John Ingrouille, hangman, 1818
And executioners in general. An incomplete list of the Guernsey hangmen employed by the States, (convicts, for whom the office meant freedom and a small stipend), can be found in the Library: Lists of Bailiffs, Jurats &c, Staff. From L'Independance of 24 January 1818.
John Ingrouille, native of Guernsey, as we reported last Saturday, threw a bit of a tantrum when chosen as the new executioner, expressing a wish to return to prison rather than take on this post, unless he was given an incentive of 25 louis. Having reflected upon the precariousness of human life, last Saturday Ingrouille went against his better judgment by accepting the 3 golden louis he had been offered as wages. He swore an oath to carry out the sentences of the Court. Ingrouille is a large man apparently about 38 years of age, and who is said to have served in the navy as a Boatswains'-mate. Woe betide the criminals! [From the Chronique de Jersey.]
The first hangmen of the island were the Bordiers; it was an unpopular duty, so much so that at least one gave up his bordage rather than fulfil it. At some point before the Extente of James I, the income from the Bordage Landry was transferred to the executioner: 'Bordage Lamurge or Landry.—Of the heirs of Louis Devick, son of Lawrence, for the Bordage Lamurge at the Vauquiedor, with the grounds appertaining to the said Bordage, the rent whereof is to be paid to the executioner of justice by the king's receiver, per annum, 1 bushel of wheat, and 10 gros monnoie.' In the Extente of 1299, we find this concerning the Bordage Solers: it was held by Guillaume Solers, but he returned it to the king because 'he was unwilling to perform the service which pertained to it, that is, to hang thieves indicted in the King's court. Afterwards Pierre Le Marchant entrusted it to Jean Cordet to do the due service.'
More trouble with the hangmen:
Elisha Dobrée's Diary, ed. JP Warren:
22 March 1783. 'Hangman condemned to banishment.' Warren's note reads: J. Christie, native of Sligo, Ireland, the executioner, had stolen some fowls belonging to Messrs Thomas Ollivier and Pierre Blanche. He was arrested by Mr Elizie Dobrée (a Constable of the Town.) Condemned by the Court to six years' banishment, not to return 'à peine d'être pendu et etranglé (on pain of hanging).' (See Livres de Crime. [Held in the Greffe.])
In 1781 (also noted by Elisha Dobrée), two Irish soldiers of White's Regiment had been hanged for the murder of the Collenette family, by 'by a young Swede, about nineteen or twenty years of age, who was in prison for some offence, for which he merited some chastisement.'
The Star, 22 November 1906.
L'Exécuteur des Hautes Oeuvres de Guernesey.1
In The Star of October 18, 1830, we came across the following: 'The office of executioner des hautes oeuvres, vacant by the sudden and unceremonious exit of Meudon (the most dashing occupant it ever had), after having been for some time offered by advertisements in the public papers, has at length been filled. A notorious fellow named John Rooks— formerly an inmate of the Town Hospital, but who was banished from the island for some petty theft, and then having been sent back to England as a vagabond by 'force majeure,' was confined in the public jail, thereby to finish the term of his banishment—was on last Saturday sworn into the office. On this occasion he declared that he would faithfully discharge the duties thereof, and would not leave the island without permission of the Court.' [Meudon ran away rather than hang Béasse (see below).]
Rooks, in 1854, was the bungling executioner of Tapner. The wretched man's sufferings had such an effect upon Rooks that we are told he immediately took to immoderate drinking and died shortly afterwards [in the Town Hospital the following year.].
An editorial in the Comet of February 20, 1854, discusses the proposal that the office of hangman should be abolished in Guernsey, following the bungled execution of John Tapner. The Editor agrees, inasmuch as he believed all hangmen to be inherently inefficient and the method of execution therefore cruel (he is not an abolitionist, however.) The point had been raised that the executioner had very little to do, but the Editor feels it only just that the hangman should receive his stipend before losing his job; and that as he is also paid for flogging criminals, 'it in incorrect to say that the present officer has been paid the sum of £1,100 for the performance of only two acts connected with his situation.'
For more about punishment and flogging, see how Louis 'le pendard' cut off the thief Le Bâtard's ear.
Murders: Tapner of Mrs Saujon; Béasse of the baby [Mendon worked as his gardener. See also Quarterly Review of the Guernsey Society, XXI (1) p. 13.]; A barbarous murder, 1795; Kemp's Rock; Cox and Shellard, 1813; Olympe Mahy, 1808; Nicholas Rougier, 1775; 'Melmoth' of Brown, 1826; Louis Marin (Jersey); Jeanne de Louche (Jersey), 1810
1 Guernsey punishment worked in theory on a 'three strikes' basis. First, les Basses Oeuvres, or flogging: second, les Moyennes Oeuvres, or loss of an ear (and/or sometimes banishment); thirdly, execution, les Hautes Oeuvres.