1786 and all that

Translations from the French of selections from the early Gazettes.

Gazette de L’Ile de Jersey Saturday 2 December 1786

Extract from a letter from Guernsey.

25 November. Mrs Baker’s house was completely burnt to the ground. [Elisha Dobree's Diary, Nov. 18th 1786: 'Mother Baker's house burnt at Hougue a la Perre.'] On the same day [the Nimphe], the ship of Captain Messervy arrived in St Peter Port harbour from Gaspé, with 80 or 90 passengers. The voyage had lasted sixty days; they had been on short rations for quite some time, and when they arrived they were out of bread and water.

A 70-year-old woman has brough smallpox from England. Inoculations will in consequence begin.

Gazette de L’Isle de Jersey Saturday 16 December 1786

News from Guernsey.

At a packed parish meeting of the 5th of this month, the sum of 1500 pounds was voted to pay for the poor of the parish to innoculate their children; one hopes that such a meritorious act will serve as an example to the other parishes.

Gazette de L’Ile de Jersey Saturday 29 December 1787

News from Guernsey.

On the 21st of this month, a soldier of the Invalid Corps faced punishment at the hands of the executioner, following the sentence of the Royal Court of this island, for having been found guilty of very badly mistreating his wife and having thus caused her death. The facts of the case were not clear enough to the Court for him to have been condemned to the ultimate punishment; he is just to be branded on the left hand with the letters 'T.R.'.

Gazette de L’Ile de Jersey Saturday 5 December 1789

Guernsey 27 november 1789.

Something very funny and very odd has happened here. We had here two Irishmen, whom the parish, out of pity for them, as the ship to which they belonged had been wrecked, lodged with James Guillard. Yesterday evening, without any gratitude whatsoever for all the unceasing kindnesses shown to them by the charitable people of Guernsey, our two little dears broke into Thomas Barbey’s house, intending to rob it, but being disturbed by someone before they had finished the job, were forced to hide themselves up the chimney. They got halfway up it and the only way to fetch them out was by lighting a huge fire under them. Eventually they were unable to stand the suffocating smoke and tumbled down. They were caught, and with the Bailiff’s permission, taken to the Castle.

Gazette de L’Ile de Jersey Saturday 12 December 1789

News from Guernsey.

On Thursday the 4th of this month, a soldier and his wife who lived in the Contrée Mansell in Town, both drunk, fought so violently during the night, that in the morning the wife was found so badly beaten that it was feared she might die. In fact, towards midday of the following day she did pass away. The husband was immediately arrested to await his fate. As usual, the Court visited the dead woman’s home; doctors performed an autopsy and there was no doubt whatsoever that the woman’s death had been caused by her husband’s mistreatment of her.

Gazette de L’Ile de Jersey Saturday 26 December 1789

One can only admire the elegant expletives which form part of the speech of certain nice young men, without being absolutely necessary to the sense. These fellows who pride themselves on their knowledge of the world, and their ability to strike the right note every time, have invented a new way of decorating their speech, and to add elegance to their words, which our rough-and-ready ancestors knew nothing of. For example, one of these reformers of our language asked of one of his friends the other day in English: d- me, what say you? Curse me, do you go to la Roque to day, by G-d? I’ll be d-n’d the d-l take me, and last my eyes if I do, by the L-d. Not everyone is lucky enough to benefit from the edifying words of these gentlemen. Those whose rank does not afford them this happy opportunity will thank me for keeping them up-to-date with fashion, so that, by imitating it, they might too lay claim to be 'genteel.'

Gazette de L’Isle de Guernesey Saturday 3 December 1791

To the Editors,


Last Saturday night as I was lying in bed I was prevented from succumbing to the sweet repose of sleep by the noise of fiddle music and dancing coming from guests at a wedding.At a quarter to midnight, as they were going their separate ways, seven or eight women from amongst them, each with a lighted candle in their hand, walked down the road in such a manner as to block the way of any passer-by. A poor sailor (who was for the moment entwined in the chains of Bacchus) wanted to get past and they got in his way; at that, he swore violently at them. A young man, coming out like them from the wedding reception (and very likely also a little embroiled in the same chains) annoyed at what was going on, jumped on the sailor and beat him up very badly; one of the sailor’s friends pulled the wild young man off him, and gave him as good as he was giving; when he found that he was actually coming off worse, he decided it was would be a good idea to cry 'Murder!.'

** Here is a lesson for all young people, who in giving vent to their anger let it boil over without knowing why.—The women, hearing him cry out like this, screamed and shouted 'Oh, my God! Murder!' These cries were followed by two of the ladies fainting away, and soon all was quiet.

I am, Sir, yours truly, &c., &c., P.G.

Gazette de L’Ile de Guernsey Supplement 24 December 1796

Last Thursday night, criminals broke open the door and robbed the store belonging to Mr Jean Lukis, on the Quays. Jean Lukis is offering a reward of 10 guineas to anybody with information about the perpetrators, which leads to their facing trial. Should the informant have been an accomplice to the crime, his involvement will not be mentioned, he will be pardoned and will receive the same reward.

J.A. Chevalier makes it known that his house in Fountain Street is available to lease, as he can no longer put up with the ridiculous hassle of having to pay the rent he owes every year in wheat, since he does not grow the stuff, and can hardly even find enough of it to feed himself and his family.

Gazette de L’Ile de Guernsey Saturday 1 December 1798

At the particular instance of several of the gentlemen of the Island a meeting was held at the Rooms on Monday the 19th Nov.,`to advise the means of proving to our countryman SIR JAMES SAUMAREZ how sensible they are to his services and to his true and exemplary bravery, in the present unprecedented war.

The subscribers in consequence, as well as those whose intention is to subscribe, are requested to attend at the above place (THE ROOMS) on Thursday next the 6 at noon, to put into effect the Intention of the former meeting.