Witchcraft & Folklore

A Link with the Past: Ah! Mon beau laurier!

Guernsey's favourite dance, the rather flirtatious 'Ah! mon beau laurier!.' The illustration is of a modern hurdy-gurdy, or 'chifournie,' used in the old days to accompany the dancing: with thanks to Guernsey Post Office, who also produced a superb video of the chifournie being played in Le Hurel barn in Guernsey. The chifournie has been replaced in Guernsey by the fiddle or accordion in modern times.

Nicholas Roussel, Le Rimeur, 1807

From an editorial in the Star of December 12, 1836. The woodcut of a 'frisky' Guernsey pig is from Dr Thomas Bellamy's Pictorial Directory of 1843, in the Library collection. The writer comments on the credulity of those in the country parishes, who continue to venerate such impostors and quacks as Louis D'Orléan, about to face trial for imposition, and in doing so gives us details of the case of Nicolas Roussel which, although having occurred in 1807, 'is not yet forgotten, and just a few particulars respecting it will not, just now, be unacceptable'.

The notorious Frenchman D'Orlean, 1836

'I have cured persons whom the Doctors had given up; if I am guilty it is of that.' The King versus D'Orléan, the conclusion of a protracted case which opened in the Royal Court, Saturday, December 10th, 1836. Much of the evidence was heard in camera. D'Orléan was practising as a veterinary surgeon. The folk of the country parishes—Judith Lainé, the Bichards, Rihoys, Reniers, Mahys, Galliennes and Ogiers, in this case—are as usual regarded as ill-educated and credulous by Guernsey's sophisticated urbanites. The details of the case are reported in the Comet of February 6, 1837.

Elie Brevint on witchcraft

Elie Brevint (1587-1674) was minister of Sark from 1612. His father Cosmé, also a minister, was a Huguenot refugee from Angoulême who had accompanied Helier De Carteret from Jersey in his colonisation of Sark. Transcriptions and microfilm of Elie's 14 Notebooks, which were found in a loft in Sark in the 19th century, are held in the Priaulx Library. Elie appears to be a sensible and rational man with a curious and detached mind, until he turns to these sorts of subject: the Pousseresse, perturbateurs, and salamanders. The illustration is of the Tormento do Tacto, or Torture, from Alexander Périer's O Desengano dos Pecadores of 1724, in the Library.