A sorry tale: the duel between Thomas Andros and Kenneth Beauvais, 1780

A duel mentioned by Elisha Dobrée in his Diary (which covers the years 1753-1789). Kenneth Beauvais was mortally wounded, though it was considered a duel 'with general good consequences.'

For duelling in Guernsey see also: Disorder in the Court; Major Byng; The English Butcher and the Brewer

The proceedings of the Royal Court for 1780 reveal that the first enquiry into the affair happened on the day of the duel itself, which had taken place early in the morning. Beauvais did not die until the following day.

The enquiry was presided over by the Bailiff, William Le Marchant, himself not adverse to a bit of duelling, together with the Jurats Nicholas Reserson, Elizé Tupper, Jean Carré and Thomas Dobrée. They drew up an Act stating:

The Court being duly assembled this day, on information being given to the Bailiff that Thomas Andros, Esq., and Kenneth Beauvais, Esq., a volunteer in the 78th Battalion of Infantry stationed in this island, fought a duel with pistols, and that the said Beauvais was dangerously wounded and that his life is in danger. The Court having examined two doctors, have ordered that the said Andros be arrested and brought before Justice, and it is forbidden to any person to transport the said Andros from the Island, an Act to this effect to be posted in the usual manner.
September 26. The Court being assembled this day in the house of Anne de Gruchy, near Elizabeth College, where lay the body of the said Beauvais who died on September 24th inst., two doctors were examined and it was ascertained that the said Beauvais was killed by a pistol bullet (the bullet passed through his right arm and into his thorax), whilst fighting with the said Andros. The Court ordered that the said Andros be constituted a prisoner and lodged in Castle Cornet. Permission was given to bury the body of the said Beauvais.

As noted by Elisha Dobrée, Andros stood trial on 11th November 1780. He was sentenced to a month's imprisonment in Castle Cornet, and his second, Hirzel De Lisle, to a fortnight in jail. Thomas Andros was the Seigneur of Anneville and lived at that time in Normanville, in the Fosse André. [From a Press report in Victor Coysh's Scrapbook, c. 1930.]

We know a surprising amount about the circumstances of this duel. Firstly, the dead man was very probably Kenneth Louis Mackenzie Beauvais, the son of Louis Beauvais and Elizabeth Mackenzie. He was baptised in Westminster in October, 1761, meaning he was only 19 at the time of his death. A look in the Army lists shows that, as reported, he was not an officer of the 78th Highlanders; however, the regiment was raised and staffed by the Mackenzie clan. One of the captains in 1780 was Kenneth Mackenzie; Kenneth Beauvais came from a large family, and his eldest sister had been baptised Kennetha. Thomas Andros (1755-1831) was Seigneur d'Anneville; he practised as an advocate, and married Elizabeth Le Marchant, daughter of the Reverend Josué Le Marchant, and was twenty-five at the time of the duel.

In an article in the Press of 1973, Eric Sharp confused this duel and that resulting in the death of Major Byng, which occurred later, in 1795. He gives us the recollection of Thomas Andros' grandson, Amias Andros,1 itself reported in the Star in 1876:

All St Peter Port could boast of was the dear quaint Old Harbour with its North Pier and South Pier and lightouse, a walk round which was the favourite promenade for a couple of centuries before ruthless hands razed it to the ground and improved the pier itself off the face of the earth .....
Strong reason have I to remember the old South Pier, for did not a warrior bold once jostle my own grandfather while strolling upon it nigh a century ago and did not my grandfather drill a hole in the same gentleman the next morning in the field adjoining Beau Séjour?
They didn't stand much nonsense in those days. My grandfather stood his trial at the Royal Court like a man and was congratulated by everybody when a verdict of justifiable homicide let him free with flying colours.

This, however, contrasts somewhat with the memories of F. C. Lukis, an observer, and his friend Anthony Priaulx,2 irascible and violent in his youth. Lukis, the source of most of our information about Guernsey duels, has this to say about the quarrel between 'Mr Andros of Normanville and a stranger:'

It has been stated that the Promenades at L'Hyvreuse [Cambridge Park] were usually crowded by Ladies and Gentlemen on Sunday evenings and that when the grass was damp the promenaders would adjourn to the South Pier. Mr Andros accompained two ladies in both places of resort, and on both he perceived a stranger cross in front of the party in a very significant way, as if to affront him, this being again repeated on the Pier promenade, and this strange conduct was pursued with still more determined effrontery, for this person purposely trod upon the foot of Mr Andros.

A scuffle ensued and in the end a meeting was determined upon, and Mr Andros had the painful fact of killing his adversary. The result was that he left the island and remained in England for the greater part of his remaining days residing in the neighbourhood of Lyme in Dorsetshire, where he died in the year [1831]. His widow and some of his children returned to this island. The person who was shot was an English Officer in the Army.

Thomas Andros did not, in fact, arrive in Lyme until 1798. He did, however, flee straight after the duel to Sark and then to Jersey, together with Hirzel de Lisle and William de Vic Tupper, but had to return to face trial. The Library has a MS letter written by a lawyer to the Procureur recounting the aftermath of this duel; the surgeon refused to perform an autopsy on a serving soldier so witesses had to confirm that they saw Andros fire the gun, and it was therefore held to be very likely that Andros' bullet has killed Beauvais; after which they discovered that there was no law in Guernsey to cover killing someone in a duel, and as far as the writer of the letter is concerned it would appear that even if the law was to be changed there was no charge Andros could properly retrospectively face. The writer of the letter asks for the Procureur's thoughts on the matter.

The Library has MS reproductions of an account book of Andros' dating from 1788-1813, and a journal of his from the years 1813-1822, both donated by one of his descendants. Other journals are now in the Lyme Museum.

Extensive details of the duel and its aftermath, all the participants and the quarrel that led to it, are given by Margaret Miles Le Gallez in Guernsey Life, 3 (24), October 1969. Even more details are given in the Star of May 26, 1877, no doubt from the records of the trial in the Royal Court. The other duels in Guernsey that led to loss of life were perpetrated by soldiers, and therefore the trials would have been under military authority. Kenneth Beauvais had been drunk and had initially mistaken Thomas Andros for the Comptrolleur in the High Street, and had run at him brandishing a sword, and that this had led to the bad feeling between them. Thomas Andros claimed that at the climax of the duel he had been trying to disarm Kenneth Beauvais, and he did indeed shoot him in the arm; the evidence in the trial made the young man out to be very aggressive and hotheaded, so his excuse is at least believable.

Here are The Star's thoughts on the matter:

Four weeks' incarceration and costs. Such was the nominal penalty for an offence which would now be probably visited with death or penal servitude. But nowadays if any officer quartered in Guernsey were to take it into his head to run a muck upon the pier assaulting peaceful citizens, he would find himself the next morning, not at L'Hyvreuse, but at the Constables' Office, and unless the affair were hushed up, brought before the Royal Court and either let off with a caution or mulct in a few livres tournois. And with this 'satisfaction', the injured parties would have to rest content. Such the difference, in the manner of disposing these affairs, between 1780 and 1877. The result of this cause célèbre was regarded as a moral victory by the Guernsey gentlemen, towards whom it is said that the military displayed considerably less arrogance than they had previous to the lesson taught them at L'Hyvreuse.

Interestingly, the duel is mentioned in a letter from Frederick Le Mesurier to his brother Peter, written in September 1792. He says:

The Duel between Tom Andros and Beauvois, tho' so fatal to the latter, was attended with general good consequences. I am much pleased to find Andros behaved so well: by Patty's account [his sister Martha] I am afraid the Ladies take more notice of the beaux in Scarlet than of their country sparks, and this must necessarily create great antipathy between the two. My country women should pay some attention to the fatal consequences that may attend thereby.' [The Review of the Guernsey Society, LV (3) Winter 2008/9, pp. 96 ff.]

1 Amias Charles Andros (1836-1898). The wealthy son of Thomas Andros' third son Charles and May Fletcher Dobrée, was a letter writer and author of humorous books and invaluable articles and memoirs, including Reminiscences of the late Mr A C Andros, 1902, as well as an architect.

2 From Dumaresq & Mauger's, A Sermon preached at St James' Church, on Sunday 20th August, 1820, on the death of Anthony Priaulx, Esq., of the Island of Guernsey, by the Reverend Thomas Brock, M A., published in 1820:

Naturally of a violent, haughty, and impetuous temper, quick in receiving an injury and quick in resenting it, he had so wholly mastered the evil passions of his nature, that the lion was changed into a lamb, and a more meek, humble-minded, forgiving disposition could not dwell in the human heart than dwelt in his own. Mr P. had been engaged in several duels. One of these had nearly proved fatal to him, the ball of his antagonist having penetrated within a short distance of his heart. I have heard it from his two eldest sons, who are, I trust, following hard after their father in their Christian course, that the first lessons they received from him were: 'never tolerate an injury, to call out every man who dared to insult them &c.'

Anthony Priaulx was born in 1774 and lived on the eastern side of Cornet Street, where he brought up his sons, Joshua and Osmond De Beauvoir Priaulx. He was a good friend of Lukis', who said of him:

Another duel was fought between John De Lisle (father of the present Dr De Lisle), and Anthony Priaulx, who lodged a ball in De Lisle which could never be extracted, and he carried the same to his grave.

Anthony's brother, John Priaulx (d. unmarried 1829), had asked De Lisle (1762-1829) to 'make overtures' for him to Miss Le Mesurier, daughter and heiress of Henry Le Mesurier (1746-1792) of Plaisance and Mary Dobrée. Things did not work out as John Priaulx planned, however, as Miss Le Mesurier preferred John De Lisle, which engendered a 'coolness' between the two men, resulting in Anthony calling out De Lisle on behalf of his brother, and nearly killing him. Martha Le Mesurier, Mary's distant cousin, mentions this in a letter of December 1797. In her somewhat different version of the story, John Priaulx had actually proposed marriage to Mary, and John De Lisle, hearing him talk disrespectfully of her after she had rejected his proposal, slapped Priaulx in the face and 'they fell to boxing like Porters, and afterwards challenged each other like Gentlemen, but being put under arrest in Guernsey they escaped to Jersey where they fought.' ['Some letters of Mrs Richard Saumarez,' Report and Trans. of the Société Guernesiaise 1933, p. 333.] Mary Le Mesurier (1775-1824) married John De Lisle in 1800 and had several children.