The Trial and Execution of
Philippe George Jolin - 1829
by Ann Parnell

Many families have some kind of family 'legend' and ours was that of an ancestor who had murdered his father and become the last person to be publicly hung for murder on Jersey. My grandfather had spoken about this when we had visited when I was a child, although there was some confusion over how these men were related to my grandfather's grandfather, Francis, who had been the one 'on our side' to come from Jersey. With help from Christin Patterson and the research committee of the CIFHS, I attempted to find out what had actually happened.

The murdered man turned out to have been Philippe Jolin, who was baptised 18th March 1778 in St. Helier. He was the younger brother of Daniel Jolin, my great-great-great-grandfather, their parents being Jacque Jolin, baptised 19th November 1740 in St Helier, and Anne Le Bailly, a Huguenot 'refugiere' born in 1735. 'Our' Francis was Francois, a son of Daniel above and Jeanne Moutier, baptised 12th September 1810 in St. Helier, thus he was a nephew of the murdered man.

Philippe married Elizabeth Betsy Turner and had two children both baptised in St. Helier: Philippe George, baptised 5th February 1808, and Betsy Mary, baptised 20th January 1812, but who died in infancy. Philippe, snr, was a blacksmith, but his son had gone away to sea and been a crew member of the brig 'Pelican' at age 15. At the time of the incident, Philippe, jnr, was due to begin work at the shop of Philippe Binet.

The trial - Monday, 28th September, 1829
The trial of Philippe Jolin, jnr, took place at the Royal Court before a Grand Jury. The Court assembled at 10.15 am and present were the Bailiff and the Jurats, whose names were:

St Ouen Rozel De Carteret Bertram
Pipon Poingdestre Nicolle De Veulle
Benest De Ste Croix D'Auvergne  

After the prinsoner had been brought in, the Greffier read out the accusation whereby Philippe Jolin was accused by HM Attorney General of the crime of parricide and murder of Philippe Jolin his father, during the day of 7th September 1829, by throwing a piece of brick which stuck his head.

Thy jury, composed of eight principals of each of the parishes of St. Helier, St Saviour and St Laurens, was then summoned. The names of the jury were.

Messres: Philippe Le Vavasseur Dit Durell, Edouard Nicolle, Jean Mathews, jnr, Clement de Quetteville, Edouard Marett, Daniel Janvrin, Charles de la Garde, Jean Benest
Messres: Jean Pelque, James Hammond, Isaac Gosset, Abraham Aubin, Jean Mourant, Jacques Perchard, Daniel le Geyt, Hean Perchard
Messrs: Jean Langlois, Francois Payn, Edouard-Lenhard Bisson, Tom Dupre, Pierre Marett, Peirre Clement, James Luce, Jean Godfray.

After the Bailiff had administered the oath to the jury, the Attorney General read out the report of Centenier Nicolle of the parish of St. Helier:
"Monday, the 7th instant at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon I was informed that Mr Philippe Jolin had died a short while earlier from wounds and injuries inflicted by hi son, Philippe Jolin, Jnr. The latter, having entered his father's house between 1 and 2 in the afternoon and left soon afterwards in a rather brusque manner followed by the deceased who invited him to come in; he declined the invitation to do so saying it might result in either the father or the son killing the other. Shortly afterwards (the father then being in the lane leading to his home), the son returned carrying two bricks or pieces of brick which he threw at his father one after the other, despict the protests of a woman standing nearby. The dead man was struck on thehead by the last missile and caused him grievious harm and to fall to the ground, being unable to pick himself up. As a result of the fatalilty, I deemed it my duty to arrest the said Philippe Jolin, Junr, and to make this report."

EDOUARD THOMPSON DICKSON, aged 37, surgeon, had treated the deceased for several years for irregular attacks of gout and had been called to attend the deceased following the incident.
WILLIAM McDOUGAL, aged 40, surgeon in the Royal Navy, had accompanied Dr. Dickson at the inquest. He confirmed that cause of death was a ruptured blood vessel caused by a blow to the head.
MARIE LE RICHE, aged 28 had witnessed the argument between father and son, from a window at Philippe Nicolle's house.
THOMAS BERTRAM, aged 15, had witnessed the argument and had also seen the prisoner pick up a brick, break it in two and throw a piece at his father.
JEANNE LE MAISTRE, wife of Philippe Aubin, age 20, had spoken with the father after the argument at about 1.30 in the afternoon and afterwards advised the prisoner not to throw the brick.
EDOUARD LE FEUVRE, aged 28, a first cousin to the prisoner, gave evidence about the prisoner being drunk in his shop before and after the incident.
THOMAS THORNTON, aged 35, had been sitting at a window of the house opposite to that of Jurat Nicolle and had witnessed the prisoner fetching the pieces of brick and leaving afterwards without them.
PHILIPPE WINTER NICOLLE,, aged 28, one of the Centeniers of the parish of St. Helier, had been informed at about 4 in the afternoon by Dr Dickson about the killing, He had shortly afterwards met the prisoner at the quay, arrested him and taken him to prison.
THOMAS HINCHCLIFFE, aged 35, had found the deceased bleeding profusely on the ground and helped Jean Valpy to pick him up and carry him home.
JAMES CLARK, a stone cutter employed in the workshop of Thomas Hinchcliffe, helped to left the deceased.

PHILIPPE AUBIN, aged 32, said that in 1823 he had been a crew member together with the prisoner on the brig 'Pelican.' He gave evidence of seeing theprisoner deranged on board the ship.
PHILIPPE JEUNE, aged 32, had lodged in the deceased's home for seven years, before leaving there five years ago. He had often seen the prisoner deranged, and once had seen him threatening with a gun, but added that he may have been provoked by his father who had bad health because he drank too much.
MARGUERITE COLLAS, wife of Huard, Age 60, a neighbour of the deceased. A year ago she had answered the prinsoner's mother's call for help and had found the father striking his son with an iron bar. Often the prisoner had not been given food and had asked witness for food.
PHILIPPE MANUEL, aged 37, captain of the 'Pelican' in 1823. Said that the prisoner had behaved properly on board. He had seen marks and scars of beatings on the head of the accused, had witnessed the prisoner being kicked by his father and about 14 months ago had seen the father attack his son with an iron bar.
JOHN CUNNING, aged 39, crew member of the 'Pelican' in 1823, said the prisoner had been well-behaved and friendly with all the crew.
PHILIPPE BINET, aged 42, said the prisoner had appeared in his shop drunk before breakfast on the day of the killing, and returned after lunch and wept after telling what he had done to his father.
JOHN CASE, aged 45, blacksmith for the deceased, had often seen the deceased beat his son with a hammer.

Advocate Hammond then spoke on Philippe Jolin's behalf in an attempt to have him found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter. He then defined the difference between murder and manslaughter and went on to consider the character of the prisoner and the extenuating circumstances. In particular he mentioned an incident that took place on 7 January 1825 when the prisoner, along with five other young men, risked death by bravely setting out in a small boart to rescue survivors from the cutter 'Fanny' which had been fatally shipwrecked on the "Les Buits" rocks near Elizabeth Castle, whilst coming from St Malo under Captain Destauches. These young men were later commended for bravery on 2 May 1825 by the Greffier.

He then spoke about the brick throwing incident in detail, maintaining that it had happened on impulse and without premeditation. He mentioned the fact that the prisoner had wept and said that he was sorry afterwords and insisted that the attack had been committed in self-defence following the quarrel. He then quoted other cases of manslaughter insupport of his argument.

HM Attorney General addressed the Court. He outlined the details of the incident and played down the defence's previous remarks about provovation, suggesting that the evidence about violence and butality at home had been exaggerated. he said that there was doubt as to whether the prisoner had been drunk when he threw the brick, but in any case he thought the prisoner had known what he was doing. He dismissed the manslaughter cases cited by the defence as irrelevant because in those cases the actions had been committed immediately on being provoked, and provovation was not proved in this case. Also, acts between strangers were different than similar acts between father and son. He finished by saying: "A son must respect the authority of a father, even a blow cannot be considered as sufficient provocation for a son to engage in reprisals especially when the father is aged, feeble and in bad health".

The Bailiff then briefly addressed the jury and gave his opinion that: "it seems to me that the indictment has been proved by the evidence and that the prisoner is guilty". The jury retired for 55 minutes to consider the verdict, and when the Bailiff asked the foreman of the jury, Mr Durell, for the result, he replied: "The unanimous opinion of the jury is that Philippe Join, the prisoner at the bar, is moreso guilty than innocent of the crime of which he is indicted."

The counsel for the defence then addressed the Court on behalf of the prisoner. He mentioned the prisoner's young age, read again the Act of the States praising Jolin's bravery in 1825, cited other cases in support of his plea, and finally, he read out a note written by the prisoner. In this note Philippe Jolin was remourseful and said that he should have left home and never returned, thus avoiding being made a scapegoat for his parents' quarrels and witnesing the bad example of habitual drunkenss. Visits from the clergy during his imprisonment had made hime appreciate his duty towards God and mankind and he was not ready to accept the Court's judgement without a murmer.

The Bailiff pronounced sentence: the prisoner was to be delivered into the hands of the public executioner, taken to the place of execution and hanged and strngled until death, and all his effects to be confiscated.

During his detention before the trail both friends and relatives visited him and were said to have found him sad and depressed. He spoke of the killing to Nicolas Babot, son of the turnkey. The first clergyman to visit was the Revd. Falle, followed by Revd. M. Hall and Revd. M Perrot. The chaplains of the Bishop of Winchester, the Revds. Filleul, Hornsby, Durell, Cunningham and Gallichan, also in turn visited him and prayed for him. These visits by the clergy appeared to comfort Philippe and by the day of his trial he had become calm and composed and resigned to his fate. During the week before the execution he asked to see some members of his family and spoke to them about the Bible and read hymns. The day before Philippe's execution the Dean and other clergyman visited him and administered Holy COmmunion. The Revd. M. Gallicahn remained with him overnight.

The Deputy-Viscount and Denunciators Aubin and Godfray went to the prison at about 12.15. The Revds. Gallichan and Hall appeared with the prisoner, who appeared serene. At 1.15, escorted by about 200 halberdiers, they left the prison and walked to Gallows Hi,, (Mont Patibulaire/Westmount), followed by a large crowd. Philippe Jolin's hanging was watched by a crowd estimated at being over 6,000 strong. He had first made a speech in a firm voice which included a reading from the Bible and a plea to the crowd for families to be tolerant of each other and to make efforts to learn their duty towards God and mankind. At 4 0'clock the corpse was taken down from the gallows.

In the 'Chronique de Jersey' of 10th October 1829, it was noted that since 1820 there had been seven charges of murder brought before the Royal Court where extenuating circumstances had been proved and the death sentence had not been passed. The accused were: Waller, Thompson, Callaghan, C Le Sueur, Coutanche, Marshall and Plowman. In 1826, Chapman, charged with the murder of a Mr Brown in Guernsey, was aquitted on the ground of mental derangement.

It is interesting (and sad) to compare the circumstances of the case with similar cases today, to note how our society's ideas and opinions have changed since that time, and to think how different the verdict and sentence would be today.

NOTE: I have based this article mainly on the information contained in the long and very detailed newspaper accounts published in the Chronique de Jersey, editions 3rd and 10th October 1829, which were sent to me by Christine Patterson.

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