier, deposed that after
her husband was dead she found witches' spells in his bed; and that
while he was upon his said deathbed he complained of being bewitched
by Collas Becquet, with whom he had had a quarrel, and who during
the quarrel told him he would repent of it; whereupon he was taken
with ...[C], whereof he was ill for twelve days; they also found
forty-four witches' spells in her child's pillow, some of which were
made like hedgehogs, others round like apples, and others again flat
like the palm of the hand; and they were of hempen thread twisted with
Susanne, wife of Jean Le Messurier, deposed that her husband and
Collas Becquet had angry words together one day; they had an infant
about six weeks old, and as she was undressing it in the evening to
put it to bed, there fell upon the stomach of the said infant, a
black beast which melted away as soon as it fell, so that although she
carefully sought for it, she could never discover what had become of
it; immediately afterwards the infant was taken ill and would not
suck, but was much tormented; being advised to look into the said
infant's pillow, she found there several witches' spells sewn with
thread; these she took out and carefully dressed all the feathers in
the pillow; yet when she examined it again a week afterwards, she
found there a black bean with a hole in it; of which, the said
Becquet hearing that he was suspected, his wife came to witness's
house while the said Becquet was at sea, and told her that on
account of the rumour which witness had raised about her husband, he
the said Becquet would thrash the said Messurier, her husband, and
herself, and would kill them; after that, witness went to their house
to say they were not afraid either of him or her, or of their threats
to kill her husband and her; witness had six big chickens which ran
after their mother, going out of the house in the morning and
returning at night; and one by one they began to jump up against the
chimney and eat the soot, so that they all died one after the other,
...[D] as they jumped, until the last one which remained alive up to
one hour of daybreak, when it died; after they had told this to Mr.
de Lisle, and he had threatened the people, her infant recovered and
Collas Rougier deposed that his brother Pierre Rougier when dying
charged Collas Becquet with causing his death.
Collas Hugues reported that being at a wedding, Collas Becquet
arrived there, and began to toy with his daughter-in-law, who repelled
his advances; the very same evening she was taken ill in such a manner
that they thought she would have died from one hour to another;
besides which she remained under the charm, and they found one of the
witches' spells in her bed, which was shown to the Members of the
Court, who were making an inspection at St. Peter's; the said girl
sometimes fell to the ground quite blinded.
The wife of the said Hugues deposed to exactly the same as her
Jean de Garis, son of William, deposed that about two or three
years ago, having lent some money on pledge to Collas Becquet, he
asked him for the money, or else for a verification of his security;
when the said Becquet replied that he would let him know what his
security was; the said de Garis having then returned home, found his
daughter sick and afflicted; they found witches' spells and other
conjurations several times in their child's pillow; but the mother of
the said Becquet having come to the said de Garis's house, he gave
her a drink of water and half-a-loaf of bread, as he had been advised
to do; since which time they had found nothing more in the child's
pillow; however to avoid all risk of the said witches' spells they had
always since then let their child sleep upon straw; he fully believed
that this evil had come upon them by their means.
Mr. Thomas de Lisle deposed that Thomas Brouart, who resided in
his house, having called the son of Collas Becquet a wizard, it
happened that there was one day found in the said Thomas's bed a
great number of maggots, which the said Sieur de Lisle saw, and
compared to an ant-hill, so lively and thick were they, and they could
hardly clear the said child of them, although they put it in different
places; afterwards the said child gathered lice in such a manner that
although its shirts and clothes were changed every day they could not
free it; the said Thomas Brouart also had a brand new vest, which
was so covered with lice that it was impossible to see the cloth, and
he was compelled to have it thrown among the cabbages; upon which he
went and threatened Massi's wife that he would beat her if she did
not abstain from thus treating his child; and on returning he found
the said vest among the cabbages clear of lice, which had also since
then quitted the said Brouart.
Jacques le Mesurier deposed that about two or three years ago he met
Collas Becquet and Perot Massi, who had some fish and who moreover
owed him money; he wished to take some of their fish at a reduced
price, but they would not agree to it, and they quarrelled; whereupon
one of the two, either Becquet or Massi, threatened him that he
would repent of it; and at the end of two or three days, he was seized
with a sickness in which he first burnt like fire and then was
benumbed with cold so that nothing would warm him, and this without
any cessation; he suffered in this way for nearly a month. Collas
Becquet heard that witness charged him with being the cause of his
sickness, and he threatened that he would kill witness; but very soon
afterwards the said witness was cured; and he affirms and believes
that the said Becquet and Massy, or one of them, was the cause of
NOTE ON THE GUERNSEY RECORDS.
The Records at the Guernsey Greffe, from which the foregoing
confessions and depositions have been transcribed, and whence the
following list of accusations is compiled, are of a very voluminous
character. In fact there is enough matter in them, connected with
Witchcraft alone, to fill at least a couple of thick octavo volumes.
There is, however, so much sameness in the different cases, and such a
common tradition running through the whole, that the present excerpts
give a very fair idea of the features which characterise the mass.
While some of these Records are tolerably complete, the greater part
of them unfortunately are fragmentary and imperfect. The books in
which they were originally written seem to have been formed of a few
sheets of paper stitched together. Then at some later period a number
of these separate sections—in a more or less tattered condition—were
gathered into volumes and bound together in vellum. It is evident,
however, that very little care was exercised in their arrangement in
chronological order. The consequence is that one portion of a trial
sometimes occurs in one part of a volume, and the rest in another
part; sometimes the depositions alone seem to have been preserved;
sometimes the confessions; while in many cases the sentences
pronounced are all that can now be discovered. Nevertheless these old
Records enshrine much that is interesting, and very well deserve a
more exhaustive analysis than they have ever yet received. There are
also in the margins of these volumes, scores of pen-and-ink sketches
of a most primitive description, depicting the carrying out of the
various rigours of the law. Rough and uncouth as these illustrations
are, they nevertheless possess a good deal of graphic significance,
and I hope to reproduce some of them in facsimile, in a future
publication. They represent, for instance, culprits hanging on the
gallows—sometimes two or three in a row—with a fire kindled
underneath; others attached to stakes in the midst of the flames;
others, again, racing away under the lash of the executioner, &c.,
&c., and thus form a most realistic comment on the judicial severities
recorded in the text.
WITCHCRAFT TRIALS IN GUERNSEY,
From 1563 to 1634, a period of 71 years.
Helier Gosselin, Bailiff, 1550-1563.
November 19th, 1563.
Collette Salmon, wife of Collas Dupont,
Condemned to death and the Royal pardon refused.
December 17th, 1563.
Condemned to death and the Royal pardon refused.
December 22nd, 1563.
This woman was found guilty, and the Royal pardon being
refused, she was whipped, had one of her ears cut off, and
was banished from the island.
Thomas Compton, Bailiff, 1563-1572.
July 30th, 1570.
Jeannette Du Mareesc,
Was banished for seven years.
October 27th, 1570.
Banished from the island.
November 3rd, 1570.
James de la Rue,
Both banished from the island.
November 10th, 1570.
Lorenche Faleze, wife of Henry Johan,
Banished from the island.
November 17th, 1570.
Marie Gauvein, wife of Ozouet.
Both these women were whipped, had each an ear cut off, and
were banished from the island.
Guillaume Beauvoir, Bailiff, 1572-1581.
No prosecutions for Witchcraft seem to have taken place
during his tenure of office.
Thomas Wigmore, Bailiff, 1581-1588.
Collas de la Rue.
The result of this trial is uncertain.
Louis Devycke, Bailiff, 1588-1600.
No Witchcraft prosecutions during his term of office.
KING JAMES I.—1603-1625.
Amice De Carteret, Bailiff, 1601-1631.
The result of this trial is uncertain.
June 11th, 1613.
Cecille Vaultier, wife of Omont,
Guillemine, their daughter,
Were all banished from the island.
July 17th, 1613.
Laurence Leustace, wife of Thomas Le Compte,
Banished from the island.
July 4th, 1617.
Collette du Mont, widow of Jean Becquet.
Marie, her daughter, wife of Pierre Massy.
Isabel Becquet, wife of Jean Le Moygne.
All three women, after being found guilty, confessed under
torture, and were then hanged and burnt.
August 8th, 1617.
Michelle Jervaise, widow Salmon.
Jeanne Guignon, wife of J. de Callais, and two of her
These four persons were hanged and burnt, after being put to
October 17th, 1617.
Marie de Callais.
Philipine le Parmentier, widow of Nicolle, of Sark.
These two women were hanged and burnt, after being
previously put to the question.
November 25th, 1617.
Thomasse de Calais, wife of Isaac le Patourel,
Banished from the island.
November 25th, 1617.
Christine Hamon, wife of Etienne Gobetell.
This woman was banished from the island, but returned on May
6th, 1626, when she was again arrested and sentenced to
death. She was hanged July 21st, 1626.
August 1st, 1618.
Jean de Callais, together with his son, and servants.
All these were charged with practicing Witchcraft, and were
sent out of the island.
Jean Nicolle, of Sark,
Being found guilty, was whipped, had an ear cut off, and was
banished from the island.
May 1st, 1619.
Condemned to be hanged. He, however, contrived to get out of
prison and drowned himself.
August 7th, 1619.
Banished from the island.
April 22nd, 1620.
Jeanne Le Cornu, widow of Collas le Vallois.
These two women were banished.
May 8th, 1622.
Collette de l'Estac, wife of Thomas Tourgis.
Catherine Hallouris, widow Heaulme.
These three women were hanged and burnt, after being put to
October 17th, 1622.
Thomas Tourgis, of the Forest.
Jeanne Tourgis, his daughter.
Michelle Chivret, wife of Pierre Omont.
All three were burnt alive.
October 19th, 1622.
Jean Le Moigne.
Guillemine la Bousse.
This man and woman were set at liberty.
November 30th, 1622.
Perine Marest, wife of Pierre Gauvin,
Banished, together with her husband and children.
October 3rd, 1623.
Etienne Le Compte,
Hanged and burnt.
May 28th, 1624.
Marguerite Tardif, wife of P. Ozanne,
Set at liberty.
June 4th, 1624.
Ester Henry, wife of Jean de France.
This woman was burnt alive. The sentence states that her
flesh and bones are to be reduced to ashes and scattered by
the winds, as being unworthy of any sepulture.
July 16th, 1624.
Collette la Gelée.
This woman was hanged and burnt.
October 22nd, 1624.
Hanged and burnt.
KING CHARLES I.—1625-1649.
July 23rd, 1625.
Elizabeth, wife of Pierre Duquemin,
Banished for 7 years.
August 11th, 1626.
Jeanne de Bertran, wife of Jean Thomas,
Hanged and burnt.
August 12th, 1626.
Marie Sohier, wife of J. de Garis,
Hanged and burnt.
November 10th, 1626.
Judith Alexander, of Jersey, wife of Pierre Jehan,
Hanged and burnt.
August 25th, 1627.
Job Nicolle, of Sark,
Condemned to perpetual banishment.
January 16th, 1629.
Anne Blampied, wife of Thomas Heaulme, of the Forest.
Thomas Heaulme, of the Forest.
Both banished for seven years.
May 1st, 1629.
Marguerite Picot (l'Aubaine),
Hanged and burnt.
August 7th, 1629.
Susanne Prudhome, wife of Guilbert, of the Castel,
Put to the question, hanged, and burnt.
Jean de Quetteville, Bailiff, 1631-1644.
July 1st, 1631.
Jehan Nicolle, of Sark,
Set at liberty.
July 15th, 1631.
Marie Mabile, wife of Pierre de Vauriouf.
Both were put to the question, hanged, and burnt.
July 23rd, 1631.
Susanne Rouane, wife of Etienne Le Compte,
Judith Le Compte, }
Bertrane " } four daughters of the above.
Ester " }
Rachel " }
The mother was condemned to perpetual banishment from the
island, and the daughters were banished for fifteen years.
October 1st, 1631.
Marie Mortimer, wife of François Chirret.
Also her son.
Both were set at liberty.
October 1st, 1631.
Vincente Canu, wife of André Odouère.
Marie de Callais.
Both were set at liberty.
December 10th, 1631.
Renette de Garis, wife of Martin Maugeur.
Elizabeth le Hardy, wife of Collas Deslandes.
Marie Clouet, wife of Pierre Beneste.
All the above were condemned to perpetual banishment.
January 28th, 1634.
Jacob Gaudion, of Alderney,
Condemned to perpetual banishment.
May 16th, 1634.
Marie Guillemotte, wife of Samuel Roland, known as
Marie Rolland, her daughter.
The mother was hanged and burnt, and the daughter was
condemned to perpetual banishment.
THE STORY IN BRIEF
By J. Linwood Pitts.
In concluding the editorial duties connected with the issue of this
fourth volume of the "Guille-Allès Library Series," it seems to me
that the time is an opportune one for adding some short account of the
origin and foundation of the noble Institution from which the "Series"
takes its name. The Guille-Allès Library is proving such an immense
boon to our little insular community, that very naturally, many
inquiries are from time to time made—especially by strangers—as to
how its existence came about.
In order to answer these questions we must go as far back as the year
1834. At that time Mr. Guille—who is a Guernseyman by birth—was but
a boy of sixteen, and had been two years in America. He was serving
his apprenticeship with a well-known firm in New York, and he enjoyed
the privilege of access to a very extensive library in that city,
founded by a wealthy corporation known as The General Society of
Mechanics and Tradesmen. The pleasure and profit which he derived
from this source were so great, and made such a deep impression upon
his mind that, young as he was, he formed the resolution that if his
future life proved prosperous, and his position enabled him to do so,
he would one day found a similar institution in his own little native
island of Guernsey. Throughout the whole of his future career this
intention was present with him; and commencing at once,—in spite of
his then very limited means—to purchase books which should form a
nucleus for the anticipated collection, he began to lay the foundation
of the literary treasures which crowd the shelves of the Guille-Allès
Library to-day. At the age of twenty, when out of his apprenticeship,
he found himself the possessor of several hundreds of volumes of
standard works, many of which are now in the Library, and upon which
he must naturally look with peculiar and very legitimate pleasure, as
being the corner stones of the subsequent splendid superstructure.
Business affairs prospered with Mr. Guille. As time rolled on he was
taken into partnership with the firm, as was also his friend and
fellow-countryman, Mr. F.M. Allès, and his increasing prosperity
enabled him to put his cherished project into more tangible shape.
While on a visit to Guernsey in 1851, he wrote a few articles in the
Gazette Officielle, with the view of drawing public attention to the
importance of forming district or parish libraries. These articles
attracted the notice of The Farmers' Club, an association of
intelligent country gentlemen who met at the Castel. Their secretary,
the late Mr. Nicholas Le Beir, wrote to Mr. Guille at the request of
the members, informing him of their appreciation of his views, and of
his having been elected an honorary member of their association, in
token of their esteem. They had previously elected in a similar way
the famous French poet Béranger, and also Guernsey's national bard,
the late Mr. George Métivier. Mr. Guille accepted the honour, and the
correspondence which ensued resulted in his offering his collection of
books—supplemented by a considerable sum of money—towards forming
the commencement of such libraries as he had been advocating. Nothing,
however, really definite was done until Mr. Guille's next visit to
Guernsey in 1855-6, when after consultation with that devoted friend
of education, the late Mr. Peter Roussel, a meeting of a few
friends—including Mr. Roussel and his venerable mother, Mr. Guille,
Judge Clucas, Mr. Le Beir, and Mr. Henry E. Marquand—who were known
to be favourable to the project was held, several handsome
subscriptions were promised, Mr. Guille renewed his offer previously
made to The Farmers' Club, and a workable scheme was matured.
THE GUILLE LIBRARY,
for so the Committee decided to name the undertaking, consequently
commenced its useful career in 1856. The collection of books was
divided into five sections, which were placed in separate cases, and
located at convenient distances about the island—where they were
taken charge of by friends—the largest being reserved for the town.
The intention was to exchange these cases in rotation, and so
establish a circulating library in the most comprehensive sense of the
term. But this was, in reality, never carried out, for after the
volumes had been read in their respective stations, they were returned
to their places, and left to slumber unused, until Mr. Guille once
more came to the island in 1867, with the intention of remaining
permanently, and he then had them all brought to town and arranged in
one central depôt.
Mr. Guille also opened a branch Reading-room and Library at St.
Martin's, in the hope of being able thereby to draw the young men of
the parish from the degrading attractions of the public house. For
three years he kept this comfortable room open, while in winter and
summer neither rain nor storm prevented him from being present there
every evening to personally superintend the undertaking. Ultimately,
however, he found the strain too much for his health, and he
discontinued the branch so as to concentrate more attention upon the
central establishment in town.
For five-and-twenty years, from 1856 to 1881, Mr. Guille worked
steadily and unostentatiously at the benevolent enterprise which he
had inaugurated. Death removed several of his early coadjutors, and
for many years he bore all the financial burdens and toiled on
single-handed and alone. What was still more discouraging was that he
unfortunately had to encounter for a very long time an almost
incredible amount of mental supineness on the part of those whom he
was so disinterestedly seeking to benefit. It was not as though any
desire for knowledge existed among the mass of the Guernsey people,
and he only had to assume the pleasant duty of satisfying that desire.
Such a desire did not exist. Many of the people not only never had
read any books but they flatly declined to begin. Mr. Guille felt that
this deplorable attitude ought to be combatted, and he therefore
persevered in the thankless and difficult task of trying in the first
place to create the want, and in the second place to satisfy it. A
quarter-of-a-century's earnest effort in a good cause, however, cannot
fail to produce some fruit, and within the last three or four years
much brighter days have dawned. Mr. Guille's lifelong friend and
former business partner, Mr. F.M. Allès,—who had often previously
substantially assisted him,—has latterly thoroughly associated
himself with the work, and the result is that the rudimentary scheme
of 1856 has at length culminated in the splendid
which was thrown open to the public in the old Assembly Rooms, on the
2nd of January, 1882, and bears on its portal the appropriate motto:
Ingredere ut proficias—"Enter that thou mayst profit." How
admirably this fine Institution is fulfilling its mission is
well-known to all who frequent it. It already contains a collection of
over 35,000 volumes—to which constant additions are being made—of
valuable and standard works in all branches of science, literature and
art, both in the French and English languages, besides numerous works
in German, Italian, Greek, Latin, &c. It has a commodious
Reading-room, well supplied with journals and periodical publications;
while a Society of Natural Science has also been inaugurated and meets
in connection with it. The Guernsey Mechanics' Institution—after an
existence of just half-a-century—was absorbed into it at the close of
1881; and the Library of the Société Guernesiaise—founded in
1867—now finds a home on its shelves. The subscription for membership
is merely nominal, and Messrs. Guille and Allès have made arrangements
to endow the Institution with such ample funds as shall secure in
perpetuity the many benefits which it is conferring upon the island.
THE FUTURE OF THE INSTITUTION
is therefore fully assured and its wants provided for. The spacious
new buildings which have been for many months in process of erection
are now (December, 1885) rapidly approaching completion. They comprise
a spacious and handsome Lecture Hall, capable of seating from 250 to
300 persons; a Book-room 63-ft. by 25-ft., exclusively for the lending
department, and which will accommodate on its shelves from 45,000 to
50,000 additional volumes—with a large anteroom for the convenience
of the subscribers. The present Reading-room will then be used for a
Reference Library and Students' Consulting and Reading-room. There are
also a General Reading-room, a Working Men's Reading-room, and
numerous apartments suitable for Class-rooms and Committee-rooms. The
roof of the original building has been reconstructed and raised so as
to form a suite of rooms 100-ft. long, 24-ft. wide, and 10-ft. high.
Lighted from the top these are specially adapted for the exhibition of
objects of interest, pictures, or for a local museum. A convenient
residence for the Librarian is arranged in a separate building, which
is extended so as to provide on the ground floor convenient rooms for
the reception and storing of books and for the special work of the
When the Library was first removed to the Assembly Rooms, the premises
were leased from the States, who had purchased them in 1870.
Subsequently, however, in December, 1883, Messrs. Guille and Allès
purchased the Rooms from the States for £900 British, and afterwards
bought from the Parish the plot of land behind the Rooms—which
belonged to the Rectory—and upon which they have now built the
spacious new premises above-mentioned. As soon as these extensions are
available, the founders purpose inaugurating comprehensive courses of
popular illustrated lectures on physical science, economic products,
natural history, microscopic science, literary subjects, &c., which
will appeal at once to the eye and the understanding, and impart a
large amount of very useful knowledge in an easy and agreeable way.
There will also be classes in various subjects, including the French,
German and Italian languages, drawing, music, &c., &c., all of which
will be open to girls as well as boys, women as well as men. In an
island like Guernsey, where from the smallness of the community many
of the young people necessarily have to go and seek their fortunes
abroad, the advantages for self-culture offered by an Institution like
this can scarcely be over-rated. The local facilities afforded for the
acquisition of French are particularly marked, while it cannot for a
moment be doubted that a young man or woman who can use both French
and English with fluency, is much better equipped for the battle of
life than is a person knowing only one of these languages. Whatever
intellectual needs may become apparent in the people, these the
Guille-Allès Library will set itself to supply. Its founders, indeed,
are especially anxious that there should be no hard and fast barriers
about its settlement, which might cramp its expansion or fetter its
usefulness. On the contrary they desire—while adhering, of course, to
certain main lines of intellectual activity—to imbue it with such
elasticity of adaptation as will enable it to successfully grapple
with the changing necessities of changing times. The chief wants of
to-day may not necessarily be the most pressing requisites of a
century hence. Therefore, one of the greatest essentials—and at the
same time one of the greatest difficulties—in a foundation like this,
is to provide for and combine within it such a fixity of principle and
such an adaptability of administration as shall enable it to keep pace
with the progress of the ages, and suit itself to the several
requirements of succeeding generations as they pass.
COST AND ENDOWMENT.
The cost of carrying out this great enterprise—including the erection
of buildings, purchase of books, fittings, &c.—has already amounted
to between £15,000 and £20,000, and the outlay shows no signs of
cessation. In addition to these expenses there is the Endowment Fund
already referred to, and for this the munificent donors intend to set
apart a sum to which the above amount bears but a small proportion. So
that altogether the community will be indebted to them for an
educational foundation worth a magnificent figure in money value
alone, while besides this, we must not forget the long years of
thoughtful care and of self-denying energy involved in maturing these
splendid projects, or the healthy mental and moral stimulus which the
conduct of these patriotic gentlemen has supplied.
PRESENTATION OF PORTRAITS.
A very pleasing ceremony took place on Wednesday, December 17th, 1884,
at St. Julian's Hall, when His Excellency Major-General Sarel, C.B.,
Lieut.-Governor, presented Messrs. Guille and Allès with their
portraits on behalf of a numerous body of subscribers resident in all
parts of the island, and also in Paris, New York, and Brooklyn. A
public meeting had been called on the 4th of February previous, when
an influential Committee was appointed; about £227 was speedily
raised, and then Mr. Frank Brooks was commissioned to paint two
life-size portraits in oil, which gave great satisfaction when
finished, and are now hung in the Library. Julius Carey, Esq., Chief
Constable (Mayor) of St. Peter-Port, as President of the Portrait
Committee, opened the proceedings, by briefly narrating the
circumstances which had called the meeting together.
His Excellency then, after a few preliminary remarks, said:—
He must express the very great pleasure which he felt in
being present on such an interesting occasion, when the
whole community were testifying their appreciation of the
noble Library which had been founded for their benefit.
Indeed he felt it a great honour to have been asked to
present these handsome portraits to Messrs. Guille and
Allès. It would not be necessary for him to dwell at any
length on the antecedents of these gentlemen, who were
well-known in the island. Many years ago Mr. Guille went to
the United States, and there he found the advantages which
accrued from having access to a good library. He then
conceived the idea of one day bestowing a similar boon upon
his own native island, and this project he had been happily
spared to carry out. During his exile the thought had
remained ever with him; he had not allowed business to
engross all his attention; and now that he had returned once
more to settle down in the little rock-bound island-home of
his youth, he was reducing to practice the beneficent plans
of earlier years. He was not content to lead a life of ease
with the produce of his industry, but he had founded an
institution of incalculable value for the moral and
intellectual welfare of the isle. Then there was another
large-hearted Guernseyman, Mr. Allès, who determined that
his old friend Mr. Guille should not be left to carry out
his noble scheme alone. They had long been associated in
business enterprises, and they were now linked in the higher
bond of a common desire for the well-being of their
fellow-citizens. All honour to them for it. The Library told
its own story and needed no encomium. All it wanted was
constant readers and plenty of them, and he could not too
strongly impress upon the people—and especially upon the
rising generation—the immense advantages they would derive
from availing themselves of its literary treasures. In
conclusion, it simply remained for him, on behalf of the
Committee and the Subscribers, to ask Messrs. Guille and
Allès to accept these paintings, which would show to future
generations of Guernseymen the form and features of two
public benefactors who had deserved so well of their country
and their kind.
Mr. Guille, in response, gave a very interesting address in English,
and Mr. Allès followed with an equally appropriate and practical
speech in French, both gentlemen being received with prolonged
applause, and listened to by the numerous assembly with the most
Brief complimentary addresses were then delivered by Edgar MacCulloch,
Esq., F.S.A., Bailiff (Chief Magistrate) of Guernsey, and by F.J.
Jeremie, Esq., M.A., Jurat of the Royal Court, and the proceedings
terminated with a hearty vote of thanks to the Lieut.-Governor,
proposed by the Very Rev. Carey Brock, M.A., Dean of Guernsey.
A brass plate attached to Mr. Guille's portrait bears the following
Presented to Thomas Guille, Esq.,
by his numerous friends, in recognition of the great
benefit he has conferred upon the inhabitants of his
native Island as one of the Founders of the
Guernsey, 17 December, 1884.
A similar plate, bearing the name of Mr. Frederick Mansell Allès, is
attached to his portrait.
Note.—The Assembly Rooms were built by private subscription
in 1782, at a cost of about £2,500, and had therefore been
in existence exactly a century when they passed into the
hands of Messrs. Guille and Allès in 1882. During this long
period they were the fashionable foyer of the Island's
festivity and gaiety, and formed the scene of many a
Cruces and Criticisms: an Examination of Certain Passages in Greek
and Latin Texts. By William W. Marshall, M.A., B.C.L.,
F.R.S.L., of the Inner Temple, formerly Scholar of Hertford College,
Oxford. Demy 8vo., Cloth 2s. 6d., Paper Covers 2s. London: Elliot
Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.C. 1886.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
Plutarch's Lives of the Gracchi, translated from the text of
Sintenis, with Introduction, Marginal Analysis, and Appendices. By
William W. Marshall, B.A., of the Inner Temple, late Scholar
of Hertford College, Oxford. Crown 8vo., paper covers, 1s. 6d., or
cloth, 2s. Oxford, James Thornton. 1881.
"Mr. Marshall has succeeded in cutting out of
Plutarch a very neat piece of biography and presenting it in
a pleasant English dress, with a careful introduction and a
few useful Appendices. The English is the editor's, and is
very agreeable reading. The Introduction is a clever account
of Plutarch, with a critical notice of his work, his merits,
and his inaccuracies, together with a summary sketch of the
affairs of Rome when the Gracchi came into notice. The
student of Roman history will be glad of this small, but
carefully edited, account of the two brethren."—School
The Latin Prayer Book of Charles II.; or, an Account of the
"Liturgia" of Dean Durel, together with a Reprint and Translation of
the Catechism therein contained, with Collations, Annotations, and
Appendices, by the late Rev. Charles Marshall, M.A., Rector
of Harpurhey; and William W. Marshall, B.A. Demy 8vo. Cloth.
A few remaining copies may be obtained from Thomas
Fargie, 21, St. Ann's Square, Manchester. Price, 7s.
The late Very Rev. J.S. Howson, D.D., Dean of Chester, writes
(July 9, 1883):—
"I have much pleasure in stating that I regard the work of
and his son upon the Latin Prayer Book
of Charles II. as a publication of great importance. The
volume has been of much use to me personally; and I believe
its value will be felt by all who study it candidly and
"A liturgical, historical, and theological work of great
value, creditable alike to the care, industry, and scholarly
attainments of the editors. No clergyman should engage in
liturgical controversy without consulting its
Favourably reviewed also by The British Quarterly Review,
Literary World, Churchman, Record, Clergyman's
Magazine, Rock, Manchester Guardian, Liverpool Daily
Courier, Chorley Guardian, Liverpool Albion, &c., &c.
GUILLE-ALLÈS LIBRARY SERIES.
EDITED BY J. LINWOOD PITTS.
THE PATOIS POEMS OF THE CHANNEL ISLANDS (First Series), the
Norman-French Text, with Parallel English Translation, Historical
Introduction and Notes. Demy 8vo. In paper covers, or cloth gilt.
THE PATOIS POEMS OF THE CHANNEL ISLANDS (Second Series), the
Norman-French Text, with Parallel English Translation, Philological
Introduction and Historic Notes. Demy 8vo. In paper covers, or cloth
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, AND THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER, translated into
the Franco-Norman Dialect of Guernsey, from the French of Le
Maistre de Sacy, by George Métivier; to which is added a
Sark version of the Parable of the Sower; with Parallel French and
English Versions. Demy 16mo. Cloth gilt.
WITCHCRAFT AND DEVIL LORE IN THE CHANNEL ISLANDS, Transcripts and
Translations of the Depositions and Confessions made in the most
celebrated of the local Trials for Witchcraft, as preserved in the
Official Records of the Guernsey Royal Court, with Historical
Introduction. Demy 8vo. In paper covers.
THE PRÉCEPTE D'ASSISE OF THE ISLAND OF GUERNSEY: comprising the
ancient Norman-French Text, edited with Parallel English Translation,
Historical Introduction, Analysis, Glossary and Notes; engravings of
Seals, Signatures, &c.
CHOICE EXCERPTS FROM THE ROMAN DE ROU, by Robert Wace, of
Jersey, the famous Norman Trouvère and Chronicler, who flourished in
the Twelfth Century; with Parallel English Translation and Historic
THE DESCENT OF THE SARAGOUSAIS.—A reprint of the old Norman
Ballad—including the rare additional verses—with English Translation
and Historic Notes.