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Title: Guernsey Folk Lore - a collection of popular superstitions, legendary tales, - peculiar customs, proverbs, weather sayings, etc., of the - people of that island
Author: MacCulloch, Edgar
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          GUERNSEY FOLK-LORE

                            A COLLECTION OF

                    OF THE PEOPLE OF THAT ISLAND_.

                         FROM MSS. BY THE LATE
                SIR EDGAR MACCULLOCH, KNT., F.S.A., &c.
                        _Bailiff of Guernsey_.

                       EDITED BY EDITH F. CAREY.


                ELLIOT STOCK, 62, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.




Of late years the ancient superstitions of the people, their legendary
tales, their proverbial sayings, and, in fine, all that is designated
by the comprehensive term of “Folk-Lore,” have attracted much and
deserved attention. Puerile as are many of these subjects, they
become interesting when a comparison is instituted amongst them as
they exist in various countries. It is then seen how wide is their
spread--how, for example, the same incident in a fairy tale, modified
according to the manners and customs of the people by whom it is
related, extends from the remotest east to the westernmost confines
of Europe, and is even found occasionally to re-appear among the wild
tribes of the American Continent, and the isolated inhabitants of
Polynesia. The ethnologist may find in this an argument for the common
origin of all nations, and their gradual spread from one central
point,--the philosopher and psychologist may speculate on the wonderful
construction of the human mind, and, throwing aside the idea of the
unity of the race, may attribute the similarities of tradition to an
innate set of ideas, which find their expression in certain definite
forms,--while the historian and antiquary may sometimes discover
in these popular traditions, a confirmation or explanation of some
doubtful point. Lastly, he whose sole object is amusement, and whose
taste is not entirely vitiated by the exaggerated and exciting fiction
of modern times, will turn with pleasure to the simple tales which have
amused his childhood, and which are ever fresh and ever new.

Much of this ancient lore has already perished, and much is every
day disappearing before the influence of the printing press, and the
consequent extension of education. This would scarcely be regretted,
if, at the same time, the degrading superstitions with which much
of these old traditions are mixed up could disappear with them, but
unfortunately we find by experience that this is not the case, and that
these popular delusions only disappear in one form to re-appear in
another, equally, if not more, dangerous.

A desire to preserve, before they were entirely forgotten, some of the
traditional stories, and other matters connected with the folk-lore of
my native island, induced me to attempt to collect and record them,
but I have found the task, though pleasant, by no means easy. The last
fifty years has made an immense difference here as elsewhere. The
influx of a stranger population, and with it the growth and spread of
the English tongue, has changed, or modified considerably, the manners
and ideas of the people, more particularly in the town. Old customs
are forgotten by the rising generation, what amused their fathers
and mothers possesses little or no interest for their children, and
gradually even the recollection of these matters dies away. There are
good grounds for supposing that, although the belief in witchcraft
attained its greatest development in the century which succeeded the
Reformation, and was as much the creed of the clergy as of the laity,
other popular superstitions were looked upon with disfavour, and
especially all those customs which were in any way, even remotely,
connected with the observances of the ancient form of religion.
The rapid spread of dissent among the middle and lower classes of
society within the last half century has certainly not had the effect
of diminishing popular credulity with respect to the existence of
sorcerers and their supernatural powers, but, by discouraging the
amusements in which the young naturally delight, and in which the
elders took part, it has broken one of the links which connected the
present with the past.

Doubtless did one know where to look for it much might still be gleaned
among the peasantry, but all who have attempted to make collections
of popular lore know how difficult it is to make this class of people
open themselves. They fear ridicule, and cannot conceive what interest
one can have in seeking for information on subjects which--whatever
may be their own private opinion--they have been taught to speak of as

Some of the stories in the following compilation were related to me by
an old and valued servant of the family, Rachel du Port, others were
kindly communicated to me by ladies[1] and others, who had derived
their information from similar sources, and whose names I have appended
to them, and much is the result of my own research and observation. The
subject matter of the following pages, having been collected at various
times, and written down as it came to hand, is not arranged as it ought
to be, and there are necessarily some repetitions. Whether, after all,
the work is worthy of the time that has been spent on it, the reader
must decide for himself. Suffice it to say that as far as regards
myself it has afforded an occupation and amusement.


_Guernsey, February, 1864._

[1] The legends collected by Miss Lane (Mrs. Lane Clarke) were
subsequently published by her in the charming little book called
_Folk-Lore of Guernsey and Sark_, of which two Editions have been


Sir Edgar MacCulloch at his death, which occurred July 31st, 1896,
bequeathed his manuscript collection of Guernsey Folk-Lore to the Royal
Court of Guernsey, of which he had been for so many years Member and

This collection was subsequently handed over to me by Sir T. Godfrey
Carey, then Bailiff, and the other Members of the Court, to transcribe
for publication: it was contained in three manuscript books, closely
written on both sides of the pages, and interspersed with innumerable
scraps of paper, containing notes, additions and corrections; as Sir
Edgar himself says in his preface, the items were written down as
collected, local customs, fairy tales, witch stories, one after the
other, with no attempt at classification. In literally transcribing
them I have endeavoured to place them under their different headings,
as recommended by the English Folk-Lore Society, and have inserted the
notes in their proper places; and I am responsible for the choice of
the quotations heading the various chapters. In every other particular
I have copied the manuscript word for word as I received it. It took me
over three years to transcribe, and was placed by the Royal Court in
the printer’s hands in February, 1900.

It will be noticed that three sizes of type have been used throughout
the book; Sir Edgar MacCulloch’s subject matter has been printed in the
largest, the Author’s notes to his own text being in the medium, while
the notes printed in the smallest type contain additional legends and
superstitions, which have been told me, or collected for me, by and
from the country people, and which I have added, thereby making the
collection more complete. Also, at the end of the book, is an appendix
containing a few of the legends collected by myself, which were too
long to insert as notes, and a small collection of old Guernsey songs,
which I have written down from the lips of the older inhabitants, and
which, in one of the last conversations I had with Sir Edgar MacCulloch
on the subject, he strongly recommended should be included in any
collection of Guernsey Folk-Lore that should ever be published.

I was well aware of the difficulties of the task which I undertook,
and how unworthy I, a mere novice, was to edit the work of so eminent
an antiquary as the late Sir Edgar MacCulloch; but it was represented
to me that I was one of the very few who took any interest in the
fast vanishing traditions of the island, that I understood the local
dialect, and that I had had many conversations and much assistance from
Sir Edgar MacCulloch during his lifetime on the subject; and, more
especially, that if I did not do it no one else would undertake it, and
thus the result of Sir Edgar’s labours would be lost to the island.
This, I trust may be my excuse for assuming so great a responsibility.
I feel I should never have accomplished it without the unfailing
assistance and kindness of H. A. Giffard, Esq., the present Bailiff of
Guernsey, and John de Garis, Esq., Jurat of the Royal Court, members
of the Folk-Lore Committee, who have, in the midst of their own hard
work, gone through all the proofs in the most untiring manner, and have
helped me in every possible way.

The illustrations are from photographs, collected by myself, of old
pictures and views illustrating the Guernsey of which Sir Edgar
MacCulloch wrote, and which is now so sadly changed, and it will be
noticed that in various instances where Sir Edgar writes of “wooded
valleys and cornfields, etc.,” in 1864, now (1903) there are nothing
but quarries or greenhouses.

I am very grateful to Mr. Grigg, of High Street, for allowing me to use
the photographs, taken by his grandson, Mr. William Guerin, of original
pictures of Guernsey in his possession; also to Mr. Edgar Dupuy, of the
Arcade, and Mr. Singleton, photographer, for the use of photographs
done by them of Guernsey scenery.

I cannot conclude without thanking the many friends who have helped me
by collecting folk-lore and songs, especially I must mention my cousin,
the late Miss Ernestine Le Pelley, who gathered many traditions for
me from the west coast of the island, and who, alas! never lived to
see the book, in which she took so great an interest, in print. The
late Miss Anne Chepmell, who died in 1899, also gave me most valuable
assistance, and so have also Mrs. Le Patourel, Mrs. Charles Marquand,
Mrs. Mollet, Miss Margaret Mauger, Mrs. Sidney Tostevin, and many
others in St. Martin’s parish, who have racked their brains to remember
for me “chû que j’ai ouï dire à ma gran’mère.”


_Le Vallon, Guernsey, April, 1903._


    CHAPTER                                                         PAGE

                                PART I.


       I. FESTIVAL CUSTOMS                                            19


                               PART II.


          WITH THEM.                                                 109

          THEM.                                                      137

       V. CHAPELS AND HOLY WELLS.                                    165

      VI. FAIRIES.                                                   198

     VII. DEMONS AND GOBLINS.                                        226

    VIII. THE DEVIL.                                                 257

      IX. GHOSTS AND PROPHETIC WARNINGS.                             275

       X. WITCHES AND WITCHCRAFT.                                    289

      XI. CHARMS, SPELLS, AND INCANTATIONS.                          387

     XII. FOLK MEDICINE AND LEECH CRAFT.                             422

    XIII. STORY TELLING.                                             427

     XIV. HISTORICAL REMINISCENCES.                                  441

      XV. NURSERY SONGS AND CHILDREN’S GAMES.                        484

     XVI. SUPERSTITIONS GENERALLY.                                   501

    XVII. PROVERBS AND WEATHER LORE.                                 509



                                                  _Photo. by_      _Page_

    Sir Edgar MacCulloch, in his Robes as Bailiff
       of Guernsey.                               T. A. GRUT.          1

    Ruins of an Old Guernsey House,
       Les Caretiers, St. Sampson’s.              E. DUPUY.           26

    “La Grande Querrue.” _From an old photo by
       T. B. Hutton._                             E. DUPUY.           41

    Maison du Neuf Chemin, St. Saviour’s.         E. DUPUY.           57

    Parish Church of St. Peter Port, shewing
       houses now demolished. _From sketch by
       P. Le Lièvre, now in possession of
       Mr. Grigg._                                W. GUERIN.          70

    Vraicing off Hougue-à-la-Perre.                                   79

    Parish Church of St. Peter Port, A.D. 1846.
       _From original by Bentham, in possession
       of Mr. Grigg._                             W. GUERIN.          88

    “L’Autel des Vardes” at L’Ancresse.           E. DUPUY.          111

    Looking up Smith Street, 1870. _From
       original by L. Michael, in possession of
       Mr. Grigg._                                W. GUERIN.         116

    Creux des Fâïes.                              SINGLETON.         136

    “Tas de Pois,” showing Le Petit Bonhomme
       Andrelot, or Andriou.                      SINGLETON.         144

    Stone bearing the Devil’s Claw at Jerbourg.   E. DUPUY.          156

    Wishing Wells at Mont Blicq, Forest.          E. DUPUY.          164

    Wishing Well, Les Fontaines, Castel.          E. DUPUY.          189

    Another view of Creux des Fâïes, near Cobo.   SINGLETON.         205

    Looking down Smith Street, 1870. _From
       picture by L. Michael, in possession of
       Mr. Grigg._                                W. GUERIN.         224

    Old House, Ville au Roi.                      E. DUPUY.          238

    Houses in Church Square, 1825. _From sketch
       by P. Le Lièvre, in possession of Mr.
       Grigg._                                    W. GUERIN.         244

    “Le Coin de la Biche,” St. Martin’s.          E. DUPUY.          254

    Looking up Fountain Street, 1825. _From
       original bought by Mr. Grigg, in the
       Canichers, at Mr. Dobrée’s sale._          W. GUERIN.         262

    Looking down Berthelot Street, 1880. _From
       original by L. Michael, in possession of
       Mr. Grigg._                                W. GUERIN.         271

    Cow Lane. _From drawing lent by Colonel J. H.
       Carteret Carey._                           E. DUPUY.          278

    Harbour, showing entrance to Cow Lane.
       _From old picture._                                           287

    North Arm, Old Harbour, showing back of
       Pollet. _From photograph by Capt. Amet_,
       (Cir. 1850).                                                  294

    Town Harbour (site of the Albert Statue).
       _From a drawing by P. Naftel._             E. DUPUY.          303

    Royal Court House, 1880. _From picture by
       L. Michael, in possession of Mr. Grigg._   W. GUERIN.         311

    High Street, 1850. _Drawn partly from sketch,
       and partly photographed by the late
       A. C. Andros, Esq._                                           319

    Castle Cornet, 1660. _From an old picture._   W. GUERIN.         327

    Old Harbour. (Cir. 1852).                     Captain AMET.      335

    Stone supposed to represent the Ancient
       Priory at Lihou. _Drawn by J. J.
       Carey, Esq._                                                  342

    Mill Pond at the Vrangue.                     E. DUPUY.          359

    Old Mill House at the Vrangue, early 19th
       century. _From old pencil drawing._        E. DUPUY.          367

    Victor Hugo’s “Haunted House” at Pleinmont.   E. DUPUY.          375

    Old Market Place and States Arcade. _From
       old photo by T. B. Hutton._                E. DUPUY.          383

    Old Mill Buildings in the Talbot Valley.      E. DUPUY.          391

    Old House at Cobo.                            E. DUPUY.          393

    Old Manor House, Anneville.                   E. DUPUY.          407

    Oratory Window in Ruined Chapel at Anneville. E. DUPUY.          415

    St. Peter Port Harbour, 1852, shewing Old
       North Pier. _From negative._               Captain AMET.      423

    Old Farm House at St. Saviour’s. _From pencil
       drawing early in 19th century._            E. DUPUY.          431

    Old Mill, Talbot Valley.                      E. DUPUY.          439

    Ivy Castle.                                   T. B. HUTTON.      447

    Houses facing west door of Town Church,
       demolished while building the New
       Market. _From picture by L. Michael, in
       possession of Mr. Grigg._                  W. GUERIN.         455

    Old Cottage, Fermain.                         E. DUPUY.          463

    Old Mill, Talbot Valley.                      E. DUPUY.          471

    Water Lane, Couture. _Copied from old
       photograph._                               E. DUPUY.          479

    Hautgard, St. Peter’s, shewing “Pelotins”.    E. DUPUY.          487

    Old Guernsey Farm House.                                         495

    Top of Smith Street, shewing portion of the
       old Town House (on the left) of the de
       Sausmarez family. _From old negative by
       Dr. J. Mansell._                           E. DUPUY.          503

    Building south arm of Town Harbour,
       connecting Castle Cornet with Island.                         511

    Old Guernsey House. _From a pencil drawing
       of 1803._                                  E. DUPUY.          527

    Old Gibbet in Herm.                           E. DUPUY.          546

    Haunted Lane near Jerbourg.                   E. DUPUY.          587

The Arms of Guernsey, illustrated on the cover, are from a sketch by
Sir Edgar MacCulloch himself, drawn many years ago, and then described
by him as from the most ancient seal of the island to be found among
the records at the Greffe.


    Page 21.         For “Fautrat” read “Fautrart.”

      ”  21.         For “entrenir” read “entretenir.”

      ”  34 (_n_).   For “a” read “la.”

      ”  62.         For “ogygiau” read “ogygian.”

      ”  63.         For “Ono Maeritus” read “Onomacritus.”

      ”  75-6 (_n_). For “savoir” read “sçauoir.”

      ”  90.         For “ex-communication” read “excommunication.”

      ”  90.         With reference to the note on p. 90 the Editor was
                     then unaware of the Bull, dated Feb. 13, 1499,
                     whereby Pope Alexander VI. transferred the Churches
                     of the Channel Islands from the See of Coutances to
                     that of Winchester.

      ” 114.         Add “Les Tas de Pois d’Amont, showing,” etc.

      ” 164.         For “Wishing Well at Fontaine Blicq, St. Andrew’s.”
                     read “Les Fontaines de Mont Blicq, Forest.”

      ” 177 (_n_).   For “1303” read “1393.”

      ” 311.         Insert the words “in 1880.”

      ” 484.         For “Tamer” read “Tamar.”

Part I.

Times and Seasons, Festivals and Merry-makings.


Festival Customs.

    “Many precious rites
    And customs of our rural ancestry
    Are gone, or stealing from us.”


The observance of particular days and seasons, and of certain customs
connected with them, has been in all countries more or less mixed
up with religion. Many of these customs have, it is well known,
descended to us from pagan times. The Church, unable altogether to
eradicate them, has, in some cases, tacitly sanctioned, in others
incorporated them into her own system. At the Reformation some of
these observances were thought to savour too strongly of their pagan
origin, or to be too nearly allied to papal superstitions. Accordingly
we find that in a country like Scotland, where reformation amounted
to a total subversion of all the forms which had hitherto subsisted,
even such a festival as Christmas was proscribed, and of course with
it have fallen all the joyous observances which characterize that
season in England. In Guernsey, from the reign of Queen Elizabeth
to the Restoration of Charles II., the Presbyterian form of Church
government reigned supreme, and the ministers seem to have set their
faces strongly against anything which in their estimation could be
looked upon as superstitious. In the reformed churches of Geneva and
France, whose discipline the islands had adopted, all Saints’ days
had been abolished, and, although the greater festivals of Christmas
and Whitsuntide were retained, there were those in the insular
congregations who would gladly have seen these also discarded. Dr.
Peter Heylin, who visited the islands in 1629, tells us how “the
Ministers were much heartened in their inconformity by the practice
of De La Place, who, stomaching his disappointment in the loss of
the Deanery of Jersey, abandoned his native country, and retired to
Guernsey, where he breathed nothing but confusion to the English
Liturgy, the person of the new Dean (David Bandinel), and the change
of government. Whereas there was a lecture weekly every Thursday in
the Church of St. Peter’s-on-the-Sea, when once the feast of Christ’s
Nativity fell upon that day, he rather chose to disappoint the hearers,
and put off the sermon, than that the least honour should reflect on
that ancient festival.”

We find that in the year 1622 the Clergy of the Island complained to
the Royal Court of the practice that existed in the rural parishes of
people going about on the Eve of St. John and on the last day of the
year begging from house to house--a custom, which, in their opinion,
savoured much of the old leaven of Popery, and which, under the guise
of charity, introduced and nourished superstition among their flocks;
whereupon an ordinance was framed and promulgated, forbidding the
practice under the penalty of a fine or whipping.

    “Les Chefs Plaids Cappitaux d’apprés le jour St. Michell tenus
    le Lundy dernier jour du mois de Septembre, l’an 1622, par
    Amice de Carteret, Esq., Bailly, présents à ce les Sieurs
    Pierre Careye, Thomas Beauvoir, Thomas de l’Isle, Thomas
    Andros, Eleazar Le Marchant, Jean Bonamy, Jean Fautrart, Jean
    Blondel, et Jacques Guille, Jurez.

    “Sur la remonstrance de Messieurs les Ministres de ceste isle,
    que la vueille du jour St. Jean et celle du jour de l’an se
    fait une geuzerie ordinaire par les paroisses des champs en
    ceste isle; laquelle se resent grandement du viel levain de
    la Papaulté, au moyen de quoy, soubs ombre de charité, la
    superstition est introduite et nourye parmy nous, au grand
    destourbier du service de Dieu et manifeste scandalle des gens
    de bien; desirants iceux Ministres qu’il pleust à la Cour y
    apporter remede par les voyes les plus convenables--A sur ce
    Esté par exprès deffendu à toutes personnes qu’ils n’ayent
    en aulcun des susdits jours à geuzer, ny demander par voye
    d’aumosne aulcune chose, de peur d’entretenir la susdite
    superstition, à peine de soixante sous tournois d’amende sur
    les personnes capables de payer la dite amende, et s’ils
    n’ont moyen de payer, et qu’ils soyent d’aage, d’estre punis
    corporellement à discretion de Justice; et quant aux personnes
    qui ne seront point d’aage, d’estre fouettés publicquement en
    l’escolle de leur paroisse.”

A little later, begging at Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials was
prohibited on like grounds, and about the same time sumptuary laws
were passed controlling the expenses on these occasions, and limiting
the guests that might be invited to persons in the nearest degrees of
consanguinity. Dancing and singing were also forbidden, and any persons
convicted of these heinous crimes were to perform public penance in
their parish church, barefooted and bareheaded, enveloped in a sheet,
and holding a lighted torch in their hand.

It is not therefore to be wondered at if many observances and customs,
innocent in themselves, came to be forgotten, and this would be more
especially the case with such as were connected with the festivals of
the Church. Still some few observances and superstitions have survived,
and of these we will now endeavour to give the best account we can.
We would, however, previously remark that the Guernsey people are an
eminently holiday-loving race, and that, notwithstanding their long
subjection to Presbyterian rule, and the ascetic spirit of modern
dissent, the love of amusement is still strong in them. Christmas Day
and the day following, the first two days of the year, the Monday and
Tuesday at Easter and Whitsuntide, Midsummer Day and the day after, are
all seasons when there is an almost total cessation of work, and all
give themselves up to gaiety--and the household must be poor indeed
where a cake is not made on these occasions.

But before launching into a description of their ceremonies, festivals,
and superstitions, perhaps it might prove of interest if we here
attempt to give a slight description of the dress of our island
forefathers at different periods, during the last three hundred years,
drawn from various sources.

We will begin by an extract from a letter written by Mr. George
Métivier, that eminent antiquary, historian, and philologist, to the
_Star_ of June 20th, 1831:--

A Guernseyman Three Centuries Ago.

    “Knows’t me not by my clothes?
            No, nor thy tailor.”


“Suppose we conjure up a Guernseyman in his winter dress--a specimen
of the outer man, such as it appeared on high-days and holidays
‘sighing like a furnace to its mistress’ eye-brow’ in the reign of
the most puissant King Henry VIII., and under the long dynasty of the
five Westons--(James Guille, the son-in-law of one of them, was then
Bailiff). It is probable that the insular gentleman, in the highest
sense of that important word, copied the dress of his English and
Norman friends, as well as their manner, whether in good or evil.

“Similitude excludes peculiarity: we have therefore nothing to do with
Monsieur le Gouverneur, or Monsieur le Baillif, or the most refined
in wardrobe matters of his learned assessors. It is certain, however,
that the generality of our ancestors--‘l’honnête’ and sometimes ‘le
prudhomme’--derived the materials and cut of their raiment from St.
Malo’s--whence their very houses were occasionally imported--ready
built. We are indebted to a writer of the Elizabethan era for the
source of the following portrait.

“_Le cadaû_,[2] the chief article of a Guernseyman’s winter costume,
exactly resembled, both in name and form, the primitive Irish mantle.
Generally composed of wool, or of a kind of shag-rug, bordered with
fur, it descended in ample folds till it reached the heels. A surface
of such extraordinary dimensions might have exposed the wearer to some
inconvenience in stormy weather: but our fathers, no novices in the
art of cloak-wearing, knew how to furl and unfurl this magnificent
wrapper, and suit its folds and plaits to all changes of the season.
In the first Charles’ reign, the Jersey farmers, who still ‘bartered
the surplusage of their corn with the Spanish merchants at St. Malo’s,’
were far better acquainted with that long-robed nation than we can
now pretend to be. To the _cadaû_ was attached a _carapouce_[3]--an
enormous hood. If made of serge or good cloth, it was still a
_carapouce_; if the material was coarse--such as friars wore through
humility, or mariners and fishermen from motives of economy--the
_carapouce_ degenerated into a _couaille_. The sea-farer’s top-coat
affords an instance, not yet quite obsolete, of this island’s former
partiality for Armorican tailors, dresses, and names--a Tardif and a
Dorey will show you their _grigo_.[4]

“The residence of mind--for our ancestor, this ‘fine fleur de Norman,’
probably had one--was not forgotten. Muffled up in a voluminous hood,
like that of a Spanish _frayle_, it was further protected by the
native wig--‘la perruque naturelle’--and kept warm by a bonnet, part
of the _cadaû_ uniform, yclept _la barrette_. The original _biread_--a
lay mitre, not then peculiar to Ireland--was a conical cap, somewhat
resembling the foraging military bonnet.…

“His Grace, or Holiness--we are a bad hand at title dealing--the Right
Reverend Primate of Normandy, having once preached a most godlie
and comfortable sermon against long bushy perriwigs, descended from
his pulpit in the Cathedral of Rouen, scissors in hand, then doing
merciless execution therewith on King Henry I. and all the princely
and noble heads committed to his charge, exhorted them to perpetrate a
crime for which that traitor deserved to lose his own.”

    ‘The people vary too,
    Just as their princes do.’

So sings Nat Wanley, who was no nightingale; but even when the eighth
Harry, and the whole nation, aping him, shore their beautiful locks,
in spite of many a fond wife, what luxuriant male tresses continued to
flourish in the Norman Isles! Our friend of the _Star_ may remember the
time when the dangling chevelure of our village beaux and ‘Soudards
de Milice,’ though confined with whipcord on working days, was
regularly let loose in honour of Sunday and other grand festivals.
It is true that burly wife-killing Tudor did interfere. Ah, woe is
me! He requireth from his Normans as well as from his Irish lieges
‘conformitie in order and apparel with them that be civill people’
(A.D. 1537). At least, the alteration took place in both places exactly
at the same period; for the censorious terms of this statute were
neither applicable nor applied to our ancestors. Indeed, from the size
and structure of here and there a yeoman’s house, richly overlaid with
the golden moss of antiquity, it would seem that the dwellings of our
peasantry were very different from the mud-built[5] and chimneyless
cottages of old England. (Such as Jean Lestocq’s house in la Vingtaine
des Charités, Câtel--the traditional residence of an individual
mentioned in a spirited ballad of the year 1371).

[Illustration: Ruins of an Old Guernsey House, Les Caretiers, St.

“Be this as it may, ‘Though the language of such as dwell in these
Isles was French, the wearing of their haire long, and their attire was
_all after the Irish guise_ till the reigne of King Henrie the VIII.’
These are the words of Ralph Holinshed, who quotes Leland.”

The following description of the dress of the people of Sark in 1673,
is taken from a letter in the Harleian MSS.; it is quoted in full
in the “Historical Sketch of the Island of Sark,” in the _Guernsey
Magazine_ for 1874:--

“Sure I am the genius of the people cannot but be docile, since they
are naturally of a courteous affable temper, and the least tainted
with pride that ever I saw any of their nation; that apish variety of
fantastic fashions, wherewith Paris is justly accused to infect all
Europe, has here no footing, where every one retains the same garb
their ancestors wore in the days of Hugh Capet and King Pippin; so that
I can give small encouragement to any of the Knights of the Thimble to
transport themselves hither, where cucumbers are like to be more plenty
than in the back-side of St. Clement’s; each man religiously preserving
his vast blue trunk-breeches, and a coat almost like a Dutch frau’s
vest, or one of your waterman’s liveries. Nor are the women behindhand
with them in their hospital-gowns of the same colour, wooden sandals,
white stockings and red petticoats, so mean they are scarce worth
taking up. Both sexes on festivals wear large ruffs, and the women,
instead of hats or hoods, truss up their hair, the more genteel sort in
a kind of cabbage net; those of meaner fortunes in a piece of linen;
perhaps an old dish-clout turned out of service; or the fag-end of a
table-cloth, that had escaped the persecution of washing ever since the
Reformation; this they, tying on the top, make it shew like a Turkish
turban, but that part of it hangs down their backs like a veil.”

In Jersey the “fantastic fashions” of Paris seem to have penetrated
at an early date, for on the 22nd of September, 1636, a sumptuary law
was passed, forbidding anyone, male or female, to put on garments
“au-dessus de sa condition;” and also forbidding women to ornament
their bonnets with lace costing more than “quinze sols” (a “sol” was
worth about a franc) a yard, or to put on silken hoods, the wear of
which was reserved for ladies of quality. A short time after this
ordinance was passed, a Madame Lemprière, wife of the Seigneur de
Rosel, noticed in church, one Sunday, a peasant woman wearing the most
magnificent lace in her bonnet. She waited for her after church, tore
it off before the whole congregation, covering her with abuse the
while; and her friends stood round and applauded her action!

The most picturesque of our island costumes must have been that of the
Alderney women in the last century as described by Mrs. Lane-Clarke in
her “Guide to Alderney.” “A scarlet cloth petticoat and jacket, a large
ruff round their necks, fastened under the chin by a black ribbon, or
gold hook, and a round linen cap, stiffened so much as to be taken off
or put on as a man’s hat. On one occasion, when the island was menaced
by a French man-of-war, the Governor ordered out all the women in
their scarlet dresses, and, disposing them skilfully upon the heights,
effectually deceived the enemy with the appearance of his forces.”

At about this period the dress of the old Guernsey farmer was “a large
cocked hat, and thin ‘queue à la française,’ a long blue coat with
brass buttons, flowered waistcoat and jean trousers. Of course this was
only for Sundays and festivals. The women wore the black silk plaited
Guernsey bonnet, accompanied by a close mob cap underneath, with a
narrow muslin border; plain on the forehead and temples, but plaited
from the ears to the chin. A petticoat of black stuff, thickly quilted,
the gown--of an old fashion chintz pattern--open in front, and tucked
into the pocket holes of the petticoat; the boddice open in front to
the waist, with a coloured or starched muslin handkerchief in lieu of
a habit-shirt; tight sleeves terminating just below the elbow; blue
worsted stockings, with black velvet shoes and buckles.”

This description is taken from an old guide book of 1841. The dress was
rapidly becoming obsolete then, and has now, like almost every other
relic of the past, completely disappeared.

We will now return to the account of our local feasts and festivals.

Beginning with the commencement of the ecclesiastical year--the holy
season of Advent--the first day that claims our attention is that
dedicated to Saint Thomas, not because of any public observance
connected with it, but on account of its being supposed to be a time
when the secrets of futurity may be inquired into.

Under the head of “Love Spells” we shall describe the superstitious
practices to which, it is said, some young women still resort, in order
to ascertain their future destiny.

It is not improbable that some of these observances have been kept
alive by the constant communication that has always existed in times
of peace between the islands and continental Normandy, not a few
young people of both sexes coming over from the mainland to seek for
employment as farm servants.

[2] A covering or defence. (Celtic.)

[3] _Carabouss bras._ (Breton).

[4] A wrapper (Celtic). These terms are still used in the country.

[5] At least wattle-built and plastered with mud, if not mud-built
altogether. Holinshed exclaims against the _innovation_ of chimneys,
and regrets that “willow-built houses” are no longer fashionable.

La Longue Veille.

    “Meanwhile the village rouses up the fire;
    While well attested, and as well believ’d,
    Heard solemn, goes the goblin story round;
    Till superstitious horror creeps o’er all.”


In former days the most lucrative occupation of the people was that of
knitting woollen goods for the English and French markets. This branch
of industry was of great importance--in fact, after the decay of the
fisheries, which followed the discovery of Newfoundland, it constituted
the staple trade of the island, and the memory of the manufacture still
subsists in the name of “Guernsey jackets” and “Jerseys,” given to
the close-fitting knitted frocks worn by sailors. So highly were the
Guernsey woollen goods esteemed that they were considered a fitting
present for Royalty, and in 1556 Queen Mary[6] did not disdain to
receive from Sir Leonard Chamberlain, Governor of the Island, four
waistcoats, four pair of sleeves, and four pair of hose of “Garnsey
making.”[7] In the accounts of the Royal Scotch wardrobe for the year
1578, mention is made of woollen hose and gloves of Garnsey.[8] In
1586, the keeper of Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe paid the high price of
twenty shillings for one pair of knitted hose “_de facturâ Garnescie_.”
It is true that these are described as having the upper part and the
clocks of silk. (“Accounts of the Keeper of the Gt. Wardrobe, Elizabeth
XXVIII. to XXIX., A.D. 1586”). And finally the unfortunate Mary Stuart
wore at her execution a pair of white Guernsey hose.

The sheep kept in those days in the island were few in quantity, of
an inferior breed, described by old writers as having four or more
horns, producing coarse scanty wool, far from sufficient to furnish the
supply of raw material required to meet the demand of the manufactured
article. It was necessary therefore to have recourse to England, but
the restrictive laws of that day prohibited the exportation of wool,
and it was only by special Acts of Parliament that a certain quantity,
strictly limited, was allowed annually to leave the kingdom for the use
of the islands. The Governor who could succeed by his representations
in getting this quantity increased was sure to win the lasting
gratitude of the people.

Men and women of all ages engaged in this manufacture, and time was so
strictly economised that the farmer’s wife, riding into market with
her well stored paniers, knitted as the old horse jogged on through
the narrow roads, and the fisherman, after having set his lines, and
anchored his boat to wait for the turn of the tide, occupied the
leisure hour in fashioning a pair of stockings, or a frock.

In the long winter evenings neighbours were in the habit of meeting at
each other’s houses in turn, and while the matrons took their places on
the “lit de fouaille,” and the elderly men occupied the stools set in
the deeper recess of the chimney, the young men and maidens gathered
together on the floor, and by the dim light of the “crâsset,”[9]
plied their knitting, sang their songs, and told their stories--the
songs and tales that appear later on in this collection. Our thrifty
ancestors too were well imbued with the wisdom of the old saw that bids
one “take care of the pence,” and the saving of fuel and oil, which
was affected by working in company under the same roof, entered for
something in their calculations. These assemblies were called “veilles”
or “veillies,” and were well adapted to keep up a pleasant neighbourly

The wares thus made were brought into town for sale on the Saturday,
but there was one day in the year when a special market or fair for
these goods was held, and that was the day before Christmas. The night
previous to that--the 23rd December--was employed in preparing and
packing up the articles, and, being the termination of their labours
for the year, was made an opportunity for a feast. Masters were in the
habit of regaling their servants--merchants treated those with whom
they had dealings--and neighbours clubbed together to supply the means
of spending a joyous night. It may be that the restraint imposed by the
Puritan Clergy--de la Marche, La Place, and others--on all convivial
meetings connected in any way with religious observances, caused this
occasion for rejoicing--which could not by any possibility be branded
with the imputation of superstition--to be more highly appreciated than
it would otherwise have been, and to replace in some degree the usual
festivities of the season.

Although the manufacture of woollen goods as a staple article of
trade has come to an end, and the social “veilles” are no longer kept
up, “la longue veille,” or the evening of the 23rd of December, is
still observed as an occasion for family gatherings in many Guernsey
households, though there is perhaps not one person in twenty who
can tell the origin of the custom. Mulled wine, highly spiced and
sweetened, and always drunk out of coffee cups, with mild cheese and a
peculiar sort of biscuit--called emphatically “Guernsey biscuit”--is
considered quite indispensable on this evening, and indeed on all
occasions of family rejoicing; while on every afternoon of the 23rd
of December the old country people were met riding home from town
with their panniers full of provisions for the night. The next day,
Christmas Eve, is called the “surveille,” and the town on that evening
is flocked with pleasure-seekers, buying and eating chestnuts and

[6] I am indebted to Mr. Bury Palliser, the accomplished author of “A
History of Lace,” for these interesting particulars concerning the
ancient staple manufacture of these islands.

[7] New Year gifts to Queen Mary (Tudor), 1556. Sir Leonard
Chamberlain, “4 waistcoats, 4 paire of slevys, and 4 paire of hoosen of
Garnsey making.”

[8] _Scotch Royal Wardrobe_: Three pair of wolwin hois of worsetis of
Garnsey. Six paire of gloves of the same.

[9] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The Guernsey “crâsset” was very unlike the English
“cresset,” which was in the form of an iron lantern, filled with
inflammable materials. Ours was suspended from a hook or a cord along
which it was pulled to the required point, and was rounded at one end
and pointed at the other, and filled with oil. It is derived from the
Fr. “creuset” from Latin _crux_ a cross, because anciently crucibles
and all vessels for melting metals were marked with a cross.

Christmas and New Year.

    “Every season
    Shall have its suited pastime; even winter,
    In its deep noon, when mountains piled with snow
    And choked up valleys from our mansion, bar
    All entrance, and nor guest nor traveller
    Sounds at our gate; the empty hall forsaken,
    In some warm chamber, by the crackling fire,
    We’ll hold our little, snug, domestic court,
    Plying our work with song and tale between.”

                             --_Joanna Baillie._

From St. Thomas’ Day to New Year’s Eve is considered to be a season
when the powers of darkness are more than usually active, and it is
supposed to be dangerous to be out after dark.[10] Men returning home
on these nights have been led astray by the “faeu Bellengier” or Will
o’ the wisp, and when they believed themselves to be close to their
own doors have found themselves, they knew not how, in quite another
part of the island. Others have been driven almost crazy by finding
themselves followed or preceded by large black dogs, which no threats
could scare away and on which no blows could take effect. Some find
their path beset by white rabbits that go hopping along just under
their feet.

It is generally believed that just at midnight on Christmas Eve all the
cattle kneel and adore the newborn Saviour.[11] The considerate farmer
will take care to place an extra quantity of litter in the stall when
he shuts up his beasts for the night, but none would venture to wait
and see the event. Such prying curiosity is too dangerous, for it is
related how, on one occasion, a man who professed to disbelieve the
fact remained watching till the witching hour. What he saw was never
known, for, as he was leaving the stable, the door slammed violently,
and he fell dead on the threshold.

It is also said that, on the same night, and at the same hour, all
water turns to wine. A woman, prompted by curiosity, determined to
verify the truth of this allegation. Just at midnight, she proceeded
to draw a bucket of water from the well, when she heard a voice
addressing her in the following words:--

    “Toute l’eau se tourne en vin,
    Et tu es proche de ta fin.”

She fell down struck with a mortal disease, and before the end of the
year was a corpse.[12]

Notwithstanding the supernatural terrors of this night, groups of young
men and women from all parts of the country flock into town after their
day’s work is done, and assemble in crowds in the market place, where
they regale on oranges and roasted chestnuts. The public-houses profit
greatly by their presence; rendered valiant by their potations, and
feeling security in numbers, they return home at a late hour, singing
in chorus some interminable ditty, which, if goblins have any ear for
music, must certainly have the effect of driving them far away.

By those in easy circumstances Christmas Day is now celebrated much
as it is in England. The houses are decorated with holly and other
evergreens--the same substantial fare loads the hospitable board,
presents of meat or geese are sent to poor dependants, and families who
are dispersed re-assemble at the same table. It is still customary for
the poorer classes among the peasantry, who at any other season of the
year would be ashamed to beg, to go about from door to door some days
before Christmas, asking for alms under the name of “Noel,” in order to
be able to add something to their scanty fare; and before grates and
sea-coal became so common it was usual to reserve a large log of wood
to be burned on the hearth at Christmas. This was called “le tronquet
de Noel” and is evidently the same as the Yule log of the North of

In the neighbouring island of Alderney, one of the favourite diversions
in the merry meetings at this festive season was the assuming of
various disguises. Porphyrius, a native of Tyre, and a disciple of
Longinus in the year 223 speaks of the “Feast of Mithras, or the Sun,
where men were in the habit of disguising themselves as all sorts of
animals--lions, lionesses, crows;” and St. Sampson, on his second visit
to Jersey, gave gilded medals to the children on condition that they
stayed away from these fêtes; so says Mr. Métivier in one of his early
letters to the _Gazette_.

On the last night of the year it was customary (and the practice has
not altogether fallen into desuetude) for boys to dress up a grotesque
figure, which they called “Le vieux bout de l’an,” and after parading
it through the streets by torch-light with the mock ceremonial of a
funeral procession, to end by burying it on the beach, or in some other
retired spot, or to make a bonfire and burn it.[13]

“How often has it been my melancholy duty to attend, sometimes as chief
mourner (or mummer), the funeral of old _Bout de l’An_! A log of wood,
wrapt up in sable cloth, was his usual representative, when, with great
and even classical solemnity, just as the clock struck twelve, the
juvenile procession set itself in motion, every member thereof carrying
a lantern scooped out of a turnip, or made of oiled paper.… Ere the
law-suit between old and new style was for ever settled, the annual
log--Andrew Bonamy is mine authority--underwent the Pagan ceremony of
incineration at the Gallet-Heaume.”--(Mr. Métivier in the _Star_, March
14th, 1831.)

This is probably one of the superstitious practices against which the
ordinance of the Royal Court in 1622 was directed. At the same time,
children were wont to go about from house to house to beg for a New
Year’s gift, under the name of “hirvières” or “oguinane.” In so doing
they chanted the following rude rhyme:--

    Oguinâni! Oguinâno!
    Ouvre ta pouque, et pis la recllios.[14]

In Scotland _Hogmanay_ is the universal popular name for the last day
of the year. “It is a day of high festival among young and old--but
particularly the young.… It is still customary, in retired and
primitive towns, for the children of the poorer class of people to get
themselves on that morning swaddled in a great sheet, doubled up in
front, so as to form a vast pocket, and then to go along the streets
in little bands, calling at the doors of the wealthier classes for an
expected dole of wheaten bread. This is called their Hogmanay.”[15]

The first day of the year is with all classes in Guernsey the one
most strictly observed as a holiday, and, in all but the religious
observance, is more thought of than even Christmas Day. Presents
are given to friends, servants and children; the heads of families
gather around them those who have left the paternal roof; more distant
relatives exchange visits; young people call at the houses of their
aged kinsfolk to wish them many happy returns of the season, and,
in many cases, to receive the gifts that are awaiting them; and
receptions--now become almost official in their character--are held by
the Lieutenant-Governor, the Bailiff, and the Dean. Cake and wine are
offered to visitors, and the day ends in most households with a feast
in proportion with their means and rank in society. All the morning
the roads and streets are crowded with groups of persons hurrying from
house to house, hands are warmly shaken, kind words are spoken, many
a little coolness or misunderstanding is forgotten, and even breaches
of long standing are healed, when neighbours join in eating the many
cakes for which Guernsey is famous, and which are considered suitable
for the occasion. The favourite undoubtedly is “gâche à corinthes,”
anglicé “currant cake,” also a kind of soft bread-cake, known by the
name of “galette;” and on Christmas Day a sort of milk-cake, called
“gâche détrempée” is baked early in the morning, so as to appear hot
at the breakfast table; and so completely is this repast looked upon
in the light of a family feast, that parents living in the country
send presents of these cakes to their children who have taken service
in town. A younger brother will leave the paternal roof long before
daybreak to carry to his sister, at her master’s house, the cake which
the affectionate mother has risen in the middle of the night to bake
for her absent child.

[10] EDITOR’S NOTE.--In _Contes Populaires, Préjugés, Patois,
Proverbes, etc., de l’arrondissement de Bayeux_, par M. Pluquet;
seconde édition, 1834, it is said: “During the eight days before
Christmas (Les Avents de Noël) apparitions are most frequent, and
sorcerers have most power.”

[11] EDITOR’S NOTE.--This belief also prevails in Normandy, for M.
Du Bois says:--“Les paysans sont persuadés que, la veille de Noël,
à l’heure du sacrement de la messe de minuit, tous les bestiaux, et
surtout les bœufs et les vaches, mettent un genou en terre pour rendre
hommage à Jésus naissant. Il serait imprudent, disent-ils, de chercher
à s’assurer de ce fait par soi-même; on courrait le risque d’être
battu.”--_Recherches sur la Normandie_, Du Bois, 1843, p. 343. And in
the centre of France and Berry:--“On assure qu’au moment où le prêtre
élève l’hostie, pendant la messe de minuit, tous les animaux de la
paroisse s’agenouillent et prient devant leurs crèches.”--_Croyances et
Légendes du Centre de la France_, par Laisnel de la Salle, Tome 1er, p.

[12] EDITOR’S NOTE.--In Sark the superstition is that the water in the
streams and wells turns into blood at midnight on Christmas Eve, and
they also tell you that if you go and look you die within the year. One
Sark man said that he was determined to go to the well and draw water
at midnight, come what might. So on Christmas Eve he sallied forth to
reach the well in his back yard; as he crossed the threshold he tripped
and hit his head against the lintel of the door, and was picked up
unconscious the next morning. Most people would have taken this as a
warning and desisted, but he was obstinate, and the following Christmas
Eve he left the house at midnight as before, but as he approached the
well he heard a voice saying:--

    “Qui veut voir
    Veut sa mort.”

Then at last he was frightened, and rushed back into the house, and
never again did he attempt to pry into forbidden mysteries.--From Mrs.
Le Messurier, of Sark.

[13] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Hence the country people’s term for the effigy of
Guy Fawkes on the 5th of November “le vieux bout de l’an.”


    “Oguinâni! Oguinâno!
    Ope thy purse, and shut it then.”

There has been much discussion as to the derivation of “oguinâne,”
from which the Scottish “hogmanay” also comes. Mr. Métivier, in his
dictionary, says that it means the annual present of a master to his
servants, of a seigneur to his vassals, of a father to his children,
and derives it from “_agenhine feoh_” or “_hogenehyne fee_” the present
made, or money given, to those who belong to you--a word composed of
“agen” one’s own--as the English _own_, and “hind” servant, one of the
family. And he laughs at the theory propounded by various French and
English folklorists that it is derived from the rites of the Druids,
and comes from their ancient cry “Au guy l’an neuf”--“the mistletoe
(gui) of the New Year”--New Year’s Day being the day the pagans went
into the forests to seek the mistletoe on the oaks. (See _Notes and
Queries_. Series III. Vol. IV. p. 486.) In the _Star_ of March 14th,
1831, Mr. Métivier tells us that “as late as the reign of Louis XIV.
it was usual for the populace round Morlaix to chant a variety of
bacchanalian songs on the last eve of the year, and the chorus or
_refrain_ of every stanza was precisely what I should never have
fancied it to be--our

    ‘Oghin an eit! Oghin an eit!’

I am informed by a worthy monk that the good news announced by these
mystical words had nothing to do with the religion of Christ, and that,
being interpreted, they only tell us that ‘the wheat is upspringing--le
bled germe.’ _Eit_ and _od_ originally implied not wheat only, but
every sort of grain and seed. Thus it appears that what at first sight
defied all rational conjecture--the ‘oguinâni, oguinâno,’ cry of
our small gentry, once formed the immemorial chorus of an Armorican
hymn--the pure heathen liturgical relic of some Gaulish festival.
The primitive ditty was full of allusions to the increase of light,
the revival of vegetable nature, and other seasonable topics. The
noisy little heralds of this pleasing intelligence received for their
reward an ‘oguinâne,’ or, as it is now called, ‘leurs hirvières’--an
_hibernum donum_ or _winter_ gift. It is true that a few half-learned
lexicographers talk of the mistletoe and ‘Au Guy l’An Neuf;’ but the
French savans were systematic haters of France’s aboriginal languages,
and the minor Latin poet who invented this nonsensical interpretation
of a word whose etymon he was too lazy to dig for in its native mine
has hardly been dead two centuries.”

[15] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The old people of St. Martin’s parish still (1896)
talk of having in their youth gone to the neighbours’ houses on New
Year’s Eve singing the following rhyme:--

    _“Bon jour, Monsieur! Bon jour, Madame!_
    _Je n’vous ai pas vu acouâre ~(encore)~ chut ~(cette)~ an._
    _Et je vous souhaite une bouâne année,_
    _Et mes irvières s’i’vous plliet.”_

And a little bowl or bag of pennies was always at hand for gratuities.

La Grand’ Querrue.

    “And at the farm on the lochside of Rannock, in parlour and kitchen,
    Hark! there is music--yea, flowing of music, of milk, and of whiskey;
    Dancing and drinking, the young and the old, the spectators and actors,
    Never not actors the young, and the old not always spectators:
    Lo, I see piping and dancing!”

                     --_“The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich,” by A. H. Clough._

[Illustration: La Grand’ Querrue.]

The parsnip seems to have been cultivated at a very early period in
Guernsey, the soil appearing to be particularly well suited to the
growth of this valuable root. We have proof that tithe of them was
paid in times long anterior to the Reformation, although not claimed
in the present day. In order to secure a good crop, it is necessary
that the ground should be deeply trenched, and this operation, which
takes place at the beginning of the year, and entails a great amount
of labour, is, nevertheless, looked forward to with pleasure, as it
gives rise to social meetings. The trenching of the soil was formerly,
and is still occasionally, effected by the spade alone. This was done
by farm labourers and hired men with a peculiar spade called “Une
bêque de Guernesi.” Made by the country blacksmiths of the island, the
handle was of wood, generally ash, and so was the upper portion of the
blade, which was heart-shaped, the tip of the blade being of steel.
It was a very slow operation, four perches a day being the utmost one
man could accomplish, so that it had to begin very early in the year,
“whilst eating the bread baked at Christmas,” as the old farmers said.
But about a hundred years ago the “grand’ querrue” or big plough was
introduced at Les Fontaines, in the Castel parish, the house of the
Lenfesteys. This is preceded by one of the ordinary size to trace the
furrow. The large plough, being an expensive instrument and one that
is only wanted occasionally, is often the joint property of several
neighbours, who unite together to assist each other in working it.
Each brings his quota of labourers, and as many as twenty-two animals
have been sometimes seen harnessed to the same plough, to wit, six
bullocks and sixteen horses. Every man who is fortunate enough to be
the possessor of a beast deems himself bound in honour to produce it
on these occasions. The plough is generally guided by the owner of the
field, and a furrow is made about twelve inches deep by about eighteen
to twenty-four inches wide. As the labour is social, all work with good
will and emulation, and the scene is one of great animation. Of course
the assistance given is gratuitous, or, to speak more correctly, is
to be returned in kind when required. The farmer, however, who avails
himself of the labour of his neighbours, is expected to feed them.
The consequence is that the “grand’ querrue” is made the occasion of
a rural feast. The cider, for which the island is famous, circulates
freely throughout the day, and the prettiest girls are selected as
cup-bearers. Work begins about seven o’clock in the morning; about ten
o’clock a sort of luncheon called “mi-matin” is provided; this consists
of bread and butter, with cheese, fried cod fish, and strong tea or
coffee. At noon the cattle are unharnessed and put to feed, and then
comes the dinner of cabbage-soup, a large boiled ham or “pâlette,”
a breast-piece of pork, and perhaps a round of beef. At two o’clock
work is resumed, with a stoppage at four for a “mi-relevée” of tea and
currant cake, and occasional intervals for “une petite goutte;” for it
is well known that “i’faut prendre une petite goutte pour arrousaï,
ou bien j’n’airons pâs d’pânais,”--“one must take a sip to moisten the
field, or there will be no parsnips.” The day closes with a substantial
supper, more beef, more ham, enormous plum-puddings, baked, not boiled,
in the old ovens, (“grosses houichepotes”) with plenty of cider.

To this feast it is customary to invite the members of the respective
families who have not taken part in the labours of the day, and the
richer farmers send presents of pudding to their poorer neighbours who
are not invited to share in the work. Friends and relations who reside
at a distance, or in town, also join the gathering, and the best part
of the night is spent in singing, dancing, story-telling, blind man’s
buff, or the ancient roundelay of “mon beau laurier.”[16]

[16] EDITOR’S NOTE.--One curious custom at the supper or “défrique” was
that the men had their meal first, and not till they had finished did
the women sit down to have theirs.

Shrove Tuesday.

Shrove Tuesday is observed in the usual way, by a general frying
and eating of pancakes, and the custom must be old, and one of the
superstitious practices which the zeal of the Presbyterian clergy
failed in eradicating; for, had it been re-introduced from England, it
is not likely that it would have become so universal, or have taken so
strong a hold on the minds of the people.

The First Sunday in Lent.

In the neighbouring island of Alderney, the first Sunday in Lent is
known as “Le Dimanche des Brandons”--a name by which it is designated
in old calendars, and which it still bears in some parts of France.[17]
According to the late Mr. John Ozanne (de la Salerie), a native of
Alderney, it was also known as “le jour des vitres,” this last word
having, as he said, in the dialect of Alderney, the meaning of _masks_.
This gives rise to the supposition that in days gone by masking formed
part of the entertainment. On this day the young people made bonfires
and danced round them, especially at “La Pointe de Clanque.” This dance
was supposed to have had a bacchanalian origin, but was practised up
to fifty years ago; they revolved round these bonfires, and leapt
over them, and then, lighting wisps of straw, returned to the town by
the fields, throwing about these torches, to the great danger of the
thatched roofs.

[17] EDITOR’S NOTES.--That these customs were also kept up in Guernsey
is evident from the following extract from the manuscript note book of
Monsieur Elie Brevint, who died in the island of Sark in 1674, aged
87. He says:--“Le premier Dimanche de Caresme s’appelle le jour des
Brandons; à St. Martin de Guernezé les jeunes hommes par esbat portent
au soir du dit jour brandons de glie, etc.”

In _Les Archives de Normandie_, 1824, p. 164, there is the following
notice of “Le Jour des Brandons,” which shows that this custom also
prevailed in various parts of France. “À Saint Vaast et à Reville,
la veille de l’Epiphanie, des centaines d’enfants et même d’hommes,
parcourrent les campagnes munis de brandons allumés. Ils crient,
‘Taupes et mulots, sortez de mon clos, ou je vous mets le feu sur le
dos.’ Ou dans quelques autres parties de la Normandie on chante ces

    Bon jour les rois
    Jusqu’a douze mois
    Douz’ mois passés
    Rois, revenez!
    Charge, pommier!
    A chaq’ petite branchette
    Tout plein ma grand’ pochette,
    Taupes, mulots,
    Sortez du clos,
    Ou j’ vous brul’rai la barbe et l’s os!

Le lendemain au soir on allume un nouveau feu qu’on appèle une
Bourgulée, et l’on renouvelle le même chant, qui commence encore par
‘Adieu les Rois,’ etc. Dans la Commune de Créance, une grande partie de
la population passe presque toute la nuit du premier Dimanche de Carême
à faire la même sommation aux taupes et aux mulots.… Le Dimanche des
Brandons est une date commune et naturelle des actes du moyen age.”

The “Dimanche des Brandons” was also kept up in the centre of France
with very much the same ceremonies. See _Croyances et Légendes du
centre de la France_, Laisnel de la Salle. Tome 1er. Page 35.

“At Dijon, in Burgundy, it is the custom upon the first Sunday in Lent
to make large fires in the streets, whence it is called “Firebrand
Sunday.” This practice originated in the processions formerly made
on that day by the peasants with lighted torches of straw, to drive
away, as they called it, the bad air from the earth.”--From _Nori
Bourguinons_, p. 148. Quoted in Brand’s _Observations on Popular
Antiquities_, p. 57.

Good Friday.

On the morning of Good Friday it is the custom of the young people who
live near the sea shore to make parties to go down to the beach to
collect limpets. When a sufficient quantity of these shell fish has
been taken, a flat stone or rock of sufficient size is selected, and,
after being carefully swept and divested of all extraneous matter, the
limpets are arranged on it with their shells uppermost. A head of dry
furze or other brushwood is then placed over them and set on fire,
and the limpets are left covered with the hot embers until they are
supposed to be sufficiently cooked. Bread-cakes, fresh baked--if hot
from the oven so much the better--with an ample supply of the rich
butter for which the island is so famous, and a few bottles of cider
or beer, have been provided beforehand by the members composing the
pic-nic, and the limpets, now done to a turn, are eaten as a relish to
the simple meal, with a better appetite, and more real pleasure than
probably a far more elaborate feast would afford.[18]

Hot cross buns on Good Friday were unknown in Guernsey at the
commencement of the present century.

[18] EDITOR’S NOTE.--“In Sark, on Good Friday it is the custom for boys
to go and sail small boats on the ponds or pools by the sea-shore; and
these boats are made a good while beforehand, or treasured up of long
standing; this custom they never fail to keep up. Numbers of these same
boys also go in the afternoon to the Eperquerie drill-ground, to play
a game which they call rounders. It is played with a ball and a stick,
and somewhat resembles cricket.”--From _A Descriptive Sketch of the
Island of Sark_, by the Rev. J. L. V. Cachemaille (for many years Vicar
of the island), published in Clarke’s _Guernsey Magazine_, October,


There do not appear to be any particular customs connected with Easter,
but some old people can still remember that in their youth the children
in some parts of the country used to go about from door to door
begging for eggs.[19] This was called “demander la mouissole,” and was
evidently derived from the practice, so common in all parts of Europe,
of giving presents of eggs at this season. _Mouissole_ is derived from
the old Norman word _mouisson_, which means “a bird.”

[19] EDITOR’S NOTE.--In the country the dinner on Easter Sunday used
always to consist of fried eggs and bacon. As an old woman said, “it
was the only day we ever tasted an egg.” If they could not get fowls’
eggs, they even got wild birds’ eggs, and fried and ate them!

“In the North of England boys beg on Easter Eve eggs to play with, and
beggars ask for them to eat.”--_De Ludis Orientalibus_, by Hyde, 1694.
p. 237.

“The custom of eating a gammon of bacon at Easter, which is kept up
in many parts of England, was founded on this, _viz._, to shew their
abhorrence to Judaism at that solemn commemoration of our Lord’s
Resurrection.”--From _Aubrey_, 1679.

The First of April.

The first of April is not forgotten by children, who amuse themselves
on this day by attaching long shreds of paper or bits of rag by means
of crooked pins to the clothes of passers-by,[20] and then crying out
as loud as they can bawl, “La Coûe! La Coûe!” or “La Folle Agnès.” No
one knows the reason of the latter exclamation.

[20] EDITOR’S NOTE.--In _Lancashire Folk-Lore_ p. 225, it says, “On
Mid-Lent or ‘Bragot’ Sunday it is a custom for boys to hook a piece of
coloured cloth to the women’s gowns, and a similar custom prevails in
Portugal at carnival times.”

Sundays in May.

On the first Sunday in May the young men and women of the lower orders
arise at daybreak and sally forth into the country in groups, returning
home with large nosegays generally pilfered from the open gardens that
adorn the neat cottages of the peasantry.[21]

There is reason to believe that this custom was introduced from
England, but in Alderney it appears to have been a very ancient
practice to keep the first of May as a holiday. Garlands of flowers
were suspended across the street, under which the young people danced,
and the day was generally wound-up by a sort of pic-nic supper
or tea-drinking, to which each family contributed its quota. The
introduction of late years of a large stranger population into that
island, in consequence of the extensive fortifications and harbour
works undertaken by Government, has completely changed the primitive
character of the place, and has put an end to this picturesque custom.

[21] EDITOR’S NOTE.--“Bourne (‘_Antiquit. Vulg._’ chap, xxv.) tells us
that in his time, in the villages in the North of England, the juvenile
part of both sexes were wont to rise a little after midnight on the
first of May, and walk to some neighbouring wood, accompanied with
music and the blowing of horns, where they broke down branches from the
trees and adorned them with nosegays and crowns of flowers. This done,
they returned homewards with their booty about the time of sunrise, and
made their doors and windows triumph in the flowery spoil.” (Quoted in
_Brand’s Popular Antiquities_, p. 121).


    “And let us do it with no show of fear;
    No, with no more than if we heard that England
    Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance.”


Whit Monday, Midsummer Day, and the day on which Her Majesty’s birth is
celebrated, are all kept as holidays, and have long been appropriated
to the mustering and exercising of the Militia.

This institution differs in many respects from what goes by the same
name in England, and is more in the nature of the “Garde Nationale” of
France. It is of great antiquity, for we find among the Patent Rolls
of Edward III., one dated May, 1337, appointing Thomas de Ferrers
Governor of the Islands, and giving him directions to enrol all the
able-bodied inhabitants, to supply them with fitting arms, and to
place proper officers over them, in order that they might be able to
resist the invasions of the allies of the Scotch, with whom England
was then at war, and who had recently made some descents on Sark, and
on the coasts of the larger islands. The service is gratuitous and
compulsory, for, by the common law, all male inhabitants, from the ages
of sixteen to sixty, are liable to be called out, unless prevented
by illness, or able to claim exemption on some other legal ground.
Nevertheless, with the generality of the people, especially with those
of the rural parishes, the service is decidedly popular. An afternoon
of ball-practice, or a general review by the Lieutenant-Governor, is
looked forward to with pleasure, and the latter occasion is one which
affords a treat to all classes of the community. At an early hour the
roads are crowded with merry groups, dressed in their best, hastening
to the spot where the review is to take place. The country damsels are
proud of seeing their lovers set off by their military attire, and when
the men are dismissed it is amusing to see the careful wife or the
attentive sweetheart produce from the depth of her pocket, or from a
hand-basket, a light cap, or wide-awake, to replace the heavy shako,
while the young sons and brothers, not yet old enough to be enrolled,
dispute who shall have the honour of bearing the weighty musket. The
review is generally over by noon, and those who are industrious may
return to their work. Most of the men, however, particularly the
unmarried ones, prefer making a thorough holiday of it, and for the
rest of the afternoon the streets of the town are filled with groups of
merry-makers; the public houses ply a brisk trade, and the evening is
often far advanced before the joyous groups think of returning to their
own homes.


    “At eve last Midsummer no sleep I sought.”

                          --_Gay’s Pastorals._

The custom of making bonfires on the hilltops at Midsummer was formerly
so general among all the Celtic nations that it is highly probable that
it must have existed also in these islands, the aboriginal inhabitants
of which belonged undoubtedly to the Celtic race. In Scotland and in
Ireland these fires are called Beltein, or Baltein; they are lighted
also on May Day, and are supposed to be a relic of the worship formerly
paid to the sun, under the name of Bel, or Baal. Throughout Brittany,
and in some of the neighbouring parts of Normandy, “les feux de la St.
Jean” are still lighted on all the hills. In some parts of Wales and
Cornwall the custom is still kept up. That some observances connected
with this season still existed in this island in the early part of
the 17th Century is certain, from the fact of the Royal Court having
promulgated an ordinance in 1622 prohibiting begging on St. John’s Eve,
“as tending to keep alive superstition,” but what these observances
were, is now entirely forgotten. It has been asserted that in days gone
by “la Rocque Balan,” a remarkable and picturesque mass of granite on
the plain of L’Ancresse, used to be resorted to at Midsummer, and that
the youths and maidens danced together on its summit, where bonfires
used to be lit. The burden of an old song--

    “J’irons tous à la Saint Jean
    Dansaïr sus la Rocque Balan,”

is quoted as confirmatory of this assertion. Some suppose that “Balan”
has the same derivation as “Beltein;” others say that there was once
a logan, or rocking stone, “une pierre qui balançait,” on the apex of
the rock; but there is also a tradition that the former Priors of St.
Michel du Valle caused the merchandise of their tenants and vassals
to be weighed, and that the rock derived its appellation from the
“balances” used for this purpose.

The most probable and matter of fact solution of the difficulty is
that, like many other localities, it took its designation from the
person to whom it once belonged, the name “Balan” being that of a
family, now extinct, which at one time inhabited this parish.

Every cottage and farmhouse in the island is furnished with what is
called a “lit de fouâille” or “jonquière”--now called the “green
bed”--a sort of rustic divan generally placed in a recess between
the hearth and a window. This, raised about eighteen inches from the
ground, is thickly strewn with dried fern, or pea-haulm, and forms the
usual seat of the females of the family, when engaged in knitting or
sewing, and a very comfortable couch on which the men can repose after
the labours of the day. But at Midsummer, after the fresh fern has
been cut, the taverns and cottages vie with each other in decorating
these seats. A canopy is raised over them, and the whole, floor and
all, is thickly carpeted with fresh cut fern, and ornamented with the
most brilliant and showy flowers that can be procured, not scattered
at hap-hazard, but arranged in formal, and often far from inelegant
patterns.[22] The love of flowers is almost a passion with every class
of the inhabitants, and displays itself in the variety to be found at
all seasons in every garden, and the taste with which they are employed
in decorations.

It is difficult to say what gave rise to this custom of adorning the
“jonquière,” but it is doubtless one of great antiquity.[23] Old people
say that in former days it was customary to elect a girl from among the
inhabitants of the district, and seat her in state beneath the floral
canopy, where under the name[24] of “La Môme” she received in silence
the homage of the assembled guests.[25] Perhaps the whole is a remnant
of the old May games transferred to this season--perhaps it is an
observance connected with the ceremonies with which in many countries,
and especially among the Celtic nations, the sun was greeted on his
arrival at the summer solstice, and in which branches of trees and
bunches of flowers were used to decorate the houses.

[22] EDITOR’S NOTE.--An old country woman described to me a “Lit
de Fouaille” she had seen as a child. She described it as being a
four-post bed, both mattress and ceiling being one mass of flowers most
ingeniously twined together. Each post was garlanded with flowers, and
flower curtains hung from the top, woven together, she could not tell
how. In the middle sat the girl--silent.

[23] See _Folk-Lore Journal_, Vol. I, Pp. 297 and 301.

[24] Mr. Métivier writes under the heading of “Lit de Fouaille.”--“Que
de gens instruits, peu versés dans l’étude de notre Calendrier
Champêtre, se sont imaginés que le lit de feuilles et de fleurs du
solstice d’été--fête aussi ancienne que l’homme lui-même, n’était
qu’un lit vert--une jonquière! L’apothéose de la beauté sur un trone
de roses et de lys se retrouvait autrefois dans tous les climats, où
le soleil favorisait la culture de ces trésors de Flore. Presque de
nos jours, chaque canton de l’île élisait une tante ou cousine. Vouée
au silence--‘La Môme;’ et cette bonne parente recevait de toute la
compagnie l’hommage d’un baiser--c’est une allusion au silence de
l’astre du jour et à la naissance d’Harpocrate, le doigt sur la bouche,
au milieu d’un carreau de vives fleurs.”

[25] EDITOR’S NOTES. By the courtesy of Mr. J. Linwood Pitts I am able
to insert the following note, showing the gradual decadence of the old

“Some sixty or seventy years ago, a Mr. and Mrs. Le Maître kept
a public-house at Le Cognon, near St. Sampson’s. At the summer
vraicking time, they used to deck the green bed with elaborate floral
decorations--a veritable “Lleit de feuilles.” A plate was placed in the
centre of the bed to receive contributions. The young people used to go
there and dance in the evenings after vraicking, Mr. Le Maître playing
the fiddle for the dancers. Mrs. Robin (now seventy-three years old)
danced there as a girl.”

Stow in his “Survey” tells us “that on the vigil of St. John Baptist
every man’s door being shadowed with green birch, long fennel, St.
John’s wort, orpin, white lilies, and such like, garnished upon with
garlands of beautiful flowers, had also lamps of glass.…”

In Brand’s _Popular Antiquities of Great Britain_, Vol. I. p. 190, it
is said:--“Hutchinson mentions another custom used on this day; it
is to dress out stools with a cushion of flowers. A layer of clay is
placed on the stool, and therein is stuck with great regularity, an
arrangement of all kinds of flowers, so close as to form a beautiful
cushion. These are exhibited at the doors of houses in the villages,
and at the ends of streets and cross lanes of larger towns, where the
attendants beg money from passengers to enable them to have an evening
feast and dancing.” He adds “This custom is evidently derived from
the Ludi Compitalii of the Romans; this appellation is taken from the
Compita or Cross Lanes, where they were instituted and celebrated
by the multitude assembled before the building of Rome. It was the
Feast of Lares, or Household Gods, who presided as well over houses
as streets. This mode of adorning the seat or couch of the Lares was
beautiful, and the idea of reposing them on aromatic flowers, and beds
of roses, was excellent.”

Midsummer Day in Sark.

In Sark, Midsummer Day is the great holiday of the year, when every
youth who is fortunate enough to be the possessor of a horse, or who
can borrow one for the occasion, makes use of it. Bedecking both
himself and his steed with bunches of flowers, he goes to seek his
favourite damsel, who generally sports a new bonnet in honour of the
festival, and they often ride about in couples on the horses’ backs.
They then amuse themselves in racing up and down the roads, and even
venture sometimes to cross at a gallop the dangerous pass of the
Coupée--a narrow ledge of rock with a precipice on either side,--which
connects the peninsula of Little Sark with the main island. In the
evening they assemble to drink tea, eat currant cake, and dance. This
custom is known by the name of “Les Chevauchées.”[26]

[26] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Many charms and spells were also resorted to on
the eve and on the day of “La Saint Jean,” which will be inserted
under their proper heading. Another habit of the young men and girls
on Midsummer Day was to go out to the Grand Pont at St. Sampson’s, and
there have a supper composed of fried ham and eggs and pancakes, and
craûbackaûs or crayfish, the latter placed on the table in the pan, and
everyone helping themselves with their own fork. The custom was for the
girls to be dressed entirely in white, while the men wore white duck
or jean trousers, swallow-tailed coats, fancy waistcoats, and shoes
adorned with large white bows. The proceedings finished with songs and

Midsummer Day in Jersey.

In Jersey, the fishermen who inhabit the parish of St. John have a
custom of circumnavigating at Midsummer a certain rock, called “Le
Cheval Guillaume,” that lies off their coast, and in the same parish,
as well as in some other parts of the island, a very singular practice
has long prevailed. It is thus described in Plees’ Account of the
Island of Jersey. “At Midsummer Eve, a number of persons meet together,
and procure a large brass boiler; this is partly filled with water, and
sometimes metallic utensils of different kinds are thrown in. The rim
is then encircled with a strong species of rush, to which strings of
the same substance are attached. When these strings are sufficiently
moistened, the persons assembled take hold of them, and, drawing them
quickly through their hands, a tremendous vibration is excited in the
boiler, and a most barbarous, uncouth, and melancholy sound produced.
To render this grating concert still more dissonant, others blow with
cows’ horns and conches. This singular species of amusement continues
for several hours: it is termed ‘faire braire les poëles.’” The same
custom prevailed in Normandy, from whence it doubtless made its way
into Jersey. In the former province it is now on the decline. Being
observed on St. John’s Eve, it would appear to have a reference to
some Christian festival in honour of that saint; or it may relate
to Midsummer Day. Large numbers of the middling and lower classes
in Jersey are in the habit of coming to Guernsey for the Midsummer
holidays, and the natives of the latter island often choose this season
for visiting their friends and relations in Jersey. In the _Athenæum_,
September 20th, 1890, it says: “It may not be generally known that in
the island of Jersey on St. John’s Eve the older inhabitants used to
light fires under large iron pots full of water, in which they placed
silver articles--as spoons, mugs, etc.,--and then knocked the silver
against the iron, with the idea of scaring away all evil spirits.
There are now railroads in Jersey, and these old-world practices have
probably disappeared.”

The day after Midsummer used always to be the day of the fair, held in
the Fair-field at the Câtel. It was crowded from the early morning by
the entire population of the island, and the hedges round the field,
and even the sides of the roads in the vicinity, were filled with
French women, selling strawberries, and eggs dyed red with cochineal,
and who drove a roaring trade.


On the Sundays in August it was customary, a few years ago, for large
crowds from all parts of the island to assemble in the afternoon on
the causeway at St. Sampson’s called “Le Grand Pont.” The favourite
mode of proceeding thither was on horseback, but the only object that
the visitors seemed to have in view was that of seeing and being seen.
It is difficult to ascertain exactly what gave rise to this custom,
or indeed whether it is of ancient date. It is certain, however, that
the improvement of the roads at the commencement of the present
century, and the works carried on at the same time for the recovery of
a large portion of land from the sea, in this neighbourhood, concurred
in attracting a considerable number of persons to the spot. If the
custom existed previously it must have been one of old standing, and
may perhaps be traced to a church wake or feast held in honour of St.
Sampson, who is said to have been among the first who preached the
gospel in the island, and whose name the neighbouring church bears. The
calendar commemorates this saint on the 28th of July, and the practice
of meeting together on the Sunday following the anniversary of a saint,
in the vicinity of the church or chapel dedicated to him, is universal
throughout Brittany, where these assemblies are known by the name of
“pardons.” In some parts of Normandy, too, the custom is observed, and
the meetings are known as “Assemblées.” If not held on, or near, the
actual anniversary of the saint, they are often fixed for some Sunday
in August, when, the harvest being over, the peasants have more leisure
time for amusements.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--“In the southern parts of this nation,” says Bourne,
“most country villages are wont to observe some Sunday in a more
particular manner than the rest, _i.e._, the Sunday after the day of
dedication, or day of the saint to whom their church was dedicated.”
_Antiq. Vulg._, chap. xxx.

[Illustration: Maison du Neuf Chemin.]


On the Sundays in September it was the custom, at any rate in the early
part of this century, to ride out to the “Maison du Neuf Chemin,” at
St. Saviour’s, which was kept by a man called Alexandre. There they
would eat pancakes, apples and pears, and not come home till dusk. This
is the “Mess Alissandre” to whom Métivier alludes in “La Chanson des
Alexandriens,” “Rimes Guernesiaises,” 1831, p. 52.

    _“Vouloüs passair dans l’pu bel endret d’l’île_
    _Une a’ r’levaie sans paine et sans chagrin!_
    _Tournai mé l’dos ès sales pavais d’la ville,_
    _Et galoppai sie l’vieil houme du Neuf-Ch’min, etc.”_


    “Do you wish to go to the most beautiful neighbourhood of the island
    One afternoon without difficulty or trouble?
    Turn your back on the dirty pavements of the town,
    And gallop out to the old man of the New Path.”


Local Customs--Civic, Aquatic, Ceremonial.

    “Ordain them laws, part such as appertain
    To civil justice, part religious rites.”


La Chevanchée de St. Michel.

    “My parks, my walks, my manors that I had,
    Ev’n now forsake me; and of all my lands
    Is nothing left me.”

                     --_Shakspeare_, Henry VI.

Before giving an account of this curious old custom, now abolished, but
which seems to have been instituted originally with a view to keeping
the highways throughout the island in a due state of repair, it may
be as well to say something of the feudal system, as it existed, and
indeed, greatly modified of course, still exists in Guernsey. Though,
from the loss in the course of many centuries of the original charters,
we are left in the dark on many points, and can only guess at the
origin of some of the many small manors--or as they are locally termed,
“fiefs”--into which the island is divided.

It is known that previous to the Conquest of England by Duke
William,[27] Néel de St. Sauveur, Vicomte of Le Cotentin, was patron
of six of the ten parish churches in Guernsey--those of St. Samson,
St. Pierre Port, St. Martin de la Bellouse, La Trinité de la Forêt,
Notre Dame de Torteval, and St. André; and it is probable that he was
lord paramount of all the land contained in these parishes. He was
one of those barons who conspired against William, and having been
defeated by him in the Battle of Val des Dunes, all his possessions
were confiscated. On his submission he was again received into favour,
and his continental possessions restored, but such does not seem to
have been the case with what he held in Guernsey; for the patronage of
the churches mentioned above was given by William, a year before the
Conquest of England, to the great Abbey of Marmoutier near Tours; and
from that time we hear nothing more of the Viscounts of St. Sauveur in

The other four parishes, St. Michel du Valle, Notre Dame du Castel, St.
Sauveur, and St. Pierre du Bois, were in the patronage of the Abbey of
Mont St. Michel, and the lands in the greater part of these parishes
were held in nearly equal proportions between that famous Monastery and
the Earls of Chester--those held by the Abbey being known as “Le Fief
St. Michel,” and those belonging to the Earl being called “Le Fief le
Comte.” A local tradition says that it was Duke Robert, the father of
William the Conqueror, who first bestowed these lands on the Abbey,
and on the ancestors of the Earls, but of this there may be some doubt.

These lands were held direct from the Sovereign, to whom these lords
were bound to do homage, but in process of time they came to be
sub-fieffed by their possessors--that is, divided into smaller manors,
which, instead of owing direct allegiance to the Crown, depended on
their own lords, to whom they had certain services to render, and dues
to pay, and in whose Courts they were bound to make an appearance
thrice in the year. These Courts had jurisdiction in civil matters,
in causes arising between the tenants on their respective fiefs, and
had their seals, by which all written documents emanating from them
were authenticated, the seals of the Court of the Priory of St. Michel
representing the Archangel trampling Satan under foot, and that of the
Fief le Comte, St. George, near whose ruined chapel the Court still
holds its sittings. As there was always an appeal from the decision of
these Courts to the supreme tribunal of the island, the Royal Court,
they gradually ceased to be held, except for the purpose of collecting
the seignorial dues, and, by an Order of Her Majesty in Council, the
Court of the Fief St. Michel was abolished, the life interest of the
seneschal, vavassors, prevôts, bordiers, and other officers of the
Court being preserved.

One of the duties of the Court of St. Michel was to see that the
King’s highway (le chemin du Roi), and certain embankments against
the encroachments of the sea were kept in proper order and in due
reparation; and in order to insure this they were bound to make an
inspection once in three years.

We will now go back and consider the origin of the Fief St. Michel.
Among the many fiefs in Guernsey, held in chief from the Crown,
one of the most ancient and important is certainly that of St.
Michel-du-Valle, extending over the greater part of the northern and
western shores of the island. According to a tradition generally
accepted by the historians of the island, and which is in part
corroborated by documentary evidence, preserved in the “cartulaires”
of the famous Abbey of Mont St. Michel in Normandy, and in the
Record Office in England, certain monks who had been expelled from
that monastery for their irregularities, or had left voluntarily in
consequence of reforms in the community which they disapproved of,
came over to Guernsey about the year 966 and established themselves in
a part of the island called Le Clos du Valle, which at that period,
and until the beginning of the present century, was cut off from the
mainland by an arm of the sea, and could only be reached by a way
across the sands when the tide had receded. The monks are said to have
brought the whole of the western part of the island into cultivation,
and to have led such a pious life, and effected such a reform in the
manners of the inhabitants, that Guernsey acquired the appellation of
“l’île sainte.”[28][29]

It is also said that Robert I., Duke of Normandy, father of William the
Conqueror, called by some Le Magnifique and by others Le Diable, having
been driven by stress of weather to take refuge in Guernsey, when on
his way to England with a fleet to assist the Saxon Princes Alfred and
Edward in their resistance to the Danish invader Canute, was received
and hospitably entertained by the monks, and in return confirmed them
in the possession of the lands they had been the means of reclaiming,
at the same time constituting the community a priory in dependance on
the great monastery from which they had originally come; a connexion,
which although frequently interrupted during the long wars between
England and France for the possession of Normandy, existed until the
suppression of alien priories in England by Henry V.

Like all other fiefs the priory had its own Feudal Court, by means of
which it collected its rents and dues, and which had jurisdiction in
civil matters between all its tenants, subject, however, to an appeal
to the higher authority of the Royal Court of the island.

The Court of St. Michel-du-Valle consisted of a seneschal and eleven
vavassors, who, in virtue of their office and in consideration of their
services, held certain lands on the fief. The officers of the Court
were a greffier or registrar, four prevôts, who had duties analogous to
those of a sheriff, six bordiers, who had certain services to perform
in collecting dues and attending the meetings of the Court, and, though
last, not least, an officer styled porte-lance--of whom more hereafter.
The principal duties of the Court seem to have consisted in legalizing
sales of real property, in which tenants on the fief were interested,
and settling disputes concerning the same arising among them. But there
appear to have been attempts made from time to time to encroach on the
prerogatives of the Royal Court, and various ordinances of the latter
are in existence restraining the seneschal and vavassors from doing
certain acts, and even fining them for having gone beyond their powers.
There was one function, however, of the Court of St. Michael which it
seems to have exercised without dispute from time immemorial, but which
it is impossible to account for--the inspection and keeping in order
of the King’s highway throughout the island, and of certain of the
works for preventing the encroachments of the sea. Possibly it may have
originated in marking out the bounds of the Fief St. Michel and its
dependencies only, and with this keeping in order the sea defences.[30]
Once in three years, the seneschal and vavassors of the Court were
bound to perform this duty, which, judging from their later records,
they appear to have considered rather onerous, as we find several Acts
of the Court dispensing with the ceremony, the reason given being
generally the interruption it caused in agricultural labours, and the
loss occasioned thereby, at a time when farmers were far from being in
the prosperous condition in which they are at present.

Another very substantial reason was the expense, which had to be
defrayed out of the Crown revenue. According to some of our historians,
who, however, give no evidence in support of their assertion, this
inspection of the roads, commonly known as “La Chevauchée” from the
fact of the principal performers being mounted on horseback, was
originally annual, and was instituted with a view to having the roads
put in order preparatory to the grand religious procession of the
Host on Corpus Christi Day, but this origin of the ceremony seems
hardly probable, as it is well known that the procession in question
is strictly limited in Roman Catholic countries to parishes, and is
conducted by the parochial clergy. It is difficult to understand how
it came to pass that a subaltern Court, such as was that of the Fief
St. Michel, came to be allowed to exercise a quasi jurisdiction over
lands which had never been subject to it, but as it was impossible for
the Court to proceed to every part of their domain without occasionally
trespassing over other manors, what was originally allowed by courtesy
came to be looked upon at last as a right. A somewhat similar means
of assuring the keeping in due repair of the high roads existed, and
probably in a modified form still exists, in the sister island of
Jersey, where it is conducted by the vicomte, assisted by two or more
jurats of the Royal Court, and the officer, called the “porte-lance,”
who exercises the same functions as the official bearing the same
designation in the “Cour St. Michel.” It is known in Jersey as “La

But it is time to come to a description of how this ancient ceremony
was conducted in Guernsey. As has been said before, it ought to have
taken place every third year, at which time the Court of St. Michael
used to meet in the spring to settle preliminaries in fixing the day
on which the ceremony was to take place, regulating the costume to be
worn by the “_pions_” or footmen in attendance on the Court, and other
matters. The month of June was usually chosen, and on the day appointed
the Court assembled, with all the officers who were to take part in
the procession, at the small Court House adjoining the remains of the
ancient monastic buildings still dignified with the name of “L’Abbaye,”
although the establishment had been for centuries no more than a priory
dependent on the famous monastery of Mont St. Michel in Normandy.

The following are translations of a few of the Acts and Regulations of
the Court of St. Michael:--[31]

31 March, 1768. Seneschal nominated by the Governor.

24 May, 1768. The Chevauchée being due to take place on the following
8th of June, the Court has ruled the dress of the pions. A black cap
(calotte) with a red ribbon at the back. A ruffled shirt, with black
ribbon wristbands, and a black ribbon round the neck. Black breeches
with red ribbons tied round the knee. White stockings; and red rosettes
on their wands. N.B.--This Act does not seem to have been put in force.

27th April, 1813.--The Chevauchée of His Majesty is appointed to take
place on Wednesday, the 9th of the following June, for the reparation
of the quays and roads of the King, and it is ordered that it shall
be published throughout the parishes of this island, and cried in the
Market Place, so that no one can plead ignorance.

The 27th of May, 1813.--Before Thomas Falla, Esq., Seneschal of the
Court and Jurisdiction of the Fief St. Michel, present, Messieurs James
Ozanne, Nicholas Le Patourel, James Falla, Pierre Falla, Jean Mahy,
Richard Ozanne, Nicholas Moullin, Daniel Moullin, and Jean Le Pettevin
(called Le Roux), vavassors of the said Court. The Court being to-day
assembled to regulate the order to be pursued on Wednesday, the 9th of
June proximo,--the day appointed by the Court for the Chevauchée of His
Majesty to pass--has ordered that all the pions be dressed uniformly
as follows, to wit: Black caps with a red ribbon behind. White shirts,
with white cravats or neckerchiefs. Circular white waistcoats, with a
red ribbon border. Long white breeches, tied with red ribbon round the
knee. White stockings, and red rosettes on their wands.

And Messieurs les prevôts of the Court are ordered to warn all those
who are obliged to assist at the said Chevauchée to find themselves
with their swords, their pions, and their horses, the aforesaid 9th
of June at seven o’clock in the morning at the Court of St. Michael,
according to ancient custom, in default of appearance to be subject
to such penalties as it shall please the Court to award him. And also
shall Monsieur Le Gouverneur be duly warned, and Thomas Falla, Esq.,
seneschal, and Messrs. Jean Mahy and Nicholas Moullin, vavassors, are
nominated by the Court to form a committee so as to take the necessary
measures to regulate the conformity of the said act concerning the
dress of the pions.

(Signed) JEAN OZANNE, Greffier.

On the above day, conformably to the said Act, all the pions, dressed
in the afore-mentioned costume, met at seven o’clock in the morning
at the Court of St. Michael, and there also were found the King’s
officers, vavassors, who had to serve there as esquires. The King’s
officers and the seneschal each had two pions on either side of his
bridle rein, the vavassors were only entitled to one.

They began with a short inspection and a good breakfast on the
emplacement east of the Yale Church. After breakfast, the members of
the cortège, with their swords at their sides, got on their horses
opposite the said Court of St. Michael, where the greffier of the
said Court said the customary prayer, and the seneschal read the
proclamation, and then they started in the following order:--

The Sheriff of the Vale and his pion.

The Sheriff of the King and his two pions.

The Sheriff of the Grand Moûtier and his pion.

The Sheriff of the Petit Moûtier and his pion.

The Sheriff of Rozel and his pion.

The King’s Sergeant and his two pions.

The King’s Greffier and his two pions.

The King’s Comptroller and his two pions.

The King’s Procureur and his two pions.

The King’s Receiver and his two pions.

The Lance-Bearer and his two pions.

The Greffier of the Court St. Michel and his two pions.

The Seneschal of the Court St. Michel and his two pions.

The eleven vavassors of the Court St. Michel, and one pion each.

Whilst they are on their march, the five sheriffs carry by turns a
white wand in the following order:--

The Sheriff of the Vale, from the Vale Church to the end of Grand Pont.

The King’s Sheriff, from the end of Grand Pont, as far as the Forest.

The Sheriff of Grand Moûtier, from the Forest to the King’s Mills.

The Sheriff of Petit Moûtier, from the King’s Mills to the Douit des
Landes in the Market Place, and the Sheriff of Rozel from the last
mentioned place to the Vale.

During the procession the lance bearer carried a wand of eleven and
a quarter feet long, and any obstacle this wand encountered, stones
of walls, branches of trees, etc., had to be cleared away, and the
proprietor of the obstacle was fined thirty sous, which went towards
the expenses of the dinner. From time immemorial the privilege of the
pions,--who were chosen for their good looks--was that of kissing every
woman they met, whether gentle or simple, their only restriction being
that only one pion was allowed to kiss the same lady, she had not to
run the gauntlet of the gang. This privilege of course was invariably

At the entry of the Braye du Valle the seneschal freed the pions from
their attendance on the bridle reins, and gave them authority to
embrace any woman they might encounter, recommending good behaviour and
the rejoining of their cavaliers at the Hougue-à-la-Perre.

[Illustration: Parish Church of St. Peter Port.

Showing houses demolished to make room for present New Market.]

The Chevauchée then went to Sohier, les Landes, la rue du Marais, la
Grande Rue, la Mare Sansonnet, les Bordages, la Ronde Cheminée, and
les Morets. Arriving at the Hougue-à-la-Perre the pions regained their
respective stations on the side of their officers, leading the horses,
and there, at ten o’clock, they were met by His Excellency Sir John
Doyle, the Lieutenant-Governor and his staff, the horses of which were
all decorated with blue ribbons, except those of the said Governor and
of his family, who, out of compliment, carried red ribbons, matching
those of the Chevauchée. The Bailiff, with his party and John Guille,
Esq., also joined them at this spot, uniformly dressed in blue jackets,
white trousers, and leghorn hats.

The whole cavalcade then moved on, the Governor and suite at the rear,
preceded by the band of the town regiment, dressed as rustics, in long
white jackets and large hats with their brims turned down, and followed
by six dragoons to bring up the rear. Having passed between eleven and
twelve o’clock through Glatney, Pollet, Carrefour, and High-street,
they came to the Town Church, where they made the tour around a large
round table which had been placed near the westerly door of the said
church, which table was covered with a white cloth and supplied with
biscuits, cheese, and wine, which had been provided by one of the
“sous-prevôts,” and the Sheriff and the King’s Sergeant, on foot,
offered each cavalier who passed the door food and drink.

During this interval the band played serenades and marches.

At noon they proceeded through Berthelot-street to the College
fields, and, passing through the Grange, they reached the Gravée;
here His Excellency took his leave. The cavalcade passed on by St.
Martin’s road to the ancient manor of Ville-au-Roi, one of the oldest
habitations in the island. The entrance was tastefully decorated with
arches of flowers and a crown in the centre, with flags flying, and,
on one of the arches, “Vive la Chevauchée.” Here, according to old
manorial custom, the party was gratuitously regaled with milk. The
procession then moved on by Les Câches to Jerbourg, with the exception
of the pions, who proceeded to the village of the Forest, and there
waited the return of the Court. Here they danced and amused themselves
as before, and being rejoined by the cavalcade at the Bourg they moved
on by Les Brulliots, and passing Torteval Church arrived at a house
called the Château des Pezeries at Pleinmont, where a marquee was
erected, and cold meats and wine were prepared for the gentlemen. The
pions were seated on the grass in a circle which had been hollowed
for them, in the shape of a round table,[32] and they also had their
repast. Here the procession halted till four o’clock, and by this
time were joined by many carriages, filled with ladies and gentlemen,
who, with a numerous party of all ranks, moved on by Rocquaine, Roque
Poisson, below the Rouvets, Perelle, where a particular stone lies,
which they are obliged to go round according to an old custom, from
there by the Saint Saviour’s Road to the Grands Moulins or King’s
Mills. On their arrival there they were rejoined by the pions, the
mill was put in motion, and the miller came out with a plate in each
hand, one containing flour of wheat, and the other of barley, which had
been ground that instant by the mill. The miller then placed himself
on a large stone, and the procession moved round him; this custom has
prevailed from time immemorial. The procession then continued by St.
George, La Haye du Puits, Saumarez, Le Camp du Roy, Les Salines, to
the Clos du Valle, to the aforesaid Court of St. Michael, where they
arrived about seven o’clock, and where they were again joined by the
Lieutenant-Governor, the Bailiff, and some of the principal residents.
The Court having been dismissed they all partook of a sumptuous dinner,
at which Mr. Seneschal Falla presided. The pions were also handsomely

The last Chevauchée took place in Guernsey on the 31st of May, 1837,
but the description of the procession we have given refers to the one
in 1825, and is taken from Jacob’s _Annals_, and the _Chronique des
Isles_, by Syvret.

The oldest known Act of the Court of St. Michael is the following,
dated the 14th of October, 1204:--

“Les Chefs Plaids Capitaux de la Saint Michel tenus à Sainte Anne
en la Paroisse du Sarazin,[33] par Nicolle de Beauvoir Bailly, à ce
présens Jean Le Feyvre, Jean Philippes, Martin de Garris, Jean Maingy,
Jean Le Gros, Jemmes le Marchand, Pierre de la Lande, Robert de la
Salle, Colin Henry, Jurez de la Cour de nostre Souverain Seigneur le
Roy d’Angleterre en l’Isle de Guernereye. Le quatorzième jour du moys
d’Octobre, l’an MCCIV. Sur la Remonstrance qui nous a esté faicte de la
part des Frères Jean Agenor, Prieur, en la Paroisse de l’Archange de
Saint Michel du Valle et ses aliez Pierre de Beauvoir, Pierre Martin,
Jean Effart, Jean Jehan, Pierre Nicolle, Pierre du Prey, Jean Agenor,
Michel le Pelley, Jean Cappelle et autres Marchands et Manans, tant en
la Paroisse du Valle que de Saint Sampson, qu’ils éstoyent grandement
empeschez et endomagez concernant le desbordement de la mer, laquelle
auroit coupé le Douvre et passage commode entre les dittes Paroisses,
entendu qu’il estoit impossible non seulement de faire Procession, mais
aussi d’aller traficquer les uns avec les autres aux Landes du Sarazin,
s’il ne nous pleust leur permettre et accorder de faire maintenir
un certain Pont passant du Valle à Saint Sampson, estant propre et
passable de toutes Marées, de Charues, et Charettes, de pied et de
Cheval, et à qui il appartiendra de la maintenir en temps advenir.
Parquoy ne voulant refuser la Raisonnable remonstrance des avants dits,
et pour le bien public, nous leur avons appointé Veue sur les Limites
les plus célèbres des dittes Paroisses, dans le jour Saint Barthelemi
prochain, et advertiront le commun de s’y trouver, pour ouir ce que par
nous sera ordonné touchant la ditte edification.”

Another copy, which differs from the preceding in the names of the
Jurats, finishes by these words, “donné par copie des roles, signé
par Colin de la Lande, clerq.” According to this copy the names of
the Jurats are “Jean Le Gros, James Le Marchant, Pierre de la Lande,
Robert de la Salle, Colin Henry, Raoul Emery, Gaultier Blondel, Guillet
Le Febvre.” It is noticeable that the first four names of the copy
first cited are not among these, and that the last three on this list
are not in the Act which we have transcribed.[34] At the end of the
second copy we find the following notice: “N.B.--Mr. Thomas Le Maître,
Prevost de St. Sauveur à Jersey en a l’original.”

Originally the vavassors[35] of the Court of St. Michael were twelve in
number, similar to the Jurats of the Royal Court, but if you ask why
the number for the last two hundred years has been reduced to eleven,
the answer is--“that the devil carried away Vivien.” All that is known
about Jean Vivien is that he was a vavassor of this Court, and that, in
a fit of despair, he drowned himself, early in the seventeenth century.
Up to about the middle of the present century three letters “I. V. V.”
cut by himself on the broken fragment of rock from which he leapt into
the gulf, still existed at the end of a footpath, not far from the
“Fosse au Courlis”--Curlew’s ditch or grave--a spot haunted by witches.

Since then no Christian has dared to replace the suicide Jean Vivien,
and, when making the calculation of the symbolic vavassorial stones,
his pebble is always omitted. There are but eleven instead of twelve.

[27] “There were two Nigels (Neel or Niel), Viscounts of Cotentin,
and proprietors of St. Sauveur le Vicomte. I have reference to those
two charters, the perusal of which exalts conjectures into genuine
_facts_. It is highly gratifying to possess, at last, extracts from the
authentic charters of Robert I. and William II. granted to St. Michel
and St. Martin of Tours.”--Extract from MS. letter from George Métivier
to Sir Edgar MacCulloch, Nov. 1846.

[28] According to Mr. Métivier Guernsey was called “Holy Island” in
the days of a learned Greek called “Sylla,” the friend of Plutarch’s
grandfather, and he says that it was the custom for persons to go from
the “ogygian” (Gallic or Breton) Islands, to Delos every century,
which means every thirty years. The voyagers also visited the temple
of Dodona; and on their return from Delos “the sacred navigators
were conducted by the winds to the Isle of Saturn or Sacred Island
(Guernsey), which was peopled entirely by themselves and their
predecessors; for although they were by their laws permitted to return
after having served Saturn thirty years, which was the century of
the Druids, yet they frequently preferred remaining in the tranquil
retirement of this island to returning to their birth-places.”
Demetrius, also, says: “Among the islands which lie adjacent to
Britain, some are desert, known by the name of the Isles of Heroes.…
I embarked in the suite of the Emperor, who was about to visit the
nearest of them. We found thereon but few inhabitants, and these were
accounted _sacred and inviolable_.” Mr. Métivier goes on to say later
“Onomacritus, an author who flourished five hundred years B.C., in one
of his poems speaks of a vessel that conveyed the ashes of the dead
between England and Spain, and a celebrated Greek author of undoubted
veracity, Procopius, who wrote about 547 A.D., states that the “Breton
fishermen of an island subject to the French, were exempt from all
tribute, because they conveyed the dead into a neighbouring island.”
The Breton French fishermen came from Jersey, “La Porte Sainte,” and
terminated their funeral voyage at Guernsey, “l’Ile Bienheureuse.”
The ashes of the dead were deposited in our _croutes_ and sacred
enclosures, within the tombs composed of _five_ horizontal stones,
which number indicated the resting places of knightly heroes, or noble
Gauls.”--Métivier in the _Monthly Selection_, 1825, pp. 327 and 452.

[29] EDITOR’S NOTE.--M. de Gerville denies the truth of this tradition.
See _Documents Inédits du Moyen Age, relatifs aux Iles du Cotentin_, p.

[30] See _Gentleman’s Magazine Library_, Social Manners and Customs. P.
51, Beating of Bounds at Grimsby.

[31] EDITOR’S NOTE.--On the 27th April, 1533. The Court of St. Michel
du Valle ordered that the King’s Serjeant should “cry in the Market
Place for three Saturdays that the Chevauchée would take place in the
following month of May.”--_Fief Le Comte MSS._ copied by Colonel J. H.
C. Carey.

[32] As being of the same race and language as Wace, Walter Map and
Chrestien de Troyes, who were the first to collect and write of the
Arthurian legends,--or, as they are generally spoken of by French
writers “_Les Epopées de la Table Ronde_,”--it might reasonably be
expected that some traces of these old “romans” that must have so
influenced our forefathers should linger among us. This “round table”
so carefully hollowed out for the pions may be a relic of “La Table
Ronde,” of which Wace writes--

    “Fist Artus la Roonde Table
    Dont Bretons dient mainte fable.”

He goes on to say that Arthur instituted this Round Table in times of
peace, for his feudal retainers, so that none might consider himself
superior to his fellow knights and squires, for at such a table all
must be equal.

[33] Now called the Câtel, and the Church of the said Parish is
traditionally built on the Castle formerly inhabited by “Le Grand
Sarazin,” and it was there or thereabouts that the Royal Court used to

[34] EDITOR’S NOTE.--I will here add a copy of the old orders issued by
the Cour de St. Michel in 1663, and copied from those issued in 1439.
It is taken word for word from a manuscript lent me by Colonel J. H.
Carteret Carey, except that in places I have written in full words
which are abbreviated in the original MSS., such as “par” for “P,”
“Prevost” for “puost,” “présent” for “pnt,” “que” for “q,” “comme” for
“coe,” “parties” for “pties,” “Jour” for “Jor,” etc., etc.:--

A Tous Ceux quy ces presentes lettres verront ou orront--Denis Le
Marchant, Senechal de la Cour de la prieureté de St. Michel du Val en
l’Isle de Guernesey--Salut--comme ainsy soit que Martin Sauvary, comme
procureur et attourné des vavasseurs, Sergeans, bordiers, et autres
officiers, de la dite Cour acteurs d’une partie eussent fait semondre
et convenir pardevant nous en ladite Cour John phylippe recepveur pour
lors de la dite Isle de Guernesey et de ladite prieureté du Valle pour
très hault et très puissant prince Mon Seigneur Le Duc de Glocester,
Seigneur des Isles, et possesseur adonques de toutes les rentes et
revenues quelconques appartenants a la dite prieureté en ladite
Isle, deffenseur d’autre partie--Lequel attourné que dit est eust
declaré et demandé adonques a l’avant dit deffenseur comment iceluy
deffenseur recepveur comme dit est deubt bailler trouuer et deliurer
les debuoirs et deuteys appartenants es dits Officiers de la dite
Cour. C’est a sçauoir de temps en temps et toutefois et quantes qu’il
leur appartient de droit et de raison. Sçauoir est les 3 disners par
chacun a chascun des plaids Cappitaulx de ladite cour. C’est a sçauoir
à la feste St. Michel, à Noel, et à pasques. Item leurs disners toutes
fois et quantes que par le dit recepveur seront requis et contraints
d’aller reuisiter les Keys de la Coste de la mer et le cours des eaux
et que eux en feroient leur debvoir comment de droit et de raison
il appartient à leurs offices. Item--toutes fois et quantes que les
dits vavasseurs, leurs valets, et seruans et les autres Sergeants et
officiers a qu’il appartient iroient en chevauchée pour reuisiter
en ladite Isle leurs debvoirs semblablement--C’est a sçauoir quant
eux se sont representés deuant la porte de la dite prieureté et eux
doiuent monter a cheval eux doivent auoir du pain et du vin abondamment
et honestement seruis--Item pareillement eux doivent estre seruis
et administrer de pain et de vin par la main du prevost de mon dit
seigneur deuant la porte de l’eglise de St. pierre port lequel preuost
doit estre présent a la dite chevauchée; et doit estre illeques une
ronde table mise fournie et garnie bien et honnestement de doublier,
pain et vin es coustages de mon dit Seigneur. Item quant eux seront
arrivés es portes de pleinmont eux doiueut auoir du pair et a boire
et quant eux seront retournez a la dite prieureté et eux auront ainsi
fait leurs debvoir eux doivent avoir a disner bien et honnestement
tous ensemble es despens et coustages de mon dit Seigneur. Lequel
seruice iceux officiers confessoient estre tenus de droit et de raison
de trois ans en trois ans par la dignité de leurs offices. Item leurs
disners semblablement toutes fois et quant qu’eux taxent les amendes
de la dite cour. Item aussi a Noel et a Pasques quant eux rendent et
payent les francs tenans (?) C’est a sçauoir les chapons a Noel et les
oeufs a pasques. Lesquelles choses et chacune d’icelles en la forme
et manière comme dessus est dit et desclaré. Le dit attourné au nom
que dit est, proposoit adonques contre le dit recepveur, deffenseur
comme dessus est dit; et qu’a jceux officiers appartenoit de droit
et d’antienne coustume a raison et dignitez de leurs offices et cela
jceluy attourné offroit a prouver a suffire contre le dit deffenseur
et jceluy recepueur deffenseur comme dit est es auant dites parties,
propos et callenges dust fait negacion; et le dit attourné dust prins
et offert a prouver à suffire contre le dit deffenseur es quelles
parties nous assignames certain jour es premiers plaids de la dite Cour
c’est a sçavoir au dit attourné a faire sa preuve et audit deffenseur a
la soustenir. Sachent tous que le Jour du Jeudy neufième jour du mois
de Juillet l’an de grace mille, quatre cents et trente-neuf, en la dite
cour par-devant nous comme dit est les dites parties furent presentes
et personellemeut compareutes, et leurs raisons recitées et alleguées
tant de l’une partie que de l’autre. Le dit attourné prouva et informa
bien et raisonnablement toute son jntention et propos estre bons et
vrays en forme et manière comme dessus est dit, et desclare par le
report d’un bon et loyal serment douze preud’hommes de la dite paroisse
de St. Michel du Valle, Jures et Sermentez de nostre ofice sur Saintes
euangilles de dire et raporter uerité et loyaulté sur les cas, Item
en outre et dabondant qu’au Seigneur de ladite prieureté appartient a
faire curer et netoyer le fonds du douit du grand maresq appartenant a
la dite prieureté, estant a la dite paroisse et en cas qu’aucune ordure
soit terre ou pierre cherroit dedans jceluy douit qu’il doit estre
netoyé et curé es coustages de ceux a quj la faute seroit trouué après
lequel raport de serment fait et raporté a la forme et manière comme
dessus est dit nous condanmes (sic) (? confirmames) toutes et chacunes
les choses dessus dites et desclarez enfin et par perpetuité d’heritage
en sa temps aduenir. En tesmoing desquelles choses nous avons a ces
presentes lettres mis et appendu le seell de nos Armes l’an et le Jour
de susdit--Les parties a ce presentes.

Collationné à l’original par nous soussignez Senechal et Vavasseurs de
la dite cour de St. Michel le vingt et unième Jour du mois de May l’an
Mille, six cents soixante et huit.

  JEAN PERCHARD, Seneschal.

[Illustration: Sceau du Fief St. Michel du Valle.]

_Contre Sceau_ Initiales du dit Seneschal.

[35] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The titles of the eleven vavasseurs are:--(1)
Gervaise--(2) Capelle--(3) Soulaire--(4) Maresq--(5) Grent Maison--(6)
Garis--(7) Béhon--(8) Agenor--(9) Piquemie--(10) Le Moye--(11) Houët.
The titles of the sergeants:--(1) Gaillot--(2) Bordier Paisson--(3) de
la Lande--(4) Roques des Roques--(5) Bourg--(6) l’Ange. The titles of
the bordiers:--(1) Béquerel--(2) Rebour--(3) Renost--(4) Ricard--(5)
Nant--(6) Salmon--(7) Infart--(8) Scarabie.

“Briser La Hanse.”

This was a curious civic ceremony which was abolished in the early part
of this century. In each of our parishes there are a certain number of
functionaries called douzeniers, because the corps in question consists
of twelve (douze) members, except in St. Peter Port, where there are
twenty, and at St. Michel du Valle, where there are sixteen. When one
of these officers was elected, he had to give a feast, to which the
electors carried an enormous bouquet of flowers “à deux hanses”--with
two handles. The dinner finished and the cloth removed, each man filled
his glass, and the abdicating douzenier (le douzenier _déhansé_) broke
one of these handles, previously dipping the bouquet into his glass,
and drinking the health of the douzenier _hansé_. Then the bouquet went
round from hand to hand, each man, while moistening it with the spirit
that bubbled in his glass, adding his toast to the newly elected or
_hansé_ douzenier.

Local Customs--Aquatic.

    “Heureux peuple des champs, vos travaux sont des fêtes.”

                                            --_St. Lambert._


The months of June, July, and August, form one of the principal seasons
for the collection of the seaweed with which the rocky shores of
Guernsey abound, and which, from time immemorial, has proved a most
valuable resource to the farmer, not only as affording an excellent
manure for the land, but also, in the case of the poorer cottagers and
fishermen who inhabit the coast, an unfailing supply of fuel. Many
indeed of these gain almost their entire livelihood by collecting
the “vraic” as it is locally termed, which they sell to their richer
neighbours for dressing the land, or which, after drying on the shore,
they stack for their winter firing. The ashes, which are carefully
preserved, always command a ready market, being considered one of
the best manures that can be applied to the land in preparing it for
certain crops. The qualities of seaweed in general as a fertilizer are
so highly appreciated that it has given rise to the agricultural adage
“_point de vraic, point de hautgard_”--no sea-weed, no stack yard. It
has been remarked that dry seasons are unfavourable to the growth of
sea-weed, and that rain is almost as essential to its development as it
is to that of the grass of the field--a singular fact, when we remember
that the marine plant has always a supply of moisture.

[Illustration: Vraicing.]

Sea-weed is distinguished into two kinds “_vraic venant_”--drift weed,
and “_vraic scié_”--cut weed. The former is that which, like the
leaves and branches of a tree, are severed from the place of growth by
natural decay, or by the violence of storms, and is thrown up by the
action of the waves on the shore. The latter is that which is detached
from the rocks by the hand of man, generally with the aid of a small
sickle. The collecting of sea-weed, whether drift or cut, is subject to
stringent regulations, framed with a view both of preventing dangerous
quarrels among those engaged in the occupation, and also of ensuring a
regular supply of so precious a commodity by allowing sufficient time
for its growth. In Guernsey the Royal Court has always legislated on
the subject, but on the coasts of Normandy and Brittany it appears to
have been the province of the Church to regulate the matter, and the
harvesting of the sea-weed never began until the parish priest had
solemnly blessed the undertaking.

Driftweed may be collected at all seasons, but only between sunrise
and sunset. It is found left on the beach by the retiring tide, or
is dragged on shore by means of long rakes from amidst the breakers
that roll in during, or after, heavy gales. This is hard work, and
not unattended with danger. The men are frequently up to their waists
in the water, and the shelving pebbly beach affords but an insecure
footing. The rakes are often wrenched out of the men’s hands by the
violence of the waves, and hurled back among them, inflicting severe
bruises and sometimes even broken limbs. The collecting of the cut
weed or “_vraic scié_” is quite another thing. Although entailing a
great deal of labour, it is looked upon, especially in summer, as a
sort of holiday. There are two seasons during which it is lawful to
cut: the first begins with the first spring-tide after Candlemas, and
lasts about five weeks, during the whole of which time every person
is allowed to collect as much as he wants for manuring his lands. The
second cutting, which is chiefly for fuel, commences about Midsummer
and lasts until the middle of August. Immemorial usage, strengthened
by legal enactment, has consecrated the first eight days of cutting at
this season to the poor. During this time none but those who are too
poor to possess a horse or cart are allowed the privilege of gathering
the vraic, which, when cut, they must bring to high water mark on
their backs. After this concession to the less fortunate brethren, the
harvest is thrown open to all. Then it is that the country people,
uniting in parties consisting frequently of two or three neighbouring
families, resort to the beach with their carts, to watch the ebbing
tide, and secure a favourable spot for their operations. All who can
be spared from the necessary routine work of the farm attend on these
occasions. The younger people adorn their hats with wreaths of flowers,
the horses’ heads are decked with nosegays, and even the yoke of the
patient ox is not without its floral honours. Once arrived on the
sea-shore, not a moment is lost, for time and tide wait for no man,
and first come, first served. The sickle is plied vigorously, and
small heaps of the precious weed are collected and marked with a flat
pebble, on which the name or initials of the proprietor are chalked.
The men wade across the “cols” or natural causeways leading to the
outlying rocks, and, when the tide begins to flow, hastily load the
carts, or the ample panniers with which the horses are provided, and
hurry off to deposit their hard-earned store above high-water mark. In
the meantime the younger members of the party range along the beach,
turning over the stones in search of that esteemed mollusc the “ormer”
or sea-ear (_Haliotis tuberculata_) which, when well cooked--a secret
only known to a native of the isles--is really a delicious morsel. Not
unfrequently crabs of various kinds are turned out of their hiding
places, and hurry off, holding up their formidable pincers in defiance
and defence, but are soon adroitly transferred to the “_behotte_”--a
small basket, narrow mouthed and flattened on one side, which hangs
by a belt from the shoulder of the youth or maiden. Here and there
a larger mass of rock is with difficulty raised, and a goodly sized
conger-eel, disturbed from his snug retreat, glides away like a snake
and endeavours to hide himself in the grass-like “_plize_” (_Zostera
Marina_). A blow on the head stuns him, and he goes to join the
captive ormers and crabs. Perhaps one of those hideous monsters of the
deep, the cuttle fish, is dislodged. His long tentacles, armed with
innumerable suckers, which attach themselves strongly to anything they
touch, his parrot-like bill and large projecting eyes, staring with a
fixed gaze, are calculated to inspire alarm, but the trenchant sickle
makes short work of him, and his scattered limbs remain on the spot to
form a meal for the crabs.

The laugh and the jest are to be heard on all sides--even the brute
creation seem to enjoy the change. The horses, generally quiet, scamper
over the sands and rocks, neighing joyously to one another; the farm
dogs are busy hunting the small crabs that everywhere abound, or
rushing into the water after the stones thrown by the children. A
more animated scene can nowhere be witnessed, and, when lighted up by
a bright summer sun, none more worthy of being studied by the artist.
The rich colouring of the rocks, the lustrous bronzed tints of the
moist sea-weed, the delicate hues of the transparent water as it lies
unruffled in the small pools left by the retiring wave, the groups of
oxen and horses with their shining summer coats, and the merry faces of
the peasantry, form a picture which no true lover of nature can ever
forget. But the tide is rising, and drives the busy crowd before it.
Before, however, they leave the strand, the younger men choose their
favourite lasses, and lead them, already thoroughly drenched, to meet
the advancing wave. Hand-in-hand they venture in; the confiding girl
is enticed onwards, and suddenly finds herself immersed over head and
ears in the water. Some, more coy, feign to fly, sure to be overtaken
and share the same fate. The whole scene is vividly portrayed by Mr.
Métivier in his poem of the “Sea Weeders” written in 1812.

At last, all re-assemble on the grassy sward that lines the shore,
and join their respective parties. The careful housewife has baked
beforehand a plentiful supply of “gâche” and biscuits; the rich
golden-coloured butter has been kept from the market, much to the
annoyance of the thrifty matron in town, who finds the price enhanced
in consequence; the small barrel of cider is broached, and all make a
hearty meal. The remaining hours of daylight are employed in carting
away the vraic or spreading it out on the downs to dry, and, when
night has set in, many assemble again at some neighbouring tavern and
end the day with song and dance. The old fashioned “_chifournie_” or
hurdy-gurdy--the _rote_ of mediæval times--has given way to the modern
fiddle, but the songs are still those that delighted their ancestors.
Most, if not all of them, have been originally derived from France,
where it is far from improbable that they are now forgotten except in
some remote country villages, but it is curious to find that they are
still sung by the Canadian boatmen, and “Belle Rose, au Rosier Blanc”
and “A la Claire Fontaine” are as familiar to the American descendants
of the Normans as they are to the Guernsey peasant.


Another favourite amusement of the young people in the country,
besides the merry-making which accompanies and follows the collection
of sea-weed in summer, is the forming of parties to take the ormer, a
shell-fish which abounds at low water at the spring-tides in spring
and autumn. The ormer is the _Haliotis tuberculata_ of naturalists,
and derives its name from its resemblance in shape to an ear--_auris
marina_--“oreille de mer.” The shell, which was formerly thrown away,
is now carefully collected and exported, as it enters largely into the
japanned ware manufactured at Birmingham and elsewhere, the lustre of
the interior of the shell surpassing in brilliancy and variety of tints
that of the best mother-of-pearl. It is not, however, for the sake of
the shell that this mollusc is sought, but for the fish itself, which,
after being well beaten to make it tender, and cooked in brown sauce,
forms a favourite dish. Like the limpet, the ormer adheres strongly to
the rock, from which it requires some degree of strength to detach it,
but it seems to possess considerable powers of locomotion, and appears
to come up from the deep water at certain seasons of the year, probably
for the purpose of depositing its ova. It is a curious instance of the
local distribution of animal life that, although the ormer is known in
the Mediterranean, and is found all along the western shores of Spain
and France, and in great quantities on the coasts of Brittany, it has
never been discovered much to the eastward of Cherbourg, nor on the
English side of the Channel.

The localities in which the ormer abounds are the rocky bays, of which
there are so many around our coast, and there it is found at the proper
seasons adhering to the under surface of the loose boulders. It is no
trifling work to turn over these stones, but the searcher often returns
home laden with several hundred ormers, and not infrequently he has
also added a crab or a conger to his store.


The catching of the sand-eel, or “_lanchon_” as it is locally termed,
takes place on nights when the moon is at her full, and at low water:
it is pursued more as a recreation than as a source of profit. Parties
of young men and women unite and resort to some sandy bay or creek as
the tide is ebbing, armed with blunted sickles, two-pronged forks, or
any instrument with which the sand can be easily stirred. The fish,
on being disturbed, rise to the surface of the sand with a leap. They
are very agile in their movements, but their bright silvery sides,
glittering in the moon-beams, betray them to their active pursuers, and
before they have time to burrow again in the sand they are caught with
the hand and transferred to the basket. It is more easy to imagine than
describe the fun and merriment to which this sport gives rise; how in
the eagerness of the pursuit, a false step will place the incautious
maiden up to the waist in a pool of water, and subject her to the good
natured laughter of her merry companions; how an apparently accidental
push from behind will cause a youth, who is stooping down to gather
up the fish, to measure his whole length on the wet sand; or how a
malicious step will splash one or more of the party from top to toe. To
the lovers of the picturesque the localities in which this sport takes
place add not a little to the charm of the scene. The broad sands of
Vazon Bay, those of La Saline and other creeks on the western shores
of the island, hemmed in on all sides by reefs of rock, and, above
all, that most lovely spot called Le Petit Port, which lies at the
foot of the precipitous cliffs of Jerbourg, seen in the full light of
the harvest moon, leave impressions on the mind that are not easily

Although the coasts of the island abound in fish of various sorts,
sea-fishing, as an amusement, is very little resorted to. The reason
of this is no doubt to be found in the strong tides and currents and
dangerous rocks which surround us on every side, and which render
it imprudent to venture out to sea unless under the guidance of an
experienced pilot. Of late years, however, the extension of the harbour
works into deep water has brought the fish within reach without the
risk of hazarding one’s life by venturing on the fickle sea, and
the “contemplative man’s amusement” is becoming daily more and more
popular. Crowds of men and boys may be seen in all sorts of weather
and at all hours of the day angling from the pier heads, and not
infrequently making very fair catches.

Although prawns and shrimps are tolerably plentiful, there are but
few who take the trouble of catching them for the market, but the
pursuit of these delicate crustaceans is a favourite amusement, and
is occasionally indulged in by persons of all ranks, the shores of
Herm and Jethou, and the bays of the Pezerie and Rocquaine being the
best spots at low tide for the sport. Inglis, in his work on the
Channel Islands, remarks “that so various are tastes in the matter of
recreation, that he has seen individuals who found as much pleasure in
wading for half-a-day, knee-deep among rocks, to make capture of some
handfuls of shrimps, as has ever been afforded to others in the pursuit
of the deer or the fox.”

[Illustration: The Parish Church of S. Peter Port. A.D. 1846.]

Local Customs--Ceremonial.

    “What art thou, thou idle ceremony?
    What kind of god art thou, that suffer’st more
    Of mortal grief than do thy worshippers!
    Art thou aught else but place, degree, and form?”


Although the doctrines of the Reformation were introduced into Guernsey
in the reign of Edward VI., and perhaps earlier, and the Liturgy put
forth by authority in the reign of that monarch was translated into
French and used in the churches,[36] it was not until the reign of
Elizabeth that the island became wholly Protestant.

Up to this time the Channel Islands had formed part of the Diocese
of Coutances in Normandy,[37] an arrangement which led to much
inconvenience in times of war between France and England. Queen
Elizabeth put an end to this connection in the year 1568,[38] and
attached the islands to the See of Winchester; but it was not until the
Restoration of Charles II. that the change took full effect, and that
the islands were brought entirely within the discipline of the Church
of England by authority of the Bill of Uniformity.

It is well known that it was part of Queen Elizabeth’s policy to
favour the Huguenot party in France; and that in times of persecution
the followers of the Reformed faith always met with an hospitable
reception in England. The Channel Islands, lying so close to the coast
of France, and speaking the same language as was used in continental
Normandy, were naturally chosen as places of refuge in times of
persecution by the French Protestants, many of whom--and among them
several ministers--resorted thither until more settled times enabled
them to return to their own homes. The old Roman Catholic rectors of
the parishes in Guernsey, who, apparently, had given a sort of half
adhesion to the intermediate order of things, and had been allowed to
retain possession of a portion, at least, of the emoluments of their
benefices, seem to have disappeared altogether shortly after the
excommunication of the Queen by Pope Pius V. in 1570.

The Governor of Guernsey, Sir Thomas Leighton, who favoured the views
of the Puritan party in the Church, filled up the vacant pulpits with
French refugee ministers, and probably it would have been difficult
at that time to find any others.[39] The same course seems to have
been followed in Jersey. These ministers very naturally preferred
their own form of conducting divine worship to that of the Anglican
Church, and, on the representation of the Governors of both the
islands, permission was given by the Queen for the use of the Genevan
form in the churches of the towns of St. Peter Port in Guernsey, and
of St. Helier in Jersey. This permission was renewed by King James
I. on his accession to the throne; and the natural consequence was,
that not only the Presbyterian form of worship soon spread into every
parish in the islands, but that the Presbyterian discipline and
Church government were firmly established, and the authority of the
Bishop of Winchester totally ignored. To this discipline the people
of Guernsey clung with great pertinacity, and the attempts during the
Great Rebellion of the Brownists and other fanatical sects to introduce
their peculiar doctrines, met with little or no favour. It was not
without some opposition that Episcopacy was brought in, most of the
ministers refusing to conform to the new order of things, and giving
up their livings in consequence.[40] The people had nothing to say in
the matter: they were bound by the Act of Uniformity, but, in deference
to their feelings and prejudices, certain practices were allowed to be
retained, and certain others dispensed with.

No great objection could be made to a set form of prayer, for something
of the kind was in use in the French Reformed Church; but the Litany
of the Church of England seems to have given great offence--probably
from its close resemblance to some of those used in the Romish
Church--insomuch that many persons at first abstained altogether
from attending the morning service; and, although in the present
day no objection exists to this, or any other part of the Liturgy,
it is, perhaps, owing to habits then contracted, and handed down
from generation to generation, that so many, especially in the rural
parishes, absent themselves from church in the forenoon. The use of the
sign of the cross in baptism, in deference to the strong prejudices
of the people, who seem to have looked upon it as the Mark of the
Beast, was not at first insisted upon, but, in order to counteract
this feeling, the thirtieth Canon “On the lawful use of the Cross in
Baptism,” was inserted at the end of the Baptismal Service in the
French translation of the Book of Common Prayer printed for use in the
islands, and there is every reason to believe that the objection to
this practice soon died out.

Probably, kneeling at the Holy Communion was received with little
favour, for we find that the first introduction of this practice on
the 12th of October, 1662, was thought worthy of a note in a journal
kept by a parish clerk and schoolmaster of that day--Pierre Le Roy--who
wisely abstained from any comment on the event. To this day appliances
for kneeling are rare in many pews, and at the beginning of the
nineteenth century most of the congregation remained seated during the
singing of the metrical psalms, as is the practice in the Presbyterian
churches in Scotland and on the Continent.

Baptismal fonts are of recent introduction, the order to put them up in
all the parish churches having been given by the Bishop of Winchester
(Dr. C. R. Sumner) on the occasion of his primary visitation to this
portion of his diocese in September, 1829, he being the first Prelate
of that See who had deigned to inspect the state of the churches in
the islands since the time that they were placed under the care of an
Anglican Bishop by Queen Elizabeth. Before fonts were provided, the
rite of baptism was administered at the altar, the minister, standing
within the rail, receiving the water at the proper moment from the
clerk, who poured it into his hand from a silver ewer.

In the absence of periodical visits from a Bishop, the rite of
confirmation had, of course, become a dead letter. It was administered
in 1818, for the first time since the Reformation, by Dr. Fisher,
Bishop of Salisbury, who had been deputed to consecrate two
newly-erected churches by the then Bishop of Winchester, who was too
old and infirm to undertake the duty himself. Before that time--and
indeed for some considerable time later--it was customary to give
notice from the pulpit, previously to the quarterly celebration of the
Holy Communion, that young persons desirous of communicating for the
first time should attend in the vestry on a certain day. This notice
was, of course, given in the parish churches in French--the language of
the great majority of the people of that time--and the word used for
“vestry,” and which we have so translated, was “Consistoire.” No doubt,
under the Presbyterian discipline, the examination of catechumens took
place before the Consistory, composed of the minister and elders of the

Till a comparatively recent period the Holy Communion was only
administered quarterly, and at the great festivals of Christmas,
Easter, Whitsuntide and Michaelmas. A preparatory sermon was generally
preached at an evening service held on the day before the communion,
and on this occasion a metrical version of the Decalogue was usually
sung instead of a psalm or hymn. This was a practice borrowed from the
French Reformed Church, as was also that of singing the 100th Psalm
while the non-communicants were leaving the church, some portions of
the 103rd Psalm while the communion was being administered, and, just
before the final benediction, the Song of Simeon, “Nunc Dimittis.”

Men and women communicated separately, the men first and the women
afterwards,--a relic doubtless of the time when they were kept apart in
the church. No one thought of leaving the rails until all who knelt at
the same time had communicated, when the officiating minister dismissed
them with these words:--

    “Allez en paix; vivez en paix,
    Et que le Dieu de Paix vous bénisse.”


    “Que le Dieu de Paix soit avec vous.”

They then retired to make room for others. In parishes where weekly
collections were made at the church door for the relief of the poor,
it was customary for the minister to say immediately after the final

    “Allez en paix; vivez en paix;
    Et en sortant de ce temple souvenez vous des pauvres.”

All these peculiar customs, which had been handed down from
Presbyterian times, are rapidly disappearing. In the days when the
celebration of the Lord’s Supper was confined to stated days, it was
the custom in some of the country parishes to deck out the churches for
the occasion with branches of evergreens, as at Christmas. Also, on the
day of the communion it was considered irregular to appear in coloured
clothes. Black was universally worn, and many old people, both in town
and country, but especially in the country, keep to the old custom.

The practice of publishing the banns of marriage immediately after the
recital of the Nicene Creed, and not after the Second Lesson, as is
done in England, has been retained in Guernsey; the Act of Parliament
of George II., which was supposed to change the custom of the church
in this respect, and to do away with the express injunctions in the
rubric, not including the Channel Islands in its provisions. In the
country parishes, where the cemeteries are in the immediate vicinity
of the churches, it is now--though it was not so in former days--the
custom to carry the corpse into the church for the reading of the
appointed Psalms and Lesson; but in Town, where the burial-grounds
are, for the most part, at some considerable distance from the sacred
building, this part of the service was, till of late years, entirely
dispensed with. It is customary, however, for the Clergy, sometimes to
the number of three or four, to attend at the house of the deceased, if
invited so to do, and to head the procession to the church or cemetery.
A pious custom existed formerly--which, one is sorry to say, has of
late years fallen almost entirely into disuse--no man ever commenced a
new work, or even began the usual routine work of the season, without
making use of these words “Au nom de Dieu soit!” Wills and many other
legal documents, the books in which the Acts of the Royal Court and
of the States of the island are registered, as well as those used by
merchants and tradesmen in their business, all commenced with this
formula. In many cases it evidently took the place of the sign of the
cross. All sittings of the Royal Court and of the States of the island,
as well as the meetings of parishioners in the Vestry, and of the
parochial councils known as Douzaines, are opened by the recitation of
the Lord’s Prayer, and closed by the Apostolic Benediction.

[36] EDITOR’S NOTE.--_Comet_, June 29th, 1889.--“At the sale of Lord
Crawford’s effects, held in London last week, Messrs. Sotheby sold to
Messrs. Ellis, of Bond Street, a Prayer Book, translated into French
for the special use of Channel Islanders. The book dates as far back
as 1553, and was sold for the price of £70. The following is a full
description of the book taken from the catalogue:--678--Liturgy,
Livre des Prières communes de l’administration des sacremens et
autres cérémonies en l’Eglise de l’Angleterre. Traduit en Francoys
par Francoys Philippe, serviteur de Monsieur le Grand Chancelier
d’Angleterre. (Fine copy in blue morocco extra gilt edges by W.
Pratt, excessively rare). Sm. 4to. (Paris). De l’imprimerie de Thomas
Gaultier, Imprimeur du Roy en la langue Française, pour les Iles de
Sa Majesté--1553. The following is the collation of this extremely
rare edition, purchased in the Tenison sale for £39. (4) ff. Title,
Contents, Epistle to Bp. of Ely. Sig: AI-IV+ (4) ff. Preface des
Cérémonies en sign. B.1.IV+ (14) ff. Table & Kalendar, Proper Psalms
and Lessons. Acte pour Uniformité. 4. (184) ff. Texte. The translation
was made from the second book of King Edward VI. for the use of the
Inhabitants of the Channel Islands.”

[37] Boniface IX. being Pope, Clement VII. Anti-Pope in France, and the
Bishop of Coutances taking his side, the Bishop of Nantes was appointed
by Boniface administrator of the See of Coutances, and the King of
England, Richard II., addressed a letter to the Governors, Bailiffs,
Jurats, and other inhabitants of Jersey and Guernsey, ordering them to
obey the Bishop of Nantes in all spiritual matters. Rymer. Vol. VIII.
p. 131.

[38] EDITOR’S NOTE.--It was the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth
by the Pope that led to the transference of the Channel Islands from
the Diocese of Coutances to that of Winchester. Canon MacColl in his
“Reformation Settlement” notes as an extraordinary fact that the
Bishop of Coutances so far disapproved of that excommunication as
to have offered, on condition that his jurisdiction was allowed, to
give institution to those clergy whom the Queen might nominate from
the English Universities. In fact, up to the date of the bull of
excommunication, the islands remained under the jurisdiction of the
Bishop of Coutances, who permitted the use of the reformed Prayer Book,
and ruled, apparently without a protest, over a portion of his diocese,
in which the claim to supremacy on the part of the Pope was denied.

[39] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Mr. Matthieu Le Lièvre gives a slightly different
version. He says:--“Parmi ceux qui avaient quitté Guernesey pour
échapper au coups de la réaction catholique, se trouvait Guillaume
Beauvoir, membre de l’une des familles qui ont joué un grand rôle
dans l’histoire de l’île, et qui occupa lui-même, pendant neuf ans
(1572-1581), la dignité de bailli, la première magistrature du
pays.… Il s’éloigna donc et se refugia avec sa femme à Genève, où il
séjourna quelque temps et se fit avantageusement connaître de Calvin
et de ses collègues. Rentré dans son île natale après la mort de la
reine Marie, il fut frappé de la nécessité d’appeler au plus tôt un
homme de tête et de piété pour relever les affaires de la Réforme à
Guernesey. Il écrivit donc aux pasteurs de Genève, et à Calvin en
particulier, pour leur demander un ministre. La Compagnie des Pasteurs
s’en occupa et envoya à la jeune Eglise de Guernesey le ministre
Nicolas Baudoin, porteur de deux lettres de recommandation addressées
à Guillaume Beauvoir, et signées, l’une Charles Despeville (l’un des
pseudonymes de Calvin) et l’autre Raymond Chauvet, l’un des Pasteurs
de Genève.”--_Histoire du Méthodisme dans les Iles de la Manche_, par
Matthieu Le Lièvre, D.D., pp. 38-39.

[40] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Pierre Le Roy’s Diary, 24th Sept., 1662. “Il
est arrivé dans cette ile une compagnie de cent soldats avec un
major, un capitaine, et des officiers, à cause de quelque opposition
à l’Acte d’Uniformité. Les ministres n’ont pas voulu s’y soumettre
et ont abandonné leurs cures, savoir M. Le Marchant, du Valle et de
Saint-Samson; M. Perchard, de Saint Pierre-du-Bois; M. Morehead, de
Saint-Sauveur; M. de la Marche, du Câtel, et M. Hérivel, de la Forêt
et de Torteval.” John de Sausmarez, formerly Rector of St. Martin’s
parish, was made Dean in 1662, and he and one of his colleagues,
Pierre de Jersey, were the first to establish the new ritual. Thomas
Le Marchant, who was virtually the head of the Presbyterian party,
and as such was especially hated by Dean de Sausmarez, was shut up
first in Castle Cornet in 1663, and in 1665 in the Tower of London,
till September, 1667, when he was liberated, “ayant donné caution de
mille livres sterling qu’il ne présumera pas en aucun temps d’aller
dans l’île de Guernesey à moins qu’il n’ait pour le faire une license
spéciale de Sa Majesté, et qu’il se comportera à l’avenir comme un
respectueux et loyal sujet,” etc. He had married Olympe Roland, and
his son Eléazar was later Lieutenant Bailiff of Guernsey.--See also
_Histoire du Methodisme dans les Isles de la Manche_, par Matthieu Le
Lièvre, 1885, p. 112.

Birth and Baptism.

On the birth of a child notice is usually sent to the nearest
relations, and as soon as the mother is sufficiently recovered she
receives the visits and congratulations of her friends. It is customary
to offer cake and wine to the visitors on these occasions. The wine
must on no account be refused, but the health of the child must be
duly drunk, and the glass drained, for it is considered extremely
unlucky to leave a drop behind. The christening feast still retains the
ancient name of “_Les Aubailles_” from the white garment or alb--in
French “aube”--with which, in the early church, the recipients of
baptism were solemnly invested. It is customary for the sponsors to
make a present to the child, which usually takes the form of silver
spoons, or a drinking cup. Before the re-establishment of Episcopacy
at the Restoration there appears to have been only one sponsor of each
sex. Of course the rubric which orders that every boy shall have two
godfathers, and every girl two godmothers, is now complied with, but
the second is invariably styled by the people the “little” godfather or
godmother, and is often a child or very young person evidently only put
in to comply with the requirements of the church.

The excess of feasting at baptisms and churchings as well as at
marriages and funerals seems to have reached to such an extent in
the early part of the seventeenth century as to call for repressive
measures on the part of the legislature, at that time deeply imbued
with a puritanical spirit, and sumptuary laws of a very stringent
nature were promulgated restricting the invitations on these occasions
to the nearest relations, and prohibiting entirely all dancing, and
even almsgiving.

After baptism the child is sent round to its nearest relatives, and the
old women say that a present of some sort, preferably an egg, should be
placed in the infant’s hands, while visitors to the child are always
expected to put some money in the infant’s hand for luck, and as a
token that it shall never want, the value of the gift being of little

It is thought very unlucky to measure or weigh a child, such a
proceeding being sure to stop its growth; and it is also supposed to be
very unlucky to cover up a baby’s face when taking it to the church to
be christened, until the ceremony is over.

It is considered peculiarly unlucky for three children to be presented
at the font at the same time for baptism, as it is firmly believed that
one of the three is sure to die within the year.[41]--_Communicated by
the Rev. C. D. P. Robinson, Rector of St. Martin’s._

[41] EDITOR’S NOTE.--This superstition still continues, and was told me
in 1896 by Mrs. Le Patourel and others. The doomed baby is supposed to
be the one christened _second_, or the middle one, and you still hear
women say when their child has been christened with two others, “Oh,
but mine was an _end_ one.”

Betrothals and Weddings.

    “As I have seene upon a Bridall day,
    Full many maids clad in their best array,
    In honour of the Bride come with their Flaskets
    Fill’d full with flowers: others in wicker baskets
    Bring forth from the Marsh rushes, to o’erspread
    The ground whereon to Church the lovers tread;
    Whilst that the quaintest youth of all the Plaine
    Ushers their way with many a piping straine.”

           --_Brown’s “Pastorals,” written before 1614._

From the reign of Elizabeth to the Restoration of Charles II., the
Presbyterian form of church government, with its rigorous discipline,
prevailed in the Island, and the betrothal--“fiançailles”[42] of
persons intending to take upon themselves the holy state of matrimony
was a solemn act, performed in the presence of the ministers and elders
of the church, and which by an ordinance of the Royal Court of the year
1572, was to be followed by marriage within six months at the latest.
The legislature of that day evidently disapproved of long engagements.
The promise was usually confirmed by a gift on the part of the
bridegroom of some article of value, which was to be held by the bride
as an earnest for the performance of the contract, and returned in case
the match was broken off by mutual consent. Traces of this custom are
still to be observed in the formal announcement of the engagement to
relations, and in the visits paid to them by the young couple in order
to introduce each other reciprocally to those with whom they are to be
hereafter more closely connected, as well as in the importance attached
to the presents, locally termed “gages”[43] (pledges) given by the
young man to his affianced bride.

A round of entertainments usually succeeds the announcement of the
intended marriage, at which in former days mulled wine used to be “de
rigueur,” as indeed it was at all family merry makings and occasions of

Among the trading, agricultural, and labouring classes each party is
expected to bring his or her portion of the articles necessary to set
up housekeeping. The man, for example, provides the bedstead, the
woman, the bed and the household linen, and very often the crockery
and furniture. All, however, is looked upon as belonging to the
wife, and is frequently secured to her by a regular contract entered
into before marriage, so that in case of the husband getting into
pecuniary difficulties, his creditors cannot lay claim to the household
furniture. The handsomely carved oaken chests, or large leather-covered
boxes studded with brass nails, which were formerly to be seen in
almost all the old country houses, were used to contain the stock of
linen, and appear to have been in early days almost the only piece of
ornamental furniture of which the house could boast. This used to be
brought to the bridegroom’s residence, with the rest of the articles
provided by the bride, a day or two before the wedding, and with a
certain degree of form, the bridegroom, or his best man, conducting
the cart which contained them,[44] and the nearest unmarried female
relative of the bride carrying the looking-glass or some other valued
or brittle article. A similar custom still exists in Normandy and
Brittany. It is considered highly unlucky for a bride to take any other
way in going to the church to be married than that which she follows
when going thither for her usual devotions. Flowers and rushes are
invariably strewn in the path of the bride and bridegroom as they leave
the church, and before the door of their future habitation.[45]

On the first or second Sunday after their wedding the newly-married
pair appear in church attended by the best man and the bridesmaid,
and it is a point of etiquette for the bride and bridegroom to read
and sing out of the same book, however many books there may be in the
pew. Among well-to-do people a series of parties in honour of the
young couple ensue, which in the dialect of the country are called
“_reneuchons_,” “_neuches_” being the local pronunciation of the French
word “noces.”

It appears from an ordinance of the Royal Court of 1625, when the
puritanical spirit, which had come in with the Genevan discipline,
was at its height, that the poor at that time were in the habit of
soliciting alms at weddings, baptisms, and burials. This practice,
as tending to keep up superstition and as dishonouring to God, was
expressly forbidden by the legislation under pain of corporal
punishment to the beggar, and a fine to the giver of alms.[46]

[42] “The custom of _flouncing_ is said to be peculiar to Guernsey.
It is an entertainment given by the parents of a young couple when
they are engaged, and the match has received approval. The girl
is introduced to her husband’s family and friends by her future
father-in-law, and the man similarly by hers; after this they must keep
aloof from all flirtation, however lengthy the courtship may prove. The
belief is that if either party break faith the other side can lay claim
to a moiety of his or her effects.”--From Brand’s _Popular Antiquities
of Great Britain_. Vol. II., p. 56.

[43] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Usually consisting of half-a-dozen or a dozen
(according to the bridegroom’s means) silver spoons, and a pair of
sugar tongs, marked with the initials of bride and the customary “bague
de fiançailles.”

[44] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Besides this it was customary amongst farmers for
the parents of a bride to give her a cow, and the animal in this case
followed the cart.--_From Mr. J. de Garis, Rouvets, St. Saviour’s,

[45] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Les “gllajeurs”--the wild marsh iris--was always
one of the favourite flowers for strewing in front of the bride, and
all the water-lanes and marshes were ransacked for it. The wedding
festivities generally lasted for two or three days. The house on the
wedding day was decorated with wreaths and crowns of flowers, and, as
usual, the festivities began with dinner, for which the usual fare was
roast beef, roast mutton, a ham, plum pudding, and, of course, “gâche
à corînthe,” washed down with cider. Then came games, songs, etc.,
till tea time, and then the tables would be cleared for dancing, while
mulled wine, cheese, and Guernsey biscuits would be handed round at
intervals. All the relations, friends, and neighbours of course partook
of these festivities. A few songs were sung, “Jean, gros Jean,” being
a “sine quâ non” in the country parishes, and then the mulled wine was
handed round in cups, especially at midnight, as the clock struck. The
correct formula before beginning to drink was

    “Cher petit Pèpinot
    Quand je te vè
    Tu parais bien
    Si je te bè, j’m’en sentirai
    Et si je te laisse j’m’en repentirai,
    Faut donc bien mieux bère, et m’en sentir
    Que de te laisser, et m’n repentir!
    A votre santâï la coumpagnie!”

Very frequently at weddings people who knew what this formula led to
put hanging beams from the “_pôutre_,” or central rafter for the men
to hold on to! “À mon beau laurier qui danse” was of course always
danced at the weddings, “ma coummère, et quand je danse” was another
very favourite dance, the steps going to each syllable when sung, and
they also danced “Poussette,” which entirely consisted of the different
inflections of the word “Poussette,” “Pou-set-te,” alternately chanted
smoothly or jerkily. This feasting and dancing was kept up till five or
six the next morning, and very often for the next night as well, while
on the third day all the old people and non-dancers were asked in to
finish up the feast in peace.--_From Mrs. Mollet, Mrs. Marquand, and
Mrs. Le Patourel._

There are certain gifts from a man to his fiancée which are supposed
to be most unlucky to accept, as by so doing it would mean that the
wedding would probably never take place. They are a watch and chain,
a brooch, and a Bible, and if he should present her with a knife or a
pair of scissors the only way to avert the ill-luck is to pay a penny
for them. Should a girl upset a chair before the wedding her marriage
will be delayed for a year. If a girl wishes to dream of the man she
is to marry she must take some of the wedding cake on the day of
the wedding, pass it through a married woman’s wedding ring, or, if
possible, the bride’s, (a widow’s is of no avail) and put it under her
pillow, and dream on it for five consecutive nights, and the _last_
dream will come true.--_From Fanny Ingrouille._

A correspondent sent the following query in 1857 to “_Notes and
Queries_”:--“A month or two back a family, on leaving one of the
Channel Islands, presented to a gardener (it is uncertain whether an
inhabitant of the island or no) some pet doves, the conveyance of them
to England being likely to prove troublesome. A few days afterwards the
man brought them back, stating that _he was engaged to be married_,
and the possession of the birds might be (as he had been informed) an
obstacle to the course of true love remaining smooth.” This was put in
the shape of a query, but no answer appeared. Doves and wild pigeons in
Guernsey are supposed to be most unlucky birds to have in a house, so
probably the gardener had been told that they would bring ill-luck on
his future “ménage” if he accepted them. The country people carry their
distrust of them so far that they say that their wings, worn in a hat,
bring misfortune, and they are among the birds whose feathers in the
pillows of the dying prolong the death agony.


If after marriage a couple do not agree well together, they are
admonished by their neighbours by what, in England, is called “rough
music.” In Métivier’s Dictionary he describes two young people,
boy and girl, back to back on a donkey, representing the guilty
husband and wife. They were followed by all the idlers of the
district singing a scurrilous rhyme, and surrounding the house of the
offending pair, where the song and its accompaniments were kept up all
night.--_Métivier’s Dictionary, p. 23._

Nowadays putting the man and woman back to back on the donkey seems
to be discontinued, but in St. Peter’s-in-the-Wood, Miss Le Pelley, a
resident in the parish, writes “If the young men of this parish find
out that a man has beaten his wife they form two parties on opposite
sides of his house, at about a distance of one hundred yards from it,
and blow conch shells, first one and then the other in answer. They
keep this noise up for a long time so that the married couple may feel
ashamed of themselves. I have not heard them just lately (1896), but
one year it was very frequent, and such a nuisance.”--See in Brand’s
_Antiquities_, Vol. 2, p. 129, the articles on “Riding the Stang” in
Yorkshire, said also to be known in Scandinavia.

[46] It is not unusual in the country parishes for the young men of
the neighbourhood to assemble around the house in the evening and to
fire off their militia muskets or fowling pieces in honour of the
wedding, in return for which they are regaled with a cup of wine to
drink the health of the newly-married pair. If the marriage is between
persons connected with the shipping interest all the vessels in port
make a point of displaying their flags, and a few bottles of wine are
distributed in return among the crews. Marriages among the country
people are frequently celebrated on a Sunday, immediately before the
morning service. If it is the intention of the newly-married couple to
attend the service they make it a point to leave the Church and return
after a short interval, as an idea prevails that if they remained in
the Church until the prayers of the day have been begun the marriage
would be illegal.--_From Rev. J. Giraud, Rector of Saint Saviour’s._

Deaths and Funerals.

As soon as a death occurs in a family a servant or friend is
immediately sent round to announce the sad event to all the nearest
relatives of the deceased, and the omission of this formality is looked
upon as a great slight, and a legitimate cause of offence. If any
person enter a house where a corpse is lying it is considered a mark of
great disrespect not to offer a sight of it, and it is thought equally
disrespectful on the part of the visitor if the offer is declined, as
the refusal is supposed to bring ill-luck on the house. When the day
is fixed for the funeral a messenger is sent to invite the friends
and relatives to attend, and in times gone by if those to be invited
resided at any distance it was considered proper that this messenger
should be mounted on a black horse. Formerly the funeral feast was
universal, of late years it is seldom heard of except in some of the
old country families of the middle classes, among whom ancient customs
generally abide longer than among the classes immediately above or
below them.

The lid of the coffin is not screwed down until all the guests are
assembled, and the person whose business it is to see to it, comes into
the room where they are met, and invites them to take a last look.
Hearses are almost unknown, even in cases where the distance from the
house to the cemetery is considerable. The coffin is almost invariably
borne on the shoulders by hired bearers, but in former days it was only
persons of a certain standing in society who were considered entitled
to this honour; the poor were carried by their friends, three on each
side, bearing the coffin slung between them. Care was always taken that
the corpse was carried to the church by the way the deceased was in the
habit of taking during his lifetime.[47]

The custom of females attending funerals, which was formerly universal,
has disappeared entirely from the town, but in the country it is still
occasionally observed, the mourners being attired in long black cloaks
with hoods that almost conceal the face. The funeral feast, when there
is one, takes place when the cortège returns to the house of mourning.
A chair is placed at the table where the deceased was wont to sit,
and a knife, fork, plate, etc., laid before it as if he were still
present.[48] Tea and coffee, wine, cider, and spirits, cakes, bread and
cheese, and more especially a ham, are provided for the occasion. The
last-named viand was, in bygone days, almost considered indispensable,
and where they kept pigs,--and almost everyone then kept pigs--every
year, when the pig was killed, a ham was put away “in case of a
funeral” and was not touched till the next pig was killed and another
ham was put in readiness; and from thence it comes that “màngier la
tchesse à quiqu’un”--“to eat a person’s ham”--is proverbially used in
the sense of attending his funeral. The first glass of wine is drunk in
silence to the memory of the departed, whose good qualities are then
dilated upon, but the conversation soon becomes general, and it not
unfrequently happens that more liquor is imbibed than is altogether
good for the guests. In fact the mourners had generally to be conveyed
home in carts.[49]

From ancient wills it seems that money was sometimes left for the
purpose of clothing a certain number of poor, and from the ordinances
of the Royal Court prohibiting begging at funerals, or even the
voluntary giving of alms on these occasions, it is not improbable that
the custom of distributing doles was, at one time, almost general.
There is no trace of it in the present day.

Till within the last few years it was almost an universal custom, even
among the dissenters, for the members of a household in which a death
had occurred, to attend their parish church in a body on the first or
second Sunday after the funeral, and the custom is still kept up to
a certain extent. If they are regular frequenters of the church they
occupy their usual seats, if not, they are placed, if possible, in some
conspicuous part of the building, where they remain seated during the
entire service, not rising even during those portions of the service
in which standing is prescribed by the rubric. This is called “taking
mourning,” in French “prendre le deuil.” Widows remain seated in church
during the whole of the first year of their widowhood.

[47] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Mr. Allen told me (1896) that attending a short
time ago at a funeral in the Mount Durand, the corpse was to be carried
to Trinity Church, to which of course the shortest route was _down_ the
hill, but the widow of the deceased remonstrated so vigorously, saying
that she could not allow anything so unlucky to happen to her husband,
as that he should start for his funeral _down hill_, that, in deference
to her wishes they went _up_ the hill and round by Queen’s-road.

[48] At funeral feasts it was an ancient custom in Iceland to leave
the place of the dead man vacant.--See Gould’s “_Curiosities of Olden
Times_,” p. 84.

[49] EDITOR’S NOTES.--Unless the forehead of the corpse is touched
after death the ghost will walk. When you go into a house of mourning
and are shown the corpse you should always lay your hand on its
forehead.--_From Fanny Ingrouille, of the Forest Parish._

The same idea prevails in Guernsey which we meet with in Yorkshire
and many of the Eastern Counties of England that, having your pillow
stuffed with pigeons’, doves’, or any _wild_ bird’s feathers will cause
you to “die hard.”--See _Notes and Queries_, 1st Series, Vol. IV.

It is also said that it is unlucky to keep doves in a house, but if
they are kept in a cage and anyone dies in the house, unless a crape
bow is placed on the top of the cage they will die too.

The country people also believe that no one ever dies when the tide is
_rising_. Frequently when talking of a death they will say, “the tide
turned, and took off poor ---- with it.”--_From Fanny Ingrouille and
many others._

Part II.

Superstitious Belief and Practice.


Prehistoric Monuments; and their Superstitions.

    “Of brownyis and of bogillus full is this buke.”

                                  --_Gawin Douglas._

    “D’un passé sans mémoire, incertaines reliques
    Mystères d’un vieux monde en mystères écrits.”


    “Among those rocks and stones, methinks I see
    More than the heedless impress that belongs
    To lonely Nature’s casual work! They bear
    A semblance strange of Power intelligent,
    And of design not wholly worn away.”

                  --_Wordsworth_, _The Excursion_.

The island of Guernsey still contains many of those rude and ponderous
erections commonly known by the name of Cromlechs, or Druids altars.
The upright pillar of stone or rude obelisk, known to antiquaries by
the Celtic name of Menhir also exists among us. Many of these ancient
monuments have no doubt disappeared with the clearing of the land and
the enormous amount of quarrying, and many have doubtless been broken
up into building materials, or converted into fences and gateposts.
But the names of estates and fields still point out where they once
existed. Thus we find more than one spot with the appelation of
“Pouquelaye.”[50] “Longue Rocque,” or “Longue Pierre,” and the names
of “Les Camps Dolents,” “Les Rocquettes,” and “Les Tuzés” indicate the
sites of monuments which have long since disappeared.

The researches carried on with so much care and intelligence by Mr.
Lukis have clearly proved that the Cromlechs were sepulchral; perhaps
the burial places of whole tribes, or at least of the families of the
chieftains. This does not preclude the popular notion of their having
been altars, for it is well known that many pagan nations were in the
habit of offering sacrifices on the tombs of their dead.

The following is a list of the principal Druidical structures, etc.,
which we can identify, with an account of the traditional beliefs
attached to them of their origin, etc.:--

The large Cromlech at L’Ancresse called “L’Autel des Vardes.”

The smaller Cromlech in the centre of L’Ancresse, with a portion of
another similar structure to the east of it.

A small portion of a Cromlech at La Mare ès Mauves, on the eastern base
of the Vardes, almost in front of the target belonging to the Royal
Guernsey Militia.

[Illustration: “L’Autel des Vardes” at L’Ancresse.]

“La Roque Balan.”

“La Roque qui Sonne” (destroyed).

“Le Tombeau du Grand Sarrazin,” in the district called Fortcàmp

“L’Autel de Déhus,” near above.

Small Cromlech at “La Vieille Hougue” (destroyed).

“Le Trépied” or the “Catioroc.”

“Menhir” or “Longue Pierre” at Richmond.

“Creux ès Fées”[51] in the parish of St. Pierre-du-Bois.

“La Longue Roque” or “Palette ès Fées” at the Paysans.

“La Roque des Fées” (destroyed).

“Le Gibet des Fées” (destroyed).

“La Chaire de St. Bonit” (destroyed).

In the Island of Herm there are six or eight mutilated remains of
Cromlechs. In Lihou, none are left. In Sark, none are left.

It will be seen that the druidical stones are believed to be the
favourite haunt of the fairy folk, who live in the ant hills which are
frequently to be found in their vicinity, and who would not fail to
punish the audacious mortal who might venture to remove them.

[50] The name of “Pouquelaie” given in various districts of Normandy,
and in the Anglo-Norman Isles to megalithic monuments appears to be
composed of two Celtic words, of which the latter, the Breton _lee-h_
or _lêh_ means a flat stone. The former of these words--_pouque_, some
etymologists say is derived from a Celtic word meaning, _To kiss_, or
_adore_--and thus “Pouquelaie”--_the stone we adore_; but many others
think with equal probability that _Pouque_ is derived from the same
root from whence we get _Puck_, the mad sprite Shakespeare has so well
described in his “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.” The _pixies_, or Cornish
and Devonshire fairies, and the _Phooka_, or goblin of the Irish, are
evidently of the same family.

[51] EDITOR’S NOTES.--In _Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute
Bretagne_, M. Paul Sebillot, says:--“En général les dolmens sont
appelés _grottes aux fées_, ou _roches aux fées_; c’est en quelque
sorte une désigation générique (p. 5). Les noms font allusion à des
fées, aux lutins, parfois aux saints ou au diable. Comme on le verra
dans les dépositions qui suivent, c’est à ces mêmes personnages que les
paysans attribuent l’érection des Mégalithes (p. 8.), etc.”

In _Croyances et Légendes du Centre de la France_, par Laisnel de la
Salle, he says, Tome I., page 100:--“Les fées se plaisent surtout à
errer parmi les nombreux monuments druidiques … ou se dressent encore
les vieux autels, là sont toujours présentes les vieilles divinités.”


This consists of five enormous blocks of granite, laid horizontally on
perpendicular piles, as large as their enormous covering. Around it,
the remains of a circle of stones, of which the radius is thirty-three
feet, and the centre of which coincides with the tomb. Mr. Métivier
says in his “Souvenirs Historiques de Guernesey” that this “Cercle de
la Plaine,” in Norse _Land Kretz_, on this exposed elevation, could not
fail to attract the attention of the Franks, Saxons, and Normans, and
thus gave its name to the surrounding district.

In it were found bones, stone hatchets, hammers, skulls, limpet shells,
etc., etc.

It is perhaps to this latter fact that we must attribute the idea which
is entertained by the peasantry that hidden treasures, when discovered
by a mortal, are transformed in appearance by the demon who guards them
into worthless shells.


“La Roque Balan” was situated at the Mielles, in the Vale parish.
It is supposed by some to have taken its name from Baal, Belenus,
(the Sun God), the Apollo of the Gauls, whom the Thuriens, a Grecian
colony, called _Ballen_, “Lord and King,” and to whom they dedicated
a temple at Baïeux. The custom of lighting fires in honour of Bel or
Baal continued in Scotland and Ireland almost to the beginning of this
century. In Guernsey, at Midsummer, on the Eve of St. John’s Day, June
24th, the people used to go to this rock and there dance on its summit,
which Mr. Métivier describes in 1825 as being quite flat. The refrain
of an old ballad proved this:

    _“J’iron tous à la St. Jean_
    _Dansaïr à la Roque Balan.”_

Some people conjecture this rock to be the base of a balancing, or
Logan stone, and others again that it was the site where Dom Mathurin,
Prior of St. Michel, weighed in the _balances_ the commodities of his
tenants. But the most probable supposition is that it was named after
the _Ballen_ family, former residents of this neighbourhood.

Near this rock stood


This was the name given by the peasantry to a large stone which
formerly stood on the borders of L’Ancresse, in the Vale parish. There
is no doubt that it formed part of a Cromlech, and it is said that when
struck it emitted a clear ringing sound. It was looked upon in the
neighbourhood as something supernatural, and great was the astonishment
and consternation of the good people of the Clos du Valle, when Mr.
Hocart, of Belval, the proprietor of the field in which it stood,
announced his intention of breaking it up in order to make doorposts
and lintels for the new house he was on the point of building. In
vain did the neighbours represent that stone was not scarce in the
Vale, and that there was no necessity for destroying an object of so
much curiosity. No arguments could prevail with him, not even the
predictions of certain grey-headed men, the oracles of the parish, who
assured him that misfortune was sure to follow his sacrilegious act. He
was one of those obstinate men, who, the more they are spoken to, the
less will they listen to reason, and finally the stone-cutters were set
to work on the stone.

But now a circumstance occurred which would have moved any man less
determined than Hocart from his purpose. Every stroke of the hammer
on the stone was heard as distinctly at the Church of St. Michel du
Valle, distant nearly a mile, as if the quarrymen were at work in the
very churchyard itself![52] Orders were nevertheless given to the men
to continue their work. The stone was cut into building materials, and
the new house was rapidly approaching completion without accident or
stoppage. Hocart laughed at the predictions of the old men, who had
foretold all sorts of disasters.

At last the day arrived when the carpenters were to quit the house. Two
servant maids,--or, as others have it, a servant man and a maid,--were
sent at an early hour to assist in cleaning and putting things to
rights for the reception of the family, but at eight o’clock in the
morning a fire broke out in the house, and its progress was so rapid
that the poor servants had not time to save themselves, but perished in
the flames. Before noon the house was one heap of smoking ruins, but it
could never be discovered how the fire had originated.

Hocart’s misfortunes, however, were not at an end. Some part of the
rock had been cut into paving stones for the English market, and the
refuse broken up into small fragments for making and repairing roads.
In the course of the year the one and the other were embarked for
England on board of two vessels in which Hocart had an interest as
shareholder, but, strange to say, both vessels perished at sea.

Hocart himself went to reside in Alderney, but was scarcely settled
there when a fire broke out and destroyed his new dwelling.

[Illustration: Smith Street, A.D. 1870.]

He then determined on returning to Guernsey, but when close to land a
portion of the rigging of the vessel on board which he sailed, fell on
his head, fractured his skull, and he died immediately.[53]

There is another instance given of the ill luck which waits on those
who interfere with the Cromlech and disturb the repose of the mighty
dead[54] in the “Legend of La Haye du Puits,” which is drawn from an
ancient chronicle and published in versified form by “M. A. C.,” with
extracts from Mrs. White’s notes. The legend runs thus:--

In the reign of Henry II. of England Geoffrey of Anjou raised a
rebellion against him in Normandy. Not wishing to be a rebel, Sir
Richard of La Haye du Puits, a noble Norman knight, fled from thence
to Guernsey, and landed in Saints’ Bay. He settled in Guernsey and
proceeded to build himself a house, which he named after his Norman
mansion “La Haye du Puits.” Unfortunately for himself, in so doing
he destroyed an old Cromlech. All the inhabitants told him that he
would in consequence become cursed, and a settled gloom descended upon
him. Nothing could cheer him; he felt he was a doomed man. At last he
thought that perhaps by resigning the house and dedicating it to God he
might avert his fate. So he gave it to the Church, and turned it into
a nunnery, making it a condition that the abbess and nuns should daily
pray that the curse might be removed from him.

He then set sail from Rocquaine Bay, for France, the rebellion being
over, and his wife, Matilda, awaiting him in their old home. But on
his way his ship was captured by Moorish pirates, and he was taken
as prisoner to Barbary. When there, his handsome presence made so
much impression on the governor’s wife that she entreated he might be
allowed to guard the tower where she resided with her maidens.

What was his astonishment when one of them looked out, and, recognising
a fellow countryman, called out and told him that she was Adèle,
daughter of his old friend and neighbour, Ranulph. She also had been
taken prisoner by these pirates, by whom her father had been killed;
she implored him to effect her escape. She handed him her jewels, and
with these he bribed their jailers, and he, she, and her nurse Alice,
all managed to escape to France. He took her to the Norman “Haye du
Puits,” and there, according to the old chronicle, he found his wife,
Matilda, and all “in a right prosperous and flourishing condition.”
From there Adèle married a Hugh d’Estaile, a young Norman knight, high
in the favour of King Henry.

But the spirits of the Cromlech were not yet appeased. Sir Richard
could not shake off the brooding care and haunting night-mares which
always oppressed him, though he tried to propitiate heaven by building
two churches in Normandy, “St. Marie du Parc,” and “St. Michel du
Bosq,” “for the deliverance of his soul,” but it was of no avail, and
he died, a wretched and broken-down man. Even the nuns in the Convent
of the Haye du Puits were so harassed and distressed, that finally
they decided to leave it; it is said that one unquiet nun haunts the
house to this day. Since then it has passed through many hands, but
tradition says that for many years it never brought good fortune to its

[52] I have heard that the strokes of the hammer were heard in the town
when La Roque qui Sonne was broken up. A spot was shewn me some years
since as the site where this stone stood. I cannot exactly define the
spot, but know it was to the east of the Vale Parochial School.--_From
John de Garis, Esq., of Les Rouvets._

[53] From the late Mr. Thomas Hocart, of Marshfield, nephew of the
Hocart to whom these events occurred.

[54] EDITOR’S NOTE.--In _Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute
Bretagne_, Vol. I., p. 32, M. Sebillot says: “En beaucoup d’endroits,
on pense qu’il est dangereux de détruire les pierres druidiques,
parceque les esprits qui les ont construits ne manqueraient pas de se
venger.” See also “Amélie Rosquet, p. 186 of _La Normandie Romanesque_.”


In the district called Le Tort Càmp, near Paradis, was one of the
principal Cromlechs at the Vale, now quarried away, called “L’Autel,”
or “Le Tombeau du Grand Sarrazin.” Who “Le Grand Sarrazin” was, it
is now impossible to say. He is also called Le Grand Geffroi, and
his castle--from whence the name “Le Castel”--stood where the Church
of Ste. Marie-du-Castel now stands. He must have been one of those
piratical sea kings, who, under the various appellations of Angles,
Saxons, Danes, and Northmen or Normans, issued from the countries
bordering on the North Sea and the Baltic, and invaded the more
favoured regions of Britain and Gaul. The name “Geffroy,” (_Gudfrid_,
or “la paix de Dieu”) seems to confirm this tradition. As to the term
“Sarrazin”--Saracen, although originally given to the Mahometans
who invaded the southern countries of Europe, it came to be applied
indifferently to all marauding bands; and Wace, the poet and historian,
a native of Jersey, who lived and wrote in the reign of Henry II., in
speaking of the descent of the Northmen on these islands, calls them
expressly “La Gent Sarrazine.” Among the many Geoffreys of the North
whom history celebrates, there is one, a son of King Regnar, who may be
the one celebrated in our local traditions. Charles the Bald yielded to
him “a county on the Sequanic shore.”

At that time the coast of Gaul was divided into three sea-borders,
namely, the Flemish, the Aquitanian, and the Sequanic, called
“Sequanicum littus” by Paul Warnefrid, who places one of these islands
near it.

That his castle stood at one time on the site of the present church, is
confirmed by the discoveries which have frequently been made in digging
graves, of considerable masses of solid masonry, which appear to be the
foundations of former outworks of the fortress. It is even possible
that some portions of the walls of the church may be the remains of the
earlier building. There are also in the neighbourhood “Le Fief Geffroi”
and “Le Camp Geffroi.”[55]

[55] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Referring to “Le Grand Sarrazin,” Dupont says
in his _Histoire du Cotentin et ses Iles_, Vol I., p. 140-41:--“Le
personnage ainsi désigné ne peut être que l’un de ces avanturiers
Norses qui furent souvent confondus avec les Sarrazins. Wace lui-même
appelle les envahisseurs des îles les “_gent Sarrazine_.” Le “Grand
Geffroi” était, selon toute vrai semblance le célèbre Jarl _Godefrid_
ou _Godefroy_ fils d’Hériald. Son père, après avoir détruit l’eglise
du Mont Saint Michel fut assassiné par les comtes francs, et pour le
venger, il se jeta sur la Frise et sur la Neustrie. Après trois ans de
ravage il se fit, en 850, concéder par Charles-le-Chauve une certaine
étendue de terre, que le savant danois Suhne conjecture avoir été
située dans nôtre province. L’histoire générale, on le voit, confirme
donc singulièrement la tradition conservée à Guernesey, en lui donnant
une date précise; et cette tradition elle-même rend à peu près certain
le fait fort intéressant, et si souvent obscur, d’un établissement
permament des Normands en Neustrie, plus d’un demi-siècle avant sa
prise en possession par Rolle; elle prouve, enfin, le rôle important
que les îles du Contentin remplirent durant ces époques calamiteuses.”


Quite close to where “Le Tombeau du Grand Sarrazin” was situated,
close to the Pointe au Norman, in the environs of Paradis,[56] in the
Vale parish, and bordering on the Hougues d’Enfer, is the Pouquelêh de
Déhus. This spot, as well as some fields in the Castel parish called
“Les Déhusets” or “Les Tuzets,” are supposed to be favourite resorts of
the fairies.

M. de Villemarque, in his _Barzas-Breiz_, the work so well known to
folk-lorists, tells us that the Bretons gave the imps or goblins,
whom they call pigmies, amongst others the name of “Duz,” diminutive
“Duzik,” a name they bore in the time of St. Augustine; and he also
says that they, like fairies, inhabit Dolmens. Mr. Métivier explains
the name “Déhus” or “Dhuss” as the “God of the Dead, and of Riches,”
the _Dis_ of the Gauls in the time of Cæsar, _Théos_ in Greek, _Deus_
in Latin--le Dus, or le Duc. He says “Our _Dehussets_ are nothing but
_Dhus i gou_, spirits of the dead and goblins of the deep.”

The exterior circle measures sixty feet in diameter, by forty in
length, and the direction is from east to west. The enormous block
of granite which serves as a roof to the western chamber is the most
striking part of it. At the extremity of this chamber is a cell, the
outer compartment eleven feet in length by nine in width. The adjoining
one is of the same length. On the northern side a singular appendix in
the form of a side chamber joins the two smaller rooms just described.
There has also been discovered a fifth cell, the roof of which was
formed of granite resting on three or four pillars, at the corner of
the northern chamber. But the most interesting discovery of all was
that of two kneeling skeletons, side by side, but placed in opposite
positions, that is to say, one looking towards the north, the other
towards the south. Besides these, bones of persons of both sexes and
all ages, a stone hatchet, some pottery and limpet shells, were also
found inside this place of sepulchre. It was long supposed to be
haunted by fairies, imps, and ghosts, perhaps the same spirits who,
in the haunted field of “Les Tuzés,” are reported to have removed the
foundations of the intended Parish Church of the Castel to its present
site. There is also a “Le Déhuzel” in the neighbourhood of the Celtic
remains near L’Erée.

[56] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Près de Louvigné-du-Désert, est un groupe de dix
à douze blocs gigantiques de granite. On a aussi donné le nom de “Rue
de _Paradis_, du _Purgatoire_, et de _l’Enfer_” aux intervalles étroits
qui séparent ces énormes blocs.--_Traditions de la Haute Bretagne_, par
Paul Sebillot, T. I., p. 34.


This Cromlech is on a rocky promontory, south-west of Perelle Bay,
in the beautiful parish of St. Saviour’s. The derivation of its name,
“Castiau-Roc”--as it is properly--is from the “_Castelh Carreg_”
“Castle Rock” of the Gauls. As one approaches it one is struck by the
vestiges of Cromlechs with their circles, and bits of “Longues Roques.”
In olden days, before so much of the surroundings were quarried away,
this must have been only one among many other conspicuous objects down
there. The names “La Roque Fendue,” “La Roque au Tonnerre,” “Plateau
ès Roques,” “La Pièche des Grandes Roques du Castiau-Roc,” which are
mentioned in various “Livres de Perquages,” are all that remain of
these ancient remains. Much to be regretted is the disappearance of the
“Portes du Castiau-Roc,” which might perhaps have helped us to define
with some exactitude where this problematic castle once stood, and
perhaps identify it with the fortified mounts of the Celts and Irish.
It is noted in our island annals for being the midnight haunt of our
witches and wizards. In the trials for witchcraft held under Amias de
Carteret in the beginning of the seventeenth century, it was there that
his trembling victims confessed to having come and danced on Friday
nights, in honour of the gigantic cat or goat with black fur, called
“Baal-Bérith” or “Barberi,” nowadays “Lucifer.” Near this rock was the
“Chapel of the Holy Virgin” on Lihou Island, now in ruins, and it is
said that the witches even defied the influence of “the Star of the
Sea,” shouting in chorus while they danced,

    _“Qué, hou, hou,_
    _Marie Lihou.”_

This monument is like the “Tables en Trépied,” and analogous to the
“Lhêch y Drybedh” of the county of Pembroke, in Wales. There were
altars in this form and of this description in almost every canton of
the island. One, near the Chapel of St. George, is quite destroyed, and
there are now no traces left of another between the Haye-du-Puits, and
the Villocq. In the environs of the Castiau-Roc bones and arms have
been found.[57]


This Cromlech is situated on the Houmet Nicolle at the point of L’Erée,
(so called from the branch of the sea, _Eiré_, which separates it from
the islet of Notre Dame de Lihou). This island, which once had upon it
a chapel and a priory dedicated to “Notre Dame de la Roche,” was always
considered so sacred a spot that even to-day the fishermen salute it in

This Creux is a Dolmen of the nature of those which are called in
France “allées couvertes,” perfectly well preserved, and partly covered
with earth. The researches which have been made in these ancient
monuments of antiquity prove them to have been places of sepulchre.
This one consists of a chamber seven feet high, and covered with a roof
of two blocks of granite, each fifteen feet long and ten broad. The
entrance faces east, and is only two feet eight inches wide, but soon
enlarges, and the interior is almost uniformly eleven feet wide.

This is, as its name would lead one to suppose, a favourite haunt of
the fairies, or perhaps, to speak more correctly, their usual dwelling

It is related that a man who happened to be lying on the grass near
it, heard a voice within calling out: “_La païlle, la païlle, le fouar
est caûd_.” (The shovel,[58] the oven is hot). To which the answer was
immediately returned: “_Bon! J’airon de la gâche bientôt_.” (Good! We
shall have some cake presently.)

Another version from Mrs. Savidan is that some men were ploughing in
a field belonging to Mr. Le Cheminant, just below the Cromlech, when
the voice was heard saying “_La paille_,” _etc._ One of them answered,
“_Bon! J’airon de la gâche_,” and almost immediately afterwards a cake,
quite hot, fell into one of the furrows. One of the men immediately
ran forward and seized it, exclaiming that he would have a piece to
take home to his wife, but on stooping to take it up he received such a
buffet on the head as stretched him at full length on the ground. It is
from here that the fairies issue on the night of the full moon to dance
on Mont Saint till daybreak.[59]

[57] See _Archæological Journal_, Vol. I., p. 202, for an engraving of
this Castiau-Roc.

[58] EDITOR’S NOTE.--“La païlle à four, is, in the country, usually a
wooden shovel with a long handle. It is used for putting things in the
oven when hot, and taking them out when baked.”

[59] EDITOR’S NOTE.--This is still believed, for in 1896, when my aunt,
Mrs. Curtis, bought some land on Mont Saint, and built a house there,
the country people told her that it was very unlucky to go there and
disturb the fairy people in the spot where they dance.

My cousin, Miss Le Pelley, writes in 1896 from St. Pierre-du-Bois,
saying “The people still believe the Creux des Fées and ‘Le Trepied’ to
have been the fairies’ houses, and as proof one woman told me that when
they dug down they found all kinds of pots and pans and china things.”


In a field in the parish of St. Pierre-du-Bois, on the way to L’Erée
and in the neighbourhood of the secluded valley of St. Brioc and the
woody nook in which the ancient chapel dedicated to that Saint once
stood, stands one of those Celtic monuments, many of which are still
to be seen in Brittany and Cornwall, and which are known in those
countries by the name of “Menhir.” This word in the Breton tongue, and
in its cognate dialect the ancient language of Cornwall, signifies
“long stone.” The name which similar monuments bear in Normandy and
Brittany in this island is “longue pierre” or “longue roque,” a literal
translation of the Celtic name. There must have been at one time many
“longues roques” in Guernsey. Another still stands in a field near the
road at Richmond. There was in 1581 “la pièche de la longue pierre, la
pierre séante dedans,”--a part of the Fief ès Cherfs, at the Castel.
There was also “la Roque Séante dans le courtil de la Hougue au Comte,”
and the “Roque-à-Bœuf dans le Courtil au Sucq du chemin de l’église,”
near St. George, but these latter have long since disappeared, though a
house near the field still bears the name.

Antiquaries are very much divided in opinion as to the original
destination of these singular masses of rock; it is not wonderful that
they should prove a puzzle and a source of wonder to the unlettered
peasantry. How were such immense blocks placed upright, and for what
purpose? The agency of supernatural beings is an easy answer to the
question, and some such cause is usually assigned for their origin by
the tradition of the country. Sometimes they are the work of fairies,
sometimes of giants and magicians, and sometimes they are said to be
mortals changed into stone by an offended deity for some sacrilegious
act, or heroes petrified as a lasting testimony of their exploits.

The Menhir at St. Peter’s-in-the-Wood stands in a field at Les
Paysans, so called from the name of the extinct family who once
possessed it. It is over ten feet in height, and about three feet
wide, and the people’s name for it, “Palette ès faïes”--the fairies’
battledore,--describes it exactly. Tradition says that in former days
a man who was returning homewards at a very late hour of the night,
or who had risen before the lark to visit his nets in Rocquaine Bay,
was astonished at meeting a woman of very diminutive stature coming up
the hill from the sea-shore. She was knitting, while carrying in her
apron something with as much care and tenderness as if it had been a
clutch of eggs, or a newly-born babe. The man’s curiosity was excited,
and he determined to watch the little woman. He therefore concealed
himself behind a hedge and followed her movements. At last the woman
stopped, and great was the astonishment of the countryman when he saw
her produce a mass of stone of at least fifteen feet in length, and
stick it upright in the midst of the field, with as much ease as if she
were merely sticking a pin into a pincushion. He then comprehended that
the unknown female could be no other than a denizen of fairy-land, but
what could be her object in erecting such a monument? The people are at
a loss in finding an answer to this question. Some say the stone was
placed there by the fairies to serve them as a mark when they played at

There is another story told to account for “La Palette ès Faïes.” It
is well known that Rocquaine and its environs was the abode _par
excellence_ of the fairy folk, and in the valley of St. Brioc two of
these fairies once lived. Whether they were father and son, or what
other relationship existed between them, is not known, but among the
human inhabitants of the valley they went by the names of Le Grand
Colin and Le Petit Colin. They were fond of sports, and occasionally
amused themselves with a game of ball on the open and tolerably level
fields of Les Paysans. On one occasion they had placed their boundary
marks, and had played some rounds, when Le Grand Colin struck the ball
with such force that it bounded off quite out of sight. Le Petit Colin,
whose turn it was to play, called out to his companion, with some
degree of ill-humour, that the ball had disappeared beyond the bounds,
on which Le Grand Colin struck his bat with force into the ground, and
said he would play no more. The bat still remains in the centre of the
field, and the ball--an enormous spherical boulder--is pointed out on
the sea-shore near Les Pezeries, fully a mile and a half off.[61]

[60] From Miss Lane, afterwards Mrs. Lane-Clarke.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--See in _Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute
Bretagne_ par Paul Sebillot, Tome I., p. 10 and 11, etc.:--“Les Roches
aux Fées qui sont vers Saint-Didier et Marpiré (Ille-et-Vilaine) ont
été elevées par les Fées; elles prenaient les plus grosses pierres du
pays et les apportaient dans leurs tabliers.… Près du bois du Rocher
en Pleudihan, sur la route de Dinan à Dol, est un dolmen que les
fées, disent les gens du pays, ont apporté dant leurs ‘devantières’

[61] From William Le Poidevin.

EDITOR’S NOTES.--These two traditions are still told by the country
people in 1896.


A little beyond the village called “Le Bourg de la Forêt” there stood
formerly an upright stone, which was known by the name of “La Roque des
Faïes,”--the fairies’ stone. It was unfortunately destroyed when the
road was improved. The people in the neighbourhood were rather shy of
passing it at night, as it was believed that the place was haunted, and
that fairies held their nightly revels there. Like other stones of a
similar nature it was said to have been placed there by the elves to
serve as a goal or mark in their games of ball or bowls; and, according
to some accounts, the “Longue Roque” at “Les Paysans” in the adjoining
parish of St. Pierre-du-Bois was the other boundary. It is not at all
unlikely that these stones may really have served for such a purpose
in days of yore, if not for the fairy-folk, at least for mortals. What
is more probable than that the peasantry of the islands should have
had the same games as existed until lately in Cornwall under the name
of “hurling,” and in Brittany under the name of “La Soule,” as well as
elsewhere, in which the young men of the neighbouring districts met
at certain seasons on the confines of their respective parishes, and
contended which should first bear a ball to a spot previously fixed on
as the goal in each?

It is said that the spot where the stone in question stood was
originally fixed on as the site of the Parish Church of the Forest; but
that, after all the materials had been got together for the purpose of
laying the foundations of the sacred edifice they were removed in the
short space of one night by the fairies to the place where the church
now stands, the little people thus resenting the intrusion on their

[62] From Mrs. Richard Murton, born Caroline Le Tullier.


A Celtic monument of the kind commonly known to antiquaries by the
name of “trilethon” is said to have existed formerly on the Common
at L’Ancresse, near La Hougue Patris. It is described by old people
who remember to have seen it in their youth as consisting of three
upright stones or props, supporting a fourth, overhanging the others.
It was known by the name of “Le Gibet des Fâïes.” Near it was a
fountain called “La Fontaine des Fâïes,” the water of which, although
not plentiful, was never known to fail entirely, even in the very
driest seasons; it is said to have been below the surface in a kind
of artificial cave formed by huge blocks of stone, and entered by two
openings on different sides. The proprietor of the land many years ago
broke up the stones for building purposes and converted the fountain
into a well.[63]


They are still firmly convinced in the Vale parish of the sanctity of
Druidical stones, and various stones, which are not generally regarded
as being Druidical remains, were pointed out to me by Miss Falla,
(whose ancestors for hundreds of years have been landed proprietors
at the Vale), as being sacred, and, she added, that her father and
grandfathers would have considered it sacrilege to touch them.

Such are the large upright stones in the field Le Courtil-ès-Arbres,
immediately opposite the house called Sohier, which is owned by Miss
Falla, who said that her uncle, at one time, wished to quarry in that
field, but was deterred by his neighbours, who pointed out to him
the folly and impiety of meddling with “les pierres saintes.” Beyond
the Ville-ès-Pies is a field containing large stones; it has been
extensively quarried, but the stones have been religiously preserved,
and are seen on an isolated hillock in the field, their height being
intensified by the deep quarries round them.

The cottage which is built on the remains of St. Magloire’s Chapel, is
supposed to be built on its own old foundation stone, as the workmen
when building the cottage, thought it would be sacrilege to interfere
with it.

There is a field called La Houmière, opposite an estate called La Moye,
which also belonged to the Fallas for many generations, and is now in
the possession of Miss Falla’s brother. In this field is one solitary
upright stone, and to this stone a most extraordinary superstition is
attached. It is a grass field and is grown in hay, but for generations
the mowers have always been forbidden to cut the hay _round_ and _past_
the stone till all the other hay has been cut and carted, for if they
do, however fine the weather may previously have been, it invariably
brings on a storm of wind and rain! So, taught by experience, it has
always been the rule, and still continues, that, though the outer edge
of the field may be cut, the stone itself and its “entourage” are not
to be touched till the very last, for fear of bringing on the rain in
the middle of the hay making.--(_From Miss Falla_).


In the course of some works recently (1878) undertaken for reseating
the Parish Church of Ste. Marie-du-Castel, two discoveries were made,
which are of great interest. One is a sort of oven or furnace, which
was found below the surface of the floor of the church, and immediately
under the apex of the westernmost arch, between the nave and the south
aisle. It lies north and south, extending into the nave; but what
appears to have been the mouth does not reach southward beyond the
arch, no part of it being in the south aisle. If this aisle is really
a more recent addition to the original building, the mouth of the
furnace may have been at one time in an outer wall. The whole length
is eight feet, the width two feet three inches, and the depth three
feet six inches. The sides are roughly masoned and the northern end
slightly rounded. A length of about three feet at the south end is
arched over with stones, which have evidently been subjected to great
heat. This part is immediately under the arch between the nave and
the south aisle. The remaining five feet of the excavation retain no
traces whatever of an arch, and are situated entirely in the nave.
The floor of the excavation is of hard compact gravel, covered with
ashes, among which were several pieces of charcoal and a few small
fragments of brass, perhaps bell-metal. The northern end seems to have
been used as a sort of ossuary, into which the bones dug up in making
fresh interments in the church were thrown pell-mell, the remains of no
less than nine skulls, mingled with other osseous remains, having been
found here. These bore no marks of fire, from which we may conclude
that the place had ceased to be used as an oven or furnace when they
were deposited there. I had forgotten to mention that at the south
end of the excavation was found a tile of about one and a-half inches
in thickness, twelve inches in length, and nine inches in width, with
a notch in it for the fingers, such as we see in the sliding lid of
a box. A few fragments of moulded tiles were found mingled with the
earth, which the architect believed to be Roman. With the exception of
a few coins, no other Roman remains have ever been found in Guernsey.
The nave of the church and the westernmost bay of the aisle had, in
olden days, been walled off from the rest of the building, and served
as a sort of vestibule and place where the cannons and other military
stores belonging to the Militia or trained bands of the parish were
kept. Perhaps the furnace may have been used for casting balls, of
which one at least has been found in the building. Some think it may
have been used for the casting of a bell, but the bells at present in
the tower throw no light on the subject, having been re-cast in England
about the beginning of the nineteenth century. There is no appearance
of any chimney or flue leading from the furnace ever having existed,
and the reason of its position within the church, and the use to which
it was put, must, we fear, ever remain an enigma.

After this long digression we will go on to the other discovery made at
the same time; which presents another puzzle equally unsolved.

Just within the chancel, at about an equal distance from the north
and south walls, about a foot below the surface, was found a mass of
granite, lying east and west, and turned over on its left side. It has
all the appearance of a natural boulder somewhat fashioned by art, and
cannot be described better than by saying that it is in shape like a
mummy case, the back being rounded and slightly curved and the front
nearly flat, with the exception of the upper portion of the figure,
which indicates that it was intended to represent a female. The total
length is six feet six inches, the width across the shoulders two feet
three inches, and the portion corresponding with the head one foot
three inches from the top of the forehead to the shoulders. It tapers
slightly towards the foot. On each side of the head, extending from
the forehead to the breast, are two ridges raised above the surface of
the stone, which may have been intended to represent either a veil or
tresses of hair. There are no traces of any features remaining, but
what should be the face bears evident marks of having been subjected to
the action of a hammer or chisel, as also does the right breast.

The stone is altogether too rude and mis-shapen to warrant the
supposition that it can have been intended to cover a grave, although
its place in the chancel, and its lying with its head to the west,
may appear to favour this idea; but what renders the discovery of
this stone more interesting and gives rise to conjecture, is the fact
that in the churchyard of St. Martin-de-la-Beilleuse another stone of
about the same size, precisely similar in outline, but in a far better
state of preservation, exists in the form of a gatepost. In this last
the features, very coarsely sculptured, and only slightly raised on a
flat surface, are distinctly visible; a row of small knobs, intended
either for curls or a chaplet encircles the forehead, and a sort of
drapery in regular folds radiates from the chin to the shoulders and
breasts, which are uncovered, leaving no doubt that in this case, as
in the stone found in the Church of Ste. Marie-du-Castel, a female
figure was intended to be represented. A confused idea exists among
the parishioners of St. Martin’s that the stone in their churchyard
was once an idol; and it is not many years ago that a puritanical
churchwarden was with difficulty dissuaded from having it broken up,
lest it should once more become an object of adoration. In fact the
stone was broken in half by his orders, and had to be cemented together

The Church of St. Martin’s is called St. Martin-de-la-Bellouse or
Beilleuse, a name which an adjoining property bears to this day. The
meaning of this word “Bellouse” or “Beilleuse” is unknown; but if,
as some have asserted, the early inhabitants of the British Isles
worshipped a deity of the name of Bel, it is not impossible that there
may have been some female divinity, with a name derived from the same

It is certainly somewhat remarkable that two stones, so very similar
in character, should exist in connection with two churches in the same
island, and that one of them should have been found in so singular a
position. One is tempted to believe that both churches may have been
built on spots which had previously been set apart as places of heathen
worship, and that in the case of Ste. Marie-du-Castel the idol had been
defaced and buried in the earth to put a stop to the adoration paid to

It is well known that up to the end of the seventeenth century the
inhabitants of a district in the Department du Morbihan, in Brittany,
adored with superstitious and obscene rites a rude stone image commonly
known as “La Vénus de Quinipilly,” and which was certainly not a
Christian image. May not the stones here described have served also as
objects of worship? The substitution of the Blessed Virgin for a female
divinity is what one may reasonably suppose to have taken place, and
the continuance of superstitious practices in connection with the idol
may have led to its defacement and concealment below the floor of the
sacred edifice.[64]

[64] The Antiquarian Society. Proceedings 1879.


This old figure is still regarded with peculiar affection by the people
of St. Martin’s. “_La Gran’mère du Chimquière_,”--“the Grandmother of
the Churchyard,”--they call it, though I have heard one or two very old
people call it “St. Martin,” evidently regardless of sex, regarding it
as the patron saint of the parish.

Undoubtedly superstitious reverence used to be paid to it to
within comparatively recent times, which probably accounts for the
churchwarden wishing to have it removed. An old Miss Fallaize, aged
eighty, told me that when she was a child the “old people” had told
her that it was “lucky” to place a little offering of fruit, flowers,
or even to spill a little drop of spirits in front of it, for it was
holy--“c’était une pierre sainte” as she expressed it; and an old man
named Tourtel, well over eighty, said that when he was a boy it was
feared--“on la craignait” much more than they do now.

There is a stone face, very much the same type as that of this figure,
over the door of a house at the Villette. It is a house in the district
called “La Marette,” and belongs to some old Miss Olliviers. They can
offer no explanation to account for its presence, but said that the
house was covered with creepers, and it was only when some myrtle which
covered it was blown down in a gale that it was discovered by their
father to be there. Of course it may have belonged to some other old
idol which was broken up, and afterwards used for building purposes,
but no tradition lingers to account for it in any way.

The earliest account of the Guernsey Cromlechs was contributed to
_Archæologia_, Vol. XVIII, p. 254, by Joshua Gosselin, Esq., as


                                     “Guernsey, November 9th, 1811.

    “MY DEAR SIR,--A small temporary redoubt was constructed some
    few years back, on a height near the shore, on the left of
    L’Ancresse Bay, three miles from the town in this island. The
    ground on which this redoubt stood, being composed of a sandy
    turf, was by degrees levelled by the wind, and the edges of
    some stones were thereby discovered, which, upon inspection, I
    immediately knew to belong to a Cromlech or Druidical Temple.
    I send you a drawing of this Temple (plate 18) as it appeared
    after the sand, which had covered it to the depth of three or
    four feet, was removed.… The largest of the stones weighs about
    twenty tons. They are supported by stones of the same kind, the
    highest being about six and a-half feet above the ground. The
    temple slopes from west to east; the length of it is thirty-two
    feet, and the greatest width between the supporting stones
    is twelve feet. The soldiers, who were employed in clearing
    away the sand, have assured me that there was a stone which
    closed the entrance into the temple, that some steps led down
    into it, and that there was a pavement of small pebbles, but
    I cannot vouch for the truth of these particulars. When I saw
    the Cromlech there was certainly no vestige of any steps or
    pavement. There was, however, a quantity of human and different
    animal bones found in it, likewise some broken pieces of coarse
    earthen vessels, together with some limpets, such as are on
    the rocks in the bay, a few cockle shells and land snails.
    These last might have been blown into it by the wind, when it
    filled with sand, as there are plenty of them on the adjoining
    common. Some of the fragments of vessels seem to have been
    blackened with fire, and bear the appearance of antiquity; a
    vessel of reddish clay was found whole, which held somewhat
    more than a quart, and was of the shape of a common tea cup. A
    flat circular bone of some fish, of the shape of a disk, and
    about nine inches in diameter, was discovered, together with
    an old fishhook, the former of which was given by the soldiers
    to Sir John Doyle. I was only able to procure for myself some
    of the fragments of broken ware. About eighteen feet distance
    from the foot of the temple there are remains of a circle of
    stones which probably surrounded it; they are placed about a
    foot above the ground, and in general about two feet distant
    from each other. At about forty-two feet from the temple there
    appears to have been another circle of stones of a larger size
    than those of the inner circle, but there are very few of
    them remaining. As this temple stands upon the top of a hill,
    it is the intention of some gentlemen in the island to have so
    much of the sand on each side of it removed, as may render it
    visible to all the surrounding country.

    “We have three more such temples in this island, but not so
    complete, nor so large, as the one I have just described. One
    of these is situated near Paradis, at the Clos of the Vale, and
    is called ‘La Pierre du Déhus.’ It stands on a rising ground,
    and slopes towards the east-north-east. The stones are of a
    grey granite. The supporting, or upright stones, are two and
    a-half feet above the ground in the inside, and could not be
    more, as the bottom is rocky; they form a parallelogram in the
    inside of twelve feet broad.

    “Another of these temples is seen at the Catioroc, at St.
    Saviour’s, and the third is situated between L’Ancresse Bay and
    the Valle Church, and is partly concealed by furze.

    “Some years ago I discovered a very large Logan or rocking
    stone, or a rock at the opposite side of L’Ancresse Bay, which
    could easily be rocked by a child; but within these three
    years it has been entirely destroyed, and no vestige of it
    now remains. An ancient manuscript says that this island was
    originally inhabited by fishermen, who were Pagans, and used
    to place large stones one upon another, near the sea shore,
    on which they performed their sacrifices. The stones of this
    kind, which are now extant, are certainly all situated near
    the sea shore, and this circumstance so far corroborates the
    information given in the manuscript.

        “I have the honour to be, Dear Sir,

            “Your obliged and very humble servant,

                                               “JOSHUA GOSSELIN.”

This article is illustrated by plates drawn by the author, viz.,
“Temple of L’Ancresse in the Valle Parish, Guernsey,” “Plan of the
surface of the Temple at L’Ancresse,” “Views of the Temple” called “La
Pierre du Déhus,” from the W.S.W. and the E.N.E. “Plan of the surface
of Déhus,” North and South Views of the “Temple at the Catioroc,”
and “The Temple among the Furze between L’Ancresse Bay and the Valle

[Illustration: Creux des Fâïes.]


Natural Objects and their Superstitions.

    “Yon old grey stone, protected from the ray
    Of noontide suns.…
    And thou, grey stone, the pensive likeness keep
    Of a dark chamber where the mighty sleep:
    Far more than fancy to the influence bends
    When solitary nature condescends
    To mimic time’s forlorn humanities.”


    “This is the fairy land: oh spight of spights
    We talk with goblins, owls, and elvish sprites.”


There are many spots in Guernsey connected with stories and legends
besides the Druidical remains. The caverns of the Creux des Fées and
Creux Mahié; the various curiously shaped rocks, formed by the hand of
Nature, or by the wearing action of the waves; the marks of footprints,
whether human or diabolical, on various stones; and above all the
sacred fountains, which are still regarded as medicinal, have given
rise to many a tradition, which, though they lose much of their charm
from being translated from the quaint Guernsey French in which they are
originally related, we will here endeavour to render.


Between the bays of Vazon and Cobo is found the peninsula of Houmet,
and here is situated the “Creux des Fées.” It is a small cavern,
worn away by the action of the sea. The granite surrounding its mouth
abounds in particles of mica, which glitter in the sun like streaks
of gold. It can only be approached at low tide, and necessitates much
scrambling over the rocks which are heaped round the mouth of the
grotto. It is said that by a hole not larger than the mouth of an
oven, you gain access to a spacious hall, hollowed out of the rock,
that in the middle of this hall is a stone table on which are dishes,
plates, drinking cups, and everything necessary for a large feast, all
in stone, and all used by the fairies, but no one has had the courage
to penetrate inside and test the truth of this assertion. It is also
believed that beyond it there is a subterranean passage which leads
to the bottom of St. Saviour’s Church, which is distant more than two
miles. This tradition of a subterranean passage leading to a church at
a considerable distance is told of other caverns in Guernsey. Of the
Creux Mahié, where there is also said to be a passage leading to St.
Saviour’s Church, of a large cave in Moulin Huet Bay, which is supposed
to lead to a passage going straight to St. Martin’s Church, and one at
Saints’ Bay, also supposed to lead to St. Saviour’s Church.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--“Le groupe le plus important de demeures de fées que
j’aie rencontré est celui des Houles (l’anglais _hole_, caverne,
grotte).” … “Elles se prolongent sous terre si loin, que personne,
dit-on, n’est allé jusqu’au fond … parfois on les appelle Chambres
des fées. Il y en a où l’on voit, dit-on, des tables de pierre sur
lesquelles elles mangeaient, leurs sièges, et les berceaux en pierre de
leurs enfants.”--_Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute Bretagne_, p.


The whole of the southern coast of Guernsey, from Jerbourg, or St.
Martin’s Point, to Pleinmont in the parish of Torteval, is extremely
precipitous, but abounding in picturesque beauties of no common
character. Bold headlands, with outlying granite rocks rising like
pyramids and obelisks from the clear blue sea, alternating with caves
and bays to which access is gained through deep glens and ravines,
some richly wooded, some hemmed in on both sides by rugged hills,
but through all of which a tiny rill of the purest water trickles,
keeping up a perpetual verdure--slopes covered in early spring with
the golden blossoms of the gorse, in summer with the purple bells of
the heather, and in autumn with the rich brown fronds of the withering
bracken--cliffs mantled in parts with luxuriant ivy, in other with many
coloured lichens, and out of every crevice of which the thrift, the
campion, and other flowers that delight in the vicinity of the sea,
burst in wild profusion--all combine to form pictures which the artist
and the lover of nature are never tired of studying.

The constant action of the waves for unnumbered centuries has worn out
many caverns in these cliffs, the most considerable of which is that
known by the name of “Le Creux Mahié,” or as some old writers wrote it
“Mahio,” and it undoubtedly took its name, so says Mr. Métivier, from
its ancient proprietor, the king of the infernal regions.

    “The Prince of darkness is a gentleman;
    Modo he’s called and _Mahu_.”

               --_King Lear._ Act 3, Sc. 4.

The Hindoos have the same name in their _Maha-Dêva_, a giant of the
family of the dives or demons.[65] In the province of Mayo, there is a
Sorcerer or Druid, the Priest of _Mayo_, who lives in a cavern, and is
called “the King of the Waters.”

It is also sometimes called “Le Creux Robilliard,” from a family of
that name on whose property it was situated. It lies in the parish of
Torteval, and is reached by a narrow pathway, winding down the almost
precipitous side of a steep cliff, into a small creek worn out by the
sea between the headlands. The cave itself, there can be no doubt,
must have been formed by the waves wearing away gradually a vein of
decomposed rock, softer than that which forms the sides and roof. At
some remote period a large portion of the rock which forms the roof of
the cavern has given way, and has partially blocked up the entrance,
leaving only a long low fissure through which access can be had to
the interior, and forming a sort of platform of solid stone, which
effectually cuts off any further encroachment on the part of the sea. A
steep descent over broken fragments of rock leads down to the floor of
the cave, which appears to be nearly on a level with the beach at the
foot of the platform. A glimmering light from the entrance enables one
to see that the rock arches overhead in a sort of dome, and a bundle of
dry furze or other brushwood, set on fire, lights it up sufficiently
to bring out all the details. It is a weird sight; as the flickering
flames illumine one by one the various masses of rock that are piled up
to the roof at the extremity of the cavern, and disclose the entrances
to two or three smaller caves. These are, in reality, of no great
depth, but they are sufficiently mysterious to have given rise to more
than one report concerning them, and there are but few of the peasantry
who would be bold enough to attempt to explore their recesses. It is
firmly believed by them that there is a passage extending all the way
under ground as far as the Church of St. Saviour’s, about a mile
distant as the crow flies; and it is also affirmed that there is an
entrance through a small hole to an extensive apartment, in the midst
of which stands a stone table, on which are set out dishes, plates,
drinking vessels, and other requisites for a well-served feast, all of
the same solid material.[66]

There are obscure traditions of the cavern having been at some early
period the resort of men who lived by stealing their neighbours’
sheep, and plundering their hen-roosts, but these traditions cannot be
traced to anything more definite than what is commonly alleged of all
such places, neither are the tales told of its having been the resort
of smugglers more to be relied on. The difficulty of access to it,
either by sea or land, makes it very improbable that it should have
been used for this purpose; besides, in former days, Guernsey was a
perfectly free port, nothing that entered was subject to any duty that
it would have been profitable to evade, and before the establishment
of a branch of the English Custom House, all exports could be made
without the troublesome formalities of clearance and declaration now
required. Of late years the smuggling of spirits into the island in
order to avoid payment of the local dues in aid of the public revenue,
has been carried on to rather a large extent; but this has taken place
on more accessible parts of the coast. Possibly, however, tobacco made
up in illegal packages, which would subject it to seizure if found
waterborne, may occasionally have been deposited here for a time, until
it could be carried off secretly to the French vessels passing the
island in their coasting voyages between Normandy and Brittany.

In a letter dated May, 1665, to one of his friends in Guernsey, from
the Rev. John de Sausmarez, who, on the restoration of Charles II., was
appointed Dean of the Island, and subsequently Canon of Windsor, he
alludes to “Le prophète du Creux Robilliard.” Who this prophet was does
not appear, but there is every reason to believe that the allusion is
to the Rev. Thomas Picot, Minister of the then united parishes of the
Forest and Torteval, in the latter of which the Creux Mahié--_alias_
Robilliard, is situated; for in the Assembly of Divines held at
Westminster in 1644, articles were exhibited against this clergyman for
troubling the Church discipline established in the island, preaching
Anabaptist doctrines, and prophesying that in 1655 there should be
a perfect reformation, men should do miracles, etc. This conjecture
receives some slight confirmation from the fact that it is still
remembered in the Forest parish that a Minister of the name of Picot
was fond of retiring to caves on the sea-shore for meditation, and one
of these caves in particular, that well known one in Petit Bot bay
with a double entrance, is still known by the name of “Le Parloir de
Monsieur Picot.”

[65] _Recherches Asiatiques_, Tome I., Traduit de l’Anglais.

[66] This last piece of information was furnished by Caroline le
Tullier, of the Parish of the Forest, wife of Richard Murton.

Rocks and Stones.


    “Screams round the Arch-druid’s brow the seamew--white
    As Menai’s foam.”


One of the earliest forms of idolatry is undoubtedly that which was
paid to rude stone pillars. These, whether erected for the purpose of
marking the last resting place of some renowned patriarch or warrior,
or set up with the design of indicating a spot specially appropriated
to religious rites, or perhaps, simply as a boundary or landmark,
came to be regarded, at first, as sacred, and in process of time,
as a symbol of the Deity himself. Gradually any elevated rock, and
especially if it presented a striking and unusual appearance, was
looked upon with veneration. We find that this was particularly the
case in the north of Europe, and that the hardy mariners who navigate
the tempestuous seas of Scandinavia, are, even now, in the habit of
paying a sort of superstitious respect to the lofty “stacks,” as the
isolated masses of rock are called, which form the extremity of many
of the headlands, and that, in passing, they salute them, and throw
old clothes, or a little food, or a drop of spirits, into the sea, as
a sort of propitiatory offering. It is strange to find that the same
custom still exists in Guernsey, notwithstanding that a thousand years
or more have elapsed since the Northmen first invaded these shores.

[Illustration: “Le Petit Bonhomme Andrelot, ou Andriou.”]

Everyone who has visited Guernsey must know the lovely bay of Moulin
Huet,[67] and the remarkable group of rocks, which stretches out into
the sea at its eastern extremity beyond the point of Jerbourg. These
rocks are called “Les Tas de Pois d’Amont,” or “The Pea-Stacks of the
East.” There being a chain of rocks off Pleinmont which are called the
“Tas de Pois d’Aval”--the westerly Pea-Stacks--“Amont” (meaning “en
haut”) is the Guernsey word for _east_, _aval_ meaning “en bas,” their
word for _west_.[68]

Each rock composing the Tas de Pois d’Amont has its own special name.
They are “Le Petit Aiguillon,” “Le Gros Aiguillon,” “L’Aiguillon
d’Andrelot,” ou “du Petit Bon-Homme.”

The united and increasing action of the winds and waves has worn the
hard granite rock into the most fantastic forms, and from certain
points of view it is not difficult to invest some of these masses of
stone with a fancied resemblance to the human form. One of them in
particular, when seen at a certain distance, has all the appearance of
an aged man enveloped in the gown and cowl of a monk.

So singular a freak of nature has not escaped the attention of the
peasantry, and the rock in question is pointed out by the name of “Le
Petit Bon-Homme Andriou.” The children in the neighbourhood have a
rhymed saying:

    _“Andriou, tape tout,”_

which may be translated

    “Andriou, watch all,” or “over all,”

and the fishermen and pilots who frequent these parts of the coast show
their respect by taking off their hats when passing the point, and are
careful to insist on the observance being complied with by any stranger
who may chance to be in their company. Formerly it was not unusual with
them, before setting sail, to offer a biscuit or a libation of wine or
cider to “Le Bon Homme,” and, if an old garment past use chanced to be
in the boat, this was also cast into the sea.[69]

There are other rocks on the coast which the fishermen are in the
habit of saluting without being able to give any reason why they do
so; and it is not impossible that the honour paid to the little island
of Lihou,[70] on the western coast of Guernsey, by the small craft,
in lowering their topmasts while passing, may have originated in the
same superstition, although it is generally supposed that they do it
out of reverence to the Blessed Virgin, the ruins of whose Chapel and
Priory are still to be seen on the isle. The circumnavigation of a
certain rock by the fishermen of the parish of St. John, in Jersey, on
Midsummer Day, may, perhaps, be traceable to the same source.

[67] EDITOR’S NOTE.--“Moulin Luet,” according to Mr. Métivier--“Vier
Port”--still in the mouths of the old country people.

[68] (Par la même raison que le vent d’ouest est le vent d’_aval_, le
vent qui vient de la partie la plus haute, la plus montueuse de France,
est le vent d’_amont_.--_Métivier’s Dictionary_, page 36).


There are several legends still repeated by the country people about
“Le Petit Bon Homme Andriou.”

One is that he was a man searching for hidden treasure among the
rocks of the Tas de Pois and that the guardian spirit of the treasure
appeared and turned him into stone for his sacrilege.--_Collected by
Mr. J. Linwood Pitts, of the Guille-Allès Library._

Another is that he was an old Arch-Druid, the last of the Druids to
hold out against Christianity. Miserable at his brethren’s apostacy
from the faith of their fathers, he went to live in a cave at the end
of Jerbourg Point. His favourite occupation was standing on the rocks
of the Tas de Pois and gazing out to sea, for he was passionately
fond of the sea and sailors. One day, during a violent gale, he saw a
ship in great distress out at sea, so he prayed to his gods to stop
the storm and save the ship. They took no notice of his prayers, the
storm still raged, and the ship was driven nearer and nearer to the
dangerous rocks on which he stood. Then, in desperation, he prayed to
the God of the Christians, and vowed that if only the ship were saved
he would turn Christian and dedicate a Chapel to the Blessed Virgin.
As he prayed, the gale ceased, and the ship made its way safely to the
harbour. And Andrillot, after being baptised as a Christian, dedicated
a Chapel; some say it is the one of which the ruins on Lihou Island
can still be seen, which is dedicated to “Notre Dame de la Roche;”
others say it was the Chapel, long since destroyed, which was on the
Fief Blanchelande in St. Martin’s parish, and which is believed to have
stood where the parish school now stands.

Be that as it may, that little figure standing, looking out to sea,
petrified there that he may yet bring good luck and fine weather to his
beloved sailors, is still looked upon by them with fond reverence, and
they still throw him in passing their drop of spirits, or doff their
flag, for luck.--_From Mr. Isaac Le Patourel and others._

“L’Bouan Homme Andriou,” as correctly printed in Gray’s map. This is
a _petrified Druid_, or rather Arch-Druid,--An _An Drio_--the Primate
of the Unelli, and now the guardian of Moulin Huet and Saints’ Bays,
Guernsey; for, according to Rowland, our ancestors called that mighty
Prelate thus, and Toland in his _Celtic Religion_, p. 60, says “The
present ignorant vulgar believes that these enchanters the Druids were
at least themselves enchanted by the still greater enchanter Patrick
and his disciples, who miraculously confined them _to the places that
bear their names_. And let me not be thought over minutious should I
notice the peculiar propriety of the epithet applied by rural tradition
to this _most reverend_ rock of ours--“Le Bouan Homme,”--“bon homme”
in France, and “good man” in England, still denoting a Priest two
centuries ago, particularly a priest of the old régime.”--_From Mr.


Another instance of a traditionally petrified human being is a rock off
the Creux Mahié, standing straight out into the water. It is called
“La Belle Lizabeau,” and a little rock at the foot of it is called
“La Petite Lizabeau.” It is said that “Lizabeau” was a beautiful girl
of Torteval, who was turned out of the house with her baby by her
infuriated father. Mad with despair she rushed to the cliffs and leapt
into the sea with her baby in her arms, and she and her child were
turned into the rocks which now stand there.--_From Dan Mauger, an old
fisherman of St. Martin’s Parish._

[70] Dr. Heylyn says in his _Survey of the Estate of Guernzey and
Jarsey_, published 1656, p. 298:--“The least of these isles, but yet of
most note, is the little islet called _Lehu_, situate on the north side
of the eastern corner, and neer unto those scattered rocks, which are
called _Les Hanwaux_ appertaining once unto the Dean, but now unto the
Governour. Famous for a little Oratory or Chantery there once erected
to the honour of the Virgin _Mary_, who, by the people in those times
was much sued to by the name of our Lady of _Lehu_. A place long since
demolished in the ruine of it. “_Sed jam periere ruinæ_,” but now the
ruines of it are scarce visible, there being almost nothing left of
it but the steeple, which serveth only as a sea-marke, and to which,
as any of that party sail along they strike their topsail. “_Tantum
religio potuit suadere._” Such a religious opinion have they harboured
of the place, that, though the Saint be gone, the wals shall yet still
be honoured.”


La Roque Màngi was a natural granite formation having a very artificial
aspect. It stood on one of those sandy downs which extend along the
north-west coast between “Le Grand Havre” and “Les Grand’ Rocques,” and
consisted of a slender upright mass of rock of from eight to ten feet
in height, surmounted by a large stone, projecting about half a foot on
every side, resting on the narrowest part of the supporting stone, and
looking at a little distance like a petrified giant. It was destroyed
by the proprietor of the land about the middle of the present century
in the hopes of finding below it a profitable quarry of granite, in
which, however, he was disappointed.

Of this rock a curious legend was related by the neighbouring peasants.
It was said that the Devil, having quarrelled one day with his wife,
tied her by the hair of her head to the upright stone, and that, in
her frantic efforts to disengage herself by running round and round,
she wore away the solid granite to the narrow neck which supported the
superincumbent head.[71]

The origin of the name seems doubtful, some tracing it to a family
of the name of Maingy, who possessed land in the parish in which the
rock was situated. Others, with more probability, attributing it to
the “eaten”--“mangé”--(in the local dialect “màngi”) appearance of the
stones, where the upper one or head joined the supporting upright.

[71] From one of the Le Poidevins, of Pleinheaume.


This was also called “La Chaire au Prêtre,” and was situated in the
district of the Hamelins, a little to the north of the property known
as St. Clair. It was a very regularly formed natural obelisk of about
eight to ten feet in height, rising from the summit of one of those
hillocks, or “hougues” as they are locally called, which, before the
great granite industry took its rise, abounded in St. Sampson’s and
the Vale parishes, and along the whole western coast. At the foot of
the upright rock was a large flat stone, giving the whole mass the
appearance of a gigantic chair or pulpit. Seven stone hatchets have
been unearthed in its vicinity. It was evidently used by the Druids as
one of their sacred chairs, in which their Pontiffs sat to instruct the
people. It is probable that towards the end of the seventh century,
St. Bonit, Bishop of Auvergne, who was known to have been a great
traveller, visited the land previously converted by St. Samson, St.
Magloire, St. Paterne, and St. Marcouf, and sat and preached to the
people in this erst-while Druid’s throne, which henceforth bore his


This very singular name is given to a picturesque mass of rock
which forms the termination of a hill in the parish of Ste. Marie
du Castel, and abuts on the road leading from the village of Les
Grands Moulins--better known as The King’s Mills--to Le Mont Saint.
Mr. Métivier gives as his explanation of this name that all this
region--from the Mont-au-Nouvel (now called Delancey Hill) to the
Castiau Roc--was the centre of the Druids and their observances. “The
Eagle,” “The Cock,” “The Partridge,” “The Curlew,” were the names
of various degrees in Theology[72] among the Druids and among the
western sun worshippers. This “Coq” was the Prophet, the “Magician,”
of the Canton. The Arch-Magician of the King of Babylon was Nergal or
“Le Coq.” It is said to be a very favourite haunt of the fairies and
witches, and it is commonly reported that an immense treasure lies
concealed within it. In olden days it was the fashion to walk round
it, stamping at the same time, the soil resounded under their feet,
they heard, or thought they heard, the monotonous sound of a bell,
tolling a far-away knell, and hence the belief of a subterranean fairy
cavern and hoards of concealed treasure.[73]

[72] Christophor: Muyheus apud. Baheum, in Centur. de Script. Brit.

[73] From Rachel Duport.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--In _Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute Bretagne_,
Tome I., p. 38, M. Paul Sebillot says:--“Presque tous les monuments
préhistoriques passent pour renfermer des trésors, il en est de même
des gros blocs erratiques qui se trouvent dans les champs ou sur les


Old people say that there was formerly a very large stone in St.
Andrew’s parish on which was engraven an inscription in ancient
characters. Some men who passed it every day in going to their work at
last succeeded in deciphering it, and read as follows:--

    _“Celui qui me tournera_
    _Son temps point ne perdra.”_

    (To him who turns me up, I say,
    His labour won’t be thrown away).

This inscription roused their curiosity, and they determined on making
a strong effort to raise the stone, fully persuaded that it concealed
an enormous treasure. They procured crowbars and levers, and, at last,
with much labour and great loss of time, succeeded in lifting it, but
who can describe their disappointment when they found nought but the
following words, legibly engraved on the other side:--

    _“Tourner je voulais_
    _Car lassée j’étais.”_

    (Tired of lying on one side
    To get turned over long I’ve tried).[74]

[74] A similar story is told in Scotland. See MacTaggart’s _Gallavidian
Encyclopædia_, under the article “Lettered Craigs.”

See also _Mélusine_, Vol. II., p. 357. Roby’s _Traditions of
Lancashire_, Vol. I., p. 252, and the same story in _Notes and
Queries_, 1st Series. II. 332.


A little inland, about halfway between the points of land which are the
northern and southern extremities of the picturesque bay of Rocquaine,
there is a rocky hillock known generally by the name of “Le Câtillon,”
probably from some small castle or fortification which may have existed
there in former days. Old people say that the true name of the hill is
“La Hougue ès Brinches,” from the broom which once grew there in large
quantities. At the foot of this hillock, on the northern side, there
is a flat stone imbedded in the earth, and on it are the marks of two
feet, pointing in opposite directions, as if two persons coming, one
from the north, and the other from the south, had met on this spot and
left the impress of their footprints on the stone. Of course a story
is not wanting to account for these marks. It is said that the Lady of
Lihou and the Lady of St. Brioc (or some say the Abbess of La Haye du
Puits) had a dispute as to the limits of their territorial possessions,
and that, in order to settle the question, they agreed to leave their
respective abodes at a certain hour before breakfast, and walk straight
forward until they met. The spot where the meeting took place was to
be henceforth considered as the boundary, and to avoid any further
disputes a lasting memorial was to be placed on the spot.

If the country people are asked who these “Ladies” were, they can
give no further information about them, but they evidently consider
them to have belonged to the fairy-folk, who have left behind them so
many traces of their former occupation of the island. Antiquaries are
disposed to look upon the stone as having been placed there to mark
the boundary line between the Priories of Notre Dame de Lihou and St.

Another story of this rock is that at Pleinmont lived a hermit who was
much respected by all the island, and many people came to visit him in
his cell, which he never left, except to administer the Holy Sacrament
to the dying. He used to be seen kneeling for hours at the foot of a
cross upon the cliff; but one night a fisherman, anchored in Rocquaine
Bay, saw by the moon’s light this hermit cross the sands and meet a
tiny shrouded figure which came from the direction of Lihou. They met
on this rock, and stood talking there for some time, and then each
returned the way he came, and in the morning, when the fisherman came
to examine the place, he found the print of two feet. He could not make
himself believed when he told the story, until it was discovered that
the hermit had disappeared, never to be seen again.[75]

In the year 1829 a large quantity of coins, amounting, it is said, to
nearly seven hundred in number, were dug up at no very great distance
from this stone. The greater part were silver pennies, but there were
a few copper pieces among them; they were of the reigns of Edward II.
of England, and Philip IV. of France. The discovery of this treasure
induced some men who lived in the neighbourhood to seek for more, and,
under the firm persuasion that the most likely spot to find it was
under the stone itself, they resolved on braving the danger which is
supposed to be incurred by removing stones which have been placed by
the fairies, and devoted a whole morning to clearing away the ground
around it with a view to lifting it. They had, with great labour,
succeeded in loosening the stone just as the sun in its zenith marked
the hour of noon, an hour when all good workmen cease from their toil
to eat their frugal mid-day repast, and to enjoy their siesta under the
shelter of a hedge. They felt sure of success, and probably dreamt of
the uses to which they would put their treasure, but, alas, for their
hopes. When they returned to their work at one o’clock, they found the
stone as firmly fixed as ever, and resisting their utmost efforts to
remove it. They were more convinced than ever that immense riches lie
buried in this spot, but that it is useless to seek for them, and none
since that time have been bold enough to renew the attempt.[76]

[75] From Miss Lane.

[76] From Jean Le Lacheur, of Rocquaine.


In the Vale parish there is a large tract of uncultivated land
commonly known by the name of L’Ancresse Common. It is said to owe
its name of L’Ancresse--the anchoring place--to the circumstance of
the neighbouring bay having afforded a refuge to Robert the First,
Duke of Normandy, and his fleet, when in danger of perishing in a
violent tempest. Our learned antiquary, Mr. George Métivier, is rather
disposed to derive the name from the Celtic “Lancreis,” “the place
of the circle,” so many Druidical remains being still to be found on
the common as to render it highly probable that one of those circular
enclosures, formed of upright stones, in which the Druids are supposed
to have held their sacred assemblies, formerly existed here. Along the
sea-coast are many eminences, known locally by the name of “hougues.”
Their height is not great, but they form picturesque objects in the
landscape. Here and there large masses of grey granite covered with
lichens rise in irregular forms above the green sward, gay in spring
with the bright flowers of the furze and bluebell, and redolent with
the sweet perfume of the wild thyme and chamomile. In some of these
rocks may be traced those curious excavations known by the name of rock
basins, which antiquaries have considered as artificial, but which
geologists are ready to prove to be the work of nature.

Of late years many of these hougues have been quarried for the sake
of the stone, which is preferred in London to all others for paving
purposes, and if the demand should continue many of these hills will
be entirely levelled, and with them will disappear some of the most
characteristic features in the scenery of that part of the island.
While writing (1853), La Hougue Patris is advertised for sale, and
stress is laid in the advertisement on the excellent quality of the
stone which it contains. This hougue is situated on the north eastern
extremity of L’Ancresse Bay, and is remarkable from the circumstance
that a portion of the rock, where it appears above ground, bears marks
precisely similar to those which would be left by the hoof of an ox
on wet clay. So remarkable an appearance has of course attracted the
attention of the neighbouring peasants, who call the rock which bears
the impression “Le Pied du Bœuf.” Some old people relate that the
Devil, after having been driven from the other parts of the island by a
Saint whose name is now forgotten, made a last stand on this spot, but
that, after a long and desperate conflict, his Satanic Majesty was at
last constrained to take flight. In leaping, he left the marks of his
hoofs imprinted on the stone. He directed his flight towards Alderney,
but on his way thither alighted on the Brayes rocks, where, it is said,
similar marks of cloven feet are to be seen. Whether he got beyond
Alderney, or settled down quietly in that island, is a point on which
the narrators of the tradition are by no means agreed.

Did we not know that a family of the name of Patris was formerly
numerous in the Vale parish,[77] and that there is every probability
that the Hougue derived its name from some member of that family, to
whom, in ancient days, it may have belonged; we might be tempted to
suppose that the valiant Saint who forced the demon to fly was no other
than the renowned St. Patrick himself, especially as, according to some
accounts, the Saint was a native of a village in the neighbourhood of
the town of St Maloes, within eight or ten hours of this island.

It is true that, with all the self-conceit of the nineteenth century,
we are apt to suppose that before the establishment of packets and
steamers, communication between the opposite coasts of the Channel was
difficult and infrequent, but we have only to open the lives of the
British and Irish Saints to see with what ease and rapidity these holy
men effected the voyage, with no other conveyance than a stone trough,
a bundle of sea-weed, or perchance a cloak spread out on the boisterous

[77] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The Patris were also a family of note in the
parish of St. Martin’s in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth
centuries; a “Ville ès Patrys” was among the numerous subdivisions of
this parish. Much of their lands passed into the hands of the Bonamy
family through the marriage of Marguerite Patris, daughter of Pierrot
Patris, of Les Landes and St. Martin’s, to Pierre Bonamy, father of
John Bonamy, King’s Procureur in 1495, builder of the old Bonamy house
of Les Câches, and translator of the “Extente” from Latin into French
in 1498.

[Illustration: “The Devil’s Claw” at Jerbourg.]


As the inhabitants of Guernsey may be presumed to be acquainted with
the Chronicles of their own Duchy of Normandy, it is not improbable
that the following legendary tale, related of Duke Richard, surnamed
Sans-Peur, may be known to some of them.

The _Chronique de Normandie_, printed at Rouen in 1576, gives it in
words of which the following is a close translation. (Fol. 4. Sur
l’an 797). “Once upon a time, as Duke Richard was riding from one of
his Castles to a Manor, where a very beautiful lady was residing, the
Devil attacked him, and Richard fought with and vanquished him. After
this adventure the Devil disguised himself as a beautiful maiden,
richly adorned,[78] and appeared to him in a boat at Granville, where
Richard then was. Richard entered into the boat to converse with and
contemplate the beauty of this lady, and the Devil carried away the
said Duke Richard to a rock in the sea in the island of Guernsey, where
he was found.”

He is supposed to have anchored at La Petite Porte and leapt up the
cliff and landed on the stone near Doyle’s Column at Jerbourg, where
the print of his claw is still to be seen. As you go along the road
from the town to Doyle’s Column you see a large white piece of quartz
with a deep black splash right across it. It is on the right hand side
of the road, just as it begins to rise towards Doyle’s Column, at the
head of the second vallum, or dyke, going down towards La Petite
Porte. This stone was also the termination of the bounds at Jerbourg
beaten by the Chevauchée de St. Michel.

[78] “Ceux qui effleurent tout au galop ne sauront point que, chez
les Rabbins, _Lilith_, spectre nocturne, est ‘une diablesse’ sous la
forme de cette ‘damoiselle richement aornée,’ qui ne fit les yeux doux
à notre bon duc Richard, qu’afin de traiter ce nouvel Ixion comme la
reine des Dieux avait traité le premier.”--_Georges Métivier._


In former days that tract of land lying between St. Sampson’s Harbour
and the Vale Church, and known by the name of “Le Braye du Valle,” was
an arm of the sea, which at high water separated that part of the Vale
parish called “Le Clos du Valle” from the rest of the island. At the
beginning of the present century, Sir John Doyle, then Lieut.-Governor
of the island, seeing the inconvenience that might arise from the want
of a ready communication with the mainland, in the event of an invading
enemy effecting or attempting a landing in L’Ancresse Bay, caused the
dyke near the Vale Church to be built. The land recovered from the sea
became of course the property of the Crown, and was subsequently sold
to private individuals, the purchase money being given up by Government
to be employed towards defraying the expenses of constructing new roads
throughout the island.

Where fishes once swam, and where the husbandman once gathered sea-weed
for the manuring of his land, droves of cattle now graze, and fields
of corn wave.[79] From the very earliest times, the want of an easy
communication between the neighbouring parishes must have been felt,
and attempts had been made to remedy the inconvenience by the erection
of rude bridges. It would be strange, if the Devil, whose skill in
the construction of bridges in every part of Europe has certainly
entitled him to the honourable appellation of Pontifex Maximus, had
not had a hand in building one of the three principal passages across
the Braye du Valle. Accordingly we find that the dyke at St. Sampson’s
Harbour, known by the name of “Le Grand Pont,” is also called “Le Pont
du Diable,” and old people affirm that it has been handed down as a
tradition from their forefathers, that shortly after the building of
the Vale Castle, the Devil threw up this embankment, in order to enable
him to cross over to that fortress with ease and safety.

Perhaps the bridge may have been built by order of Robert the First,
Duke of Normandy, father of William the Conqueror, sometimes called
“Robert le Magnifique,” but quite as well known by the less honourable
cognomen of “Robert le Diable,” and, if in the absence of documentary
evidence, any reliance is to be placed in the tradition hitherto
generally received that the Vale Castle, if not originally built, was
at least considerably improved and strengthened by this Prince, it is
certainly not going too far to suppose that the bridge may owe its name
to him, and not to his Satanic Majesty.

One observance connected with this bridge is worth mentioning. From
time immemorial persons from all parts of the island have been in
the habit of assembling here on the afternoons of the Sundays in the
month of August. No reason is assigned for this custom, but as Saint
Sampson is looked upon as the first Apostle of Christianity in this
island, and as the church which bears his name is said to have been the
first Christian temple erected in the island, and is, in consequence,
considered in some respects as the mother church, may not this assembly
be the remains of a church-wake, observed in ancient times on the
Sunday following the feast of St. Sampson, that is to say, the 28th of

Similar meetings are common in Normandy and Brittany, where they are
called “assemblies” and “pardons.”

The two other principal passages across the Braye du Valle were the
bridges called “Le Pont Colliche” and “Le Pont St. Michel.” They
consisted of rude slabs of stone resting on huge blocks of rock, and
were dangerous, both from the sea-weed which attached itself to them,
and rendered them exceedingly slippery, and also from the rapidity with
which the tide, when rising, flowed in, for both of them were covered
at high water. Many and sad were the accidents which had happened
to incautious and belated passengers, and it is not wonderful that
superstition believed these spots to be haunted by the ghosts of those
who had perished in attempting the crossing. The “Pont St. Michel,”
situated near the Vale Church, where the embankment now is, was held
in especial dread. At night the “feu bellenger” or will-o’-the-wisp,
was to be seen dancing on the sands, and gliding under the bridge, and
even at mid-day, when the sun was shining brightly, unearthly cries of
distress would be occasionally heard proceeding from that direction,
though no living being could be discovered, by whom they could possibly
be uttered.

An old woman, still alive, whose youth was spent in that neighbourhood,
has assured me that she has repeatedly heard the cries.

“Le Pont Colliche” was situated about midway between the two others,
a little to the eastward of the road which now traverses the Braye.
According to tradition, there was once a time when the opening at
the “Bougue du Valle”--the channel between the Grand Havre and the
Braye--was so small that a faggot, weighted with stone, would have
sufficed to stop it.

At that time the passage between the islands of Herm and Guernsey was
so narrow that a plank laid down at low water enabled the Rector of
St. Sampson’s to cross over when his duty called him to perform divine
service in the Chapel of St. Tugual. Great quantities of the common
cockle (_cardium edule_), locally known by the name of “cocques du
Braye,” used to be gathered on the sands at low water. It is said,
however, that even before the enclosure of the Braye they had begun to
disappear, and their increasing scarcity was attributed to the impiety
of an old woman, who, unmindful of the sacred duty of keeping the
sabbath holy, was in the habit of searching for these cockles on that
day. A similar story is told to account for the rarity of a particular
kind of periwinkle (_trochus crassus_) known here by the name of
“Cocquelin Brehaut.”

A stone, which has evidently served as the socket or base of a cross,
and which is said to have come from the Pont Colliche, is still
preserved at Les Grandes Capelles.

[79] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Of course this was written long before the days of
greenhouses and the tomato-growing industry.


    “Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
    Could ever hear by tale, or history,
    The course of true love never did run smooth.”

The promontory of Pleinmont forms the south-western extremity of
the island of Guernsey, and, to the admirer of the wild and rugged
beauties of cliff and rock scenery, affords an ever-varying treat.
Lofty precipices, in which the sea-birds and hawks nestle--huge
masses of granite piled into fantastic forms--covered with grey and
orange-coloured lichens, and gay with the flowers of the thrift and
other sea-side plants, large rocks detached from the main-land and
tenanted by long rows of the sun-loving cormorant, the ever-restless
ocean, now smiling and rippling under a summer sky, now lashed into
fury by the wintry blast, all combine to add to the charms of this

Many accordingly are the parties which frequent this spot during
the summer, and it is probable that some of those who have visited
this place may remember a small promontory almost detached from the
mainland, and forming the westernmost point of the island. To the
southward of this promontory there is a sort of ravine, extending from
the table-land of Pleinmont to the edge of the cliff, where a small
breastwork of earth and stones has been erected. The reason why this
spot, which is by no means the most dangerous along the coast, has been
thus protected, is not very apparent. The existence of a small spring
of water in the ravine, which keeps up a constant verdure and tempts
the cattle turned out to pick up a scanty living on the common to the
place, suggests a probable solution of the question; but the tradition
of the peasantry assigns a far more romantic reason for the erection of
the parapet than the mere safety of a few stray heifers.

They say that in days long past, the son of a farmer in the
neighbourhood formed an attachment for the daughter of a family with
whom his own was at variance. His affection was returned by the maiden,
and the wishes of the lovers might, in the end, have triumphed over
the opposition of the parents, had not the hand of the girl been
promised by her friends to one of the richest men in the parish. In
vain did the unhappy maiden urge the cruelty of forcing her into a
marriage which her heart abhorred. In vain did her lover employ every
means in his power to break off the hated contract. Their prayers and
representations were treated with scorn, and the preparations for the
marriage were proceeded with. The eve of the day appointed for the
solemn espousal--a ceremony which in ancient times preceded and was
distinct from that of marriage--had arrived. The lovers met by stealth
on the cliffs at Pleinmont, and, driven to despair, mounted together on
a horse, which they urged into a gallop, and, directing him down the
ravine, they fell over the precipice and perished in the waves below.
To commemorate the event, and to prevent the recurrence of a similar
catastrophe, the barrier was erected.[80]

[80] From Miss Rachel Mauger.

[Illustration: “Les Fontaines de Mont Blicq, Forest.”]


Holy Chapels and Holy Wells.

    “Thereby a crystal stream did gently play,
    Which from a sacred fount welled forth alway.”


    “For to that holy wood is consecrate,
    A virtuous well about whose flowery banks
    The nimble-footed fairies dance their rounds
    By the pale moonshine, dipping often times
    Their stolen children, so to make them free
    From dying flesh and dull mortality.”

            --_Fletcher’s “Faithful Shepherdess.”_

Though not strictly speaking “Folk-Lore,” the ancient priories and
chapels of Guernsey are so closely connected with the holy wells that
it may be as well here to give some details concerning them. It appears
that these chapels must have been of more than one kind. Some were
endowed, and had a priest permanently attached to them with probably a
certain cure of souls. Others were most likely wayside oratories, where
divine service was only performed occasionally by the rector of the
parish, or someone acting under him, on certain anniversaries. Some may
have been connected with religious guilds or fraternities.

To begin with those churches and chapels known to have been endowed,
and which were probably--at least after the suppression of alien
priories--under the patronage of the Crown.

A Commission was appointed in the reign of Henry VIII. for the purpose
of ascertaining the value of all livings within the kingdom, with a
view to the duty called first-fruits, owing on the appointment of every
ecclesiastic to a benefice, being henceforth paid to the Crown. From
this document we learn that besides the ten parochial churches there
were four other benefices--the vicarage of Lihou worth five pounds
sterling, that of St. Brioc worth twelve shillings, the chaplaincy of
St. George worth sixty shillings, and that of “Our Lady Mares,” no
doubt Notre Dame des Marais, worth three pounds.

The first of these four, Lihou, was originally a priory dependent on
the Priory of St. Michel-du-Valle, which was of itself a dependency of
the great Abbey of Mont St. Michel in Normandy. The Prior of Lihou had
probably pastoral care of the district comprised in the Fief Lihou,
extending along the coast called Perelle,[81] from L’Erée to Rocquaine
Castle, where the district of St. Brioc begins. It also comprised
certain possessions in the Castel parish and elsewhere, and its feudal
court was held near the western porch of the Castel Church, a little
northward of the path leading to it, where are still to be seen three
flat stones, which mark the spot.

St. Brioc was situated in the valley leading from Torteval Church to
Rocquaine. There is reason to suppose that it had a certain district
allotted to it, but its limits are not now known.

St. George was only a chaplaincy, intimately connected with the Fief Le
Comte, the court of which formerly assembled in the chapel, and still
meets in its immediate vicinity. The earliest notice we have of this
chapel is contained in the Bull of Pope Adrian IV., dated 1155. In the
year following Dom Robert de Thorigny--or, as he is sometimes called,
“Du Mont”--abbot of the famous monastery of Mont St. Michel, visited
this island, and found one Guillaume Gavin established at St. George as
chaplain: he was anxious to retire from the world, and, at his request,
the abbot admitted him into his community as a monk, and appointed
Godefroy Vivier to succeed him as chaplain at St. George. After some
time Vivier followed the example of his predecessor, and took the frock
at Mont Saint Michel, having previously made over certain lands which
he possessed in the neighbourhood of St. George to the abbey which
afforded him shelter.

In 1408 the chaplain was Dom Toulley, who obtained an order from the
Royal Court prohibiting any one from trespassing on the road leading to
the chapel, it being reserved exclusively for persons attending divine
service, or sick people visiting the fountain, the small coin left as
an offering at the well being doubtless a perquisite belonging to the

This chapel was originally endowed with some lands or rents, probably
with the territory still known as Le Fief de la Chapelle, which is one
of the many dependencies of the Fief Le Comte.

After the Reformation St. George became in some way the property of
the de Jersey family,[82] and by the marriage of Marie de Jersey,
an heiress, to Jacques Guille, which took place about the middle of
the seventeenth century, it passed into the possession of the latter
family, by whom it is still held. This Marie de Jersey made a gift of
the chapel to the inhabitants of the Castel in about 1675 to serve as
a school house. A more convenient building was erected in 1736 on the
site of an old mill, and endowed with nine quarters of wheat rente by
Marie de Sausmarez, widow of Mr. William Le Marchant, and the chapel
ceased to be used as a school house. Bickerings as to rights of way
across the estate, under the pretence that there was a thoroughfare
leading to a public building, ensued, even after the removal of the
school; so finally Mr. Guille ordered the chapel to be demolished, and
only a few ruins are now left.

The Chapel of “Our Lady Mares”--Notre Dame des Marais--is thus
mentioned in the Extente of Edward III., “Nostre Sire le Roy n’a rien
des vacations des eglises et chapelles, fors la Chapelle de Nostre Dame
des Maresqs qui vaut XXX lbts en laquelle iceluy Roy doit présenter en
tems de la vacation, et l’Evesque de Coutance en a l’institution.” The
chaplain then in possession, 1331, was Robert de Hadis.[83]

The other churches and chapels were not at this time in the gift of
the Crown, but belonged to alien monasteries, Marmoutiers, Mont St.
Michel, and Blanchelande. The chapel itself was, there is very little
doubt, situated within the precincts of Le Château des Marais, now
better known as Ivy Castle, and the Livres de Perchage of the Town
parish of the time of Elizabeth and James I. mention certain fields in
the vicinity as belonging to it.

The Hospice and Chapel of St. Julien was situated at the bottom of the
Truchot, in the district called Le Bosq, close to the sea-shore. There
are many “St. Julians” in the calendar, one of them being considered
the special patron of travellers. In the title of his Legende MS.
Bodleian, 1596, fol. 4, he is called “St. Julian the Gode herberjoue.”
It ends thus:--

    “Therefore, yet to this day, thei that over lond wende
    Thei biddeth Saint Julian anon that gode herborw he hem sende.”

Chaucer had the familiar attribute of St. Julian before him when he
described his “Francklyn” or country gentleman:--

    “An householder, and that a grete, was he:
    Saint Julian he was in his own contré.”

The rock on which travellers to the island used to land, now the
foundation of the harbour, was “La Roche St. Julien,” and probably
the hospital, being situated near a landing place, was intended
as a refuge for travellers, and therefore dedicated to him. This
chapel was founded in the year 1361, the thirty-fifth of the reign of
Edward III., at the time when Sir John Maltravers was Governor of the
islands. The founder was a certain Petrus de St. Petro, or Pierre de
St. Peye, as we find it written in French. Permission was granted him
by the Crown to found the said hospital or alms house for a master,
brethren and sisters, in a certain spot near _Bowes_ (Le Bosq,--this
word was evidently Boués, Bois, a wood, with which the word Bouët is
also identical), in the parish of St. Peter Port, and to endow it with
twenty vergées of land and eighty quarters of wheat rent, out of which
certain dues were to be paid to the King. “La Petite École,” or parish
school, which has from time immemorial been situated in this vicinity,
was originally connected with St. Julian. It is generally believed
that the school was founded in 1513 by Thomas Le Marchant and Jannette
Thelry, his wife.

At the Reformation the chapel and hospital were suppressed, and its
revenues and possessions seized by the Crown. The parishioners of
St. Peter Port complained to the Royal Commissioners of 1607 of the
alienation of this property, which they looked upon as belonging to the
parish, but their complaint was not attended to. In the early part of
the century there were the remains of an old house, in a late debased
Gothic style of the fifteenth century, standing at the bottom of Bosq
Lane, which used to be looked upon as the remains of a conventual
building. The house in question was a residence of a branch of the de
Beauvoir family, whose arms were carved in stone over the principal
entrance. The stones forming this entrance were preserved, and are now
in the ruins of the Chapel of St. George.

With the exception of the Franciscan Friary, there is no proof of any
conventual establishments in the island, though tradition points to La
Haye-du-Puits as being the site of an old convent. Doubtless in early
times, and before the English had lost Normandy, the great monasteries
which held lands in Guernsey may have had priories here. Mont St.
Michel we know had the Priory of St. Michel du Valle, and there is some
reason to believe that Blanchelande also had some establishment of
the kind in the island. How the Abbeys of Marmoutier, La Rue Frairie,
Croix St. Lenfroy and Caen, all of which had possessions in the island,
managed them, we have no means of knowing, though it was most likely by
the machinery of a feudal court.

We will now speak of the Priories of St. Michel du Valle and Notre Dame
de Lihou.

A tradition, which may be traced up to the time of Edward II., says
that certain monks, driven from Mont St. Michel for their dissolute
lives, settled in the Vale parish and founded an abbey about the year
968 A.D. The same authority informs us that they reformed their lives
and became famous for their sanctity, and that when Robert, Duke of
Normandy, visited the island in the year 1032, having been driven here
by stress of weather while on his way to England with a fleet to the
help of his nephew, Edward the Confessor, he confirmed them in the
possession of the lands they had acquired. The same tradition also says
that in the year 1061 certain pirates attacked and pillaged the island,
and that their leader “Le Grand Geoffroy,” or “Le Grand Sarasin,” had
his stronghold on the site of what is now the Castel Church. Complaint
having been made to Duke William, he sent over Samson d’Anneville, who
succeeded, with the aid of the monks, in driving them out. For this
service they were rewarded by the Duke with a grant of one half of the
island, comprising, besides the Vale, what are now the parishes of the
Castel, St. Saviour’s, and St. Peter’s-in-the-Wood. This grant they
divided between them, and the monks, in right of their priory, held
that portion of the lands which is still known as Le Fief St. Michel.
The rest is now comprised for the most part in the Fiefs Le Comte and
Anneville and their dependencies. To the south-east of the Vale Church
is an old farm house which still bears the name of L’Abbaye, and which,
without doubt, occupies the site of the original priory. Even at the
present day, it is easy to trace part of the walls of the earlier
edifice, which, however, was in a ruinous state as early as the reign
of Henry IV., for we find Sir John de Lisle, Governor of Guernsey,
writing to the Privy Council about the year 1406 for permission to
use the timber of the building for the repairs of Castle Cornet, and
alleging in his letter that the priory had fallen into decay, and
giving as a reason for his request that in consequence of the war it
was impossible to procure timber either from Normandy or Brittany.

The names of a few priors have survived. It is not quite clear whether
a certain Robert, whose name appears as witness to the deed by which
Robert, Abbot of Mont St. Michel, during a visit which he made to the
island in 1156, appointed Guillaume Gavin, monk, to the chaplaincy
of St. George, was Prior of the Vale or not. He is styled in the
deed Priest and Dean of the Vale (de Walo). In 1249 Henry, Canon of
Blanchelande, was collated to the Vale Church by special dispensation.
About 1307 Johannes de Porta was prior (probably a Du Port, a family
of considerable antiquity in the island, and of good standing). In
1312 Guillaume Le Feivre filled the office. In 1323 Renauld Pastey was
Prior of the Vale, and had a lawsuit with the inhabitants of that and
other parishes concerning tithes. In 1331 there was another dispute
concerning tithes, which was referred to the arbitration of two monks,
Guillaume Le Feivre and Jourdain Poingdestre, who had both formerly
been priors. In the year 1335 Andreas de Porta, 1364-68, Geoffrey de
Carteret, and in 1365 Denis Le Marchant, clerk, was appointed seneschal
of the Court of St. Michel.

According to the ballad known as “La Descente des Arragousais,”
“Brégard”[84] was the monk in charge of the priory in 1372, and by his
intrigues the Vale Castle fell into the hands of the enemy, which was
evidently a legend current at the time. Guillaume Paul, alias Règne, in
1478, is the last prior of whom we have found mention.

The Priory of Lihou, as has been already said, was a dependency of
St. Michel-du-Valle. The ruins of the church and other buildings are
still to be seen. The former was entire at a time long subsequent to
the Reformation, and is said to have been destroyed at the command of
one of our Governors to prevent the possibility of its serving as an
entrenchment in case of an enemy landing on the islet. It appears to
have replaced a still more ancient building, as many pieces of Caen
stone, with well-executed Norman mouldings, are built into the walls.
Probably the first building had been destroyed in some of the many
inroads to which the island was subjected during the reign of Edward

An incumbent of Lihou, with the title of prior, existed until the time
of the Reformation.

Now to come to the remaining chapels. The Extente of Edward III. speaks
of the King’s Chaplain, John de Caretier, who received a salary out of
the revenues of the island, and was bound to say mass daily for the
King, and for the souls of his ancestors either in the chapel of Castle
Cornet or in the chapel of His Majesty’s manor of La Grange. It is
not exactly known where this manor was situated, but as the estate of
the late John Carey, Esq., has always borne this name--the Grange--it
is reasonable to suppose that it was thereabouts. The more so, as
Richard II. founded the Convent of Cordeliers or Francisian friars on
the ground now belonging to Elizabeth College, probably then comprised
in the Grange estate. It must be said, however, that there are also
reasons for supposing that the King’s Grange may have been situated
elsewhere, probably in the vicinity of the Tour Gand, a fortress which
defended the approaches of the town from the north, and this opinion
derives some support from the fact that the Plaiderie, or Court House,
is known to have existed in ancient times in this locality, and that in
the middle ages a chapel was considered an almost essential adjunct to
a Court of Justice.

To return to the Convent of the Cordeliers, it is known that the site
of their church, called in Acts of Court “La Chapelle des Frères,” is
said to have stood opposite to the entrance of Le Cimetière des Frères,
which was the burial ground belonging to this church, and, together
with the site of the church, a considerable portion of land appears
to have been alienated from the college, probably by the arbitrary
act of some Governor of the island. The church consisted of a chancel
and nave, the latter, on the building being given for the use of the
college, serving as a school-room, and the former being occupied by the
master. After its alienation the burial ground fell into the hands of
an individual of the name of Blanche, who turned it into an orchard,
but, a plague having broken out in 1629, the Court made an order that
all who died of that disorder should be buried there, since which time
it has served for a cemetery for the Town parish. How the burial ground
attached to the Town Church came to acquire the name of “Cimetière des
Sœurs” cannot now be known, as there can be no doubt that from time
immemorial it was no other than the parochial cemetery. There is no
document known to exist which points to any conventual establishment
for females in the island, though there are traditions to that effect.
There was, however, among many other fraternities, a “confrèrie de
frères et sœurs” connected in some measure with this cemetery, and
which may have given it the name. At the Reformation the land and rents
due to this fraternity were seized by the Crown, and the list of them
is still preserved among the records at the Greffe, with the following
heading--“Confessions de rentes dues aux frères et sœurs de la
confrerye et fraternité de la charité, fondeye pour la dilyvrance des
ames de purgatoyre, par les dis frayres et sœurs, constytuée, establye
et ordonnée, en la Chapelle de Sepulcre estante dedans le cymetyere de
St. Pierre Port,” &c., &c.

This proves the existence of a chapel in the churchyard, but whether
it was the building known by the name of “Le Belfroi,” and which was
demolished in 1787, cannot now be ascertained. “Belfroi” is the name
given in the mediæval ages to a Town Hall. The edifice known by that
name in St. Peter Port belonged to the Town, and was used latterly as
a store-house for militia requisites. It is described as having been
built of stone, vaulted, and divided into two apartments, an upper
and a lower, the latterly partly underground. Probably the lower part
of the building was used as a charnel house, in which the bones of
the dead, after they had lain long enough in the ground to become
quite dry, were piled up; for, among the duties to be performed by
the officiating priest, we find that they were required to chant a
“recorderis” over the bones of the dead. Such charnel houses are
still very common in Brittany, and many country places throughout the

Of the other chapels which existed in the Town parish the memory even
has perished. The estate known as Ste. Catherine may possibly have
derived its name from a chapel dedicated to that virgin martyr, but all
that is known is that there was a fraternity or religious association
under the patronage of this saint, which was endowed with wheat rents.
Some of the rents seized by the Crown, and afterwards made over to
Elizabeth College, were due to the “Frerie de Ste. Catherine,” and
possibly this body possessed its own chapel. The site of the Chapel of
St. Jacques is well known, and traces of the foundations were still to
be seen till comparatively lately. It was situated in a field on the
Mon Plaisir estate, on the right hand side of the lane which leads from
the Rue Rozel to the back of the Rocquettes, at the head of a little
valley, just where the roadway is at the lowest. The orchard to the
east of this spot, on the opposite side of the lane, is still known by
the name of Le Cimetière, and human bones are still occasionally met
with in digging. It had some land attached to it by way of endowment,
which was sold by the Royal Commissioners in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth, as we learn from the Livre de Perchage, temp. Elizabeth, in
which it is called “La Chapelle de _l’ydolle_, St. Jacques,” and that
Thomas Effard was in possession of land that had belonged to it. From
the same document we learn that there was also a chapel called “La
Chapelle de Lorette,” which, there is reason to suppose, may have been
in the vicinity of Candie.

There was also a private chapel, of which we should have known
absolutely nothing but for an old contract, still extant, of the early
date of 1383, by which Perrot and Jannequin Le Marchant[85] sell a
piece of ground for building purposes to Renolvet Denys. One of the
conditions attached to the sale is that no edifice shall be erected on
the land thus sold, which can in any manner take away from the view,
or deprive the chapel of the manor and hall of the vendors, of light.
The property in question was, without doubt, that to the south of the
arch, leading to Manor Le Marchant and Lefebvre Street, and it is
curious that the contract mentions the existence of a vaulted gateway
leading to the manor, at that early period permission being given to
the purchaser of this ground to build over this arch. An archway still
exists in the locality, and continues to bear the name of “La Porte,”
as it did nearly five hundred years ago.

Now, to come to the only chapel that still exists--Ste. Apolline.
There is no reason for supposing it to be of such great antiquity as
is generally believed. The vault is pointed, and it is well known that
the pointed arch did not make its appearance in architecture until the
latter part of the twelfth century--say about 1160--whereas all our
parishes are named in documents anterior to 1066. From the Cartulary
of Mont Saint Michel we learn that in the year 1054 William Pichenoht,
moved by compunction for the many and great sins he had committed, and
desirous of turning monk, gave, with the consent of Duke William of
Normandy, his lands of La Perrelle with all their appurtenances to the
abbey. These lands were, no doubt, leased out afterwards by the monks
to various individuals, the abbey retaining the “Seigneurie” over the

In October, 1392, a certain Nicholas Henry, of La Perrelle, obtained
the consent of the Abbot and monks of Mont St. Michel, as Lords of
the Manor, to the endowment of a chapel which he had lately erected
on his estate, subject, however to the sanction of the Sovereign as
lord paramount. This permission was granted by Richard II. in July,
1394. The charter which is preserved among the island records at
the Greffe authorises Nicholas Henry to endow the Chapel of _Sainte
Marie de la Perrelle_ for the purpose of maintaining a chaplain
who was to celebrate a daily mass for ever, for the safety of the
said Nicholas Henry[86] and his wife Philippa, for their souls after
they should have departed this life, and for the souls of all their
ancestors, benefactors, and Christian people generally. Beside the
three vergées of land, which are described as being bounded on the
west by the property of Guillaume Blondel, and on the east by that
of Thomas Dumaresq, both of which families are still landowners in
the district, Nicholas Henry also gave to the chapel an annual wheat
rent of four quarters due on a piece of ground adjoining. The chapel
once established, other gifts were made from time to time by pious
individuals who took part in the daily service. In 1485, Johan de
Lisle, son of Colas, and Nicholas de Lisle, son of Pierre, acknowledged
in the presence of the Bailiff and Jurats that they owed jointly the
yearly rent of a hen to the Chaplain of Notre Dame de la Perrelle; and
the latter acknowledged, moreover, to the annual payment of one bushel
of wheat. On March 2nd, 1492, Henry Le Tellier, of St. Saviour’s, also
acknowledged that he owed two bushels of wheat rent to Sire Thomas
Henry, who is also mentioned as Chaplain of St. Brioc, in 1477, and
as Rector of the Castel, in 1478. He was also styled in an earlier
deed, “Dom” Thomas, so was probably also a Benedictine monk, and it
is not unlikely that he was grandson of the original founder of this
chapel. Its identity with the building still existing is proved by
an Act of the Royal Court “en Plaids d’Héritage” of June 6th, 1452,
in which the chapel is spoken of as “La Chapelle de Notre Dame de la
Perrelle, appelleye la _Chapelle Sainte Appolyne_.” It was then in the
possession of Colin Henry, son of Jacques, and grandson of Nicholas,
who is described as the founder of the chapel. Forty years later it
changed hands, and was in the possession of the Guille family, perhaps
by inheritance, for in April, 1496, Nicholas Guille, son of Nicholas,
of St. Peter Port, sold the advowson of the chaplaincy to Edmond de
Chesney, Seigneur of Anneville, in whose family it probably remained
until they[87] sold their possessions to the Fouaschin family, from
whom they came by inheritance into the family of Andros.[88]

We do not know how the name of Ste. Apolline came to be associated
first with that of the Blessed Virgin, and then to have superseded
it altogether. Possibly because there were already no less than five
places of worship in the island under the invocation of Our Lady--the
Churches of the Castel, Torteval,[89] and Lihou, and the Chapels of
Pulias and _Le Château des Marais_, commonly known as Ivy Castle. Saint
Apollonia, or in French, Ste. Apolline, is said to have been a virgin
of Alexandria, who was burned as a Christian martyr in the year 249.

The chapel is twenty-seven feet long by thirteen feet nine inches wide,
and is built of rough unhewn stone, except the heads of the doorways,
the jambs of the windows, and the corner stones of the edifice, which
appear to have been coarsely wrought. The vault is in solid masonry of
small stones cemented with a strong mortar, and if it was ever slated
or tiled all traces of the covering have long since disappeared. The
interior is stuccoed, and was originally adorned with mural paintings,
of which some slight traces are yet to be seen. Figures of angels,
and part of a group which seem to have been intended to represent the
nativity of our Saviour, are still to be made out. There are three
small narrow square headed windows, which may or may not once have been
glazed--one in the east gable immediately above where the altar must
have stood, and the other two in the north and south walls, near the
east end of the building. There is no opening whatever in the western
gable, which was surmounted originally by a bell-cote, of which the
base only now remains. The hole through which the bell rope passed is
still to be seen in the interior. To the south of the chapel is a very
ancient and substantially built farm-house, which is traditionally said
to have been the residence of the officiating priest. It is quite as
probable that it was the manor house of the founder, Nicholas Henry.
In it were preserved the iron clapper of a bell, which is said to have
belonged to the chapel, and some wrought stones, which probably formed
the supports of the altar slab. A small silver burette, one of a pair,
such as are used in the Roman Catholic Church to contain the wine and
the water employed in the celebration of the mass, by tradition came
originally from this chapel, it bearing the inscription “Sancte Paule
ora pro nobis,” and on the lid is the letter A, denoting that it was
the vessel intended to contain the water. It was in the possession
of the ancient family of Guille, whose representative gave it to the
Parish Church of St. Peter Port in memory of his father.

In the neighbourhood of Perrelle Bay there is a rock, standing at
some little distance from the shore, never covered by the tide, and
approachable when the tide is out, called “La Chapelle Dom Hue.” The
appearance of the natural causeway, or, as it is locally termed “col”
or “pont,” which leads to it, would induce one to believe that at some
remote period it must have been a narrow neck of low land stretching
out into the sea, which divided the bays of L’Erée and La Perrelle,
and which has been gradually carried away by the constant action of
the waves, leaving only the little hillock we now see. Probably, in
ancient times, a small oratory, perhaps a hermitage, had been erected
on this spot by a pious founder, “Dom” Hue, who, from his title, must
have been a Benedictine monk, and, in all likelihood, a member of
the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel, which was in possession of lands in
this neighbourhood. There is still a small manor in the parish of St.
Saviour’s which bears the name of “Les Domaines Dom Hue,” and which
we may reasonably suppose belonged originally to the same person, and
possibly formed the endowment of the chapel.

The next chapel of which anything definite is known is “Notre Dame
de Pulias,” otherwise “La Chapelle de l’Epine.” The ground on which
it stood lies on the sea-shore, to the northward of the promontory
of Noirmont, and, though separated from the rest of the parish by an
intervening strip of land belonging to the Vale, forms in reality part
of St. Sampson’s. The Vale parish consists of two distinct portions,
the larger of which, called “Le Clos,” was, until the beginning of the
present century, entirely divided from the rest of the island by an
arm of the sea, which extended from St. Sampson’s Harbour to the Grand
Havre near the Vale Church, and which was only passable at low water.
The inhabitants of that part of the parish attached to the mainland
of Guernsey, and which is called “La Vingtaine de l’Epine,” were thus
cut off at times from all access to their parish church, and appear to
have made use of this building, as a chapel of ease. It stood close to
“La Mare de Pulias,” and in this neighbourhood a bit of wall is still
shown, which is said to have formed part of the chapel. It is probable
that it was under the patronage of the Seigneurs of Anneville, for the
earliest notice found of this chapel is in an “extente” of this fief,
dated 1405, in which it is stated that the common lands, extending
along the shore between “La Chapelle de Notre Dame de Pulayes” and the
rivulet of St. Brioc at Rocquaine, belong in moieties to the Abbot of
St. Michel and the Lord of Anneville. This chapel had an endowment,
for we find by the report of the Royal Commissioners of 1607 that the
parishioners of the Vale and St. Sampson’s petitioned that it might be
restored to them, complaining--

“That whereas their predecessors, the inhabitants of the Vingtaine of
the Epine, had in former times built a chapel, with a churchyard, for
divine service, by reason of the sea, which doth oftentimes hinder them
from going to their parish church of the Valle; and that since that
time His Majesty’s Commissioners having considered how necessary that
chapel was for them, it hath pleased the late Queen Elizabeth to grant
unto them yearly ten or twelve quarters of wheat, for the maintenance
both of the said chapel, and also of a schoolmaster to instruct their
children; notwithstanding all which the said chapel, together with the
churchyard, hath been utterly ruinated and the trees beaten down, and
the grounds and rents belonging thereunto taken away, to the great
grief and prejudice of the said parishioners, and therefore they humbly
desire that the said chapel be built again by them that have thus
ruinated it, and the rents belonging thereunto, for so necessary a use,
be restored unto them again, with the tithes and rights concerning it.”

The answer and decision of the Commissioners was not satisfactory.
They owned there was probably a chapel of ease on that spot, and they
go on to state that, having examined some aged people who dwelt near
the place, as well as the Lieutenant-Governor and other officers, they
find that ten or twelve quarters of wheat had been given either towards
the maintenance of the chapel or of a schoolmaster, and that some had
heard divine service said there about the beginning of the reign of
Elizabeth and long before, but they can find no evidence to prove
that it was founded or built for a chapel of ease, the complainants
accounting for the absence of documentary evidence in support of their
claim by alleging that the Governor had taken it away with him. The
Commissioners go on to say that on further examinations they have had
there was a certain Popish superstitious service used therein, and that
wheat rents had been given by certain inhabitants for the saying of a
morrow mass upon Sundays, and for such like superstitious uses, and
that about forty years previously, the chapel, with all appertaining
to it, had been seized for the use of the Queen. The conclusion they
arrived at was that the seizure was legal, and should be maintained.

At the north-east extremity of the Clos-du-Valle, near the estate
called Paradis, and a little way beyond the cromlech called Déhus or
Thus, stood La Chapelle de Saint Malière or Magloire, an early apostle
of the island.

All traces of this chapel have long since disappeared, but its site
is still pointed out as being that of a little thatch-covered cottage
on the side of the hill.[90] The old farmhouse close by, called “St.
Magloire,” is said to have been the residence of the priest attached to
its service.

It is mentioned as early as the year 1155 in a Bull of Pope Adrian IV.
(Breakspear), together with other churches and chapels in Guernsey,
as being the property and in the patronage of Mont Saint Michel. The
only other notice we have of this chapel is the tradition recorded by
some of our historians that, at the time of the Reformation, the plate,
ornaments, vestments, and records, belonging to the churches in this
island, were secretly buried here by the Roman Catholic clergy, with
a view to their removal to Normandy when a fitting opportunity should
offer, but that one John Le Pelley, a schoolmaster, having by some
means got information of the circumstances, dug them up some few years
later, and sold them to some Normans of Coutances, who conveyed them

Saint Magloire was the nephew and pupil of Saint Samson, and was born
in the middle of the sixth century. He succeeded his uncle, Samson, as
Bishop of Dol, but after a few years resigned his charge and retreated
to Sark, where he founded a sort of monastery or missionary college,
and where he died. His remains were translated in the ninth century to
Léhon, near Dinan, and afterwards to Paris, where they were deposited
in the church which still bears the name of the saint.

Two localities in the immediate neighbourhood of St. Malière bear the
singular names of “_Paradis_” and “_Enfer_.” Tradition is entirely
silent as to the origin of these names, but it is possible that they
may have been in some way connected with the chapel, and with some of
the superstitious usages so common among the nations of Celtic origin.

The Chapel of St. Clair was named after the first Bishop of Nantes,
who lived in the third century. This chapel stood on the hill a little
to the eastward of the farmhouse in Saint Sampson’s parish which still
bears the name. In clearing the ground for quarries of late years many
human bones and a few gravestones have been discovered there.

It was situated on the “Franc-Fief Gallicien,” the tenants of which
enjoy to this day an exemption from certain feudal duties, which is
said to have been granted to their forefathers by King Edward IV. in
acknowledgment of the services rendered by them as mariners in bringing
him to this island from Exmouth, when, as Earl of March, he escaped
with the famous Earl of Warwick, and their followers from England,
after a victory gained by Henry VII. over the Yorkist party in October,

The Chapel of St. Germain was in the Castel parish, and its holy
well, which is still regarded by some as no less efficacious than the
fountain of St. George, was situated to the northward of that chapel.
All traces of the building have long since disappeared, and all that
we know of it is that in the Extents of Queen Elizabeth and James I.
a rent payable to the Crown is described as “due on a piece of ground
situated near the Chapel of St. Germain.”

There is also said to have been a Chapel of Ste. Anne, near the King’s
Mills, more correctly designated as Les Grands Moulins. St. Anne also
had her sacred fountain. The names of “Ste. Hélène,” at St. Andrew’s,
and La Madeleine, St. Pierre-du-Bois, may also have been derived from
religious buildings, but of these nothing but the names now remain.

In St. Martin’s parish there was a chapel attached to the Priory of
Blanchelande, and another, Saint Jean de la Houguette, which very
probably was erected on the site now occupied by the parish school.[91]

In the Extente of the Fief Anneville it is said that the lord has his
“Chapelles.” It is probable that all the feudal lords who held the
lands direct from the Crown had the same right of chapel. Such at least
seems to have been the case in Jersey, where some still exist, and
in the Clos-du-Valle, situated in the Vale parish, is a field called
“La Chapelle du Sud,” west of a field called “Le Galle,” on the Crown
lands. Here was probably the site of a now forgotten chapel.

Closely connected with the chapels and churches are the holy wells.
Even in pagan times, before the introduction of Christianity, it is
well known that a sort of worship was paid to the nymphs or deities who
were supposed to haunt these fountains, and to whose interference were
attributed the cures effected by the use of these waters. When a purer
faith was preached, and it was found impossible to wean the minds of
the people entirely away from a belief in the supernatural qualities
of these springs, the early missionaries--whether wisely or not it is
difficult to say--sought to direct the attention of their converts into
a new channel, and bestowed the name of some saint on these hallowed
spots, who thenceforth was supposed to stand in the place of the
ancient local deity or genius of the well.

[81] In the _Dédicace des Eglises_, “Notre Dame de Lihou” is called
Notre Dame de la _Roche_. Now the word Perelle is a diminutive of
Pierre, and we know that in our dialect “pierre” and “rocque” are used
indiscriminately, and have the same meaning.

[82] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The Fief St. George was bought from the Royal
Commissioners by Thomas Fouaschin, Seigneur d’Anneville, in 1563,
let to Pierre Massey 25th June, 1616, and bought 18th May, 1629, by
Nicholas de Jersey, son of Michel, from George Fouaschin, Seigneur
d’Anneville, son of Thomas. Nicholas de Jersey’s only child Marie
married Jacques Guille, 2nd May, 1638, and so brought St. George into
the Guille family.


May 10th, 1292.--“Confirmation of a charter which the King has
inspected, whereby Henry III. granted in frank almoin to the Chaplain
of the Chapel of St. Mary, Orgoil Castle, Gerneseye, the 10th of a rent
called Chaumpard in the island of Gerneseye.”

Dec. 26th, 1328.--“Grant to John de Etton, King’s Clerk, of the Chapel
of St. Mary of the Marsh, in the island of Gerneseye.”

Ancient Petition No. 13289.--“To our Lord the King and to his Council
shows Ralph the Chaplain of one of his Chapels called the Chapel des
Mareis in the Island of Gerneseye, that whereas the King has given
in alms all the 10th sheaf of his champartz in the said isle to this
Chaplain to sing every day a mass for the King and his ancestors and
heirs. Now since last August the attourneys of the King have disseized
him of the tithes of two carues of land, viz. of the Carue of the
Corbines and Suardes and also of the tithes of a place whereof he was
never disseized. He prays to be restored thereto, as otherwise he would
have nothing to live upon, as his whole rent is only worth £7, and
scarcely half that.”

(Endorsed) “Go to Otto (de Grandison) and pray for a writ to enquire
if the tithes, etc., belong to the Chapel, and if they do, then let
them be restored.” (No date--but Otho de Grandison was Governor of the
Islands 1303-29.)

May 10th, 1382.--“Appointment of Peter Gyon, serjeant-at-arms, and
Henry de Rither, supplying the places in Gerneseye of Hugh de Calvyle,
governor of the (Channel) Islands, to enquire touching the cessation,
through the negligence of the Chaplains, of divine service and works of
charity in the Chapel of Marreys in that Island, and touching the sale
and removal of its chalices, books, vestments, and other ornaments, and
to certify into Chancery. (Vacated because enrolled on the French Roll
of this year).”

[84] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The Brégards or Brégearts were a very old family
in the Vale and St. Sampson’s parishes. Early in the sixteenth century
one branch of this family bought land at “Vauvert,” St. Peter Port,
and became known as “Brégeart, or Briart, alias Vauvert,” and finally
simply as “Vauvert.” A curious instance of change of surname.

[85] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Peter and Jannequin Le Marchant were sons of Denis
Le Marchant, Jurat and Lieutenant-Bailiff of Guernsey, and Jenette
de Chesney, youngest daughter of Sir William de Chesney and Joan de
Gorges. The chapel is alluded to in their father’s “Bille de Partage,”
dated 3rd June, 1393.

[86] EDITOR’S NOTES.--The following is a short pedigree of the
descendants of Nicholas Henry, derived principally from MSS. at
Sausmarez Manor:--

                              NICHOLAS HENRY = PHILIPPA …
                           Founded Chapel of |
                            La Perelle, 1394.|
           |                                 |
  Jaques Henry = Thomasse.…          Edmond Henry = Perotyne de Saint Peyr,
   En vie 1423.|                   Juré Justicier | fille de Pierre de
               |                                  | Saint Peyr, Juré
               |                                  | Justicier, et Jenette
               |                                  | Blondel.
               |                                  |
       +-------+------------------+------.....+   +------+-----------+
       |                          |           |          |           |
     Nicholas = Marguerite …  Colenette   Sire Thomas   Nicholas   Edmond
      Henry   |                   =         Henry,       Henry     Henry=
    En vie    |              Nicholas de   Chaplain    “fils aisné”   |
     1480.    |              Sausmarez.    of St.        1440.        |
   “Et luy    |              Seigneur de   Apolline,                  |
  appartenoit |              Sausmarez.     1492.                     |
  la maison   |                                                       |
  de la Rue   |                                                       |
  Berthelot.” |                                                       |
      +-------+------------------------+                     +--------+
      |                                |                     |
  François = Collette de la Court,  Guillaume Henry,    Nicholas Henry,
   Henry   | fille John de la       “de la Rue         “Les enfants du dit
           | Court et Alichette      Berthelot”         Nicholas moururent
           | Cartier.                O. S. P.           sans Hoirs, et les
           |                                            enfants du susdit
     +-------------------------------+                  Nicholas Henry,
     |                               |                  fils Jaques eurent
  Perotine Henry,                Catherine Henry,       leur succession.”
     =                               =
  Hellier Gosselin,              Jean Effard, fils
  Baillif de Guernesey,          Nicholas.

[87] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Nicholas Fouaschin, son of Thomas, and Jurat of
the Royal Court, bought the Manors of Le Comte and Anneville from Sir
Robert Willoughby, February 16th, 1509. Sir Robert, afterwards Lord
Broke, inherited these Manors from his grandmother, Anne de Chesney,
daughter and co-heiress of Sir Edmund de Chesney and Alice Stafford.

[88] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Through the marriage on October 13th, 1660, of
Charles Andros to Alice Fashion, only child of Thomas Fashion, Seigneur
of Anneville.

[89] See note on page 197.

[90] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Tradition in that part of the island says (so I
was told in 1896 by the woman living in the old farmhouse called St.
Magloire) that in building this cottage they came upon the old corner
stone of the original chapel. Thinking it was sacrilegious to move it,
and would entail ill-luck on them and their children, they left it in
its place, and there it still remains.

[91] See note on page 197.

Holy Wells.

Holy wells still exist in many parts of the island, and are resorted
to for various purposes, but principally for the cure of erysipelas,
rheumatism and glandular swellings, and inflammation or weakness of the
eyes. These maladies are all called by the country people “Mal de la

[Illustration: “Wishing Well, Les Fontaines, Castel.”]

Whether the water will prove efficacious as a remedy is ascertained by
noticing the effect produced on applying it. If it evaporates rapidly,
passing off in steam, or runs off the swelling like little drops of
quicksilver, it is of the right sort, and the sufferer may hope for
a speedy cure. Still, there are certain ceremonies to be observed,
without which it is useless to make the attempt.

It must be applied before the patient has broken his fast for nine
consecutive mornings, and must be dropped on to the affected place with
the fingers, and not put on with a sponge or rag. It must be taken
fresh from the well every day at daybreak. The person who draws it
must on no account speak to anyone either on his way to, or from the
fountain, and must be particularly careful not to spill a single drop
from the pitcher. It is customary to leave a small coin on the edge
of the well, which was doubtless intended originally as an offering
to the saint who was supposed to have the spring under his especial
protection, and whose name it bore. These wells are said also to be
used for purposes of divination. The maiden who is desirous of knowing
who her future husband is to be, must visit the fountain for nine
consecutive mornings fasting and in silence. On the last day when she
looks into the clear basin of the well, she will see the face of him
she is fated to wed reflected in the water. Should her destiny be to
die unmarried, it is believed that a grinning skull will appear instead
of the wished-for face.

The well most in repute is that of St. George, in the parish of
Ste. Marie du Castel, but St. Germain and Ste. Anne, at no great
distance, have their votaries, and there are also the “Fontaine de
St. Clair,” near St. Andrew’s Church, the fountain of Gounebec in the
valley of that name near the Moulin de Haut, two in the parish of the
Forest,--that known by the name of “La Fontaine St. Martin,” which
rises on the cliffs to the westward of the point of La Corbière, and
the other at a point between Le Gron and La Planque, where the three
parishes of the Forest, St. Saviour’s, and St. Andrew’s meet. The
“Fontaine de Lesset,” at St. Saviour’s, is also renowned. In the parish
of St. Peter Port the fountain of Le Vau Laurent was famous for the
cure of sore eyes, and the water of another on the side of the hill
below Les Côtils, known formerly as “La Fontaine des Corbins,” was
supposed to be efficacious in cases of consumption if taken inwardly.
“La Fontaine Fleurie,” near Havelet, and another in the marshes near
the ruined stronghold of “Le Château des Marais,” commonly known as the
Ivy Castle, are also resorted to. The fountains of St. Pierre and Notre
Dame are mentioned in early ordinances of the Royal Court. The former
is known to have been situated near the Town Church, at a spot called
Le Pont Orchon, in the street which still bears the name of “La Rue de
la Fontaine.” The latter was apparently at the foot of the Mont Gibet,
at the upper end of what is now the Market Place. The erection of pumps
over most of these springs has deprived them of their ancient prestige,
and has effectually removed any curative properties which they may
formerly have possessed. Although every spring was not efficacious in
all cases, to insure a cure it was necessary to use the water of a
particular well, and, in order to choose it to consult certain persons
who are knowing in these matters, and who, by an inspection of the part
affected are able to tell what particular spring should be resorted


There are two wells or rather fountains, for it is imperative that
they should be fed by a stream of running water, in St. Martin’s; one,
called “La Fontaine des Navets,” is on the right hand side of the cliff
above Saints’ Bay; it is best approached from the Icart road, by the
turning to the left down a little lane, opposite Mr. Moon’s cottage.
This lane runs just behind Mrs. Martin’s pic-nic house. There are two
wells in this lane, but the second, the most southerly, is the sacred

The other fountain was called “La Fontaine de la Beilleuse,” and was
situated just east of the church, below the farmhouse, belonging to Mr.
Tardif. That again, was a double fountain, of which the southern was
the wishing well, but it has now unfortunately been done away with,
while the upper one has been converted into a drinking trough for
cattle. Both these fountains cured the red swellings known as “Mal de
la Fontaine.” When I asked why these should be efficacious, and not any
other, I was told that it was because they looked east, and were fed by
springs running towards the east.--_From Mrs. Le Patourel, Mrs. Mauger,

See M. Sebillot’s _Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute Bretagne_,
T. I., p. 45:--“Au moment où le Christianisme s’introduisit en Gaul,
le culte des pierres, des arbres et des fontaines y était florissant.
De l’an 452, date du deuxième concile d’Arles, à l’an 658, concile
de Nantes, nombre d’assemblées ecclesiastiques s’occupèrent de la

See also _Notions Historiques sur les Côtes-du-Nord_, par Havasque,
T. I., p. 17:--“De l’usage que les druides faisaient de l’eau des
différentes sources est venue le culte que les Bretons ont si longtemps
rendu aux fontaines.… Lors de l’établissement du Christianisme, les
prêtres les consacrèrent à Dieu, sous l’invocation de la Vierge ou de
quelque Saint, afin que les hommes grossiers, frappés par ces effigies,
s’acoutumassent insensiblement à rendre à Dieu et à ses Saints
l’hommage qu’ils adressaient auparavant aux fontaines elles-mêmes.
Telle est l’origine des niches pratiquées dans la maçonnerie de presque
toutes les fontaines, niches dans lesquelles on a placé la statue du
saint qui donne son nom à la source. C’est pour parvenir au même but
que le clergé fit ériger à la mème époque des chapelles dans les lieux
consacrés à la religion ou au culte.”


We have already mentioned the well of St. George as being supreme in
its sanctity; indeed we may almost say that its reputation is such that
it throws all others into the shade. It stands near the ruined chapel
of the same name.

A place of such antiquity and reputed sanctity might naturally be
expected to have its legends, though many doubtless have disappeared,
but a firm faith still exists in the miraculous properties of the water
of the well, and the old people still say that on tempestuous nights,
especially during thunder and lightning, the form of a horse, darting
flames of fire from its eyes and nostrils, may be seen galloping
thrice, and thrice only, round the ruined precincts of the chapel.

Some accounts of the spectral appearance speak only of a horse’s head
enveloped in flames, without the accompaniment of a body.[93]

The territory of St. George was also formerly known by the name of “St.
Grégoire,” and, though Nicholas Breakspear, Pope Adrian IV., numbers
“La Chapelle de St. George” among the possessions of St. Michel in
his Bull of 1155, Robert de Thorigni calls it “St. Grégoire” in 1156,
but in many places the St. George of the legends seems to have been
confused with the “Egrégoires,” the watcher, “l’ange qui veille,” of
the old world. It is, according to mythology, “l’Egrégoire” who mounts
the white horse that leads to victory, which apparition, in the moment
of danger, has roused so many Catholic armies from despair.

The fountain was so much resorted to for divers superstitions formerly,
that in 1408 an Act was passed by the Royal Court, at the request
of Dom Toulley, Prêtre de St. George, under the Bailiff Gervais de
Clermont, that the pathway to the fountain was only open to the
faithful on their way to divine service, or to the sick who came to be

We may add that an adjoining field bears the name of “Le Trépied,”
a name which is to be found in other localities in the island, and
which indicates that a primæval stone monument, of the nature of those
commonly called Druid’s altars, may have at one time stood there.
These, as has already been shown, have always had the reputation of
being the haunt of fairies, and sometimes of spirits of a less innocent

[93] From G. Métivier, Esq.

“Our Lady and St. George were often partners in worship; and the
latter’s holy wells are famous in old legends:--‘And the Kynge (of
Lybie) did to make a chyrche there of our Lady and of Saynte George.
In the whyche yet sourdet a fountayn of lyving water whyche heled the
seke peple y^{t} drinken thereof.’”--_Caxton’s Edition of the Golden
Legend_, fol. cxi.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--See _Croyances et Légendes du Centre de la France_, by
Laisnal de la Salle, Tome I., p. 324.


St. Patrick and St. George, in the days when there were “saints errant”
as well as “knights errant,” both happened to come to Guernsey, and
met on this spot. St. Patrick had just arrived from Jersey, where
the inhabitants had pelted him with stones and treated him with such
systematic rudeness that the saint, furious, came on to Guernsey, and
there he was welcomed with effusion. Meeting St. George, they began
to quarrel as to whom the island should in future belong. However,
being saints, they decided that it would be more consistent with their
profession each to give some special boon to the island, and then go
their ways. So St. Patrick filled his wallet with all the noxious
things to be found,--toads, snakes, etc.,--and went back to Jersey and
there emptied it, freeing Guernsey for ever from all things poisonous,
while giving to Jersey a double share. St. George smote the tiny
stream at his feet, “the waters to be for the healing of diseases, and
a blessing to whoever shall own this spot. He shall never lack for
bread, nor shall he ever be childless whilst this well be preserved
untainted.” Now, many, many years ago, the Guilles, who still own St.
George, inherited it from the De Jerseys, and it so happened that the
lord of the estate had an only son who was naturally very dear to him.
An old friend of the family brought him a canary bird as a pet, and,
as one had never before been seen in Guernsey, it was very precious.
One day it flew away from its cage, the door being accidentally left
open, and was pursued hotly by the child. It made for the well, and
apparently flew in, for the child was bending forward, an act which
would inevitably have caused him to fall in, when he was arrested by
the neighing of a horse behind him. He looked round and saw the fiery
head of St. George’s charger disappearing among the trees. That look
saved him, and the bird was seen perched on the cross above the well,
singing loudly. Presently it flew back to its little master, who had
been saved by St. George from a watery grave, and a picture of the
boy with his canary bird is still to be seen among the Guille family

[94] From Miss Lane, afterwards Mrs. Lane Clarke.


There is a curious property attached to this well, that is that if a
maiden visits it, fasting and in silence, on nine successive mornings,
carefully depositing a piece of silver in the niche as an offering to
the saint, she is assured of matrimony within nine times nine weeks,
and, by looking into the well with an earnest desire to behold the
image of the intended husband, his face will appear mirrored in the
water. And, in former times, when the man was identified, the girl
gave his name to the priest, who then summoned him before St. George,
and, as destined for each other by Heaven, they were solemnly united.
There is still a tradition extant of one of the neighbouring girls of
the parish, being forbidden by her father to marry the man on whom her
heart was set, on the ground of his poverty, declaring that, having
seen his face in the well, he was evidently destined for her by Heaven,
and that she would claim him as her fate before the priest. On this her
father, fearing the exposure and public censure, gave his consent to
the marriage.[95]

There is also a legend told by Mr. Métivier of a country girl stealing
out one summer night in the year 1798, to meet her lover near the well,
flying home terrified, having seen a troop of bare skeletons grouped
round the well, and gazing into the troubled waters.

Connected with the Chapel of St. George was a cemetery, which boasted
of many relics, famous for their miracles.

At one time this cemetery was said to be haunted by a beautiful young
girl. Every night wailing and crying was heard, and a figure was seen,
much mangled, walking about. The cries were supposed to proceed from
the tomb of a girl who had disappeared from her home one night in a
most mysterious manner, and whose mangled corpse was picked up a few
days later near the Hanois rocks, so battered and bruised that it was
evidently not a case of suicide. However, in course of time, a grave
being opened near hers, some bones were thrown up, and, being handled
by an old man who in days gone by had been the murdered girl’s lover,
a stream of blood oozed out of the dry bone! and with awful shrieks he
owned to having been her murderer, and was executed soon afterwards at
the “Champ du Gibet” at St. Andrew’s.

[95] From Miss Lane, afterwards Mrs. Lane Clarke.


With reference to the statement on page 181 that Torteval Church is
under the invocation of Our Lady. In “_A Survey of the Estate of
Guernzey and Jarzey_ by Peter Heylyn,--1656,” p. 320, he says:--“that
(church) which is here called Tortevall (is dedicated) as some suppose
unto St. Philip, others will have it to St. Martha.”

On page 187 it is said that a chapel probably existed on the site of
St. Martin’s Parish School. In Elie Brevint’s MSS. written in the early
part of the 17th Century he says:--“Les Havillands de St. Martin ont
donné la chappelle pour servir d’eschole, et de la terre auprès deux
fois autant que la verd de Serk, comme dit Thomas Robert.”



    “Come, frolick youth, and follow me
    My frantique boy, and I’ll show thee
    The country of the Fayries.”

         --_Drayton’s “Muses Elizium, 1630.”_

    “O l’heureux temps que celui de ces fables,
    Des bon démons, des esprits familiers,
    Des forfadets, aux mortels secourables!
    On écoutait tous ces faits admirables
    Dans son château, près d’un large foyer:
    Le père et l’oncle, et la mère et la fille,
    Et les voisins, et toute la famille,
    Ouvraient l’oreille à Monsieur l’aumonier,
    Qui leur ferait des contes de sorcier.
    On a banni les démons et les fées;
    Sous la raison les grâces étouffées,
    Livrent nos cœurs à l’insipidité;
    Le raisonner tristement s’accrédite;
    On court hélas! après la vérité,
    Ah! croyez-moi, l’erreur a son mérite.”


                               “Fairy elves
    Whose midnight frolics by a forest side
    Or fountain, some belated peasant sees.”



It is not very easy to ascertain precisely what the popular idea of a
fairy is. The belief in them seems to have died out, or, perhaps, to
speak more correctly, they are no longer looked upon as beings that
have any existence in the present day. That such a race did once
exist, that they possessed supernatural powers, that they sometimes
entered into communication with mankind, is still believed, but all
that is related of them is told as events that happened long before
the memory of man, and it is curious to see how a known historical
fact--the invasion of the island by Yvon de Galles in the fourteenth
century,--has, in the lapse of ages, assumed the form of a myth, and
how his Spanish troops have been converted into denizens of fairyland.
Perhaps, as has been suggested by some writers who have made popular
antiquities their peculiar study, all fairy mythology may be referred
to a confused tradition of a primæval race of men, who were gradually
driven out by the encroachments of more advanced civilization.
According to this theory the inferior race retired before their
conquerors into the most remote parts of the woods and hills, where
they constructed for themselves rude dwellings, partly underground and
covered with turf, such as may still be found in Lapland and Finland,
or made use of the natural fissures in the rocks for their habitations,
thus giving rise to the idea that fairies and dwarfs inhabit hills
and the innermost recesses of the mountains. In the superior cunning
which an oppressed race frequently possesses may have originated the
opinion generally entertained of the great intelligence of the fairy
people--and, as it is not to be supposed that a constant warfare was
going on between the races, it is far from improbable that some of the
stories which turn on the kindly intercourse of fairies with mortals,
may have arisen in the recollection of neighbourly acts. The popular
belief that flint arrow-heads are their work--the names given in these
islands--“_rouets des faïkiaux_,” or fairies’ spindles, to a sort of
small perforated disc or flattened bead of stone which is occasionally
dug up, and “_pipes des faïkiaux_” to the tiny pipes which date from
the first introduction of tobacco,--their connection in the minds of
the peasantry with the remains commonly called druidical, and, indeed,
with any antiquity for which they cannot readily account, are all more
or less confirmatory of the theory above alluded to. Some years ago a
grave, walled up on the inside with stones, and containing a skeleton
and the remains of some arms, was discovered on a hillside near L’Erée.
The country people without hesitation pronounced it to be “_Le Tombé du
Rouai des Fâïes_.”

One well-preserved cromlech in the same neighbourhood is called
“Le Creux des Fâïes” and the local name of cromlechs, in general
“pouquelâie,” may have some reference to that famous fairy Puck, or
Robin Goodfellow, the west country Pixie, or Pisky, and the mischievous
Irish goblin Phooka.

According to the best accounts the fairies are a very small people,
and always extremely well dressed. The inhabitants of Sark attribute
to them the peculiarity of carrying their heads under their arms. They
are fond of sporting among the green branches of the trees, and on
the borders of running streams. They are supposed to live underground
in ant hills, and to have a particular affection for upright stones,
around which they assemble, or which they use as marks in some of their
games, and the removal of which they are apt to resent by causing
injury to the persons or property of those who are bold enough to brave
their displeasure in this respect. Some are domestic, living invisibly
about the hearth-stone or oven, but willing to make themselves useful
by finishing the work which the housewife had not been able to complete
during the day. They expected, however, as a reward for their kind
offices that a bowl of milk porridge should be set on the floor for
them when the family retired to rest. On one occasion a fairy was heard
complaining that the porridge was too hot and scalded her. The sensible
advice was given--to wait until it cooled.

The few stories about fairies that I have been able to collect are
given in these pages, and are very much the same as those related
in other countries. Of the more elaborate fairy tale--that which
recounts the adventures of a life-time, and in which a supernatural
being--commonly called a fairy, but who has little or nothing in common
with the fays who dance on the green sward by the light of the moon--is
the directing influence either for good or bad,--I have been able to
discover only the very slightest trace.

That such tales did once exist, and that they were related by nurses
to amuse their young charges, is, I think, sufficiently proved by
allusions sometimes made to Chendrouine, as our old acquaintance
Cendrillon or Cinderella is called, and by the fact that a friend of
mine remembers an old servant telling him the story of “Pel de Cat,”
evidently the same as the English story of “Cat-skin,” which however
appears in the French collections of fairy tales by the name of “Peau
d’Ane.” All that my friend could recall to mind were the words in which
the heroine of the tale is welcomed into a house where she seeks for
shelter, and which have a rhythmical cadence that smacks strongly of

    _“Entre, paure Pel-de-Cat, mànge, et bés, et séque té.”_

    (Enter, poor Cat-skin, eat, drink, and dry yourself).[96]

But the best informed among the peasantry do not hesitate in expressing
their belief that the fairies were a race who lived long before
the ancestors of the present occupants of the land had effected a
settlement in the island; that the cromlechs were erected by them for
dwelling places, and that the remains of pottery which have been from
time to time discovered in these primæval structures plainly prove
their derivation.

That the fairy race possessed supernatural strength and knowledge
there can be no doubt, or how could they have moved such enormous
blocks of stone? Whether their strength and extraordinary science was a
gift from Heaven, or whether they acquired these endowments by having
entered into a league with the powers of darkness, is a very doubtful
and disputed question. Some say they were a highly religious people,
and that they possessed the gift of working miracles. Others shake
their heads and say that their knowledge, though perhaps greater, was
of the same nature as that possessed in later times by wizards and
witches, who, as everybody knows, derive their power from the wicked

Some fifty or sixty years since, it was still firmly believed in the
country that the fairies assisted the industrious, and that, if a
stocking or other piece of knitting was placed at night on the hearth
or at the mouth of the oven with a bowl of pap, in the morning the work
would be found completed and the pap eaten. Should idleness, however,
have prompted the knitter to seek the assistance of the invisible
people, not only did the work remain undone and the pap uneaten, but
the insult put upon them was severely revenged by blows inflicted on
the offending parties during their sleep.[98]

It is asserted by some old people in the neighbourhood of L’Erée that,
in days gone by, if a bowl of milk porridge was taken in the evening to
the “Creux des Fâïes,” and left there with a piece of knitting that it
was desired to have speedily finished, and a fitting supply of worsted
and knitting needles, the bowl would be found next morning emptied of
its contents, and the work completed in a superior manner.[99]

[96] EDITOR’S NOTES.--(In St. Martin’s there still lingers a version
of the English Tom Thumb, the “Thaumlin” or “Little Thumb” of the
Northerners, who was a dwarf of Scandinavian descent. I was told the
following story in 1896, but the old woman who told me owned that she
had forgotten many of the details.)


Once upon a time a woman had a very tiny little son, who was always
called P’tit Jean. He was so small that she was continually losing
him. One day he strayed into a field, and was terrified at seeing a
large bull rushing towards him, having broken loose from his leash.
Hoping for shelter, he ran and hid under a cabbage leaf, but in vain,
for the bull ate up the cabbage leaf, and swallowed “P’tit Jean” as
well. Soon his mother was heard calling “_P’tit Jean! P’tit Jean! je
tràche mon P’tit Jean_.” (“P’tit Jean! P’tit Jean! I am looking for
my P’tit Jean,”) so, as well as he could, he answered “_Je suis dans
le ventre du Grand Bimerlue_.” (“I am in the stomach of the ‘Grand
Bimerlue.’”) Astonished and frightened at hearing these unusual sounds
coming from the bull, the woman rushed in and implored her husband to
kill “Le Grand Bimerlue,” as she was sure he must be bewitched. This
was accordingly done, and they cut up the carcase for eating, but the
entrails were thrown into the nearest ditch. An old woman was passing
by and saw them lying there, so picked them up and put them in her
basket, saying--

“_Y en a des biaux boudins pour mon diner._”

(“Here are some fine black puddings for my dinner.”)

All the time the boy was calling--

    _“Trot, trot le vier,_
    _Trot, trot la vieille,_
    _Je suis dans l’ventre_
    _Du Grand Bimerlue.”_

    “(Trot, trot old man,
    Trot, trot old woman,
    I am in the stomach
    Of the Grand Bimerlue).”

Hearing these sounds issuing from her basket she hurried home and cut
open the stomach of the bull, from whence emerged “P’tit Jean” none the
worse for his adventure. He ran home to his mother, who had begun to
think that she would never see him again.--_From Mrs. Charles Marquand._

[97] From Mrs. Savidan.

[98] From Miss E. Chepmell, of St. Sampson’s.

[99] From Mrs. Murton.


    “Welcome lady! to the cell,
    Where the blameless Pixies dwell,
    But thou sweet nymph! proclaimed our faery queen
    With what obeisance meet
    Thy presence shall we greet.”


    “In olde dayes of the King Artour
    Of which that Bretons speken gret honour,
    All was this lond fulfilled of faerie;
    The Elf-quene, with hire joly compagnie,
    Danced ful oft in many a grene mede,
    This was the old opinion as I rede;
    I speke of many hundred yeres ago;
    But now can no man see non elves mo.”

            --_Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.”_

At a very remote period there lived in the neighbourhood of Vazon a
girl of extraordinary beauty. One morning, as was her usual custom,
she left her cottage at an early hour to attend to her cows, when, on
entering the meadow, she was astonished to find asleep on the grass,
under the shelter of a hedge, a young man of very small stature, but
finely proportioned, and remarkably handsome. He was habited in a rich
suit of grass-green, and by his side lay his bow and arrows. Wondering
who the stranger could be, and fascinated by his beauty and splendid
appearance, the maiden stood in silent admiration, until he awoke
and addressed her. Her person and manners seem to have had as much
influence on the youth as his appearance had produced on the damsel. He
informed her that he was a fairy from England, and made her an offer
of his hand. She immediately consented to unite her destiny with his,
and followed him to the sea-shore, where a barque was waiting, which
conveyed the happy pair to fairyland.

[Illustration: “Creux des Fâïes.”]

Time passed on, and the disappearance of the maiden was almost
forgotten, when, one morning, a man who was going down to Vazon Bay
at day-break was surprised to see a numerous host of diminutive men
issuing, like a flock of bees, from the Creux des Fâïes, and lurking
among the reeds and rushes of Le Grand Marais. He inquired who they
were, and what had induced them to visit the Holy Isle. One, who
appeared their leader, answered for all, and told the affrighted man,
that, charmed with the beauty and grace of the damsel that one of their
companions had brought from the island, they were determined also to
possess wives from the same country. They then deputed him to be the
bearer of a message to the men of Guernsey, summoning them to give up
their wives and daughters, and threatening them with their heaviest
displeasure in case of a refusal. Such an exorbitant demand was, of
course, with one accord refused, and the Guernseymen prepared to defend
their families and drive the bold invaders from their shores. But,
alas! what can poor mortals avail against supernatural beings! The
fairies drove them eastward with great carnage. The last stand was made
near Le Mont Arrivel, but, wearied and dispirited, they fell an easy
prey to their merciless enemies, who put every soul to the sword. Their
blood flowed down to the shore, and tinged the sea to a considerable
distance, and the road where this massacre took place still retains
the memory of the deed, and is known to this day by the name of La
Rouge Rue. Two men only of St. Andrew’s parish are reported to have
escaped by hiding in an oven. The fairies then entered into quiet
possession of the families and domains of the slain; the widows began
to be reconciled to their new masters, the maidens were pleased with
their fairy lovers, and the island once more grew prosperous. But this
happy state of things could not last for ever. The immutable laws of
fairyland will not allow their subjects to sojourn among mortals more
than a certain number of years, and at last the dwellers in Sarnia were
obliged to bid adieu to the shady valleys, the sunny hills, and flowery
plains, which they had delighted to rove amongst and which their skill
and industry had materially improved. With heavy hearts they bade adieu
to the scene of their fondest recollections, and re-imbarked. But,
since then, no Guernsey witch has ever needed a broomstick for her
nocturnal journeys, having inherited wings from her fairy ancestors,
and the old people endeavour to account for the small stature of many
families by relating how the fairies once mingled their race with that
of mortals.[100]

[100] Communicated by Miss Lane, to whom the story was related by an
old woman of the Castel parish.


The fairies sometimes avail themselves of the services of mankind, and
in return are willing to assist and reward them as far as lies in their
power, but woe to the unhappy mortal who chances to offend them!--for
they are as pitiless as they are powerful.

It is said that one night a woman, who lived in the neighbourhood of
Houmet and who gained her livelihood by nursing and attending on the
sick, heard herself called from without. She immediately arose, and,
looking out, saw a man who was totally unknown to her standing at the
door. He accosted her, and, telling her that he required her services
for a sick child, bade her follow him. She obeyed, and he led the way
to the mouth of the little cavern at Houmet, called Le Creux des Fées.
She felt alarmed, but, having proceeded too far to retreat, resolved
to put a bold front on the matter, and followed her mysterious guide.
As they advanced, she was astonished to find that the cave put on a
totally different appearance--the damp rugged walls became smooth, and
a bright light disclosed the entrance of a magnificent dwelling.

The poor woman soon comprehended that she had penetrated into
fairyland, but, relying on the good intentions of her conductor, she
followed him into an apartment where a child was lying ill in a cradle,
whom she was desired to attend to and nurse. She entered on her new
duties with alacrity, and was plentifully supplied by the fairies with
every necessary and even luxury. One day, however, as she was fondling
the infant, some of its spittle chanced to touch her eyes. Immediately
everything around her put on a different aspect--the brilliant
apartment once more became a dismal cavern, and squalor and misery
replaced the semblance of riches and abundance. She was too prudent,
however, to impart to any of the fairy people the discovery she had
made, and, the health of the child being quite restored, solicited
her dismissal, which was granted her with many thanks, and a handsome
compensation for her trouble.

The Saturday following her return to the light of day, she went into
town to make her weekly purchases of provisions and other necessaries,
and, stepping into a shop in the Haut Pavé, was astonished to see one
of her acquaintances of the Creux des Fâïes busily employed in filling
a basket with the various commodities exposed for sale, but evidently
unseen by all in the shop but herself. No longer at a loss to know
whence the abundance in the fairies’ cavern proceeded, and, indignant
at the roguery practised on the unsuspecting shopkeeper, she addressed
the pilferer and said “Ah, wicked one! I see thee!”

“You see me--do you?” answered the fairy. “And how--pray?”

“With my eyes to be sure,” replied the woman, off her guard.

“Well then,” replied he, “I will easily put a stop to any future prying
into our affairs on your part.”

And, saying this, he spat in her eyes, and she instantly became stone

[101] From Miss Lane, as related in the Castel parish.

There is another version of the preceding, called


Late one night an old woman was called up by a man with whom she was
unacquainted, and requested to follow as quickly as possible, as his
wife was in labour and required her immediate assistance. She obeyed,
and was led by her guide into a miserable hovel, where everything
appeared wretched, the few articles of furniture falling to pieces,
and the household vessels of the coarsest ware, and scarcely one
whole. Shortly after her arrival, her patient was safely delivered of
a child. When she was about to make use of some water which stood in
a pail, to wash the child with, and had already dipped her hand into
it, she was earnestly requested not to meddle with that water, but to
use some which stood in a jug close by. She chanced, however, to lift
her hand, still wet, to her face, and a drop of the water got into one
of her eyes. Immediately she saw everything under a different aspect;
the house appeared rich and magnificently furnished, and the broken
earthenware turned into vessels of gold and silver.

She was, however, too prudent to express her surprise, and, when her
services were no longer required, left the place.

Some time afterwards she met the man in town and accosted him. “What,”
said he, “You see me! How is this?” Taken unawares, she mentioned what
she had done in the cottage, and which of her eyes was endowed with the
faculty of beholding him: he immediately spat in it, and destroyed her
sight for ever.[102]

[102] From Miss E. Chepmell.

See Sir Walter Scott’s _Lady of the Lake_. Note M:--Many of the German
popular tales collected by the Brothers Grimm turn on the circumstance
of a midwife being called to assist an Undine, or Fairy.

See also Keightley’s _Fairy Mythology_, Vol. 2, p. 182. _Notes and
Queries_, 2nd Series, IX. 259.

Mrs. Bray’s _Traditions of Devonshire_.

EDITOR’S NOTES.--In _Traditions et Superstitions de La Haute Bretagne_,
by Sebillot, almost the same story is told, Tome 1., p. 109. See also
Tome 2., p. 89. “Un jour, une sage-femme alla accoucher une fée; elle
oublia de se laver la main, et se toucha un œil; ainsi depuis ce temps
elle reconnaissait les déguisements des fées. Un jour que le mari de
la fée était à voler du grain, elle le vit et cria ‘au voleur.’ Il lui
demanda de quel œil elle le voyait, et aussitôt qu’il le sut, il le lui


Two men were at work in a field near L’Erée, when suddenly their
plough stopped, nor would their united strength, joined to that of
the oxen, succeed in moving it. As they looked about them, wondering
what could be the reason of this stoppage, they observed in one of the
neighbouring furrows an iron kettle, such as was formerly used for
baking bread and cake on the hearth. On approaching it they noticed
that it contained a bit which had been broken out of the side, and a
couple of nails. On stooping to lift it, they heard a voice desiring
them to get it mended, and when done to replace it on the same spot
where they had found it. They complied with the request, went to the
nearest smith, and on their return to the field with the kettle, which
they replaced as directed, continued their work, the plough moving as
readily as before. They had completed several furrows when a second
time the plough remained stationary. On this occasion they observed a
bundle neatly tied up lying near them, and, on opening it, found it to
contain a newly-baked cake, quite warm, and a bottle of cider. At the
same time they were again addressed by their invisible friend, who bade
them eat and drink without fear, thanked them for the readiness with
which they had attended to his wishes, and assured them that a kind
action never goes without its reward.[103]

[103] From Miss Lane.

See _Notes and Queries_, 2nd Series, Vol. IX., 259.


The fairies are reported to have regarded some households with
particular favour, and to have lived on very neighbourly terms with
them, borrowing or lending as occasion might require.

The families of De Garis and Dumont are among those who are said to
have been in their good graces, and it was to a De Garis the following
incident happened.

To the south of the Church of St. Pierre du Bois there lies a little
dell, through which runs a small stream of water known by the singular
name of “Le Douït d’Israël.” This valley is said to have been in
former days a favourite resort of the fairy folk, and tradition
affirms that a very kindly feeling existed between them and the
mortal inhabitants of the land. A cottage is still pointed out, not
far from the estate called “Le Colombier,” which is said to have been
the abode of a countryman and his wife with whom the fairies were in
constant communication. Frequently, at night, the elves would come and
request the loan of a cart until the morning, and their request was
always complied with willingly, for it was always accompanied with the
following promise:--

                _“Garis, Garis,_
    _Prête mé ten quériot,_
    _Pour que j’allons à St. Malo,_
    _Queurre des roques et des galots,_
    _Rindelles, roulettes, ou roulons,_
    _S’il en mànque j’en mettrons.”_

                (“Garis, Garis,
    Lend your cart now, I pray,
    To go to Saint Malo,
    To fetch stones away.
    Should tires for the wheels
    Or any thing lack,
    We’ll make it all right
    Before we come back.”)

Permission to take the cart was never refused, for it was always
returned in perfect order, and, if any injury was done to the
metal-work during the nocturnal journey, it was found the next day
carefully repaired with pure silver. But what use was made of it is
unknown. Some pretend that a sound of wheels was sometimes heard in
the dead of night rolling over the cliffs at Pleinmont, where no horse
could have found a footing.[104]

[104] From John de Garis, Esq., and Mrs. Savidan.


Fairies have sometimes been known to enter into the service of mankind,
but by what motives they were actuated in so doing is not clear. A
certain “Mess”[105] Dumaresq, of “Les Grands Moulins,” once engaged as
a farm servant a boy who offered himself. No one knew whence he came,
nor did he appear to have any relations. He was extremely lively,
active, and attentive to his duties, but so small that he acquired and
was known by no other name than that of “P’tit Colin.” One morning
as Dumaresq was returning from St. Saviour’s, he was astonished, on
passing the haunted hill known as “La Roque où le Coq Chante,” to hear
himself called by name. He stopped his horse and looked round, but
could see no one. Thinking that his imagination must have deceived him,
he began to move on, but was again arrested by the voice. A second time
he stopped and looked round, but with no more success than the first.
Beginning to feel alarmed, he pushed his horse forward, but was a third
time stopped by the voice. He now summoned up all his courage and
asked who it was that called, and what was required of him. The voice
immediately answered,--

“Go home directly and tell P’tit Colin that Grand Colin is dead.”

Wondering what could be the meaning of this, he made the best of his
way home, and, on his arrival, sent for Le Petit Colin, to whom he
communicated what had befallen him. The boy replied, “What! Is Le
Grand Colin dead? Then I must leave you,” and immediately turned round
to depart.

“Stop,” said Mess Dumaresq, “I must pay you your wages.”

“Wages!” said Colin, with a laugh, “I am far richer now than you.

Saying this he left the room and was never afterwards seen or heard of.

This story is still related by Dumaresq’s descendants.[106]

[105] “Mess” is the Guernsey colloquial for “Monsieur,” as applied to
one of the farmer class.

[106] From Miss Lane and John de Garis, Esq.

Mr. Métivier also gives a version of this in an article in one of the
French papers, and some notes as to the origin of the legend.

Ce fut à son retour de St. Pierre-Port, où il avait un tant soit peu
trop levé le coude, un Samedi, qu’au moment où il passait “La Roche au
Coq,” vers minuit, un de nos terriens entendit ces paroles:

“Jean Dumaresq! Va dire au P’tit Colin que l’Grànd Colin est mort!”

Or ce Colin, en haut-tudesque _Cole-wire_, est un _troll_ ou _guenon_,
un gobelin, qui, sous la forme de singe, ou de chat, était persécuté
par un maître rébarbatif. Dans la légende norse, le fermier se nomme
Platt; et lorsqu’il revient chez lui, ayant pris, sinon du vin, de la
cervoise, il dit à sa ménagère: “Écoute ce qui m’est arrivé ce soir!
Comme je passais Brand Hoy, la Hougue-aux-Balais, la voix d’un troll
m’a crié ces mots:

    “Écoute, Platt!
    Dis à ton chat
    ‘Que le vieux Sure-Mûre,
    (Rouâne et grond),
    Est mort!’”

Aussitôt, notre chat fait une cabriole, et se dressant sur ses pieds de
derrière, crie à son tour: “En ce cas-là, il faut que je décampe.””

See _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Note S, and a paper on Popular
Superstitions, etc., in the _Saturday Magazine_, Vol 10. p. 44. In
Brand’s _Antiquities_, Vol. 3. p. 44, the following similar story is
communicated by T. Quiller Couch, as relating to a Cornish pixy. “A
farmer, who formerly lived on an estate in this neighbourhood, called
Langreek, was returning one evening from a distant part of the farm,
and, in crossing a field, saw, to his surprise, sitting on a stone in
the middle of it, a miserable looking creature, human in appearance,
though dwarfish in size, and apparently starving with cold and hunger.
Pitying its condition, and perhaps aware that it was of elfish origin,
and that good luck would amply repay him for his kind treatment of
it, he took it home, placed it by the warm hearth on a stool, fed it
with milk, and shewed it great kindness. Though at first lumpish and
only half sensible, the poor bantling soon revived, and, though it
never spoke, became lively and playful, and a general favourite in the
family. After the lapse of three or four days, whilst it was at play,
a shrill voice in the farm-yard or ‘town place’ was heard to call
three times ‘Colman Gray!’ at which the little fellow sprang up, and,
gaining voice, cried--‘Ho! Ho! Ho! My daddy is come!’ flew through the
key hole, and was never afterwards heard of. A field on the estate is
called “Colman Gray” to this day.”


Le Grand Colin and Le Petit Colin, whose names have already been
mentioned in connection with La Longue Roque and La Roque où le Coq
Chante, appear to have belonged to that race of household spirits who
used to take up their abode on or near the hearth, and who, although
rarely making themselves visible to the human inhabitants of the house,
were willing, so long as no attempt was made to pry into their secrets,
to render occasional acts of kindness to those under whose roof they
dwelt, especially if they were honest and industrious.

A man and his wife occupied a small cottage at St. Brioc. The man
gained his living as many along the western coasts of the island do.
When the weather was favourable he went out fishing. After gales of
wind he was up with the first dawn of day to secure his share of the
sea-weed which the waves had cast up on the shore, or perchance a spar
or cordage detached from some unfortunate ship that had gone down in
the storm. At other times he cultivated his own small plot of ground,
or hired himself out as a day labourer to some of the neighbouring
farmers who were in want of assistance. In short he was never idle.

They lived in a typical old Guernsey country farm-house, with old
walls of grey granite, a thatched roof, small diamond-paned windows,
and arched doorways, with its half-door or “hecq.” Inside they are all
built much on the same pattern. The front door opens into an entrance
hall, on one side of which is the “living” room of the house,--parlour
and kitchen in one,--with a huge chimney, sometimes adorned with quaint
old carvings, as at “Les Fontaines,” in the Castel parish, a low hearth
stone, a smouldering vraic fire, and “trepied.” Still inside its
enclosure are stone seats, a large bread oven built in the thickness of
the wall, and a hook whereon to hang the “crâset” lamp.

A rack hangs from the low oak ceiling, diversified by its huge centre
beam or “poûtre.” On this is kept the bacon, and the grease for the
“soupe à la graisse,” or “de cabôche.” A “jonquière,” which is an
oblong wooden frame about three feet from the ground, is placed in a
corner near the fire and if possible near a window, and is used as a
sofa by the family. Formerly it was stuffed with rushes, whence its
name. Peastraw or dried fern, covered with green baize, now take their
place, and it is frequently called the “green bed.” A long table and
forms, with an eight-day clock by Naftel, Lenfestey, or Blondel, and an
old carved chest, which contained the bride’s dower of linen in bygone
times, is the ordinary furniture of the rooms, whose principal ornament
consists of some of the beautiful china brought by sailor sons from
the far East or Holland. The floors boast for carpet nothing but earth
covered with clean sand, daily renewed.

On the other side of the passage is the best bedroom, with its four
poster, and some still have on their mantel-pieces the old tinder
boxes, with their flint and steel, and separate compartments for the
burnt rag or tinder. Beyond are the winding stone steps, built in
a curve beyond the straight wall of the house, and above are more
bedrooms, or, in smaller houses, simply a “ch’nas” or loft.

His wife also was never idle. She was one of the shrewd, industrious,
and frugal race, who were content with a diet of bacon and cabbage,
barley-bread and cider, and who are, alas, disappearing fast. Night
after night, when her husband had returned home, and, tired out with
the fatigues of the day, had gone to rest and was sound asleep, she
would sit up till a late hour on the “jonquière” and ply her spinning
wheel by the dim light of the “crâset.”

While thus occupied, she, one night, heard a knock at the door, and
a voice enquiring whether the oven was hot, and whether a batch of
dough might be baked in it. A voice from within then enquired who it
was that stood without, and, on the answer being given that it was Le
Petit Colin, permission was immediately granted, and the door opened to
admit him. She then heard the noise of the dough being placed in the
oven, and a conversation between the two, by which she learned that the
inmate of the house was called Le Grand Colin. After the usual time the
bread was drawn, and the mysterious visitor departed, leaving behind
him, on the table, a nicely baked cake, with an intimation that it was
in return for the use of the oven.

This was repeated frequently and at regular intervals, and the woman
at last mentioned the circumstance to her husband. The fairer sex is
frequently accused of an inclination to pry into secrets and taunted
with the evils which too often result from inordinate curiosity, but in
this instance it was the husband who was to blame. He was seized with
a violent desire to penetrate the mystery, notwithstanding the earnest
entreaties of his wife--who had a shrewd suspicion of the real state of
the case--that he should leave well alone. His will prevailed, and it
was settled that on the night when the invisible baker was expected,
the husband should take his wife’s place on the “jonquière,” disguised
in her clothes, and that she should go to bed. Knowing that her husband
could not spin, the careful housewife thought it prudent not to put
the usual supply of flax or wool on the distaff, lest the good man, in
turning the wheel, should spoil it. He had not been long at his post
and pretending to spin, when the expected visitor came. He could see
nothing, but he heard one of the two say to the other:--

    _“File, filiocque,_
    _Rien en brocque,_
    _Barbe à cé ser_
    _Pas l’autre ser.”_

    (“There’s flax on the distaff,
    But nothing is spun;
    To night there’s a beard,
    T’other night there was none.”)

Upon which both were heard to quit the house as if in anger, and were
never again known to revisit it.[107]

[107] From William Le Poidevin, confirmed by Mrs. Savidan.


Compare in Amélie Bosquet’s book _La Normandie Romanesque et
Merveilleuse_, p. 130-131, _Le Lutin ou le Fé Amoureux_ and Webster’s
_Basque Legends_, p. 55-56.

Paul Sébillot also gives a somewhat similar story, in _Traditions et
Superstitions de La Haute Bretagne_, Tome 1., p. 116-117. “Il y avait
à la Ville-Douélan, en la paroisse du Gouray, une bonne femme qui tous
les soirs mettait son souper à chauffer dans le foyer; mais pendant
qu’elle était occupée à filer, les fées descendaient par la cheminée
et mangeaient son souper. Elle s’en plaignit à son mari, qui était
journalier et ne rentrait que pour se coucher. Il lui dit de le laisser
un soir tout seul à la maison. Il s’habilla en femme et prit une
quenouille comme une fileuse, mais il ne filait point. Quand les fées
arrivèrent, elles s’arrêtèrent surprises dans le foyer et dirent, ‘Vous
ne filez ni ne volez, vous n’êtes pas la bonne femme des autres soirs.’
L’homme ne répondit rien; mais il prit une trique et se mit à frapper
sur les fées, qui, depuis ce temps-là, ne revinrent plus jamais.”


In times long past a young couple occupied a cottage in the
neighbourhood of L’Erée. They were in the second year of their
marriage, and little more than a fortnight had elapsed since the wife
had presented her husband with his first-born son. The happy father,
who, like most of the inhabitants of the coast, filled up the time in
which he was not otherwise occupied, in collecting sea-weed or fishing,
returned one morning from the beach with a basketful of limpets. There
are various ways of cooking this shell-fish, which, from the earliest
times, appears to have formed a considerable article of food among the
poorer inhabitants of the sea-shore, and one of the ways of dressing
them is by placing them on the hot embers, where they are soon baked or
fried in their own cup-shaped shells. Cooked in this manner they form
an appetizing relish to the “dorâïe,” or slice of bread-and-butter,
which forms the ordinary mid-day meal of the labouring man.

A good fire of furze and sea-weed was flaming on the hearth when the
man entered his cottage, and, having raked the hot embers together, he
proceeded to arrange the limpets on the ashes, and then left them to
cook while he went out to finish digging a piece of ground. The wife in
the meanwhile was occupied in some domestic work, but casting a look
from time to time on her new-born babe, which was sleeping quietly in
its cradle. Suddenly she was startled by hearing an unknown voice,
which seemed to proceed from the child. She turned quickly round, and
was much surprised to see the infant sitting up, and looking with the
greatest interest at the fire-place, and to hear it exclaim in tones of

    _“Je n’sis de chut an, ni d’antan,_
    _Ni du temps du Rouey Jehan,_
    _Mais de tous mes jours, et de tous mes ans,_
    _Je n’ai vu autant de pots bouaillants.”_

    (“I’m not of this year, nor the year before,
    Nor yet of the time of King John of yore,
    But in all my days and years, I ween,
    So many pots boiling I never have seen.”)

She had heard old wives tell how the fairies sometimes took advantage
of the absence of the mother or nurse, to steal away a sleeping child,
and to substitute one of their own bantlings in its place, and how the
only way to cause them to make restitution was to throw the changeling
on the hearth, when the fairy mother, unable to withstand the piteous
cries of her offspring, was sure to appear, and bring back the stolen
infant with her.

She lost no time therefore in catching up the fairy imp, who, knowing
the fate that awaited him, set up a fearful yell. Immediately, the
fairy mother, without stopping to lift the latch, leaped over the
“hecq” or half-door, and, restoring to the trembling housewife her babe
uninjured, snatched up her own squalling brat, and departed by the same
way she had come.[108]

[108] From Mrs. Savidan. (Also see Page 225).


The parish of Notre Dame du Castel, or, as it is now the fashion
to call it, St. Mary de Castro, is the largest in the island, but
the church is situated at one extremity of the parish, close on the
bounds of St. Andrew’s, to the great inconvenience of many of the
parishioners. It is true that in former days they had some relief in
the Chapels of Ste. Anne, St. George, and St. Germain, but chapels are
not parish churches, and many, while trudging through the miry roads in
winter, or toiling up the dusty hill in summer, when some of the great
festivals required them to present themselves at the mother church,
have inquired how it came to pass that so inconvenient a site had been
chosen. The old people, depositaries of the ancient traditions of the
place, will answer that originally the foundations were laid in a
field called “Les Tuzés,” but this was haunted ground, and a favourite
resort of the fairies, and that, these little ladies, unwilling to
yield up their rights without a struggle, in the course of a single
night transported all the tools, stones, etc., in their cambric aprons,
to the spot where the Church of St. Mary now stands. Thrice did this
happen before the builders gave up their intention of erecting the
sacred edifice on the site first chosen.[109]

[109] From Rachel Duport.

Similar stories are told of the Forest Church, of St. Martin’s and the
Vale Churches, of St. Brelade’s in Jersey, and many others.

See Chambers’ _Popular Rhymes of Scotland_, p. 335, and _Notes and
Queries_, 2nd Series, IV., 144.


There is another story told of the fairy man who first came to Guernsey
and carried away the beautiful Michelle de Garis[110] to be his wife.
Though, vanquished by his courtliness and grace, she was persuaded to
fly with him back to fairy land, she could not quite forget the father,
mother, and brothers, whom she had left behind her in their cottage
down by Vazon Bay. So she begged him to let her leave them some slight
token by which to remember her. He thought for a few moments, and then
gave her a bulb, which he told her to plant in the sand above the bay.
He then whispered to the mother where to go to find a souvenir of her
missing daughter, and, when she went, weeping, to the search, she found
this bulb, burst into flower, a strange odourless beautiful blossom,
decked with fairy gold, and without a soul--for what is the scent but
the soul of a flower--a fit emblem of a denizen of fairyland. From
that time the flower has been carefully cultivated in this island, the
“Amaryllis Sarniensis,” as it is called, nor will it flourish, however
great the care, in any of the other islands; it pines and degenerates
when removed from the soil where it was first planted by the elfin

[110] In those days Guernsey girls were not called Lavinia, Maud,
Gladys, and all the ridiculous names with which modern parents
disfigure the old Norman surnames, but they were called Michelle,
Peronelle,--the diminutive feminine of Pierre, equivalent to the
English form Petronilla,--Renouvette, (feminine of Ranulf or Ralph),
Oriane, Carterette, Jaqueline, Colette or Colinette, and many other
soft graceful old French names.

[111] From Miss Lane.



This fairy-story is not included by Sir Edgar MacCulloch, but was
communicated to me by the late Miss Annie Chepmell, who most kindly
lent me her own manuscript book, in which she wrote down the legends
she had herself collected among the country people. I give it in her
own words.

“For a long time the fairies alone had possession of L’Ancresse, the
cromlechs, hougues, and caves. But evil men rose up, and ambition and
the lust of knowledge led them to cross the sea, and there to learn
the mighty art of magic. They returned and quickly spread the sin of
witchcraft in the island, so quickly that the harmless fairies had no
time to accustom themselves to the miseries which were caused thereby,
and which they had no power to remedy. Their hearts fairly broke to
see their happy haunts invaded by witches and wizards, their fairy
rings trampled down by the heavy feet of ‘sorcières,’ and scorched by
the hoofs of their demon partners every Friday night; and their human
friends and pet animals pining beneath charms and spells. Unable to
bear these sorrows, the poor fairies met on their beloved L’Ancresse,
and finding, after much consultation, that they could do nothing
against the disturbers of their happiness, they sadly resolved to get
rid of their past by drinking of the fountain of forgetfulness. There
is, or rather was,--for the ruthless quarries have much diminished its
size--a huge pile of rocks rising from the sea at the eastern extremity
of L’Ancresse Bay. At the very top of this granite castle rises a
little fountain, cool in the hottest summer, unfrozen in the keenest
frost. Its waters have the properties of Lethe--those who drink of
them forgetting the past. In a sad procession the fairy tribe moved
across the bay, and, after having scaled the steep rocks, clustered
round the fountain which was to give them the bliss of unconsciousness.
But for them the fountain had no virtue; they drank, and still the
past came back, with all its joys and sorrows. In despair at finding
even oblivion denied to them, they hastily determined to get rid of
life itself. Rushing down the rocks they hurried across the Common
to where stood three tall upright stones, with a third resting upon
them--a monument of far-off Druid times--and there they hung themselves
with blades of grass. So ended the kindly race in Guernsey, the fairy
fountain and the upright stones their only monuments.”

“There are still a few lingering remnants of fairy lore to be found
among the old country people. Old Miss Fallaize, aged eighty, remembers
how, in her youth, eatables and drinkables were left outside the door
with any unfinished work, and how in the morning the food was gone--but
she could not quite remember whether the work was done. But old Mr.
Tourtel, over eighty, who was brought up as a boy at an old house at
the Mont Durand, now pulled down, said that it was well known that the
fairies lived in a ‘vôte’ (a Guernsey word for the French ‘voute,’ a
vaulted cave), above La Petite Porte. They were a little people, but
very strong, and would mend your cart wheels or spokes for you if you
would put out some food for them.”

Also the woman living in the house called “St. Magloire” opposite the
site of his old chapel, said she supposed “Monsieur Magloire” was the
first _man_ who came to these islands, and when I asked her who were
living here when he came, she said “Oh, ‘little people,’ who lived in
the cromlechs.”


    “I’ll drown more sailors than the mermaid shall.”


                        “Thou rememb’rest
    Since once I sat upon a promontory,
    And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back,
    Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
    That the rude sea grew civil at her song.”


A belief in the existence of mermaids is not quite extinct, although no
tales relating to them appear to have been preserved among the people.
An old man, living in the parish of the Forest, of the name of Matthieu
Tostevin, whose word might be implicitly relied on, affirmed to Mr.
Denys Corbet, the master of the parochial school, that on one occasion,
being on the cliffs over-looking Petit-Bôt Bay, he saw a company of six
mermaids, or, as he termed them “_seirênes_,” disporting themselves on
the sands below. He described them as usually depicted, half woman,
half fish. He hastened down to the beach as fast as he could, to get a
nearer sight of them, but, on his approaching them, they took to the
sea, and were immediately out of sight.

[Illustration: “Looking down Smith Street, 1870.”]

It was doubtless a flock of seals which he saw, for, although these
animals are no longer found in numbers on our coasts, a stray one is
occasionally, though very rarely, to be seen. They are known to exist
on the opposite shores of Brittany and Normandy, and the few specimens
that have been taken in our seas are of the same variety as those found
on the French coast. It is not improbable that they may have been more
common in former days; and it is possible that “Le Creux du Chien,” a
large cavern at the foot of the cliffs to the eastward of Petit-Bôt
Bay, may have been so named from being the resort of one of these

[112] From Mr. Denys Corbet.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--In Sark as well as in Guernsey they still believe in
sirens, and an old man there, who had been a fisherman in his youth,
told me of these women who used to sit on the rocks and sing before a
storm. In Sark they are considered young and beautiful, but Guernsey
fishermen talk of _old_ women who sit on the rocks and sing, and the
ships are brought closer to the rocks by the curiosity of those on
board to hear this mysterious music, and then the storm comes, and the
ships go to pieces on the rocks, and the sirens,--whether young or
old,--carry down the sailors to the bottom of the sea, and eat them. So
the tradition goes.

Referring to the legend of the Changeling, as related on pages 219-220,
Paul Sébillot also tells a story very similar to this. Tome I. p.

Un jour une femme dit à sa voisine,--“Ma pauvre commère, je crains que
mon gars a été changé par les Margots … j’voudrais bien savoir c’qui
faut faire.”

“ … Vous prendrez d’s œufs; vous leur casserez le petit bout, et puis
d’cela vous mettrez des petits brochiaux d’bois dedans; vous allumerez
un bon feu; vous les mettrez autour, debout; et vous mènerez le petit
faitiau à se chauffer aussi.”

La femme fit tout cela, et quand le petit faiteau vit les œufs bouillir
et les petits bois sauter dedans, il s’écria:

    “Voilà que j’ai bientôt cent ans;
    Mais jamais de ma vie durant
    Je n’ai vu tant de p’tits pots bouillants.”

La femme vit tout de suite que son enfant avait été changé … et elle

--“Vilain petit sorcier, je vas te tuer!”

Mais la fée qui était dans le grenier lui cria--

    “N’tue pas le mien, j’ne tuerai l’tien;
    N’tien pas l’mien, j’te ren’rai l’tien.”

See also Amélie Bosquet, p. 116, etc.


Demons and Goblins.

    “Now I remember those old woman’s words
    Who in my youth would tell me winter’s tales,
    And speak of sprites and ghosts that glide by night
    About the place where treasure hath been hid.”

                              _Marlow’s “Jew of Venice.”_

    “Will-a-wisp misleads night-faring clowns,
    O’er hills and sinking bogs.”

                            “Let night-dogs tear me,
    And goblins ride me in my sleep to jelly,
    Ere I forsake my sphere.”

             --_Thierry and Theodoret. Act 1. Sc. 1._


That singular meteor, known by the English as Jack o’Lantern or “Will
o’ the Wisp,” by the French as “Feu Follet,” and by the Bretons as
“Jan gant y tan” (John with the fingers or gloves of fire), bears
in Guernsey the appellation of _Le Faeu Bélengier_--the fire of
Bélenger. According to Mr. Métivier “Bélenger” is merely a slight
variation of the name “Volunde” or “Velint”--Wayland, or Weyland
Smith, the blacksmith of the Scandinavian gods. Bélenger was married
to a Valkyrie, daughter of the Fates, so runs the old Norse legend.
He was, for the sake of some treasures belonging to him, or under his
guardianship, carried away by a certain king as prisoner to an island,
where the tyrant cut the sinews of his feet so as to prevent his
running away, and then set him to work. Too clever, however, not to be
able to compass his revenge, Bélenger managed to kill the two sons of
the despot, and fashioned their bones into vessels for the royal table.
And then, having maltreated the princess, daughter of his quondam
master, he flew away through the air, and the name Bélenger has become
identified in popular mythology with any especially clever worker in
metals. In English popular tradition the name of Bélenger becomes
contracted into Velint, or Wayland Smith, and, according to Sir Walter
Scott, “this Wayland was condemned to wander, night after night, from
cromlech to cromlech, and belated travellers imagined that they then
beheld the fire from his forge issuing from marshes and heaths.” The
natives of Iceland, descended from our own paternal ancestors of the
tenth century, say still of a clever craftsman that he is a “Bélengier”
in iron.

In Guernsey they say it is a spirit in pain, condemned to wander,
and which seeks to deliver itself from torment by suicide.[113] Its
presence is also supposed to indicate in very many cases the existence
of hidden treasures, and many a countryman is known to have made a
fruitless journey over bog and morass in the hope of locating the
flickering flame. It is also firmly believed by all the country people
that if a knife is fixed by the handle to a tree, or stuck in the earth
with the point upwards, the spirit or demon that guides the flame will
attack and fight with it, and that proofs of the encounter will be
found next morning in the drops of blood found on the blade.[114]

[113] See Métivier’s Dictionary,--Art: Bélengier.

[114] From Rachel Du Port, and others.

Yorkshire Folk-Lore--_Notes and Queries_, 4th Series, I; 193. “If
ever you are pursued by a Will-o’-the-Wisp, the best thing to do is
to put a steel knife into the ground, with the handle upwards. The
Will-o’-the-Wisp will run round this until the knife is burnt up, and
you will thus have the means of escaping.”


“Tout le monde connaît ces exhalaisons de gaz inflammable qui brillent
quelquefois dans les endroits marécageux et qui effraient tant les
enfants et les vieilles. Ces feux sont appelés dans nos campagnes La
Fourlore, le feu follet, ou le feu errant. Ce sont des âmes damnées;
et, suivant quelques personnes, ces âmes sont celles de prêtres
criminels ou libertins. Elles cherchent à éblouir les voyageurs, à
les entrainer dans les précipices, et à les jeter dans l’eau. Quand
le feu follet, esprit d’ailleurs fort jovial, est venu à bout de son
entreprise il quitte sa victime avec de grands éclats de rire, et il
disparait.” _Recherches sur la Normandie_, par Du Bois, 1845, p. 310.

See also, Fouquet _Légendes du Morbihan_, p. 140. _Le Meu_--_Revue
Celt_, p. 230. A. Bosquet, pp. 135-143.


As we have already stated “Le Faeu Bélengier” is supposed to indicate
the existence of hidden treasure, and it is well known that when
treasures have been hidden for any considerable time the evil spirit
acquires a property in them, and does all in his power to prevent their
falling into the possession of mortals. Nevertheless the meteor-like
form which the Bélengier assumes, frequently betrays their place of
concealment as it plays about the spot, and if a person have sufficient
courage and perseverance he may become the possessor. The wiles,
however, of the demon, and his efforts to retain his own, frequently
prove successful, as the following narratives will testify. It appears,
however, that the guardian spirit has no power to remove the treasure,
unless the adventure have first been attempted by a mortal.

A country-woman had often observed flames of fire issuing from and
hovering round the earth within the threshold of her house, and,
knowing well what they indicated, one day, when all the other
inmates of the dwelling were in the fields busied in getting in the
harvest, she determined on searching for the treasure. She procured a
pick-axe, closed and barred all the doors to secure herself against
interruptions, and proceeded to work. She had not dug long, before a
violent thunderstorm arose. Though alarmed, she continued her task,
but the rain, which now began to fall in torrents, drove the field
labourers to seek shelter in the house. By this time the woman had
struck on a brazen pan, which, she had no doubt, covered the treasure,
and was in no hurry to open to the men who were clamouring at the door
for admission. She was at last obliged to yield to their entreaties,
and, turning her back on the hole she had dug, unbarred the door. Her
dismay was great, when, on looking back on her work, she saw the pan
turned up, and the whole treasure abstracted. The demon had seized this
opportunity to take possession of his own.

A man had reason to believe, from the flames which he had seen hovering
about a certain spot, that a treasure was hidden there. Accordingly,
one night, he took his spade and lantern and dug till he came to a
large jar, which contained what appeared to him to be shells.[115]
Suspecting that this might be a stratagem of the evil spirit to deter
him from obtaining possession of the treasure, he carefully gathered
up the whole, and took it home with him. On examining the parcel the
next morning, he found he had judged rightly, for the apparent shells
of the preceding night had now resumed their original form of gold and
silver coin.

Another man was less fortunate, for, finding nothing but what he
conceived to be shells, he hesitated about removing them, and was
effectually deterred by the appearance of an immense animal, resembling
a black conger-eel with fiery eyes, coiled up in the hole which he had

[115] It is perhaps to the fact that limpet shells are found in the
cromlechs, which are always supposed to be the repository of hidden
treasure, that the idea that buried gold, when discovered by mortals,
is transformed by its guardian spirit into worthless shells, is
entertained by the peasantry.

[116] From Rachel Du Port.

“4 Oct. 1586. Procédures contre Edmond Billot, Richard Le Petevin,
Nicollas Le Petevin, et Jean Moullin, pour avoir été de nuit fouyr à
Ste. Anne, à St. George, et à St. Germain pour chercher des trésors
qu’un nommé Baston, des parties de Normandie, leur avoit dit y être
déposés,--savoir: trois à St. George, un dans la muraille, un autre
enterré dans la chapelle, et un troisième déhors, un à Ste. Anne, et un
à St. Germain au milieu du champ.”--_Proceedings of the Royal Court._

EDITOR’S NOTE.--See _Traditions et Superstitions de La Haute Bretagne_.
Tome I., p. 39 etc. “On m’a conté à Dinan que lorsque les chercheurs de
trésors eurent creusé à la base du Monolithe, il sortit de la terre des
flammes qui les forcèrent à interrompre leur travail. On assure qu’à
différentes époques on a fait des fouilles sous un meulier de la forêt
de Brotonne, dit ‘La Pierre aux Houneux’ pour y découvrir un trésor;
mais à chaque fois d’effrayantes apparitions les firent discontinuer.…
Des ouvriers qui avaient tenté d’enlever le trésor de Néaufle se virent
entourés de flammes.” A. Bosquet, p. 159-186.


The “Varou,” now almost entirely forgotten, seems to have belonged
to the family of nocturnal goblins. He is allied to the “Loup-Garou”
of the French, and the “Were-Wolf” of the English, if, indeed, he is
not absolutely identical with them. He is believed to be endowed with
a marvellous appetite, and it is still proverbially said of a great
eater “Il mange comme un varou.”[117]

“Aller en varouverie” was an expression used in former times in
speaking of those persons who met together in unfrequented places for
the purposes of debauchery or other illicit practices. Among the Acts
of the Consistory of the parish of St. Martin’s, in the time when the
island was still under the Presbyterian discipline, is to be found a
censure on certain individuals who had been heard to say one night that
the time was propitious “pour aller en varouverie sous l’épine.”

_Varou_ was originally from the Breton _Varw_--“the dead”--and was
identified with the “Heroes” or beatified warriors, who were, by Homer
and Hesiod, supposed to be in attendance on Saturn. Guernsey, in the
days of Demetrius, was known by the name of the Isle of Heroes, or of
Demons, and Saturn was said to be confined there in a “golden rock,”
bound by “golden chains.”

There is the “Creux des Varous,” which extends, according to tradition,
from Houmet to L’Erée, and is a subterranean cavern formed of rock
sprinkled with an abundance of yellow mica, which sparkles like gold;
a plot of ground near the cromlech at L’Erée, known as “Le Creux des
Fées,” still bears the name of “Le Camp du Varou;” and an estate in the
parish of St. Saviour’s is called “Le Mont-Varou.” Old people remember
that it used to be said in their youth that “Le Char des Varous” was
to be heard rolling over the cliffs and rocks on silver-tyred wheels,
between Houmet and the Castle of Albecq, before the death of any of the
great ones of the earth; and how this supernatural warning was sure to
be followed almost immediately by violent storms and tempests.[118]

[117] “La veille de la fête de Noël, à nuit close, dans un lieu
préscrit par le consentement de la communauté en Prusse, en Livonie,
et en Lithuanie, l’affluence des hommes changés en loups est telle que
les ravages perpétrés cette nuit-là contre les bergers et les troupeaux
sont beaucoup plus graves que ceux des véritables loups. S’insinuant
dans les caves, ils y grenouillent et vous sablent plusieurs tonneaux
de bière ou d’hydromel. Ils s’amusent alors à entasser les futailles
vides au beau milieu du cellier. Le bon prélat ajoute, que de très
grands seigneurs ne dédaignent pas de s’agriger à cette confrèrie
maudite. C’est un des anciens adeptes qui initie l’aspirant _varou_ ou
_garou_ dans une ample tasse de cervoise.” _Mœurs des Peuples du Nord_,
par Olaus Magnus, Vol. VI., p. 46.

[118] Mostly from Mr. George Métivier.


The 10th of January, in Roman days, was dedicated to the _Fera Dea_, or
cruel goddess, of which _Hero Dias_ is a literal Celtic interpretation
here. She is the queen of the witches, and although Satan himself is
the commander-in-chief of the witches, he has a mate who participates
in his authority, and leads the dance when his votaries meet to
celebrate their midnight orgies at Catioroc or Rocquaine. This is no
less a personage than the dissolute and revengeful woman by whose evil
counsel the holy precursor of our Saviour was put to death by Herod. To
her, more particularly, is attributed the rising of sudden storms, and
especially of those which take the form of a whirlwind. It sometimes
happens that during the warm and sultry days of harvest a gust of
wind will suddenly arise, and, whirling round the field, catch up and
disperse the ears of corn which the reaper has laid in due order for
the binder of the sheaves. The countryman doubts not but that this is
caused by Herodias shaking her petticoats in dancing--“_Ch’est la fille
d’Hérode qui châque ses côtillons_,”--and he loses no time in hurling
his reaping hook in the direction she appears to be moving. It is said
that this has generally the effect of stopping the progress of the

These sudden gusts are locally known by the name of “_héroguiâzes_,”
and, although there is so easy a means of dispersing them as that
indicated above, the man who would venture to throw his sickle or knife
at them must be endowed with no small degree of courage.[119]

[119] From Mr. George Métivier.

Father Martin, the oracle of Gaulish divinity, has lavished floods
of ink on Herodias. According to him she is the genius of the
whirlwind--the “mid-day,” as well as a mid-night, demon. Here she
continues to “ride on the whirlwind,” and “direct the storm.” Instead
of driving her away with holy water, as our Catholic neighbours do,
_we_ fling a sickle at “La Vieille” with pious indignation, whenever
the eddying straws announce her arrival in the harvest-field.

Near “Le Ras de Fontenay,” so infamous for its shipwrecks, the little
island of Sain, off Finistère, was dedicated to He’ro Dias. There she
presided over the oracle of “Sena,” the Hag. Her priestesses were
nine shrivelled hags, and their island derived its appellation from
the hag, their mistress. None but mariners, suitors for a bagful of
favourable wind, were admissible to the presence of these ladies, who
spent their time “sur le rocher désert, l’effroi de la nature,” in a
very edifying manner--brewing storms, manufacturing hail, lightning,
thunder, and so forth, and changing themselves into a variety of brutal
forms--(Pomponius Mela).

That there is a two-headed serpent which caresses Dame Hérodias on a
bas-relief of the temple of Mont-Morillon in Poitou, may be remembered
_en passant_.


According to the old Latin “Romaunt de Renard,” Herodias loved John
the Baptist. The jealous King caused him to be beheaded. His head, by
her order, was carried to her, and she wished to kiss it, but the head
turned away, and blew with so much violence that Herodias was blown
into the air. Since then, St. John, faithful to his antipathy, has made
her travel for ever in the deserts of the sky, and become the genius of
the storm.

Some confound her with “Habunde,” who may have been a white lady, or
one of those “genii” whom the Celts call “dusi.” _Chronique de Philippe
Mouskés_, Tome II. Introduction p. 139.

Some also think that Herodias will, if anyone dances at harvest time,
bring shipwreck and disasters at sea.--_From Mr. Isaac Le Patourel._

“LE BARBOUE.”[120]

This was a demon used by old Guernsey nurses to frighten their infant
charges. “_Le Barboue t’attrappera_” was quite threat enough to make
the naughtiest child repent of his misdeeds. According to Mr. Métivier
(See Dictionary, p. 51. _Barboue_), this name “Barboue” is a corruption
of _bared meleu_, the spectre which personifies the plague among the
Cymri. According to the legends, “Barbaou Hervé” was the wolf who
accompanied St. Hervé, a sainted hermit of the country of Léon, 560. He
was evidently related to the French “Loup-Garou.”

[120] May not this be a corruption of _Barbe Bleue_--the Blue Beard who
has frightened so many children both in France and England?


Many places have the reputation of being haunted by phantoms which make
their appearance at the dead of night, not always in a human form,
as the spirits of the departed are wont to do when they revisit “the
glimpses of the moon,” but in the more fearful shapes of beasts and
nondescript monsters. “La Bête de la Tour,” “Le Cheval de St. George,”
which has already been spoken of in connection with the well, and “Le
Chien Bôdu,” are among these.

The “devises,” or boundary stones, which served in olden times to mark
the limits of some of the principal “fiefs” or manors, but which have
now disappeared, leaving only a name to the locality, appear to have
been the particular resort of these spectres; and it is not improbable
that the superstition may have arisen from the custom, of which traces
are to be found in many nations, of sacrificing a victim and burying it
where the stone of demarcation was to be set up. It was not, however,
these places only which became the haunt of spectres; other spots came
in also for their share of these nocturnal and frightful visitors. A
lonely dwelling, especially if uninhabited, a dark lane far from any
friendly cottage, cromlechs, or spots where these mysterious erections
once stood--all these either had, or were likely to acquire, an evil
reputation in this respect, and more especially if tradition pointed to
any deed of horror, such as murder or suicide, connected with the place
or its neighbourhood.

The headless dog which haunts the Ville-au-Roi, and which will be
spoken of in the legend attached to that ancient domain, is an instance
of these spectres. The best known of them is “Tchi-cô,” or the “Bête
de la Tour,”--but there are also “La Bête de la Devise de Sausmarez à
Saint Martin,” which is a black dog supposed to haunt the avenue by
Sausmarez Manor.[121]

[121] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Then there is the “Rue de la Bête” at St.
Andrew’s, on the borders of the Fief Rohais. Near this lane there was
formerly a prison, so that it is probably full of associations of
crime and malefactors. There is also a “Rue de la Bête” near L’Erée,
between “Claire Mare” and the Rouvets, where, to this day, people will
not go alone after dark, and they still tell the story (so wrote Miss
Le Pelley, who lived in that neighbourhood), of a man, a M. Vaucourt,
who, driving down that lane in the dark, the “Bête” got up into the
cart, which so scared the unfortunate man that he died the next day.
There was also a black dog which haunted the Forest Road, clanking its
chains. The father of one old woman who told the story, saw and was
followed by this beast one night when walking home from St. Martin’s to
his house near the Forest Church. He was so frightened that he took to
his bed and died of the shock very shortly afterwards. There is also
“La Bête de la Rue Mase,” on the western limits of the Town parish, the
“Coin de la Biche,” at St. Martin’s, between Saints’ and La Villette,
and in the cross lane running from the “Carrefour David” to the
“Profonds Camps,” past the house now called “St. Hilda,” a small white
hare was supposed to be seen on stormy nights, accompanied by “Le Faeu


There is no doubt that in early times the town of St. Peter Port was
encircled by walls, and fortified--indeed there is an order of Edward
III. in 1350, authorising the levy of a duty on merchandise for this
purpose. Certain spots, called “les barrières,” mark where the gates
were situated, and, although all remains of the walls have long since
disappeared, it is not difficult to trace the course they must have
taken. At the northern extremity of the original town, the name of “La
Tour Gand” indicates a fortress of some sort. The southern extremity
was protected by a work called “La Tour Beauregard,” of sufficient
importance to be named, together with Castle Cornet, in the warrants or
commissions issued by the monarch to those who were intrusted with the
defence of the island.

This fortress stood near the top of Cornet Street, on the brow of
the hill which overlooks the Bordage and Fountain Street, where now
stands St. Barnabas’ Church. Tradition points to a spot at the foot of
the hill, as the place where the execution of heretics and witches,
by burning, used to take place, and connects with these sad events
a spectral appearance which, even within the present century, was
believed to haunt the purlieus of the old tower.

During the long nights of winter, and especially about Christmastide,
the inhabitants of Tower-hill, the Bordage, Fountain Street, and Cornet
Street used to be roused from their midnight slumbers by hearing
unearthly howlings and the clanking of heavy chains, dragged over the
rough pavement.

Those who could summon up courage enough to rise from their beds and
peep out of window, declared that they saw the form of a huge uncouth
animal with large flaming saucer eyes, and somewhat like a bear, or
huge calf. This spectre was known as “Tchî-co, La Bête de la Tour.”


See Pluquet in _Contes Populaires de Bayeux_, p. 16, for an account of
a phantom in the shape of a great dog that wanders about the streets of
Bayeux in the winter nights gnawing bones and dragging chains, called
“Le Rongeur d’Os.”

See also Sir Walter Scott’s note in _Peveril of the Peak_, Vol. II.,
Chap. I., on the spectral hound or “Mauthe Doog”--a large black
spaniel, which used to haunt Peel Castle in the Isle of Man.

There is also in Laisnel de la Salle’s book _Croyances et Légendes du
Centre de la France_, Tome I. p. 181, a long story of “Le Loup Bron,”
which in many respects resembles that of our “Bête de la Tour.”

In Sark “they have another superstitious belief, that of the _Tchico_,
or old dog, the dog of the dead, the black or white beast. Several
affirm having seen it, and met it walking about the roads. This dog
affects certain localities, and makes its regular rounds, but often it
is invisible.” From _Descriptive Sketch of the Island of Sark_, by the
Rev. J. L. V. Cachemaille, published in Clarke’s _Guernsey Magazine_,
Vol. III., October. 1875.

In Brand’s _Antiquities_, Vol. III., p. 330, he identifies the English
“Barguest,” or “Great Dog Fiend,” with the Norman “Rongeur d’Os,” and
the “Boggart” of Lancashire, great dog-spirits, which prowl about in
the night-time, dragging heavy chains behind them.


This black dog was said to infest the Clos du Valle, and was probably a
resident of the Ville Bôdu, which was at one time the slaughter-house
of the Benedictine monks of St. Michel du Valle. To see him was taken
as a sure sign of approaching death. According to Mr. Métivier, he
derived his name from “the German Bohdu, and Gaulish Bodu, which mean
the _Abyss_, and the mythological dog of Hades is our ‘Chien Bôdu.’”

EDITOR’S NOTE.--In _Croyances et Légendes du Centre de la France_
Laisnel de la Salle has a chapter (Tome I. pp. 168-175), on “La Chasse
a _Bôdet_,” which he describes as “une chasse nocturne qui traverse les
airs avec des hurlements, des mieulements et des abois epouvantables,
auxquels se mêlent des cris de menace et des accents d’angoisse,” and
he identifies (p. 172), “Bôdet” with the German _Woden_, who is the
same as the Scandinavian Odin, Gwyon of the Gauls, the Egyptian Thot,
Hermes of the Greeks, and Mercury of the Latins, who filled, in the
Teutonic Mythology, the rôle of “Conductor of Souls.”


Although this story is known to everyone, and is to be found in all the
local histories and guide books, no collection of Guernsey folk-lore
can be considered perfect without it. It is just one of those stories
that are calculated to make a profound impression on the popular mind,
as showing the special interposition of Providence in preserving a poor
and innocent man from the effects of a false accusation, and in causing
the nefarious designs of a rich and unprincipled oppressor to fall back
with just retribution on his own head.

[Illustration: “Old Manor, Ville au Roi.”]

Whether the story be founded on an occurrence which did actually take
place in this island, whether it originated elsewhere, or whether
it be a pure invention, it is now impossible to determine.[122] The
name of the principal personage in the tale--Gaultier de la Salle--is
to be found at the head of the lists of Bailiffs of Guernsey, with
the date 1284, but no written evidence has yet been adduced to prove
that anyone of the name ever held that office. There is, however,
proof of a certain kind that a person bearing this name did exist at
some period of the fourteenth century, for, in a manuscript list of
Bailiffs, which appears to have been compiled about the year 1650,
the writer, who seems careful not to place any on record for whom he
cannot produce documentary evidence, appends this note to the name of
John Le Marchant, Bailiff from 1359 to 1383:--“J’en ay lettre de 1370
concernant la veuve Gaultier de la Salle.”

That no document is known to exist in which this name appears is no
proof that Gaultier de la Salle did not hold the office. Previously
to the reign of Edward I. it appears to have been the custom for the
Warder or Governor of the island to appoint an officer with the title
of Bailiff, who combined the functions of Lieutenant-Governor, chief
magistrate, and Receiver of the Crown Revenues, and who was generally
changed annually. The names of many of these dignitaries have been
preserved, but there are still several blanks to be filled up, and it
is not impossible that the name of Gaultier de la Salle may some day or
other be found as holding this important charge, although probably at a
later date than that usually assigned to him--1284.

The estate of the Ville-au-Roi is said to have borne originally the
name of “La Petite Ville.”[123] It has now dwindled down to a few
fields, but was doubtless at one period of far greater extent and
importance than at the present time. The house, which may probably
be assigned to the fifteenth century, is now much diminished in size
from what it was, even a few years since, but it still presents an
interesting specimen of the architecture of former days. It consisted,
when perfect, of a building, forming two sides of a square, with
a tower in the angle, where may yet be seen the holes for arrows.
It contained a well-wrought newel staircase in stone, leading to a
large room, which appears to have been the principal apartment in the
house, if we may judge from the careful workmanship bestowed on the
handsomely carved granite chimney piece, the traces of stone mullions
in the windows, and the ornamental open timber roof, now hidden by a
low ceiling. A wall of unusual thickness divides this portion of the
building into two parts; and a few steps from the head of the staircase
of which we have spoken, lead to the remains of another newel resting
on this wall, which evidently formed part of a turret rising above the
ridge of the roof, and which could have served no purpose but that of
ornament, or perhaps a lookout over the neighbouring country. There
are some detached farm buildings, and traces of a wall surrounding the
homestead, intended probably to form an inclosure into which the cattle
might be driven at night. The remains of an arched gateway at the end
of the avenue, leading from the main road, and connecting the western
gable of the dwelling house with an out-building, are still to be
discerned. This was exactly opposite the principal door of the mansion,
which is of good proportions, with a well-executed circular headway in
granite, over which is a square recess in the masonry which doubtless
once contained the armorial device of the original proprietor. There
is reason to believe this was a member of the De Beauvoir family,
once very numerous and influential in the island but now extinct,
for it was well known that the family was formerly in possession of
this estate, and the existence of their arms--a chevron between three
cinq-foils--carved in granite on the mantelpiece of the principal
room, is almost sufficient proof of one of the name having been the
original builder of the house.[124] The estate afterwards passed into
the possession of the De la Marche family--also extinct. From them it
descended to a family of the name of Le Poidevin. These last falling
into pecuniary difficulties, the property by the legal process called
“saisie” came into the hands of the present (1859) proprietor, Thomas
Le Retilley, Esq., Jurat of the Royal Court.

Whilst the recently-abolished manorial Court of the Priory of St.
Michel du Valle still existed, there was a curious servitude attached
to this estate. When this Court made its periodical procession through
the island to inspect the King’s highway and see that it was kept in
due repair, the proprietor of the Ville-au-Roi was expected to furnish
a cup of milk to everyone legally entitled to a place in the cortège,
and the procession made a halt at the gate to demand the accustomed
refreshment, which was willingly afforded, although immemorial usage
alone could be pleaded for the exaction.

It is now time to come to the legend itself. In the earliest records
which the human race possesses--the Holy Scriptures--we read that
disputes arose about wells and the right of drawing water from them.
Where water is scarce, as it is in some parts of the East, this can
readily be understood, but why should any disagreement occur in
places where this indispensable element abounds? The answer is simply
this. The well is for the most part the property of one person, and
situated on his ground, and those who claim a right to the use of it,
must necessarily pass over their neighbour’s land to get at it. It is
clear that this right may be exercised in such a manner as to become
vexatious and troublesome.

Gaultier de la Salle had a poor neighbour of the name of Massy, who
was the proprietor of a small field containing little more than a
vergée of land at the back of the Bailiff’s house, but with this land
he possessed also the right,--no doubt by virtue of some ancient
and binding contract--of drawing water from a well on De la Salle’s
property. Often had the Bailiff offered to buy off this right,--to give
a fair and even liberal price for the piece of ground to which the
privilege was attached. Massy was obstinate. His answer to every offer
was that of Naboth to Ahab--“The Lord forbid it me that I should give
the inheritance of my fathers to thee.”

Annoyed at Massy’s pertinacious refusal to accede to his wishes,
Gaultier de la Salle formed the horrible design of taking away his
life, but how was this to be done without causing suspicion? Open
violence, even in those days, was not to be thought of. Secret
assassination might be discovered. At last the acute mind of the
unworthy Bailiff hit on an expedient which appeared to him perfectly
safe. It was to make the forms of the law subservient to his wicked
designs, and, under the guise of a judicial proceeding, to cause the
ruin and death of the unfortunate Massy. Theft was then, and for too
many centuries after, punished with death. If he could succeed in
fixing an accusation of this kind on the innocent Massy, he flattered
himself that there would be no difficulty in obtaining a conviction,
and then would follow the utmost penalty of the law, and the consequent
forfeiture of the felon’s lands and goods to the King, from whom he
hoped to get a grant or sale of the field. To carry out his nefarious
intention, he hid two of his own silver cups in a cornstack, and
adroitly contrived to cause a suspicion of having stolen them to rest
on his too-obstinate neighbour. Circumstantial evidence, skilfully
combined, was not wanting on the day of trial, and, notwithstanding his
vehement protestations of innocence, poor Massy was found guilty and
condemned to death. The day fixed for the execution arrived, and the
Bailiff proceeded to the Court House with the intention of witnessing
the death of the unfortunate victim of his own false accusation.
But “the wicked man diggeth a pit and falleth into the midst of it
himself.” Before leaving home, he gave orders to some of his workmen
to take down a certain stack of corn, and house it in the barn. He had
barely taken his seat in Court, where the magistrates had assembled for
the purpose, as was then the custom, of attending the culprit to the
place of execution, and seeing their sentence duly carried out, when a
messenger, almost breathless, rushed in and exclaimed--

“The cups are found.”

[Illustration: “Houses in Church Square, 1825.”]

“Fool!” cried the Bailiff. “Did I not tell thee not to touch _that_
rick. I knew----.” Here he stopped short in confusion, perceiving that
he had already said enough to raise the suspicions of those who had
heard him.

The Jurats immediately gave orders to stay the execution. The matter
was submitted to a searching investigation, and resulted in a full
exposure of the Bailiff’s nefarious plot. Thereupon Gaultier de la
Salle was sentenced to suffer the same punishment that he had intended
for the innocent Massy, and his estate was declared to be confiscated
to the King, since which time it has borne the appellation of “La
Ville-au-Roi.” It is said that he was hanged at a spot in the parish
of St. Andrew’s, where, until the last century, executions[125]
usually took place, and that, on his way to the gibbet, he stopped and
received the Holy Sacrament at the foot of a cross, which, though long
destroyed, has given its name to the locality “La Croix au Baillif.”
An old lane bounding the land of the Ville-au-Roi on the north, and
which was closed in the early part of last century, when the present
high road was cut, bore the singular name of “La Rue de l’Ombre
de la Mort.” It had naturally an evil reputation as the resort of
phantoms and hobgoblins, and even in the present day it is with fear
and trembling that the belated peasant in returning from town passes
the avenue of aged elms that leads up to the ruined mansion of the
iniquitous judge.

Many will tell you how, at the witching hour of night, they have seen
a huge, headless black dog rush out and brush past them, and how those
who have been bold enough to strike at the phantom might as well have
beaten the air, for their cudgel met with no resistance from anything
corporeal. No one doubts that it is the unquiet spirit of Gaultier de
la Salle, doomed to wander till the great day of judgment around the
field for the sake of which he was led into such deadly sin, happy
even if so dreadful a penance could expiate his guilt.

[122] See note on page 245.

[123] EDITOR’S NOTE.--To this day one of the fields on the adjoining
estate of “Le Mont Durant,” belonging to Colonel de Guérin, bears the
name of “Petite Ville.”

[124] EDITOR’S NOTES.--There is documentary evidence proving that in
the early part of the fifteenth century the “Ville au Roi” estate
belonged to John Thiault, Jurat of the Royal Court. He died, leaving
three daughters, of whom the eldest married Perrin Careye, and thus
brought these lands into the Carey family, where they remained until
the year 1570, when Collette Careye, great, great grand-daughter of
Perrin Careye, married Guillaume De Beauvoir, and received the Ville au
Roi estate as her share of her father’s property. The property did not
remain long in the possession of the De Beauvoir family, as we find,
September 24, 1636, “Monsieur Jean de la Marche, ministre,” its owner,
“à cause d’Ester De Beauvoir, sa femme, fille de Collette Careye.”

The Reverend John de la Marche, Rector of St. Andrew’s and subsequently
of the Town parish, married Esther, daughter of William de Beauvoir and
Collette Careye, January 24th, 1616.

[125] The field at St. Andrew’s where the executions took place was
called “Les Galères,” and near it is a lane leading to a water-mill,
called “Moulin de L’Échelle,” because the miller had, for his tenure,
to provide the ladder for the executions.

There is a small piece of land, just off the road which passes the
Monnaie, and leads from the Bailiff’s Cross Road to the Ecluse Corbin,
which is known as “Le Friquet du Gibet.”


In the Record Office exists (Assize Roll No. 1165, 17 Edward II.,
1323), a petition of “Cecilia, who was wife of Walter de la Sale,” for
restitution of lands and rentes bought in their name and in that of
their children, in the parishes of St. Peter Port and St. Andrew’s;
“and that these tenements,--on account of the death of the said Walter,
who was judicially executed last criminal assizes, now three years
past, before Peter Le Marchant, then Bailiff of the Island,--had been
seized by the King.… Upon the inquisition of 12 men of the parish of
St. Peter Port, and 12 men of the parish of St. Andrew’s, who depose
upon their oath, that the aforesaid Walter was condemned before Peter
Le Marchant, Bailiff of the aforesaid Island, for the murder of Ranulph
Vautier[126], three years ago. An inquisition was made, and on account
of the said murder, the said lands were seized into the King’s hands,
and for this cause, and no other, are still detained.… A day given to
the said Cecilia for the hearing of her case at Jersey, on which day
the aforesaid Cecilia came, and it is determined that the King removes
his hand (_i.e._, restores the land), and that from henceforth she has

The British Museum contains a document, (Add: Ch: 19809) which gives
further particulars of “la peticion Cecile qui fut fame Gaultier de la
Salle,” she claiming the lands, etc., as having been bought with her
money “et disante que l’avant dit son mari vint en lylle desus dicte
sans nul bien fors son corps.” From this document it appears that
Cecilia and her husband built the house, presumably that now known
as “La Ville-au-Roi,” for she claims “une meson séante en la ville
de Saint Pierre Port, de laquelle la place fut fiefeye de Jourdan et
de Johan des Maons … et que du mariage de la dicte Cecile ovecques
autres biens pourchaciez par yceluy mariage, fistent la dicte meson.” …
Signed at St. Peter Port, 10th of October, 1323, before Geoffrey de la
[Hou]gue Guillaume Karupel, Richart Toullay, Guion Nicolle, Renouf de
Vic, Henri de la [Mule][127], Guillaume le Genne, Johan Fale, Ranulph
leMoigne, de Saint Pierre Port, and Radulph de Beaucamp, Jurats of the
King’s Court.

The Assize Roll of 32 Edward I (1304), mentions the murder of Brother
John del Espin, of the Priory of Lyhou, by Ranulph Vautier and
Guillaume Lenginour, who, after having taken refuge in the Church
of St. Sampson, and abjured the Islands, were pardoned by the King.
Guillaume L’Enginour seems to have been subsequently Gaultier de la
Salle’s accomplice in the murder of Ranulph Gautier, for the “Lettres
Closes” of 1321, mention the restoration of lands to “Guillaume
L’Enginour demeurant accusé de la mort de Ranulphe Gautier, tué dit on
criminellement, et du vol d’un anneau d’argent au même Ranulphe, et
d’un florin d’or à John de Souslemont, Chapelain”; he being willing to
stand his trial when called upon.

Among the “Ancient Petitions” No. 4345 contains a request from John
du Vivier, Thomas d’Estefeld, and Philip de Vincheles of Guernsey and
Jersey, “for protection from the friends of Gaultier de la Salle, his
wife, his son, and his relations, who threaten them because he was
hanged for the murder of Renouf Gautier, murdered in the Castle of
Guernsey, by his acquaintances and others who abjured (the Islands),
for this deed, such as Master William le Enginour, John Justice, and
Christian Hert”.…

The Calendars of Patent Rolls for the years 1313-14, contain mentions
of “Protections” for “Walter de la Salle, clerk” to “the islands
of Gerneseye and Jereseye,” and in the Assize Roll of 1319, he is
described as “Minister” of Otho de Grandison, then Governor of the

A Ranulph Gautier was one time bailiff to Otho de Grandison, so the
feud between the two may have been of long standing. Gaultier de la
Salle was probably a member of one of the many Anglo-Norman families
then connected with the Channel Islands. His wife Cecilia was evidently
a Guernseywoman, and part of their land in St. Andrew’s parish was
inherited from Havise, his wife’s mother. There is reason to believe
that he was the son of a Robert de la Salle, and Agnes his wife, who
were landowners in England in the early part of the 14th Century; his
son, Nicholas, was King’s Receiver to Edward III., in 1372-3.

It is not possible to absolutely locate the lands held by Gaultier de
la Salle, but in a British Museum MS. (Clarence Hopper) is quoted a
document, then in the Chapter House, Westminster, shewing that part
of the “Eschaet” of “Galter de Sale” was the “Clos au Botiller,”
which particular “Clos” has been identified as part of the territory
now known as Le Vauquiédor, and in the petition of Cecilia, widow of
Gaultier, she mentions lands bought from “Guillaume et Richard le
Hubie.” Both the Hubits Lanes and the Vauquiédor estate adjoin that of
the Ville-au-Roi, the traditionary seat of Gaultier de la Salle.

_From documents kindly lent me by Lord de Saumarez, Colonel J. H. C.
Carey and Colonel de Guérin._

[126] He seems to have been called “Vautier” or “Gautier”

[127] Letters illegible, but have been supplied from the “Second Report
of Commissioners (Guernsey)”, p. 303, viz., Names of Officials 5 Ed.


At no great distance from the thriving village of St. Sampson’s, which,
thanks to its commodious harbour, the neighbouring granite quarries,
and an extensive trade in stone carried on there, bids fair to become a
town, stands what was formerly the mansion of a considerable branch of
the Le Marchant family,[128] one of the most ancient and influential in
the Channel Archipelago. It is known as “Les Grentmaisons,” the name of
a family that has been extinct for some centuries, but which possessed
lands in this part of the island. The house is situated on the high
road leading from St. Sampson’s to the town of St. Peter Port, and,
although surrounded at the present time on all sides, was, at the
beginning of the present century, far removed from any dwelling--none
indeed being then in sight but those of the town, distant at least two

At that time the proprietor, who possessed a very handsome dwelling in
St. Peter Port, only inhabited the house of the Grentmaisons during the
summer months; and in the winter it was closed and left under the care
of a servant, who lived in one of the dependencies. How it had come
to acquire the evil reputation of being haunted, or how long it was
supposed to have been so, no one could tell, but that it was the resort
of troubled spirits no one could doubt. Fearful noises were heard, and
lights that could not be accounted for were seen in its deserted rooms
during the long winter nights; and belated wayfarers were affrighted
by the apparition of a horrible beast, with large glaring eyes, and
long shaggy hair trailing down to the ground, which took its nightly
rambles round the ancient walls, and seemed to guard the house from

[128] EDITOR’S NOTE.--It was bought by the Reverend Thomas Le Marchant,
Rector of St. Sampson’s parish, August the sixth, 1655.

[129] From Mr. Denys Corbet.


The western coast of Guernsey, abounding in sunken reefs stretching
far out to sea, and exposed to the full force of the Atlantic waves,
was, before the establishment of a lighthouse on the Hanois rocks, most
dangerous to shipping coming up Channel, and many a gallant vessel,
with all its crew, has struck on some hidden danger and gone down in
deep water, leaving no traces but what the waves might throw up some
days afterwards on the shore, in the form of detached portions of the
wreck and cargo, or the dead bodies of the hapless mariners.

The inhabitants of this inhospitable coast are a rugged race of hardy
fishermen, for the most part experienced pilots, who know every rock
for miles round, not one of which is without its distinguishing name.
As might be expected, they are close observers of the weather, and of
every sign that may indicate a coming storm. Those in the neighbourhood
of L’Érée and Rocquaine declare that they are warned of an approaching
tempest by a peculiar bright light which appears some time before in
the south-west, and also by a loud roaring, like that of a large animal
in great pain, which appears to proceed from a rock known by the name
of “La Pendue.” They do not attempt to account for this noise, but
speak of it as “La Bête de la Pendue.”[130]

[130] From Mrs. Savidan and Mrs. Sarre.

According to Mr. Métivier there is also, in the neighbourhood of Lihou,
a rock called “Sanbule,” a very dangerous place for ships, and sailors
say that underneath this rock can be plainly heard the bellowing of a
bull. It is conjectured that the “bule” in the name of this cliff is
from the English “bull” or the Swedish “bulla,” and _san_, from the
French _saint_, and that it points to some now-forgotten legend about a
holy bull.--See Clarke’s _Guernsey Magazine_, September, 1880.


In the parish of St. Pierre-du-Bois, there is a house and estate known
by the name of Le Laurier, where loaves are distributed to the poor
on Christmas Eve and on Good Friday. Nothing certain is known of the
origin of this dole, the title-deeds of the property merely containing
the following item in the enumeration of the ground-rents due on
it:--“_Aux Pauvres de la ditte Paroisse de Saint Pierre-du-Bois,
un quartier de froment de rente, à être distribué en pain aux dits
pauvres, à deux diverses fois; savoir, deux boisseaux, partie du
dit quartier à Noel, et les deux autres boisseaux à Pâques, comme

Tradition assigns two very different reasons for the institution of
this charity, one of which is highly probable. It is that, at some
remote period of which all memory is now lost, the house took fire, and
the proprietor made a vow that if the fire could be extinguished he
would charge his estate with an annual rent, to be given to the poor
in bread. His prayer was answered, the fire yielding to the efforts of
those who were attempting to put it out, as if by miracle, and the dole
was instituted in conformity with the vow.

The other tradition, which, as it falls into the domain of the
supernatural is, of course, a greater favourite with the people, is
to the following effect. In times past, long before the memory of the
oldest inhabitants of the parish, the house, for some undefined reason,
but connected, it is surmised, with some unknown crime of a former
proprietor, was haunted from Christmas Eve to Easter by a hideous
spectre in the form of a black beast like a calf, but as large as an
ox. On Christmas Eve the inmates of the house were in the habit of
leaving the front and back doors open, and at midnight precisely the
spectre would pass through.

At last, however, the proprietor of the estate bethought himself of
calling in the aid of the clergy, in hopes that by their powerful
help the visits of this unwelcome guest might be put an end to. Their
prayers and exorcisms soon prevailed in quieting the phantom, and, by
their advice, the annual distribution of the loaves to the poor was

It is related, however, that on one occasion the owner of the house,
instigated by his wife, an avaricious, grasping creature, who would
sooner have seen all the poor in the parish die of hunger than bestow
a crust on them, withheld the accustomed dole. He paid dear for it,
for the house was once more visited by the spectre, which this time
made its appearance in the form of a gigantic black sow, accompanied
by a numerous litter of pigs, all grunting and clamouring for food, as
if they had not eaten for a week. The master of the house was fain to
purchase peace by restoring to the poor their rights, but it is said
that to her dying day his wife never recovered from the impression this
supernatural visit made upon her.

There is a tradition also that at one time a report having been spread
abroad that the accustomed alms would no longer be distributed, the
poor, who were in the habit of receiving it, assembled at night before
the house, formed themselves into a procession, and marched through,
entering by the front door, and passing out at the back. The mistress
of the house was watching their proceedings from behind the door, and
was seen by one of the poor women, who addressed her companion, walking
by her side, in these words:--

    _“Et chette-chin, est-alle des nôtes?”_

    (And that woman there, is she one of us?)

To which the following answer was returned:--

    _“Oh! Nennin! quer sa liette nous l’y ôte.”_

    (Oh! No! for her snood proves it.)

The “liette” was the riband or snood with which, in days gone by, the
cap was fastened on the head, and was apparently a bit of finery quite
beyond the reach of the poor who had assembled on this occasion, and
only likely to be seen on the head-gear of a person in tolerably easy

[131] Partly from John de Garis, Esq., and partly from Mrs. Savidan.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--This story was also told to Miss Le Pelley by an old
woman in St. Peter’s in 1896.


A number of young men had met together one evening in search of
amusement. One of the party proposed going to a place at some
distance, where they were likely to fall in with others as fond of
fun as themselves, but, not choosing to fatigue themselves with
walking, they determined on using some of their neighbours’ horses. A
good-looking white horse was grazing hard by in a meadow. One of the
party approached, caught, and mounted him. Another got up behind, but
still there seemed room for a third: at last, to shorten the story,
the whole party, in number above a dozen, found accommodation on the
horse’s back, but, no sooner were they all well seated, than he set off
at full gallop, and, after carrying them through brambles and briers,
over hedges and ditches, to a considerable distance, deposited them all
in the most muddy marsh he could find, and disappeared, leaving them to
find their way home at midnight, in the best way they could.[132]

[132] From Rachel Du Port.

See Keightley’s _Fairy Mythology_, Vol. II., p. 294. _La Normandie
Romanesque_, p. 128. _Folk-Lore Journal_, Vol. I., p. 292.


In _Notions Historiques sur les Côtes-du-Nord_, by M. Habasque, there
is mentioned a goblin called _Mourioche_, and it is said “Mourioche
qui revêt toutes les formes; Mourioche, la monture du diable, qui vole
avec la rapidité de l’éclair, qui parsément des points lumineux, et
_qui s’allonge tant que l’on veut, assez du moins pour porter quatre

“Cinq jeunes filles partirent un soir pour aller chercher un des
chevaux de la ferme qui était dans la prairie. L’une d’elles monta
sur le dos de la bête; puis une seconde; alors le cheval s’allongea,
et il y eut place pour la troisième, et les cinq filles finirent par
s’asseoir sur son dos qui s’allongeait à mesure. La monture des filles
se mit en marche, et quand elle fut arrivée au milieu du ruisseau, elle
disparut comme si elle s’était évanouie en fumée, et laissa les filles
tomber dans l’eau. Le vrai cheval était déjà rendu à la porte de son
écurie.”--_Traditions et Superstitions de La Haute Bretagne_, Tome II.,
p. 66.


One of the most interesting old mansions in Guernsey is that of La
Haye du Puits, in the parish of Le Castel, with its tower rising above
the roof, its handsome “porte cochère” and its pepper box turrets.
It has the appearance of having been built early in the sixteenth
century, and it is known to have been, in the reign of Henry VIII., the
residence of a family of considerable local antiquity and importance,
of the name of Henry, who had also property in Salisbury, where they
were known by the anglicised form of their patronymic, Harris. It
passed from their possession into that of the Le Marchant family, to
one of whom it still belongs, in the reign of James II.[133] It is
just one of those sort of places that one might expect to find some
legendary tale or old superstition attached to; but we are not aware
that either La Haye du Puits, or the neighbouring estate of St. George,
claims any special property in the spectral appearance, which, from
time to time, is seen at Le Mont au Deval--a steep ascent over which
the high road between the two properties passes. Persons travelling at
night along this road, which in some parts is thickly overshadowed with
trees, have occasionally met with a funeral procession, preceded, as
is customary in Guernsey, by a clergyman and his attendant clerk, and
composed of the usual carriers, pall bearers, mourners, and attendant
friends. The cortège takes its mournful way in perfect silence--and
well it may--for, of the many persons who compose it, not one is the
bearer of a head!

[Illustration: “Le Coin de la Biche,” St. Martin’s.]

There are those, it is said, who affirm to having met it, but it
is looked upon as of evil augury. The death of some one in the
neighbourhood, or of some member of the family of the person who has
the misfortune to fall in with it, is believed to follow close upon the
appearance of the headless company.[134]

[133] EDITOR’S NOTE.--It was bought by Joshua Le Marchant from the
heirs of Pierre Henry, June 3rd, 1674.

[134] From Mr. Denys Corbet.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--In Mr. Paul Sebillot’s _Traditions et Superstitions
de la Haute Bretagne_, Tome I., p. 270, we meet with nearly the same
superstition. “Un jour un homme de la Ruèe était à dire ses prières.
Il vit un enterrement qui passait à quelque distance de lui; un homme
portait la croix, puis venait la chasse, les prêtres et des hommes.
Huit jours après, un homme qui était né à la Ruèe mourut, et son
enterrement eut lieu comme celui que l’homme avait vu.”


There is a lane leading from the post-box at the “Carrefour David,”
on the Saints’ Bay Road to “La Marette,” at the Villette, which was
formerly supposed to be haunted by a spectre in the form of an enormous

As you go along the lane to the Villette, you will see on your right
hand side a triangular corner overgrown with weeds and brambles, and,
although between two fields, not included in either. This corner is
known as “Le Coin de la Biche”--the Corner of the Nanny Goat.

Tradition marks it as one of the proposed sites for St. Martin’s
Church, but, they say, when the building was commenced, materials,
tools, etc., were moved by unknown hands, in the course of the night,
to La Beilleuse, its present site, and all attempts to build it there
had to be abandoned. Ever since then this corner has borne a bad
reputation, and none of the neighbouring proprietors will include it in
their fields for fear of ill-luck.

One evening, towards the close of the last century, Mr. Mauger, of
the Villette, and some other men, were returning home from vraiking
at Saints’ Bay. In those days, the road leading to the bay was a
water-lane with a very narrow footway and a deep rocky channel, down
which the water rushed to the sea. High hedges were on either side,
bordered with trees, so that it was a laborious journey for carts to
go up and down. When the present road was made, the trees were cut
down, and the earth from the hedges used to fill up the waterway.
Accordingly, this cart had harnessed to it three oxen and two horses,
but even then progress was slow, and it was getting late as they turned
into the lane. As they did so, one man said to the other:--

“_Creyous que nous verrons la biche?_”

(“Do you think we shall see the goat?”)

“_Si nous la veyons alle nous f’ra pàs d’mà._”

(“If we see her, she can do us no harm!”)

was the reply. Almost as he spoke out came a great hairy grey
nanny-goat from her corner, and rested her forelegs against the back
of the cart. The oxen tugged, the horses pulled, lashed on by the
terrified men, who were longing to get out of the lane. But nothing
could move the cart while the great beast stood there with her paws
on the cart and looked at them. So they finally had to unharness the
cattle, and lead them on to the Villette, and leave the cart with all
the vraic in it in the lane.

Next morning they brought one ox and one horse, who, “La Biche” being
gone, easily pulled the cart home, this part of the country being on
level ground.

Another night, Mr. Mauger, of Saints’, wanting to go and see his
brother at the Villette, took the short cut, which is a tiny lane
next to a little shop at the top of the Icart-road, and which comes
out nearly opposite “Le Coin de la Biche.” He was carrying a torch of
“gllic” (glui[135]--thick straw and resin), and felt that, thus armed,
nothing could attack him. As he turned into the lane, he heard the
clank of a chain, and, looking down, he saw a large brown beast about
the size of a small calf, with enormous red eyes, which it kept fixed
on him, walking by his side. He hurried on, and tried by walking in
the middle of the lane not to give it room to pass (the lane is barely
three feet wide), but it was always there, on the footpath, keeping
step with him. When he turned into the broader lane, where its own
special “corner” is, it turned away, and he hurried on to the Villette.
Determined not to give in to his cowardice, he came home the same
way, and there where it had left him was the beast waiting for him.
It walked with him, on his other hand this time, still keeping to the
footpath, till he got into the Icart-road, where it disappeared.

These stories were told me in 1896 by Mrs. Le Patourel, of St.
Martin’s, who was a Miss Mauger, of Saints’, and she was told them by
a relative of hers who was a daughter of the Mr. Mauger to whom these
incidents happened. She declared that they were absolutely true.

Our coachman, whose father lived in the neighbourhood at “Les Pages,”
just above Petit Bôt, told me that his father would never let him go
along that lane after dark, and would never go himself, for fear of “La
Biche,” and many other inhabitants of St. Martin’s tell the same story.

Another old man, belonging to one of the most respectable families
in the parish, and who had himself been churchwarden for eleven
years, told me that in his youth he lived in the neighbourhood of the
Villette, and one evening his sister, then a strong young girl of
sixteen, rushed in saying she had seen “La Biche.” The shock was so
great that she took to her bed and died shortly afterwards.

[135] These torches of “glui” were called “des Brandons.”


The Devil.

    “The Prince of Darkness is a gentleman.”


                          “Tis a history
    Handed from ages down; a nurse’s tale,
    Which children open-eyed and mouth’d devour,
    And thus, as garrulous ignorance relates,
    We learn it, and believe.”

Various allusions to his Satanic Majesty have already appeared in these
pages. He has left his footprints on various rocks; he carried away
bodily Jean Vivian, Vavasseur de St. Michel; he fought with St. Patrick
at the Hougue Patris; and he enticed Duke Richard in the form of a
beautiful woman. He is of course head of the fraternity of wizards and
witches, and many references to him occur in all the legends dealing
with witchcraft, but there are a few stories dealing with him “in
propriâ personâ,” and these are collected in the following chapter.

It may be as well to state that his usual manifestation is believed
to be in the form of a huge black cat. He takes this shape apparently
when he wishes to pass incognito. Black cats in general are looked upon
with a suspicious eye, but if seen in the house of anyone supposed to
be addicted to magical arts, there is no doubt of their being imps of


It was Midsummer Day, the sun was shining brightly, and the country
people were hastening in their holiday apparel to the spot where the
militia were ordered to muster for a review, when an unfortunate
country girl was ordered by her master to weed a large field of
parsnips. He promised her that when her task was accomplished she
should be allowed the rest of the day to amuse herself; but she soon
discovered that this promise meant nothing, for that her utmost
exertions would not suffice to finish the allotted work before the
evening should close in. She commenced her task with a heavy heart,
and often lifted her head as she heard the joyous laugh of the groups
of lads and lasses as they passed along the high road on their way to
the place of rendezvous. One party followed another, and as they became
less frequent, the poor girl lost patience. Her hopes of taking any
share in the amusements of the day were nearly at an end. At last she
gave utterance to her thoughts, and wished aloud for assistance, were
it even from the Devil himself.

Scarcely had she expressed this unhallowed wish, when she thought she
heard a slight noise behind her, and, on looking round, saw a gentleman
dressed entirely in black, who in the kindest manner immediately
addressed her and enquired why she looked so sad, and how it was she
was not merry-making with her companions.

“Alas!” she answered, “I must weed the whole of this field before I am

“Oh,” said he, “is that all? Only promise me the first knot you tie
to-morrow morning and I will get your task performed.”

The girl easily agreed to these terms, and the gentleman departed.

She resumed her work, but was astonished to perceive that invisible
hands were employed in every part of the field, tearing up the weeds
and gathering them in bundles. In a very short time the ground was
clear, and she went to announce it to her master, who, astonished
at the rapidity with which she had executed his orders, gave her
permission to spend the rest of the day in amusement.

She went accordingly to the review, and from thence to the “Son,”[136]
where she danced the greater part of the evening. As night came on,
however, she began to reflect on the adventures of the morning, and to
consider that the assistance which she had accepted was most probably
not of a very holy nature, and that something more might be meant
by the promise which she had made than the mere words implied. She
returned home and retired to her bed, but was unable to compose herself
to sleep. The more she thought of what she had done the more uneasy did
she feel.

At last, in her perplexity, she resolved to rise immediately and seek
advice from the Rector of the parish. The worthy clergyman was much
alarmed at this open attack made by Satan on one of his flock, but bade
her fear nothing, but put her trust in Heaven, go home, and spend the
remainder of the night in prayer and repentance, and as soon as morning
dawned, before she fastened a single knot, to go to the barn, taking
her Bible with her, and, praying without ceasing, there bind up a
sheaf of barley straw.

The girl did as she was advised, and scarcely had she knotted the wisp
of straw, when the gentleman in black stood at her side. His looks and
voice were no longer so mild and prepossessing as they had been the
day before, and the poor maiden, no longer doubting as to the infernal
character of the stranger, was near fainting from fright. She was soon
reassured, however, when she saw the good minister enter the barn, who,
in God’s name, bade Satan avaunt. The Devil was not proof against this
solemn adjuration, but disappeared with a loud noise, and the poor
girl, full of gratitude for her miraculous escape, made a solemn vow
to avoid for the future all those places of resort and merry-makings,
by which Satan endeavours to tempt the unwary into sin, and to live
contentedly thenceforward in that station of life which Providence had
allotted to her.[137]

[136] The old name for the village dances, generally held in some
tavern to the sound of that obsolete instrument, the “chifournie.”

[137] From Miss Louisa Lane.

In the tales of this nature related in Lower Brittany, the soul that is
sold to the evil one is always rescued by the advice or intercession of
a holy hermit or priest, see Luzel’s _Veillies Bretonnes_, p. 132.

“Quand le diable paraît, il est généralement vêtu de couleur sombre, et
souvent il ressemblerait exactement à une “manière de monsieur” ou à
un gros fermier, si on ne regardait ses pieds, dont l’un au moins est
déformé et semblable à un sabot de cheval. Parfois aussi il a des gants
de cuir ou des griffes pointues. On lui prête aussi un habillement
tout rouge, et le cheval qu’il monte est tout noir.”--_Traditions et
Superstitions de la Haute Bretagne_, Tome I., p. 179.


It is good to possess knowledge, but, like all other possessions,
the benefit to be derived from it depends on the uses to which it
is applied, and there is no doubt that it exposes the possessor to
temptations which the more ignorant and simple-minded escape--to say
nothing of the envy and calumny which often follow the man who by his
superior acquirements, rises above the vulgar herd.

In the past century, the parish of St. Michel du Valle was fortunate in
having secured the services of a man of more than ordinary attainments
as its schoolmaster. Pallot was no common character, and his studious
and retiring habits were but little appreciated by the surrounding
farmers. They wondered at his superior knowledge, but could not
understand his shutting himself up in his schoolroom after the labours
of the day were over. In their opinion it would have been far more wise
and natural for him to follow the example of his scholars, and throw
aside his books until the next day. It was known that his studies were
often prolonged far into the night, and, little by little, it came to
be whispered about that these studies were of a nature that could not
bear the light of day, and, in short, that the schoolmaster was in
league with the powers of darkness. Pallot felt hurt at the imputation,
but at the same time somewhat flattered at the deference paid him by
his ignorant neighbours.

“Knowledge puffeth up,” and of all pride the pride of intellect is the
most dangerous, and exposes the man who gives way to it to the greatest
temptation. Satan knows well how to make use of the opportunities which
are afforded him to extend his empire and work the ruin of souls. The
schoolmaster--one whose influence over the youth of the parish was
so great--was a prize worth securing, and the great enemy of mankind
laid siege to him in due form. His approaches were made with skill,
but with little or no success. At last he determined on a desperate
expedient--that of a personal interview. The conference lasted for some
hours, the most tempting offers were made, but Pallot, now thoroughly
on his guard, was firm, and had grace to resist. He had too much regard
for his soul to yield in anything to the enemy, and Satan, out of
patience, rushed out of the schoolroom, carrying off with him the gate
of the inclosure, which was found next morning on a large hawthorn bush
on the summit of the Hougue Juas.

[Illustration: “Looking up Fountain Street, 1825.”]

The thorn, which was previously green and flourishing, was blasted as
if struck by lightning, and, although not killed, never recovered its
former beauty, but retained for ever afterwards the same scathed and
withered look.[138]

[138] From Miss Harriet Chepmell.


It is related that in days long past there lived in the vicinity of the
Roque Balan, at L’Ancresse, a man of very superior acquirements. It is
true that he was commonly suspected of knowing more than was altogether
lawful, but as he ostensibly gained his living by instructing the youth
of the parish, and as there was no doubt that his scholars profited by
his teaching, the neighbouring farmers made no hesitation in sending
their sons to him. Among his pupils was one lad of whom he was justly
proud, for a prying curiosity and love of acquiring knowledge, joined
to a retentive memory and a sharp intellect, had made the boy, in the
opinion of many, almost a match for his master. Curiosity and a love of
acquiring knowledge may be good in themselves, but they can be carried
too far, and this proved to be the case with the young scholar.

He had noticed some old-looking tomes which his preceptor kept always
carefully locked up in an old carved oak chest, and had long felt
most anxious to pry into their contents. The clearest hints he could
give, and even the openly-expressed wish to be allowed to peruse the
hidden volumes, met with no response on the part of his teacher. He
determined to watch his opportunity, and to get a sight, by hook or
by crook, of the contents of the mysterious books, and one day, when
the master had been called away suddenly to make the will of a dying
man, and had inadvertently left his keys behind him, the youth seized
on them, and, as soon as his back was turned, proceeded to examine the
contents of the chest. He lifted one of the ponderous tomes, opened it
at hazard, and commenced to read out aloud the first passage which met
his eye. Unfortunately this proved to be the spell by which the Prince
of Darkness can be summoned to this upper world to do the bidding of
his votaries. Great was the terror of the indiscreet youngster when
a sudden violent storm arose, which went on increasing in intensity,
and Satan in person appeared before him and demanded what he wanted of
him. The unfortunate boy knew not what answer to make, nor what task
to impose on the demon to get rid of him at least for a time, until
the return of the master. Pallot, who was already at some distance
from home, hastened back, and entered the house just at the moment
when Satan, tired of waiting and enraged at having been unnecessarily
called up, had seized on the inquisitive scholar and was on the point
of flying off with him. The master, at a glance, perceived how matters
stood, and, uttering a hasty spell, arrested the demon in his course.
He then proceeded to set him a task, promising him that if he succeeded
in accomplishing it before sunset he should be at liberty to carry off
his prey.

The Devil made some difficulty in acceding to these terms, but the
schoolmaster, determined, if possible, to save his unfortunate pupil,
was firm, and not to be influenced either by the threats or cajoleries
of the arch-fiend. He caught up a peck-measure containing peas, and
scattered them on the floor, handing at the same time a three-pronged
pitch-fork to the Devil, and ordering him with that instrument to throw
the peas over the door-hatch into the court-yard.

Satan took the fork and set to work with right good will, but soon
found that it was labour in vain. Not one pea could he raise from the
floor. The sun was fast sinking below the horizon. As the last portion
of its orb disappeared beneath the western wave, the enraged and
disappointed demon wrenched the door-hatch off its hinges and cast it
far away in the direction of Les Landes. There it was found the next
morning on a thorn-bush, which had been green and flourishing the day
before, but which, since that time, is blasted and flattened almost to
the level of the ground, though it still lives and is pointed out as a
proof of the truth of this history.[139]

[139] From Sieur Henry Bisson.

This incident is found in a Breton legend, as told by Dr. Alfred
Fouquet in his work _Légendes, Contes, et Chansons Populaires du
Morbihan_, apropos of the first occupant of the lands on which the
Château de Herlean was afterwards built. Satan undertook to be the
servant of a peasant as long as work could be found for him to do.
He accomplished the most difficult tasks with the greatest ease. At
last the peasant emptied a sack of millet into the court-yard and
ordered Satan to pitch it up to him in the granary with a hay-fork. He
acknowledged his inability and was ignominiously dismissed.

A somewhat similar story is also told in _Notes and Queries_. The Vicar
of a certain Devonshire parish was a diligent student of the black art,
and possessed a large collection of mysterious books and MSS. During
his absence at church, one of his servants entered his study, and,
finding a large volume open on the desk, imprudently began to read it
aloud. He had scarcely read half a page when the sky became dark and
a great wind shook the house violently. Still he read on, and in the
midst of the storm the doors flew open and a black hen and chickens
came into the room. They were of the ordinary size when they first
appeared, but gradually became larger and larger, until the hen was of
the bigness of a good-size ox. At this point, the Vicar (in the church)
suddenly closed his discourse and dismissed his congregation, saying
he was wanted at home and hoped he might arrive there in time. When he
entered the chamber, the hen was already touching the ceiling. But he
threw down a bag of rice which stood ready in the corner, and, whilst
the hen and chickens were busily picking up the grains, the Vicar had
time to reverse the spell.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--This story is still believed. It was told me by Miss
Falla in 1896.


The race of journeymen tailors and shoemakers, hired by the day to
make up, at the houses of their employers, the materials that have
been provided beforehand, or to patch and mend the clothes and shoes
requiring repairs, is not yet quite extinct in the rural districts of
Guernsey; although the facility of access to the town of St. Peter
Port, afforded by the excellent roads which intersect the island in all
directions, and the superior make and fashion of the articles supplied
by the tradesmen in town,--to say nothing of the ready-made clothing so
generally used in the present day--have had the effect of considerably
diminishing the number of men who gain their living in this way.
Although we have no knowledge that the journeyman tailor was ever the
important character here that he is in Brittany and even in Normandy,
where he is sometimes employed in the delicate office of negotiating
marriages between the families of distant hamlets, and where he is
often the sole means of circulating the news of the outer world, or
carrying the gossiping tales of one village to another, yet even here
his presence for a day or two in a house is looked forward to with
pleasure as a break in the monotony of the daily family routine; and if
he should chance to be what the French call “un farceur,” or teller of
good stories, he is doubly welcome.

It must be acknowledged that, as a rule, this class of men are not
supposed to be very particular as to the exact truth of the stories
they put in circulation, and that some of them would be better members
of society, if, on quitting their work, they were to go straight home,
without thinking it a part of their duty to turn into every house where
drink is sold, that they may chance to fall in with on their way.

The hero of the following adventure, if fame does not belie him, is one
of this sort, and, although he affirms the truth of the story, there is
no corroborative evidence that it is anything more than the dream of a
drunken man.

It appeared in a letter from a correspondent to the _Gazette de
Guernesey_ of the 22nd December, 1873, and is translated literally,
omitting only the writer’s sensible remarks on the folly and simplicity
of those who could give credence to such an invention, and on the
superstition which, in spite of education, is still so prevalent among
the lower orders. There is no doubt that the story was widely spread
and believed in the country, and that the tailor, when questioned about
it, asserts it to be true.

He is an inhabitant of the parish of Torteval, and a Guernseyman born
and bred, although bearing a name which shews that his family came
originally from another country. One evening, as he was returning from
his work, a certain tailor, who shall be nameless, and who bears but an
indifferent character, met with an adventure which was far from being
agreeable. A man, dressed entirely in black, of a sinister aspect, and
mounted on a black horse, met him on his way. This strange looking
individual stopped the tailor, and the following conversation took

“Hallo, you’re a tailor, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir, at your service,” answered the tailor, somewhat alarmed.

“Then I wish you to make me a pair of trousers, which I will come and
fetch at your house to-morrow at noon.” And, so saying, the stranger
went on his way.

“But, sir,” cried the tailor, running after him, “You’ve forgotten to
let me take your measure.”

“Bah! what does that matter?”

“But, sir, I shall never be able to fit you if I’ve not got your

“Well then, take it,” said the gentleman in black, dismounting from his
horse. “There!”

But imagine the poor tailor’s dismay! There were no legs to be seen. Do
what he would, it was impossible to take a proper measure for trousers
under such circumstances. A horrible suspicion flashed through his

“It must be the Devil,” thought he to himself. “How shall I get rid of

Alarmed, horrified, trembling in all his limbs, feeling his legs giving
way under him, our poor tailor only got out of the scrape by stammering
out these few words--

“Well, sir, your trousers shall be ready to-morrow at noon.”

“Look to yourself if they are not ready. I shall come and fetch them
at your house,” answered the dark-visaged and black-coated individual,
leaping on his horse and going on his way.

Seized with uncontrollable fear, it is said that the tailor went
straight to the Rector of his parish, and told him the whole of his
adventure. The good parson advised him to make the trousers, and
promised him that he would not fail to be with him the next day to be
witness to the delivery of them. Accordingly, the next day, at the hour
appointed, and, but a few minutes after the arrival of the clergyman,
who was beforehand with him, the Devil knocked at the tailor’s door to
claim the trousers; and the hero of our tale, in delivering them, heard
his Satanic Majesty utter these words--

“If a man of God had not been present in this house, I would have
carried you off also.”


Whatever may be the spread of rationalism in other places, a belief
in the personality of Satan still holds its ground firmly in the
minds of our peasantry. How can it be otherwise when there are those
who, within the last two or three years, have had the rare chance of
seeing him “in propriâ personâ;” and this in a locality which, one
might suppose, would be about the very last that he would be inclined
to honour with his presence? The neighbourhood of L’Erée, it is true,
has never borne a very high character. Everyone knows that from time
immemorial the hill of Catiauroc and the beach of Rocquaine have been
the favourite resort of witches and warlocks, and that their infernal
master holds his court there every Friday night, and, seated in state
on the cromlech which is called “Le Trépied,” receives the homage of
his deluded votaries. But who could suppose that he would leave this
time-honoured haunt to become the inmate of a Methodist Chapel? Such,
however, if we can attach any credit to the statements of the fishermen
and others who inhabit this coast, is undoubtedly the case.

[Illustration: “Looking down Berthelot Street, 1880.”]

Within the last few years the Wesleyans have erected several small
chapels in various parts of the island, and, among others, one near
a place called “Les Adams.” Shortly after the chapel was finished it
began to be whispered about that lights were seen in it at hours of
the night when it was well known that no one was likely to be there.
The light is described by some who had seen it from a distance as if
illuminating the whole of the interior, but some fishermen who were
bold enough to draw near and look in at the windows could see nothing
but a small subdued flame in one corner, which seemed to sink downwards
into the earth. A gentleman of strict veracity, formerly residing
about a mile from the spot, declared that he had frequently seen the
mysterious light. He described it as being of a pale blue colour, and
was convinced that it did not proceed from either candle or lamp. He
had seen it from various points, from the rising ground inland, to the
east of the chapel, and from the low lands lying along the sea-shore
to the west. It seemed to occupy a particular spot in the building,
for the light appeared brightest through one of the windows, and
fainter through all the others. He had observed it on many occasions
immediately after dusk, and at hours when it was most unlikely that
any person would be in the chapel for any improper purpose. On drawing
near, the light always disappeared. The state of the weather or of
the moon seemed to make no difference in it. Curiosity, thus excited,
had to be appeased, and, at last, some of the fishermen ventured to
approach the chapel and peep in at the windows. What they saw they
described as “Le Dain,” the name by which his Satanic Majesty is
designated when it is thought proper to avoid the more offensive
appellation of “Le Guyablle.” Sparks of fire issued from his mouth and
nostrils, the traditional horns and tail seem to have been discerned,
but the cloven feet were hidden by long boots covering the knees, and
which, according to some accounts, were red.

His occupation was as difficult to be accounted for as his presence
in so unusual a place. It was that of dancing and leaping with all
his might and main! Whether the fishermen really saw anything which
their fears magnified into a vision of the wicked one, or whether, for
reasons of their own, they wished to impose upon the credulity of their
neighbours, it is impossible to say. One thing is certain, and that
is that persons of the highest respectability, living in that part of
the country, vouch for the fact of the lights having frequently been
seen in the chapel at hours of the night when it ought not to have been
occupied. It does not seem to have occurred to them that many of the
mariners on this part of the coast are employed at times in carrying
off packages of tobacco to the English and French boats engaged in
smuggling, and that, as a temporary depôt may be sometimes required
for these goods, the chapel may have been selected for the purpose, in
preference to a dwelling house or other private property, the owner of
which, in case of detection, might be subjected to much inconvenience.
But the neighbouring peasants have their own method of explaining these
supernatural appearances.

Some say that they are a judgment on the original founders of the
chapel, who, as it is believed and reported, after having collected
ample subscriptions towards the building, pretended that the funds
were insufficient, and defrauded the workmen whom they had employed
of their just dues. Others say that the original proprietor of the
land on which the chapel is built, was importuned by his wife to make
a free gift of the site, but, being strongly averse to dissent in all
forms, could never be brought by her to consent to the alienation;
but that immediately on the death of the old man, the widow, who,
after a youth spent in frivolity and pleasure, had turned wonderfully
pious in her declining years, took measures to make over the ground to
the dissenters, and, not content with this, squandered on them large
sums of money which ought rightly to have been reserved for her late
husband’s children by a former marriage. The spirit of the departed
could not brook such disregard of his wishes, and such disrespect for
his memory, and manifests his displeasure by haunting the spot of
which his children ought never to have been deprived.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--When in Sark in 1896 I was told by one of the old
Sark men, how a Sark fisherman defeated the Devil. This fisherman was
supposed to be given to witchcraft, and one day he succeeded in raising
the Devil, when Satan appeared and asked him what commands he had for
him. The fisherman had nothing to say. Finally he said, “You must
carry me where I tell you.” They were then on the far end of Little
Sark. So the Devil consented, but on the understanding that when they
reached their destination, the man, in his turn, should do what Satan
commanded. So the man mounted on Satan’s back, and first was carried
across the Coupée. “_Allez plus loin_,” (Go farther) said the man. Then
they went on to the Carrefour, near where the Bel Air Hotel now is.
“_Allez plus loin_,” said the man when Satan stopped for a rest. Then
they reached the Port du Moulin, where the fisherman’s cottage stood.
“_Au nom du Grand Dieu--Arrêtez!_” (In God’s name--Stop!) At that the
Devil had to put him down and fly away shrieking, “for,” as the old man
concluded his story, “he is powerless when God’s name is said.”


Prophetic Warnings and Ghosts.

    “Now there spreaden a rumour that everich night
    The rooms ihaunted been by many a Sprite,
    The Miller avoucheth, and all thereabout
    That they full oft hearen the Hellish Rout,
    Some faine they hear the gingling of Chains,
    And some hath heard the Psautries straines,
    At midnight some the headless Horse i meet,
    And some espien a Corse in a white Sheet;
    And other things, Faye, Elfin and Elfe,
    And shapes that Fear createn to itself.”


    “Et chacun croit fort aisément ce qu’il craint.”

                                    --_La Fontaine._

    “Now I remember those old women’s words
    Who in my youth would tell me winter’s tales
    And speak of sprites and ghosts that glide by night
    About the place where treasure hath been hid.”

                           --_Marlowe’s “Jew of Venice.”_

Prophetic Warnings.

                      “These true shadows.…
    Forerunning thus their bodies, may approve
    That all things to be done, as here we live,
    Are done before all times in th’other life.”


It is a very common belief that events, particularly those of a
melancholy nature, are foreshadowed. Unusual noises in or about a
house, such as cannot easily be accounted for, the howling of a dog,
the crowing of cocks at unaccustomed hours, the hooting of owls, and
many other things are looked upon as warnings of evil to come, or, as
they are locally termed, “_avertissements_.” This term is also applied
to a sort of second-sight, in which a person fancies he sees an image
of himself, or, to make use of a Scotch word, his own “wraith.” This
illusion, arising no doubt from a derangement of the optic nerve
consequent on the weakness produced by ill-health, is considered a sure
forerunner of death. Two instances of this, both occurring towards the
end of the last century, have come to my knowledge. In the one case,
a young gentleman, slowly dying of decline, was seated near a window,
which commanded a view of the avenue leading to the country house
in which he resided. Suddenly he saw a figure, which he recognised
as his own, standing at the corner of a pathway which led into a
cherry-orchard, a favourite resort of his when in health. His sister
was every moment expected to return home from a ride, and, fearing
that her horse might take fright at the apparition, he immediately
dispatched a servant to meet her, and cause her to return to the house
by another way. He died not many hours afterwards.

In the other instance, a young lady, who was known to be very fragile
and delicate, was spending the day at her brother’s country-house. It
was summer, and the room in which she was seated with the other members
of the family looked out on a parterre gay with flowers. Suddenly she
interrupted the conversation which was going on, by exclaiming:--

“How singular! I see myself yonder in the garden gathering flowers.”

Her friends tried to laugh her out of her fancy, but neither ridicule
nor reason prevailed. She persisted in saying that she had seen her own
likeness in the garden. She grew rapidly worse, and before the autumn
was over she passed away.

It occasionally happens that both fruit and blossoms are to be seen at
the same time on apple and pear trees. When this occurs it is believed
to be a sure presage that a death will follow in the family of the
proprietor of the tree within the year.[140]

Great faith is also put in dreams by our country people, as the
following stories will show. They make use of many charms and spells to
invoke certain dreams, and those will be told in a future chapter, but
the following show the belief that exists in the truth of dreams.

During the late war with France many privateers were fitted out. A
man dreamt that if a vessel were sent out to a certain latitude and
longitude, that on a certain day it would meet with a rich prize and
take it. He realised all his property, bought a ship, equipped and
manned it, and sent it out to cruise, in full faith that his dream
would come to pass. Time rolled on, and the ship did not appear. The
man’s friends and neighbours began to jeer at him, but he still felt
confident that all would turn out as he had dreamt. His faith was at
last rewarded, for one day, when all but he had given up any hope of
seeing the vessel again, two vessels were seen in the offing. As they
drew near one was recognised as the missing ship, and the other was
soon made out, by its rig, to be a foreigner. They came safely into St.
Peter Port, and it was then found that the latter was a Spaniard, with
a very rich cargo. It turned out that the capture had been made in the
very place and at the very time that had been dreamt of.

[Illustration: “Cow Lane.”]

A country gentleman had occasion to make some alterations in the level
of a road in the neighbourhood of his house. He employed two men in
the work, a father and son. The materials for the work were to be
taken from a gravel pit on the estate, and the work was progressing
favourably, when, one morning, the gentleman, on coming down to
breakfast, said to his wife that he had had an unpleasant dream, and
feared that some accident would happen to the workmen before the day
was out. He went out shortly afterwards and cautioned the men, as he
had done previously, to be very careful in digging out the materials
they were in want of from the overhanging banks of the gravel pit. They
made light of his admonition, and he left them. Towards noon the elder
of the two workmen left the place to go home to dinner, leaving his son
behind. On his return, about an hour later, he found that the bank had
given way and buried his son in the rubbish. When, after a considerable
time, he was dug out, he was found to be quite dead.

[140] From Mr. Thomas Lenfestey and Mr. George Allez.

See _Notes and Queries_, VI. Series, IV., 55.


    “That the dead are seen no more, I will not undertake to
    maintain against the concurrent and unvaried testimony of
    all ages and of all nations. There is no people, rude or
    unlearned, among whom apparitions of the dead are not related
    and believed. This opinion, which prevails as far as human
    nature is diffused, could become universal only by its truth.
    Those who never heard of another, would not have agreed in a
    tale which nothing but experience can make credible. That it is
    doubted by single cavillers can very little weaken the general
    evidence, and some who deny it with their tongues confess it
    with their fears.”--_Dr. Samuel Johnson._

The belief that the spirits of the dead are, under certain
circumstances, permitted to revisit the places which they were in the
habit of frequenting, and the persons with whom they were acquainted
while in the body, has too strong a hold on the human mind not to
be still an article of popular faith in this island; but the doings
of these disembodied spirits do not differ sensibly from what is
attributed to them in other European countries.

The ghost of the murdered man still haunts the spot where he was foully
deprived of life, crying for vengeance on his assassin. The murderer’s
form is seen at the foot of the gibbet where he expiated his crime.
The shade of the suicide lingers about the spot where he committed
his rash act. The spirit of the tender mother is seen bending over
the cradles of her darling children, smoothing their tangled locks,
washing their begrimed faces, and lamenting over the neglected state
in which they are allowed to remain by a careless or unkind step-dame.
The acquirer of ill-gotten wealth wanders about, vainly endeavouring
to make restitution. And the ghosts of the shipwrecked mariners who
have perished in the waves, roam along the fatal shore, and, with loud
wailings, claim a resting place for their remains in their mother-earth.

Some also say that the departing spirit occasionally takes the form of
a bird, and, from a story told us, it would seem that it also sometimes
puts on the form of a mouse.

An elderly woman who lived alone in a house in the neighbourhood of
Ste. Hélène was found one morning dead at the bottom of a flight of
stairs. From the evidence at the inquest it appeared that she had
entrusted the latch key of the front door to a workman, who was to
come early to the house next morning to do some small job in the way
of plastering. It was supposed that before retiring to rest, at her
usual hour between nine and ten, she had intended to go to the door to
see whether the door was properly latched, and that, in descending the
stairs, she had slipped, and, falling forward, had broken her neck.

She had a first cousin, within a week or two of the same age as
herself, with whom she had been brought up, and between whom and
herself great affection had always existed. About the time that the
accident must have happened, this cousin was sitting with his wife, by
whom the story was related to me, warming themselves before the fire,
previously to getting into bed. They were speaking of the old woman,
and the husband remarked that he had not seen her for some days, and
hoped she was well, and then immediately made the remark that he had
seen a mouse run across the room, coming from the door towards them.
His eyesight was very defective, and his wife endeavoured to persuade
him that it was impossible that he could have seen anything of the
kind, and that, moreover, she had never seen a mouse in that room.

They went to bed and nothing more was thought about it until the next
morning, when the wife, passing the house where the old woman lived,
saw a crowd of neighbours assembled round the door, and found that the
dead body of her husband’s cousin had just been discovered lying at the
foot of the stairs.

The accident in all probability had occurred at the very time she
and her husband were speaking of the deceased, and when the old man
declared he saw the mouse. She was fully convinced that the spirit of
the old woman had come in that shape to take a last look and farewell
of her kinsman.[141]

[141] Related to me by Mrs. Andrew Thorn, wife of the old man.

“In many Teutonic myths, we find that the soul leaves the body in the
shape of a mouse.”--_Folk-Lore Journal_, Vol. II., Part VII., p. 208.


It is not many years since, that in making some alterations in the
parsonage of St. Michel du Valle, the workmen found under the flooring
of one of the rooms a few small coins. They remembered that in the last
century, a French priest, who had renounced his own religion, had been
appointed curate of the parish by a non-resident Rector after having
been duly licensed by the Bishop of Winchester; that, after leading a
most irregular life to the great scandal of the parishioners, he had
one day disappeared suddenly, and that after his departure the poor
box in the church was found to have been broken open and robbed of its
contents. It was not long before it was rumoured abroad that mysterious
noises were heard in the dead of the night in the parsonage, as of
someone walking through the rooms and dropping money as he went. No one
doubted that the sacrilegious robber had left this mortal life, and
that his ghost was doomed to revisit the scene of his iniquity, vainly
endeavouring to make restitution to the widows and orphans, and to the
aged and infirm pensioners of the church, of the money of which he had
so unfeelingly deprived them.

The workmen were fully convinced that the coins which they had found
were part of those which had been so sacrilegiously abstracted. They
dared not retain them for their own use, but brought them to the Rector
with a request that they might be given to the poor.[142]

[142] From Mrs. Thomas Bell, wife of the Rector of the Vale parish.


In all ages and among all nations the burial of the dead has been
looked upon as a sacred duty; and the belief is not yet extinct that
until the body is consigned to the earth the spirit is doomed to wander
about, seeking rest and finding none.

Great therefore is the guilt of him who, having found a corpse,
neglects to provide for its sepulture. “_Les morts recllament la terre,
et ch’est leû derouait._” (The dead claim the earth, and it is their

A man who had gone down at low water to visit his nets, found a
dead body stretched out on the sands. It was not that of any of his
neighbours. A violent storm had raged a day or two previously, and
there could be no doubt that some unfortunate vessel had gone down in
the gale, and that the body before him was that of one of the crew.
It was handsomely dressed, the clothes being of velvet, richly laced
with gold. The avarice of the fisherman was excited, and his first
thought was to search the pockets. A purse, containing what to a poor
man was a considerable sum, was found, and, content with his morning’s
work, the man hastened home, leaving the body to be carried away by
the next tide. Great was his astonishment and affright, on entering
his cottage, to see the dead man seated by the fireside, and looking
sternly and reproachfully at him. His wife, to whom the phantom was not
visible, perceived his trouble, and, pressed by her, he confessed what
he had done. She upbraided him with his inhuman conduct, and, kneeling
down with him, prayed the Almighty to forgive him his sin. They then
hastened down to the beach, drew the corpse to shore, and buried it in
a neighbouring field. On their return home the ghost of the drowned man
had disappeared and was never more seen.[143]

[143] From Mrs. Savidan.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--An old fisherman named Mansell told Major Macleane, my
informant, that it is most unlucky to keep a suit of clothes belonging
to a drowned man, whether they have been washed ashore, or by whatever
means they have entered your possession; for his spirit is sure to come
back and reanimate his clothes and haunt you. The clothes should always
be burnt or buried immediately.


“_Qu’est qu’tu ’as? Non dirait qu’tu ’as veu la grand’ garce._” (“What
is the matter with you? One would suppose you had seen the great girl.”)

Such were the words with which a gentleman (Mr. Peter Le Pelley,
Seigneur of Sark), in the last century greeted his sister-in-law, (Miss
Frances Carey, daughter of Mr. John Carey), who had come to spend a few
days with him at his manorial residence in Sark, on her appearance at
the breakfast table the morning after her arrival. He meant to banter
her on her anxious and haggard look, which she attributed to a restless
night and headache, occasioned in all probability by crossing the water
on the previous day.

In reality, although she did not like to acknowledge it at the time,
her rest had been disturbed. Having previously locked her door, as was
her habit, she had fallen asleep almost as soon as she laid her head on
the pillow, but was awakened suddenly,--about midnight, as far as she
could judge,--by someone drawing aside the curtains at the foot of her
bed. She started up, and saw plainly an elderly lady standing there.
She fell back fainting, and when she recovered her senses the figure
had disappeared.

It was probably nothing more than a very vivid nightmare, and was
followed by no results beyond the effects of the fright which a
few days sufficed to remove, but she never again revisited Sark.
The question, however, is one which is not unfrequently addressed
to a person who has an anxious or startled look, and refers to the
apparition of a tall maiden, which is supposed to presage the death of
the person who sees it, or that of some near connection.[144]

[144] From Rachel du Port, who was formerly a servant of Mr. John
Carey, and heard it from Miss Fanny Carey herself.


My cousin, Miss E. Le Pelley, whose great-uncle Peter was Seigneur of
Sark, and whose old servant Caroline is still alive and in the service
of the Le Pelley family, sends me the following confirmation of the
above, which she wrote down from the lips of old Caroline herself.
Caroline, as a girl, had one day been teased by some of her fellow
servants on the Seigneurie farm, who told her that they would come in
and awake her during the night. So she, to prevent such disturbance,
locked her door. In the middle of the night she awoke and saw a lady
standing at the foot of her bed. She was so frightened that she shut
her eyes, but twice curiosity prevailed and she opened them again,
and saw the lady gliding away. She had on a crossover shawl, and a
beautifully gauffred white cap. Caroline was just going to look again,
when she felt something heavy fall on her feet “with a great thump,”
which so frightened her that she put her head under the clothes, and
did not uncover it until the morning, though she could not sleep again.
The lady is supposed to be a Miss de Carteret, sister of one of the
original Seigneurs of Sark. She had unaccountably disappeared from that
room, which was the last spot in which she had been seen.

Old Caroline went on to say that many others besides herself had
seen the ghost. Fifty years previously, an old woman living at Havre
Gosselin had been terrified by it. The cook, who was fellow-servant
with Caroline, had seen it three times.

Henri, an old man-servant, had also often seen it. But the curious
thing about the ghost is that it only appears in the room if the door
is _locked_.

Caroline was very anxious to tell her mistress, Mrs. Le Pelley, what
she had seen, but the other servants dissuaded her, and told her that
she had brought it all on herself by locking her door, which she never
again dared to do.

“Now,” said Caroline, “if only someone had said to her ‘In the name of
the Great God what tortures you?’ the poor lady would have unburdened
her soul, and her spirit could have found rest, but no one had the wit
or the courage to do it.”

As Caroline always ends up her story:--“_Oh mon Dou donc, que j’tai
effrâïe!_” (Oh my goodness, how frightened I was!).--_From Miss E. Le

Old Mrs. Le Messurier, who used frequently to go in and “help” at the
Seigneurie when the Le Pelleys were there, told me that she was there
in February, 1839, the time that Peter Le Pelley was drowned, and the
night before “La Grande Garce” was seen walking through the passages,
and the tapping of her high heels was heard through the house, while
some said she was wringing her hands. Knowing that her appearance in
this manner was a sure presage of misfortune, the servants all begged
Mr. Le Pelley next day not to set sail for Guernsey, especially as
there was a strong south wind blowing, but he would go, and the boat
was swamped off the Pointe du Nez, and all perished.--_From Mrs. Le
Messurier, of Sark._

Mr. de Garis, of the Rouvets, told me that he had an old servant who
came from Sark, who told him of a lady who appeared at the Seigneurie,
if the bedroom door was locked.

In 1565 Queen Elizabeth “conferred on Helier de Carteret and his heirs
for ever, in reward of the many services received by herself and her
royal ancestors from this family, the aforesaid island of Sark, to be
held _in capite_, as a fief haubert, on the payment of an annual rent
of fifty shillings.” Sir Charles de Carteret, Seigneur of St. Ouen,
and of Sark, being heavily in debt, made a provision in his will for
the settling of his debts by ordering that at his death the Seigneurie
of Sark should be sold. This will bears the date of 1713. During his
lifetime he obtained a patent from Queen Anne authorising the above
sale. And in 1730 it was bought by Dame Susan Le Gros, widow of Mr.
Nicholas Le Pelley. Her son Nicholas inherited it, and it remained in
the Le Pelleys’ possession until 1852, when, owing to heavy losses
incurred in the working of the silver mines in Little Sark, they sold
it to Mrs. T. G. Collings, and it is now in the possession of the
Collings family.


There is an English saying that “when the gorse is out of bloom,
kissing is out of fashion.” This is expanded in Guernsey into the
following tales.

A man, who had been long suffering from a lingering illness, was
at last lying on his death-bed. His wife was unremitting in her
attentions, and profuse in her expressions of sorrow at the thoughts
of losing him. He did not doubt her affection for him, but ventured
to hint at the probability of her looking out for a second husband
before the first year of her widowhood should be expired. She warmly
repudiated the bare possibility of such a thought entering her mind,
and was ready to make a vow that she would never again enter into the
married state.

“Well,” said the man mildly, “I ask no more than that you should
promise me not to wed again while any blossom can be found on the

[Illustration: “Harbour, showing entrance to Cow Lane.”]

She gladly made promise. The man died, but it is affirmed that the
disconsolate widow, at the end of twelve months, had discovered by
close observation, and to her great disappointment, that she had made
a rash promise, and that there was not a day in the whole year when
flowers might not be found on the prickly gorse.


Other Editor’s notes on this subject will be found in Appendix A.

In the Castel parish they tell another story based on the same proverb.
Here is a house called Les Mourains, in that parish, belonging to
the Ozannes. In the middle of the last century, a Mr. Ozanne married
a young wife, who died after having given birth to two sons. On her
death-bed she made her husband promise that he would never marry,
“_lorsqu’il y avait des fllieurs sur l’ jan_.” He promised, but after
her death he married again.

But the poor spirit had not found rest. The nurse, while she dressed
and undressed the children, frequently saw her late mistress watching
her. The other servants, when in the evenings they stood at the back
door talking to their friends and acquaintances, heard the rustling of
her silk dress along the passages.

And she so habitually haunted the drawing room that for years it had
to be kept locked up, and finally the Rector of the parish had to be
sent for, to lay the ghost, which he did, and it was boarded up in a
cupboard. The place may be conjectured, for in the drawing room there
is still a part boarded up, and at times strange noises are heard, as
of a spirit ill at rest.[145]

[145] From Miss E. Le Pelley.



    “Had learned the art that none may name
    In Padua far beyond the sea.”

                “Tam saw an unco sight!
    Warlocks and witches in a dance;
    Nae cotillon brent new frae France,
    But horn pipes, gigs, strathspeys, and reels,
    Put life and mettle in their heels:
    … There sat auld Nick, in shape o’ beast;
    A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
    To gie them music was his charge.”

                        --_Tam O’Shanter_, Burns.

    “Wise judges have prescribed that men may not rashly
    believe the confessions of witches, nor the evidence
    against them. For the witches themselves are imaginative,
    and people are credulous, and ready to impute accidents to

The belief in witchcraft dates from so very remote a period, it is so
universally spread throughout all the various races that compose the
human family, that it is not to be wondered at if it still retains its
hold among the ignorant and semi-educated, especially when we find,
even in the present day, that persons, who ought by their superior
instruction, and by the position they hold in society, to be above
such superstitions, are nevertheless, firm believers in judicial
astrology, fortune telling, spiritualism, and other similar delusions.
Although it is now but very seldom that public rumour goes so far
as to point out any particular individual as a proficient in this
forbidden art, the persuasion that sorcery does still exist, is by no
means extinct. A sudden and unusual malady, either in man or beast, a
strange and unlooked-for accident, the failure of crops from blight
or insects,--all these, and many more evils, are attributed by the
ignorant to supernatural causes; and, it is probable, will continue
to be so as long as there are those who find it their interest to
encourage this superstitious belief. For there are individuals,
commonly called “désorceleurs” or “white-witches,” who pretend to be
able to declare whether a person is bewitched or not, and to have it
in their power, by charms and incantations, to counteract the evil
influence. Of course this is not to be done for nothing; and cases of
this kind, where large sums of money have been extorted from ignorant
dupes, have, even of late years, formed the subject of judicial
investigation. It is useless to attempt to reason with the lower orders
on this subject. They have an answer ready which, in their minds at
least, is a conclusive reply to all doubts that may be suggested:--

“Witches and witchcraft are frequently spoken of in the Holy
Scriptures; who, then, but an unbeliever, can doubt that such things

Guernsey did not escape the epidemic delusion which spread over the
whole of Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Here, as
elsewhere, a terror seized upon the people, and no man thought himself
secure from the machinations of the agents of Satan. The records of
the Royal Court of the island contain far too many condemnations of
unfortunate men and women to the stake for sorcery; and the evidence
on which the sentences against them were based, as well as their own
confessions, extorted under the infliction of torture, and taken down
in writing at the time, are still extant. The unhappy individuals were
of various ages and conditions, but, judging from the statements of
their accusers, and the evidence brought against them, they appear
to have been in most, if not all cases, persons of irregular life,
subsisting by begging and pilfering, vindictive towards those who
offended them, and clever in taking advantage of, and working on, the
fears and preconceived notions of their dupes.

They were accused of causing storms to arise, in which the unfortunate
fisherman who had refused them a share of his catch, either lost
his boat, his gear, or his life; or was so tempest-tossed as to be
in danger of losing his wits. Women and children were, by their
infernal influence, afflicted with sudden and strange maladies. Oxen,
horses, calves, sheep, and swine died unexpectedly, the cows calved
prematurely, and either gave no milk, or else blood in lieu of it.
Butter would not come, or became rancid even while it was being made,
and curds dissolved and turned to whey.

Maggots of unusual appearance, black at both extremities, appeared in
prodigious quantities in the beds, and even under the women’s caps, and
lice were in such numbers that they could be swept away with a broom.

The water in the fountains--usually so bright and limpid--became turbid
and unfit for use, and full of tadpoles and disgusting insects. Frogs
and black beasts (“_des bêtes noires_”), whatever they may have been,
sat by the bedside of those who were under a spell; but all these evils
disappear as suddenly as they have come, either on the sufferer weakly
yielding to the demands of the supposed sorcerer, or having courage
enough to threaten to denounce him to the judicial authorities.

It is not to be wondered at that the pretended wizards and witches
should have shrunk from a judicial investigation at a time when all
believed firmly in their supernatural powers, and when the examination
into the alleged facts was carried on in a manner so different from
the procedure of the present day, hearsay evidence of the vaguest
description being admitted as proof, and when that failed, torture
being resorted to in order to extort a confession.

From the evidence given, and the confessions of the sorcerers
themselves, it appears that the means employed by them to effect their
nefarious designs were various; but two in particular are mentioned.

A peculiar black powder, furnished them by their master, the Devil,
which, being cast on man or beast, was the cause of serious and unusual
maladies; and certain enchanted articles, introduced furtively into the
beds or pillows of those on whom they wished to practise their evil

These charms are variously described by the witnesses as consisting of
seeds of different kinds, of which mildewed or blighted beans seem to
have been the most common, and of feathers, knotted together with ends
of thread or silk twist, and sometimes made into the shape of a small

When the beds or pillows were opened to search for these articles, it
sometimes happened that an animal was seen to leave the bed, which,
after taking various forms, as that of a black cat, a cock, a rat, a
mouse, or a stoat, succeeded in evading all attempts to catch it, and
escaped in a mysterious manner.

Isabell Le Moigne, one of the witches, declared in her confession
that this was none other than Satan himself. If these charms were
thrown into the fire, they produced a most noisome smell, but, in some
instances, the immediate cure of the sufferer was the result. If the
person under the influence of witchcraft was uncertain on whom he ought
to fix the guilt of bewitching him, there was an infallible method for
discovering the culprit.

The house-key was to be placed on the hearth-stone, and the fire heaped
around it. As it became hot, the wizard or witch, apparently suffering
great agony, would come to the door, and endeavour to force an entrance
into the house, offering at the same time to put an end to the spell
under which the inmates were bound.

Another means of finding out the guilty party was to roast the
heart of some animal--some said that of a black sheep was the most
efficacious--with certain prescribed rites and incantations, or to
boil it with certain herbs known to the white witch or “désorceleur,”
who, of course, could not be expected to give his valuable advice and
services for nothing.

According to the confessions of the unfortunate victims of the
superstition and credulity of their times, to which allusion has been
made above, the doings of Satan with them were just such as we read of
in the accounts of prosecutions for witchcraft in other countries. A
desire to be revenged on some persons who had given them offence seems
to have been the first motive.

[Illustration: “North Arm, Old Harbour, showing back of Pollet.”]

The Devil then appeared to them in the shape of a black dog, cat, or
other animal, sometimes under one likeness, sometimes under another;
offered his services, invited them to attend the “Sabbath,” which
was generally held in some weird, out-of-the-way locality; furnished
them with a certain ointment, which was to be rubbed on the back and
stomach; after doing which, they found themselves carried through the
air, with extraordinary velocity, to the appointed place of meeting,
where they found other wizards and witches, and a number of imps in the
shape of dogs, cats, and hares. They were unable to recognise the other
sorcerers on account of their all appearing blackened and disfigured,
but they knew who they were by their answering to their names when the
roll was called over by Satan before entering on the business of the

They commenced by adoring their infernal master in a manner which it
is not necessary to describe minutely. They then danced back to back,
after which they were regaled with bread and wine, which Satan poured
out of silver or pewter flagons into goblets of the same metals. They
all agreed in describing the wine as being inferior to that usually
drunk; and they asserted that salt was never seen at these feasts.
The Devil, before dismissing the assembly, gave them a certain black
powder, of which we have spoken before.

The favourite form assumed by Satan on these occasions seems to have
been that of a large black dog, standing upright on his hind legs, but
he sometimes appeared in the shape of a he-goat.

Isabell Le Moigne described him as a black dog of large size, with
long erect horns, and hands like those of a man. Deeds were done
at the Sabbath which will not bear being spoken of; but there are
circumstances which lead one to suppose that the poor deluded wretches
of women may, in some cases, have been deceived by designing men, who
enticed them from their houses at night, and, under assumed disguises,
abused their credulity.

All sorcerers were marked by Satan in some part or other of the body,
and the mark thus made was insensible to pain, and bloodless.

One of the witches asserted that the Devil, before her enlistment into
his service, required of her the gift of some living animal, and that
she presented him with a young fowl. The next night at the Sabbath,
whither she was conveyed through the air after having duly anointed her
body with the ointment given her by the Devil, she was made to renounce
the Holy Trinity, and to promise obedience to her infernal master.
It appeared also from the confessions that if the servants of Satan
refused to do his behests, they are beaten and otherwise maltreated by

It is clear from the evidence given in many of the trials for
witchcraft that the accused, in a majority of cases, were persons
who trafficked on the ignorance and credulity of the people, and who
encouraged the idea of their being possessed of supernatural powers so
long as they found it profitable to do so.

Even in the present day there are people who are afraid to refuse to
give alms to a beggar, lest an evil eye should be cast upon them;
and who can say how many deaths of cattle and pigs, attributed to
witchcraft, may not have been caused by poison adroitly administered
out of revenge for a supposed injury?

In their nocturnal flights through the air to their appointed place
of meeting with the Demon, witches were said to utter loud cries;
and persons may, perhaps, still be found ready to affirm that in
tempestuous nights, when the wind was howling round their dwellings,
they have been able to distinguish above all the tumult of the
elements, the unearthly cry of “_Har-hèri[146]! qué-hou-hou! Sabbat!
Sabbat._” This cry is attributed to the “_gens du hocq_” or “_gens du
Vendredi_,” as they are called by those whose prudence deters them
from speaking of “sorciers” and “sorcières,” lest the use of such
offensive epithets should give umbrage. It is believed, too, that in
their assemblies on Friday nights on the hill of Catiôroc, around the
cromlech called “Le Trepied,” or on the sands of Rocquaine Bay, they
dance to a roundelay, the burden of which is “_Qué-hou-hou! Marie
Lihou!_” Some suppose that these words are uttered in defiance of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, in whose honour the church and priory were erected
and dedicated by the name of Notre Dame, Ste. Marie de Lihou. They are
now a heap of shapeless ruins, but the place must have been looked upon
as one of peculiar sanctity, for even down to the present day French
coasting vessels passing by salute it by lowering their topmast. It is
not then to be wondered at if the infernal sisterhood--one of whose
chief amusements, as is well known, is the raising of storms in which
many a proud vessel goes down--should take a particular delight in
insulting the “Star of the Sea,” the kind and ever-watchful guardian
of the poor mariner.

Wizards and witches are supposed to have the power of navigating on the
sea in egg-shells, and on the blade-bones of animals. It is to prevent
this improper use of them that the spoon is always thrust through the
egg-shell after eating its contents, and that a hole is made through
the blade-bone before throwing it away.

It is believed that witches have the power of assuming the shape of
various animals, and many stories turn on the exercise of this supposed
faculty. The favourite forms with them appear to be those of cats,
hares, and “cahouettes”[147] or red-legged choughs. It is not easy
to conjecture how this beautiful and harmless bird got into such bad
company; perhaps its predilection for the wild and unfrequented cliffs
and headlands, where the witches are supposed to hold their unholy
meetings, may have gained it the reputation of being in alliance with

In Guernsey, as elsewhere, a horseshoe, nailed on the lintel, door,
or threshold, or on the mast or any other part of a ship or boat, is
supposed to be a sure preservative against witchcraft, and, although
a black cat is one of the most frequent disguises assumed by Satan’s
imps and servants, the household in which a cat without a single white
hair is domesticated, is thought to be highly favoured, as none of the
infernal gang will venture to molest it. As some persons are fully
persuaded that every black cat, however tame and well-behaved it may
appear to be, is in reality in league with the Prince of Darkness, it
may be that any interference on the part of others of the fraternity is
contrary to the rules established among them, and resented accordingly,
the old saying that “two of a trade cannot agree,” holding good in this

Allusion has been made to those who have an interest in encouraging
a belief in witchcraft, and there is no doubt that persons who, for
some reason or other, enjoy the unenviable reputation of dabbling
in this forbidden art, now that they have no longer the fear of the
stake and faggot before their eyes, and have only the minor terrors
of a Police Court to dread, are not altogether unwilling to brave the
latter danger if, by working on the credulity of the ignorant and
superstitious, they can extort money, or even command a certain amount
of consideration as the possessors of supernatural powers.

Few would venture in the present day to acknowledge openly that they
could injure their neighbours by the exercise of unholy arts; but many
may be found who pretend to a secret knowledge which may be used for
beneficent purposes.

The difference, however, between a true witch--the servant of
Satan--and what is commonly called “a white witch,” has never been
clearly defined. The latter is known in Guernsey by the name of
“désorceleresse” or “désorceleur,” for the art is quite as frequently,
if not more frequently, exercised by men than by women. The persons
who practise it pretend to be able to declare whether man or beast
is suffering from the effects of witchcraft, to discover who it is
that has cast the spell, and, by means of spells and incantations, to
counteract the evil influence. It is clear, however, that one who is
in possession of such powers must himself have a very intimate and
profound knowledge of the arts he is fighting against, and that, if
offended, he may perhaps be tempted to practise them. The “désorceleur”
thus is as much feared as trusted, and as, of course, he cannot be
expected to give his valuable services for nothing, the profession
is often found to be very remunerative, large sums of money, besides
presents in kind, being sometimes extorted from the superstition and
fears of the credulous dupes.

There is no doubt, however, that some of these pretenders have some
skill in the cure of the diseases to which cattle are liable, and
even that some of the minor ailments to which the human race are
subject, are occasionally relieved by them, especially those--and among
ignorant, uneducated people they are not few--which arise out of a
disordered imagination. The habits of close observation which those
of his profession acquire must needs give the “désorceleur” a great
insight into character; his cunning will soon teach him how to work
on the fears and credulity of those who come to consult him, and his
experience will guide him into the best way of exercising his knowledge.

How far the so-called white-witches are believers in their own
supernatural powers is an open question. It may be that, in making use
of certain forms or practices which they have learned from others, they
may be fully persuaded in their own minds of their efficacy, it may be
that in some cases they are labouring under a sort of hallucination.

A noted bone-setter, who, it is said, was occasionally resorted to when
man or beast was supposed to be under evil influence, or when it was
sought to discover the perpetration of a theft, used to account for
his pretended knowledge of the anatomy of the human body by asserting
solemnly that this knowledge had been revealed to him in a vision from
Heaven, and he had repeated this story so often that it was evident to
his hearers that he had come at last to believe fully in the truth of
what he said.

The rustic bone-setter is not necessarily a “désorceleur,” although,
as in the instance just noticed, the two professions may be combined;
but he is skilled in the cure of those somewhat mysterious ailments
known as “une veine trésaillie,” which seems to be a sprain or strain,
and “les côtaïs bas,” which may be defined as that sort of dyspeptic
affection which the lower orders call a “sinking of the stomach” or
“all-overness.” This ailment is supposed popularly to be caused by the
ribs slipping out of their place, and is cured by manipulation and
pushing them gradually back into their proper position. The efficacy
of friction properly applied in reducing a sprain is well known, and
accounts for the frequent success of the bone-setter in the treatment
of “veines trésaillies.”

Some of these practitioners--old women as well as men--pretend to
have the gift of causing warts to disappear by counting them, and
asking certain questions of the persons applying to them for relief.
The principal information they seem to wish to arrive at is the age
of the person; and this known, they predict that the warts are likely
to disappear within a certain time. As these unsightly excrescences
affect more particularly young persons, and as it is known that they
frequently disappear naturally at that age when youth is passing into
manhood, it is not unlikely that this fact may have been observed, and
the knowledge of it turned to account. It is believed that those who
possess the secret may impart it to one, and to one only; but they must
receive neither fee nor reward for so doing; for if they do, or if they
tell it to more than one, they lose their power of curing. They must
not receive money for their services, but if a cure is effected they
are at liberty to take a present.

[Illustration: “Town Harbour, from an old picture.”]

As might be expected, fortune-telling forms no small part of the
white-witch’s profession, although all do not practise it, and some
confine themselves to this particular branch alone. Cards seem to be
now the principal means used for prying into the secrets of futurity,
but other appliances have been used, and may, perhaps, still be used by
some, such as the detection of a thief by means of a Bible and key.

A sort of rhabdomancy, or divination by small rods, shuffled together
with certain ceremonies and charms, and then thrown on the ground, was
used by a sort of half-demented creature called Collas Roussé, about
the end of the last century.

He is said to have had a good deal of shrewdness, to have been very
quick at repartee, and to have had great facility in expressing himself
in rhymed sentences. He appears to have believed that he was really
in possession of supernatural knowledge, and as his assumption of
extraordinary powers gained credence with the vulgar, he found it an
easy task to make a profit of their credulity. It is reported of him
that when brought to justice for some gross act of imposition, he had
the audacity to threaten his judges with the effects of his vengeance.
His threats, however, did not deter the magistrates from sentencing him
to exposure in the cage on a market day, with his divining apparatus
by his side. He bore his punishment bravely, and entertained the
multitude who crowded to see him with rhyming remarks. Another species
of rhabdomancy is the use of the divining rod, the efficacy of which is
fully believed in, not only for the discovery of springs of water, but
also for the revealing of the spot where treasure has been concealed;
and, if the stories that are told are all to be depended upon, there is
evidence sufficient to stagger the sturdiest unbeliever.

A country gentleman, now dead, whom nobody who knew him took for a
conjurer, was particularly renowned for his skill in this art. Not only
could he tell by means of the rod where a spring of water was to be
found, and to what depth it would be necessary to dig before coming to
it, but he could also discover in what part of a field or house money
or plate had been hidden. In order, however, to perform this last feat,
it is necessary that the rod should be previously touched with metal
of the same kind as that to be sought for. It is only in the hands of
some few favoured individuals that the rod works, and even then it
does so in various degrees; with some, being violently agitated, with
others, moving slowly, and sometimes imperceptibly. The art of holding
the forked stick may be taught to anyone, but unless a natural aptitude
exists, the rod remains inert in the grasp of the holder.

A portion of the confessions of some of the unfortunate victims who
suffered at the stake in 1617, translated from the records preserved
in the Register Office of the Royal Court of Guernsey, will be given
as a specimen of the absurdities to which credence could be given in a
superstitious age.[148]

It must not, however, be forgotten that the island did not stand alone
in this belief. No part of Europe seems to have escaped the absurd
dread of witchcraft, which, like a pestilence, spread from one nation
to another, and from which even the most learned of the age, men of
profound thought, did not escape. One curious fact may be noticed; the
practices imputed to the accused, who were for the most part of the
lowest and most ignorant classes of society, and to which in numberless
instances they confessed, appear to have been nearly identical in all
countries. The inference is that they must have been handed down from a
very remote period, and that they were in use among the pretenders to
magical arts and supernatural powers among our pagan ancestors; just
as in the present day we find similar ideas and practices existing
among savage tribes, and in semi-civilised countries where the light of
Christianity has not yet penetrated. It is well known how difficult it
is to wean a people from their primitive belief, and how prone they are
to cling to it in secret. Is it not possible that some secret society
may have existed for ages after the spread of the Gospel in which
heathen practices may have been perpetuated?

[146] _Ké_, _Gué_ or _Tié_ and _Hou_ are epithets applied to the Deity
in the Bas Breton. MS. Note by Mr. George Métivier.

“_Sabot-Daim_--a witch hornpipe.” (Idem.)

[147] Mr. Métivier, in his _Dictionnaire Franco-Normand_, has a long
article on “cahouettes.” He says:--

“They play, in neo-latin mythology, a very interesting part, even
to-day some traces of which are to be found. Wizards and witches,
according to the councils, disguised themselves formerly as ‘cahouets’
and ‘cahouettes.’ Raphaël, Archbishop of Nicosie, capital of the island
of Cyprus, in the year 1251, excommunicated all the ‘cahouets’ and
the ‘cahouettes’ as well as those who supported and encouraged games
of chance.--(_Constitutions_, _ch._ 15). And the Council of Nîmes,
thirty years after, treats in the same manner witches and sooth sayers,
‘coavets’ and ‘coavettes.’

“In the hierarchy of Mithras, that type of the rising sun which
bewitched the Gauls, the deacon, or minister was entitled ‘corneille’
or _rook_; and on the first day of the year, according to Porphyry, the
initiates disguised themselves severally as beasts and birds.”

Mr. Métivier ends by citing two authorities on ancient traditions
concerning these birds.

“Le corbeau est consacré à Apollon, et il est son ministre (_famulus_),
voilà pourquoi il possède la faculté de prédire.” _Gérard Jean Voss_,
_liv._ 3, _sur l’Idolâtrie_.

“Je crois que ces cérémonies se célébraient près de Coptos, ville dont
le nom était si fameux, et d’où vient l’Egypte. Dans les environs de
cette cité, on voyait deux corbeaux, c’étaient les seuls.… Et il y
avait là l’image d’Apollon, auquel les corbeaux étaient consacrés.”

“La corneille est le symbole de l’amour conjugal.” _Nicolas Caussin,
Jésuite, natif de Troyes_, _Notes sur Horapollo_. _Paris_, 1618, p. 165.

[148] EDITOR’S NOTE.--These are also given in full, in French, with an
English translation, by Mr. J. Linwood Pitts, F.S.A., (Normandy), in
his _Witchcraft and Devil-Lore in the Channel Islands, etc._, 1886.

Trials for Witchcraft, and Confessions of Witches.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--The documents which follow are translated from
the Records of the Royal Court preserved at the Greffe. Sir Edgar
MacCulloch had copied out the depositions of the witnesses on loose
sheets of paper, evidently meaning to incorporate them into his book.
The “Confession of the Witches” in his MS. follows his essay on

15TH MAY, 1581.

Katherine Eustace and her daughter were accused by common consent of
practising the art of witchcraft in the island.

The wife of Collas Cousin deposed that having refused to give milk to
the accused, saying that there were poorer people to whom she would
rather give, her cow then gave blood instead of milk.

Johan Le Roux deposed that having been seized with great pains in his
knee, he believed himself to be bewitched by Katherine Eustace, so his
wife went to the latter and threatened to denounce her to the Royal
Court; after that he got better.

28TH OCTOBER, 1581.

Robert Asheley, found dead in the garden behind St. Peter Port
parsonage, suspected of having committed suicide by shooting himself
with an arquebus. This having been proved according to the law, the
Court, after hearing the speech made by Her Majesty’s Procureur, found
that the said Robert Asheley shall be carried to some unfrequented spot
and there buried, a heap of stones being placed on his body,[149] and
thus he shall be deprived of burial in the spot where Christian remains
are placed; and that all his goods shall be confiscate to Her Majesty
the Queen.

[149] EDITOR’S NOTE.--See in “Hamlet,” where the priest refuses
Christian burial to Ophelia as a suicide, and commands:--“Shards,
flints, and pebbles should be thrown upon her.”

It has been conjectured that these heaps of stones were placed upon
graves, more especially of criminals and suicides, to keep the spirit
in the earth, and prevent the ghost from walking. Hence the modern

25TH FEBRUARY, 1583.

Collas de la Rue is accused of using the arts of witchcraft, and of
grievously vexing and tormenting divers subjects of Her Majesty.

Matthieu Cauchez deposed that his wife being in a pining languorous
condition, having heard that Collas de la Rue was a wizard, and knowing
that he frequently visited his house, he asked him if he could help
his wife. Collas replied:--

“As to her she is an ‘in pace’ (sic), she will not live much longer.”

De la Rue came to the place where his wife lay ill, and caused the bed
to be reversed, putting the bolster at the foot; she died three hours

James Blanche affirmed that having failed in a promise he had made
to De la Rue, the latter swore he should repent. His wife soon
afterwards became swollen all over, in which state she remained for
some considerable time. He finally went to De la Rue, and consulted him
as to how to cure his wife, and he gave him a decoction of herbs to be
used as a drink, by which his wife was cured.

Thomas Behot deposed that on returning from fishing, he refused to give
some fish to the son of Collas De la Rue. The son said he was a “false
villain,” and complained to his father, who on that said, “_Tais-toy,
il n’en peschera plus guères_.” (“Be quiet, he will not catch many
more.”) That same day he was taken ill, and became so swollen that he
could not rest between his sheets--(en ses draps). After having been
ill for a long time, his wife unsewed his mattress and found therein
several sorts of grains, such as broom, “alisandre” “nocillons” or
“nerillons de fèves,” (black beans?), the treadles of sheep, pieces
of laurel, rags with feathers stuck into them,[150] and several other
things. His wife threw it all into the fire, and such an awful smell
arose from the flames that they were obliged to leave the room, and
immediately his swelling disappeared. The same day he was taken with
such violent pains that he thought his last hour was come. Whereupon
his wife put the key of their front door in the fire, and, as soon as
it began to get red hot, Collas de la Rue, who had not been invited,
and who had not put foot inside their house for six years, arrived
there before sunrise, and said that he would undertake to cure him,
but that it would be a lengthy operation, that he would have to refer
to a book that he had at home, by which he had cured several people,
Matthieu Cauchez among others, and that also he (the witness) would be
cured. So Collas made him some poultices of herbs, but they did not
cure him. With great difficulty he dragged himself to St. Martin’s
Church (au temple de St. Martin), where De la Rue said to him:--

“I am glad to see you here, and yet not entirely glad, for you are not
yet cured.”

When the deponent replied that he soon hoped to be on the sea again, De
la Rue replied:

“Do not go, for you will not return without great danger.” (“N’y vas
pas, car à grand’ peine en reviendras tu.”)

However, he persisted in going, and encountered such bad weather that
he and all the crew were nearly drowned. And returning very ill, and
his malady continuing, his wife again unsewed his mattress and there
found an image made of a bone-like substance and apparently all gnawed,
(d’une manière d’os tout rongé) which he took to the magistrates, and
afterwards got better.

Collas De la Rue also told him that Collas Rouget had gone to Normandy
to seek a cure. Had he only consulted him first, he need not have gone
so far to be cured. In conclusion he said that on his conscience he
believed and affirmed the said De la Rue to be a wizard.

Richard de Vauriouf deposed that having had several differences with
Collas De la Rue on the subject of his cattle, which had caused him
annoyance, De la Rue said to him:

“You are very strong and active, but before long you will not be thus,
and you will be humbled after another manner.” (“Tu es bien robuste et
fort, mais avant qu’il soit guères ce ne sera pas ainsy, et tu seras
autrement abaissé.”)

Very soon afterwards the said Vauriouf was taken ill, and so was one of
his daughters, and he was weak and languishing for more than a month.

Pierre Tardif, who had had some law-suits with Collas De la Rue,
deposed that thereupon his daughter was taken ill, and her mattress
being searched they found several … (here and in various places the
record is torn) … of several kinds, and being … made principally of a
coloured silken thread and of … of broom, of beans cut up, two of them
being black … a pin stuck in a piece of rag and … After having taken
advice he (Tardif) had thrashed De la Rue … after having given him two
knock-down blows, his daughter was all right again. After which she was
again taken ill, so he searched for De la Rue, and, having found him,
he again thrashed him, this time drawing blood, and shortly after that
his daughter was cured. In conclusion he also deposed upon oath his
belief that De la Rue was a wizard.

[Illustration: “Royal Court House in 1880.”]

… deposed as to having heard Collas De la Rue say that he had means to
silence those who spoke ill of him (“qu’il avait des moyens de faire
taire ceux qui parloient mal de luy.”)

(The record is here again torn, and the trial apparently did not
conclude, but in 1585 the proceedings against Collas De la Rue were
recommenced and many of the same witnesses appeared).

[150] EDITOR’S NOTE.--In a letter called “Voudouism in Virginia,”
quoted by Mr. Moncure D. Conway in his book on _Demonology and
Devil-Lore_, Vol. I., p. 69., the following similar superstition is
noticed. “If an ignorant negro is smitten with a disease which he
cannot comprehend, he often imagines himself the victim of witchcraft,
and, having no faith in ‘white folks’ physic’ for such ailments,
must apply to one of these quacks. A physician residing near this
city (Richmond), was invited by such a one to witness his mode of
procedure with a dropsical patient for whom the physician in question
had occasionally charitably prescribed. On the coverlet of the bed on
which the sick man lay, was spread a quantity of bones, feathers and
other trash. The charlatan went through with a series of so-called
conjurations, burned feathers, hair, and tiny fragments of wood
in a charcoal furnace, and mumbled gibberish past the physician’s
comprehension. He then proceeded to rip open the pillows and bolsters,
and took from them some queer conglomerations of feathers. These he
said had caused all the trouble. Sprinkling a whitish powder over them
he burnt them in his furnace. A black offensive smoke was produced, and
he announced triumphantly that the evil influence was destroyed and
that the patient would surely get well. He died not many days later,
believing, in common with all his friends and relatives, that the
conjurations of the ‘trick doctor’ had failed to save him only because
resorted to too late.”


17TH DECEMBER, 1585.

Collas Hugues appeared in person and showed his child to us in the
Court. This said child cannot talk except at random and with an
impediment in its speech that none can cure; and he declares his
conviction that his said child is “detained” (detenu) by some wizard,
and he will take his oath that it is Collas De la Rue who “detains”
him, inasmuch that the latter threatened him that he would afflict
him through his most precious treasure (du plus cher joyau qu’il peut
avoir). On this declaration, Her Majesty’s Procureur testified to us
that the said De la Rue had formerly been imprisoned for sorcery, and
now, that though he had not always been proved guilty, yet that to all
outward appearance he had practised the art of witchcraft, and so much
so, that new complaints being made against him, he had demanded the
arrest and the confiscation of the goods of the said De la Rue, which
was granted.

On the 25th of December an investigation was ordered.


James Blanche affirms that on a certain day, having promised to go
for a day’s work to the aforesaid De la Rue, and not having done so,
that he was heard to say to one of his people, that he, Blanche,
should repent, and that soon afterwards his wife was seized with an
illness which lasted for nearly a year. So that, finding the said De
la Rue near “La Croix Guerin,”[151] he asked him if he could give him
something to cure his wife. Then the said De la Rue took an apple,
which he broke into six parts, of which he retained one, and gave the
remaining five pieces to the said Blanche to carry back to his wife,
forbidding him at the same time to eat a mouthful. Notwithstanding,
when he quitted De la Rue, he ate the said apple, and at that moment
the said De la Rue appeared before him, he having not yet reached his
own house, and taxed him with having eaten the forbidden apple, and the
same day his wife was cured. He, Blanche, says that this is a man given
to threats, and is much suspected and generally denounced as being a
wizard, and he has even heard that people have called him “sorcier” to
his face and he has not resented it.

[151] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The old name for the cross roads at St. Martin’s,
near where the village Post Office now stands.


Jehennet des Perques deposed that at divers times the said Collas De
la Rue went to the fishermen and foretold to them when they should
have fine weather and when they should have storms.… He was commonly
reported to be a wizard. He also deposed that on a certain day, he
being at the house of Collas Henry, where the said De la Rue had
quarrelled with the wife of Collas de Bertran, who had called him
“sorcier” (wizard), he threatened her that she should repent, and that
the said Mrs. de Bertran fell in descending the stairs (cheut aval les
degrez) and bruised herself from head to foot.

Several witnesses depose that Collas De la Rue is a man much given
to threats, that various persons have fallen ill after having been
threatened by him, and that he cured them at his will.

He was sent back to prison.

It appears that Collas De la Rue was executed, for, in a lawsuit
against Denis de Garis for concealing a treasure that he had found in
his house, it is said that the aforesaid treasure was found on the day
of Collas De la Rue’s execution, that is to say the 25th of March,

24TH NOVEMBER, 1602.

Marie Roland is accused of sorcery.

John Sohier witnesses that the aforesaid Marie, having been with him
one day at the house of the Henry’s, together with Joan Henry, whose
child lay ill, she confessed to having bewitched the child, and on
being asked in what manner, said that she had put its clothes one night
by the stream (auprès du douit) and that she and her master the Devil
then entered into the house of the said Henry by the chimney, and found
the said child by the hearth, and with a splinter she pricked the
child, and it was bewitched for three months.

10TH APRIL, 1613.

An inquest on the suspicions of witchcraft against Olivier Omont,
Cecile Vaultier, his wife, and Guillemine Omont, their daughter.

Jacques Bailleul deposed that having refused alms to Olivier Omont
his son was taken with a pain in his ear which lasted twenty-four
hours, that the doctor said that he could not understand it (qu’il n’y
connaissait rien), that he believes that Olivier is a wizard.

Guillemine Le Pastourell affirms that Omont came begging from her, and
she said that he was stronger than her and that he could gain his bread
if necessary without begging, that the next day she was taken ill, that
she remained ill for three weeks, that Omont, having come again, gave
her some bread, and after that she recovered. During her illness all
her cattle died. She believed it was from some spell cast by the said

Marie Sohier witnesses that the day after the death of her husband
Olivier Omont came to her house demanding bread. She replied that
having numerous children to feed she could not spare him any, that
he went away grumbling. At that very moment her daughter Marguerite,
aged six years, was taken ill, and when they gave her some bread she
threw it away and ate cinders by the handful. That her daughter Marie,
one year old, was taken ill one hour after the departure of Omont,
and she had remained ill for two years. That having met Omont at the
Mont Durand she threatened to throw a stone at him, and called him
“sorcier,” that on returning home she gave a lump of white bread to her
child, who ate it all, and since then is quite well. She believes that
the said Omont was the cause of the sickness of her children.

Philippin Le Goubey witnesses that Olivier Omont having begged for
cider from his wife, she refused him, and was instantly afflicted with
grievous pains; that he entreated the said Omont several times to come
into his house to see his wife, but that he always refused; that one
day he forced him to enter, and he put one foot in the house and the
other out, and then he fled; that rushing after him he threatened to
denounce him to justice if he would not cure his wife; that then he
said that she would be well again in a fortnight, but that he could not
cure her at that moment; that he forced him to return to the house,
and that, when there, he threatened to keep him there until he was
delivered up to justice; that at that very moment his wife was cured of
the worst of her pains; that having shortly afterwards come into the
town to make a notification of these things, he found that the said
Omont had already taken a boat and fled from the country.

Pierre Simon, of Torteval, being at the Hougue Antan,[152] met
Olivier Omont lying with his face against the ground. He tried to
awake him, shook him, and heard a buzzing (un bourdonnement) but saw
nothing. Feeling rather frightened he left him and went on towards the
Buttes[153] of Torteval, and then came back to the place where he had
left him. Omont suddenly awoke, having his mouth full of mud, and his
face all disfigured (défiguré). Omont having been questioned replied
that he had fallen from the cliff, and that Pierre Nant had seen him

Several people witnessed that having refused alms to Omont and to his
wife, their cattle fell ill and died, their cows gave blood instead of
milk, or gave nothing at all, their sows and their cows miscarried, and
misfortunes happened to their wives.

[152] This is a hill at Torteval, on which, says Mr. Métivier, our
ancestors used to light signal fires near the “Hougue Hérault,” where
the northern King _Herolt_ made his signals. He says the name is
derived from the Breton _An Tat_, “the old Father,” a name for the God
of the Gauls; in Swedish it is _Anda_, the spirit, or _Onda_, the evil
one. See Notes in _Rimes Guernesiaises_.

[153] These were the mounds of earth where they practised with the
cross-bow before the introduction of muskets. The “Buttes” still exist
in some parishes.

29TH JUNE, 1613.

Thomas Mancell witnessed that his wife having refused alms to Omont,
their cow fell ill, and they were obliged to kill it. Jean Hamon, who
flayed the cow, cut it at the shoulder, and “there issued a black beast
as large as a little ‘cabot’ (a small fish). Its throat was such that
one could easily insert the tip of one’s little finger, and it had two
little wings” (“en sortit une beste noire, grosse comme un petit cabot,
dans la gueule duquell on aurait bien mis le bout du petit doigt et
avait deulx petites ailes.”)

Jean Le Feyvre, of the Mielles,[154] witnesseth that one morning he
found Cécile, wife of Omont, near the Chapelle de l’Epine, where she
was searching, he could not tell for what, and where she remained for a
long while without his being able to perceive that she found anything,
and she did not perceive that he was watching her; and he having asked
her shortly afterwards whether it was she that he had observed at such
an hour near the chapel, she denied it, and that afterwards he asked
her again whether it was she who was in that neighbourhood, and she
replied in the affirmative, and then he started fine rumours, (ung beau
bruit) saying that she was dancing on the thorn which grows in the
aforesaid neighbourhood.

[154] _Mielles_, in Normandy, Brittany, and the Channel Islands, means
the “waste lands on the sea-shore.” In the Vale parish alone there
were two estates called “Les Mielles.” See Métivier’s _Dictionary_,

29TH MAY, 1613.

Thomasse, wife of Collas Troussey, deposes that one night, her husband
being on guard at the Castle, she was awakened by a frightful noise,
like cats squalling, and she dared not cry out on account of Olivier
Omont, who was sleeping in the same corridor as herself, though the
miauling of the cats still continued. When her husband was returned
from his patrol, she dared ask Omont if he had not heard the cats, to
which he replied Yes, but there was nothing for her to be afraid of,
that they would do her no harm. That another night, her husband being
also there, she had heard Omont call “Cats! cats!” and on asking him if
he had cats in his wallet (en son bisac,) he replied “No,” and that the
noise seemed beneath where she lay, but that he was afraid that they
would eat the fish that was on the table.

Olivier Omont, his wife and daughter, were all banished from the island.

30TH JUNE, 1613.

An enquiry was held on Laurence L’Eustace, wife of Thomas Le Comte,
suspected of being a witch.

Jean Hallouvris witnesses that for four years he has driven his cart.
As the wheels passed close to Laurence she dropped several strings and
twists of rushes (quelques colliers et nattes de pavie)[155] that she
was carrying, at which she was very angry. Two days afterwards, one
of his bullocks set off running as if it were mad, and then fell down
stone dead, and the other bullock died the next day.

[Illustration: “High Street, 1850.”

Sketched from an Old Picture by the late Mr. A. C. Andros.]

Pierre Machon deposes that he has heard Laurence swear “By God’s ten
fingers” (“Par les dix doigts de Dieu”), and with oaths and blasphemies
call devils to her assistance.

Christine, wife of Pierre Jehan, says that her first husband, Collas
Henry, having had a quarrel with Laurence Le Comte, one of their
children, aged two years, was taken with an illness which lasted for
twelve months. When the attack first came on, he jumped high into
the air, that, before being taken ill he walked very well, but that
afterwards, all that year he crawled on his hands and knees. That,
having had a quarrel with the said Laurence, and having put some curds
to cool, (des caillebottes à refroidir), she found them the next day
just like bits of rag (que de la mêque), and that on the following
Monday the child was seized with terror, and cried out that someone was
pulling his nose. That, as soon as she went to Laurence’s house, the
child got better, but, on her return, fell ill again, and finally died.

Laurence L’Eustache, wife of Thomas Le Comte, was also banished from
the island.

On the 17th of May, 1617, began the trial of Collette du Mont, widow
of Jean Becquet, Marie, her daughter, wife of Pierre Massy, and Isebel
Becquet, wife of Jean Le Moygne.

James Gallienne witnesses that one day, having quarrelled with Jean Le
Moigne, husband of the aforesaid Isebell, the said Le Moigne said to

“You are always seeking to pick quarrels with me, and you say that my
wife is a witch, but before six months are over you will be very glad
to come and implore me to help you;” that immediately his wife fell
into a lingering illness, and, doubting not but that it was the effect
of a spell, opened all the mattresses and found all kinds of filth and
bits of feather, which he has showed to several people; and in some
quite new pillows which he had at home he found a large quantity of
worms. He says that about six years ago, one of his children being
ill, he was putting a pillow under his head, found it hard, and, on
unripping it, found it full of dirt. While they unsewed it they heard a
flapping noise as of the wings of a cock, and the said child declared
that he saw this cock; that, having shut all the doors, they tried to
find what it really was, and that, having hunted and ransacked the
house, they saw first a rat, then a weasel, which slipped through the
holes of the pavement (sortit par les pertius de la dalle). And at
the end of two or three days he was asked why he had beaten the said
Isebell Becquet. He replied that he had not touched her, and soon
after that he was advised to try whether she was a witch, by putting
the key of his front door (de son grand huis) in the fire, which he
did. When the said key had been nearly two days in the fire the said
woman arrived at his house, without asking whether he were at home, and
begged of him seven to nine (sept à neuf) things which he refused her,
she wishing at all hazards to come in further (entrer plus outre) to
see the sick child, which he would not allow.

Item. Deposeth that his wife having rebuked the said Isebell because
her children annoyed those of the said Gallienne, she went away very
vexed, and the next day one of his oxen broke its neck, his mare
miscarried, and his wife was taken ill.

Item; that the children of the said Isebell said one day to the
children of the said Gallienne, that if their mother was ill it
was because she had spoken rudely; that some time afterwards, Mrs.
Gallienne being in bed in her room, the door being shut and simply a
sky-light (une luquerne _sic_, lucarne) open, she felt something like a
cat, which, little by little, crept on her chest as she lay on her bed.
Having shaken it to the ground, she heard one or two growls, on which,
astonished, she began to threaten it that if it was a wizard or a witch
she would cut it to pieces (que le couperoit en pièces), it returned by
the said sky-light.

Thomas Sohier said that Jean Jehan having summoned him to come and
make his will, he complained that the said Isebell was killing him for
having refused to make a jacket for her son. That some little time
afterwards James Gallienne, having a sick daughter, caused her bed to
be unripped, out of which came a sort of animal like a rat (une manière
de bête comme un rat), which hid itself in some wood and was hunted
for throughout the house; that on the following day, having met the
said Isebell, he noticed her face all torn (déchiré _sic_). On asking
her the cause she said it was from “du mal d’Espagne,” (cantharides,
the Spanish fly used for making blisters); that on that he asked
James Gallienne if he had not beaten her, who replied in the negative;
that, being the other day at the house of the said Gallienne, giving
evidence to this, his wife fell down as if dead, and on returning to
consciousness, said that she was bewitched.

Item. Testifies that in the bed of the aforesaid daughter (of
Gallienne), were found twenty-one or twenty-two spells (sorcerons).[156]

Many other depositions told the same story. Oxen and calves died, cows
and mares miscarried, sheep fell dead, children and women were taken
ill, no cream was found on the milk, curds would not “make,” cows dried
up, or only gave blood. Worms were bred in the beds, or even under
the women’s caps. They were black at both ends, or sometimes had two
heads. Frogs and black beasts (des bêtes noires) haunted the paths of
the bewitched persons. Fountains were full of insects, black pimples
appeared all over the bodies of the afflicted persons, and lice, in
such abundance that they had to use a broom to sweep them away. On the
witch being threatened the sick person recovered.

The trial was resumed on the 6th June, 1617.

Marie, wife of James Gallienne … deposed … Item; that for nearly ten
years her eldest daughter Rachel had been bewitched; that, having
unsewed her mattress, by which was some straw,[157] something was seen
lurking in the said straw, and Jean Le Gallez, being present, said that
it looked to him like a black cat, and sometimes like a cock, and then
like a mouse, and then like a rat, that it--whatever it was--hid in
some wood which was in the house, which was immediately rummaged and
moved, but no one knew how to capture it (ne sçurent tant faire que
de le prendre). That her husband saw it like a cock, and her daughter
like a mouse; that on opening the mattress they found within it many
spells (force sorcerons) and also beans with which were mingled black
grains as if mildewed,[158] which beans or grains having been put in
a porringer (une écuelle) in the presence of various women who were
there, it dissolved in their presence, and they did not know what
became of it (cela fondit en leur presence et ne sçurent que devint.)
That the said Isabell, having come to the house at the end of two or
three days, and asking for seven or nine sorts of things, and trying
to force an entrance into the place where the child was lying ill, all
which things were refused her by her husband, so she then went away,
and her face was all cut; and went to her husband and said that she
would not stay while Isebell Becquet was there, and she believes that
she is a witch.

On the 4th of July, 1617, these three women, Collette Dumont, widow of
Jean Becquet, Marie, her daughter, wife of Pierre Massy, and Isebell
Becquet, wife of Jean le Moigne, were convicted by the Royal Court
of Guernsey of having practised the damnable art of sorcery, and of
having thereby caused the death of many persons, destroyed and injured
much cattle, and done many other evil deeds. They were condemned to be
tied to a stake, strangled, and burnt until their bodies were totally
consumed; and their ashes to be scattered abroad. The sentence added
that, previous to execution, they were to be put to the torture[159] in
order to force them to declare the names of their accomplices.

First, the said Collette, immediately after the said sentence had
been rendered, and before leaving the Court, freely acknowledged
that she was a witch, but would not particularise the crimes which
she had committed; whereupon she was conducted with the others to
the torture-house, and, being put to the question, confessed that
the Devil, when she was still young, appeared to her in the form of
a cat,[160] in the parish of Torteval, it being yet day, as she was
returning from tending her cattle; that he prevailed upon her by
inviting her to revenge herself on one of her neighbours with whom
she was on bad terms in consequence of some injury done to her by his
cattle; that on subsequent occasions, when she had quarrelled with
anyone, he again appeared to her in the same form, and sometimes in
that of a dog, inducing her to revenge herself against those with
whom she was displeased, and persuading her to cause the death of men
and beasts; that the Devil having come to invite her to the Sabbath,
called her, without its being perceived by others, and gave her a
certain black ointment,[161] with which, having stripped, she rubbed
her body nearly all over, and, having dressed herself again and gone
out of doors, she was immediately carried through the air with great
velocity to the place where the Sabbath was held, which was sometimes
near the Torteval parish churchyard, and sometimes on the sea-shore
near Rocquaine Castle; that, being arrived there, she met frequently
as many as fifteen or sixteen wizards and witches, with devils, who
were there in the form of dogs, cats, and hares; that she could not
recognise the wizards and witches, because they were all blackened
and disfigured, although she heard the Devil evoke them by name, and
remembers among others, the wives Calais and Hardy. She confesses also
that at the opening of the Sabbath, the Devil, in making the evocation,
began sometimes by her name; that her daughter Marie, wife of Massy, at
present under condemnation for the same crime, is a witch, and that she
has taken her twice to the Sabbath with her. She does not know where
the Devil has marked her. She says that at the Sabbath they adored
the Devil, who stood upon his hind legs … in the form of a dog, that
afterwards they danced back to back, and after having danced they drank
wine, but of what colour she does not know, which the Devil poured out
of a flagon into a silver or pewter goblet; but that the wine did not
seem so good as that which is usually drunk, that they also ate white
bread, which the Devil presented to them, but that she has never seen
any salt[162] at the Sabbath.

[Illustration: “Castle Cornet, 1660.”]

She confesses that the Devil had charged her to call in on her way for
Isebell Le Moigne, when she went to the Sabbath, and that she has done
so several times; that on leaving the Sabbath the Devil invited her to
perpetrate many evils, and that, for this purpose he gave her certain
black powders, which he ordered her to throw on such persons and beasts
as she pleased; and that with this powder she did much evil, which
she cannot now call to mind, but she remembers that she threw some
over Mr. Dolbel, the minister of the parish, and by this means was the
cause of his death. With the same powder she bewitched the wife of Jean
Manguès, but denies that her death was caused by it. She says that she
touched the side, and threw some of this powder on the wife,[163] since
deceased, of Mr. Perchard, who succeeded Mr. Dolbel as minister of the
parish, thereby causing her death and that of her unborn babe. She
cannot say what offence the deceased had given her. She says that on
the refusal of Collas Tostevin’s wife to give her some milk, she caused
her cow to run dry by throwing some of the powder over it, but that
she cured the cow afterwards by giving it bran mixed with grass, which
the Devil had given her, to eat.

The confession of her daughter Marie, wife of Pierre Massy, is much
to the same effect, with this exception, that she seems to have been
in the habit of meeting the Devil in the form of a dog, and that he
changed her into an animal of the same species at the time of their

The third of these unfortunate wretches, Isebell, wife of Jean Le
Moigne, enters, in her confession, into some additional details.

It was in the semblance of a hare, and in broad daylight, that the
Devil appeared to her for the first time, and incited her to avenge
herself on her sister-in-law, La Girarde, with whom she had quarrelled.
At first she resisted the tempter, but he appeared to her a second
time, again in the road next her house, and on this occasion left with
her a packet of black powder, which she kept. A third time the demon
appeared, in the same form, urging her, if she would not give herself
to him, to make him a present of some living animal, whereupon she gave
him a chicken, and he appointed her to meet him the next day before
sunrise at the Sabbath, promising to send someone to guide her there.
Accordingly old Collette Dumont came that night to her house, and gave
her some black ointment, with which she rubbed herself. She was then
carried over hedges and ditches to the place of meeting near Rocquaine
Castle. She was received and welcomed by the Devil in the form of a
dog, with long erect horns (avec de grandes cornes dressées en hautt),
and hands like those of a man. He caused her to go down on her knees
and renounce the Almighty in these words: “I deny God the Father,
God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.” (“Je renie Dieu le Père, Dieu
le Fils, et Dieu le Saint Esprit”). After this, she was made to adore
the Devil and invoke him in these terms: “Our great Master, help us!”
(“Nostre grand Maistre, aide nous!”) and also to enter into an express
covenant to adhere to his service. At the conclusion of this ceremony,
the same acts of license, dancing and drinking (again bread and wine in
mockery of the Holy Sacrament), took place as are described by Collette
Dumont, widow Becquet, in her confession. On this occasion Isebell
Le Moigne entered into a pact with Satan for one month only; but
subsequently the agreement was extended to three years. She stated that
Satan treated Collette Dumont with marked respect, always evoking her
name first, styling her “Madame, la vieille Becquette,” and giving her
a place by his side. She also said that one night, when she was at the
Sabbath, the Devil marked her on the thigh. The mark thus made having
been examined by women appointed for that purpose, they certified
that they had thrust pins deep into it, and that Isebell felt no pain
therefrom, nor did any blood follow when the pins were withdrawn.

According to her account, the Devil appeared occasionally in the form
of a he-goat, and when they took leave of him, they all had to kiss
him, that he inquired of them when they would return, and exhorted
them to adhere to him and do all the evil in their power. He then took
them all by the hand and they departed in different directions. She
asserted also that it was the Devil who had been seen in the forms of
a rat and a stoat in the house of James Gallienne, whose child she
had bewitched; that she was in the neighbourhood of the house at the
time; and that the Devil, having resumed the form of a man, came to her
and beat her severely about the head and face, which ill-treatment she
attributed to her having refused to go with him to Gallienne’s house.
She said that she never went to the Sabbath except when her husband was
gone out to sea for the night, fishing.

The depositions of the witnesses, taken down very minutely in the three
cases above cited and in many others of a similar nature, have been
preserved, and throw a good deal of light on the popular ideas of the
day in respect to sorcerers and their doings.

[155] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Pavie used to be grown in ponds arranged for the
purpose, and was used for making pack-saddles, horse-collars, mats,
etc. It is a reed.--_From John de Garis, Esq._

[156] EDITOR’S NOTE.--(See footnote to p. 308). Some had a goat’s hair
intwined, others a flaxen thread.

Mr. J. Linwood Pitts, in his pamphlet on _Witchcraft in the Channel
Islands_, points out, page 6, “that the natural tendency of wool and
feathers to felt and clog together, has been distorted, by widely
different peoples, into an outward and visible sign that occult and
malignant influences were at work.”

[157] EDITOR’S NOTE.--“Il y avoit de _l’etrain_”--a Guernsey-French
word--from the old French _estraîn_, _estraine_, lat. strannu.--See
Métivier’s _Dictionary_ “Etrain.”

[158] EDITOR’S NOTE.--“Des graines noires comme de la neisle” (an old
French word _nêle_, from Latin _Nigella_.)--Métivier’s _Dictionary_

[159] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The manner in which torture was administered in
Guernsey is thus described by Warburton, herald and antiquary, _temp._
Charles II., in his _Treatise on the History, Laws and Customs of the
Island of Guernsey_, 1682, page 126.

“By the law approved (_Terrien_, Lib. XII, Cap. 37), torture is to be
used, though not upon slight presumption, yet where the presumptive
proof is strong, and much more when the proof is positive, and there
wants only the confession of the party accused. Yet this practice
of torturing does not appear to have been used in the Island for
some ages, except in the case of witches, when it was too frequently
applied, near a century since. The custom then was, when any person was
supposed guilty of sorcery or witchcraft, they carried them to a place
in the town called _La Tour Beauregard_, and there, tying their hands
behind them by the two thumbs, drew them to a certain height, with an
engine made for that purpose, by which means sometimes their shoulders
were turned round, and sometimes their thumbs torn off; but this fancy
of witches has for some years been laid aside.”

[160] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Mary Osgood, one of the “Salem Witches” tried
in 1692, confessed that “when in a melancholy condition she saw the
appearance of a cat at the end of the house, which cat proved to be the
Devil himself.” See _Demonology and Devil-Lore_, Vol. II., p. 315.

[161] The Witches’ Sabbath being a travesty of all Christian holy rites
and ceremonies, the “black ointment” evidently represented the chrism.

[162] EDITOR’S NOTE.--“It is an example of the completeness and
consistency with which a theory may organise its myth, that the fatal
demons are generally represented as abhorring salt,--the preserving
agent against decay.… The Devil, as heir of death-demons, appears
in all European folk-lore as a hater of salt.” _Demonology and
Devil-Lore_, by Moncure Conway, Vol. I., p. 288.

[163] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Susanne de Quetteville, daughter of Jehannet
de Quetteville and his wife Colliche de Sausmarez, was born in 1586,
married the Rev. Jean Perchard in 1611, and died in 1612.


There are some families in Guernsey whose members have the reputation
of being sorcerers from their birth. These individuals require no
initiation into the diabolic mysteries of the “Sabbat,” Satan claiming
them as his own from the very cradle. They are, however, furnished
by him with a familiar, generally in the shape of a fly, so that the
phrase “_avoir une mouque_” is well understood as meaning that the
person of whom it is said is one of the infernal fraternity. Indeed,
in talking of persons who are addicted to magical arts, it is reckoned
highly imprudent to speak of them as “_sorciers_” or “_sorcières_,” or
to call them by the now almost-forgotten name of “Quéraud.”[164] By
so doing you give offence, and, what is of still more consequence,
you put it in their power to injure you. It is, however, quite safe to
speak of them as “_gens du Vendredi_,”[165] or “_gens du hoc_.”[166]

Satan does not always wait for their death to claim their souls as his
own, but sometimes carries them off bodily; and a former schoolmaster
of the Vale, who, from his eccentricities, had acquired the reputation
of being a wizard, having disappeared mysteriously, and having never
been seen again, is commonly believed, to this day, to have been
spirited away.

Those who are born sorcerers have the faculty of transporting
themselves at will wherever they please, but those who seek admission
into the fraternity, and are initiated into the diabolical rites, are
furnished by their infernal master with a certain ointment with which
they anoint every part of their bodies before undertaking their aerial
journeys. They are also supposed to be able to introduce themselves at
night through the chinks and crevices of the buildings into the sheds
in which the cattle are housed, for the purpose of milking the cows,
not only thus depriving the owner of his property, but also worrying
and alarming the poor animals, whose altered looks in the morning shew
the ill-treatment to which they have been subjected. An old horse-shoe
nailed on the door or lintel, or a naturally pierced flintstone pebble
attached to the key of the stable door, are both considered efficacious
in warding off these attacks--but an infallible method of driving off
the witches is to suspend wreaths of the bramble from the rafters.
Witches and wizards travelling, not on land, but through the air,
finding these unexpected obstacles in their way, get scratched.[167]

After having rubbed themselves over with this ointment they are then
instructed to pronounce without intermission the words “_Roule, roule,
par dessus ronces et buissons_.” (“Roll, roll, above brambles and

This was discovered in the following manner:--A prying valet, who
lived in the service of a gentleman who was a wizard, of which fact
he was nevertheless ignorant, was one day amusing himself by peeping
through the key-hole of his master’s bed chamber. He observed his
master make use of the ointment, and heard distinctly the words which
he pronounced, immediately after which he became invisible. Wishing
to try the effect of the unguent on his own person, he entered the
room, and went through the process of anointment, but when he came to
pronounce the magic formula, he made use of the word “dessous” instead
of “dessus” (“under” instead of “over.”) Perhaps he was an Englishman,
to whom the French “u” was an insurmountable difficulty. Be this as it
may, he had reason to repent bitterly of his indiscreet curiosity, for,
no sooner were the words out of his mouth, than he felt himself lifted
up, and carried at a fearful rate through furze brakes and bramble
hedges, while at the same time he had the mortification to see his
master gliding along through the air, several feet above the bushes,
and laughing heartily at his misfortunes. At last, dreadfully scratched
and torn, and more dead than alive, he arrived at the spot where the
infernal troops had their rendezvous, but was too much frightened to
notice what took place there, only too happy to escape without being
forced, against his will, to enrol himself among them. His curiosity,
however, was effectually cured, and he vowed nevermore to pry into his
master’s secrets.[168]

[Illustration: “Old Harbour.”]

The following is another instance of the use of this infernal ointment.
It is related that a lady of St. Pierre-du-Bois was astonished at
the long time her husband remained in his private apartment, and
her curiosity at last induced her to watch him. Accordingly she
one day concealed herself in the room. Her husband came in shortly
afterwards, and, after stripping off all his clothes, proceeded to
anoint himself from head to foot with a certain ointment, after which
he repeated the words “_va et vient_” (“go and come”), and immediately
disappeared. Anxious to know whither he was gone, she went through the
same ceremony, and no sooner had she repeated the mysterious words
than she found herself on the summit of Pleinmont, in the midst of a
large concourse of people. A table was set out, covered with a variety
of viands of which some present invited her courteously to partake.
Previously, however, to touching anything, she, like a good Christian,
repeated aloud the words “_Au nom de Dieu soit, Amen_,” (“In the name
of God, Amen”). No sooner had the sacred name passed her lips than
she found herself alone. All had disappeared, and the only signs
which remained of any living beings having been on the spot besides
herself were recent marks of cloven feet indented on the sward in every

[164] Mr. Métivier derives this word “quéraud,” meaning enchanter,
or “maître sorcier,” from the old French _charay_, _caral_, meaning
magical type or letter. “In dog Latin _Caraco_ was the writer or
engraver of occult characters, and in the old French version of “Le
Roman du Lancelot du Lac” it says that “Morgain, la seur au Roi Artur,
sceut des enchantements et des _caraulx_ plus que nulle femme.””

[165] Friday nights being always the nights appointed for the “Sabbat.”

[166] Mr. Métivier translates this word _Hoc_ as the great feast given
by the enemy of mankind to his familiars, the wizards and witches.
Like most of the words and customs connected with witchcraft it had
originally a sacred meaning, for he says that the Hebrew word in the
seventh verse of the second Psalm, translated “the decree” is “the
Hoc,” and means:--The law imposed by a King on his subjects from which
there is no appeal.

[167] From George Allez, Esq.

[168] From Miss Elizabeth Chepmell.


A very similar story is told in M. Paul Sebillot’s _Traditions et
Superstitions de la Haute Bretagne_, Tome I., p. 277.

“Une femme avait deux enfants, quand elle les avait couchés, elle
sortait, et ils ne la revoyaient que de matin. Un des enfants, qui
commençait à être grand, fit mine de s’endormir, il vit sa mère aller
sous le lit, se mettre toute nue, et se frotter d’onguent, puis dire,
avant de partir:

“Par sur haies et bûchons (buissons) Faut que je trouve les autres où
qu’ils sont.” Le gars, dès que sa mère fut partir, se frotta aussi avec
l’onguent et dit:--“Par en travers haies et bûchons. Faut que je trouve
les autres où qu’ils sont.” Mais, comme il s’était trompé en répétant
ce qu’il avait ouï dire, il passa _à travers_ les ronces et les haies,
et arriva tout sanglant au rendezvous des sorciers. Il les trouva qui
dansaient, et qui chantaient, et sa mère était avec eux.”


There is a story told of two men who were neighbours and inhabitants
of the parish of St. Saviour’s, that their occupation--that of
quarrymen--took them frequently to the Vale parish, where the finest
qualities of granite are to be procured. The distance they had to
traverse before arriving at their destination was considerable, and the
road in some places, rather lonely.

Leonard Sarre, who was of a companionable nature, thought that the
tediousness of the way would be considerably lessened by having
someone to talk to, even if it were only his fellow workman, Matthew
Tostevin, whose taciturnity and reserve were proverbial. Often, when
setting off in the early morning to go to his work, he would, as he
passed Tostevin’s door, look in and offer his company. The answer was
invariably the same:--

“Go on, I shall be there as soon as you, though I shall not leave home
for an hour to come.”

When Sarre arrived at the quarry where they worked he was frequently
astounded at finding Tostevin already there. The way which Sarre took
was the very shortest and most direct. He was confident that Tostevin
could not pass without his perceiving him, and any other road would
entail at least half-an-hour’s extra walking to accomplish. There was
evidently a mystery, and Leonard was resolved to fathom it.

At last, in answer to his repeated enquiries, Matthew told him that he
was willing to let him into the secret. He bade him place his foot on
one of his, clasp him tightly round the waist, shut his eyes closely,
and, above all, on no account whatever, to utter a word.

Leonard Sarre did as he was directed, and immediately felt himself
lifted into the air and carried along at a fearful rate. In his fright
he forgot the injunctions that had been given him, opened his eyes,
and, finding himself far above the earth, cried out in terror “_O, mon
Dieu!_” The holy name dissolved the unhallowed spell, at least so far
as poor Leonard was concerned. He fell; fortunately it was into one
of the most boggy spots of La Grand’ Mare, so he escaped with a few
scratches and bruises, a thorough ducking, and a tremendous fright.
What became of Matthew Tostevin is not known.

It was not until many years had rolled over his head that Leonard Sarre
ventured to relate his perilous adventure, and then Tostevin had long
been dead.[169]

[169] From John De Garis, Esq.


The barren and rugged hill of Catiauroc, situated near the sea-shore
in the parish of St. Saviour’s, is the noted and favourite haunt of
wizards and witches. Once every week on the Friday night they resort
thither, and grand assemblies, at which their infernal master presides
in person, are held at other seasons, particularly on St. Thomas’, or
the longest night, and on the eve of Christmas.

Though the power of sorcerers in doing harm is very great, yet they
themselves are subject to all the accidents and infirmities of life,
nor can their supernatural skill extricate them from any difficulty
they may chance to get into.

A countrywoman left her cottage one morning at daybreak to look after
her cows. In passing through a furze brake that led to the meadow she
thought she perceived, by the yet imperfect light, what appeared to
her a bundle of clothes thrown on the top of a hedge. On approaching
nearer she was astonished to recognise a lady from the town, whose
dress was so entangled in the brambles that it was impossible for her
to extricate herself, or to descend from her elevated situation, and
who was so exhausted that she had scarcely sufficient strength left to
beg for assistance. It immediately occurred to her, that the lady in
her aërial journey to the Catiauroc that night had kept too close to
the earth, and thus had been caught by the bushes, but, remembering
that there are some persons with whom it is better to be friends than
enemies, she immediately drew near and assisted the lady to descend, at
the same time expressing her surprise at seeing her in such a singular
position, and begging her to walk into her cottage and rest herself.

“No,” said the lady, thanking her, “I must now make the best of my way
home. Mention to no living creature what you have seen this day, and
all will go well with you, but bitterly will you repent your folly if
you disobey this injunction.”

She then left the countrywoman. It is not easy for a man to keep a
secret from his wife, but it is almost impossible for a woman to
conceal anything from her husband.

The secret weighed on the poor woman’s heart and rendered her
miserable, till at last she flattered herself she had discovered an
expedient by which she might ease her mind without disobeying the
commands put upon her. She therefore one morning desired her husband to
follow her into the garden and stand at some little distance from her.
She then addressed herself to a tree, and related to this inanimate
object what she had seen, but the secret of course reached, as was
intended, the ears of her husband. The subterfuge availed her nothing;
before the close of day she was struck with deafness, and never, to her
dying day, did she recover her hearing.

The old woman of the Castel, who related this story to Miss Lane, said
that the woman was her great-aunt, and remembered having seen her when
very young.

Stories very similar in their general features to the preceding are far
from uncommon in the country, and in all the sorceress is represented
as a lady of rank.

A countryman met a lady entangled in the brambles on the top of a
hedge. He disengaged her, and was promised that as long as he kept the
secret he should find every morning, under a stone which she pointed
out to him, a piece of money.[170]


    “O Faustus, lay that damnèd book aside
    And gaze not on it, lest it tempt thy soul,
    And heap God’s heavy wrath upon thy head!
    Read, read the Scriptures:--that is blasphemy.”

         --_Tragical History of Doctor Faustus_, by Christopher Marlowe.

Many persons, although not absolutely considered as wizards, are looked
upon with no favourable eye from their supposed possession of books
relating to the black art, by the study of which they are thought to
be able to control the elements, to produce strange effects either for
good or bad on the bodies of man and beast, to discover hidden secrets,
treasure, etc.

These books are generally known by the name of _Albins_, probably
derived from that famous professor of magic, Albertus Magnus, many of
whose formulas for raising the Devil, etc., they are said to contain.

They are also called “_Le Grammaille_” or “_Grand-Mêle_,”[171] and a
distinction is made between the _Grand-Mêle_ and the _Petit-Mêle_.

Among the effects which the possessors of these books are said to be
able to produce is that of causing persons to walk in their sleep, and
to direct their steps towards any point to which the dabbler in magic
may wish them to go, but in order to accomplish this, it is necessary
that he should have previously drawn blood from the person on whom
he intends to practise his unlawful art. So small a quantity however
as that produced by the scratch of a pin is amply sufficient for the

These books are said to be indestructible. If thrown on the fire they
remain unconsumed, if sunk in the sea, or buried in the earth, they
will be found again the next day in the cupboard or chest from whence
they were taken.[172]

[170] From Miss E. Chepmell.

[171] Mr. Métivier in his dictionary translates _Grand-Mêle_ as
_Grimoire_, or the book by which sorcerers pretend to raise the
dead, being derived from the old Norse word _grîma_, a spectre, a
witch, a word which is, he says, also the origin of “_grimace_.”
The _Grand-Mêle_ of the Guernsey folk was literally the _big book_,
just as the _Petit-Mêle_ was the little book, _Mêle_ being nothing
but a survival of the Gothic _Meli_--a writing, discourse, or song.
Also _Ma’l_, with the Norsemen, as _Veda_ with the Hindoos, and as
_Scripture_ with us, was simply the collective name of all the holy

[172] From Elizabeth Matthieu.


Nowadays the people, in speaking of the “bad books” as they frequently
term them, call them the “_Grand Albert_” and the “_Petit Albert_,”
the former being undoubtedly derived from “Albertus Magnus.” The
“Petit Albert” is an abridgment of the larger book, and is supposed to
be comparatively harmless, and, with proper precautions, some say it
may even be used by good Christians. The country people to this day
believe these books to be imperishable, and many is the tale they tell
of how they will neither drown, nor burn, and how in particular, one
old wizard’s books at Saints’ Bay had to be buried, and part of the
funeral service read over them, to keep them from reappearing on their
accustomed shelf.

Our old nurse, Margaret Mauger, has often told me the story of the
books belonging to an extremely clever old gentleman who owned an
estate in the country. At his death, when his daughters came to divide
his large library, they were horrified to find many “witch books” and
atheistical books included in it. These they set aside to be burnt,
and also a great many harmless but dull histories, biographies, and
sermons, which they did not wish to keep, and made one huge bonfire.
But (and it was one of the daughters who vouched for the truth of
this story) the good books would not burn with the bad books! A
frightful smell arose, and thick columns of black smoke, but none were
consumed, and they all had to be re-sorted, and made into two separate
piles,--the sheep and the goats--and then they all burnt readily
enough.--_From Margaret Mauger._

“In Denmark and some neighbouring countries it is believed that a
strange and formidable book exists, by means of which you can raise
or lay the Devil--called the _Book of Cyprianus_. The owner of it
can neither sell, bury or burn it, and if he cannot get rid of it
before his death he becomes the prey of the fiend.”--_Demonology and
Devil-Lore_, by Moncure Conway, Vol. 2., p. 282.


The small islet of Lihou lies on the western coast of Guernsey, from
which it is separated by an arm of the sea. An ancient causeway, which
is uncovered at half-tide, affords an easy access to the main-land, but
it is dangerous to attempt the passage when the tide is flowing, for
the coast is so flat that the water rises with great rapidity, and many
accidents have occurred. A church, the ruins of which are still to be
seen, existed here until the Reformation. It was dedicated to Notre
Dame de la Roche, and was served by a prior, who was appointed by the
Prior of St. Michel du Valle, a dependency of the great Abbey of Mont
St. Michel-au-peril-de-la-Mer, in the Bay of Avranches. The isle is
to this day looked upon with such veneration by the Norman and Breton
sailors employed in the coasting trade, that they never pass it without
saluting, by lowering their topmasts, and there is reason to believe
that it was a favourite resort of pilgrims. A house belonging to a
family of the name of Lenfestey, and situated at Les Adams, is said to
have been, in former days, the residence of the priest who officiated
at Lihou. A free-stone let into one of the exterior walls has a rough
delineation of a church incised on it, which is said to represent the
Priory Church of Lihou as it formerly existed.[173]

[Illustration: Stone supposed to represent the ancient Priory at

A few years ago the remains of a skeleton were discovered in sinking
a well on the property, to which a certain number of houses in the
neighbourhood have a right of resorting for water. Many persons who
have gone to draw water at night have heard groans, thrice repeated, as
if from a person expiring, and these have generally been followed by
the death of some near relation of the hearer. Three days after Mrs.
Savidan heard the groans, a boat, in which were two of her relations
named Le Cras, was capsized in a storm and both perished.[174]

Notwithstanding the sanctity of the place, however, the old proverb of
“The nearer the church, the farther from God,” might at one time have
been applied to it, for it is related of one of the priors that he was
addicted to the black art. Neither the fear of God, nor the censures of
the church, could wean him from the fascinating study of magic, and the
_Grand-Mêle_ was far oftener in his hands than the Bible or breviary.
But wizards, it is well known, have often been the victims of their own
art, and so it chanced with the profane Prior of Lihou.

One morning, taking advantage of the receding tide, he crossed over to
Guernsey to seek an interview with another adept in necromancy, the
priest of the neighbouring Chapel of Ste. Apolline. He was accompanied
by his servant, to whom he had entrusted a ponderous tome, containing
the formulas by which he performed his incantations, and to whom he had
given strict orders on no account to open the volume or read a word
which it contained.

The visit over, the prior prepared to return to his convent, and
walked along leisurely, knowing as it was then spring tide that two
or three hours must elapse before the returning waves could bar the
passage to the islet. The servant lingered behind, and when he arrived
on the beach found his master already half way over. His curiosity
had been vividly excited by the repeated injunctions of his master
that he should abstain carefully from opening the book. He began to
think that it must contain something very wonderful, and that, as but
few minutes must elapse before their arrival at the convent, when the
mysterious volume would, without doubt, be instantly demanded by the
prior, if he did not seize this opportunity of acquainting himself
with its contents, no other occasion might ever present itself. He
yielded to the temptation, opened the book, and began to read. The
prior by this time had arrived at about the middle of the causeway, and
was astonished to find the tide rising rapidly and threatening to cut
off his further progress, either backwards or forwards. He felt that
some unnatural agency was at work, and, guessing how matters stood,
looked back to the shore which he had just left, and saw his faithless
servant comfortably seated on a heap of dried sea-weed, with the fatal
volume spread open on his knees. He was reading aloud, and the prior
caught enough of the words to know that his attendant had hit upon the
spell which causes the tides to rise out of their usual course, and,
moreover, that he was reading most leisurely.

In great fright he called out to the man to read on quickly to the end,
as he knew that then the waves would stop and return to their proper
limits. The servant was too much absorbed in his reading to pay any
attention to the directions given him, and the waves had by this time
reached above the prior’s waist. In mortal agony he called out for the
second time:--

“If thou canst not read forwards, read backwards!”

The roaring waves this time effectually drowned his voice. The servant
read on, but long before he had arrived at the end of the incantation,
the sea had covered the profane priest, and the demon whom the magic
lines had evoked carried off his prey.[175]

[173] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Mr. S. Carey Curtis, who is an architect, has
made some very interesting plans of the ruins of Lihou Priory, and
has shown their correspondence with the architecture of the building
depicted on this stone. I will quote his exact words:--

“There is built into the wall of a house, on the Paysans Road, a
sculptured stone, which corresponds so exactly with what might have
been the Chapel of Lihou that I have, on the plan, restored the chapel
on those lines. All the principal features work in exactly, the tower,
the windows, the roof, etc.,--all except the door, of which there is
positively no trace; but possibly, in view of the various coats of
paint on the stone, it is merely a fancy of one of the many artists
who have retouched it. Of the ruins which remain there is sufficient
to show what its measurements once were. Of the tower, about twelve
feet is still standing, a large portion of the north wall, and several
smaller pieces; these all show that it consisted of a nave about
thirty-four by twenty-three feet inside measurement, and a choir or
sanctuary about thirty-four by twenty feet. There is enough of the
north wall still standing to shew where the spring of the vaulting
began, and thus, approximately, the height of the walls and roof. The
corner of the chancel arch pier is a Caen stone, with a plain beading
on it; there is also trace of a porphyry column on the south side of
the sanctuary, and under the site of the altar is a paving of Malachite
green and buff tiles, some of which still remain; they measure six and
a quarter inches square and were laid alternately.”

The lettering has been explained as standing for “H … Dominus Lihou
Mel,” “H … priest of Lihou Mel, (as Lihou was called in ancient times)
in 1114.”

[174] From Mrs. Savidan.

[175] From Dr. Lukis, to whom the story was told by an old woman at


A somewhat similar story was told me in 1896 by Mrs. Le Patourel, who
had heard it from her mother-in-law. A schoolmaster, either at St.
Pierre-du-Bois or at Torteval, was given to witchcraft, and owned one
of these “bad books.” He took it one day to his school and, by an
oversight, left it on his desk. It was a lovely day, and, impatient to
be out, he omitted to lock it up, and hurried home to get his dinner.
Whilst in the middle of eating it, quite suddenly a terrific storm
came on, such thunder and lightning as had never before been seen in
the country, and was most unaccountable in such a hitherto lovely
weather. It seemed to be at its worst just over the school. Terrified,
remembering the book he had left there, he rushed back and there he
found one of the boys reading this book out loud. He snatched the book
from his hand, and asked him to show him where he had begun, and where
he had read to, and then began at once to read _backwards_ from where
the boy had left off. As he read, the storm began to lull, and when
he reached the place where the boy had begun to read, the storm had
stopped as suddenly as it begun. (This is possibly another version of
the story of “Satan and the Schoolmaster,” related in the chapter on
the Devil.)

Mrs. Le Patourel also knew a man who had once owned a “_Grand Albert_”
and used it, and, repenting, tried to burn it, but it is well known
that if you have once used one of these books you can never rid
yourself of it, try as you will. He heated his oven red hot, and put
the book within it. Two minutes afterwards he looked up and saw the
book, unsinged even, in its old place on the dresser. My cousin Miss
Le Pelley sends me a story told her by an old servant Judy Ozanne, how
some very religious people, going into a house found a “_Grand Albert_”
on the poûtre (the centre beam) in the kitchen, so they threw it into
the fire, but in vain, for “it went back to its old place and stayed


We all know how dangerous it is to possess books which treat of the
arts of magic and sorcery, or to tamper in any way with these forbidden

It came to the ears of a former rector of St. Pierre-du-Bois or
Torteval, that one of his parishioners, of the name of Sarre, not
only owned such books, but was in the habit of reading and studying
them. Indeed, if there was any truth in public rumour, many of Sarre’s
neighbours had been sufferers from the improper use he made of the
knowledge thus unlawfully acquired. The good rector thought it his
duty to remonstrate with his parishioner, and to point out to him
the sinfulness of his conduct, and the danger he was incurring of
forfeiting both body and soul to the Prince of Darkness; but all his
good advice was, for a long time, treated with contempt. At last,
what the rector’s charitable remonstrances had been unable to effect
was brought about by Sarre’s own fears. The presence of a large black
cat, which followed him wherever he went, and was with him night and
day, began to alarm him. It was useless to attempt to drive the beast
away; it cared neither for threats nor blows. In short Sarre began to
be seriously alarmed lest his assiduous study of the forbidden volumes
should, at last, have brought, if not Satan, at least one of his
familiars, to dog his steps continually, and to watch an opportunity of
seizing on his prey.

Under these circumstances he thought it most prudent to get rid of the
books, and, with this intent, went one night to the extreme verge of
low-water mark at spring-tides, dug a hole in the sand, and buried the
accursed volumes. The rising tide soon covered the spot, and Sarre
returned home with his mind at ease. His feeling of security was not
destined to be of long duration, for, on entering his door, he was met
by the black cat, who, erecting his tail, and rubbing himself against
his master’s legs, manifested his joy at seeing him again. The next
object that his eyes rested on were the books he had just buried,
carefully placed on their accustomed shelf, and as dry as if they had
never left it. A profound melancholy seized him; he ceased to occupy
himself in his usual avocations, and wandered about the cliffs and
sea-shore in a disconsolate state, till, at last, he disappeared. Those
who were charitably disposed, surmised that, in his despair, he had
thrown himself over one of the lofty precipices of Pleinmont into the
sea, but there were not wanting others who suggested that the master,
into whose service he had entered, had at last claimed his own, and
carried him off bodily.[176]

[176] From Mrs. W. T. Collings, wife of the late Seigneur of Sark.


A certain man of the name of Robin, who lived near Les Capelles, in
the parish of St. Sampson’s, had risen from being a day labourer to be
the possessor of what, in Guernsey, passes for a considerable landed
estate. Riches are sure to create envy, and more particularly is this
the case when a man has been prosperous in the world and has arrived
at a rank and station to which he was not born. The poor hate him
because he has acquired a title to consideration, which his origin, as
humble as their own, can never confer. The rich pretend to despise him
because he is wanting in the accidental circumstance of birth. All
concur in attributing his success in life to luck, to want of honesty,
to anything but intelligence, industry, and good conduct. It will
not, therefore, be thought surprising if calumny was busy at work to
blacken the character of one, who, like Robin, had been so fortunate in
his undertakings. He was openly spoken of by his neighbours as being
addicted to sorcery.

It was well known that he possessed the art of taming the most
refractory bulls, and it therefore followed as a matter of course that
he had also the power of bewitching other cattle. Sometimes, when a
cow was sick, and all the usual nostrums of the village farrier had
failed in effecting a cure, recourse was had, as a last resort, to
Robin, who was generally successful. What conclusion was more natural,
than that he, who could so easily remove a malady, had also the power
of inflicting it? Besides, it was whispered about by some of those
who contrive to be well informed of all that passes, even in the
most secret recesses of their neighbours’ houses, that Robin would
sit for hours together, shut up in his private room, with a pack of
cards before him, with which he appeared to be playing some game. No
adversary was seen, but what game can be played by one man alone?
It was clear to the most obtuse that another was present, although
invisible to mortal eye, and who could this be but the great enemy of
human souls?

At last old age came on; Robin became more and more infirm, and was at
last confined to his bed. During his illness his attendants were much
annoyed by the continual creaking and cracking of an ancient oaken
press, which stood in the corner of the room, and which he would not
allow them on any account to open or meddle with. Of course they all
thought that this chest contained untold gold, for he was known to be
extremely avaricious--in fact he was one of those “who would cut a
double[177] in two” as the saying is. He was frightfully hard on all
his workmen, exacting every moment of their time. So far did he carry
this, that it is said he only allowed them five minutes to take their
noon-day meal, which, according to the universal custom at that time,
was furnished by the employer, and eaten at his table. It was commonly
believed that one source of his wealth was the discovery of a buried
treasure in one of his fields. There was a well on his property which
was intermittent, at times overflowing, and at others not having above
an inch or so of water in it. It was supposed to conceal a treasure,
and a man was sent down to examine it, but no sooner had he begun to
bale out the water than it returned with such violence that he was
obliged to be drawn up to avoid drowning. When Robin was dying, his son
urged him to give something to the poor, but his constant answer was:--

“_Je n’en counis pouïnt_.” (“I do not know any.”)

His last hour was, however, rapidly approaching, and he desired
the press to be opened, and certain books which it contained to be
thrown on the hearth where a large fire was blazing. His orders were
obeyed, but, to the great astonishment of the servants and attendants,
instead of being consumed in the flames, the books extinguished the
fire![178] Fresh faggots were, by the orders of the dying man, heaped
on the hearth, and kindled, and, at last, the mysterious books, if not
consumed, at least disappeared. The press had ceased to creak from the
moment the books were taken out of it, and shortly afterwards Robin
breathed his last.

A storm of unusual violence was raging at the time, but the most
singular circumstance remains yet to be told. A crow of unusual size
was seen to hover over the house, and finally alighted on the roof,
and, it is said, that on the day of the funeral, as the corpse was
leaving the house, it flew down and perched on the coffin. In vain did
the bearers endeavour to drive it off; it held its ground, and even
when the body was lowered into the grave it would not quit the station
which it had chosen, but suffered itself to be covered with the mould
by the sexton.[179]

[177] A _double_ is the smallest copper coin in Guernsey currency,
value one-eighth of a penny.

[178] EDITOR’S NOTE.--In _Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute
Bretagne_, Tome I., p. 304, M. Sebillot tells the story of a priest,
who, at the request of a penitent “sorcier,” tries to burn _Le Petit
Albert_:--“Il le mit dans le foyer pour le brûler; mais le livre
sautait dans le feu comme s’il avait voulu en sortir. Le prêtre le
repoussait dans les flammes avec sa canne, et il brûla longtemps sans
se consumer.”

[179] From Miss Elizabeth Chepmell, Nancy Bichard, and Rachel Duport.


“In German Switzerland, a crow perching on the roof of a house where
a corpse lies, is a sure sign that the dead is damned.” Swainson’s
_Folk-Lore_, p. 84.

“In Germany ravens are believed to hold the souls of the damned,
sometimes to be the evil one himself.” Idem., p. 90. “The raven was
indeed, from of old endowed with the holy awfulness of the Christian
dove in the Norse mythology. Odin was believed to have given this bird
the colour of the night, that it might the better spy out the deeds of
darkness.” _Demonology and Devil-Lore_, by Conway, Vol. 2., p. 368.


Among the many bays with which the sea-coast of Guernsey is indented,
few have a wilder aspect than that of Caûbo; not that it is surrounded
with bold cliffs and precipices, like those of the southern coast,
for, on the contrary, the sea is only prevented from inundating
the neighbouring land by the banks of sand and shingle which the
ever-restless waves have thrown up, or by the sea walls which the
industry of man has raised to form a barrier against them.

Its charm consists in the wildness of its scenery[181]--the rugged
promontory of “La Roque du Guet,” surmounted by an old watch-house and
battery to the south; the point of land known as “Les Grandes Roques,”
with its outlying reefs, the scene of many a wreck, to the north; the
chain of rocks stretching right across the bay to the westward, and
seeming to bar all access to the land. All this, whether seen when,
with a westerly wind, the heavy waves are sweeping in with resistless
force from the broad Atlantic, or when, on a calm summer’s day, the
sun’s rays “like light dissolved in star-showers” pour down on the
brilliantly blue water, from which the innumerable jagged peaks arise,
from any of which one might expect to “have sight of Proteus rising
from the sea, or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.” The shores
are alternately picturesque and rugged, or else smiling valleys of
green fields overhung with trees, and with a few old thatched houses in
the background, and, until lately, were inhabited almost exclusively
by a race of poor hardy fishermen, to whom every passage through the
intricate and rugged rocks of the bay are well known, but who are by no
means exempt from the superstitions that seem to attach particularly
to a sea-faring life.

Of late some extensive quarries have been opened in the hills that lie
eastward of the bay, from one of which the dark granite steps leading
to the western entrance of St. Paul’s Cathedral were hewn. The quarries
have brought other labourers to reside in the neighbourhood, and it
is from a brother of one of these--a Cornishman--that the following
particulars have been obtained.

The quarryman now in question, when he first determined on seeking work
at Caûbo, had much difficulty in finding a cottage to suit him; but,
at last, tempted by the low rent asked for one, which had remained
untenanted for a long time, he made up his mind to take it. Other
labourers had lived formerly in the house, but generally, after a short
residence, they had left it as soon as they could find a decent excuse,
without assigning any definite reason. The quarryman had not been
long settled in his new habitation when he and his family began to be
alarmed by strange and unaccountable noises, particularly at night. He
spoke to some of the neighbours on the subject, and, at last, with some
difficulty--for it was evident that there was a great unwillingness
to speak on the subject,--he ascertained that the house had the
reputation of being bewitched, and that an old woman living in the
immediate vicinity was commonly reported to be the cause of the nightly
disturbances. Some of the previous tenants went so far as to say that
on stormy nights, when the wind was blowing a full gale from the
south-west, and all were gathered round the hearth, lamenting the sad
condition of the poor mariners and fishermen out at sea, and praying
for the safety of the shipping exposed to the pitiless blast, they
had seen the old sorceress come down the chimney in a cloud of smoke
and soot, pass through their midst, and vanish through the key-hole,
causing all the doors in the cottage to slam, and leaving a villainous
smell behind her. Other tales, no less veracious, are told of her.

A woman, scrupulously clean in her person and attire, against whom
the witch had a previous grudge, chanced to make use of some not very
complimentary expressions in speaking of her, and instantaneously her
clothes were covered with vermin of the most loathsome description. A
neighbour, who had offended her, was never able, either by fair means
or foul, to get his cattle past the witch’s dwelling, but was obliged
to take another and much longer way in leading them to and from their
pasturage, to the grievous loss of his time and temper.

Two strong horses, harnessed to the empty cart of another man with whom
the sorceress had lately had a quarrel, though urged by word and whip,
were unable to move it an inch forward. It was well known to all that
it was by means of books of magic that she was enabled to perform these
and still greater marvels; and her brothers, good respectable men, who
were aware of her evil deeds and ashamed of the disgrace her conduct
brought on the family, finding that all their remonstrances were in
vain, and that they could not persuade her to abandon her evil courses,
had attempted to destroy the books, and so deprive her, in some degree,
of her power of doing mischief.

On one occasion, during her absence from home, they got possession
of the unhallowed volumes, and, lighting a large fire on the hearth,
placed them in the midst of the flames, and heaped up fuel around them,
until, to all appearance, they were reduced to a heap of ashes.

They were rejoicing in the success of their undertaking, but, alas,
their joy was of short duration. They soon found that all their labour
had been in vain, and that they had consumed their fuel to no purpose;
for, chancing to cast their eyes on the top of an old chest of drawers
which stood in one corner of the room, where the books, when not
actually in use, were always to be found, what was their dismay to
see them lying there uninjured and looking as if they had never been
touched. Fire, it was clear, had no power over them. So they determined
to try what effect the other elements, earth and water, might have.
It chanced to be one of the lowest spring-tides in the year, so they
carried the books down to dead low-water mark, dug a deep hole in the
sand, placed the books in it, and watched until the flowing tide had
covered the spot with three or four feet of water.

They then returned home, and on entering the cottage naturally turned
their eyes towards the usual resting-place of the books. There they
were, without a vestige of sand on them, and as dry as bones. After
these two attempts they gave up all hopes of ever getting rid of the
unholy tomes; indeed it is well known that there is but one method of
destroying such books; it is by burying them with their owner when
death shall have delivered the world from his or her presence.

It is fortunate that there are men and women who have the gift of
counteracting the spells of wizards and witches; and it so chances
that not many doors from the house where the witch of Caûbo dwelt
there resided an old man whose knowledge enabled him to frustrate her
evil designs, and whose services were readily given to those who may
require them. These things are said to have happened as lately as
the year 1874, and are a proof that, in some quarters at least, and
notwithstanding the boasted enlightenment of the nineteenth century,
faith in witchcraft is as rife as ever. Can it, however, be wondered
at, if ignorant peasants should believe in what they think they have
Scriptural warrant for considering an article of faith, when learned
men and educated women are found ready to give in to all the delusions
of spiritualism.

[180] Caûbo = “Sic Armorici Coet-Bo = La Baie du Bois, Sinus
Sylvestris, il y a une Coet Bo sur la côte du Bretagne.” MS. note by
Mr. Métivier.

[181] EDITOR’S NOTE.--It must be remembered that none of Sir Edgar’s
MSS. are dated later than 1874, and therefore that none of the
greenhouses, suburban villas, and workmen’s cottages which have so
spoilt our island scenery were then built.


There lived in the last century at La Ville-ès-Pies, in that part of
the parish of St. Michel-du-Valle known as “Le Clos,” an old lady,
whose maiden name it is not necessary to recall any more than that
of the really worthy man who had the misfortune to be joined with
her in the bonds of wedlock. Suffice it to say that both belonged
to respectable families. It was notorious, however, to all the
neighbourhood that she was addicted to the execrable practice of
witchcraft; indeed she made no mystery of it, for she was proud of the
fear she inspired, and clever enough to turn it to her own advantage;
knowing well that the time was past when the suspicion alone of being
an adept in the black art was sufficient to condemn a person to the

The place whither she was said to be in the habit of resorting to meet
her infernal master, and to dance and revel at night with others, who,
like herself, had entered into a league with the Prince of Darkness,
was that group of rocks and islets near Herm, known by the name of “Les
Houmets d’Amont.”[183]

On these occasions she was in the habit of attiring herself in her very
best array, and a pair of silver slippers formed a principal part of
her adornment. How she came, in her nocturnal flight, to drop one of
them, is not known, but it was picked up on one of these rocks by a
fisherman, recognised as her property, and honestly returned to her.
Perhaps the finder did not like to run the risk of appropriating the
precious metal to his own use.

It is said that, not content with serving Satan herself, she laid a
spell on her children as soon as they were presented to her after their
birth, and so consecrated them for ever to the service of her infernal

The husband, a good pious man, by some means discovered this, and, when
his wife was on the point of being delivered of her last child, a son,
he begged the midwife in attendance to be careful, as soon as the child
made its appearance, and before the unnatural mother could set eyes on
it, to sign it with the holy sign of the cross. This precaution saved
the infant. The unholy mother’s spell had no power over him, and, as he
grew up, he was enabled, by God’s grace, and by the pious teaching of
his father, to withstand all the temptations which were laid in his way
by his brothers and sisters, who depicted to him in glowing terms the
amusements they indulged in, when, in the form of hares, they frolicked
on moonlight nights around the mill which stands on the hill around the

[182] A MS. note by Mr. Métivier explains this name by saying that this
was an old residence of Friars, robed in black and white, and hence
known as “Les Frères Pies,”--the Magpie Friars.

[183] “_Houmet_, from the Swedish _holm_, is a peninsula, or a grazing
ground down near the water.”--_Métivier’s Dictionary._

[184] From Mr. Thomas Hocart Henry.


In ancient days, (in what reign is not mentioned), when the island was
as yet but thinly peopled, and considerable tracts of country were
destitute of habitations, a peasant and his wife, who had been passing
the day in town, were overtaken on their way home by a violent storm of
wind, rain, and thunder. They pressed forward, hoping to reach their
cottage before night should set in, but, the storm increasing, they
were fain to seek shelter in an old ruin that stood by the roadside.

Scarcely had they entered, before they heard on all sides of the
building the cries of “Ké-hou-hou,” which are uttered by the sorcerers
when on their nocturnal flights. They then remembered that it was
Friday, the day on which the powers of darkness have the most power,
and that all the wizards and witches of the island were reported to
hold their weekly meetings in that place. It was too late to think of
retreating, but they were not yet discovered, and there were still
hopes of their escaping detection. Fear quickened their invention.
Looking round they saw an oven, into which they both crept, and the
woman, by spreading her black petticoat over the entrance, effectually
concealed them. They had scarcely time to do this, before a tumultuous
crowd of wizards entered the building. They conversed with great
delight on all the mischief they had caused, and appeared to derive
much pleasure from the misfortunes which afflicted mankind.

One of them mentioned the illness of the King of England’s only
daughter, which the most eminent of physicians of the realm had been
unable to cure, or even to discover the cause of. “Neither will they,”
said one, who appeared to be the chief, with an infernal laugh, “for I
alone know the cause and the remedy.”

They pressed him to tell, but for a long time he refused. At last,
wearied out by their entreaties, he said--“A hair, which this Princess
has accidentally swallowed, has twined itself round her heart, and,
unless speedily removed, must cause her death. There is but one means
of cure--a piece of skin of pork with some of the bristles attached to
it, must be well secured by a string. Let the Princess swallow this,
and the hair will become entangled in the bristles, and may thus be
drawn up.”

Shortly afterwards the meeting broke up, without a suspicion that their
conversation had been overheard, and as soon as the day dawned, the
countryman and his wife returned to town and made known their adventure
to the authorities. A boat immediately set sail for England, with
a messenger bound for the King, and the advice of the wizard being
followed, the Princess was soon restored to health. A considerable sum
of money was sent over as a present to the man and woman by whose means
the discovery had been made, with which they were enabled to buy a farm
and stock it.

[Illustration: “Mill Pond at the Vrangue.”]

The manner in which they had acquired their riches soon became known,
and, tempted by the hopes of gain, a man concealed himself in the oven
of the ruined house near the Catioroc one Friday night. He had not long
lain there before the wizards entered, but before a word was uttered
they made a strict search through the house, and soon discovered the
trembling man, whom they obliged to take the oaths of allegiance
to their infernal master, to the eternal ruin both of his soul and

[185] From Miss E. Chepmell.

See an incident somewhat similar in Chambers’ _Popular Rhymes of
Scotland_, in the tale of Sir James Ramsay, of Bamff.

See also Suzet’s _Veillées Bretonnes, Comte de Cocherard et Turquin_,
p. 258, and _Folk-Lore Record_, Vol. III., part 1., p. 40.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--This story is also told in _Folk-Lore of Guernsey and
Sark_, by Louisa Lane-Clarke (2nd Edition, 1890, p. 24). She makes
certain alterations in the narrative and her version of the cure for
the Princess is:--“If they cut a small square of bacon from just _over
the heart_, tied it to a silken thread, and made the Princess swallow
it, then jerked it up again, the hair would stick to it, and come away
from _her heart_, and she would recover.”

On the 16th May, 1900, the late Mrs. Murray-Aynsley read a paper on
“Guernsey Folk-Lore,” to the Folk-Lore Society of England, and she also
quoted this story, evidently taken from Mrs. Lane-Clarke’s version,
only told in slightly different words.


Sorcerers have the power of taking the forms of different animals, but
when thus disguised cannot be wounded but by silver.

A Mr. Le Marchant, “des grent mesons,” had often fired at a white
rabbit which frequented his warren, but without success. One day,
however, beginning to suspect how the case really stood, he detached
his silver sleeve button from his wrist-band, loaded his gun with it,
took a steady aim, and fired.

The rabbit immediately disappeared behind the hedge. He ran up, and,
hearing some person groaning as if in great pain on the other side,
looked over and recognised a neighbour of his, a lady of the Vale, who
was lying with her leg broken and bleeding profusely from a fresh wound.


_Une histouaire du bouan vier temps._

Un bouan houme et sa femme avaient autefais une p’tite ferme ès
environs du Vazon; Collas Roussé et sa femme, Nency Guille, étaient des
gens tranquilles, qui faisaient d’ leux mûx pour elvaïr leu famille,
mais i’ l’taient r’ nomaï pour changier leux forme à volontaï.

Une belle séraïe d’étaï nou vit un biau lièvre dans l’ gardin du
Probytère qui dansait autouar d’une vaque qu’ était la fiquie.

La vaque se mins a r’ gardaïr le lièvre qui toute suite se bûti su ses
dœux pattes de derriere faisant des pernagues coum si voulait invitaïr
la vaque à dansaïr d’auve li. Les gens n’ savaient pas qui en craire ou
qu’est que vela qui voulait dire. Ls’ uns disaient que ch’était Collas
Roussé ou sa femme, d’autres pensaient q’nou f’rait mûx de l’ tiraï,
d’autres enfin disaient que l’lait d’là vaque s’rait gataï et q’la
vaque jamais n’vaudrait sa tuache.

Le lecteur, Pierre Simon, qui s’trouvait la par écanche, s’en fut tout
doucement pres du lièvre, l’attrapi et s’mis à l’frottaï à r’brousse
pel, les uns li criaient d’li teurtre le cô, l’ s’autres d’li rompre
les gambes, “et pis nou verrait bien vite si chen ’tait pouint Collas
Roussé ou sa femme.” L’s ’uns disaient qu’ils avaient vœu le lièvre
v’nir dret du Vazon, mais qu’il avait ieux la malice, de prendre un
ch’min detournaï, d’autres vaisins étaient d’avis de prendre le prumier
lait d’la vaque et de l’ mettre à bouidre su une bouane fouaie d’vrec
et q’nou verrait bientot Collas Roussé et sa vieille v’nir d’mandaï
une goutte de lait bouailli; c’h’tait là la vraie manière d’les
decouvrir. Pierre Simon fut bien bllamaï de toute la contraie pour
avé laissi la bête écappaï, mais i disait pour raison qu’les lièvres
étaient sujets à des maux d’ têtes coum d’autres personnes et que
ch’tait pour chunna qu’il l’avait frottaï. Il aïmait la soupe de lièvre
coum d’autres, mais que ch’nérait pas étaï bien d’sa part de prendre
avantage d’la paure bête.

Le bouan vier Mêssier en pâlant d’ l’affaire disait: “Je n’ voudrais
pas dire du mà’ d’ personne, seit keriature ou cheva’, mais j’ai mes
pensaïes au sujet de Collas Roussé et sa femme, l’annaie passaie coum
j’allais r’muaïr nos bêtes de bouan matin qu’est que j’vis sinon daeux
biaux lièvres a rôguer ma raie-grasse. J’fis du bruit, et i s’en furent
couarant d’vier le Vazon, et un matin j’mécryi “Tu devrais en aver
honte Collas.”

Eh bien, chu jour là is’en furent derriere le prinseux, trav’sirent le
belle, et, j’n’ments pouint, j’ cré qui passirent par d’sous l’us. Mais
terjous, que j’aie tort ou raison, ni Collas ni sa femme n’out peux me
r’gardaïr en fache d’pis chu jour-là.

Jamais n’ou ne me fra craire que g’nia point bien de qué que nous
n’serait expliquer. J’en ai ouï d’bien des sortes d’pis m’en jâne
temps. Jai souvent ouï la raeue du prinseux tournaï a mignet que
g’niavait fils d’âme par dehors; j’ai vaeux not’ cat aquand i’ ventait
gros assis l’ dos tournaï au faeu, guettant l’us et la f’nêtre coum si
s’attendait à véer quiq’un entraïr, et parfais i poussait de drôles
de cris, j’vous en reponds, et not t’chen s’mauchaï derriere ma caire
quand j’disais mes perières, parfais i’ braq’tait dans s’en dormir
coum s’il’ tait a s’battre d’auve d’autres t’chens; o’ch’est m’n avis
que des câts et des t’chens vés l’s affaires d’une autre manière que
nous, et j’cré que ch’est grand piti que tous cheux qui s’dementent de
changier de forme n’aient affaire à yeux.”


_A story of the good old times._

An honest man and his wife had formerly a little farm in the
neighbourhood of Vazon; Collas Roussel and his wife, Nancy Guille, were
quiet people, who did their best to bring up their family properly, but
they were noted for being able to change their forms at will.

One fine summer’s evening people saw a fine hare in the rectory garden,
which was dancing round a cow which was tethered there.

The cow began to look at the hare, who at once rose up on his hind
legs, gambolling as if he wished to invite the cow to dance with him.
The people did not know what to think or what it could all mean. Some
said that it was either Collas Roussel or his wife, others thought
it would be better to fire at it, and the others finally said that
the cow’s milk would be spoilt and that she would never be worth

The clerk, Pierre Simon, who was there by chance, crept quietly near
the hare, caught it, and began to rub up its fur the wrong way. Some
cried out to him to wring its neck, others to break its legs, “and then
we will see very quickly whether it is Collas Roussel or his wife or
no.” Some said that they had seen the hare come straight from Vazon,
but that it had had the artfulness to take a circuitous route. Other
neighbours advised that the first milk the cow should give after this
should be taken, and put to boil on a good vraic fire, and that one
would soon see Collas Roussel and his old woman come and ask for a
cup of boiled milk. That was the best way of finding them out. Pierre
Simon was much blamed by all the country side for having allowed the
beast to escape, but he said, as an excuse, that hares were subject
to headaches as much as other people and it was for that that he had
rubbed it. He liked hare soup as well as anyone, but that it would not
have been right of him to take advantage of the poor beast.

The good old herdsman in talking over the affair said: “I would not
speak ill of anyone, be it creature, man, or horse, but I have my own
ideas on the subject of Collas Roussel and his wife. Last year as I was
moving our cattle early in the morning, what should I see but two fine
hares nibbling my rye grass. I made a noise, and they ran off towards
Vazon, and one morning I cried out “You should be ashamed of yourself,

Well, on that day they went behind the cider press, crossed the
court-yard, and, I am not lying, I believe that they passed under the
door. But ever since, whether I am wrong or right, neither Collas or
his wife, have been able to look me in the face.

Never will you make me believe that there are not many things that are
not explained to us. I have heard of all sorts since my young days.
I have often heard the wheel of the cider press turn at midnight,
when there was not a soul about. I have seen our cat when it blew
hard, sitting with his back turned to the fire, watching the door and
the window as if it expected to see some one enter, and sometimes it
uttered curious cries, I assure you, and our dog would hide himself
behind my chair when I said my prayers. Sometimes he barked in his
sleep, as if he were fighting with other dogs. Oh, it is my opinion
that cats and dogs see things in a different way to what we do, and I
think it is a great pity that all those who deny that people can change
their forms, cannot refer to them.”


[186] The above Guernsey story of animal transformations I found cut
out and placed with Sir Edgar MacCulloch’s MSS. in its Guernsey-French
form. I think it better to give both the Guernsey-French and its
English translation, the former being the language in which all these
old stories are handed down to us.


A miller, one day passing by his mill-pond at the Vrangue, was
attracted by the noise and struggles of a very beautiful duck. He
soon perceived that something was wrong, and that, unless the bird
was speedily relieved, it must perish. He accordingly, with some
difficulty, succeeded in extricating the duck from the water, and took
it into the mill, where, after wiping it dry, and endeavouring to
arrange its ruffled feathers, he deposited it in a place of safety and
left it. Returning shortly afterwards, he was astonished to find its
place supplied by a very beautiful and richly-dressed lady, who thanked
him for his humanity, and assured him, but for his assistance, she must
inevitably have been drowned, promising him at the same time, that as
long as he kept the adventure secret, he should, whenever he was in
want, find a sum of money deposited on his mill stone.[187]

[187] From Miss E. Chepmell.

The transformation of princesses into ducks by magical arts is a very
common incident in the fairy tales of Norway and Sweden and Denmark.
See Thorpe’s _Yule-tide Stories_.


An old sea captain, of the name of Mahy, who for many years had
navigated a cutter between Guernsey and England, had, at last, by
industry and perseverance, amassed a sufficient competency to enable
him to give up his arduous and dangerous profession, and pass the
remainder of his days in peace on shore. At least, so he hoped, but,
alas! the expectation of happiness, which poor mortals indulge in,
is often doomed to be disappointed, and often by apparently trivial
causes. Who could have guessed that a cat would have embittered the
remaining days of the old sailor? Yet so it was. The mischievous
tricks of this imp of Satan rendered his life almost unbearable; not a
moment’s rest could he enjoy in his own house. In vain did he attempt
to drive the troublesome brute away. If ejected by the door, she
returned immediately by the window, or down the chimney. It was useless
to attempt to catch her; she never slept, and her activity was so great
that she escaped every blow aimed at her. One day, as he was sitting by
his fireside, the tricks of the cat became unsupportable; if he dozed
off for a moment, his wig was twitched off his head; if he laid down
his pipe, puss was watching her opportunity to give a sly pat and knock
it off the table; the moment his glass of grog left his hand, it was
sure to be upset. At last his patience being quite exhausted, he seized
the poker and gave chase, but with as little effect as ever. Puss
contrived to elude him, and managed so well that blows, aimed at her,
fell on the furniture and crockery. After leading him several times
round the room, she escaped into the passage, and seated herself on the
“hecq” or half door, which was formerly to be found in almost every
house. Mahy seized a gun that was lying on the bacon-rack, and aimed at
the cat, exclaiming at the same time, “Now I have you!” The cat paused,
turned round, and, in a voice which domestic jars and curtain lectures
made by far too familiar to him, said, very quietly and distinctly,
“Pas _acouâre_.” (“Not yet.”)

[Illustration: “Old Mill House at La Vrangue, at the beginning of the
Nineteenth Century.”]

He then, for the first time, remembered that he had never seen puss and
his wife at one and the same moment, and the unpleasant truth flashed
across his mind that his good woman was one of those who frequent the
weekly entertainments given by his Satanic Majesty on Friday nights at
Catioroc, Pleinmont, le Cimetière de Torteval, and elsewhere.

Soon afterwards, Mrs. Mahy’s identity was revealed in another manner.
It is well known to housekeepers who retain the good old custom of
having their linen washed and ironed at home, that an amount of
gossip, scarcely to be credited, goes on on these occasions. The women
employed, moving as they do from house to house, pick up all the news
that has arisen during the week, and, meeting every day with fresh
companions, retail what they have heard, and gather new information
in return, from every direction. Of course the characters of the
neighbours, and even of their employers, are not spared, and for
this latter reason, perhaps, it is that a certain degree of mystery
frequently pervades these conversations, and that listeners and
eavesdroppers are discouraged. A sort of freemasonry prevails, and it
is only by a rare accident that the scandal and gossip retailed at the
washing tub or ironing board find their way to the parlour. Great,
therefore, was the astonishment of the discreet and prudent workwomen,
whose avocations took them to the houses in the neighbourhood of Madame
Mahy’s dwelling, to find that their most confidential communications
were repeated, and could in most cases be traced to that good lady.
They had never detected her listening; they felt convinced that none
among them could be so treacherous as to betray their secrets. They
determined to keep a sharp look-out, and at last the mystery was
solved. A young ironer, of more keen observation than her companions,
had remarked that, in whatever house they worked, the same old tabby
cat was to be seen seated before the fire, and apparently dreaming away
her existence. Her suspicions were aroused. She watched puss closely,
and was convinced at last that, even when apparently dozing, pussy was
listening attentively to what was going on. She was not long in forming
a plan to prove whether her conjectures were correct. She took up a
flat iron from the hearth, and, under the pretence of cleaning and
cooling it on the mat, approached the unsuspecting cat and suddenly
applied it to her nose. Puss jumped up and suddenly disappeared with a
yell, which, as the conclave of gossips declared, resembled far more
the cry of a woman in pain than the miauling of a cat. Next day it was
rumoured abroad that poor Madame Mahy, while sitting before her fire,
had been overtaken with sleep, and falling forward had burnt her face
severely on the bars of the grate! “You know,” said the old woman who
related the story, “that Capt. Mahy never passed for a conjuror. He
ought however to have had more wit than to tell these stories to his
friends over a glass of grog, for, although he did not say that he had
recognised his wife’s voice, or that he did not believe that she had
dozed over the fire, they had already made the remark that Mrs. Mahy
and the cat had never been seen together, and were not long in drawing
their conclusions and publishing them to the world. The story soon
found its way to those hot-beds of gossip, the public bake-houses, and
from thence over all the town.”[188]

[188] From Miss Martineau, to whom the story was related by Mrs.
Jonathan Bichard, of L’Ancresse, and also from Rachel Du Port.


In the Vale parish, very many years ago, lived a father and daughter,
Nico and Denise Roberts. Denise was an extremely pretty girl, and
Pierre Henry, the richest man in the parish, wanted to marry her.
There were two old maiden ladies who were neighbours of the Roberts’,
and were excessively jealous of all the attention and admiration
Denise received. They both considered that they were still young and
fascinating, and one was considered to have designs on old Roberts, and
the other on Pierre Henry himself.

They both had the reputation of being witches by all the neighbours,
principally because they were never seen without two black cats, and
they even used to go so far as to take these two cats with them, when,
in the evenings, as was their frequent custom, they would take their
knitting and go and sit for hours in the Roberts’ kitchen. Denise
used to implore her father not to encourage “_ces daeux vieilles
sorilles_,”[189] knowing well that they were trying to poison his mind
against Pierre Henry, but he paid no attention to his daughter, as they
amused him by telling him all the gossip and scandal of the place, and
he used to sit and let them whisper to him on one side of the hearth,
while Pierre and Denise sat on the other; but all the time the two
latter were talking, they were annoyed by the cats brought in by old
Margot and Olympe Le Moine, and this went on evening after evening.
If Pierre tried to move his chair nearer to hers, one of the cats
would climb up and manage to thrust its claws in his leg. If he bent
forward to whisper to her, the other cat would jump on her shoulder,
and prevent Denise from attending to what he was saying. After some
time he grew convinced that all this could not be accidental, so, one
evening, just as the largest of the two cats had perched itself on
Denise’s shoulder at the most inopportune moment, he whispered in its
ear “_Margot, tu quérrâs_” (“Margot, you will tumble down.”) At that
moment, Margot Le Moine, who was sitting at the other end of the room,
fell off her chair in a dead faint, and the cat gave a yell and darted
up the chimney. This finally convinced old Roberts as to the true
character of his friends, and he swore that never again should these
two “_quéraudes_” darken his doors, and, soon after, Denise Roberts and
Pierre Henry were married.[190]

[189] Métivier translates _sorille_ as a term of reproach, derived
probably from the Bas-Breton _sorelh_, wizard, _sorelhés_, witch.

[190] From Mrs. Charles Marquand, who had heard it from Denise Roberts’
first cousin.


It is one of the greatest characteristics of wizards and witches that
they have the power of assuming any form they please.

A man, who kept a large number of cows, observed that they were
gradually pining away, that they failed to give the usual quantity of
milk, and that no care that he could bestow on them availed aught in
improving their condition. One or two of them had already died, and he
feared that all the others would soon follow their example. The summer
had set in, and at that season the cows are left out all night in the
field, but when in the early morning the farmer went to look after
them, he generally found them thoroughly exhausted, and looking as if
they had been hard driven all night.

At last he began to suspect that the poor animals were under the
influence of some spell, and he determined to watch, in order to
discover, if possible, what means were used to bring the cows into
the condition in which he found them. It seems rather a singular
circumstance that wizards and witches, with all their cleverness, do
not appear to be able at times to see things which are passing under
their very eyes. Perhaps their eagerness to do mischief blinds them to
the danger of discovery. At all events, the farmer, who had concealed
himself, as soon as the daylight had well departed, in a cattle shed
that stood in one corner of the field, remained undisturbed, with his
eyes intently fixed on the cows, who were lying down, quietly chewing
the cud.

About midnight his attention was attracted by a large black dog, which
jumped over the hedge separating his field from that of a neighbour
with whom he had lately had a quarrel. The dog approached the cows,
stood up on his hind legs, and began to dance before them, cutting such
capers and somersaults as the farmer had never seen before. No sooner
had the cows seen the dog than they also stood upright, and imitated
all his movements. The farmer crept stealthily out of the field, went
home, loaded his gun with a silver coin, which he cut into slugs,--for
it is a well known fact that no baser metal than silver will wound a
sorcerer,--returned to the field, where he found the dance still going
on as fast and furious as ever, and fired at the dog, which ran off
howling, and limping on three legs.

The next day his neighbour was seen with his arm in a sling, and it was
given out that, in returning from the town the previous evening, he had
fallen accidentally over a heap of stones, and so broken it. The farmer
had his own ideas, but wisely kept them to himself. His neighbour
had had a lesson; he found that he had to deal with a resolute man;
the cows were allowed to remain unmolested, and soon recovered their
pristine health and strength. This is said to have occurred in

[191] From Reuben Wilkins.


Some years have now elapsed since a family had reason to suppose that
recourse had been had to magic arts in order to injure them. Their
health declined, their cattle fell sick and died, their crops failed,
and everything went wrong with them. It was but too plain that they
were bewitched, and no chance remained of any amelioration of their
condition unless they could discover the author of their misfortunes.
They therefore determined, by the advice of a friend skilled in white
witchcraft, to perform a charm for the purpose of obliging the wizard
or witch to show himself. This charm is popularly called “_Une
bouïture_” or “boiling,” and consists in setting certain ingredients
to seethe in a large cauldron. The pot, duly filled, was accordingly
placed on the hearth with all the prescribed ceremonial.

No sooner did it begin to simmer than six mice entered the room,
walking in procession, two and two, and all deeply veiled. As soon,
however, as the pot boiled, the mice disappeared, and in their place
stood a lady whom they all knew full well.

Her name we have not been able to discover, our informant being
evidently unwilling to compromise herself by mentioning it, but she was
well known to the market women by the name of “La Dame au Voile,” and
bold would have been the farmer’s wife who would have refused to let
her have her wares at her own price.

Another version of the story says that the mice were caught and carried
to the office of “Le Procureur du Roi,” and that in the presence of
this legal personage they resumed their own shapes, and appeared as
three ladies and three women of the lower orders.[192]

[192] From Miss Martineau, to whom the story was related by an old


A man of the name of Collenette, living in the Castel parish, had sold
a lot of furze to another countryman, who was one of the drummers of
the North Regiment of Militia, but did not receive payment for it at
the time of striking the bargain. Some days afterwards, Collenette, on
his way to his work, was met by a neighbour to whom he owed a small sum
of money, who put him in mind of his debt. He excused himself for the
time, promising to pay as soon as ever he should receive his money for
the furze he had sold. He then proceeded to his work, which was that of
a quarryman, but the very first blow he struck the stone caused him to
start back in affright, for he distinctly heard a voice proceeding from
the rock, which said to him:--

“Thou hast told such an one that I did not pay thee for the furze. Thou
shalt suffer for this to the last day of thy life, but that day is
still distant.”

He looked about to see if any one was concealed near, from whom the
voice could proceed, but saw no one. He then returned to his work, but
every minute the same words rang in his ears. At noon he ate his meal,
which he had brought to the field with him, and then, as labourers
do, lay down on the grass to sleep. No sooner had he closed his eyes
than he was roused by the beating of a great drum close to his ears.
He started up, but could see nothing, and whenever he lay down the
drumming re-commenced.

This state of things continued, and the poor man, worn out by fatigue
and fright, fell into a lingering illness.

If by chance he fell asleep, he was soon awakened by a sensation
which he described as being as though a calf passed over his body,
immediately after which he seemed to be violently lifted from his
bed and thrown on the floor. It is even asserted that articles of
furniture, which were in the same room with him, were thrown about
without any visible agency.

[Illustration: Victor Hugo’s “Haunted House” at Pleinmont.]

His friends and neighbours kindly visited him, and endeavoured to
divert his mind from dwelling on his misfortunes, but all to no avail.
Whether in company or alone, he was equally tormented. At last, one
night, he escaped the vigilance of his friends, and the next morning
was found on the sea-shore, entangled in the mooring ropes of a fishing
boat, and drowned in two or three inches of water.[193]

[193] From Rachel Du Port.


Nowhere is the life of a fisherman to be envied. In summer, when the
sea is calm, the days long, and the nights comparatively warm, it may
be endurable. The amateur may find pleasure in sailing over a sunny
sea, and the excitement of drawing in the lines or nets laden with fish
may prove a sufficient compensation for many minor hardships; but the
man whose means of subsistence depend on his precarious gains, who must
brave the perils of the waves at all seasons, at all hours, and in all
weathers, is to be pitied.

The coasts of Guernsey abound in fish of all sorts, and the earliest
authentic records of the island prove that for many centuries the
fisheries have been of great importance, and one of the main sources of
wealth to the inhabitants.

Considering the great number of boats kept, the dangerous nature of the
coast, the numerous rocks, the intricate currents and strong tides, it
is wonderful that so few accidents occur. The fishermen are skilful
navigators, and have full confidence in themselves; they fear not the
usual dangers of a sailor’s life, but they dread the supernatural
influences that may be brought to bear against them.

They--or even some member of their family--may have, perhaps quite
unconsciously, offended some old crone who has it in her power to
injure them in various ways. By her evil arts she may cause their
lines to become inextricably entangled in the sea-weed, or to come up
laden with dog-fish, blue sharks, and such-like worthless fish. Happy
indeed may the poor fisherman consider himself if the old woman’s spite
confines itself to such trifling annoyances, for has she not also the
power to raise storms? Is it not on record how Collette Salmon, wife of
Collas Du Port, caused the loss of a boat and the death of the whole
crew, merely because one of them asked her more than she thought was
right for three miserable dog-fish? Is it not well known how, when that
noted witch, Marie Mouton, was banished from the island for her evil
doings, the cutter that landed her at Southampton encountered a most
terrific gale on its return? And how the captain and crew were ready
to depose upon oath that during the height of the storm they had seen
Marie, sometimes perched on the top of the mast, and at other times
astride on the jib-boom, tearing the sails to shreds and tatters? Who
could be incredulous enough to resist such testimony as this? Certainly
not Jean Falla. He was a bold fisherman. Every rock and shallow from
the Hanois to the Amfroques were thoroughly well known to him. By night
or day could he steer his way through their most intricate passes. He
was not aware of having any enemy, but witches are easily provoked to
anger, and unwittingly he may have offended one of the sisterhood.
If he had done so, he had cause to repent his involuntary fault, and
to his dying day he never forgot the fright he had to undergo in

He had left his moorings in the Bay of Les Péqueries early in the
morning. A more beautiful day had never risen on Guernsey. The sun
shone, a light breeze just ruffled the surface of the sea, the tide
served, fish were plentiful on the coast, and everything promised an
abundant catch. He sailed out alone, reached the fishing ground, took
his marks carefully, cast out his lines, and then anchored to await
the turn of the tide when the fish begin to bite. It was not long
before the gentle rocking of the boat and the warmth of the atmosphere
began to make him feel drowsy, and, knowing that an hour or two must
still elapse before he was likely to catch anything, he yielded to the
influence, and was soon sound asleep.

How long his sleep lasted he was never able to say, but the impression
on his mind was that scarce a quarter of an hour had elapsed before
he was awakened by one of the most terrific storms that he had ever
experienced. The boat was rolling fearfully, and rapidly filling with
water. To hoist a sail, to slip the cable, and to turn the boat’s
head in the direction of the land was his next endeavour, but at this
critical moment his courage almost failed him. In the howlings of
the storm he heard a peal of unearthly laughter above his head, and,
looking up, was horrorstruck at discerning, in the fast flying scud,
the form of an old woman perfectly well known to him, who appeared
quite at home in her elevated situation. She was accompanied by many
others who were strangers to him, but she was the leader of the party,
and it was evident that his fright and embarrassment were the cause of
their uproarious merriment. Who she was, he could never be prevailed
upon to say, and, no doubt, in this he acted wisely.

The wind fortunately favoured him. He made for the land, reached his
moorings in safety, ran his boat up high and dry on the beach, and
leaped ashore. A fresh peal of laughter from his aërial tormentors
spurred him on.

His house was at no great distance from the shore, but the way to it
by the road was circuitous. He took, therefore, a short cut across the
fields, passed over one or two hedges without accident, jumped over
another and alighted astride on the back of a cow that was quietly
chewing the cud on the other side, regardless of the turmoil of the
elements. The poor beast, roused so suddenly from her repose, started
up and rushed madly across the field, carrying her terrified load with
her. The middle of the field was crossed by one of those deep cuttings
which are made for draining the marshy lands of that district, and the
cow, brought suddenly to a stand, precipitated the unfortunate Jean
Falla head over heels into the muddy ditch.

Again the unearthly laughter resounded. A less resolute man than Jean
would have lost all presence of mind, but he remembered that he was
within a few perches of his own house. He scrambled out as well as he
could, reached his cottage door, which was fortunately open, entered,
closed the door behind him, and fell exhausted on the floor. Another
prolonged peal of laughter dying away in the distance was heard
outside, but Jean, once under his own roof, felt himself safe.

It was some time, however, before he recovered from his fright, and,
whatever his real feelings towards them may have been, he was observed
from that time forward to treat all old women with marked deference and

[194] From my father, to whom the main incidents were related by Sieur
Jean Falla himself.


Every careful and prudent person, before throwing away either the
bladebone of an animal, or an empty egg-shell, makes a hole in it, and
the reason assigned for this practice is to prevent an improper use
being made of either by witches; for it is firmly believed that they
have the power of employing both the one and the other as vessels to
convey them across the seas. No matter how tempestuous the weather
may be, how high the billows may be rolling, the magic bark makes its
way against wind and tide, with more speed and greater certainty than
the best appointed steamer that was ever launched. Those who avail
themselves of these means of conveyance seem to possess the power of
making their vessel assume the appearance of a handsome well-rigged
ship. It is related that in days long past, a respectable inhabitant
of the neighbourhood of La Perelle Bay, went out with the early dawn,
after a stormy night, to collect the sea-weed which the waves might
have cast on the shore, or to pick up perchance, some fragments of
wreckage, which are not unfrequently stranded on that dangerous coast
after a heavy gale from the westward.

He was surprised to see, in the yet uncertain light of the morning,
a large ship in the offing bearing down upon the land. He watched it
attentively, expecting every moment to see it strike on one of the
many sunken rocks that render the navigation of our seas so difficult
and perilous. To his astonishment the ship, as it neared the shore,
appeared to diminish rapidly in size. He was alarmed, but curiosity
got the better of fright, and he stood his ground manfully. The vessel
at last stranded close to the spot where he was standing, and, by this
time, it was reduced to the dimensions of one of those toy boats, with
which the children amuse themselves in the pools left on the beach by
the receding tide.

A man of dwarfish stature stepped on shore, and the countryman then
perceived that the mysterious vessel had assumed the form of the
bladebone of a sheep, enveloped in a mass of tangled sea-weed. Nothing
daunted, he addressed the mysterious stranger, and asked him whence he
came? What was his name? Whither was he going? The stranger either was,
or pretended to be, ignorant of the language in which he was addressed,
but to the last question answered: “Je vais cheminant”--(“I am going

He is said, however, to have remained in the island, to have built
himself a house on a spot called “Casquet,”[195] in the neighbourhood
of the place where he landed, and to have become the progenitor of a
family which bears the name of “Le Cheminant,” and of which many of the
members were famous for their skill as smiths.

It is not unlikely that in this tale we have the remains--strangely
altered by passing through the mouths of many successive
generations--of some one of the numerous legendary stories of the
early British saints, who, according to some of the hagiographers,
were in the habit of navigating from Brittany to Cornwall, and from
Wales to Ireland, on their mantles, in stone troughs, or on bundles of

[195] According to Métivier’s _Dictionary_--“Casquet”--(from the Latin
_Casicare_) means “Over-fall Rock,” and is the same as the _Casus
Rupes_ of Hearne and Leland.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--The name of the house is “La Perelle,” “Casquet” is
a nick-name. After the erection of a lighthouse on “Casquet” or “Les
Casquets,” the fishermen keeping their boats in Perelle Bay, nick-named
the house “Le P’tit Casquet,” because the inhabitants were in the habit
of sitting up late, and consequently there was light to be seen in the
house when they returned from sea late in the evening.--_From John de
Garis, Esq._

[196] From George Métivier, Esq., and Mrs. Savidan.

See in Thorpe’s _Northern Mythology_, Vol. I., p. 179, how Oller
crosses the sea on a bone.


It is generally believed that those who practise unlawful acts, however
clever they may be, are generally quite unable to foresee what is
likely to happen to themselves. That this is not invariably the case
the following story will show.

A woman, who had the reputation of being a sorceress, contrived to
live in comparative ease and comfort by begging from door to door,
few venturing to send her away without an alms for fear of incurring
her displeasure, and bringing down some misfortune on themselves or
their households. She presented herself one morning at the house of
a farmer in easy circumstances, whose wife was one not likely to be
imposed upon, and not by any means remarkable for liberality towards
the poor. The witch’s well-contrived tale of distress failed to make
an impression on the hard heart of the farmer’s wife, and the beggar
was dismissed without even a kind word: indeed, it is even said that
the odious epithet “_Caïmande_”[197] was applied to her. On turning
her back on the inhospitable door, she was heard to mutter between her
teeth, “You shall repent of this.”

[Illustration: Old Market Place and States Arcade.]

It was a fine morning in spring, and a hen that had hatched an early
brood of chickens, had brought them out into the sun, and was clucking
over her callow brood, and scratching the earth in search of seeds and
insects for them. The farmer’s wife was looking on with complacency,
and already calculating in her mind what the brood was likely to
fetch in the market. The proverb tells us that we must not reckon our
chickens before they are hatched. It seems that it is not wise to
reckon on them even after they are hatched. And this the farmer’s wife
found to her cost; for, scarcely was the witch out of the farm-yard,
before one of the chickens fell on its side, gave a kick or two, and
died. Its example was soon followed by all its brothers and sisters,
and, last of all, the bereaved mother also departed this life. The
farmer’s wife was at no loss to whose evil agency to impute this
untoward event, and hastened at once to consult an old neighbour, a
wise woman, who had the reputation of knowing how these unholy spells
were to be counteracted, and what means were to be adopted to prevent
the sorceress from doing any further mischief. She was advised to
lose no time in returning home; to extract carefully the hearts of all
the chickens, as well as that of the hen; to stick new pins or nails
into them, and to roast or fry them over a brisk fire, when, she was
assured, that not only would the witch be made to suffer unheard of
agonies, but that all power would be taken from her to do any further

The farmer’s wife hastened home to follow the instructions given her
by the wise woman, but found, to her dismay, that the sorceress had
profited by her short absence from home to re-visit the farmyard and
that she had carefully removed every heart from the carcases.[198]

[197] Métivier derives this word--meaning “beggar”--from the old
French word “_guermenter_” to complain. The old Bas-Breton word was
“_c’harm_”--to utter cries.

[198] From Charlotte Du Port.


Persons who have the temerity to wish to pry into the secrets of
futurity are frequently punished for their curiosity by the exact
fulfilment of the prediction, although it may appear to be such as
could by no possibility come to pass. The following story may be taken
as an instance.

A young man applied to a woman, who pretended to be able to foresee
events, to tell him what was likely to happen to him hereafter. She
foretold that he had not long to live, but that he should be hanged,
drowned, and burnt. Not knowing how it was possible that all these
evils should come upon him, he made light of the prophecy, but the
event proved the truth of the soothsayer’s prediction. One night,
having allowed his fire to go out, and having no means at hand to
rekindle it, he ran across the fields to the nearest habitation to
beg a light. On his return, in jumping over a ditch, his foot caught
in some brambles, and he fell head foremost into the water, his legs
at the same time became so entangled in the bushes that he remained
suspended, and the torch which he held in his hand setting fire to his
clothes, he perished, as the fortune-teller had predicted, by hanging,
drowning, and burning.[199]

[199] From Rachel Du Port.


Other Editor’s Notes on this subject will be found in Appendix B.

Compare “Damasc, Seigneur d’Asnières, excommunié par Hugues de
Saint-Calais, Evêque de Mans (A.D. 1136-1144). Damasc, averti qu’il
périrait par le feu et par l’eau, ne fit qu’en rire; mais un jour,
traversant en bateau la Sarthe pendant un orage, il fut foudroyé et
noyé.”--La Suze.--_Magazin Pittoresque_, 34me année, p. 312.


Charms, Spells, and Incantations.

    “This, gathered in the planetary hour,
    With noxious weeds, and spell’d with words of power,
    Dire stepdames in the magic bowl infuse.”


    “Begin, begin; the mystic spell prepare.”


As long as the popular belief in witchcraft exists--and with all the
boasted light and civilisation of the nineteenth century it still
holds its ground--there will be found those who imagine that the evil
influence of the sorcerer may be averted by a counteracting spell, or
by certain practices, such as carrying an amulet about one’s person,
nailing a horse-shoe to the door of a house or the mast of a ship, etc.

With the ignorant and unlearned it is often useless to reason: they
cannot understand nice distinctions, and if their faith be shaken or
destroyed on one point, who can tell where the current of unbelief will
stop? That there are persons who, by their illicit arts, can cause
sickness to man or beast is firmly credited, but as there is no evil
without a remedy, it is equally an article of popular belief that there
are also those who are in possession of the necessary knowledge and
power to counteract the evil designs and practices of the sorcerer.

As may readily be supposed these last are cunning and unprincipled
wretches, who trade on the folly and superstition of their ignorant
neighbours, and who, doubtless, are often the cause of the malady of
the unfortunate cow or pig, which they are afterwards called in to
advise about. Various charms and ceremonies are resorted to on these
occasions, whereof the most potent appears to be that known as “_la
bouïture_,” which consists in setting a number of ingredients to
seethe together in a cauldron, of which the principal is the heart of
some animal stuck full of pins. It is not easy to arrive at a correct
knowledge of what is done, for great secrecy is generally observed, and
the actors in these superstitious follies are afraid to divulge what
takes place. The object of the charm seems to be either to avert the
evil, or to discover the author of it. In the latter case, it often
leads to serious misunderstandings between neighbours. There are,
however, certain charms of a more innocent character, which can be
resorted to without the intervention of a cunning man.

Shortly after the Rev. Thomas Brock took possession of the Rectory of
St. Pierre-du-Bois, about the beginning of the nineteenth century, he
was returning home one night from town, where he had been detained
until a late hour. It was midnight when he reached the parsonage, and
in the imperfect light he thought that he saw a number of persons
assembled near the church porch. Astonished at so unusual a sight, and
wondering what could possibly be the cause of such an assembly at that
hour, he tied up his horse to the gate, and stepped over the stile into
the churchyard. On drawing near he was witness to an extraordinary
ceremony. Several of his parishioners, among whom he recognised many
of the better sort, were walking in orderly procession round the
church, and touching every angle as they passed. He addressed them and
inquired what they were doing, but not a single word could he get in
answer to his questions. Perfect silence was preserved until they came
to the church-porch, where they all knelt down and recited the Lord’s
Prayer. This was repeated more than once, and at last they left the
place without satisfying the legitimate curiosity of their pastor.
Determined to fathom the mystery, he called the next day on some of the
principal actors in the ceremony, and then learnt, not without some
difficulty, that it was intended to remove a spell that was supposed
to be hanging over the son or daughter of one of the parties, and that
a single word spoken by any of the persons engaged in the solemn rite,
would have effectually broken the charm.

In reference to this charm it may here be mentioned that an old
servant of the Rev. W. Chepmell, Rector of St. Sampson’s and the Vale,
was suffering from an ulcer in the leg. To cure it she went round
the church, stopping at each of the angles, and repeating a certain
prayer. The Rev. H. Le M. Chepmell, D.D., who was a child at the time,
remembers the circumstance, but does not know what the prayer was that
was used on the occasion.

The forms which follow, and which, for the benefit of those who
are unacquainted with French, have been translated as closely as
possible, were found in a book of memoranda, household and farming
accounts, recipes for medicines, etc., which once belonged to Sieur
Jean Lenfestey, des Adams, in the parish of St. Pierre-du-Bois. It
was written about the end of the last, and beginning of the present,
century. The mystical words used in some of the spells have been given
just as they were found in the manuscript. They appear to be a curious
jumble of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, very much disfigured by having
passed through the hands of ignorant, unlettered transcribers, or,
perhaps, by having been transmitted orally from one to another, and,
at last, taken down from dictation. It is quite impossible to say how
long these spells and charms have been in use among the peasantry,
whether they have been handed down by tradition from times before the
Reformation, or whether--which is far more probable--they have been
introduced in comparatively recent times by some of the farm-labourers,
who, in times of peace, come to the island from the neighbouring coasts
of Normandy and Brittany in search of work. It is only on the latter
supposition that the invocation of St. Blaize and St. Nicodemus, the
saying of a Mass, and the reciting of _Paters_ and _Ave-Marias_ can
be accounted for, the indigenous population having been so thoroughly
reformed as to have lost all recollection of these matters.


Choose one of the animals whose death has been caused, taking care that
there is no sign of life remaining in it: take out its heart, and place
it in a clean plate: then take nine thorns of “noble épine”[200] and
proceed as follows:--

[Illustration: The “Groignet.”]

Pierce one of the thorns into the heart, saying:--

_Adibaga, Sabaoth, Adonay, contra, ratout prisons preront fini unixio
paracle gasum_.

Take two thorns and pierce them in, saying:--_Qui susum mediotos agres
gravoil valax_.

Take two more, and in placing them say:--_Laula zazai valoi sator
saluxu paracle gassum_.

Take two more, and say in placing them:--_Mortuis cum fice suni et per
flagelationem domini nostri Jesu Christi_.

Then place the last two thorns with these words:--_Avir sunt devant
nous paracle tui strator verbonum ossisum fidando_.

Then continue saying:--“I call on him or her who has caused the Missal
Abel to be fabricated: cease from thine evil deed; come, nevertheless,
by sea or by land, wherever thou art; show thyself to us without delay
and without fail.”

(Note: that if thorns of the “noble épine” are not to be procured, one
may have recourse to new nails).

The heart, being pierced with thorns, as directed, must be put into a
small bag and hung in the chimney. The next day it must be taken out
of the bag and put upon a plate; then pull out the first thorn, and
place it in another part of the heart, pronouncing the same words as
were said at first; then take out the two next thorns with the fitting
words, and so on with the others in due order, replacing them as we
have directed, and being careful never to stick a thorn again into the
same hole. This is to be done on nine consecutive days; nevertheless,
if you wish not to give any respite to the malefactor, you may compress
the nine days into one, observing the order above prescribed. At
the last operation, after having pierced in the thorns or nails with
the fitting words, you must make a large fire, place the heart on a
gridiron, and put it to roast on the live embers. The malefactor will
be obliged to appear and to beg for mercy; and if it be out of his
power to appear within the time you appoint, his death will ensue.

[200] Probably a corruption of “aube-épine.”


Kill a pigeon; open it and pluck out its heart. Stick new pins all
round the heart. Put water to boil in a small pot, and when it is
boiling throw the heart in it. You must have ready a green turf
to serve as a cover to the pot, and must put it on with the earth

The pot must boil for an hour. Be careful to keep up a good fire of
wood or charcoal, and at the end of the hour throw the heart into the
burning embers. See that all the doors, windows, and other openings of
the house are closed. The sorcerer will come and call and knock at the
door, demanding to speak with you; but you must not open to him until
you have made him promise to do what you wish.


Take the tails of two fresh-water eels, with the inner bark of an ash
tree, that which is next the wood. Buy twenty-six new needles, and put
all to burn together with flower of sulphur.

If you wish to see the sorcerer by daylight you must take the roots of
small and large sage, with the pith of the elder and daffodil bulbs.
Put the whole to boil together in vinegar, and make your arrangements
so that it shall boil a quarter of an hour before noon. As soon as the
first bubbles begin to rise the sorcerer will make his appearance. In
this experiment you must leave the door open. It is done simply with
the view of knowing the malefactor.


Take a sheep’s heart, pierce nails into it, and hang it in the chimney,
saying:--_Rostin, Clasta Auvara, Chasta, Custodia, Duranee_. These
words must be said over the heart every day, and eight days will not
have elapsed before the sorcerer who has cast the spell will come and
beg you to remove the heart, complaining that he feels great pain
internally. You can then ask him to remove the spell, and he will
request you to give him some animal to which he may transfer it. You
may grant what he asks, otherwise he will burst asunder.


Take nine bits of green broom, and two sprigs of the same, which
you must tie together in the form of a cross (×); nine morsels of
elder, nine leaves of betony, nine of agrimony, a little bay salt,
sal-ammoniac, new wax, barley, leaven, camphor and quick-silver. The
quick-silver must be inclosed in cobbler’s wax. Put the whole into
a new linen cloth which has never been used, and sew it well up so
that nothing may fall out. Hang this round your neck. It is a sure
preservative against the power of witches.


On St. John’s Eve gather fern before noon. Make a bracelet of it in the
form of these letters--H U T Y.


Write on the circumference of an apple the letters H A O N and throw it
into the midst of the combatants.


Touching the part affected, say:--_Place + + + Consummatum + + +


Repeat these words thrice over the burn, breathing thereon each time:--

    _“Feu de Dieu, perds ta chaleur,_
    _Comme Judas perdit sa couleur,_
    _Quand il trahit notre Seigneur,_
    _Au jardin des oliviers.”_[201]

[201] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Another form is as follows.--

    Brulure, brulure, mollis ta chaleur,
    Comme Judas perdit sa couleur
    En trahissant notre Seigneur.

--_From John de Garis, Esq._


Make three crosses on the mantel-piece with a live coal, and say:--“_In
te Domine speravi, non confundar in æternum_.”


Take four-leaved clover and place it on a consecrated stone; then say
a Mass over it, put it into a nosegay, and make the person smell it,
saying at the same time “_Gabriel illa sunt_.”


On St. John’s Eve gather clecampane (alliène de campana), dry it in an
oven, reduce it to powder with ambergris, and wear it next your heart
for nine days. Then endeavour to get the person whose love you wish to
obtain, to swallow a portion of it, and the effect is sure to follow.


Say:--“_Si ergo me quæritis, sinite hos abire_.”


Say:--“Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made the Heavens and
the Earth. In the name of God, Amen! St. Nicodemus, who tookest down
our Lord Jesus Christ from the cross, deign by the permission of God to
cure this horse (name the colour), belonging to (name the owner), of
the vives or gripes (as the case may be).”

Then let all who are present say the Lord’s Prayer nine times.

[202] This charm must have been long current in Guernsey, for the
invocation with which it commences is a strictly Presbyterian form,
being the sentence with which the services of the Reformed French
Church invariably began.

The mention of “_Paters_” and “_Aves_,” and the invocation of St. Eloy
in the second charm, points clearly to a Romish origin, and render it
very doubtful whether the charm could ever have been resorted to in
Guernsey within the last two or three hundred years. St. Nicodemus
might still be recognised, but St. Eloy has long been entirely
forgotten, and probably not one in a thousand of our peasantry has the
slightest idea of what is meant by the words “_Pater_” and “_Ave_.”


“Horse (name the colour), belonging to (name the owner), if thou hast
the vives, or the red gripes, or any other of thirty-six maladies, in
case thou be suffering from them: May God cure thee and the blessed
Saint Eloy! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Ghost, Amen!”

Then say five “_Paters_” and five “_Aves_” on your knees.


Say:--“Blaise, martyr for Jesus Christ, command thee to come up or go


Say three times, while looking at the dog:--“Bare--Barbare! May
thy tail hang down! May St. Peter’s key close thy jaws until

[203] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Many of these charms are to be found almost word
for word in _Croyances et Légendes du Centre de la France_, by Laisnel
de la Salle, Vol. I., p. 291-330., etc.


A belief in the efficacy of quick-silver in counteracting the evil eye,
and averting the injurious effects of spells, is very universal among
the lower orders; and there are many persons who will never venture
beyond their threshold without having in their pocket, or hung round
their neck, a small portion of this metal.

A fisherman, who for some time had been unsuccessful in his fishing,
imagined that a spell had been cast upon him. No man was better
acquainted with the marks by which the fishermen recognise the spots
where the finny tribe are to be found in most abundance. None was
better acquainted with the intricate tides and currents which render
the rocky coasts of the island such a puzzle to navigators, or knew
better when to take advantage of them to secure a plentiful catch of
fish. His tackle was good, he used the best and most tempting bait, and
yet, under the most propitious circumstances, with the most favourable
conditions of tide, wind, and weather, day after day passed and he took
next to nothing. Winter was coming on, and a longer continuance of
bad weather than is usual at that season, combined with the worthless
quality of the fish caught when he did venture out between the
gales,--in short, a continued run of ill-luck,--confirmed him in the
idea that he was bewitched.

He confided his fears to an old man of his own profession, who had the
reputation of knowing more than his neighbours, and particularly of
being able to give advice in such cases as this, where there was reason
to suppose that some unlawful influence was at work.

The old man listened to his tale, confirmed him in the idea that some
evil-disposed person, in league with Satan, had cast an evil eye on
him, and ended by counselling him always to carry quick-silver about
with him. With this precaution he told him that he might defy the
spells of all the wizards and witches that ever met on a Friday night
at Catiôroc to pay their homage to Old Nick.

The fisherman took the old man’s advice, and procured a small vial
containing mercury, which he placed carefully in the purse in which he
carried his money, when he was fortunate enough to have any.

Strange to say, from that moment his luck turned, and, a succession of
good hauls rewarding his industry, the fisherman soon found himself in
possession of what, to him, was a goodly sum of money, and in which
not a few gold pieces were included. These were, of course, carefully
deposited in the purse containing the precious amulet, to which he
attributed his good luck and his deliverance from the spell, which, he
no longer doubted, had been cast upon him.

[Illustration: Old House at Cobo.]

Alas! his confidence in the charm was destined to be, for a time,
rudely broken. One night, in manœuvring his boat, an accidental blow
from some of the gear shattered the bottle containing the quick-silver.
What was his dismay the next morning, on opening his purse, to perceive
that all his gold was turned into silver, and that the silver coins
bore the appearance of vile lead! He was in despair, concluding
very naturally that he had fallen into the power of some prince of
magicians, and that henceforth he was a ruined man. He again consulted
his old friend, whose experience this time proved of more practical
use than his former advice. The wise man soon saw what had caused
the apparent change in the coin, and recommended him to go without
delay to a silversmith, who soon removed the quick-silver with which
the precious pieces were coated, and restored them to their pristine

[204] From Mr. John Le Cheminant.


There are certain old men and women who, without pretending to any
supernatural knowledge, are nevertheless supposed to possess the power
of causing those unsightly excrescences (warts) to disappear, merely
by looking at, and counting, them. Some mystery, however, is attached
to the operation. They may not impart their secret, neither may they
receive money for their services, although there is no reason why they
should refuse any other present that may be offered. There is no doubt
that the hands of growing boys and girls are more often disfigured
by these excrescences than those of adults, and that, at a certain
age, they are apt to disappear almost suddenly. Perhaps this has
been noticed by the persons who pretend to the art of removing warts,
and that they do not undertake the cure unless they perceive certain
indications of their being likely to disappear before long by the mere
agency of natural causes. Nevertheless, the cases in which a cure has
been effected after all the usual surgical remedies have been resorted
to in vain, are quite sufficiently numerous to justify a belief in the
minds of the vulgar of a possession of this extraordinary gift.

The operation, whatever it may be, is designated by the word
“_décompter_,” which may be translated “to uncount,” or “to count

The process by which a wen, or glandular swelling, known in our local
dialect as “_un veuble_,” is to be removed, is expressed by the same
term, but in this there is no mystery which requires concealment. The
charm is well known, and may be used by anyone. It is as follows.
The person who undertakes the cure must begin by making the sign of
the cross on the part affected, and must then repeat the following
formula:--“_Pour décompter un veuble_.”[205] “_Saint Jean avait un
veuble qui coulait à neuf pertins. De neuf ils vinrent à huit; de huit
ils vinrent à sept; de sept ils vinrent à six; de six ils vinrent à
cinq; de cinq ils vinrent à quatre; de quatre ils vinrent à trois; de
trois ils vinrent à deux; de deux ils vinrent à un; d’un il vint à
rien, et ainsi Saint Jean perdit son veuble._”

The second day the operator must begin at “eight,” the day after at
“seven,” and so on until the whole nine are counted off, when, if a
cure is not effected, it must be set down to some neglect or want of
faith in one or the other of the parties concerned, for no one can
venture to doubt the efficacy of the spell.

It will, doubtless, have struck the reader that in this, as well as
in other charms, the number nine plays a conspicuous part. This may
possibly be connected in some way with the practice of the Church of
Rome, which, on certain special occasions, orders solemn prayers and
ceremonies for nine consecutive days.

In most farm-houses there were formerly to be found one or more old
oak-chests, sometimes very richly and quaintly carved. In some places
where they had been taken care of, they were in excellent preservation,
but, in the majority of cases, they had given way to those more modern
articles of furniture--chests of drawers and wardrobes--less elegant,
perhaps, but more fashionable, and decidedly more convenient. Now there
are few or none to be met with, the revival of the taste for rich and
elaborate carving having led to a demand for these ancient specimens
of the skill of our forefathers to be remodelled into sideboards,
cabinets, and other similar articles of furniture. When these old
coffers had ceased to be thought worthy of a place in the bettermost
rooms of the house, they were frequently to be found in the stables
or outhouses, serving as cornbins, or receptacles for all sorts of
rubbish. Still they were sometimes remembered, for old people would
tell of their efficacy in curing erysipelas, or, as it is locally
termed, “_le faeu sauvage_.” The chests chosen for this purpose were
those ornamented with Scriptural subjects or figures of Apostles and
Saints, and the cure was supposed to be effected by opening and
shutting the lid of the coffer nine times, so as to fan the face of the

One of the many mysterious ills to which poor human nature is subject,
is known as “_la maladie de la nère poule_.” This is to be removed by
procuring a perfectly black hen, and swinging her round the head of the
sufferer three times.

To cure an equally undefined affection known as “_le mal volant_” the
patient must also take a black hen, and, holding her in both hands,
must rub that part of the body in which the pain is felt. The hen used
in this incantation must be bought; if a gift, the charm would fail of
its effect. After having been used it must not be kept or put to death,
but given away. The classical reader will not require to be reminded
that cocks were sacrificed to Æsculapius.

[205] From Mrs. Dalgairns and Rachel Duport.


These interesting relics of the aboriginal inhabitants of the island
are called by the country people “_fouïdres_,” _i.e._ thunderbolts. It
is firmly believed that the house which has the happiness to possess
one of them will neither be struck by lightning nor consumed by fire.

It is believed that animals that are sick can be cured by giving them
water to drink in which a celt has been dipped.


When a person has reason to believe that either himself or any of his
belongings is under the influence of a spell, he should procure the
heart of an animal--that of a black sheep is supposed to be the most
efficacious,--and, having stuck it over thickly in every part with new
pins or nails, put it down to roast before a strong fire. Care must,
however, have been taken previously to close up all means of entry into
the house, even to stuffing up the key-hole. The heart no sooner begins
to feel the influence of the fire than doleful cries are heard from
without, which increase more and more as the roasting goes on. Loud
knocks are next heard at the door, and urgent appeals for admission are
made, so urgent that few have the heart to withstand them. No sooner,
however, is the door opened than all the clamour ceases. No one is
seen outside, and, on looking at the heart, it is found to be burnt
to a cinder. The charm has failed, and those who tried it remain as
much under the influence of the sorcerer as ever, with the additional
certainty of having offended their enemy without a chance of pardon or
pity on his part, nay, they know that they have only exposed themselves
to greater persecution in revenge for the pain they have made him
suffer; for it is universally believed that the wizards or witches are
irresistibly attracted to the place where this counter-spell is being
performed; and that, while it lasts, the tortures of the damned are
suffered by them. What would occur if the spell were persevered in and
the door kept closed is not generally known, but it is thought that as
the heart dried up before the flames, the sorcerer would wither away,
and that, with the last drop of moisture, his wicked soul would depart
to the place of everlasting torment.[206]

[206] From Charlotte Du Port.


It is related that towards the end of the eighteenth century a number
of country people were assembled in a farm-house in the parish of
Ste. Marie-du-Castel, for the purpose of putting into practice the
counter-spell described in the preceding paragraph, or one of a similar
nature; for it is believed that the same end may be attained by
setting a cauldron on the hearth, and boiling the heart with certain
herbs, gathered with some peculiar precautions, and known only to the
“_désorcelleurs_,” as the white-witches who generally conduct these
ceremonies are called in the local dialect. The doors of the house, as
is required in these cases, had been carefully closed and fastened,
and the charm was, to all appearance, progressing favourably, when a
knock was heard at the door. No one answered, for fear of breaking
the spell, but all remained in breathless and awe-stricken silence,
believing firmly that their incantation was working favourably and in
accordance with their wishes. The visitor on the outside, who could
plainly see that the house was not untenanted, grew impatient at not
being admitted, and called out with a loud and authoritative voice,
to know why an entrance was refused him. The voice was that of a
gentleman residing in the neighbourhood, the Seigneur de St. George, a
magistrate universally respected for his integrity, and beloved for his
benevolence. The inmates of the dwelling durst no longer keep him out;
the door was at last unbolted, but, as the common belief is that the
first person who applies for admission after the spell has begun is the
sorcerer, the assembled peasants were at their wits’ end to account for
his presence.

The gentleman was not long in perceiving how matters stood. He lectured
the assembly soundly on their folly and superstition, and, recognising
among them the “_désorcelleur_,” whom he well knew to be a designing
knave, making his profit out of the credulity of his neighbours, he
drove him out of the house with some well-applied stripes from a
dog-whip he chanced to have in his hand.

It is not known whether the Seigneur de St. George succeeded in
convincing any of his neighbours of the folly of believing in
witchcraft; it is rather thought, on the contrary, that from that day
forward they considered him wiser than need be![207]

[207] From W. P. Métivier, Esq.

Love Spells.

    “A love-potion works more by the strength of charm than
    nature.”--Collier, _On Popularity_.

Under the head of Holy Wells mention has already been made of a means
resorted to by maidens to ascertain who their future husbands are to
be, but this is not the only manner by which this most interesting
information is to be obtained.

St. Thomas’ Night, La Longue Veille, Christmas Eve, and the last night
of the year, are all seasons in which it is supposed that the powers of
the air, devils, witches, fairies, and goblins, are abroad and active,
and accordingly, these days, like Hallowe’en in Scotland, are chosen
for the performance of spells by which some of the secrets of futurity
may be discovered.

[Illustration: Old Manor House, Anneville.]

Some of these charms must be performed alone--others are social, but
all require strict silence. As to the social spells, it is easy to
conceive that when a number of girls are met together to try their
fortunes, the charm is frequently broken, either by the fears of the
superstitious, or the laughter of the incredulous. We will begin with
the solitary spells. On St. Thomas’ Night the girl who is desirous
of knowing whom she is to marry, must take a golden pippin, and,
when about retiring to rest, must pass two pins crossways through
it, and lay it under her pillow. Some say that the pippin should be
wrapped up in the stocking taken from the left leg--others that this
stocking should be taken off last and thrown over the left shoulder.
Which is right, we have no means of ascertaining, but doubtless the
efficacy of the spell depends on following the correct formula. It is
then necessary to get into bed backwards, and repeat the following
incantation thrice:--

    _“Saint Thomas, Saint Thomas,_
    _Le plus court, le plus bas,_
    _Fais moi voir en m’endormant_
    _Celui qui sera mon amant,_
    _Et le pays, et la contrée._
    _Où il fait sa demeurée,_
    _Et le métier qu’il sait faire_
    _Devant moi qu’il vienne faire._
    _Qu’il soit beau ou qu’il soit laid_
    _Tel qu’il sera je l’aimerai._
    _Saint Thomas, fait moi la grâce_
    _Que je le voie, que je l’embrasse.”_
                      _“Ainsi soit il.”_

Not another word must be spoken, and, if the rite has been duly
performed, the desired knowledge will be communicated in a dream. There
are different versions of the words to be repeated. One of them avoids
a direct invocation of the Saint, and begins thus:--

    _“Le jour Saint Thomas,_
    _Le plus court, le plus bas,_
    _Je prie Dieu incessamment_
    _De me faire voir en dormant_
    _Celui qui doit être mon amant, etc.”_[208]

Another charm consists in placing two fronds of agrimony, each bearing
nine leaflets, crosswise under the pillow, and securing them by means
of two new pins, also crossed. The future husband is sure to appear in
a dream.[209]

The name of the future husband may be discovered by writing the letters
of the alphabet on a piece of paper, cutting them apart, and, when
getting into bed, just after extinguishing the light, throwing them
into a basin or bucket of water. Next morning the bits of paper which
float with the written side uppermost indicate the name. This charm is
efficacious on Midsummer Eve.[210]

The trade of the husband that is to be may be guessed at by throwing
the white of a raw egg into a glass of water, and exposing it to
the rays of the noonday sun at Christmas or Midsummer. The egg in
coagulating assumes curious and fantastic forms, and these are
interpreted to denote the trade or profession of him whom the girl who
tries the charm is destined to marry. A sort of divination to the same
effect is also practised by pouring molten lead into water.

A spell which requires to be performed in society is as follows. On
any of the solemn nights about Christmastide, when spells are supposed
to be efficaciously used, a number of girls meet together and make a
chaplet in perfect silence, by stringing grains of allspice and berries
of holly alternately, placing, at intervals of twelve, an acorn, of
which there must be as many as there are persons in the company.

This chaplet is twined round a log of wood, which is then placed on the
blazing hearth, and, as the last acorn is being consumed, each of the
young women sees the form of her future husband pass between her and
the fire.[211]

Another social spell consists in making a cake, to which each person in
the company contributes a portion of flour, salt, and water, together
with a hair from her own head, or parings from the nails. When the cake
is kneaded--an operation in which all must take a part--it is placed on
the hearth to bake. A table is then set out in the middle of the room,
and covered with a clean cloth. As many plates are laid out as there
are persons present, and as many seats placed round the table, each
girl designating her own. The cake, when thoroughly baked, is placed
on the board, and the girls watch in solemn silence until the hour of
midnight, when, exactly as the clock strikes twelve, the appearances
of the future husbands are seen to enter, and seat themselves in the
chairs prepared for them; each girl, however, seeing only her own
husband that is to be, those of her companions remaining invisible to
her. Should anyone of the party be destined to die unmarried, instead
of the appearance of a man, she sees a coffin. The spell is broken,
should a single word be uttered from the moment when the ingredients
for the cake are first produced, until the whole of the ceremony is

The charmed cake may also be used by a person alone, in which case the
manner of proceeding is as follows. The cake, which should be composed
of equal quantities of flour, salt, and soot, must be made and baked
in secret and in silence. On retiring to rest it must be divided into
two equal portions, one of which must be eaten by the person who tries
the charm, but no water or other liquid is to be drunk with it. The
other half is to be wrapped up in the garter taken from the left leg,
and placed under the pillow. At midnight the form of the future husband
will stand at the bedside and be seen by his intended bride.[213]

[208] See _Notes and Queries_, IV. Series. Vol. VIII., p. 506.
_Derbyshire Folk-Lore._

On St. Thomas’ Eve there used to be a custom among girls to procure a
large red onion, into which, after peeling, they would stick nine pins,
and say:--

    “Good St. Thomas, do me right,
    Send me my true love this night,
    In his clothes and his array,
    Which he weareth every day.”

Eight pins were stuck round one in the centre, to which was given the
name of the swain--the “true love.”

The onion was placed under the pillow on going to bed, and they would
dream of the desired person.

[209] From Miss Lane.

[210] From Miss Lane.

[211] From Miss Lane.

[212] From the late Miss Sophy Brock and Rachel Du Port.

[213] From Miss Lane.


It must not be supposed that these love charms can always be tried
with impunity. Like all other forms of divination they are sinful, and
instances are on record in which punishment has followed the unhallowed
attempt to pry into the secrets of futurity so wisely hidden from our
mortal ken. It would seem that not merely the wraith or similitude of
the destined husband can be made to show itself, but that, by some
unexplained and mysterious agency, the actual presence in the body can
be completed, at whatever distance the man may at that moment be. To
the unfortunate individual who is made the victim of these practices
the whole appears the effect of a frightful dream, attended with much
suffering. It is related that an officer, thus forced to show himself,
left behind him a sword, which was found by the young woman after his
departure, and carefully hidden away. In process of time he came to the
island, saw the girl, fell in love with her, and was married. For many
years they lived happily together, until, one day, in turning out the
contents of an old coffer, he found at the bottom of it the identical
sword which had disappeared from his possession in so unaccountable
and mysterious a manner. The memory of the frightful dream in which he
had endured so much flashed across his mind. In a frenzy of passion he
sought his wife, and, upbraiding her with having been to him the cause
of dreadful suffering, and of having put him in peril of his life by
her magical practices, plunged the sword into her breast.[214]

[214] From Rachel Du Port.

See _Les Veillées Allemandes_, by Grimm. _La Veille de St. André_, Vol.
I., p. 201.


There appear to be some superstitious notions with regard to the
connection of witchcraft with the white-thorn. Witches are suspected
of meeting at night under its shade. An old man of very eccentric
habits not many years since still inhabited the ruined manor house of
Anneville, once the residence of the ancient family of de Chesney, sold
in 1509 to Nicholas Fashin, and subsequently passing by inheritance
into the Andros family, in whose possession it still remains.

He passed with his neighbours for a wizard, although he only professed
to be a “_désorcelleur_” or white-witch, and was said to have been in
the habit of taking those who applied to him to be unbewitched to a
very old thorn-bush, which had grown up within the walls of an ancient
square tower adjoining the house, and there, before sunrise, making
them go through certain evolutions which were supposed to counteract
the spells which had been cast upon them.[215]

The hawthorn, or at least such specimens of the tree as are
remarkable for their age, their size, or their gnarled branches,
seems to be associated in the minds of our peasantry with magic and
magical practices. The wizards and witches, when, in their nocturnal
excursions they take the form of hares, rabbits, cats, or other
animals, assemble under the shadow, or in the vicinity of some ancient
thorn, and amuse themselves with skipping round it in the moonlight.
The “_désorcelleur_” who pretends to the power of counteracting the
spells of witches, and freeing the unfortunate victims of their art
from their evil influence, resorts with the sufferer to some noted
thorn-bush, and there goes through the ceremonies and incantations
which are to free the sufferer. A large and very old tree, on the
estate of a gentleman in the parish of St. Saviour’s, was, in days
gone by, constantly resorted to at night for the purpose of cutting
from it small portions of the wood to be carried about the person as a
safeguard against witchcraft. It is essential to the efficacy of this
charm that the part of the branch cut off should be that from which
three spurs issue.[216]

William Le Poidevin was told by his grandmother that the
“blanche-épine” is “le roi des bois;” the wood must not be employed for
common uses. A boat or ship, into the construction of which it entered,
would infallibly be lost or come to grief.[217]

[215] From the present proprietor of Anneville.

[216] From George Allez, Esq., who calls the tree he speaks of
“aube-épine,” but declares it was not a hawthorn. May it not be a
mountain ash or rowan tree?

[217] Among the Blakeway MSS. in the Bodleian Library I found noticed
these superstitious cures for whooping-cough.

“Near to Button Oak, in the Forest of Bewdley, grows a thorn in the
form of an arch, one end in the county of Salop, the other in Stafford.
This is visited by numbers in order to make their children pass under
it for the cure of the whooping-cough.”--_Notes and Queries_, IV.
Series, III. 216.


The following extract from a work published in London in 1815, but
which is now very rarely to be met with, gives so good an account of
the manner in which springs of water are believed in these islands to
be discovered by means of the divining rod, that we have no hesitation
in copying it at length.

The work bears the following title: “General View of the Agriculture
and Present State of the Islands of Normandy subject to the Crown
of Great Britain, drawn up for the consideration of the Board of
Agriculture and Internal Improvement,” by Thomas Quayle, Esq.

[Illustration: Oratory Window, Anneville.]

The passage in question will be found at p. 31. _Baguette
Divinatoire._--“The opinion still prevails in Jersey, of a power,
possessed by certain individuals, of discovering by means of a rod
of hazel or of some few trees, in what spot springs of water may be
found. A respectable farmer in the parish of St. Sauveur is persuaded
that he is endowed with this faculty, of which he says he discovered
himself to be possessed in consequence of observing and imitating the
ceremonies employed for a similar purpose by an emigrant priest. The
farmer, on repeating these himself, found them equally efficacious, and
afterwards received from the priest instructions for his exercise of
the water-finding art.

“He first removes from his person every particle of metal. A slender
rod of hazel, terminating in two twigs, the whole about ten inches in
length, is taken into both hands, one holding each twig. The forked
point of the rod, and palms of the hands, as closed, are turned
upwards. The operator then walks forward, with his eye directed on
the forked end of the rod. When he approaches a spot where a spring
is concealed, the elevated point of the rod begins to wave and bend
downwards; at the spot itself it becomes inverted.

“On the 28th of August, 1812, these ceremonies were practised in
the presence of three gentlemen, then and still unconvinced of the
existence of any such power. The farmer had, at their request, civilly
left his harvest, and repeated his practice for their satisfaction.
He first held the rod over his own well, where it did not bend, in
consequence, as he asserted, of the spring not being perennial. He
then slowly walked forward with the rod of hazel held in his hands; at
a particular spot, near his own dwelling, the forked end of the rod
began to be agitated and droop downward; at length, as he proceeded,
it became nearly or quite inverted. He then marked the spot, walked
away, and, setting off in another direction, returned toward the same
spot. When he arrived near it, the end of the rod again began to droop,
and, at the spot, was, as before, inverted. When he was proceeding, the
persons present carefully watched his hands, but could not discern any
motion in either, or any other visible means by which the rod could be
affected. One of them took the rod into his own hands, and, repeating
the same practice over the same ground, the rod did not bend.

“Whether under the designated spot a spring exists or not was not
examined; probably there may, quite apart from any virtue in the
_Baguette divinatoire_.

“On several occasions the farmer has been requested to seek for water,
and it has not only been found, but nearly at the depth which he
indicated. He is a man of good character, of simple manners, obliging
and communicative. Being in easy circumstances, he exercises his art
without reward. The priest had communicated some rules, to enable him
to judge of the exact distance of the water from the surface. These, he
observes, proved fallacious, and the only guide he has for judging of
the depth of the water, is his observation of the distance between the
spot at which the forked end of the rod begins to be agitated, and that
at which, when he arrives, the rod becomes wholly inverted.”

It will be observed that Quayle does not assert that he himself saw
the farmer practise his art, but merely that it had been witnessed
by three gentlemen in 1812. The copy of Quayle’s work, however, from
which the extract was made, contains a very interesting marginal note
in pencil, in the handwriting of a former owner of the book, Peter Le
Pelley, Esq., Seigneur of Sark, who was, unfortunately, drowned by
the capsizing of a boat in which he was crossing from that island to
Guernsey in March, 1839. He says:--

“I have seen it practised by Mr. Moullin, of _Le Ponchez_, at Sark
and Brechou; and at Brechou the forked stick became so inverted that
it split at the fork. He did it in my presence on gold, silver, and
water, and the rod inverted over them. He first rubbed his hands with
the substance to be sought for, and, if water, dipped his hands in it,
and held his two thumbs on the extremity of the forks. That there is a
virtue in the using of the _Baguette divinatoire_ is incontestable, the
reason I deem unknown. May not electricity or magnetism be concerned in
it? It turned in the hands of some Sarkmen who previously were ignorant
of possessing that power. _Ergo_ it is independent of the will.

“On Mr. Moullin’s indication, who told me I should find water at twenty
to twenty-two feet at Brechou, I had a well dug. The men blasted all
the way through the solid rock without finding any water, and at
nineteen to twenty feet, on making a hole with a jumper, the water
sprang up and filled the well. Mr. Moullin found a ring that had been
lost by means of the _Baguette divinatoire_.”

Brechou, mentioned in this note, is a small islet or dependency of
Sark, more generally known by the name of l’Ile des Marchants, a
name it derived from some former proprietors, members of the ancient
Guernsey family of Le Marchant; and for those who are unacquainted with
the art of quarrying, it may not be amiss to explain that a “jumper” is
an iron tool with which holes are bored in the rock for the purpose of
blasting it with gunpowder, and so facilitating its removal piecemeal.

The writer of the present compilation had an opportunity of witnessing
experiments with the divining rod, when attending, in September, 1875,
at Guingamp, in Brittany, a meeting of the “Association Bretonne,”
a combination of the Agricultural and Archæological Societies of
that Province. The place where the experiments were made was a piece
of grass-land at the head of a small valley, and the course of an
underground stream seemed to be traced by the deflections of the rod,
until it pointed almost perpendicularly downwards over a certain spot
in the garden of a neighbouring _château_, where, we were told, there
was no doubt a strong spring would be found at no great distance
from the surface, which, taking into consideration the nature of the
locality, seemed highly probable. It is certain that in the hands of
some who had never seen the experiment performed before, and who at
first professed incredulity, the rod appeared ready to twist itself
out of their grasp as soon as they drew near to the place where water
was supposed to be, while with others, who were disposed to believe
only the evidence of what they witnessed with their own eyes, the
mysterious twig remained perfectly still. No attempt at deceit could be
detected. The persons who made the experiment were gentlemen, and men
of education, although, as Bretons, not perhaps quite free from that
tinge of superstitious feeling which is so characteristic of all Celtic
nations. The writer is bound to add that, neither in his own hands,
nor in those of his companion and fellow countryman, was the slightest
effect produced, although they were carefully instructed how to hold
the rod, and they went over the very same ground where, in the hands of
others, the rod had been visibly affected.

It is not irrelevant to add that in Cornwall, and other mining
countries, the divining rod is said to be used for the purpose of
discovering and tracing veins of metalliferous ore.


Few insects besides the bee and the silk-worm have been pressed into
the service of man--at least in such a manner as to be looked upon as
domesticated--and of these the bee, from its superior intelligence, and
the striking fact of its living in community, with the semblance of
a well-organised government, has, from the earliest times, attracted
the attention and excited the interest of mankind. It is asserted by
those who keep these useful insects, as well as by naturalists who have
made them their especial study, that they recognise their masters and
the members of their families, and that these may approach them with
impunity when a stranger would run great risk of being stung. If this
is really the case, it is not difficult to conceive how, among a people
rude and ignorant, and yet observant of the phenomena of nature, the
bee should come to be regarded with particular respect. It is probably
from a feeling of this kind that the custom arose of informing the
bees when a death occurs in a family. The correct way of performing the
ceremony is this. One of the household must take the door-key, and,
proceeding to the hives, knock with it, and give notice to the bees in
a whisper of the sad event which has just taken place, affixing, at the
same time, a small shred of black crape or other stuff to each of the
hives. If this formality is omitted, it is believed that the bees will
die, or forsake the place. The same custom exists in other countries,
but in Guernsey it is also thought proper to give them notice of
weddings, and to deck the hives with white streamers.

A swarm of bees ought not to be sold for money, if you wish it to
prosper. It should be given or exchanged for something of equal value.
A money price is, however, sometimes agreed for, but in this case the
sum must not be paid in any baser metal than gold. In following a swarm
of bees, besides beating on pots and pans to make them settle, it is
customary to call out to them “_Align’ous, mes p’tits, align’ous_.”[218]

[218] From J. de Garis, Esq., J. L. Mansell, Esq., and others.


Various Editor’s Notes on the subject of Charms and Spells will be
found in Appendix C.


Folk Medicine and Leech Craft.

                    “A certain shepherd lad,
    Of small regard to see to, yet well skill’d
    In every virtuous plant and healing herb,
    That spreads her verdant leaf to th’ morning ray.”


In days gone by, before the invention of Morrison’s pills, Holloway’s
ointment, and other infallible remedies, no farm was without its plot
of medicinal herbs, skilful combinations of which--secrets handed down
from one old wife or village doctor to another--were supposed to be
capable of curing all the ills to which poor suffering humanity is
heir, to say nothing of the various diseases affecting horses, oxen,
swine, and other domestic animals.

Nine varieties of herbs was the number usually cultivated, a number
which, like three and seven, is generally supposed to have some occult
and mystic virtues. As to the herbs themselves it is not easy at the
present day, when old traditions are rapidly passing away, to obtain a
correct list of them, but the following is as correct as we can make

[Illustration: St. Peter Port Harbour, 1852, showing the Old North

_La Poumillière_, or Helleborus viridis. Métivier, in his Dictionary,
page 401, says of this plant that it was originally held in great
veneration by the Greeks and Romans. He also says that it was used in
cases of consumption in cattle by our local veterinary doctors. They
pierced the dewlap or the ear of the affected animal, and inserted in
the hole one of the small roots of this plant. This induced an abundant
suppuration, which sometimes proved beneficial.

_La Cassidone_, or French lavender. Boiste, in his dictionary, says
that its flowers and leaves promote salivation. There is a proverb to
the effect that:

    _“L’hyssope tout ma’ développe_
    _La cassidoune tout ma’ détrone.”_

_Le Rosmarin_, or rosemary. It is considered unlucky not to have a
plant of rosemary in one’s garden, but it is a plant that should
never be _bought_, but grown for you, and presented by a friend and

_La Petite Sauche_, or small-leaved sage.

_Le Grànd Consoul_, or comfrey. Of this the root is the part used.

_La Rue._ Rue, which was supposed to have a potent effect on the eyes,
and bestow second sight.

_L’Alliène_, or wormwood.

_La Marjolaine_, or marjoram, and

_La Campana_, or vervain, the “holy herb” of the Druids.

This list by no means exhausts the plants possessed of healing powers.

George Métivier, in his _Souvenirs Historiques_, chapter IV. and
II., speaks of a sacred briar, called “pied-de-chat,” worn as a
waist-belt as an infallible talisman against witchcraft. When a man
was afflicted with boils, he had to pass, fasting and in silence, for
nine consecutive mornings, under an arch of this same briar. The green
sprigs of broom, however, are believed to be equally efficacious in
averting the evil influence of spells.

In planting a bed of the smaller herbs, to render them thoroughly
efficacious they should be planted under a volley of minor oaths, such
as “goderabetin” or “godzamin.” It is not expedient that the oaths
should be too blood curdling.

George Métivier alludes to this, and says he himself knew old gardeners
who made a constant practice of this prehistoric method, and quotes
Pliny, Vol. X., p. 77: “He was enjoined to sow (basil) with curses and
oaths, and then, so that it should succeed, to beat the ground.”

EDITOR’S NOTE.--“MAL DE POULE.”--In St. Martin’s parish lived an old
woman who had an infallible cure for sick headaches. The patient was
put to bed, and a live chicken, with its beak stuffed with parsley,
enveloped in a cloth, was tied on his head. She then muttered a prayer
over it, and tied it again, still more firmly, round the patient’s
forehead. As the chicken died the headache ceased.--_From Miss Thoume._


That the belief in touching for King’s Evil prevailed in the island is
evident from the following extracts.

“Extraits des Comptes des Diacres de l’Eglise de la Ville, contenus
dans un Livre en la possession du Procureur des Pauvres de cette
paroisse, endossé ‘Aux Pauvres de la Ville.’”

“Le Vendredy, 24 Aout, 1677, l’on a trouvé dans le tronq la somme
de deux cents vingt livres tournois en or, argent, sols marquez, et
doubles. Item, vingt et quatre livres tournois, qui ont été données
à la veuve de Nicolas Corbel pour son enfant, qui est incomodé des
ecrouëlles, et qui s’en va à Londres pour estre touché de sa Ma^{té}.”

“Le 26 Aout, 1678, a été tiré hors du tronq la so͠e de trente livres
tournois, qui ont été delivrés à Caterine de Garis, fem͠e de Jean
Hairon, pour aller en Angleterre y faire toucher par Sa Majesté une
fillette qui est affligée des ecrouëlles. La d_{te} so͠e luy ayant été
alloüée par consentement des officiers de l’Eglise.”

“Le 26^{me} de Mars, 1688, par ordre de Messrs. les Collecteurs des
Pauvres de la Ville, j’ay balay a Anne, fem͠e de Pierre De Lahee, 12
livres tournois pour luy aider à aller faire toucher son enfant du Mal
du Roy, et est des deniers des Pauvres.”


Story Telling.

    “In winter tedious nights sit by the fire,
    With good old folks, and let them tell thee tales.”

                                   --_King Richard II._

When, in former days, neighbours were in the habit of meeting
together on such occasions as “_la grande querrue_,” “_la longue
veille_,” or the more ordinary “_veillées_,”--at which the women of
the neighbourhood, young and old, used to assemble in turn at each
other’s houses, and ply their knitting needles by the light of a single
lamp and the warmth of a single hearth, thereby economising oil and
fuel,--it was customary to break the monotony of the conversation
by calling on each of the company in turn to relate some tale or
anecdote. Most of these are simple enough, but in the mouth of a
skillful story-teller are still capable of exciting a laugh among the
unsophisticated audiences to whom they are addressed.

A favourite class of stories were those in which the inhabitants of the
sister islands of Jersey, Alderney, and Sark, were held up to ridicule,
and the following tales, trifling and absurd as they are, may suffice
to give some idea of this sort of narrative.


Once upon a time, before the lighthouse on the dangerous reef of the
Casquet rocks was erected, a vessel was wrecked on Alderney. Such
occurrences in those days were not uncommon, but so cut off from
intercourse with the rest of the world were the inhabitants of the
island, that they were, for the most part, totally ignorant of the
nature and value of the goods which the waves so frequently cast up on
their inhospitable shores, and it is related that when a Dutch East
Indiaman, laden with cinnamon, was wrecked on the coast, the people
rejoiced in the seasonable supply of fuel that was afforded them, and
employed the precious bundles of aromatic bark in heating their ovens.

On the occasion, however, to which our present story refers, among
the articles saved from the wreck there was a barrel, which, on being
opened, was found to contain a number of small packages carefully done
up in paper. Some of these were opened and proved to be needles of
various sizes, but the oldest inhabitant had never seen anything of the
sort, and many were the speculations as to what they could possibly be.
A general meeting of the islanders was called to deliberate, and many
conjectures were hazarded. At last the opinion of an old grey-headed
man prevailed. He expressed it to be his firm conviction that the
strange commodity could be nothing else but the seed of some new kind
of herb or useful root, and that the best thing to be done was to make
choice of one of the most fertile spots on the Blaies, and to proceed
forthwith to plough and sow.

His advice was received with acclamation, and immediately acted upon,
but alas for their hopes! Spring came, and nothing but an unusually
fine crop of weeds--always too common--appeared on the carefully-tilled

[219] “Semer des Aiguilles.” See _Proverbes du Pays de Béarn_, page 17.

“Semia Agulhes--Semer des Aiguilles. Se donner une peine inutile, faire
un travail qui ne produira rien. En Béarn, comme dans la Gascogne,
(Bladé, Prov.) on attribuait aux habitants de quelques villages le fait
d’avoir semé des aiguilles, dans l’espoir qu’elles multiplieraient
comme du blé.”


It is not easy to understand why it should be so, but it is
nevertheless a fact that the inhabitants of Jersey, although conceiving
themselves a far superior race, have always looked with eyes of envy
and jealousy on the smaller and less pretentious island of Guernsey.
Perhaps the greater commercial prosperity which the possession of a
good roadstead and port conferred on the latter at a time when Jersey
could boast of neither, and the advantages arising in consequence from
a freer intercourse with strangers, in days when these islands were
almost cut off from the rest of the world, may have contributed to
produce and keep alive these feelings. Certain it is that the Jerseymen
have at all times had the reputation of being always ready, when an
opportunity presented itself, to play a bad turn to their neighbours of

It is said that three audacious mariners, who had come over from the
larger island with a cargo of agricultural produce, after disposing of
their wares to good advantage, and having indulged perhaps a little
too freely in the excellent cider of the place, conceived the bold
design of carrying away the island with them and joining it on to
Jersey! Could they succeed in effecting the annexation, what credit
would they not gain for themselves! What advantages would not accrue to
their native isle!

Their hated rivals--for so, as true Jerseymen, they looked on the quiet
industrious inhabitants of Guernsey--would be obliged to acknowledge
their superiority, and submit quietly to the supremacy of the larger

They were not long in putting their project into execution. Maître
Ph’lip, the captain of the boat, gave directions to his cousin Pierre
to make fast a hawser to one of the needle-like rocks that stand out so
boldly from the extremity of St. Martin’s Point. The order was obeyed,
the wind was fair, all sails were hoisted and they steered towards
Jersey, singing out in full chorus:--

    _“Hale, Pierre! Hale, Jean!_
    _Guernsi s’en vient!”_

They made sure that Guernsey could not resist the tug, and that the
morning light would find it stranded in St. Ouen’s Bay. But they had
miscalculated the strength of the hawser. It snapped short, and the
sudden jerk sent them all sprawling to the bottom of the boat, too much
bruised and discomfited to think of renewing their bold attempt.[220]

[220] See _Melusine_, p. 321. Note (i).

[Illustration: Old Farm House at St. Saviour’s.

From a Pencil Drawing, early in the Nineteenth Century.]


In Guernsey it is told as a joke against their neighbours the
Jerseymen, that when there was a question of rebuilding the gallows,
hitherto a wooden structure, but falling to pieces from rottenness, the
Procureur de la Reine recommended that the uprights should be of stone,
as more desirable, and strengthened his argument by saying, “It will
last for ever, and serve for us and for our children.”

Proverbial Stories.

The terse form of an aphorism is not only one in which the proverbial
philosophy of a people may be expressed. The idea is frequently
expanded into a short tale or fable, and in this shape is often alluded
to and understood, although perhaps the story or anecdote is unknown or

To give an example. The meaning of the words “A Cat’s Paw” is perfectly
comprehended by many, who possibly have never heard or read of the
fable of “The Cat, the Monkey, and the Chestnuts.”

A few of these stories, as they are related in Guernsey, are given


Although scarcely a year passes without some fact coming to light which
shows the folly and imprudence of the proceedings, it is by no means
uncommon for old people to make over by a legal instrument, called
“_Contrat de Délaissance_,” the whole of their property to a child or
other relative, on condition of being maintained for the rest of their
days in a manner befitting their station in life. They have generally
cause to repent the deed, for, even if kindly treated, there is a
feeling of dependence, and a want of liberty of action, which cannot
fail to be irksome to one who has hitherto been his own master, and
free to act in any way he pleased.

It is related that a man who had given over his estate, and all that he
possessed, to an only son, ordered, after a time, a strong coffer, with
a secure lock, to be made. The son indulged him in the fancy, wondering
what he could want the box for, but hoping perhaps that he might have
kept back some hoard of money or other valuables he wished to secure.
The old man kept his own secret. Not a soul but himself knew what the
box contained. At last he died. The son hastened to open the coffer,
hoping to find a treasure. What was his astonishment and disappointment
at finding only a large mallet, such as is used for driving in the
stakes to which the cattle are tethered. A writing attached to it
explained the old man’s meaning. The person who related the story had
forgotten the exact words, but it was a rude rhyme, beginning thus:--

“_Ce maillot--ou un plus gros s’il le faut_.”[221]

The substance of the whole was that the mallet would be advantageously
employed in knocking out the brains of the man who was fool enough to
dispossess himself, during his lifetime, of the control of his own

The following legend, from the supplement to the _Illustrated News_,
February 7th, 1874, seems to have a common origin with the preceding.

Jehan Connaxa was one of the merchant princes of Antwerp, who is
supposed to have lived in the fifteenth century. His only children
were two daughters, whom he had married to young noblemen. Not content
with the handsome dowries he had given them on their marriage, and
too impatient to wait for the time when all his vast wealth would
become theirs by inheritance, they persuaded him to make it over to
them during his life-time. For a short period he was treated with due
consideration, but it was not long before he began to find that his
presence in the houses of his sons-in-law was irksome to them and their
wives; and at last he was plainly told that he must not expect any
longer to find a home with them. Under these circumstances he hired a
small residence, and turned over in his mind how he could manage so as
to recover the position in his daughters’ houses which he had formerly
occupied. At last he hit on this expedient. He invited his sons-in-law
and their wives to dine with him on a certain day, and, when he was
quite sure they would come, he went to an old friend, a rich merchant,
and borrowed from him the sum of one thousand crowns for twenty-four
hours, telling him to keep the transaction a profound secret, but to
send a servant to his house the next day at a certain hour to fetch it
back. Accordingly, the next day, when his daughters and their husbands
were seated at his table, a message came that his friend had sent for
the sum of money he had promised. He pretended to be displeased at
being interrupted in the midst of his meal, but left the table, went
into an adjoining apartment, and returned with a sack of money, from
which he counted out the full sum of a thousand crowns, and delivered
it to the messenger. The astonishment of his guests, who were not
aware of how the money had come into his possession, was extreme,
and, believing him to be still the owner of unbounded wealth, his
sons-in-law insisted on his taking up his abode with them alternately
for the rest of his days. Each vied with the other in showing him every
attention, hoping thus to secure the greater share of the inheritance.
He always brought with him a heavy strong box with three locks, which
was supposed to contain untold wealth. At last, the time when he was
to quit this world arrived, and on his death-bed he sent for his two
sons-in-law and the Prior of a neighbouring Convent of Jacobins, and
delivered to them the three keys of the box, which, he said, contained
his will, but with strict injunctions that it was not to be opened till
forty days after his funeral had elapsed. Wishing, however, as he said,
to do good while he was yet alive, he begged his sons-in-law to advance
a large sum for immediate distribution among the poor, and also to pay
another large sum to the Prior to secure the prayers of the Church for
his soul. This was done willingly, in anticipation of the expected rich
inheritance, and the old man was sumptuously buried. At the expiration
of the forty days the box was opened with due formality, and was found
to contain a heap of old iron, lead, and stones, on the top of which
was a large cudgel, with a parchment rolled round it, on which was
written the will in these terms:--“_Ego Johannes Connaxa tale condo
testamentum, at qui sui curâ relictâ, alterius curam susceperit,
mactetur hâc clavâ_.”

[221] From Rachel Du Port.


    “He that gives away all
    Before he is dead,
    Let ’em take this hatchet
    And knock him on ye head.”

_Notes and Queries_, IV. Series, Vol. III., pp. 526 and 589. Vol. IV.,
p. 213. See _Gentleman’s Magazine Library_. Popular Superstitions. _The
Holy Maul_, p. 181. Compare representation of a hammer or pickaxe,
sculptured on threshold of west door of Vale Church.


When the means of education were not so good or so plentiful in
Guernsey as they are in the present day, it was customary, with the
better class of farmers, to send their sons to school in England for
a year or two, in order that they might acquire, together with a more
correct knowledge of the English tongue, such acquaintance with the
ways of the world as might fit them to enter upon the active duties
of life on their return home. This object, we may suppose, was to a
certain extent gained, but, like the monkey who had seen the world,
many of these youths returned to their native isle with an inflated
idea of their own consequence, and affecting to despise and ignore all
that had been familiar to them from their earliest childhood.

It is said of one of these young men, that, after a residence of
no long duration in England, he pretended, on his return, to have
completely forgotten the names of some of the most common farming
implements, and, indeed, to have almost lost the use of his mother
tongue. His father was in despair, for it was evident that if the boy
could not converse with the labourers, he would be of little or no
assistance in directing the farming operations. A lucky accident set
the father’s mind at rest on this score. His son, in passing through
the farmyard, put his foot on a rake that was lying on the ground,
partly hidden by some straw. The handle flew up and hit him a smart
blow on the forehead, upon which, forgetting his pretended ignorance,
he exclaimed, in good Guernsey-French, “_Au Guyablle seit le râté_,”
(“Devil take the rake.”) His father, who was standing by, congratulated
him on the miraculous recovery of his memory, and begged him henceforth
not to forget “_sen râté_.” The proverbial saying “_Il n’a pas
roublliaï sen râté_,” (“He has not forgotten his rake,”) is still
applied to a person who remembers what he learned in his youth.[223]

[223] See a story precisely similar in its incidents in that curious
collection MacTaggart’s _Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopædia_, under the
word “Claut.” The story must be an ancient one, to be told in places
so far apart as Galloway and Guernsey, and speaking totally different


The evils that may result from being over particular, and the wisdom of
letting well alone, are exemplified by the story of Rachel Câtel and
her petticoat. This respectable matron or spinster--for tradition gives
us no clue to her state in life--was engaged in fashioning a petticoat.
She cut it out, and found it somewhat too long. She cut again, and now
it was too short. When, therefore, a thing has been spoilt by too much
care or meddling, old people will shake their heads and say:--“_Ch’est
coum le cotillon de Râché Câtel. A’ le copit et il était trop long. A’
le copit derechef, et il était trop court._”


One day a cat and a fox were travelling together and chatting of one
thing and another as they jogged on their way.

At last says the cat to the fox:

“You are always talking of your cleverness. How many cunning devices
have you to escape from your numerous enemies?”

“Oh!” answered the fox, “_j’en ai une pouquie_, (I carry a whole sack
full,) but you, Mistress Puss, pray tell me, how many have you?”

“Alas,” replied the cat, “I can boast but of one.”

Shortly after this conversation they saw a large fierce-looking dog
advancing towards them. It was but the affair of a minute for puss to
climb into the nearest tree and hide herself among the branches, while
Reynard took refuge in the entrance of a drain that was close at hand.

Unluckily the drain narrowed so suddenly that his body only was
concealed, and his long bushy tail was left exposed. The dog seized on
this, and caused poor Reynard to cry out pitifully for help. Puss, from
her safe retreat among the branches, looked down, and called out to her
unfortunate companion:

“Now’s the time to make use of your many devices, _délie donc ta
pouque_!” (“Why don’t you untie your sack?”)[224]

[224] From John Rougier, Esq.

See also _Revue des Traditions Populaires_, Vol. I., p. 201.


The Guernsey workman is industrious and thrifty, working hard when
it is on his own account, but apt to be slow and disinclined to do
more work than what is absolutely necessary to save his credit, when
employed by others. There is a certain amount of calculation in this.
Idleness or laziness are not the only motives. He knows that so long as
the job in hand lasts, he will be paid his day’s wages, and therefore
he is not in a hurry to get it finished. His calculations go even a
little beyond this; for a master workman to whom an indifferent person
made the remark that the work he was executing was not of a quality
to last many years, made the ingenuous reply, “Do you suppose I would
willingly take the bread out of my children’s mouths?” implying that if
the work were done in too substantial or durable a manner, there would
be nothing left for those who were to come after him to gain their
living by.

[Illustration: Old Mill, Talbots.]

A good story is told among the country people, of a farm labourer,
who, when put to clear out the weeds from a field, was observed always
to leave some of the most thriving standing. One day his master
remonstrated with him, and got for answer, “Weeds are bread.” No reply
was made at the moment, but when meal-time came, and the soup was
served out, a bowl full of weeds was handed to the workman with the
remark:--“Since weeds are bread, eat that, for you get no more to-day.”
It is said that the lesson was understood, and that for the future
the farm servant performed his allotted task in a more conscientious

[225] From George Allez, Esq.


Historical Reminiscences.

    “Antiquities, or remnants of history, are, as was said,
    _tanquam tabula naufragii_, when industrious persons, by
    an exact and scrupulous diligence and observation, out of
    monuments, names, words, proverbs, traditions, private records
    and evidences, fragments of stories, passages of books that
    concern not story, and the like, do save and recover somewhat
    from the deluge of time.”--Bacon’s _Advancement of Learning_.


Although the following story is entirely forgotten in Guernsey, and
indeed may possibly never have been popularly known in the island, it
is entitled, from its legendary and romantic character, to a place in
this collection. It is related by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his British
History, Book XII. Ch. 4.

It is necessary to premise that Edwin, the first of the Anglo-Saxon
Kings who embraced Christianity, having quarrelled with Cadwalla,
Sovereign of North Wales, attacked and defeated him at Widdington,
near Morpeth. Edwin pursued Cadwalla into Wales, and chased him into
Ireland. These events happened about the year 630 A.D. The story itself
shall be told in the words employed by Geoffrey in his account of
Cadwalla’s exile, as we find them translated in Bohn’s “Antiquarian

“Cadwalla, not knowing what course to take, was almost in despair of
ever returning. At last it came into his head to go to Salomon, King
of the Armorican Britons, and desire his assistance and advice, to
enable him to return to his kingdom. And so, as he was steering towards
Armorica, a strong tempest rose on a sudden, which dispersed the ships
of his companions, and in a short time left no two of them together.
The pilot of the King’s ship was seized immediately with so great a
fear, that, quitting the stern, he left the vessel to the disposal of
fortune, so that all night it was tossed up and down in great danger
by the raging waves. The next morning they arrived at a certain island
called _Garnareia_,[226] where, with great difficulty, they got ashore.
Cadwalla was forthwith seized with such grief for the loss of his
companions, that, for three days and nights together, he refused to
eat, but lay sick upon his bed. The fourth day he was taken with a very
great longing for some venison, and, causing Brian (his nephew) to be
called, made him acquainted with it. Whereupon Brian took his bow and
quiver, and went through the island, that if he could light on any
wild beast, he might make booty of it. And when he had walked over the
whole island without finding what he was in quest of, he was extremely
concerned that he could not gratify his master’s desire, and was afraid
his sickness would prove mortal if his longing were not satisfied. He,
therefore, fell upon a new device, and cut a piece of flesh out of his
own thigh, which he roasted upon a spit, and carried to the King for
venison. The King, thinking it to be real venison, began to eat of
it to his great refreshment, admiring the sweetness of it, which he
fancied exceeded any flesh he had ever tasted before. At last, when
he had fully satisfied his appetite, he became more cheerful, and in
three days was perfectly well again. Then, the wind standing fair, he
got ready his ship, and, hoisting sails, they pursued their voyage
and arrived at the city Kidaleta (St. Malo). From thence they went to
King Salomon, by whom they were received kindly and with all suitable
respect; and, as soon as he had learned the occasion of their coming,
he made them a promise of assistance.”

The chronicler subsequently relates how Brian killed the second-sighted
magician of Edwin. Cadwalla returned to Britain, and, with the aid of
the Saxon Penda, King of Mercia, conquered and killed Edwin. He was
afterwards triumphant in fourteen great battles and sixty skirmishes
with the Angles, but finally perished, with the flower of his army, in
battle with Oswald, ruler of the Saxon kingdom of Bernicia.

[226] As some readers may be unable to detect “Guernsey” in
“_Garnareia_,” it may be as well to state that “_Ghernerhuia_,”
“_Gerneria_,” “_Guernnerui_,” and “_Gernereye_,” are all names given
to the island in ancient documents. The last indeed is found on the
ancient seal of the bailiwick.


As the inhabitants of Guernsey may be presumed to be better acquainted
with the chronicles of their own Duchy of Normandy than with those of
the ancient Britons, it is not improbable that the following legendary
tale, related of Duke Richard, surnamed “Sans Peur,” may be known to
some of them. The _Chronique de Normandie_, printed at Rouen in 1576,
gives it in words of which the following is a close translation:--

“Once upon a time, as Duke Richard was riding from one of his castles
to a manor, where a very beautiful lady was residing, the Devil
attacked him, and Richard fought with, and vanquished him. After this
adventure, the Devil disguised himself as a beautiful maiden richly
adorned, and appeared to him in a boat at Granville, where Richard then
was. Richard entered into the boat to converse with, and contemplate
the beauty of, this lady, and the Devil carried away the said Duke
Richard to a rock in the sea in the island of Guernsey, where he was

Perhaps the marks of cloven feet, which have been found deeply
imprinted in the granite[227] in more than one spot in the island, may
be attributed to this visit.

[227] The stone at Jerbourg, which is said to bear the mark left by the
Devil’s claw, stands in a hedge on the right hand side of the road,
where the rise towards Doyle’s column begins. It is a large mass of
white quartz, and has the black mark of the Devil’s claw imprinted on
it.--_From J. Richardson Tardif, Esq._


If the two legendary tales, which we have just related, are unknown to
the present generation, it is not so with the well-authenticated fact
of the temporary residence in Guernsey of that turbulent ecclesiastic,
Mauger, Archbishop of Rouen, uncle of William the Conqueror.

All the Norman chroniclers agree in telling us that, although the
Pope had granted a dispensation, this audacious prelate ventured to
excommunicate his Sovereign for having contracted a marriage with
Matilda, daughter of the Count of Flanders, an alliance within the
degrees of affinity prohibited by the Church. Mauger’s insolence did
not remain unpunished. The Pope sent a Legate to Normandy, the bishops
of the province were assembled, and his treason to his Sovereign, and
contempt of the Papal authority, were punished by his deposition from
his archiepiscopal throne, and banishment to the island of Guernsey.
Some historians assign, as a further reason for his disgrace, the
immorality of his life, and his prodigal expenditure, which led him,
not only to waste the revenues of the Church, but even to sell the
consecrated vessels, and the ornaments of the sanctuary.

Tradition points out the spot in the neighbourhood of that romantic
little creek, known by the anglicised name of Saints’ Bay, but which,
in ancient documents, is called “_La Contrée de Seing_,” where the
deposed prelate lived during his enforced sojourn in Guernsey. Here,
it is said, he became acquainted with a noble damsel named _Gille_,
by whom he had several children, one of whom, Michael de Bayeux,
accompanied Bohemond of Austria to Palestine, and distinguished himself

Common report accused Mauger of being addicted to magical arts, and of
having intercourse with a familiar spirit called “_Thoret_,” a name
which brings to mind the thunderer _Thor_, one of the principal deities
of his Scandinavian ancestors. By means of this imp, it was believed,
he had the faculty of predicting future events.

Having embarked one day, with the design of reaching the coast of
Normandy, and having arrived at St. Vaast, he addressed the master of
the ship in these words:--“I know for certain that one of us two will
this day be drowned; let us land.” The master paid no attention to what
was said, but continued his course. It was summer, the weather was
extremely hot, and the Archbishop was attired in very loose raiment.
The vessel struck, Mauger endeavoured to leave the ship, but, becoming
entangled in his garments, fell into the sea, and was drowned before
any assistance could be given. When the tide retired, search was made
for the body, and it was found wedged in between two rocks, in an
upright position. The sailors carried it to Cherbourg, where it was

It is possible that the prelate might have been entirely forgotten
in the place of his exile, had it not been that a very numerous
family, bearing his name, still exists in the island, and claims to
be descended from him. No name indeed is more common in the parish
of St. Martin de la Belleuse, and especially in the neighbourhood of
Saint, than that of Mauger. An authentic document, the “Extent” of
Edward III., proves that a family of this name held land in this parish
in 1331.[228] All who bear the name, even in the humblest ranks of
society, have heard of the Archbishop, and pride themselves in their
supposed descent from him. Nor is this belief confined to Guernsey, for
in Jersey also, where a branch of the family has long existed, the same
idea prevails.

[Illustration: Ivy Castle.]

There is also extant an imperfect pedigree of the house of Mauger,
of Jobourg, near Cape La Hague, in Normandy, which connects them
with the insular family, but endeavours to get rid of the stigma of
illegitimacy, which would attach to the progeny of an ecclesiastic, by
the invention of an imaginary brother, who accompanied Mauger in his
banishment, and from whom, and not from the Archbishop, they pretend
to deduce their descent. The family of Guille, long established in
the island of Guernsey, and in the parish of St. Martin’s, claims the
questionable honour of having produced the fair Gille, whose charms
captivated the unscrupulous prelate.

There is one fact, however, of which the family of Mauger, of Guernsey,
has just cause to be proud, and that is the daring and successful
exploit of one of them in the service of the descendant of their
ancient Dukes. An extract from a manuscript register of the Cathedral
of Coutances, said to be preserved in the British Museum, tells us how,
on Midsummer Night, in the year of grace 1419, Jacques Mauger arrived
from Guernsey with his men, at the port of Agon, at the entrance of
the river, and took by escalade the fortress of Mont Martin, near
Coutances, and how Henry V., King of England, then in possession of
the greater part of Normandy, rewarded the gallant act by a gift of
the Seigneurie of Bosques, and the permission to bear henceforth on
his shield the cross of the blessed knight of St. George, in a field
argent, with his own paternal arms, two chevrons sable, in the first
and fourth quarters, and, in the second and third the arms of Bosques,
a lion rampant, also sable.

It may not be uninteresting to some to know that the Hampshire and
Isle of Wight family of Major were originally Maugers from one of the
Channel Islands, and that Richard Cromwell, son of the Protector,
married one of them.

It may be as well to give here a copy of the pedigree of Mauger, of
Jobourg, in Normandy.

“Extrait de la Généalogie de la Famille du Mauger à Jobourg en
Normandie au Cap La Hague.

“Le Duc de Normandie, nommé Guillaume le Conquérant, éleva son cousin
d’Evreux, nommé Mauger, à l’Archevêché de Rouen en la troisième
année de son règne en Normandie. Le Seigneur Archevêque, menant une
vie non conforme à sa dignité, attira sur lui la haine du Duc, son
bienfaiteur, qui le fit reléguer a l’île de Greneseye; il prit terre
en ce lieu avec son frère Gautier Mauger, sur la côte et paroisse de
St. Martin, et après avoir passé quelques années en ce lieu il péri
au ras de Bartleur, après avoir prédit sa mort. Son frère Gautier eut
plusieurs fils naturels, dont deux nommés Léopold et Théodore: Léopold
épousa Pauline de Carteret, fille et seule héritière de Samuel de
Carteret, Ecuyer, Seigneur du Castel, et Théodore ne maria point, et
laissa deux fils et une fille naturels, l’un nommé Paul, l’autre nommé
Rodolphe, et la fille nommée Cléotilde. Les deux fils furent mariés;
l’un épousa Sandirez Lampeirier ou Lampereur de Jersey, et Rodolphe
épousa Marie Careye de Greneseye. Paul eut plusieurs fils, dont deux
nommé Alexandre et Gautier, comme son premier père, lequel fut chassé
de l’île de Jersey, avec deux des fils de Rodolphe qu’il avait eus de
Marie Careye; les autres enfans sortis de Rodolphe furent à Greneseye,
demeurant sur l’héritage de leur mère en l’année 1399. Gautier fit
plusieurs acquêts à Jobourg à la Hague, où il établit sa demeure, après
avoir quitté Jersey, et fut marié à une des filles de Pierre de Mary,
Seigneur de Jobourg, en l’année 1418. Gautier engendra Toussaint et
Jacques, le dernier repassa à Greneseye pour prendre possession d’un
héritage par succession, et Toussaint resta à Jobourg; de Toussaint
naquit Fabien; de Fabien naquit Chaille; et Chaille engendra Pierre; de
Pierre Chaille, qui vivoit encore en 1570; à l’egard de Léopold, qui
avait epousé Pauline de Carteret, nous n’avons point, pour le present,
de connaissance de sa généalogie.

“Les Armoiries des Mauger (descendant de Guillaume le Conquérant, Duc
de Normandie) sont une ancre et des roses au dessus du dit ancre. Tiré
de la Heraudrie, et approuvé du dit Duc.”[229]

[228] EDITOR’S NOTE.--And at the Assizes held in Guernsey in 1319, a
“Rauf Mauger” appears among the landowners of St. Martin’s parish.
The same name--“Rauf Mauger”--appears in the Extent of 1331; “Richard
Mauger” in a Perchage of Blanchelande, (undated, but made before 1364).
In 1364 another “Rauf Mauger” appears among the Jurymen of St. Martin’s
summoned to adjudicate on the rights of the Abbot of Blanchelande; and
a Richard Mauger, of St. Martin’s parish, is mentioned in the “Bille de
Partage” of Denis Le Marchant in 1393.

[229] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The obvious inaccuracy of this pedigree can be
judged by only nine generations being given to supply the interval
of 515 years, 1055-1570. Thirty-three and a quarter years are
generally allowed for a generation, so that to give any appearance of
probability, at least sixteen generations would have to be accounted


Before the invention of printing, oral tradition was almost the
only way in which the people--generally ignorant of writing or
reading--could transmit the recollection of facts and circumstances
which they deemed worthy of being remembered; and it was soon
discovered that versification afforded a very strong aid to memory.
Hence arose that species of metrical tale which we call a ballad.
These ballads, passing from mouth to mouth, soon became corrupted.
Whole verses were sometimes omitted, by which the thread of the story
was lost or rendered obscure, and others were supplied by borrowing
from the work of another bard, or by the invention of the reciter.
Nevertheless, in the historical ballads, facts and details were often
preserved which had escaped the notice of the more regular chroniclers.

Whether, in former days, Guernsey could boast of any number of these
metrical histories, it is now impossible to say. Unless we include
in this category, a sort of “complainte,” written in 1552 by the
Roman Catholic priests, whom the progress of the doctrines of the
Reformation had driven out of their cures, the ballad of “_Ivon de
Galles, ou la descente des Aragousais_,” is the only one which has come
down to us.[230] Many copies of it have been preserved, differing but
slightly from each other in the main, although there are one or two
verbal differences of some importance. Most of the copies conclude with
the twentieth verse, but some have a second part, consisting of six
stanzas, and purporting to give an account of Ivon’s adventures after
he left Guernsey, and the subsequent melancholy fate of himself and his
fleet. As this account is quite different from what has come down to
us in history, it is probably the work of some later bard, who wished
to make the story more complete than he found it, and by a sort of
poetical justice to punish Ivon and his followers for the evil they had
inflicted on the island.

The ballad agrees in the main with the account of the invasion as given
by Froissart and Holinshed. The adventures in the second part probably
relate to some other of the numerous descents on the island during
the reign of Edward III., perhaps to that by Bahuchet, a French naval
commander, about the year 1338. This Bahuchet landed in England, and
committed great atrocities at Portsmouth and Southampton, for which,
when he was taken prisoner in the great engagement off Sluys, in 1340,
Edward ordered him to be hanged at the main-yard.

From Froissart’s _Chronicles_ we learn that Ivon, or as he calls him,
Yvain de Galles, was the son of a Prince of Wales whom Edward III. had
put to death, and whose possessions he had seized upon. Ivon, thus
disinherited, took refuge in France, where he entered into the service
of the King, Charles V., and was by him entrusted with the command
of ships and three thousand men. It appears from another part of the
Chronicle, that Henry of Trastamara, King of Castille and Aragon, had
supplied his ally, Charles, with a large fleet, well armed and manned,
and it is probable that the galleys which Ivon commanded formed part of
this fleet. If so, the name of “Aragousais,” or men of Aragon, given in
the ballad to the invading force, is accounted for. With these troops
he sailed from Harfleur and reached Guernsey.

Aymon, or Edmund, Rose, esquire of honour to the King of England, and
Governor of the island, advanced to meet him with all the force he
could muster,--about eight hundred men. The battle was long and hotly
contested, but ended in the discomfiture of the insular force, with
the loss of four hundred of their men, and in the retreat of Aymon
Rose into Castle Cornet, to which Ivon laid siege. Several assaults
were made on the Castle, but, as it was strongly fortified and well
provisioned, they were not attended with success. How long the siege
lasted we are not informed, but the French King, requiring the services
of Ivon elsewhere, and believing Castle Cornet to be impregnable, sent
orders for the siege to be raised. A few years afterwards, Ivon lost
his life by the dagger of an assassin of his own nation, a Welshman of
the name of Lambe, apparently at the instigation of Richard II.

According to the ballad, Ivon landed his troops early on a Tuesday
morning in Vazon Bay. A countryman, who had risen early to look after
his sheep, perceived the invaders and gave the alarm, upon which all
the inhabitants assembled and endeavoured to repel them, but without
success. A stand was at last made on the hill above the town of St.
Peter Port, and a sanguinary engagement took place, in which five
hundred and one of both sides were killed.

Tradition points to a spot near Elizabeth College as the scene of
this encounter, and the locality to this day bears the name of “_La

A deep lane, which formerly passed to the eastward of the strangers’
burial ground, but which has been long filled up and enclosed within
the walls of the cemetery, was said to owe its name of “_La Ruette
Meurtrière_” to the same event.

Towards the evening, eighty English merchants,--probably the crews
of some trading vessels--arrived, and lent their assistance to the
islanders. By means of this reinforcement the enemy was prevented from
penetrating into the town, but they reached the shore, and, the tide
being low, crossed over to Castle Cornet, and attacked it.

Most of the copies of the ballad say that they took the Castle, “_par
force prindrent le Chasteau_,” but one, which has been preserved in
the registers of the parish of St. Saviour, where it is inserted
about the year 1638, has these words--“_Il vouloient prendre le
Chasteau_,”--which seem to agree better with the other statements in
the ballad that Ivon’s ships came round the island by the southward,
that they received some damage from the peasantry at La Corbière, and
that they re-embarked their troops at Bec de la Chèvre, now known by
the name of the Terres point, after which Ivon ordered them to make
sail for St. Sampson’s Harbour.

Here they landed. Negotiations were entered on with Brégart, the Prior
or Commissary of St. Michel du Valle, a dependency of the famous Abbey
of Mont St. Michel in Normandy, and Ivon laid siege to the Vale Castle,
whither Aymon Rose, the Governor of the island, whom we hear of for the
first time, had retreated and entrenched himself.

Summoned by Ivon to surrender, he refused, but agreed to sanction an
arrangement which Brégart had made with the people, and which seems
to have had for object to buy off the invaders by payment of a sum of

The ballad assigns this as the origin of the charge on land called
“champart,” but it is certain that this species of tithe existed long
before this time.

Most of the copies end here, but some have a second part, of which we
have already spoken, and which was probably written at a later period.

It is difficult to account for the discrepancy between the local
account and that of Froissart and others as to the name of the Castle
into which the Governor, Aymon Rose, retired, unless by the supposition
that the historians knew Castle Cornet by name as a fortress deemed
impregnable, and assumed, without further inquiry, that it must be the
one in which the Governor entrenched himself.

[Illustration: Houses formerly facing West Door of Town Church.]

An event of so much importance was well calculated to make a lasting
impression on the people. And to this day “_Les Aragousais_” are
spoken of, and various traditions relating to them are repeated. It is
singular, however, to find that with the lapse of time they have come
to be looked upon as a supernatural race--in fact, to be confounded
with the fairies. The form which this traditional remembrance of them
has taken will be found on page 204, and tends in some degree to
confirm the idea entertained by some writers on fairy mythology that
many of the tales related of those fantastic beings may be accounted
for by the theory that they refer to an earlier race of men, gradually
driven out by tribes more advanced in civilisation.

The places called “_La Bataille_[231]” and “_La Ruette Meurtrière_”
have already been mentioned as the spots where the great battle took
place. The “_Rouge Rue_,” leading down the hill to the westward of St.
John’s Church, is said to derive its name from the blood spilt on this
occasion. If this really be the origin of the name, we may suppose
that the islanders, retreating towards the Vale Castle, or perhaps the
Château des Marais, were overtaken there, and that a second engagement
took place. But there is reason to believe that the tradition relates
to another locality in quite a different direction, which in times gone
by bore also the name of “_La Rouge Rue_,” but which has long ceased
to be so called. We speak of the upper part of Hauteville, sloping
southwards towards the valley of Havelet. According to the late Miss
Lauga, who died at the advanced age of eighty-five, her mother, who had
inherited from her ancestors property in this neighbourhood, always
spoke of it as “_La Rouge Rue_,” and said that a sanguinary battle
had been fought in ancient days on this spot. And, indeed, this name
appears in the old contracts and title-deeds, by which property in
the neighbourhood is held. The consequence of its having ceased to be
known popularly by its ancient appellation would naturally be that
the traditionary tale of the name being derived from the blood spilt
there would be transferred to another and better known locality, which
chanced--perhaps simply from the colour of the soil--to bear the same

Firearms were of such recent invention that it is scarcely to be
supposed that any had as yet found their way to Guernsey. If, however,
any faith can be placed in tradition, their use and construction were
not totally unknown in the island, for it is said that the trunk of a
tree was hollowed out and bound round with iron hoops, but that when
this deadly weapon was loaded, no one could be found bold enough to
fire it, until a child, ignorant of the risk he was incurring, was
induced, by the promise of a cake, to perform the dangerous feat.

It is also said that the women of the island contributed all their
ear-rings and other jewels to buy off the invaders; and it was very
generally believed that a peculiar breed of small but strong and
spirited horses--now unfortunately extinct--was derived from those that
had escaped during the battle, and so had remained in the island after
the Spaniards left.

The tradition, which confounds Ivon’s forces with the fairies, relates
how all the islanders were killed, except a man and a boy of St.
Andrew’s parish, who concealed themselves in an oven, over the mouth of
which a woman spread her black petticoat, and so escaped; and how the
conquerors, who are described as a very diminutive race, married the
widows and maidens, and so re-peopled the island. The small stature
and dark complexion of some families are occasionally appealed to as
proofs of this origin.

Perhaps this tradition may be an indistinct recollection of a far
earlier invasion and possession of the island by some of the piratical
hordes from the North, that began to infest the coasts of the Channel
as early as the beginning of the fifth century. These were not unlikely
to have subjugated the men of the island, and to have taken forcible
possession of their wives, and any tradition of the event might very
naturally be transferred from one invasion to another, and come finally
to be fixed on the last and best known.

The ballad, of which an English translation is attempted, has
evidently suffered much from the defective memory of reciters, and
the carelessness of transcribers, so that some of the stanzas appear
to be almost hopelessly corrupt. The main incidents of the story
are, however, tolerably well defined. It seems to have been composed
originally in French, and not in the Norman dialect used in the island.
The stanzas consist of the unusual number of seven lines, of which
the first and third rhyme together, and the second, fourth, fifth and
sixth--the seventh rhyming occasionally with the first and third,
but more frequently standing alone. In some verses assonances take
the place of more perfect rhymes, which may be adduced as a proof of
the antiquity of the ballad. Perhaps it would not be impossible, by
comparing the various copies, choosing the readings which appear least
corrupt, altering here and there the position of a line in the stanza,
or the arrangement of the words that compose it, or even sometimes
changing a word where the exigencies of the rhyme seem to require it,
to produce a copy that would offend less against the rules of prosody;
but this is a process which would require great care, and which respect
for antiquity forbids us to attempt.

We must take the ballad, with all its faults and imperfections, as we
find it.


_Part the First._


    Draw near and listen, great and small,
      Of high and low degree,
    And hear what chance did once befall
      This island fair and free
        From warlike men, a chosen band,
        Who roamed about from land to land,
      Ploughing the briny sea.


    Evan of Wales, a valiant knight,
      Who served the King of France,
    In Saragossa’s city bright
      Hired many a stalwart lance:
        One Tuesday morn at break of day,
        To land these troops in Vazon Bay,
      He bade his ships advance.


    At early dawn from quiet sleep
      John Letoc rose that day,
    To tend his little flock of sheep
      He took his lonely way,
        When lo! upon the Vazon sands
        He saw, drawn up in warlike bands
      The foe in fierce array.


    A horse he met upon his way
      Trotting along the road,
    Strayed from the camp--without delay
      The charger he bestrode,
        And soon from house to house the alarm
        He gave, crying out “to arms, quick, arm!”
      Through all the isle he rode.


    “To arms, to arms, my merry men all,
      To arms, for we must fight,
    Hazard your lives, both great and small,
      And put the foe to flight;
        Hasten towards the Vazon Bay
        Hasten our cruel foes to slay,
      Or we shall die this night.”


    Evan of Wales, that vent’rous knight,
      Led the foe through the land,
    But pressing forward in the fight,
      Upon a foreign strand,
        He won a garter gay, I ween,
        ’Twas neither silk nor velvet sheen,
      Though crimson was the band.


    For near the mill at La Carrière,
      With halbert keen and bright,
    Young Richard Simon, void of fear,
      Attacked the stranger knight.
        And gashed full sore his brawny thigh,
        Then smote his right hand lifted high,
      To check the daring wight.


    Above Saint Peter Port ’tis said,
      The conflict they renewed,
    Of friends and foes five hundred dead
      The grassy plain bestrewed:
        Our ladies wept most bitterly,
        Oh! ’twas a dismal sight to see
      Their cheeks with tears bestrewed.


    Thoumin le Lorreur was in truth
      Our leader in the fray,
    But brave Ralph Holland, noble youth,
      He bore the palm away;
        Yet was he doomed his death to meet,
        The cruel foes smit off his feet,
      He died that dismal day.


    Hard blows are dealt on every side,
      The blood bedews the plain,
    The footmen leap, the horsemen ride,
      O’er mountains of the slain.
        A deadly weapon, strongly bent,
        Against the foes its missiles sent,
      And wrought them death and pain.


    But eighty English merchants brave,
      Arrived at Vesper-tide,
    They rushed on shore the isle to save,
      And fought on our side:
        Our foes fatigued, began to yield,
        And leaving soon the well-fought field,
      To Heaven for mercy cried.


    To’ards Galrion they bend their course,
      And range along the bay,
    In hopes to make by fraud or force
      Into the town their way,
        But now the gallant Englishmen
        Return, and on our foes again
      Their prowess they display.


    But rallying soon, th’adventurous band
      Cornet’s strong towers attack,
    With ebbing tides, across the sand,
      They find an easy track,
        The beach is strewed with heaps of dead,
        The briny sea with blood is red,
      Again they are driven back.


    Many are killed, and wounded sore;
      Meanwhile the hostile fleet,
    Coasting along the southern shore
      A warm reception meet
        From peasants bold at La Corbière;
        At Bec d’la Chèvre the land they near,
      And aid their friends’ retreat.


    But Evan’s troops were mad with rage,
      Like lions balked of food,
    Swear that their wrath they will assuage
      In floods of English blood;
        Then suddenly their course they steer
        Towards Saint Sampson’s port, and there
      They land in angry mood.

    [Illustration: Old Cottage, Fermain.]


    Saint Michael’s Abbey soon they seek,
      Friar Brégard there had sway,
    Who, full of fear, with prayers meek
      Meets them upon their way;
        With presents rich and ample store
        Of gold, and promises of more
      Their fury to allay.


    To Eleanor, that lady fair,
      Sir Evan’s beauteous bride,
    The crafty monk gave jewels rare
      To win her to his side.
        At Granville, in the pleasant land
        Of France, Sir Evan sought her hand,
      Nor was his suit denied.


    Near the Archangel’s Castle then,
      Upon a rising ground,
    Sir Evan camped--our countrymen
      Sure refuge there had found.
        Brégard, in hopes to increase his store,
        Advances to the Castle door
      And bade a parley sound.


    He counselled them to yield forthwith,
      But brave Sir Edmund Rose
    Declared he’d sooner meet his death
      Than bend to foreign foes,
        But to the Abbot should they yield
        A double tithe on every field,
      He would it not oppose.


    The Abbot to Sir Evan went,
      And soon a bargain closed;
    The simple peasants gave assent
      To all the monk proposed,
        And bound their lands a sheaf to pay,
        Beyond the tithes, and thus, they say,
      The Champart was imposed.

    _Part the Second._


    With spoils and presents not a few
      Sir Evan sailed once more
    Tow’rds le Conquet, his ships with new
      Supplies of food to store;
        Before Belleisle (so goes the tale)
        They burnt a fleet of thirty sail,
      The crews being gone on shore.


    The south wind rose, and on the coasts
      Of Brittany they passed,
    An English fleet to stop their boasts
      Appeared in sight at last:
        Full sixty men a footing found
        On board Sir Evan’s bark, and bound
      His crew in fetters fast.


    Sir Evan to the mast they tied,
      And then before his face
    Insult his young and beauteous bride
      And load her with disgrace;
        They take him to Southampton town
        And on his head, in guise of crown,
      A red-hot morion place.


    They dragged his men out one by one,
      And hung them up in chains,
    And now not one of all the crew
      Save Eleanor remains.
        A beggar’s scrip her only store,
        She roams about from door to door,
      And scarce a living gains.


    How fared the rest of Evan’s fleet?
      Methinks I hear you say,
    When raging winds for ever beat
      The strongest towers decay;
        To bend these ships before the breeze,
        And sinking ’neath the briny seas,
      In vain for mercy pray.


    Our holy island’s shores at last,
      One Tuesday morn they reach;
    But on the Hanois rocks are cast,
      And soon on Rocquaine’s beach
        The waves their lifeless corpses threw,
        That vengeance still will guilt pursue,
      Their dismal fate may teach.

[230] EDITOR’S NOTE.--I have also met with an account of the
destruction of the Tower of Castle Cornet by lightning in 1672, in some
old MSS. dated 1719, where the visitation is ascribed to the sins of
the people!

[231] EDITOR’S NOTE.--On the slope of the hill rising to the south of
Perelle Bay there is also a spot called “La Bataille,” and about a
quarter of a mile further inland another spot called “L’Assaut.” This
probably refers to some other conflict.--_From J. de Garis, Esq._


At the beginning of the present century, when little more was known of
the Norman Islands than their names, it might have been necessary, in
speaking of Sark, to describe where it is situated. Guernsey, Jersey,
Alderney, Sark, and Man, were always associated together in Acts of
Parliament and in school books for teaching children geography; and
while there were many who believed the five to form but one group,
there were many others who would have been very much puzzled to
point out on the map the precise situation of any one of them. Now,
thanks to the incessant intercourse with England by means of steam,
and the attractions the islands present as resorts for tourists and
excursionists, they are as well known as most watering places on the
English coast.

Sark, though the smallest of the group, is by many considered the most
beautiful of the Channel Islands, and, certainly in point of rock and
cliff scenery, combined with the ever-varying effects of sea and sky,
there are few lines of coast, of the same extent, that can compare with
it. So precipitous are the shores on all sides, that there are very few
spots where a landing can be effected, and in former days it would not
have been difficult to repel an invader, merely by rolling down stones
from the heights.

Of the history of Sark but little is known. St. Maglorius, a Briton
from South Wales, who succeeded his kinsman, St. Samson, Bishop of Dol,
about the year 565, in that see, gave up a few years afterwards his
pastoral charge to his successor, St. Budoc, and retired to end his
days in meditation and prayer in Sark, where he established a convent
and college for training young men as missionaries to the neighbouring
nations. As a priory, dependent probably on some one or other of the
large monasteries in Normandy, this convent was still in existence
in the reign of Edward III., but the wars between this monarch and
the French king, seem to have been the cause of the monks withdrawing
themselves entirely from the island about the year 1349. After the
departure of the monks, Sark appears to have become the resort of
pirates, who did so much injury to the trade of the Channel, that,
in 1356, a vessel belonging to the port of Rye was fitted out by the
merchants of that town and of Winchelsea to endeavour to expel this
band of marauders. This they succeeded in doing, and are said to have
effected an entry into the island by means of a stratagem, which Sir
Walter Raleigh, sometime Governor of Jersey, where he may be supposed
to have gained his information, relates as having occurred in the reign
of Queen Mary, and attributes to the crew of a Flemish ship.

We copy Sir Walter Raleigh’s account of the re-taking of Sark, from
his _History of the World_, Part I., Book IV., chapter XI., p. 18, but
must premise by saying that he is incorrect in stating that Sark had
been surprised by the French in the reign of Queen Mary. It was in the
year 1549, during the reign of her brother Edward VI., that the French,
being at war with England, and finding the island uninhabited, landed
four hundred men and took possession of it. The anonymous author of
_Les Chroniques de Jersey_, written apparently in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth, in noticing the recapture of Sark by Flemings, says nothing
of the stratagem, but simply that, guided by some Guernseymen, they
landed at night and overpowered the French garrison, which, at that
time, was very much reduced in numbers.

“The Island of _Sark_, joining to _Guernzey_, and of that Government,
was in Queen _Mary’s_ time surprized by the _French_, and could never
have been recovered again by strong hand, having Cattle and Corn
enough upon the Place to feed so many Men as will serve to defend it,
and being every way so inaccessible that it might be held against the
_Great Turk_. Yet by the industry of a Gentleman of the _Netherlands_,
it was in this Sort regained. He anchored in the Road with one Ship,
and, pretending the Death of his Merchant, besought the _French_ that
they might bury their Merchant in hallowed Ground, and in the Chapel
of that Isle; offering a Present to the _French_ of such Commodities
as they had aboard. Whereto (with Condition that they should not come
ashore with any Weapon, not so much as with a Knife), the _French_
yielded. Then did the _Flemings_ put a Coffin into their Boat, not
filled with a Dead Carcass, but with Swords, Targets and Harquebuzes.
The _French_ received them at their Landing, and, searching every one
of them so narrowly as they could not hide a Penknife, gave them leave
to draw their Coffin up the Rocks with great difficulty. Some part
of the _French_ took the _Flemish_ Boat, and rowed aboard their Ship
to fetch the Commodities promised, and what else they pleased, but,
being entered, they were taken and bound. The _Flemings_ on the Land,
when they had carried their Coffin into the Chapel, shut the Door
to them, and, taking their Weapons out of the Coffin, set upon the
_French_. They run to the Cliff, and cry to their Companions aboard the
_Fleming_ to come to their Succour. But, finding the Boat charged with
_Flemings_, yielded themselves and the Place.”

Falle, the historian of Jersey, in citing this anecdote says:--“I
have seen Memoirs which confirm the taking of this Island by such a
Stratagem; but the other Circumstances of Time and Persons do not agree
with the foregoing Story.”

He then quotes, in a footnote, a passage from a MS. chronicle in Latin,
which appears to have been in the possession of the de Carteret family,
Seigneurs of St. Ouen, in Jersey, giving an account of the recapture of
Sark by a vessel from Rye, by means of the stratagem related above, but
he does not assign any date to the transaction.

It would be rash to assert that no such event ever occurred in the
history of Sark, but it is curious to note that similar stories
are told of Harold Hardráda, a Scandinavian adventurer who was in
the service of the Byzantine Emperors, and of the famous sea-king,
Hastings. The former fell dangerously ill while besieging a town in
Sicily. His men requested permission to bury him with due solemnity,
and, on bringing the coffin to the gates of the town, were received
by the clergy. No sooner, however, were they within the gates than
they set down the coffin across the entrance, drew their swords, made
themselves masters of the place, and massacred all the male inhabitants.

Hastings, about the year 857, entered the Mediterranean with a large
fleet, appeared before the ancient Etruscan city of Luna, professed to
be desirous of becoming a Christian, and was baptised by the Bishop.
After a time he pretended to be dangerously ill, and gave out that he
would leave the rich booty he had amassed to the Church, if, in the
event of his death, the Bishop would allow him to be interred in one of
the churches of the city. This was conceded, and, shortly afterwards,
his followers appeared, bearing a coffin, which they pretended
contained his dead body. No sooner had they entered the church and set
it down, than Hastings started up, sword in hand, and slew the Bishop.
His followers drew their swords, and, in the confusion, soon made
themselves masters of the city.

[Illustration: Old Mill, Talbot.]

These particulars are taken from Bohn’s editions of Mallet’s _Northern
Antiquities_, pages 169 and 170. Perhaps the earliest known germ of
this story is to be found in the famous Trojan horse; but it is curious
to note that a tale, similar in all its incidents to that related of
Sark, is told as having happened in the reign of William and Mary
at Lundy, a small isle in the Bristol Channel. It will be found in
_Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in Devon and Cornwall_; and as the
date assigned to it is long subsequent to the publication of Sir Walter
Raleigh’s _History_, the natural conclusion is that the incidents in
the alleged taking of Lundy, have been borrowed from those of the
recapture of Sark, as narrated by Sir Walter. In confirmation of this
view of the case we would draw attention to the circumstance that the
“Gentleman of the Netherlands,” with his crew of Flemings, of the
earlier narrative, becomes in the later edition of this story “A ship
of war under Dutch colours.”

With these preliminary remarks, we proceed to copy the account of the
surprise of Lundy:--

“The principal event in the history of Lundy is its capture by a party
of Frenchmen, in the reign of William and Mary. A ship of war, under
Dutch colours, brought up in the roadstead, and sent ashore for some
milk, pretending that the captain was sick. The islanders supplied
the milk for several days, when at length the crew informed them that
their captain was dead, and asked permission to bury him in consecrated
ground. This was immediately granted, and the inhabitants assisted in
carrying the coffin to the grave. It appeared to them rather heavy,
but they never for a moment suspected the nature of its contents.
The Frenchmen then requested the islanders to leave the church, as
it was the custom of their country that foreigners should absent
themselves during a part of the ceremony, but informed them that they
should be admitted to see the body interred. They were not, however,
detained long in suspense; the doors were suddenly flung open, and the
Frenchmen, armed from the pretended receptacle of the dead, rushed,
with triumphant shouts, upon the astonished inhabitants, and made them
prisoners. They then quietly proceeded to desolate the island. They
hamstrung the horses and bullocks, threw the sheep and goats over
the cliffs, and stripped the inhabitants even of their clothes. When
satisfied with plunder and mischief, they left the poor islanders in a
condition most truly disconsolate.”

No reference to any authority for the story is given, and it is
difficult to conceive that such an unprovoked and barbarous outrage,
leading to no useful end--for Lundy could be of little or no use to
either in time of war--could have been perpetrated so lately as the
reign of William III.; but in the case of Lundy, as well as in that of
Sark, the date assigned to the event is extremely vague, some asserting
that it happened in the time of the great rebellion, others that it is
to be found related by one of the old chroniclers who wrote the history
of that long period of civil strife known as the Wars of the Roses.


A time of war between England and France would naturally cause great
anxiety and excitement in all the Channel Islands. Situated as they
are, so near to the French coast that buildings of any size may be
discerned in clear weather by the naked eye, and coveted by that nation
ever since the time when King John, having lost Normandy, the islands,
firm in their allegiance to the Duke, followed the fortunes of England,
they were peculiarly exposed to a hostile attack.

England, fully aware of the importance of these islands, and knowing
well what a command of the Channel the possession of them gives, has
always been careful to have them well fortified and garrisoned in
time of war, and to keep a fleet cruising in their waters. The local
militia--a body of men which may be more correctly termed trained
bands, for, by the ancient constitution of the islands, every male
capable of bearing arms _must_ be trained to the use of them, and is
required to serve his country from the age sixteen to sixty--forms
a subsidiary force, frequently and carefully drilled. In times when
danger was to be apprehended, watch houses were erected on all the
hills and promontories round the coast, where a vigilant lookout was
kept up night and day; and near each of these was placed a large stack
of dried furze, which might be set on fire at a moment’s warning, and
which would convey the intelligence of approaching danger to all parts
of the island. The keeping of these guards was confided to the militia,
or, to speak more precisely, to householders, who were told off by the
constables of their respective parishes for this duty. Every house, in
its turn, had to furnish a man, and even females living alone were not
exempt, but were expected to find a substitute. These substitutes,
being well paid for their trouble, were, of course, not difficult to
be met with; but as they were for the most part idle fellows, and as
they were enrolled under their employers’ names, these last sometimes
found themselves in an awkward predicament. It is said that two maiden
ladies, householders, of most unblemished reputation, and belonging to
two of the most aristocratic families in Guernsey, were reported one
morning as having been drunk and disorderly on guard the previous night!

During the last wars between England and France there does not appear
to have been, except on one occasion, any very serious alarm in
Guernsey; but every now and then the sight of ships of war off Cape La
Hague, in the neighbourhood of Cherbourg, gave rise to some uneasiness,
and put the island on the alert. It is no wonder if some amount of fear
was felt by the inhabitants on these occasions, when we remember the
panic that Bonaparte’s threatened invasion in flat-bottomed boats from
Boulogne, occasioned in England.

It was during the American war, in the early part of the year 1781,
shortly after the attempt made on Jersey by the French adventurer, de
Rullecour, so gallantly repelled by a small body of the regular forces
and the militia of that island, under the command of Major Pierson, who
was killed fighting bravely at the head of his troops, that a drunken
frolic of three thoughtless youths threw the whole island of Guernsey
into a state of consternation, and was the unfortunate cause of the
death of several sick persons.

On the night of Sunday, the 4th of March, these men, officers in one
of the militia regiments, after attending a muster of the force, which,
in those days, generally took place on the Sunday, had finished the
day by dining together, and were returning from the Castel parish to
their homes in the Vale and St. Sampson’s. Their way was along the
sea-coast, at that time not nearly so thickly inhabited as at present,
and, on arriving at an almost solitary house, situated near the marsh
of Pulias, just at the foot of the hill of Noirmont, on which a watch
and a beacon, ready to be fired, were always in readiness, the fancy
took them to knock at the door of the cottage, and to represent
themselves as part of a French force, consisting of over ten thousand
men, who had just effected a landing. They demanded that a guide should
be furnished them forthwith to shew them the most direct road to the
town, and to the residence of the Governor, promising that he should
be amply rewarded for his trouble. It so chanced that the only inmates
of the house were an old man and his wife. With admirable presence of
mind, the man replied that it was out of his power to serve them as
guide, as he had the misfortune to be stone blind, but that if they
went a few hundred yards further in a direction which he pointed out to
them, they would find another habitation, where, no doubt, the guide
they were in search of would be forthcoming. They took their departure,
going in the direction indicated to them, and, no sooner were their
backs turned, than the old woman opened a window in the rear of the
house, and made her way across the fields, over hedges and ditches, and
through the thick furze that covers the hill, to the signal station
on the summit of Noirmont. She told her story to the men on watch,
and it was not many minutes before the beacon was in flames, and the
signal taken up by all the others round the coast. A swift messenger
was sent into town with the unwelcome news. Before long, the alarm had
spread into every part of the island. The troops in garrison were soon
under arms, the militia regiments mustered at their respective places
of meeting, and scouts were sent out to search for the enemy, and to
find out where they had taken up their position. With the return of
daylight, the reconnoitring parties came back to headquarters, bringing
the reassuring intelligence that not a sign of an enemy was to be seen
on any part of the coast. It was then evident that the whole community
had been made the victim of a heartless hoax. A strict enquiry was set
on foot to discover the authors of it, but, though suspicion pointed
strongly in the direction of the real culprits, nothing definite could
be brought home to any one in particular; but the surmise was converted
into certainty by the sudden departure from the island of the suspected
parties, who did not venture to return to their homes till many years
afterwards, when the affair was well-nigh forgotten, and when there was
no longer any danger of their being called to account for their mad
freak. A bitter feeling was, however, engendered in the minds of the
people, which found vent in satirical songs, some verses of which are
still remembered.


From the earliest times of which we have any authentic record, the
people of Guernsey appear to have been a seafaring race. Perhaps they
inherit their disposition for maritime pursuits from their remote
ancestors, those hardy Scandinavian adventurers, who, there can be no
doubt, found these islands a very convenient resort in their early
piratical incursions, and probably had settled in them long before
they took possession of that fertile province of France, now known
as Normandy, the land of the Northmen. But, however this may be, the
inhabitants of these islands could scarcely be other than mariners,
surrounded as they are by a sea abounding in an endless variety of
fish, and especially when we take into consideration the small extent
of land in them available for agricultural purposes compared with
the teeming population which,--exclusive of that of the town, which
has increased considerably since the beginning of the nineteenth
century--appears from authentic documents to have been quite as dense
in the rural districts in the early part of the fourteenth century as
it is in the present day.[232]

Their situation gave the islands importance in a strategical point
of view, and was favourable also to the development of commerce,
possessing moreover, as they did, the extraordinary privilege of
neutrality in times of war between England and France.

[Illustration: Water Lane, Couture.]

After the forfeiture of Normandy by King John, it was long before the
inhabitants of that Province acquiesced cordially in their change of
masters; and the district known as _Le Cotentin_, to which the islands
naturally appertained, was last to give up their allegiance to their
ancient Dukes. Indeed, it can scarcely be said to have been lost
entirely to England, until the final expulsion of our kings from all
their continental possessions in the reign of Henry VI. During the
long wars between the two nations, the possession of these islands
was of the utmost importance to England, commanding as they did so
long a line of the French coast. Guernsey alone at that time possessed
a tolerably secure haven, the early existence of which is proved by
a charter of William the Conqueror, dated prior to his invasion of
England, in which St. Peter Port is mentioned. Edward I. allowed of
certain dues on merchandise being levied for the improvement of this
harbour, and that an active trade was carried on between Guernsey and
the English possessions in Acquitaine is undoubted. No wonder then that
we find the names of Guernsey ships in the lists of those chartered
for the conveyance of troops to France in time of war. But what,
perhaps, more than anything else contributed to form a race of hardy
and courageous seamen were the important fisheries, which, before the
discovery of America and the banks of Newfoundland, gave employment
to an immense amount of men, in catching, salting, and drying for
exportation, the fish which abound in the neighbourhood of the islands.
The dangerous nature of the coast, and the surrounding seas, is owing
to sunken rocks, strong currents and tides, which vary from day to
day. It requires a life-long apprenticeship to become well acquainted
with all the hidden and open perils which threaten a seaman’s life.
No wonder then if some of our fishermen, brought up to the sea from
their earliest youth, become experienced and fearless pilots, knowing
every reef, every set of the tide, and able to reckon to a nicety,
how long the current will run in one direction, and when it may be
expected to take a different course. In making their calculations they
are very much guided by the bearings of certain marks on land, such as
churches, windmills, or other conspicuous buildings, and the following
anecdote, related of one of our pilots, Jean Breton, is well worthy of
being remembered, not more for the skill he displayed under very trying
circumstances, than for the significant and touching answer he gave
when questioned whether he was sure of his marks.

In the year 1794, Captain Sir James Saumarez was at Plymouth, in
command of H.M.S. _Crescent_ and a squadron consisting of two other
frigates, the _Druid_ and the _Eurydice_, and two or three armed
luggers and cutters. He received orders to sail for Guernsey and
Jersey, to ascertain, if possible, the enemy’s force in Cancale Bay and
St. Malo. On the 7th of June he left Plymouth, having, a day or two
before, accidentally met Jean Breton, whom he knew. He asked him what
he was doing there. “I am waiting, Sir, for a passage to Guernsey,”
was the reply. Sir James, whose active benevolence always prompted
him to do a kind action when it was in his power, offered to take
him across, and his kindness to his poor fellow-countryman was amply
repaid in the sequel. The day after their departure from Plymouth,
when about twelve leagues to the N.N.W. of Guernsey, and with a fresh
N.E. breeze, the English ships fell in at dawn with a French squadron
of considerably greater force. The superiority of the enemy being much
too great to be opposed with any chance of success, it became the
imperative duty of the English commander to effect, if possible, the
escape of his ships. Observing that his own ships, the _Crescent_
and the _Druid_, had the advantage in sailing, and fearing that the
_Eurydice_, which was a bad sailer, would fall into the enemy’s hands,
he shortened sail, and, having ordered the _Eurydice_, by signal, to
push for Guernsey, he continued, by occasionally showing a disposition
to engage, to amuse the enemy and lead him off until the _Eurydice_ was
safe. He now tacked, and, in order to save the _Druid_, closed with
the enemy, passing along their line. The capture of the _Crescent_ now
seemed inevitable, but the _Druid_ and the _Eurydice_ escaped in the
meanwhile, and arrived safely in Guernsey Roads, the smaller craft
returning to Plymouth.

But Sir James had, for his own preservation, a scheme, to effect which
required great courage, consummate skill in the management of his ship,
and an intimate knowledge of the intricate passages through the reefs
which render navigation, on that part of the coast in particular, so
very dangerous. The providential presence of Jean Breton on board
enabled him to put this scheme into execution with an almost certainty
of success. Sir James knew that if there was a man in Guernsey
thoroughly acquainted with every danger that besets that iron-bound
shore, Jean Breton was that man; and, making a feint to run his ship on
the rocks to avoid being captured by the enemy, but trusting implicitly
in his pilot’s skill, he ordered him to steer through a narrow channel,
a feat which had never before been attempted by a vessel of that size.
The result of this manœuvre was watched with the utmost anxiety from
the shore, and remarks were made by the lookers-on that Jean Breton
alone, of all the pilots in Guernsey, would venture on such a perilous
feat, little suspecting that it was indeed he, to whom, under God,
was to be attributed the safety of the ship and her gallant crew. The
frigate was soon brought to in a secure anchorage under shelter of the
fire of the batteries on shore, and the French, mortified at being
baulked of a prize of which they had made quite sure, had to retire
from the contest.

The scene of this daring adventure was to the westward of the island,
off the bays known as Le Vazon and Caûbo, on the shore of the former of
which Jean Breton’s cottage was situated, and full in view of Sir James
Saumarez’s own manorial residence, a position truly remarkable, for on
one side was a prospect of death or a French prison, on the other side
home with all its joys! When in the most perilous part of the Channel,
Sir James asked the pilot whether he was sure of his marks? “Quite
sure,” was Jean Breton’s reply, “for there is your house and yonder is
my own!”

[232] EDITOR’S NOTE.--This was true years ago when Sir Edgar MacCulloch
wrote the above, but it has ceased to be true now.


Nursery Rhymes and Children’s Games.

    “Gather up all the traditions, and even the nursery
    songs; no one can tell of what value they may prove to an
    antiquary.”--Southey, in a letter to Mrs. Bray, quoted in her
    _Borders of the Tamar and the Tavy_.

[Some of these I have found lying loose among Sir Edgar MacCulloch’s
MSS. I have put them together, and added to them a few I have collected
among the old country people.--ED.]


A number of children seat themselves in a circle on the ground, as near
to each other as possible, and one of the party is chosen to stand in
the centre of the ring. Those who are seated keep their hands in their
laps with their fists closed, and endeavour to pass a pebble or other
small object from one to the other, without its being perceived by the
child who is in the middle. While the game is going on they recite the
following rhyme:--

    “Mon toussebelet va demandant,
    Ma fausse vieille va quérant,
    Sur lequel prends tu, bon enfant?”[233]

The child in the centre of the circle is in the meantime on the look
out to discover into whose hands the pebble is passing, and, if he can
succeed in arresting it in the possession of any one of the players, he
takes his place in the ring, and the one in whose hands the pebble was
caught, replaces him in the centre.

_From Rachel du Port._

[233] EDITOR’S NOTE.--All Guernsey nursery rhymes, etc., are naturally
either in old French or Guernsey French, dating as they do from the
times when no other language was spoken in the island.


A child stands in the middle and says:

    “J’ai tant d’énfants à marier.”

Chorus from children standing round:

    “Ah! Ah! Ah!”

The child again says:

    “Ah! je ne sais qu’en faire.”

One of the children then says:

    “Maman, maman, que voulez vous?”

The first child replies:

    “Entrez dans la danse, faites la révérence,
    Chantez, dansez, et embrassez celui que vous aimerez.”

This is repeated till all the children are brought inside the circle,
then the “mother” says.

    “Tous mes enfants sont mariés,
    Je n’en ai plus un seul resté.”

Then the first child says to the “mother”:

    “Entrez dans la danse, faites la révérence,
    Chantez, dansez, et embrassez celui que vous aimerez.”

_From Mrs. Jehan._


The child in the centre says the first couplet and then “counts out”:

    “Un loup passant par le désert,
    La queue levée, le bec en l’air,
    Un, deux, trois,
    Vers le bois,
    Quatre, cinq, six,
    Vers le buis,
    Sept, huit, neuf,
    Vers le bœuf,
    Dix, onze, douze,
    Dans la bouze.”


    “Un “i” un “l,” ma tante Michelle,
    Des roques, des choux, des figues nouvelles,
    Ne passez pas par mon jardin,
    Ne cueillez pas mon rosmarin,
    Crim! Cram! Crue,! Elysée,! Henri! Va ’t’en!”

Sometimes the last three ejaculations are omitted.--_From Mrs. W. P.


    “A la grand’ rue
    Les étoiles y sont suspendues;
    Du vin blanc, et du vin noir,
    On le met à baptizer,
    Sur le dos de la cuiller.
    La cuiller se passe,
    L’enfant trépasse,
    Ainsi, par ci
    Mon cœur me dit
    Ceci, celà,
    Hors d’ici
    Hors de là!”

--_From Miss Harriet de Sausmarez, aged ninety. Used by children in her


    “L’un de la lune
    Deaux, des ch’vaux
    Très des peis,
    Quâtre d’la grappe
    Chinq, des chelins,
    Six du riz.
    Sept du lait,
    Huit, de la gâche cuite,
    Neuf, du bœuf,
    Dix, pain bis,
    Onze de la congre,
    Douze de la bouze.”

--_From Mrs. W. Ozanne._

[Illustration: Hautgard, St. Peter’s, showing Pilotins.]

    “Hickory, Airy, Ory, Anne,
    Biddy, boddy, over San,
    Père, Père, Vierge et Mère,[234]
    Pit, Pout, out, one!”

--_From Miss Annie Chepmell._


    “Eckary, airy, ory Anne,
    I believe in ury San,
    Père, père, what’s your mère,
    Pit, pout, out, one!”

--_From Mrs. Mollet, La Villette._


    “Onery, Twoery, Dickery, Davy,
    Arabo, Crackery, Jennery, Lavy,
    Wishcome, Dandy, Merrycome, Time,
    Humberry, Bumberry, Twenty-nine.”

--_From Mrs. Durand, sen._

[234] Or sometimes “Birds of the Air.”

These words sound like a burlesque of Roman Catholicism, especially of
the words of administration of the Mass.

Nurses’ Rhymes.


The nurse takes the child’s hand, and beginning with the thumb says:
“_Gros det_,” “_Arridet_,” (for the index finger.)

[Métivier, in his Dictionnaire Franco-Normand, says it comes from an
obsolete word, “_arrer_” or “_arrher_,” meaning to promise, to ratify,
to buy; and quotes the “Speculum Saxonum II., 15, I.” “Celui qui
commence une cause devant le juge pour laquelle il est tenu de donner
caution … du doigt.”]

“_Longuedon_,” or “_mousqueton_,” the middle finger, “_Jean des
Scéas_,” the ring finger, or the finger which wears the signet.
Métivier (page 443 of Dictionnaire Franco-Normand) gives as evidence
of the signet being worn on this finger, Macrobius VII., 13, p.
722. Edit. de Lyon, 1560. “Dis-moi pourquoi on s’est déterminé, par
un assentiment universel, à porter l’anneau au doigt qui avoisine le
petit, qu’on a nommé aussi le doigt médical: et cela presque toujours à
celui de la main gauche? Voici la réponse de Disarius. ‘Ayant consulté
les livres des anatomistes, j’en ai découvert la vraie cause. Ils
m’ont appris qu’un nerf passe du cœur au doigt de la main gauche, qui
avoisine le petit, et que c’est là, enveloppé par les autres nerfs de
ce doigt, qu’il termine sa course. Voilà pourquoi les anciens se sont
avisés de ceindre ce doigt d’un anneau, et, si j’ose m’exprimer ainsi,
d’une couronne.’”

“_P’tit Coutelàs_,” the little finger.

The nurse puts the child on her knee and sings:--

    “Sur les paires[235] et sur les poumes[236]
    Et sur le petit chevalot
    Qui va--le pas, le pas, le pas,
    Le trot, le trot, le trot,
    Le galop! le galop! le galop!”

The nurse pretends to shoe the baby’s feet and sings:--

    “Ferre, ferre la pouliche,
    Pour allaïr vée ma nourriche,
    Ferre, ferre le poulaïn,
    Pour allaïr vée mon parrain;
    Ferre, ferre le cheval,
    Pour allaïr à Torteval.”

Another version of this rhyme is given in Métivier’s _Dictionary_. Vide
_Pouliche_, namely:--

    “Ferre, ferre men poulaïn
    Pour allaïr à Saïnt-Germaïn![237]
    Ferre, ferre ma pouliche
    Pour allaïr cîs ma nourriche.”

[235] Poires.

[236] Pommes.

[237] Saint-Germain was a fountain with medicinal properties in the
Castel parish.


The nurse tickles the baby’s hands, and says:--

    “L’alouette, l’alouette a fait son nid
    Dans la main de mon petit,
    Et a passaï par ichin.” (Here she tickles the baby’s palm).

Then beginning with the thumb, she says:--

    “Ch’tinchin l’a tuaïe,
    Ch’tinchin l’a plumaïe,
    Ch’tinchin l’a rôtie,
    Ch’tinchin l’a mangie,
    Et le poure p’tit querouin,
    Qui a étai au fouar et au moulin,
    N’en a pas ieü un poure p’tit brin.”

(There are several slightly different versions of this rhyme.)

Nurses, while playing with a child’s face, say:--

    “Menton fourchi” (pinch the chin).
    “Bouche d’Argent” (touch the lips).
    “Nez de Cancan” (touch the nose).
    “Joue rotie, joue fricassée” (touch the cheeks).
    “P’tit œillot, gros œillot” (touch the eyes).
    “Craque Martel” (tap the forehead).

--_From Mrs. Kinnersly._

    “En r’venant de St. Martin
    J’ rencontri men p’tit lapin,
    Il sautit dans ma grand’ chambre
    Et mangit toutes mes almandes;
    Il sautit dans ma p’tite chambre
    Et mangit toutes mes noix;
    Il sautit dans men chillier
    Et mangit toutes mes cuillers;
    Il sautit dans men gardin
    Et mangit men rosmarin;
    Il sautit dans mon galetâs
    Et mangit tous mes râts;
    Il sautit sur ma maison
    Et mangit mon p’tit garçon.”

--_From Mrs. David, the old nurse in the service of Mr. Gosselin,
at Springfield._

    “L’alouette, l’alouette, qui vole en haut,
    Prie Gyu pour qu’il faiche caud,
    Pour ses poures p’tits aloutiaux,
    Qui n’ont ni manches ni mantiaux
    Ni alumettes ni coutiaux
    Pour copaïr les gros morciaux.”

    “Tire-lire-li, ma cauche étrille,
    Tire-lire-li, ramendaïs la,
    Tire-lire-li, j’ n’ai pas d’aiguille,
    Tire-lire-li, acataïs n’en,

    Tire-lire-li, j’ n’ai point d’argent,
    Tire-lire-li, empruntaïs n’en
    Tire-lire-li, j’ n’ai point d’ crédit,
    Tire-lire-li, allou’s-en.”

    “Corbìn, Corbìn, ta maison brule,
    Va-t-en cueure ton pain et ton burre,
    J’ai la cllai dans ma paoute,
    Jamais tu n’ la verras d’autre.”

--_From Louise Martel, of the Vale._

    “Colin, Colimachon, montre mè tes cônes,
    Ou je te tuerai!”

--_From Louise Martel._

Métivier in his _Dictionnaire_ gives this version:--

    “Limaçon, bône-bône
    Montre-moi tes cônes!”


    “Coli, Colimachon, mourte mè tes cônes,
    Et je te dirai où est ton père et ta mère.
    Ils sont là bas, en haut du pré,
    A mangier d’la gâche cuite et bère du lait!”

--_From Mrs. Mollet._

    “Rouge bounet, veur-tu du lait?
    Nennin, ma mère, il est trop fred,
    Rouge bounet, veur-tu d’la craïme?
    Oui, ma mère, caer je l’aïme.”

--_From Mrs. Mollet._

    “Coquedicot, j’ai mal au det,
    Coquedicot, qu’est qui-t-la-fait?
    Coquedicot, ch’tait men valet,
    Coquedicot, où est qu’il est,
    Coquedicot, il est à traire,
    Coquedicot, dans qu’est qu’il trait?
    Coquedicot, dans son bounet,
    Coquedicot, dans qu’est qu’il coule?
    Coquedicot, dans sa grand goule,
    Coquedicot, dans qu’est qu’il ribotte?
    Coquedicot, dans sa grand botte?
    [238]Coquedicot, dans qu’est qu’il fait le burre?
    Coquedicot, dans son grand verre!”

In summer a species of small black beetle, known by the local name of
“_pan-pan_,” is found very commonly in the hedges. Children are in the
habit of laying these beetles on their backs, in the palms of their
hands, spitting upon them, and then repeating the following words:--

    Mourte mé ten sang,
    Et je te dounerai du vin bllanc.”

The insect thus tortured emits a drop or two of a blood-red secretion,
which is, of course, what the child is looking for.

Compare “Les feux de la St. Jean en Berry,” in _Revue des Traditions
Populaires_, Vol. I., p. 171. “Il existe une petite scarabée d’un
noir bleu qu’on nomme ‘_petite bête St. Jean_.’ Quand on le prend, il
rend par les mandibules (la bouche) un liquide rougeâtre; les enfants
excitent cette sécretion en mettant de la salive sur l’insecte, et en

    ‘Petite bête Saint-Jean,
    Donne-moi du vin rouge,
    Et je te donnerai du vin blanc.’”

[238] These two lines were omitted in the version known by Mr. de
Garis, of the Rouvets.

See _Notes and Queries_, Vol. I., Series I, January 26th, 1850.


    “Les Français qui plument leurs ouaies
    Craquent leux puches et les font quée.”

    --See Chambers’ _Popular Rhymes of Scotland_.

    “The men o’ the East
    Are pyking their geese
    And sending their feathers here away, here away!”

    “Margoton, mon amie,} bis.
    Margoton, mon cœur, }
    Il te faudra du rôti,
    Pour et pour, et pour et pour,
    Pour te mettre en appetit.”

    “Patty Patoche, vendit la caboche
    Dans le marchi, pour des sous merquis.”

    Je fus par les càmps
    Ma roulette roulànt.
    J’ rencontris Tchisette
    Qui m’ print ma roulette.
    J’ li dis “Tchisette,
    Rends-mé ma roulette.”
    A’ me répounit
    “Je ne t’la rendrai poiut
    Si tu n’me doune une croûte de lait.”

    Je fus à ma mère
    J’ li dis “Ma mère,
    Doune mé une croûte de lait.”
    A’ me répounit
    “Je ne t’la dounerai poiut
    Si tu n’ me doune une cllavette.”
    Je fus à mon père
    J’ li dis, “Mon père,
    Doune mé une cllavette.”
    I’ me répounit
    “Je ne t’ le dounerai poiut
    Si tu n’me doune un’ tchesse de viau.”
    Je fus au viau
    J’ li dit “Viau,
    Doune me un’ tchesse.”
    I’ me répounit
    “Je ne t’ le dounerai poiut
    Si tu ne me doune du lait de la vâque.”
    Je fus à la vâque
    J’ li dit “Vâque,
    Doune mé du lait.”
    A’ me répounit
    “Je ne t’en dounerai poiut
    Si tu ne me doune de l’herbe de pré.”
    Je m’en fus au pré
    J’ li dis “Pré,
    Doune mé de l’herbe.”
    I’ me répounit
    “Je ne t’ la dounerai poiut
    Si tu ne me doune une tranche de faux.”
    Je fus au faux
    J’ li dis “Faux,
    Doune mé de la tranche.”
    I’ me répounit
    “Je ne t’ la dounerai poiut
    Si tu ne me doune de la graisse de porc.”
    Je fus au porc
    J’ li dis “Porc,
    Doune mé de la graisse.”
    I’ me répounit
    “Je ne t’ la dounerai poiut
    Si tu ne me doune un glliand de quêne.”
    Je m’en fus au quêne
    J’ li dis “Quêne,
    Doune mé un glliand.”
    I’ me répounit
    “Je ne t’ le dounerai poiut
    Si tu ne me doune du vent de maïr.”
    Je fus à la maïr
    J’ li dis “Maïr,
    Doune mé du vent.”

    La maïr ventait--J’éventi men quêne
    Men quêne glliandait--Je glliandi men porc
    Men porc graissait--Je graissi men faux
    Men faux tranchait--Je tranchi men pré
    Men pré herbait--Je herbi ma vâque
    Ma vâque laitait--J’allaiti mon viau
    Men viau tchessait--Je tchessi men père
    Men païre cllavettait--Je cllavetti ma mère
    Ma maïre crôtait--Je crôti Tchisette
    Par chunna j’eus ma roulette.

This, the local version of “The House that Jack Built,” is widely
known. Slightly different versions exist in the different parishes, but
the above is as complete as I can make it.--_From Mrs. Mollet, Mrs.
C. Marquand, Mrs. Le Patourel, and from a version collected in St.
Peter-in-the-Wood, by Miss Le Pelley._

    “Haptalon[239] de la Vieille Nanon
    Qui ribotait son cotillon.”

[239] “Haptalon” is the Guernsey equivalent of “Hobgoblin.”

[Illustration: Old Guernsey Farm House.]

Cradle Songs.

    “Dindon, Bolilin,
    Quatre éfants dans le bain de Madame.
    Le petit, qui cri le bouille,
    Dindon, bolilin!”

    “Chausseaton, berçeaton,
    Ma grand’mère est au païsson,
    Si al’en prend j’en aïron
    Tout sera plein à la maison!
    Si non, j’ nous en passerons!”

    “Ton père[240] a dit qui fallait dormir (bis).
    Lo, lo, lo, le petit
    Puisque ton père a dit.” (bis).

    Dors tu?
    Nennin, ma mère, quer je prie Gyu,
    Quaille prière dis-tu?
    “Not’ Père” et “Je cré en Gyu.””

    “Trop paresseuse, pourquoi te revaïr?
    Reveillez-vous joyeuse, et venez dansaïr.”


    “Crolloton, berchotton,
    Ma grand’-mère est au païsson
    S’ al’en a j’en airon
    S’ a n’en a poiut, j’ nous en passerons.”

    --_From John de Garis, Esq., of the Rouvets._

[240] EDITOR’S NOTE.--This rhyme is repeated, bringing in “mère,”
“oncle,” “tante,” etc., till all the relations have been named.

Dancing Rhymes.


It was formerly customary on holidays for the youth of both sexes to
assemble in some tavern or private house to amuse themselves with
dancing to the enlivening strains of the fiddle or _rote_, called in
the local dialect the “_chifournie_.” These assemblies were termed
“_sons_,” and were generally attended also by some of the older
portions of the community, whose presence was a guarantee for the
orderly conduct of the meeting. Things are now much changed. The
presence of a large garrison during the wars that arose out of the
first French Revolution, and the influx of a mixed population since the
peace, altered the character of these assemblies in town. They came to
be regarded with disfavour; parents discouraged their children from
attending them; the prejudice against them extended to the country
parishes, and the puritanical feeling that grew up with the rapid
spread of dissent among the labouring classes was entirely opposed to
any species of amusement. Whether the cause of morality has gained much
by this over strictness is questionable.

The dances at these meetings were of a very primitive character,
consisting almost entirely of a species of jig, by two performers, or
in joining hands and moving round at a quick pace in a circle. When
a musician was not to be procured, recourse was had to the united
voices of the dancers, and an ancient roundelay or “_ronde_,” no doubt
originally imported from France, where such dances are still common
among the peasantry, helped to carry on the amusement of the evening.
It is still danced occasionally by young people and children, and, as
the sole remaining specimen of this kind of diversion, deserves to be

The performers, who must consist of an equal number of either sex
placed alternately, join hands in a circle. They then dance round,
singing in chorus:--

    “Saluez, Messieurs et Dames,
    Ah! mon beau lau-ri-er!” (bis)

One of the girls is then selected and placed in the middle of the
circle, and the rest of the party continue to dance round her singing:--

    “Ah! la belle, entrez en danse!
    Ah! mon beau lau-ri-er!” (bis)

The next verse is:--

    “Faites nous la révérence,
    Ah! mon beau lau-ri-er!” (bis)

On this the damsel curtseys round to the company, who go on singing:--

    “Faites le pot à deux anses,
    Ah! mon beau lau-ri-er!” (bis)

The dancer must now set her arms a-kimbo, and so figure away in the
centre of the ring until the strain changes to:--

    “Jambe, enjambe en ma présence,
    Ah! mon beau lau-ri-er!” (bis)

This figure generally causes much merriment, for the performer is
expected to clasp both arms round one uplifted knee, and hop about on
the other foot, the result of which is not unfrequently a fall. Then

    “Prenez cil qui vous ressemble,
    Ah! mon beau lau-ri-er!” (bis)

The maiden now makes selection of a partner among the youths, and both
join hands in the middle of the circle, while the following words are
sung to a different tune and measure:--

    “Entr’embrassez-vous par le jeu d’amourette,
    Entr’embrassez-vous par le jeu d’amour.”

A tender embrace follows, and then the assistants sing:--

    “Entr’embrassez-vous par le jeu d’amourette,
    Entr’embrassez-vous par le jeu d’amour.”

A kiss is now claimed from the compliant damsel, after which is sung:--

    “Entrequittez-vous par le jeu d’amourette,
    Entrequittez-vous par le jeu d’amour.”

The girl now leaves the young man in the midst of the circle and
returns to her original place, when the dance recommences with such
verbal alterations as the change of the principal performers renders

The old-fashioned cushion dance, which delighted the romps of the Court
of the merry-monarch, Charles II., is not altogether forgotten on these

There are several other dancing rhymes and snatches of dancing times in
existence--such as the one quoted by Métivier in his _Dictionnaire_,
page 148:--

    “Ma coummère, aquànd je danse, men cotillon fait-i bien?
    Ah! vraiment oui, ma coummère, i va bien mûx que le mien.
    I va de ci, i va de là;
    I va fort bien, ma coummère,
    I va fort bien coumme i va.”

Another version is:--

    “Ma coummère, aquànd je danse, men cotillon fait-i bien?
    Ah! vraiment oui, ma coummère, i va bien mûx que le mien.
    I va d’ici, I va de là, men cotillon,
    Vole, vole, vole, men cotillon vol’ra.”

One dance consisted of a sort of see-saw in different corners of the
room, the couple repeating:--

    “Dansez donc, ou ne dansez pas,
    Faites le donc, ou ne le faites pas,
    La-la-la.” (bis).

Dance and repeat!

Sark Games.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--In a _Descriptive Account of the Island of Sark_,
published in Clarke’s _Guernsey Magazine_ for September and October,
1875, the Rev. J. L. V. Cachemaille wrote:--“The public games and
amusements of the Sarkese are few, and of a simple kind; and it is only
children or young people who take part in them now-a-days. Formerly
they used to have a favourite amusement, consisting of six or eight
men, or big boys, who placed themselves in a line, one behind the
other, and held each other firmly round the waist, while two outsiders
made every effort to pull them apart one after another, till one only
remained. This game they called ‘_Uprooting the Gorse_,’ and the last
man represented the largest or principal root. Children still keep
up this game, but not very universally, nor is it often played. It
was one of the chief amusements of the ‘_Veilles_.’” Mr. Cachemaille
also wrote:--“A person, either young or old, disguised himself in a
manner to frighten people. At the end of a stick he carried the head
of a horse or donkey, and this he placed on his own head, having first
enveloped himself in a sheet. By means of cords, he made the jaws of
this head to open and shut with a noise, then he ran after one or the
other, endeavouring to bite them with the teeth of those horrible jaws;
whereupon everybody ran away as fast as they could, and there was a
general turmoil, the people either screaming with fright, or else
laughing at the joke. This head made the round of all the “_Veilles_,”
followed by a crowd of people, and, until quite latterly, one of these
heads was still to be seen in one of the principal farm houses.”


Superstitions Generally.

    “Even a single hair casts a shadow.”

                       --_Lord Verulam._

EDITOR’S NOTE.--In this chapter are collected all the loose and
unclassified bits of Folk-Lore scattered among Sir Edgar MacCulloch’s

The widely-diffused idea that the spirits of the dead sometimes return
in the form of birds, is not altogether obsolete in these islands.

A widow, whose husband had been drowned at sea, asked the Seigneur of
Sark whether a robin that was constantly flying round her cottage and
alighting on her window-sill, might not possibly be the soul of the

The robin is a bird specially reverenced in Guernsey, as the
widely-accepted belief is that it was the robin who first brought fire
to the island. In bringing it across the water he burned his breast,
and this is the reason why, to this day, the breast of the robin is
tinged with red. “My mother,” said the old woman who told me this,
“had a great veneration for this little bird, which had been so great
a benefactor to those who came before us, for who can live without

_Soucique._ This is the name given in Guernsey to the marigold, and
also to the fire-crested or golden-crested wren, the word being
derived from the Latin “solsequium.” It is probably the same as the
“heliotropium.” The shape and colour of the flower, resembling the
disc of the sun surrounded with rays, and the fact of the flower
opening at sunrise and closing at sunset, would naturally cause it to
be associated with that luminary, and considered sacred to Apollo. It
is not quite so easy to account for the same name being given to the
fire-crested and golden-crested wren, but we know that the wren plays a
considerable part in the mythology of the Aryan nations, and is one of
those birds which is believed to have brought fire from heaven for the
use of man.[243] The story of its outwitting the eagle, in the contest
for the sovereignty among birds, and getting nearer the sun by perching
on its back, may have gained for it a name, which, as we have seen,
signifies “a follower of the sun.”

[Illustration: Portion of the Old Town House (on the left) of the de
Sausmarez Family, situated where St. Paul’s Chapel now stands.]

The willow-wren is known among us as “_Le Ribet_,” from _Ri_ (roi), and
“_bet_,” the form known in the province of Bearn of “bel.” Vallancey
says:--“The Druids represented this as the king of birds, hence the
name of this bird in all the European languages. Latin, _Regulus_;
French, _Roitelet_; Welsh, _Bren_ (or “king”); Teutonic, _Konig Vogel_;
Dutch, _Konije_, _etc._”

A magpie crossing one’s way is of evil augury, portending vexation, or
trouble of some kind. Crows cawing much in the neighbourhood of a house
is also a sign of impending trouble.[244]

When the cuckoo is heard for the first time in the year one ought to
run a few steps forward in order to ensure being light for the rest of
the year. If you have money in your pocket, and turn it, or shake it,
it will ensure good luck, and you will not want money throughout the
rest of the year.[245]

“Money should be turned in the pocket when the cuckoo is heard for the
first time.”

An old woman, living at the Vale used to say:--_“En Guernesi nous a
coutume de dire en oyant le coucou pour la première fais:--‘Si tu ne
cuers pas tu seras lourd toute l’annâie.’ Nous remue étout l’argent
qu’nous peut aver dans les paoutes, en les secouant--et il y a des gens
qui se mettent à genouaïx. La première fais que nous-ôt le coucou il
faut mettre une grosse roque sus sa tête, arroütaïr à courre, et nou
sera légier toute l’annâie._”

[241] See _Indo-European Folk-Lore_.

[242] From Rachel Du Port.


“Another version of this story is: The robin redbreast brought fire to
the Island, and by so doing burnt his breast, as he had been carrying
a lighted torch in his beak. When he arrived with his breast-feathers
burnt and raw and red, all the other birds were so sorry for him that
they each gave him a feather, except the owl, who would not, so that is
why he no longer dares show his face by day.”--_Told me in 1896 by the
late Miss Annie Chepmell, who had heard it from an old servant._

“Quand la rouge-gorge alla chercher l’ feu, ses plumes furent toutes
brulées, alors les oiseaux en eurent pitié et ils résolurent de lui
donner chacun une plume pour la réhabiller. Seul le chat-huant,
oiseau orgueilleux et peu compatissant, refusa. C’est pour cela que,
lorsqu’il se montre au jour, tous les petits oiseaux crient après lui,
et la rouge-gorge en particulier, qui, par son cri, lui reproche son
orgeuil.”--_Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute Bretagne_, Tome
II., p. 201.

[243] One country tradition says that the wren brought water to

[244] From J. R. Tardif, Esq.

[245] See “Folk-Lore of the North of England,” in the _Monthly Packet_,
February, 1862.


    _“En Avril_
    _Le coucou crie_
    _S’il est vif.”_

    _“Le coucou_
    _S’en va en Août_
    _La barbe d’orge_
    _Li pique la gorge.”_

    _Bave[246] partout.”_

(See _Notes and Queries_, 4th Series, Vol. III., 1869.)

It is thought lucky to shake one’s pockets and run a few steps, the
first time one hears the cuckoo sing. The following lines are also
repeated by some, and the number of times the cuckoo utters his note is
taken as an answer to the question.

    _“Coucou, cou-cou, dis mé_
    _Combien d’ans je vivrai.”_[247]

I remember when I was a child, my aunt, Miss de Sausmarez, making me
remark how chickens, when they drink, lift up their heads at every sip,
and telling me that they did so to thank God.[248]

The bone of the cuttle fish, which is found at times thrown up on the
beach, is called in Guernsey “_Pépie_.” It is supposed to possess the
quality of healing the “pip” in chickens, also known as “la pépie.”

A stye in the eye is called in Guernsey “_un laurier_,” and is to
be cured by bathing the eye with an infusion of laurel leaves or

If a fisherman, on setting out, sees a humble bee flying in the same
direction as he is going, he considers it a good omen, and that he is
sure of a plentiful catch. If, however, the insect meets him, it is
quite the reverse. The ill-luck, however, may be averted by spitting
thrice over the left shoulder. Omens of good or bad luck are also
derived from sea-birds. All depends on whether a gull or a cormorant
is seen first, as, if a cormorant, no fish is to be expected that day.
All fishermen also know how unlucky it is to count one’s fish until the
catch has been landed, as, however freely they may be biting, counting
them would inevitably stop all sport for the day.[249]

If a pair of bellows is put on a table, some great misfortune is sure
to happen in the household.[250]

Richard Ferguson, fisherman, of the Salerie, tells me that there is
a great objection against taking currant cake with them when they go
a-fishing, it is sure to bring bad luck.

[246] _Bave_--The cuckoo spittle.

[247] See Thorpe’s _Northern Mythology_, and Chambers’ _Popular
Rhymes_, p. 193.

[248] See _English Folk-Lore_, p. 95.

[249] From the late Colonel de Vic Tupper.

[250] From J. R. Tardif, Esq.


The following scraps of Folk-Lore I have gathered from old people in
St. Martin’s parish, in the years 1897-99.


“_J’ai ouï dire à ma gran’mère i’y a be’tôt chinquante ans qu’l’bouan
homme que nou veit dans la lune enlevit un fagot de bouais le Dimanche,
et pour chut fait le Bon Gyu le condamnit à s’en allair dans la lune
jusqu’au Jour du Jugement. V’la l’histouaire de chut poure Mâbet que
non vait si souvent perqui là-haut._”--_From Mrs. Le Patourel._

A robin flying to the window or in the house is a sign of death. Crows
flocking together and cawing over the house are most unlucky. To go
out and meet three crows or three magpies means good luck, all other
numbers mean misfortune.

None should ever cut their finger nails on either a Sunday or a Friday
if they wish to prosper. A baby’s first nails should never be cut, but

On being given a present of scissors or a knife, a double[251] should
always be given in exchange. Parsley should never be taken as a gift,
but it is very lucky to steal some (!).

No berried plants such as ivy, etc., should be brought into the house
before Christmas, and it is especially unlucky if, when they are
brought in, they are allowed to touch the mantel shelf. May should
_never_ be brought into a house, and many people, especially in
Alderney, consider that to bring in furze or gorse means to introduce

Should an unmarried woman go in and out of a house through a window
which is not destined as a means of entrance or exit, she will never

An umbrella should never be opened in a house, or placed upon a table,
quarrelling and strife are sure to follow.

It is supposed to be very unlucky when going out of the house, if the
first person you meet is a woman. Never pass her if you can avoid it,
but stand still and let her pass you.

To keep witches from entering a stable and molesting the cattle a piece
of naturally pierced flint-stone should be tied to the key of the
stable door. On going down to a beach it is considered lucky to pick up
a small stone and bring it away with you. Never give away money with a
hole in it.

If you think you are bewitched or that any one has a spite against you,
throw a lump of salt on the fire, and as it burns blue the spite will

Fanny Ingrouille, of the Forest parish, from whom the foregoing was
obtained, also repeated the following formula, which apparently was a
programme for the week of a Guernsey country girl.

    _“Au matin--Pierre Martin_
    _Au ser--Jean Mauger_[252]
    _Lundi, Mardi--Fêtes_
    _Mercredi--Mà à ta tête_
    _Jeudi, Vendredi--Fort travâs_
    _Samedi--A la ville_
    _Dimanche--Vée les filles.”_

[251] The smallest local coin, value one-eighth of a penny.

[252] “_Martin_” and “_Mauger_” are two of the most widely spread of
the country names.


ALDERNEY = Vâques (Cows).

SARK = Corbins (Crows).

JERSEY = Crapauds (Toads).

GUERNSEY = Anes (Donkeys).


ST. PIERRE PORT = Les Cllichards (See Métivier’s _Dictionnaire_, p.

ST. SAMSON = Raïnes (Frogs.)

LE VALLE = Ann’tons (Cockchafers.)

LE CATEL = Le Câtelain est un âne-pur-sang.

ST. SAUVEUR = Fouarmillons (Ant lions.)

ST. PIERRE-DU-BOIS = Equerbots (Beetles).

TORTEVAL = Anes à pid de ch’vâ (Asses with horses’ feet.)

LA FORÊT = Bourdons (Drones.)

ST. MARTIN = Dravants (Large Ray-fish.)

ST. ANDRÉ = Craïnchons (siftings) “Ce qui reste dans le crible.”[253]

[253] _Criblure_, Métivier, p. 152.--“In sifting corn the _craïnchons_
are the light and defective grains and husks that gather in the
_middle_ of the sieve, as it is worked with a circular motion. St.
Andrew’s is the _middle_ parish of the island.”--_From Mr. Linwood
Pitts and “Bad’la goule.”_


The following is a rhyme describing the girls of each parish, given me
by the late Mr. Isaac Le Patourel, of St. Martin’s.


    _“Ce sont les filles de la Ville_
    _Elles sont des jolies Belles!_
    _Ce sont les filles de Saint Samson_
    _Elles sont bonnes pour le lanchon!_[254]
    _Ce sont les filles du Valle_
    _Elles sont prêtes pour faire du mal!_
    _Ce sont les filles du Câté_
    _Elles sont prêtes pour la gaieté!_
    _Ce sont les filles de Saint Sauveur,_
    _Elles sont toutes de bouane humeur!_
    _Ce sont les filles de Saint Pierre_
    _Ah! qu’elles sont terjours à braire!_[255]
    _Ce sont les filles de Tortevâ_
    _Elles ont vraiment les pids de ch’vâ!_
    _Ce sont les filles de la Forêt_
    _Dame! ch’est qu’elles sont bien laides!_
    _Ce sont les filles de St. Martin_
    _Elles sont niais comme des lapins!_
    _Ce sont les filles de Saint André_
    _Elles seront toutes des delaissées!”_

[254] Lanchon = Sand-eels.

[255] A braire = To weep.


Proverbs, Weather Sayings, etc.

    “They serve to be interlaced in continued speech. They serve to
    be recited upon occasion of themselves. They serve, if you take
    out the kernel of them, and make them your own.”--_Lord Verulam._

No nation is without its proverbs; but while in many cases these pithy
sayings are the same in all languages, and merely literal translations
from one dialect to another, in other instances the idea only is
present, and the words in which the proverb is expressed have little
or nothing in common, as, for example, the English saying:--“A bird in
the hand is worth two in the bush,” appears in French in the far less
picturesque form of “_un ‘tiens’ vaut mieut que deux ‘tu l’auras’_.”
Sometimes, from the peculiar circumstances of the people using it, a
proverb takes a local tinge, and, in so doing, may change considerably
from its original wording, while continuing at the same time to convey
a similar lesson. Thus the pastoral saying:--“To lose one’s _sheep_
for a penn’orth of tar,” becomes, very naturally, among a nautical
population, “to lose one’s _ship_, etc.”

Some few proverbs are so thoroughly local as to appear to have
originated in the place where they are used.

Guernsey is not rich in proverbs properly so called; but, as might be
expected among an agricultural and maritime people, weather-sayings
are not uncommon. Many of these could no doubt be traced to the
mother-country, Normandy, but some few may be indigenous, and the
result of local observation.

We will give specimens of each class of these proverbial expressions,
with such remarks as may be necessary to explain them as far as they
can be explained; and, although many of them might be put into modern
French, we have preferred retaining the old Norman dialect still
preserved as the language of all the rural parts of the island.


_Nou (on) ne va pas au jàn (àjonc) sans ses gànts._--No one goes to cut
furze without gloves. If you would undertake an arduous matter, be well
prepared for it.

_Ch’est la coue (queue) qui est la pière (pire) à écorchier
(écorcher)._--It is the tail that is the hardest to flay. It is often
more difficult to bring an affair to a successful end than to begin it.

_Qui sent mànjue (démangeaison) se gratte._--He who itches scratches
himself. Nearly equivalent to the English saying, “The cap fits.”

_Quand le bouissé (boisseau) est pllein, i’ jette._--When the
bushel-measure is full it runs over. The last straw breaks the camel’s

[Illustration: Building the south arm of the Town Harbour, connecting
Castle Cornet with the Island.]

_Nécessitaï fait la vieille trottaïr._--Need will make an old woman

_Au broue (brouille, embarras) est le gan (gain, profit)._--No exact
equivalent is to be found for this proverb, but it means that profit,
in some way or other, may be made where there is much doing. The
English saying “No pains, no gains,” comes near it.

_Pûs (plus) de broue que de travâs (travail)._--More bustle than work.
Much cry and little wool.

_Mettre daeux guerbes (deux gerbes) en un llian (lien)._--To bind up
two sheaves with one wisp. To kill two birds with one stone.

_Biautaï (beauté) sans bountaï (bonté), ne vaut pas vin
évantaï._--Beauty, without goodness, is not worth stale wine.

_L’amour hâle (tire) pûs (plus) que chent (cent) bœufs._--Love draws
more than a hundred oxen.

_A p’tit pourche (pourceau) grosse pânais._--The little pig gets the
big parsnip. The youngest child is the most petted.

_Qui paie s’acquitte; qui s’acquitte s’enrichit._--He who pays his way
keeps out of debt; he who keeps out of debt gets rich. No comment is
needed on this thoroughly practical proverb.

_Si nou (on) lli dounne ùn peis (pois) i’ prend une faïve._--If you
give him a pea, he’ll take a bean. Give him an inch, he’ll take an ell.

_Ch’n’est pas ôve (avec) du vinaigre que nous (on) attrâpe des mouques
(mouches)._--Flies are not caught with vinegar. Nothing is to be gained
by roughness.

_Qui peut volaïr (voler) ùn œuf, peut volaïr ùn bœuf._--He who would
steal an egg would steal an ox. Be honest in the smallest matters.

_F’rine du guiablle (diable) s’en va en bran (son)._--The devil’s flour
turns to bran. Ill-gotten wealth never prospers.

_Chàngement d’herbage est bouan (bon) pour les jânes viaux (jeunes
veaux)._--Change of pasture is good for young calves. Variety is
necessary for the young. “Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits.”

_I’ ne faut pas faire le cottìn (cabane, crêche) d’vànt que le viau
seit naï._ (Avant que le veau ne soit né).--One must not make the crib
before the calf is born. Do not count your chickens before they are

_S’il ne l’a en breuf, il l’aira (l’aura) en soupe._--If he does not
get it in broth, he’ll get it in soup. If he cannot obtain his end by
one means, he will by another.

_Apprins au ber (berceau), dure jusqu’au ver._--What is learnt in the
cradle goes with one to the grave--literally “to the worm.”

_La bête d’un poure (pauvre) houme (homme) mourrait pûs-à-caoup (plus
tôt) que li (lui)._--He would die more opportunely than a poor man’s
beast, is said of a person whose death would not leave much cause for

_Les p’tits tchiens (chiens) out de longues coues (queux)._--Is the
equivalent of the French proverb, “dans les petites boîtes les bons
onguents;” precious ointments are in small boxes.

_Ch’est une querrue à tchiens (charrue à chiens)._--It is a plough
drawn by dogs, is said of any affair which is badly conducted--where
those who ought to work in concert are pulling different ways, like two
dogs on a leash.

_Un mouisson (oiseau) à la main vaut mûx que daeux qui volent._--A bird
in the hand is worth two on the wing.

_Il n’y a fagot qui n’trouve sen lliàn (lien)._--There is no faggot but
what at last finds a band. Every Jack has his Jill; every dog has his

_I’ n’y a fagot qui n’vaut sa lliache (liasse)._--There is no faggot so
bad as not to be worth a band.

_Qui mange la craïme ne rend pas du burre (beurre)._--He who eats his
cream makes no butter. You cannot eat your cake and have it.

_I’ ne vaut pas grànd burre (beurre)._--He or it is not worth much
butter; meaning, such an one is not worth much, the matter is not worth
going to any expense about; an allusion to a worthless fish on which
the butter used in cooking it is so much thrown away.

_Ecoute-paret (paroi) jamais n’ot dret (n’ouit droit)._--An
eavesdropper never hears good.

_I’ n’y a rien itaï (tel) que sé (soi) sa qu’minse (chemise) lavaïr
(laver)._--There is nothing like washing your own shirt. If you wish a
thing well done, do it yourself. It is also used in the sense of “Wash
your dirty linen at home.”

_Nou (on) ne trâche (cherche) pas de la graïsse dans le nic (nid) d’ùn
tchien (chien)._--No one thinks of looking for fat in a dog’s kennel.
Look not for qualities where they are not likely to be found, as
generosity in a miser, or honesty in a thief.

_Si ùn cat (chat) s’amord (s’adonne) au lard, nou ne sairait (saurait)
l’en d’s’amordre._--If a cat takes a liking for bacon you can’t break
her of it. It is difficult to get rid of bad habits.

_P’tit à p’tit l’ouaisé (oiseau) fait sen nic (nid)._--Little by little
the bird builds her nest. Rome was not built in a day.

_Tout neû g’nêt (neuf balai) néquie (nettoie) net._--A new broom sweeps

_I’ n’y a itaïls (tels) que les féniêns (fainéants) quand i’ s’y
mettent._--There are none like idlers when they once set to work.

_Ch’est cauches (bas, chausses) grises, et grises cauches._--This is
the equivalent of the French proverb “C’est bonnet blanc, et blanc
bonnet,” and the English, “Six of one, and half-a-dozen of the other.”

_Ch’n’est pas les ciens (ceux) qui labourent le pûs près du fossaï (de
la haie) qui sont les pûs riches._--It is not they who plough nearest
the hedge who are the richest. Economy may be carried too far.

_I’ s’y entend coume à ramaïr (ramer) des chaoux (choux)._--He
understands as much about it as about putting pea-sticks to cabbages.
The meaning conveyed being: he knows nothing at all about it.

_Tout chu (ce) qui vient de flot se retournera d’èbe._--All that
comes with the flood will return with the ebb. Riches too rapidly
acquired, or ill-gotten, will disappear as quickly as they came--nearly
equivalent to the French proverb “Ce qui vient de la flûte s’en va par
le tambour.”

_Si l’houme aïme autre mûx que sé (mieux que soi) au moulìn i’ mourra
de set (soif)._--If a man loves others more than himself, he will die
of thirst even were he in a mill. The mill spoken of in this selfish
proverb, which is equivalent to “Look after number one,” is, of course,
a water-mill.

_Biauture (beau-temps, beauté) d’hiver; santaï (santé) de vieil homme;
parole de gentilhomme; ne t’y fie, homme!_--A fine day in winter, the
health of an old man, the word of a nobleman; trust to none of these,
O man! The marked distinction of “noble” and “rôturier,” if such ever
existed in Guernsey, died out many centuries ago; and this proverb has
all the appearance of an importation from Normandy, or some other part
of France, where the peasantry were oppressed by the feudal system. The
word “biauture” does not belong to the Guernsey dialect, and when the
saying is quoted in the present, it is generally with reference to the
two first clauses.

_Un tchien (chien) vaut bien p’tit qui ne vaut pas ùn caoup de sufflet
(coup de sifflet)._--A dog that is not worth whistling for is not worth

_Les grands diseurs sont de p’tits faiseurs._--Great talkers are little

_Où ’est qu’il y a du crottin, il y a du lapìn._--Where you see their
droppings, you may expect to find rabbits. Used both literally and
metaphorically. There is no smoke without fire.

_Il y a terjoûs (toujours) un épi qui mànque à la guerbe
(gerbe)._--There is always a spike of corn lacking in the sheaf.
Nothing is ever perfect.

_I’ n’y a bouais (bois) dont non (on) n’fait buche._--There is no wood
but what will serve for firing, meaning that everything can be put to
some use or other; but the latter half of the proverb is sometimes
varied to “_dont i’ n’ fait buche_,” and it is then equivalent to the
English saying “All is fish that comes to his net.”

_Va où tu peux, meurs où tu deis (dois)._--Go where you can, die where
you must. Dispose of your life as you please, death is inevitable.

_Il est niais coume Dadais qui se couachait (couchait) dans l’iaue
(eau) d’paeur (peur) d’être mouailli (mouillé)._--He is as foolish as
Dadais who lay down in the water to avoid getting wet in a shower.

_Il est niais coume Dadais qui tâte l’iaue pour vée (voir) s’a bouit
(bout)._--He is as stupid as Dadais who puts his hand into the water to
feel if it is boiling.

_Il est pûs (plus) niais que Dadais qui se fouittait de
crêpes._[256]--He is more simple than Dadais who flogged himself with
pancakes. The word “Dadais” is used in the sense of simpleton. In the
three sayings that we have just quoted “Dadais” bears a strong family
resemblance to the “Simple Simons” and “Silly Billies” of English
nursery tales.

_Ch’tait du temps du Rouai (Roi) Jehan. Ch’était du temps des
Scots._--Are used in speaking of events which took place beyond the
memory of man. It is easy to understand how the reign of King John
came to form an epoch in the history of Guernsey; for it was then that
the connexion with the mother-country, Normandy, was severed, and the
islands, until then part and parcel of that Duchy, became attached to
the Crown of England, and have so continued ever since. But it is not
so easy to say when or how the latter saying originated. It may refer
to an invasion of the island by David Bruce, about the tenth year of
Edward III., (A.D. 1336); when great atrocities appear to have been
committed on the inhabitants; but some old people seem to think--and
probably with reason--that the “Scots” were a Scotch regiment sent here
in the early part of last century on a fear of hostilities breaking out
between England and France. It is right, however, to notice that in the
Guernsey dialect “_Ecossais_” and not “_Scots_” is used to designate

_I’ mànge coum’ un varou._--He eats like an ogre, is the exact English
equivalent of this saying; but there are few who use the saying who
could say what is meant by “_un varou_.” It is, undoubtedly, the same
as the French “loup-garou” in English--a were-wolf; and may have
reference to the old superstition of men and women being turned into

_I’ s’en est allaï (allé) les pids (pieds) d’vànt._--He has gone feet
foremost. He has been carried to his grave.

_Il a étaï enterraï la tête ès tchiens (aux chiens) dehors._--Is used
in the same sense as “being buried like a dog.”

_Il a tête et bounet (bonnet)._--He has a head, yea, and a cap, is said
of an opinionated man.

_I’ n’en reste ni tchiesse (cuisse) ni aïle._--There neither remains
leg nor wing. All is lost, nothing remains.

_I’ quient (tient) d’la chouque (souche)._--He’s a chip of the old

_I’ fait rille (raie) de gras._--He is making a streak of fat, is said
of a man who is prospering in his affairs, in allusion to a pig that is
being fattened.

_I’ peut mànger sa gâche (galette) dorâïe (beurrée) des daeux bords
(des deux côtés)._--He can eat his cake buttered on both sides. He is
rich enough not to be obliged to spare himself any indulgence.

_I’ mànge sa dorâie (tranche de pain beurré) grajie (grattée)._--He
spares the butter on his bread, either from poverty or from avarice. It
is “bread and scrape.”

_I’ prend les cauches (chausses, bas,) pour les sôlers (souliers)._--He
mistakes the stockings for the shoes. He is a blunderer who does not
know one thing from another.

_Il a paeux (peur) des p’tits sôlers (souliers)._--He is afraid of
the little shoes, is said of a man who is unwilling to enter into
the estate of matrimony for fear of the additional expenses that it
will entail--shoes for the children being a considerable item in the
disbursements of a poor family.

_I’ n’en prend ni compte ni taille._--He takes no account nor tally. He
lets matters take their course.

_V’là une fière perruque à débouquèr (démêler)._--There’s a fine wig to
comb out! Is said of an affair which is almost hopelessly involved.

_Il a fait pertus (pertuis, trou) sous l’iaue (eau)._--He has made
a hole in the water. He has disappeared furtively. Compare with the
French saying “Il a fait un trou à la lune.”

_I’ vêt (voit) sept lieues dans la brune._--He sees seven leagues
through the fog, is said derisively of a man who boasts of being more
clearsighted than his neighbours.

_Il est montaï (monté) sur ses pontificaux._--He is in his pontificals,
is equivalent to the English saying “He is riding the high
horse,”--asserting his dignity when there is no need to do so.

_Ch’est le bouâine (borgne) qui mène l’aveuglle._--The one-eyed man is
leading the blind man.

_Nou (on) ne saït pouit (point) où il puche (puise)._--One knows not
what well he draws from, is said of a man who manages to get on without
any very visible means of existence.

_Trop de cuisiniers gâtent la soupe._--Too many cooks spoil the broth.

_I’ n’y a pas de rue sàns but._--There is no road but has an ending.
Equivalent to “It is a long lane that has no turning.”

_S’il y avait un démarieur, il airait (aurait) pûs (plus) à faire que
tous les marieurs._--If there were an “un-marryer” he would have more
work to do than all the “marryers.”

_Ce n’est pas tout que les chaous, faut de la graîsse à les
cuire._--Cabbages alone are not sufficient, one must have grease to
cook them with. Generally applied to “_parvenus_,” who have money but
no manners.

_Nou’ n’engraisse pouit les p’tits cochons d’iau fine._--Little pigs
are not fattened by pure water.

_Vieille pie a plus d’un pertus à son nic (nid)._--An old magpie has
more than one hole in her nest. Said of a man who is skilful at evasion.

_T’as acouare les jaunes talons._--You have still got yellow heels, is
said to youngsters who are too presuming in giving their opinion in the
presence of their elders. Compare the French “blanc-bec” and “béjaune.”

_Ch’est la vermeïne (vermine) qui mànge (mange) l’tâs (le tas)._--It
is the vermin that eats up the stack. Said of a father who has a large
family of children drawing upon him and eating up all his savings.

[256] EDITOR’S NOTE.--The version I have heard of this proverb is: “Il
est niais coume Dadais qui se fouittait de crêpes et tout-le-temps
mourait de faim.”

Popular Sayings.

There are certain popular sayings which contain a comparison, and
which, although in a strict sense they cannot be called proverbs,
may yet be classed with them. Some of these contain words which have
become obsolete, or, at least, antiquated. “_Vier (vieux) comme suée_”
equivalent to “As old as the hills,” may be quoted as an example,
for not only is the word “_suée_” obsolete, but its very meaning is
forgotten and unknown. Mr. George Métivier, a learned philologist,
author of the _Dictionnaire Franco-Normand, ou Recueil des Mots
particuliers au Dialecte de Guernesey_, is inclined to refer it to
the old French _suée_ signifying _sueur_, sweat, used in the sense of
labour. The conjecture is ingenious, but not quite satisfactory.

_I’ s’est maniaï (manié) coume un albroche._--He has conducted himself
like a boor. Roquefort in his “_Glossaire de la Langue Romane_”
explains the word _Allobroge_ as “un homme grossier, un rustre, etc.,”
and gives _Adlobrius_, _Allobrox_, as the Latin forms. According
to Ducange, these words signify a citizen or native of Gaul. The
Allobroges, however, in the time of the Roman Empire, were the tribes
inhabiting Savoy and Piedmont.

_I’ bét (boit) coume ùn alputre._--Is used in the sense of “He drinks
like a fish,” but why the _alputre_,--rockling, or sea-loach,--should
be singled out among fishes for bibulous propensities, it is impossible
to guess.

_I’ plleut coume cis (chez) Pierre de Garis._--Is used in the sense
of “raining cats and dogs.” A certain Pierre de Garis, a merchant of
Bayonne, in the time when Aquitaine was governed by English Princes,
was appointed to the responsible office of Bailiff of Guernsey, about
the year 1325.[257] In all probability he derived his name from a
small town called _Garis_, about half-way between Bayonne and St.
Jean-de-Luz. He became the founder of a family of importance, not only
in Guernsey, but also in the neighbouring island of Jersey, and of
which there are still numerous descendants. It is not very likely that
the saying dates so far back as the fourteenth century, although it
has no doubt a very respectable antiquity. We can only conjecture that
it must have derived its origin from some well-known Pierre de Garis
of indolent or miserly habits, who allowed the roof of his dwelling to
fall into decay and let in the rain, and so became a by-word with his

_Ill’ y en a assaï (assez) pour tous les Tostevins._--There is
enough for all the Tostevins--is said when there is an abundance of
anything--enough and to spare. The name is extremely common in the
western parishes of Guernsey, especially in St. Pierre-du-Bois and
Torteval, where many of those who bear it are stone-masons who walk
every day into town--a distance of five or six miles--to their work.
Perhaps the good appetite they acquire in so long a walk may have had
something to do in originating the saying.

_Jaune coume q’zette._--As yellow as a daffodil, is equivalent to the
English saying “As yellow as crow’s foot.” It is sometimes varied to
“_jaune coume du murlu_,” this last word being the local name of the
corn-marigold and the ox-eye daisy.

_Vert coume ache._--As green as smallage--a herb closely allied to
celery and parsley, and, like them, intensely green--is used where we
should say in English “As green as grass.”

_Chièr (cher) coume paivre (poivre)._--As dear as pepper, is a
comparison which must have originated when this useful condiment,
now within the reach of the poorest, was a luxury brought from far
and obtainable only by the rich. Quit-rents payable in pepper were
not unknown in the middle-ages; and in the Extente, or account of
the revenues and obligations of the Crown in Guernsey, drawn up in
the fifth year of the reign of King Edward III., A.D. 1331, there
is an item of a quarter of a pound of pepper to be paid annually
at Michaelmas, by a tenant of lands situated in the parish of St.
Martin’s. The money payment for which this rent was commuted at that
time was twelve deniers tournois, which would make the value of a pound
four sols tournois, no inconsiderable sum in those days.

_I’ chànte coume ùn orateur._--He sings like an orator. A loud voice
is certainly desirable in one who attempts to _speak_ in public. Our
countrymen seem to consider it equally necessary and admirable in a

_Orguillaeux (orgueilleux) coume ùn pouâis (pou) sûs v’louss
(velours)._--As proud as that insect which Shakespeare calls “a
familiar beast to man” may be supposed to feel when it finds itself on

_Caûd (chaud) coume braïze._--As hot as embers, needs no explanation.

_Ch’est coume un bourdon dans une canne._--It is like a humble bee in a
can--is said of a droning monotonous style of preaching or speaking.

_Ch’est coume les prières de Jacques Ozanne qui n’ont pas de fin._--It
is like James Ozanne’s prayers which never come to an end. This is said
of any matter which is prolonged to an unreasonable extent; but nothing
seems now to be known of the individual whose lengthy supplications
gave rise to the saying.

_T’es coume Jean Le Tocq._--You are like Jean Le Tocq. This is
addressed to a man who is seen abroad at an earlier hour than usual,
and contains an allusion to two lines in the old Guernsey ballad of the
invasion of the island by Evan of Wales in 1373, where it is said:--

    _“Jean Le Tocq sy se leva_
    _Plus matin qu’a l’accoutumée.”_

Indeed this last line is generally added.

_Il a la conscience de la jument Rabey qui mangit s’en poulâin._--He
has the conscience of Rabey’s mare, who ate her foal. Said of an
utterly hard-hearted and unscrupulous man. The Rabeys are a well-known
country family, and it is possible that this proverb refers to some
domestic tragedy, the details of which have long been forgotten.

_Avoir le corset de Maître George._--To wear the corset of Maître
George. An allusion is here meant to a certain George Fénien. The
Féniens were a family who owned property in Fountain Street, and seem
to have become extinct towards the middle of the eighteenth century.
This expression is applied to an indolent man, so that the “Maître
George Fénien”[258] here alluded to must have lived up to his name,
Fénien--Fainéant--a sluggard. We have seen in some of the preceding
proverbs and sayings, allusions to individuals and families. Here are
two or three more of the same kind:--

_I’ fait de sen Quéripel._--Is untranslatable literally, but may be
rendered “he acts like a Quéripel.” and is said of a man whose vanity
leads him to give himself airs, and take too much upon himself. The
name existed in Guernsey as early as the fourteenth century, at which
time it was written _Carupel_, but there is not the slightest clue when
or how the saying originated. It may possibly be a corruption of some
proverbial expression current in Normandy.

_Il est dans les Arabies de Mons. Roland._--“He has got into Mr.
Roland’s Arabias,” is a remark made when a preacher, a public speaker,
or any one who sets up for a talker, has got beyond his depth, and is
discoursing on a subject which he does not understand. The Rolands, now
extinct, are believed to have been a Huguenot family that took refuge
in Guernsey in the sixteenth century.[259] The Mons^{r}. Roland who
figures in the saying is supposed to have been a schoolmaster.[260]

[Illustration: Old Guernsey House.]

_Ch’est prendre de Pierre Chyvret pour dounaïr à Monsieur Careye._--“It
is taking from Pierre Chyvret to give to Mr. Carey,” is used in the
sense of “sending coals to Newcastle,” or “taking from the poor to
give to the rich;” but who the particular individuals were whose names
figure in this saying it is impossible to say. In the reign of Queen
Elizabeth a Mr. Nicholas Careye was farmer of most, if not all, the
mills in Guernsey situated on the Crown domain, he being then Her
Majesty’s Receiver. At a time when all persons residing on a manor
were obliged to bring their corn to be ground at their Lord’s mill,
under severe penalties, such a monopoly in the mills as Mr. Carey
possessed, must have tended to make him a very wealthy man.[261] It
is not unlikely that he, or one of his immediate descendants, who
enjoyed the same privilege, may have been the person whose name became
proverbial for riches. The name of Peter Chyvret occurs in another
saying too coarse to be quoted, but which suggests the idea that he
may have been an idiot, and, if so, probably living on charity. It
is, however, worth noting that a certain Peter Chyvret was, about the
beginning of the present century, in possession of property situated
in the neighbourhood of one of the mills of which we have spoken. He
is reported to have been one of those eccentric characters of whom it
is difficult to say whether they have all their mental faculties--a
mixture, in fact, of shrewdness and simplicity. As he was by no means
in indigent circumstances it is scarcely probable that he can be the
same man alluded to in this saying.

_Tenir à pìnche-beleïne._--Means to hold lightly, without a firm grasp.
It is used in the following proverbial saying:--

    _“A pìnche-beleïne--sû la haute épeine,_
    _Si je m’déroque--je n’en dirai mot.”_

--Which may be freely translated:--“Holding on too lightly, if I fall
from the tree I shall say nothing about it.” If I suffer from my own
negligence I must not complain.

[257] EDITOR’S NOTE. The following short pedigree of the first members
of the de Garis family in the island may prove interesting:--It is
extracted from the proceedings of the law suit re the Fief Handois in
1497. See Additional MSS. British Museum, 30, 188.

        |                                             |
   … DE GARIS = …                     PIERRE DE GARIS = LUCENTIA DE DINNO,
  Eldest son, |                       of Bayonne,     | of Normandy.
  of Gascony. |                       Gascony Bailiff |
              |                       and             |
              |                       Lieut.-Governor |
              |                       of Guernsey,    |
              |                       Seigneur of     |
              |                       Fief Handois,   |
              |                       Jersey. Died    |
              |                       before A.D.     |
              |                       1323.           |
           +--+-------------------+          +--...---+--------...-----+
           |                      |          |        |                |
  Denis le = Bonita de   Biscaya  = Renaud  Pierre  John  = Alianor William
  Marchant | Garis       de Garis | Tanquis  de      de   | de         de
           | daughter    daughter | of      Garis.  Garis | Chesney  Garis.
           | and co-     and co-  | Jersey.       Seigneur| daughter
           | heiress.    heiress  |                of Fief| of Sir Wm.
           | Died before          |               Handois,| Chesney,
           | 1323, and her        |               Jersey. | and Joan
           | husband Denis        |               Jurat   | de Gorges.
           | married              |               of R.C. | She married
           | secondly             |               Jersey, | second
           | Peronelle            |               in 1355.| Geoffrey
           | le Moigne.          _|_                      | Walsh.
     +-----+                                    +---------+
     |                                          |
  John Le Marchant = …                    Edmund de Garis
  Jurat R.C. 1350. |                      Seigneur of Fief Handois.
  Bailiff of       |                      Jurat R.C. Jersey.
  Guernsey 1359-83.|                      O.S.P. Ante 1497.
                   Denis le Marchant =  Jeanette de Chesney,
                    Jurat R. C. and  |  youngest daughter
                     Lieut.-Bailiff. |  of Sir William de
                                     |  Chesney and
                                     |  Joan de Gorges.
                            LE MARCHANT FAMILY.

In the “Extente” of 1331, Pierre and John de Garis held land in the
parishes of St. Peter Port, St. Andrew’s, St. Peter’s-in-the-Wood,
and St. Sampson’s. In the “Calendars of Patent Rolls” for the years
1328-36, we find Nicholaa, Abbess of the Holy Trinity, Caen, nominating
Peter and William de Garis her Attorneys in the Channel Islands, and in
1332 a Commission was given to Robert de Norton, William de la Rue, and
Peter de Garis to survey the King’s Castles and Mills in the islands of
Jersey and Guernsey which are reported to be greatly in need of repair,
and to certify by whose default, and by whom they fell into decay. In
1380, a William de Garis, described as being “de l’isle de Guerneseye,”
sold to “Sire Pierre Payn” the Manor of Malorey in St. Laurent, Jersey,
to which parish the Fief Handois also belonged.

[258] EDITOR’S NOTE.--A “George Fenien” was in existence at the end of
the sixteenth century, and his daughter Collette Fenien, was married to
William Brock, ancestor of the Brocks of Guernsey. William Brock died
in 1582.

[259] EDITOR’S NOTE.--In the “Placita Coronæ” held in the reign of
Edward III., William, son of Robert Roland, held land in the Vale
parish. In a deed of 23rd of August, 1517, dealing with land in St.
Sampson’s parish, south of the “Grand Pont” the “_Rue Roland_” is
mentioned; in 1569, there was living in St. Sampson’s parish a Richard
Roland and Collenette Le Retylley, his wife, and (2nd November, 1569)
Thomas Roland and Jeanne Blondel, his wife, bought a house in St. Peter
Port from Jean Le Montés; so the probabilities are that the Rolands, if
they migrated from France, did so before the Huguenot persecutions, and
had been domiciled in Guernsey long anterior to the sixteenth century.

[260] EDITOR’S NOTE.--Or he may have been the “Monsieur Jean
Roland,” son of Thomas and Elizabeth Bailleul, who was Rector of S.
Pierre-du-Bois, and imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1665, for his
refusal to submit to the Act of Uniformity.

[261] EDITOR’S NOTE.--It was this Monsieur Careye, who in September,
1563, bought the Fief Blanchelande from Her Majesty’s Commissioners; he
married Collette de la Marche and was buried 15th of July, 1593.

Proverbial Sayings.

We now come to a class of proverbial sayings which might almost claim
an exclusive right to the title of “Folk-Lore,”--those relating to the
weather and other natural phenomena; and which, being the result of
long experience on the part of the people, are religiously believed in
by them. Many of these sayings are common, in spirit if not in form,
to the greater part of Europe; some of them are confined to certain
districts; and, although a few may have a superstitious aspect, such as
those which profess to predict what events will happen in the course of
the year from an observation of the weather on a particular holy day,
yet some of them may be worthy the notice of meteorologists, who have
discovered that, in many cases, the probable character of the weather
in a particular month may be guessed at by that which prevailed at an
earlier season.

_Janvier a daeux bouniaux (deux bonnets), Février en a treis
(trois)._--January wears two caps, February wears three. As a rule
February is the coldest month in the year. In a curious old MS. of the
sixteenth century, containing memoranda of household accounts, copies
of wills, and various entries of more or less interest, written between
the years 1505 and 1569 by various members of a family of the name
of Girard, landed proprietors in the parish of Ste. Marie-du-Castel
in Guernsey, we find the following weather prognostications for St.
Vincent’s Day (January 22nd), and the Feast of the Conversion of St.
Paul, (January 25th).

    _“Prens garde au jour St. Vincent_
    _Car sy se jour tu vois et sent_
    _Que le soleil soiet cler et biau_
    _Nous érons du vin plus que d’eau.”_

    _“Sy le jour St. Paul le convers_
    _Se trouve byaucob descouvert,_
    _L’on aura pour celle sayson_
    _Du bled et du foyn à foyson;_
    _Et sy se jour fait vant sur terre;_
    _Ce nous synyfye guerre;_
    _S’yl pleut ou nège, sans fallir,_
    _Le chier tans nous doet asalir;_
    _Sy de nyelle faict, brumes ou brouillars,_
    _Selon le dyt de nos vyellars,_
    _Mortalitey nous est ouverte.”_

Similar sayings are to be found in Latin, English, German, Italian, and
other languages.

February, as every one knows, is the shortest month in the year;
but few know why. This is how it is accounted for by old people in
Guernsey:--“_Février dit à Janvier:--‘Si j’étais à votre pièche
(place) je f’rais gelaïr (geler) les pots sus le faeu (feu) et les
p’tits éfàns (enfants) aux seins de leurs mères’--et pour son ìmpudence
i’ fut raccourchi (raccourci) de daeux jours, et Janvier fut aloigni
(alongé).‘_” February said to January:--If I were in your place I would
cause the pots to freeze on the fire, and babes at their mothers’
breasts, and for his insolence he was shortened of two days, and
January was lengthened.

The most intense cold in the year generally sets in with February; and
this saying reminds me of what is told in Scotland, and in many parts
of the north of England, of the _borrowing days_, the three last days
of March (See Brand’s _Popular Antiquities_, Bohn’s edition, Vol. II.,
p. 41-44). It appears, however, according to this authority, that in
the Highlands of Scotland the _borrowing days_ are the three first days
of February, reckoned according to the old style, that is, the days
between the eleventh and the fifteenth.

February 2nd, Candlemas Day. Fine weather on this day is supposed to
prognosticate a return of cold. The following lines were communicated
by a country gentleman, but they have not quite the same antique ring
as those relating to St. Paul’s and St. Vincent’s Days, and may,
possibly, be a more recent importation from France.

    _“Selon les anciens se dit:_
    _Si le soleil clairement luit_
    _A’ la Chandeleur vous verrez_
    _Qu’ encore un hiver vous aurez.”_

_Quànd Mars durerait chent àns l’hiver durerait autànt._--If March were
to last for a hundred years, winter would last as long.

_Mars qui entre coume ùn agné (agneau) sortira coume ùn touaré
(taureau)._--The Guernsey form of this saying substitutes a bull in the
place of a lion.

_Mars a enviaï (envoyé) sa vieille trachier (chercher) des bûquettes
(buchettes)._--When, after a spell of comparatively mild weather, March
comes with blustering winds, breaking off the small dry branches from
the trees, the country people say that he has sent out his old wife to
look for sticks; and predict that, as he is laying in a store of fuel,
the cold is likely to last.

_Pâques Martine--guerre, peste, ou famine._--Easter happening in March,
forebodes war, pestilence, or famine.

_A Noué à ses perrons, à Pâques à ses tisons._--If at Christmas you can
sit at your doorstep, at Easter you will be glad to sit by your fire.

_Avril le doux--quànd il s’y met le pière de tous._--Or, as the
Norman antiquary, Pluquet, gives it:--“_Quand il se fâche, le pire de
tous_.”--When the weather is bad in April, it is the worst of all the

_En Avril, ne quitte pas ùn fil._--In April leave not off a stitch of
clothing--a piece of advice which is well warranted by the sudden and
extreme changes in the temperature in this month. On the other side,
this advice holds good a month later--“Till May be out cast not a

_Caud (chaud) Mai, gras chimequière (cimetière), fred (froid) Mai,
granges pllaïnes (pleines)._--A warm May, a fat churchyard, a cold May,
fat granaries.

_A’ la mié Août, l’hiver noue._--About mid-August there is usually a
marked change in the weather, gales of wind and heavy rain generally
occurring at this season, and any long continuance of settled fine
weather, is scarcely to be hoped for. This has led to the remark that
winter “_sets_” at this time; as the blossoms in Spring set for fruit.

_A’ la mi-S’tembre, les jours et les nits s’entre ressemblent._--In the
middle of September, days and nights are alike.

_Six s’maïnes avant Noué, et six s’maïnes après, les nits sont les pûs
longues, et les jours les pûs freds._--Six weeks before Christmas and
six weeks after, the nights are the longest and the days the coldest.
This saying is scarcely correct in Guernsey, as very cold weather about
the end or the beginning of the year is rather the exception than the
rule in this climate.

_Si le soleil liet à méjeur, le jour de Noué, il y aura bien des faeux
l’annaïe ensuivant._--If the sun shines at noon on Christmas Day, there
will be many fires lighted in the ensuing year.

_Aube gelaïe est biétôt lavaïe._--Hoar-frost is soon washed away, or,
as another weather proverb says:--“_Après treis aubes gelaïes vient la
pllie._”--After three hoar-frosts comes rain, a saying which experience
amply bears out.

_Vent d’amont qui veur duraïr, au sér va se reposaïr._--An east wind
that intends to last, goes to rest in the evening.

_Vent d’amont ôve (avec) pllie, ne vaut pas un fllie (patelle)._--An
east wind with rain is not worth a limpet.

_Quand i’ plleut ôve vent d’amont, ch’est merveille si tout ne
fond._--Rain from the east is rare; but when it does occur it is so
heavy and continuous as to give rise to the saying that it is a wonder
that everything does not melt.

_Cherne (cerne) à la lune, le vent, la pllie, ou la brune._--When
there’s a circle round the moon, wind, rain, or fog, will follow soon.

_Cherne de llien (loin), tourmente de près; cherne de près, tourmente
de llien._--If the halo round the moon is large and at a distance, it
denotes that a storm is at hand, if, on the contrary, it is small and
near the moon, the storm will not arrive for some time.

_Cherne à la lune, jamais n’a fait amenaïr mât d’hune._--A circle round
the moon has never caused top-mast to be struck. It is difficult to
reconcile this saying with the preceding, unless by supposing that
sailors are so convinced that a circle round the moon portends bad
weather that they are careful to shorten sail before the gale comes on.

_Cherne au soleil i’ ne fera pas demain bel._--A solar halo means bad
weather to-morrow.

    _Si le soleil est rouage (rouge) au sèr (soir),_
    _Ch’est pour biau temps aver (avoir),_
    _S’il est rouage au matin,_
    _Ch’est la mare au chemin._

If the sun sets red, it is a sign of fine weather, but when he rises
red, you may expect to see pools of water on the road.

_Rouage ser, gris matin, ch’est la jouaie (joie) du pélerin._--A red
evening and a grey morning are the pilgrim’s joy, but this saying is
sometimes varied to:--

_Rouage sèr, bllanc matin, ch’est la journaïe du pélerin._--A red
evening and a white morning is the day for the pilgrim.

_En Avril, le coucou crie, s’il est en vie._--In April, the cuckoo
sings, if he is alive. The cuckoo generally arrives in Guernsey about
the 15th of April.

    _Le cou-cou s’en va en Août,_
    _L’épi d’orge li pique la gorge._

    _The cuckoo departs in August,_
    _The barley-spike pricks his throat._

Agricultural Sayings.

It is not easy to draw a clear line between those sayings which have
reference to the weather, and those which relate to agricultural
pursuits and experience; but the following appear to fall more
naturally under the latter head:--

    _Quànd i’ plleut ôve vent d’aval,_
    _Nourrit l’houme et sen cheval;_
    _Quànd i’ plleut ôve vent d’amont,_
    _Ch’est merveille si tout ne fond._

When it rains with a westerly wind it feeds man and beast; but when it
rains with an east wind, it is a marvel if everything does not melt.

    _L’arc d’alliance du soir, bel à voir,_
    _L’arc d’alliance du matin, fait la mare à chemin._

Rainbow in the evening, fair to see; rainbow in the morning, there will
be pools on the roads.

_Si tu vois le soleil le jour de la Chandeleur, sauve le foin, car tu
en auras besoin._--If you see the sun on Candlemas Day, save your hay
for you will want it.

_A’ la Paintecoûte, les grouaïsiaux se goûtent._--Green gooseberries
are in perfection at Whitsuntide.

_De la St. Michel à Noué (Noel) une pllante ne sait pas chu (ce) que
nou (on) li fait._--From Michaelmas to Christmas a plant does not know
what you do to it.

_De la Toussaint à Noué un arbre ne sait pas chu que non li
fait._--From All Saints’ Day to Christmas a tree knows not what is
done to it. The autumnal quarter is supposed to be the best for
transplanting trees or shrubs, as at that time the vigorous growth that
had been going on in spring and summer has ceased, and there is less
danger of their suffering from the change.

_Noué n’est pas Noué sàns pâcrolle (paquerette primevère)._--Christmas
is not Christmas unless there be primroses.

_Noué est pûtôt Noué, sans pâcrolle, que sans agné (agneau)._--A
Christmas without primroses is more rare than a Christmas without
lambs. Another version is:--

_Nou ne vit jamais Noué, sans pâcrolle ou p’tit agné._--This saying, as
well as the preceding, seems to refer particularly to the occurrence
of that harbinger of spring, the primrose, at this season. With the
exception occasionally of a few very cold days about the beginning
of November, the weather in Guernsey up to Christmas, and frequently
far into January, is remarkably mild; vegetation is scarcely checked,
and many summer flowers continue to bloom freely up to this time. It
is a well-known fact that the primrose, like many other plants and
most bulbs, has its period of repose during the hot and dry weather
of summer, the flowering ceasing about the end of May, and the leaves
withering away. In the autumn there is a fresh growth of leaves, and
the flower buds, which had been already formed towards the end of
spring, but had been prevented by the drought from expanding, are
ready to burst into bloom with the mild days that generally usher in
Christmas, the earliest blossoms being invariably found on the north
sides of the hedges, where the latest flowers of the preceding summer
lingered, the plants with a south aspect having exhausted their bloom
in the hot weather.

    _A flleur de Mars--ni pouque (poche) ni sac;_
    _A flleur d’Avril--pouque et baril;_
    _A flleur de Mai--barrique et touné (tonneau)._

    Blossom in March requires neither bag nor sack;
    Blossom in April fills bag and barrel;
    Blossom in May fills hogshead and tun.

This saying refers to the apple crop, and the quantity of cider that
may be expected, judging from the month in which the trees come into

    _Sème tes concombres en Mars,_
    _Tu n’ airas qu’ faire de pouque ni de sac;_
    _Sème-les en Avril, tu en airas ùn petit;_
    _Mé, j’ les semerai en Mai;_
    _Et j’en airai pûs que té (toi)._

Sow your cucumbers in March, you will want neither bag nor sack; sow
them in April, you will have a few; I will sow mine in May, and I shall
have more than you.

_Pouit (point) de vraic, pouit de haugard._--No seaweed, no corn ricks.
The sea-weed, _vraic_ or _varech_, which grows in such abundance on
all the rocks round the islands, is of the utmost importance to the
farmer. It is almost the only dressing used for the land, stable manure
being scarce and expensive. Hence the saying quoted above; for without
sufficient manure the crops are sure to fall short. The _haugard_,
or, more correctly, _haut gard_, (high yard) is the enclosure near a
homestead on which the ricks are erected.

_Débet (dégel) de pllie, ne vaut pas une fllie (patille); débet de sec,
vaut demi-fumaeure (fumier)._--A thaw with rain is not worth a limpet;
a thaw with dry weather is worth half a load of manure.

_Un essaim en Mai--vaut une vaque (vache) à lait._--A swarm of bees in
May is worth a milch cow.

_Où est qu’ll y a un cardon (chardon) ch’est du pain; où est qu’ill y a
du laitron, ch’est la faim._--Where thistles grow there will be bread,
where the sow-thistle grows it is famine. The latter is mostly found in
very poor land.

_Il vaut mûx pour ùn houme d’aver un percheux (paresseux) dans son
ménage qu’un frêne sur s’n hêritage._--It is better for a man to have a
lazy fellow in his service than an ash-tree on his estate. The shade of
the ash is believed to be destructive of all vegetation over which it
extends; and it is this belief that has in all probability given rise
to this saying. This proverb sometimes takes the following form:--

    _Bâtard dans sen lignage_
    _Vaut mûx qu’un frène sur s’n héritage._

Piscatory and Maritime Sayings.

The following sayings may be termed piscatory and maritime.

_A quànd le bœuf est las, le bar est gras._--When the ox is weary, that
is, when ploughing has come to an end for the season, the bass is in
good condition. This fish is decidedly best in summer.

_A quànd l’orge épicotte, le vrac est bouan sous la roque._--When the
barley comes into ear, the wrasse or rock-fish, is at its best.

_L’âne de Balaam a pâlaï (parlé) j’airon du macré
(maquereau)._--Balaam’s ass has spoken, we shall soon have mackerel.
The mackerel, it is almost needless to say, is a migratory fish,
arriving on our coasts in the spring, and remaining with us till late
in the summer. Formerly the reading of the First Lesson at Evensong on
the first Sunday after Easter, in which the story of Balaam and his ass
is told, was considered a sure indication that the welcome shoals would
soon make their appearance. The Cornish fishermen have the same saying.

Old fishermen pay great attention to the direction of the wind at
sunset on old Michaelmas Day (10th October), for they firmly believe
that from whatever point it blows at that time, the prevailing winds
for two-thirds of the ensuing twelve months will be from that quarter.

    _Grànd maïr (mer) ou morte iaue (eau),_
    _La lune au sud, il est basse iaue._

Whether it be spring tides or neap tides, when the moon is due south it
will be low water.

EDITOR’S NOTE.--Another version: “Vive iaue ou morte iaue, La lune au
sud, il est basse iaue.”--_From John de Garis, Esq._

Various Sayings.

A few sayings omitted may find a place here:--

_Alle ira sû le coquet de l’Eglise ramendaïr (racommoder) les
braies (culottes) des viers garçons._--She will get a seat on the
weather-cock of the church and mend old bachelor’s breeches, is said of
old maids, and is equivalent to the English saying, “She will lead apes
in hell.”

_Ch’est une autre pâre (paire) de cauches (bas, chausses)._--That’s
another pair of stockings, is used in the sense of “That’s quite
another affair.”

_A quànd les filles suffllent (sifflent) le guiablle (diable)
s’éhuque._--When girls whistle the devil laughs outright. Whistling
is not generally reckoned among feminine accomplishments, and by many
would certainly be considered as a symptom of what, in the present day,
is termed “fastness” in the fair sex.

According to the Northamptonshire proverb:--

    “A whistling woman and crowing hen,
    Are neither fit for God nor men.”

In Normandy they say:--“Une poule qui chante le coquet, et une fille
qui siffle, portent malheur dans la maison.”[262]

And in Cornwall:--“A whistling woman and a crowing hen, are the two
unluckiest things under the sun.”

_Trachier (chercher) la Ville par Torteval._--To seek for the Town by
way of Torteval, is said of one who goes a round-about way to work.
The rural parish of Torteval, situated at the south-west corner of
Guernsey, is, of all the parishes in the island, the one furthest
removed from the town of St. Peter Port. Compare the French “Chercher
midi à quatorze heures.”

_Il ôt (ouit, entend) fin coume une iragne (araignée)._--His sense of
hearing is as quick as that of a spider. Whether the abrupt retreat
of the common wall-spider into the inner recesses of its web, at the
approach of anything that alarms it, is to be attributed to the sense
of hearing, sight, or feeling, would be difficult to determine. The
fact, however, has been noticed, and has given rise to this saying.

    _Entre le bec et le morcé,_
    _Ill y a souvent du destorbier._

    T’wixt cup and lip--there’s many a slip.

    _Qui épouse Jerriais ou Jerriaise,_
    _Jamais ne vivra à s’n aise._

In all countries and in all ages jealousies and dislikes have existed
between neighbouring communities. The inhabitants in Guernsey and
Jersey are not exempt from these feelings, which find vent in
malicious tales told of each other. The saying quoted above is common
in Guernsey; probably its counterpart exists in Jersey, substituting
“Guernesiais” for “Jerriais.” It by no means follows, however, that
the want of comfort in these mixed marriages may not be quite as
attributable to the one side as the other.

_Il y a terjoûs quiqu’ùn qui a sa qu’minse à sequier._--There is always
some one wanting to dry his shirt. The weather never suits everybody’s

_I’ n’a que vie d’alàngouraï (languissant)._--Equal to the English
saying “A creaking door hangs longest.”

_Si un houme n’a pas le sens de pâlaïr (parler) il est bien sâge s’il a
le sens de se taire._--A man who has not the sense to speak is still a
wise man if he has the sense to hold his tongue.

_I’ faut savèr ouïr, véer, et se taire._--One should know how to hear,
see, and be silent.

_La s’maïne qui vient._--is the equivalent of the English “To-morrow

_Chu qu’ nou n’a jamais veu, et jamais ne verra, Ch’est le nic
d’une souaris dans l’oreille d’un cat._--In the _Folk-Lore Record_,
Vol. III., Part I., p. 76, we find the Breton equivalent of this
saying:--“One thing you have never seen, a mouse’s nest in a cat’s
ear.” We are not told, however, whether the proverb is found in the
French patois of Upper Brittany, or in the Celtic dialect still spoken
in Lower Brittany--la Bretagne bretonnante.

_I’ va d’vànt ses bêtes_, or _I’s’met d’vànt ses bêtes_.--He is going
before his team, is said of a prodigal, one who is out-running his

_Ch’est une pouquie (pochée) de puches (puces)_ or _de souaris_.--Is a
sackful of fleas, or of mice, is said of a person who is very lively
and always on the move.

_Il n’est si bouane (bonne) bête qui n’ait quiqu’ (quelque)
ohi._--There is no beast so good but that it has some fault or vice. It
is worthy of notice that the word “_ohi_” is gone entirely out of use
except in this proverb.

_I’ vit d’amour et de belles chansons--coum’ les alouettes de roques
(pierres, cailloux)._--The first part of this saying--He lives on love
and fine songs--is frequently used alone, but it is often capped by the
concluding words, “As larks do on stones,” meaning that something more
nourishing is needed to keep body and soul together.

“_Un mouisson (oisseau) dans la main vaut mûx que daeux qui volent._”
“_Un mouisson à la main en vaut daeux sur la branque (branche.)_” “_Un
pourché (pourceau) dans sen parc en vaut daeux d’ par les rues._”
All these are equivalent to the English proverb: “A bird in the hand
is worth two in the bush,” but the last must have originated in days
long gone by, when swine were allowed to roam at their will about the

_I’ n’ y a pas de cousins à Terre-Neuve._--There are no cousins at
Newfoundland. This somewhat selfish proverb, indicating that where
one’s own interest is at stake the ties of consanguinity go for little,
although occasionally heard in Guernsey, originated most probably
either in Jersey or St. Malo, both which ports are largely engaged in
the cod fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland. Jersey, indeed, owes
her commercial prosperity almost entirely to this branch of industry,
to which, it is said, the attention of the inhabitants was directed by
Sir Walter Raleigh during the time that he held the office of Governor
of the island. During the Middle Ages the fisheries in the Channel
Islands were very productive, and a source of considerable revenue to
the Crown, but the discovery of Newfoundland, and the superior quality
of the codfish caught on its shores, drove the salted conger and
mackerel of the island out of the market.

_Le cul d’un sac et la langue d’une femme gagnent terjoûs._--In former
days, when horses were more employed in carrying loads than they are at
the present time when carts are in universal use, it was observed that
a sack thrown across the back of a horse had a tendency to slip down
gradually in the direction opposite to its mouth. This explains the
first part of the proverb; the second part is equivalent to the saying
that a woman will always have the last word and gain her end at last.

_Nou veit bien pûs de meïnes de gâche crue que de biaux musiaux._--One
sees many more pasty, doughy looking faces than pretty ones. Said in
very cold weather.

_Ch’n’est que faeu et fllâmme._--It is nothing but fire and flame, said
of a boaster, and also of a passionate man, whose temper quickly rises,
and as quickly dies down.

_Pêle-mêle gabouaré._--Pell-mell, as merry-makers tumble out of
a village inn. This word “gabouaré,” derived from the Bas Breton
“_gaborel_,” is only found in this phrase.

_Il est coume le pourché du negre, petit et vier._--He is small and
old, like the negro’s pig.

_Cope le cô_, _i.e._, “coupe le cou,” is a common asseveration among
children. They pronounce the words, drawing their right hand at the
same time towards their throat, as if cutting it, and the action is
meant to imply that they wish their throats may be cut if they do not
tell the truth, or perform what they have promised.

_Vaque (vache) d’un bouan égrùn (croissance)._--A cow that does credit
to her food, and that feeds close. _Etre d’un bouan égrùn_--is also
said of children who look fat and healthy.

In conclusion, we will give a story which is often told in the country,
as a warning to those who are apt to laugh at fools. A half-witted
fellow, who had gone to the mill with his corn, was asked by the
miller, who wanted to laugh at him:--“John, people say that you are a
fool and know nothing. Now, tell me what you know and what you don’t
know?” “Well!” answered John, “I know this, that millers have fine
horses.” “That’s what you know,” said the miller. “Now tell me what you
don’t know.” “I don’t know on whose corn they are fattened,” said John.

--_From Denys Corbet._

[262] EDITOR’S NOTE.--In _Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute
Bretagne_, Tome II., p. 29., are various sayings to the same effect,
such as:--

    “Fille siffler,
    Poule chanter,
    Et coq qui pond,
    Trois diables dans la maison.”

[Illustration: Gibbet from which pirates were suspended in the Island
of Herm, now in possession of H.S.H. Prince Blücher von Wahlstatt, who
kindly allowed it to be photographed for reproduction in this book.]


The following are a few local proverbs and sayings which I have met
with at different times, and which I do not find included in Sir Edgar
MacCulloch’s collection.

_Il est si avare, il ne dounera pouit daeux p’tits œufs pour un
gros._--He is such a miser that he would not give two little eggs for
one big one.

_Coume St. Paterne, tu feras pâlir le Diable._--Like St. Paterne, you
would turn the Devil pale, said of a man whom nothing will daunt. St.
Paterne was one of our local saints, who was specially noted for the
conversion of the inhabitants of the Forest of Scissy--the submerged
forest which lies off our western coasts. He was induced to do so by a
pious Seigneur of the Forest, and began his work there by going into
a cavern where the idolaters were celebrating a great feast presided
over by the Devil himself. Armed only with his pilgrim’s staff he
routed them all, Satan included. He was specially beloved by birds, who
followed him wherever he went. He was made Bishop of Avranches, and
died in the year A.D. 495.

_La s’maïne de treis (trois) Jeudis ou il n’ y a pas de Vendredi._--The
week of three Thursdays and no Friday. This is used when talking of an
event which will never come off. Then they say “Ca, se fera, etc.”

_Haut coumme un béguin._--As high as a beacon. The Guernsey “béguins”
were tall stacks of furze placed on prominent points so that they could
be lit in case of an alarm.

_Ecoute-paret (paroi) jamais n’ot dret._--He who listens through
partitions never hears correctly.

_Faire pertus (trou) sous l’iaue._--To make a hole in the water, said
of a man who is ruining himself.

_I’ vaut mûx pillaïr (plier) qu’ rompre._--It is better to bend than

_Il ne faut pas queruaïr trop près des fossaïs._--One should not plough
too close to the hedges. Said of people who have no tact and say the
wrong things at the wrong times--“Dancing on the edge of precipices.”

_Maujeu au naïx, signe d’être guervaï, ou baîsi d’un fou._--Tickling in
the nose shows that you will either be worried or kissed by a fool!

_Daeux petites paûretaïs en font une grande._--Two small paupers make
one big one; said when two impecunious people marry each other.


    _Quànd tu veis la fieille (feuille) à l’orme_
    _Prends ta pouque et sème ton orge._

    When you see the leaf on the elm
    Take thy bag and sow thy barley.

    _Quand il fait biau, prend ton manteau,_
    _Quand il pleut fais coume tu veus._

    When it is fine take your cloak,
    When it rains do as you like.

    _Vent perdu, se trouve au sud._

    A lost wind is found in the south.

(This is a Sark proverb, and was found by the Rev. G. E. Lee in the
Rev. Elie Brevint’s MSS).

    _Hardi des hâgues sus l’s épines_
    _D’un rude hiver ch’est le signe._

    Many hips and haws on the trees,
    Is the sign of a severe winter.

    _Le dix de Mai des sardes au Gaufricher._

On the 10th of May, sardans (a kind of fish) are to be found at Le
Gaufricher--a rock north of Fermain.

    _La maïr qui roule au Tas de Peis_
    _Ch’est coumme nous verrait de l’iaue quée._

The sea that rolls at the Tas de Pois (the rocks at the end of St.
Martin’s Point) look to the beholder like falling rain.

    _“La lune levante_
    _La maïr battante.”_

    At moon rise
    It is high tide.

    _“Fin nord et epais sud_
    _Ne s’entrefont jamais d’abus_
    _Fin sud et epais nord,_
    _Ne sont jamais d’accord.”_

A fine north and a lowering south, have no occasion to quarrel, but
a fine south and lowering north, will never agree.--_The two last
“dictons” are from John de Garis, Esq._

Part III.

Editor’s Appendix.

    “Dear Countrymen, whate’er is left to us
    Of ancient heritage--
    Of manners, speech, of humours, polity,
    The limited horizon of our stage--
    Of love, hope, fear,
    All this I fain would fix upon the page:
    That so the coming age,
    Lost in the Empire’s mass,
    Yet haply longing for their fathers, here
    May see, as in a glass,
    What they held dear--
    May say, “’Twas thus and thus
    They lived;” and as the time-flood onward rolls,
    Secure an anchor for their Celtic souls.”

    (Preface to _The Doctor and other Poems_, by the Rev. T. E. Brown).


Guernsey Songs and Ballads.

    “Will no one tell me what she sings?
    Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
    For old, unhappy, far-off things,
    And battles long ago.”


    “Fère les lais, por remembrance.”

                 --_Marie of France._

I have added this chapter to Sir Edgar MacCulloch’s book, as I thought
it a good opportunity of preserving a few of the old ballads and songs
which, for generations, amused and interested our forefathers, and
which now, alas, are all too surely going or gone from among us,--swept
away by the irrepressible tide of vulgarity and so-called “Progress,”
by which everything of ours that was beautiful, picturesque, or
individual, has been destroyed. As descendants of the Celtic trouvères,
menestriers, and jongleurs, as well as of the Norse Skalds, the bards
from whose early songs and chants, the literature of Europe has sprung,
we, Normans, should specially treasure the old poems which have been
handed down for so many successive generations, and which, in the rapid
extinction of the old language in which Wace, Taillefer, Walter Map,
and Chrestien de Troyes sang, are doomed to oblivion.

In most places the old ballads can be divided into two classes--the
Religious and the Secular. The first of these classes, except in the
form of the metrical version of the Psalms by Ronsard, does not seem to
have existed over here. I can find no trace of any Noëls, or of any
Easter songs. The Secular songs may be divided into the Historical and
the Social.

The Historical deserve precedence. The _Ballade des Aragousais_ of
which a translation has already been given, and of which I append the
original, is by far the oldest and most interesting. Then comes a
ballad descriptive of the Destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588,
which I found in a manuscript book compiled by a Job Mauger in 1722.
In it he has copied the _Dedicace des Eglises_, and such poems which
apparently were current in his day, and which he deemed worthy of
preservation. Of his collection this is the most distinctive, and I
have included it in this chapter, although it is evidently defective
in parts, as these old ballads, handed down orally from generation to
generation, are so apt to be. The _Complaint of the dispossessed Roman
Catholic Clergy_, written in March, 1552, and copied into the Registers
of St. Saviour’s parish in 1696 by Henry Blondel, is already in print,
being included in Gustave Dupont’s _Histoire du Cotentin et de ses
Iles_, Tome III., p. 311-313.

Job Mauger’s MSS. also comprise a long and monotonous ballad of twenty
verses describing the destruction by lightning of the Tower of Castle
Cornet in 1688, and various poems, conspicuous more by the loyalty
of their sentiments than by the merits of their versification, on
contemporary events in England, such as--“La mort du Roy Guillaume
III.,” written in 1702; “Cantique Spirituel à la mémoire de la Royne
Marie IIme., et sur l’oiseau qu’on voit sur son Mausolée;” “Sur la
mort de son Altesse Royale Guillaume, Duc de Glocestre, decedé au
Château de Windsor le 30me Juillet, 1700;” and “Vive le Roy George,”
written in 1721. He also copies a “Chanson Nouvelle de l’Esclavage de
Barbarie,” doggerel verses “composée par dix pauvres hommes, esclaves
en Barbarie, où ils sont,” viz.: “Edouard Falla, Edouard Mauger,
Phelipe le Marquand, Richard Viel, et ses camarades, Pierre le Gros et
Jean Aspuine,” written in the reign of William III.

In the year 1736 the bells of the church of S. Peter Port, being no
longer fit for service, were taken down for the purpose of being melted
and re-cast. This circumstance gave rise to a piece of poetry composed
by the Rev. Elie Dufresne, Rector of the Town parish, of which many
manuscript copies are in existence.

But by far the most popular and widely known of all our local ballads
is “Les vers de Catherine Deslandes,” by an unknown author, descriptive
of the trial and execution for infanticide, of an unhappy woman called
Catherine Deslandes in 1748. These verses have been repeatedly copied
and printed, and are to be found in almost every old farm-house.

The Secular ballads were undoubtedly all, or nearly all, importations
from the mainland. Of these I have made a selection, and have striven
to record those which do not appear to have been already printed,
or which, like “La Claire Fontaine,” vary considerably from the
continental models. Thus “Malbrouck,” which is one of the most widely
known of all our old ballads, appears in every French “Recueil de
Chansons,” and the verses of “Le Juif Errant” and “Geneviève de
Brabant” of which copies are also found in all our old farm houses,
have also been repeatedly printed on the Continent, so are not included


“Surprise de l’Ile de Guernesey l’an 1370, sous le Règne d’Edouard
III., Roy d’Angleterre, et de Charles V., Roy de France.”


This poem is copied from a version compiled by Mr. Métivier, and said
by him to be the revised text of seven mutilated manuscript copies. I
have also included most of his notes.

    “Or, grands et petits entendez
    Lai[263] d’allure,[264] fort’ment rimée,[265]
    Sur nombre de gent ramassée,
    Qui va sillant[266] la mer salée,
    Du Roy de France la mesgnée,[267]
    Par Yvon de Galles guidée,
    Si mauvaisement mis à mort.[268]

    Par un Mardy s’est comparée
    La gendarmerie et l’armée,
    Faite de grands Aragousais[269]
    Gens enragés à l’abordée.
    Dans le Vazon fut addressée
    Cette pilleuse[270] marinée
    Pensant nous mettre tous à mort.

    Un Jean L’Estocq si se leva,
    Plus matin qu’à l’accoûtumée;
    Et à sa bergerie alla,
    Sur l’ajournant[271] à la brunée.
    Telle compagnie a trouvée
    Sur le grand Marais arrêtée,
    Ce qui grandement l’étonna.

    Vit un cheval sur son chemin,
    Faisant marche de haquenée,[272]
    Qui, pour vray, étoit un guildin,[273]
    Qui lors échappoit de l’armée.
    Toute l’isle en a chevauchée,
    Criant à la désespérée,
    Sus! aux armes, en un moment!”

    “Et vous trouvez sur les Vazons![274]
    L’armée est dessus arrêtée;
    Diligentez-vous, bons garçons,
    Ou toute la terre est gâtée!
    Mettez tout au fil de l’épée,
    Hasardez-vous, à bonne heurée,
    Ou vous mourrez griève mort!”

    Yvon de Galles, vrai guerrier,
    Était conducteur de la guerre,
    Homme grand’ment adventurier,
    Dessus une terre étrangière,
    Ne se donnant garde en arrière,
    Il reçut la rouge jarr’tière
    Qui n’étoit ni soye, ni velours.

    C’est qu’il fut frappé d’un garçon
    D’une alebarde[275] meurtrière,
    Il se nommoit Richard Simon
    Sur le moulin, en la Carrière,
    Tant qu’il eut la cuisse hachée
    Aussi la main dextre tranchée
    Par ce glorieux compagnon.

    Sur le mont de St. Pierre Port
    Fut la dure guerre livrée;
    Cinq cents et un fur’ mis à mort,
    Tant de l’isle[276] que de l’armée,[277]
    C’étoit pitié, cette journée
    D’ouïr les pleurs de l’assemblée
    Des dames de St. Pierre Port.

    Thoumin le Lorreur,[278] tout le jor
    Fut, de vrai, notre capitaine;
    Rouf Hollande[279] fut le plus fort,
    Il eut l’honneur de la quintaine,[280]
    Sa vie, hélas! fut hasardée,
    Car, sa jambe étant fracassée,
    Force lui fut de souffrir mort.

    Frappant à travers et à tors,
    Le sang courait dans les vallées,
    On marchait dessus les corps morts
    Qui chéaient[281] au fil des épées.
    Une meurtrière[282] fut lancée,
    Qui, à grand’ force débandée,
    Aux Aragousais fit grand tort.

    Quatre-vingt bons marchands anglais
    Arrivèrent sur l’avesprée;[283]
    A notre secours accouraient,
    Mais l’armée étant fort lassée,
    Leva le siège, tout de voir,[284]
    Ne sachant quel remède avoir,
    Sinon crier à Dieu mercy.

    Furent contraints de s’enfuir
    Prenant leur chemin gaburon,[285]
    Par les Bordages sont allés,
    Pour passer dedans ils se rue’;
    Mais les Anglais sans retenue,
    Remplissent de corps morts la rue,
    Sur cette troupe de bedots.[286]

    Par force espreindrent les châtiaus,[287]
    La mer étant fort retirée,
    On les tuait à grands monceaux,
    Taillant tout au fil de l’épée;
    La mer étoit ensanglantée
    De cette troupe ainsi navrée,
    De lez la chair et les corps morts.

    Ces navires et ces bateaux
    Ceignirent l’isle par derrière;
    Bons paysans leur firent grands tosts,[288]
    Vers le château de la Corbière,[289]
    Vindrent par le Bec-à-la-Chièvre,[290]
    Pour à l’armée faire estère,[291]
    Avec le reste des lourdauds.

    Rembarquèrent leurs matelots,[292]
    Puis soudain mirent à la vèle,
    Tous marris comme lionceaux
    D’avoir perdu telle bredelle.[293]
    Le général[294] fort ce repelle,[295]
    Commandant de remettre à terre
    Dans le havre de St. Samson.

    À l’Abbé St. Michel s’en vont,
    Dont Brecard étoit commissaire;
    Il les reçut, à grand cœur-jouaie
    Donnant présents et fort grand chère
    Donnant or à la gente amée,[296]
    Qui était dame dans l’armée
    Nommée Princesse Alinor.

    Car Yvon l’avoit épousée
    En France au pays de Gravelle,
    Dont il fut riche à grands monceis[297]
    Des biens de la grand’ mariée.
    L’abbé fit grand joie à l’armée
    D’or et d’argent et de monnoye
    Qu’il leur donna bien largement.

    Yvon, l’ennemy, s’en alla
    Sur une montagne voisine
    Du pauvre Château St. Michel,
    Là où Yvon faisait ses mines.[298]
    Frère Brecart,[299] par courtoisie
    S’adresse au château par envie
    De faire crôitre ses trésors.

    Mais Aymon[300] Rose, retranché
    Au puissant Chasteau de l’Archange
    Dit qu’il serait avant tranché.
    Que de se rendre à gent estrange;
    Mais si ses gens se veulent rendre
    A Brecart, pour leur terre vendre,
    Par compos,[301] il estoit d’accord.

    Le pauvre peuple se rendit
    A cet Abbé pour leur grand perte
    Qu’il avoit pour eux accordé
    Aux ennemis par ses finesses
    Dont assoujettirent leurs terres
    La plupart à payer deux gerbes
    Nommez aujourd’hui les champarts.[302]

    Quand Yvon fut bien soudoyé
    S’est rembarqué dans ses navires
    Dans le Coquet s’en est allé
    Se refournir de nouveaux vivres,
    En passant par devant Belle Isle
    Mit le feu dans trente navires
    N’ayant que les garçons à bord.

    Le vent du sud étant venu
    Sillant la côte de Bretagne
    Un navire Anglois est venu
    Dont ils eurrent bien de la hoigne[303]
    Saillit soixante hommes ensemble
    À bord Yvon, sans plus attendre
    Qui les lièrent tous à bord.

    Puis violèrent Alinor,
    En la présence de son homme
    Lui étant lié au grand mât
    Les amenèrent à Hantonne[304]
    Yvon étant un mauvais homme
    Eut sur sa tête une couronne
    Savoir ung mourion tout chaud.

    Puis pendirent toutes ces gens
    Portez à chartez[305] couple à couple
    Et Alinor eut un présent
    Pour gueuser une belle poche
    Et avec peines et travaux
    Cherchant son pain de porte en porte
    Après plaisir eurent grands maux.

    Les dix-neuf autres vaisseaux
    Voulez-vous ouïyr leur destinée
    Ils se dissout de grands châteaux
    De tourments bien agittée
    Or voilà donc leur destinée
    C’est qu’ils burent la mer salée
    Brisant dessus les Hanouets.

    Au matin coume des porceaux
    Estoient au plein cette journée
    Où ils avaient fait leurs grands maux
    En Guernesey la bienheureuse
    Ils estoient là en grands monceaux
    Dessus les sablons de Rocquaine
    Après plaisir eurent grands maux.


[263] _Lai_--Chant, mélodie, complainte.

[264] _Allure_--pas continu, mesuré.

[265] _Fort’ment rimée_--dont la rime est riche, roulante.

[266] _Sillant_ v. fr.: fendant, coupant.

[267] _Mesgnée_--guern’ _mégnie_,--maisonnée, troupe.

[268] _Mis à mort_--assassiné par le traître gallois John Lambe,
soudoyé par Richard II.

[269] _Aragousais_--Chez les Gascons, nos compatriotes alors,
_Aragous_, espagnol. L’Aragon était le royaume principal.

[270] _Pilleuse_--pirates.

[271] _Ajournant_--v. fr. ajornant, faire _jor_ ou jour.

[272] _Haquenée_--cheval qui va l’amble, hobin.

[273] _Guildin_--Anglais _gelding_.

[274] Les Vazons--Marais, tourbières, aujourd’hui Vazon. Il y avait le
Vazon d’Albecq et le Vazon du Marais.

[275] _Alebarde_--sans aspiration, comme l’Ital: _alabarda_.

[276] _L’isle_--les habitants de l’île.

[277] _L’armée_--la flotte étrangère.

[278] _Le Lorreur_--surnom d’une famille câtelaine dont les traces se
retrouvent au commencement du dix-septième siècle. _Le lourreur_ était
un joueur de cornemuse, Normand _lourre_, Danois _luur_. C’est tout un
alors pour nous autres Anglais, que _Thoumin le Lorreur_, et “Tommy the

The first mention of a “Le Lorreur” in the Channel Islands I have
found, occurs in the Calendar of Patent Rolls for 1316, where Philip
L’Evesque, Bailiff of Jersey, witnesses (June 25th, 1311) a demise by
Macie Le Lorreur, clerk, to Richard le Fessu, his brother, Viscount
of Jersie, of the escheat of Pierres du Mouster, for twelve cabots
of wheat rent yearly, for three virgates of land in the parish of
Grouville. The Richard le Fessu mentioned above was also known as
Richard _de Jersey_, he married Elizabeth de Burgo, described as the
King’s kinswoman, and in 1317 the King gave, as a grant for life, to
“John de Jereseye” his son, the Viscounty of Jersey, which his father
had held during his life-time.

[279] _Rouf Hollande_--On August 26th 1338, a warrant was issued
against a _Richard de Holand_, who had absconded with £40 delivered to
John Godefelawe of Southampton, by John de Harleston, for payment of
the wages of the garrison of Jersey. (Calendar of Patent Rolls).

[280] _Quintaine_--espèce de tournoi.

[281] _Chéaient_--tombaient guern: et norm: queyaient.

[282] _Meurtrière_--Catapulte, machine qui lançait des pierres et des

[283] _Avesprées_--Commencement du soir.

[284] _Voir_--Vrai.

[285] _Gaburon_--Ce serait pêle-mêle, a la manière de goujats, des
manants. Telle serait, osons le croire, l’origine du guernesiais
“_pêle-mêle gabouaret_.”

[286] _Bedots_--étrangers, trompeurs. L’acceptation française de
_bedos_, selon Roquefort, était autrefois “forain.”

[287] _Espreindrent_--serrèrent, assaillirent. Selon les annales du
temps, le château ne fut pas pris.

[288] _Tosts_, pour _tostes_, soufflets, “good thrashings.”

[289] _La Corbière_--The point underneath “Village de Putron,” just
north of Fermain Point, is called “La Corbière,” but this line probably
refers to the Vale Castle, in the parish of St. Michel de l’Archange du

[290] _Bec-à-la chièvre_--Just underneath Fort George, the southern
boundary of Petit Fort Bay.

[291] _Estère_--passage.

[292] _Matelots_--camarades, guern: _matnots_, mot franc-tudesque. Ici
ce n’est pas un marinier exclusivement, c’est un _mess-mate_.

[293] _Bredelle_--morceau.

[294] _Général_--l’Amiral, celui qui commande la générale, angl:

[295] _Repelle_--rejette, oppose.

[296] _Gente amée_--gentille amie.

[297] _Monceis_--monceaux.

[298] _Mines_--Semblant de vouloir assaillir le Château (de Néel de St.
Sauveur, aujourd’hui Château des Marais ou Ivy Castle).

[299] _Brecart_--The Brecarts, Bregearts, or Briards, were a
comparatively influential family in the parishes of the Vale and St.
Sampson’s up to the sixteenth century; they then bought land in the
town, in the district of Vauvert, and became known as “Brégart alias
Vauvert,” and finally as “Vauvert,” _pur et simple_, they seem to have
become extinct in the eighteenth century.

[300] _Aymon Rose_--“Edmund de Ros ou Rous” était d’origine Normande.

“It appears that Edmund Rose, who defended Castle Cornet on this
occasion was only Lieut.-Governor, as, in the previous year, Walter
Huwet appears as governor of all the islands. There is a letter from
the King to Edmund Rose, dated the 14th of August, 1372, as Constable
of the Castle of Gorey in Jersey; so that within two months after Yvon
had raised this siege of Castle Cornet, he, Edmund Rose, must have
been sent to that of Gorey.”--(_Some Remarks on the Constitution of
Guernsey_, by T. F. de H., p. 119.)

_Champarts_--The “Camparts”--or the eleventh part of the grain grown
upon the land of the fief, is described by Warburton thus:--“The first
dukes of Normandy granted several parcels of land in the island, to
such as had served them in their wars, and granted likewise a very
considerable part to some religious houses. These, whether soldiers or
churchmen, not being themselves skilled in agriculture, let out these
lands to tenants under them, reserving such rents and services as they
thought most convenient; such was the “Campart,” and such were the
“chef-rentes,” and these have been in use ever since Richard I., duke
of Normandy, and possibly they may yet be of more ancient date.… In the
Clos du Valle, out of extraordinary respect for the Abbot who resided
among them, they paid both the _tenth_ and the _eleventh_ sheaf, both
as _tithe_ and _campart_.” Camparts were owed on many fiefs, if not on
all. Many owners of land have redeemed them. Others have _affranchis_
their land, which is done by Act of Court, on proof that the land has
been under grass for forty years, and lasts as long as the land is
tilled yearly.

[301] _Compos_--Composition.

[302] Here Mr. Métivier’s version ends, the remainder is from an old
Guernsey Almanac dated 1828.

[303] _Hoigne_--Haine.

[304] _Hantonne_--Southampton.

[305] _A chartez_--En charrettes.


    Puissant Roy d’Espagne,
    Combien riche tu es
    Pour l’entreprise vaine
    Que tu fis sur les Anglois,
    Ton entreprise vaine,
    Fut bientôt rebroussée.[306]

    Vindrent sur l’Angleterre,
    Au beau mois de Juillet,
    Pour voir la bienheureuse
    Ma Dame Elizabeth,
    Mais ce fut à leur honte
    Que sentir grand reveil.

    La grande Armée Angloise
    Commence a s’apprêter,
    Tous leurs soldats embarqués
    La poudre et les bullets,
    C’est pour joüer au quille[307]
    Avec les Portuguées.

    Qui eust vue l’armée,
    D’Elizabeth s’en va
    De voir les grands bigots[308]
    Et flâquées[309] sur leurs mâts
    Des tambours et trompettes
    Apprêtés au combat.

    La puissante avans garde
    A l’ancre n’étoit pas
    Comme fut “La Revanche”
    La vaisseau de Dras[310]
    Qui sortoit de Plymouth,
    Sillant sur sa plumas.[311]

    Tous les plus grands navires
    Qui furent haut et bas
    De toute l’Angleterre
    Vindrent vers l’Amiral
    Luy supplier la grâce
    D’aller sur les guayhards (_sic_).

    L’Amiral d’Angleterre[312]
    Leur répond d’un voix quas[313]
    Enfans, donnez vous garde
    Ne vous hasardez pas,
    Car l’armée est puissante
    Et nos vaisseaux sont trop ras.[314]

    Ces gens de grand courage,
    Disoient à l’Amiral
    Seigneur, gardez la terre,
    Nous allons avec Dras[315]
    Nous aurons la vengeance
    De l’armée des Pillards.

    La “Revanche” d’Angleterre
    Sous ses voiles s’en va,
    Chargeans ses coulverines
    Et tirans ses coutelas,
    Au grand tyran s’entraîne
    Et luy couppa ses mats.

    Quand le Duc de Mydine,
    Sit ses grands arbres bas,
    Dit à sa compagnie
    Enfans--ne tirez pas,
    Mais rondez les navires,
    Ou vous mourrez tous plats.[316]

    Sept navires de guerre,
    Lièrent au grand “Arc”
    Abordent cette vermine
    Sur le “Satanas”
    Pour porter pillage
    Avec le Seigneur Dras.

    Un noble gentil homme
    Grand Seigneur des Estats
    S’en va rompant les coffres
    Et bahuts[317] hauts et bas,
    Où il trouva des lettres
    D’un fort merveilleux cas.[318]

    Le grand Dauphin de Naples[319]
    De ça ne ryoit pas,
    Le Flamen se presente
    Sur un de ses boulevards
    De cette nef horrible,[320]
    Du grand “St. Matthias.”

    S’informe par enquête
    Des gens d’armes en bas
    Touchant une lettre
    Quy portoit de grand mal
    En contre l’Angleterre
    Et tout le sang Royal.

    Le peuple luy déclaroit
    Seigneur ne fâchez pas
    Que l’adresse de ça
    C’est au Prince Farnése[321]
    De par le Roy d’Espagne
    Qui de ça chargera.

    Demande au grand de Naples
    Ce qu’il disoit de cela
    Encontre sa maîtresse
    Quoi penser en tel cas.
    En disant deux ou trois paroles,
    Le grand Prince le tua.

    Puis luy fendit le ventre,
    Jusqu’à l’estomac,
    Son pauvre cœur luy tira
    Qui soudain luy trancha
    Devant la compagnie
    Qui beaucoup soupira.

    Lors l’Amiral d’Espagne
    Soudain apparreilla
    Avec sa compagnie
    A vau la mer s’en va
    Mettant basse enseigne
    Par grand deuil s’en va.

    Sortant vers Irlande
    Sous tout leur appareil
    Sur la haute mi-été[322]
    Le vent leur prend su-est
    Qui les mis sur la terre
    D’Irlande et y reste.

    Les prudens Irlandois
    A leurs secours venoient
    En plaignant leurs misères
    Aux maisons les portaient
    Faisant au grands d’Espagne
    Plus qu’ils ne méritoient.

    Le général d’Espagne
    Ses mourtres fits dresser,
    Appeller ses gens d’armes
    Et tous ses centeniers,
    Fit en grand’ diligence
    Sa grande troupe marcher.

    Au peuple d’Irlande,
    Rendit tous ses bienfaits,
    Mit par toute la terre
    Gens d’armes en harnois,[323]
    Tuant homme et femme
    Sans merci ni délai.

    Tous les Irlandois s’adressoient
    Au Comte de Tyrone
    Qui tenoit pour la Reine
    Contre la nation,
    Luy priant donner aide
    Contre les Castillons.

    Le Comte met en ordre
    Ses princes et barons,
    Tous au fil de l’épée[324]
    Leur ordonner la fronde,[325]
    La douleur redoublée
    Qui les déconfit tous.

    Lors voilà la ruine
    Des meurtriers Espagnols
    Qui faisoient tant de mines
    Dans de bien grands flibots,[326]
    Pensant prendre Angleterre
    Comme de fols idiots.

    À Dieu soit la louange
    Qui de son bras tout fort,
    De tous leurs grands vaisseaux
    De nous pris la revanche
    Nous pensant détruire
    Et démembrer nos corps.

    Les braves gens d’Espagne
    Partant de leurs maisons
    Pensant en Angleterre
    Sarcler[327] tous les chardons,
    Mais leurs gens et leurs moufles[328]
    N’étoient pas assez bons.

    Quand on va par les villes
    Pour vendre les moutons,
    Chacun se donne à croire
    Que les viandes vaudront
    Mais c’est bien le contraire
    La plupart en donneront.[329]


[306] _Rebrousser_--Retourner sur ses pas.

[307] _Quille_--“C’est un morçeaux de bois tourné, plus gros par le bas
que par le haut, dont on se sert pour jouer.”

The English captains were playing bowls when the Spanish ships were
announced as being in sight.

[308] _Bigots_--Terme de Marine. C’est une petite pièce de bois percée
de deux ou trois trous, par où l’on passe le bâtard pour la composition
de racage.

[309] _Flagner_--Jetter.

[310] Sir Francis Drake commanded the ship _Revenge_ during the fight
with the Armada.

[311] _Plumas_--Plumage.

[312] _L’Amiral d’Angleterre_--Lord Howard of Effingham.

[313] Quas--Brisé.

[314]_Ras_--Terme de Mer. C’est un bâtiment qui n’a ni pont, ni tillac,
ni couverture.

[315] _Dras_--Drake. Motley, in his _History of the Netherlands_,
Vol. II., pp. 498-9, says: There were many quarrels among the English
admirals at this period, and much jealousy of Drake.

[316] _Duc de Mydine_--The Duke of Medina-Sidonia, leader of the
Spanish Armada, who, when the great hulk Satana and a galleon of
Portugal were attacked by the _Triumph_ and some other vessels, on the
flag-ship, (the _St. Martin_) tried to repel Lord Howard on the _Ark
Royal_ and other men-of-war, and thence arose the hottest conflict of
the day. He had previously, when Don Pedro de Valdez, commander of the
Andelusian squadron,--having got his foremast carried away close to the
deck,--lay crippled and helpless, calmly fired a gun to collect his
scattered ships, and abandoned Valdez to his fate.… The next day Valdez
surrendered to the _Revenge_.--Motley’s _Netherlands_, Vol. II., pp.

[317] _Bahut_--Coffre couvert de cuir orné de petits clous.

[318] _Cas_--Terme de Pratique, Matière, Crime.

[319] _Le Grand Dauphin, etc._--Don Diego de Pimental, nephew of the
Viceroy of Sicily, and uncle to the Viceroy of Naples, was captured in
his ship the _St. Matthew_, by Admiral Van der Does, of the Holland
fleet.--_Motley_, Vol. II., p. 473.

[320] _Nef_--Navire.

[321] Alexander, Prince Farnèse, and Duke of Parma, was commandant
of the Spanish Army, and was waiting in Flanders for an opportunity
of co-operating with the Spanish fleet. He was suspected of having a
secret treaty with Queen Elizabeth, (_Motley_, Vol. II., p. 273-4),
but these verses are so very obscure, it is impossible to identify the
incidents to which they allude. It may be that they, as well as the
last verse of this poem are interpolations from some other ballad,
which has got confused with this one.

[322] _Mi-été_--le milieu de l’été.

[323] _Harnois_.--signifie l’habillement d’un homme d’armes.

[324] _Fil de l’epée_--est en usage depuis long temps. Ronsard a dit
parlant de Henri III., … “devant le _fil_ de son epée.”

[325] _Fronder_--Attaquer quelque chose.

[326] _Flibot_--Terme de marine. C’est un moïen vaisseau qui est armé
en course.

[327] _Sarcler_--Terme de Laboureur. Couper les méchantes herbes avec
le sarcloir.

[328] _Moufles_--Garnie de poulies de cuivre, de boulons, et de
cordages pour monter les pièces d’artillerie à l’elesoir.

[329] That this poem is very defective, and therefore obscure,
is obvious, but I thought even this mutilated fragment was worth
preserving. Many of the statements made in it are not borne out by
history, though they probably formed part of the gossip of that day,
and had filtered over to the Islands from sailors who had themselves
had a share in some of the events narrated. This last verse seems to
have no connection with the rest of the poem, but I have copied it as
Job Mauger wrote it, nearly two centuries ago.

Secular Poems.


    J’ai cueilli la belle rose
    Qui pendait au rosier blanc,
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc!

    Je la cueillis feuille à feuille
    Et la mis dans mon tablier blanc
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc.

    Je l’ai portée chez mon père
    Entre Paris et Rouen
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc.

    Las!--je n’ai trouvé personne
    Que le rossignol chantant
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc.

    Qui me dit dans son langage
    Mariez vous à quinze ans
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc!

    Hélas comment me marîrai-je?
    Moi qui suis baisse[330] pour un an,
            Belle Rose,
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc!

    Combien gagnez vous, la belle?
    Combien gagnez vous par an?
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc!

    Je gagne bien cent pistoles
    Cent pistoles en argent blanc
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc.

    Venez avec moi, ma belle,
    Vous en aurez bien autant
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc.

    Je ne vais avec personne
    Si l’on ne m’épouse avant
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc.

    Si l’on ne me mène à l’église
    Par devant tous mes parents
            Belle Rose
    Belle Rose au rosier blanc![331]

[330] Baisse--servant girl.

[331] There are many versions of this song to be found among the
country people, I have compared this with five or six others, and it
is, I think, the most generally received.


    À la claire fontaine
    Dondaine, ma dondaine
    Les mains me suis lavé
    Dondaine ma lou-lou-la
    Les mains me suis lavé,
    Dondaine m’a dondé.

    A la feuille d’un chêne
    Dondaine, ma dondaine
    Je les ai essuyées
    Dondaine ma lou-lou-la
    Je les ai essuyées
    Dondaine m’a dondé.

    À la plus haute branche
    Dondaine, ma dondaine
    Un rossignol chantait
    Dondaine ma lou-lou-la
    Un rossignol chantait
    Dondaine m’a dondé.

    Chante, rossignol, chante
    Dondaine, ma dondaine,
    Toi qui as le cœur gai
    Dondaine ma lou-lou-la
    Toi qui as le cœur gai
    Dondaine m’a dondé.

    Le mien n’est pas de mème
    Dondaine, ma dondaine,
    Il est bien affligé
    Dondaine ma lou-lou-la
    Il est bien affligé
    Dondaine m’a dondé.

    Pierre, mon ami Pierre,
    Dondaine, ma dondaine,
    À la guerre est allé
    Dondaine ma lou-lou-la
    A la guerre est allé
    Dondaine m’a dondé.

    Pour un bouton de rose
    Dondaine, ma dondaine
    Que je lui refusai
    Dondaine ma lou-lou-la
    Que je lui refusai
    Dondaine m’a dondé.

    Je voudrais que la rose
    Dondaine, ma dondaine
    Fut encore au rosier
    Dondaine ma lou-lou-la
    Fut encore au rosier
    Dondaine m’a dondé.

    Et que mon ami Pierre
    Dondaine, ma dondaine
    Fut ici à m’aimer
    Dondaine ma lou-lou-la
    Fut ici à m’aimer
    Dondaine m’a, dondé.


    Qui veut ouïr, qui veut savoir } bis.
    Comment les maris aiment?      }
    Ils aiment si brutalement
    Ils sont de si brutales gens,
    Qu’on les entend toujours disant
    (Parlé) “Ah Madame allez gardez
    Le ménage et les enfants!”

    Qui veut ouïr, qui veut savoir } bis.
    Comment les filles aiment?     }
    Elles aiment si discrètement
    Elles sont de si discrètes gens,
    Qu’on les entend toujours disant
    (Parlé) “Ah Monsieur ne parlez pas si haut
    Car Maman nous entendra.”

    Qui veut ouïr, qui veut savoir } bis.
    Comment les veuves aiment?     }
    Elles aiment si sensiblement
    Elles sont de si sensibles gens,
    Qu’on les entend toujours disant
    (Parlé) “Ah! le beau jeune homme!
    Comme il ressemble à feu mon mari.”

    Qui veut ouïr, qui veut savoir } bis.
    Comment les soldats aiment?    }
    Ils aiment si cavalièrement
    Ils sont de si cavaliers gens
    Qu’on les entend toujours disant
    (Parlé) “Ah! Madame m’aimez vous?
    Ne m’aimez vous pas? dictes moi,
    Car il me faut rejoindre mon régiment.”

    Qui veut ouïr, qui veut savoir } bis.
    Comment les Français aiment?   }
    Ils aiment si frivolement
    Ils sont de si frivoles gens,
    Qu’on les entend toujours disant
    (Parlé) “Ah! Madame depuis que je vous ai vue
    Je ne songe qu’a vous!”

    Qui veut ouïr, qui veut savoir } bis.
    Comment les Anglais aiment?    }
    Ils aiment si stupidement
    Ils sont si stupides gens
    Qu’on les entend toujours disant
    (Parlé) “Tantôt la chasse, tantôt la
    Gazette, tantôt l’amour!”

    Qui veut ouïr, qui veut savoir  } bis.
    Comment les Guernesiais aiment? }
    Ils aiment si prudemment,
    Ils sont de si prudents gens
    Qu’on les entends toujours disant
    (Parlé) “Mademoiselle a-t’elle de l’argent!”

I have to thank Mr. J. T. R. de Havilland, of Havilland Hall, for
kindly supplying me with a copy of this song.


    Marguerite s’est assise--Tra-la-la.
    À l’ombre d’un rocher
    À son plaisir écoute--Tra-la-la
    Les mariniers chanter,
        Tra-la-la. Tra-la-la.

    Elle fit un’ rencontre--Tra-la-la
    De trente matelots
    Le plus jeune des trente--Tra-la-la.
    Il se mit à chanter.
        Tra-la-la. Tra-la-la.

    Qu’avez vous la belle--Tra-la-la.
    Qu’avez vous a pleurer?
    Je pleure mon anneau d’or--Tra-la-la.
    Qui dans la mer est tombé
        Tra-la-la. Tra-la-la.

    Que donnerez-vous la belle--Tra-la-la
    À qui le pêcherait?
    Un baiser sur la bouche--Tra-la-la.
    Ou deux s’il fallait
        Tra-la-la. Tra-la-la.

    Le galant se dépouille--Tra-la-la.
    Dans la mer a plongé
    La première fois qu’il plonge--Tra-la-la
    Il n’en a rien apporté
        Tra-la-la. Tra-la-la.

    La seconde fois qu’il plonge--Tra-la-la
    Les cloches vont ric-tin-té
    La troisième fois qu’il plonge--Tra-la-la.
    Le galant s’est noyé!
        Tra-la-la. Tra-la-la.

    Nous l’ferons enterrer--Tra-la-la
    Et puis dessus sa tombe
    Un rosmarin planter--Tra-la-la.
    Sur ce pauvre jeune homme!
        Tra-la-la. Tra-la-la.

    Nous dirons à sa mère--Tra-la-la
    Qu’il s’est embarqué
    Sur un vaisseau de guerre--Tra-la-la.
    Qui de loin est allé!
        Tra-la-la. Tra-la-la.


    Je vais épouser la Meunière
    Dont on voit le moulin là bas
    Mais j’aime une pauvre bergère
    Comprenez-vous mon embarras,
    Ma Fanchette est si jolie
    Mais la Meunière a du bien
    S’il faut faire une folie
    Que cela ne soit pas pour rien.
    Bah! j’épouserai la Meunière
    Qui me fait toujours les yeux doux
    En me disant “Beau petit Pierre
    Mais quand donc nous marierons nous?”

    Un instant--n’allons pas si vite,
    Suis je bien certain d’être heureux
    Avec la femme du moulin
    Dont je ne suis pas amoureux?
    Il s’agit de mariage
    C’est hélas! pour plus d’un jour,
    Oui! mais pour vivre en ménage
    C’est bien maigre de l’amour!
    Bah! j’épouserai la Meunière
    Qui me fait toujours les yeux doux
    En me disant “Beau petit Pierre
    Mais quand donc nous marierons nous?”

    Cependant mon cœur s’inquiète
    Et me dit que c’est mal à moi
    De trahir la pauvre Fanchette
    À qui j’avais donné ma foi
    Elle est si tendre et si bonne
    Comme son cœur va souffrir.
    Hélas! si je l’abandonne
    Elle est capable d’en mourir
    Ma foi! tant pis pour la Meunière,
    Je ne serai pas son époux
    Qu’elle dise “Beau petit Pierre!
    Petit Pierre n’est pas pour vous?”


    Sur nos grands blès déjà le soleil brille
    Quels lourds épis--en fût il de pareils!
    Va! travaillons, vite, en main la faucille
    Mais suivrez vous, suivrez vous mes conseils.


    Enfant, de chaque gerbe
    Que mûrit le Seigneur
    Laissez tomber dans l’herbe
    Quelques épis pour le glâneur
    Pensez au pauvre glâneur               } bis
    Faites le bien--vous porterez bonheur. }

    Notre ministre dit que le bien qu’on donne
    Est le meilleur qu’on pense récolter
    Il dépose lorsqu’il disait aux hommes.
    Donner aux pauvres, à Dieu n’est que prêter.
            Chorus.--Enfant, etc.

    Aux pauvres içi le peu qu’on abandonne
    Dieu pour beaucoup ailleurs le comptera
    Des grains donnés, la moisson sera bonne
    Pour nous au Ciel, Dieu les centuplera.
            Chorus.--Enfant, etc.


    Trois jeunes tambours, revenant de la guerre,
    Le plus jeune des trois avait un bouquet de roses
        Au ron-ron-ron-te-tan-plan.

    La fille du roi étant par sa fenêtre
    “Ah! jeune tambour, veux tu me donner tes roses?”
        Au ron-ron-ron-te-tan-plan.

    “Mes roses sont pour mon mariage
    La fille du roi, veux tu être ma femme?”
        Au ron-ron-ron-te-tan-plan.

    “Và jeune tambour, demander à mon père”
    “Sire le Roi, veux tu me donner ta fille?”
        Au ron-ron-ron-te-tan-plan.

    “Ah! jeune tambour dis moi qu’est tes richesses?”
    “Mes richesses sont mes caisses[332] et mes balletes,[333]”
        Au ron-ron-ron-te-tan-plan.

    “Và! jeune tambour, demain je te ferai pendre”
    “Six cent mille canons dans ce cas vont me défendre”
        Au ron-ron-ron-te-tan plan.

    “Ah! jeune tambour, dis moi qui est ton père?”
    “Mon père il est le roi--le roi d’Angleterre!”
        Au ron-ron-ron-te-tan-plan.

    “Ah! jeune tambour, voudrais tu bien ma fille?”
    “Ah! je m’en moque de vous et de votre fille,
    Dans mon pays y’ en a de bien plus gentilles.”
        Au ron-ron-ron-te-tan-plan.


    Si j’avais le chapeau
    Que ma mie m’avait donné
    Mon chapeau est bel et beau

            Adieu ma mignonne
            Adieu donc mes amours

    Si j’avais la casaque[334]
    Que ma mie m’avait donné
    Ma casaque est zic et zac
    Mon chapeau est bel et beau.
            Chorus.--Adieu, etc.

    Si j’avais le corselet
    Que ma mie m’avait donné
    Mon corselet est fort bien fait
    Ma casaque est zic et zac,
    Mon chapeau est bel et beau
            Chorus.--Adieu, etc.

    Si j’avais la cravate
    Que ma mie m’avait donnée
    Ma cravate est ric et rac
    Mon corselet est fort bien fait
    Ma casaque est zic et zac
    Mon chapeau est bel et beau.
            Chorus.--Adieu, etc.

    Si j’avais la culotte
    Que ma mie m’avait donnée
    Mes culottes débotes[335] et botes,
    Ma cravate est ric et rac,
    Mon corselet est fort bien fait
    Ma casaque est zic et zac,
    Mon chapeau est bel et beau.
            Chorus.--Adieu, etc.

    Si j’avais les blancs bas
    Que ma mie m’avait donnés
    Mes blancs bas sont de damas,
    Mes culottes débotes et botes,
    Ma cravate est ric et rac
    Mon corselet est fort bien fait,
    Ma casaque est zic et zac,
    Mon chapeau est bel est beau.
            Chorus.--Adieu, etc.

    Si j’avais les souliers
    Que ma mie m’avait donnés
    Mes souliers sont de cuir doux,
    Mes blancs bas sont de damas,
    Mes culottes débotes et botes,
    Ma cravate est ric et rac,
    Mon corselet est fort bien fait,
    Ma casaque est zic et zac,
    Et mon chapeau est bel et beau.
            Chorus.--Adieu, etc.

[332] _Caisses_--Coffres.

[333] _Ballettes_--Petites Valises.

[334] _Casaque_--“Habillement qui est plus large qu’un juste-au-corps
et qui se porte sur les épaules en forme de manteau.”--_Richelet._

[335] _Débotes_--Tirer les botes de quelqu’un.


    Venez peuple fidèle pour entendre chanter
    Un jeune militaire qui revient de la guerre,
    Qui revient de la guerre, muni de son congé
    En entrant dans son isle sa sœur l’a rencontré.

    La sœur avec tendresse, de la joie qu’elle avait
    Vint embrasser son frère, et lui donner des baisers
    Le frère avec tendresse dit à sa chère sœur
    Ne m’y fais pas connaître, garde cela dans ton cœur.

    Et le jeun’ militaire tout de suite est allé.
    Chercher son père et mère, en gardant son secret,
    Bonjour Monsieur et Dame aurez vous chambre à louer
    A un jeune militaire de la guerre retourné.

    Ah oui! notre bon jeune homme, nous avons logement,
    Sur le lit de notre fils, nous te ferons coucher
    Les affaires de la guerre, tu nous raconteras
    Le soir à la table, après avoir soupé.

    Il donne à la dame son argent à garder,
    Tenez ma très-chère dame, gardez moi cet argent,
    C’est pour soulager les peines de mes parents,
    Et la méchante femme de là s’en est allée.

    Trouver son mari, lui dire, “C’est une fortune
    Faut le tuer de suite, nous aurons son argent.”
    Les deux méchants armés des gros couteaux
    Ont trainé dans la cave son corps tout sanglant.

    Le lendemain matin la pauvre fille arrive,
    Ah! bon jour père et mère, je voudrais bien parler
    A ce beau jeune militaire,
    Que je vous ai amené.

    La méchante mère, lui répond hardiment,
    Mais que dis tu ma fille? Est ce de nos parents?
    Ah! oui, ma très chère mère, c’est mon frère arrivé,
    Il revint de la guerre, mon cœur en est content.

    La cruelle mère, si tôt elle écria
    J’ai égorgé ton frère, hélas! n’en parle pas.
    Mais la fille tout de suite les fît être emmenés
    Devant les justiciers, hélas! pour être jugés.

    Les justiciers s’empressent de juger le procès
    Et les condamnent, tous les deux d’être brulés
    Oh vous pères et mères oyez ces malheurs
    Que les biens de ce monde ne vous tiennent point au cœurs.

    Par la barbarie et l’ambition d’argent,
    Ces deux dans les flammes passent leurs derniers moments.[336]

[336] This legend, which is found with slight variations in the
Folk-Lore of almost every European nation, seems to be deeply impressed
on the older St. Martinais, in fact some say that the two rocks between
Moulin Huet and Saints’ Bays, which look like two kneeling figures, are
the petrified forms of the man and the woman, condemned there to kneel
and expiate their crime till the end of the world.


    Jean, gros Jean, marie sa fille,
    Grosse et grasse et bien habile,
    A un marchand de sabots,
    Radinguette et radingot

        A un marchand de sabots
        Radinguette et radingot.

    Pour dîner ils eurent des peis
    Entre quatre ils n’eurent que treis
    Ah! dévinez si c’est trop
    Radinguette et radingot.
        Chorus.--A un, etc.

    Pour souper ils eurent des prunes
    Entre quatre ils n’en eurent qu’une
    Et la quervaie d’un escargot
    Radinguette et radingot.
        Chorus.--A un, etc.

    Ils firent faire une couachette
    De deux secs buts de bûchette
    Et l’oreiller d’un fagot
    Radinguette et radingot
        Chorus.--A un, etc.

    Ils firent faire des courtines
    Creyant que c’était mousseline
    Mais c’était Calaminco
    Radinguette et radingot.
        Chorus.--A un, etc.[337]

I have concluded this chapter of Guernsey songs with this one, though
it is of an entirely different style and class to any of the others,
but the tune to which it is set, is said to be the national air of

When the Duke of Gloucester landed here on the 18th of September, 1817,
this song, as the Guernsey National Air was struck up by the band which
came to meet him; the militiamen, knowing the song, all burst out
laughing, much to the astonishment of the Duke and his suite!

[Illustration: Jean, gros Jean, ma-rie sa fille, Grosse et grasse et
bien ha-bile, À un marchand de sa-bots,

Radinguette et ra-din-got; À un marchand de sa-bots, Ra-dinguette et

[337] From Mrs. Kinnersly, to whom I am also indebted for the music.

The Clameur de Haro.

    It has been suggested that the Clameur de Haro should be
    included among the civic customs peculiar to the Channel
    Islands. (See p.p. 59-77), so, as Sir Edgar MacCulloch had not
    mentioned it in his MSS. I have ventured to include a short
    description of it in the Appendix.

The “Clameur de Haro,” abolished in Normandy, A.D., 1583, is, perhaps,
the most ancient and curious legal survival in the Channel Islands.

Should a Channel Islander consider his estate to be injured, or his
rights to be infringed, by the action of another, in the presence of
two witnesses he kneels on the ground and says:--

“Haro! Haro! Haro! à l’aide mon Prince! on me fait tort!” and he then
repeats the Lord’s Prayer in French.

This formula, which is tantamount to an injunction to stay proceedings,
causes all obnoxious practices to be suspended until the case has
been tried in Court, when the party who is found to be in the wrong
is condemned to a fine and a “Regard de Château,” which, in former
times, meant a night’s imprisonment. All “Clameurs,” according to an
ordonnance of October 1st, 1599, have to be registered at the Greffe
within twenty-four hours, on penalty of being “convict en sa clameur,”
and, should no proceedings be taken within a year of the clameur, it is
considered to have lapsed.

An order of Queen Elizabeth relative to Guernsey, given at Richmond,
October 9th, 1580, decides that “yt shall not be lawfull to appeale in
anie cause criminell, or of correction, nor from the execution of anie
order taken in their Courte of Chief Pleas, nor in cries of Haro.”[338]

One of the most important occasions on which this prerogative was used
happened in the year 1850, when it was in contemplation to demolish
the ancient fortifications of Castle Cornet, but the late Mr. Martin
F. Tupper, who was then on a visit to Guernsey, had recourse to this
form of appeal, and saved the oldest parts of the fortress from
demolition. An extraordinary instance of a “Clameur” took place in
the Church of Sark on the 14th of December, 1755. A great dispute had
arisen between Dame Elizabeth Etienne, widow of Mr. Daniel Le Pelley,
Seigneur of Sark, and the ecclesiastical authorities of Guernsey, as
to in whose gift was the living of the Church of Sark. She appointed
a Mr. Jean Févot to the Church, and when Mr. Pierre Levrier, who had
been appointed by the Dean of Guernsey to this post, arrived in Sark
to perform the service, he found Mr. Févot in the pulpit. He then and
there, in the words of various scandalized eye-witnesses, “interjetta
une Clameur de Haro, environ les deux heures d’après-midi, dans le tems
qu’il avoit commencé à lire le service Divin.”[339] This of course led
to many disputes, and for over a year Dame Le Pelley locked up the
Church of Sark, and allowed no one to enter it. Finally, after much
litigation, and threats of major excommunication from the Guernsey
Ecclesiastical Court, the Bishop of Winchester intervened, Pierre
Levrier was forcibly ejected from the island, and, in 1757, Mr. Cayeux
Deschamps was given the living.

Four cases of “Clameurs” were registered between the years 1880-90, and
an instance occurred as recently as 1902.

There has been much controversy as to the origin of the word “Haro.”
Terrien, (_Coutûme de Normandie_, Edition 1684, p. 104), ascribes it
to Rollo, Duke of Normandy, Ha-Ro, and says “La seule prononciation
de son nom, même après tant de siècles a cette vertu, qu’elle engage
ceux contre lesquels on s’en sert à cesser leurs entreprises et atenter
rien au-de-là.” Laurence Carey, in his essay on the Laws and Customs
of the Island, and all the other old writers say likewise, but modern
philologists, such as Le Héricher and George Métivier have disputed
this theory, and have resolved the word “Haro” into a “cri de charge,”
which has survived as such in the English “Hurrah.” Froissart employs
it frequently as the sound of combat: “Le _Haro_ commença à monter,”
and, in the description of the battle of Bouvines, won from the Germans
and English in 1214, by Guillaume Guiart, who died in 1306 we find:--

    “La vois de nuls n’i est oïe
    Fors des heraux qui _harou_ crient,
    Et par le champ se crucefient
    _Harou_, dient-ils, quel mortaille!
    Quelle occision! quelle bataille!”[340]

[338] _Livres des Jugements, etc._, Vol. II., p. 16, (transcribed from
British Museum, Lansdowne MSS., No. 155, fol. 426).

[339] From Colonel Ernest Le Pelley’s MSS.

[340] See _Dictionnaire Franco-Normand_, by G. Métivier, p. 280.


    Referred to on page 288.


At “Les Mourains” we have seen that the ghost was “laid” by the means
of the clergy of the parish, (see page 288) and it is evident by the
following stories that the laying of spirits frequently formed part of
the duties of the clergy in Guernsey in the last century.

The house Colonel Le Pelley now inhabits at St. Peter-in-the-Wood,
was formerly owned by an old Mr. Blondel, who, on his death bed,
gave instructions to Mr. Thomas Brock (then Rector of the parish and
grandfather of the present Rector, Mr. H. Walter Brock), to toll the
big bell to announce his decease.

This was not done, but Mr. Blondel’s spirit determined to show that
promises to the dying were not to be trifled with! All the parish of
St. Pierre-du-Bois were ready to affirm that the ghost was to be seen
climbing up the Church tower; and in the Rectory kitchen the china on
the dresser would make a clattering noise and finally be swept by the
unseen hands on to the floor.

Life at the Rectory became so unendurable under these circumstances
that Mr. Brock finally decided to “lay” the ghost, and confine it to
its own house. So he went to “Prospect Place,” as the house is now
called, with twelve others of the local clergy. They shut every door
and window, and blocked up every crevice, key-hole, etc., through
which the spirit might pass. They then prayed in every room, after
which having driven the spirit out of each room in succession, they
locked it up in a cupboard, with either the key of the Church door or
a specially-made silver key (Miss Le Pelley could not find out which,
some say one, and some another), but the ghost has not troubled the
Brock family since.

The old servants now living in the house firmly believe that the ghost
still inhabits the cupboard, and affirm that its groans can still be

[341] From Miss E. Le Pelley.


Judith Ozanne, an old woman, who is servant at the Le Pelleys’, tells
the following story.

Her uncle, an old Mr. Ozanne, remembered the last Mr. Guille who
inhabited the original “St. George,” the old house which has been
replaced by the modern building which is now known as “St. George.”

This Mr. Guille left instructions that the old house was never to be
pulled down, as a spirit had been shut up in one of the cupboards; but
his son found the old house quite unsuitable for his bride to live in,
so he pulled it down, and built the present house, and the consequence
was that the poor homeless spirit was forced to wander about the
garden. Judith’s uncle saw him often on moonlight nights, wandering
among the trees around the pond.

All the family saw him too, and decided that something had to be done.
So they had a “conjuration” as they call a laying of the spirit, and
tried to induce it to enter an underground cellar, and shut it down by
means of a trap door.

But Mr. Ozanne would never say whether or no they were successful.
Judith Ozanne finishes the story by saying, “And I should like to know
what would happen to Mr. Blondel’s spirit if this house were burnt

Many of the old Guernsey “haunted houses” had their ghosts locked up
in cupboards. Mrs. Le Poidevin, who in her youth had been an “ironer,”
and had gone round from house to house ironing after the weekly washing
at home had taken place, related that the famous haunted house at
the Tour Beauregard was also in possession of a ghost locked up in
a cupboard, a cupboard whose doors, in spite of many efforts, would
not open, and from which the most fearful groans and dismal wailings
were heard to arise. Mrs. Le Poidevin also used to go as ironer to
the old house at the top of Smith Street, now pulled down, belonging,
to the de Jersey family. In this house also was a ghost locked up in
a cupboard, and Mrs. de Jersey, a very strong minded old lady,--in
defiance of superstition--insisted on having this cupboard door forced
open, and the ghost escaped! After that the house was rendered almost
uninhabitable by the frightful noises that were heard all over it. No
one could get any sleep, and not a servant could be found to stay in
the house. So finally Mrs. de Jersey decided to have the clergy called
in, and one of the maids described to Mrs. Le Poidevin the ceremonies
that ensued.

She said that every outer door was locked, all the crevices between the
window sashes were wedged up, and every keyhole was plugged up. Then
the minister of St. James’ and some of the other clergy prayed in every
room, and she thought they read something about “casting out devils.”
Finally the ghost was locked up with the key of the Church door.[343]

[342] From Miss E. Le Pelley.

[343] From Mrs. Le Poidevin.

In Moncure Conway’s book on _Demonology and Devil-Lore_, Vol. I., p.
102, he says:--“The key has a holy sense in various religions.” I have
not been able to find out the exact formula used by the clergy, but in
the Sarum Office, and also in the first Prayer Book of Edward VI., an
exorcism is given to be used at the Baptism of Infants, in which the
evil spirit is addressed as follows:--“Therefore, thou accursed spirit,
remember thy sentence, remember thy judgment, remember the day to be
at hand, wherein thou shalt burn in fire everlasting, prepared for
thee and thy angels,” etc. This was founded on the ancient exorcisms,
and was only left out in the revision of 1552, in deference to the
criticisms of Bucer.


La Petite Porte is the sandy bay immediately underneath Jerbourg.
Tradition derives its name “the little door” from an incident which
is said to have occurred in 1338. In those days the French had made
one of their periodical inroads on the island, and were in possession
of its principal fortresses. Eighty-seven men of St. Martin’s parish,
headed by l’honorable “Capitaine Jean de la Marche,”[344] attempted
to dislodge them, but were defeated at Mare-Madoc, in the Hubits, and
fled down to La Petite Porte, where they embarked for Jersey, and
founded a colony at St. Ouen’s. An old Jersey manuscript goes on to
say that Charles II., during his sojourn in Jersey, was so touched by
the recital of the bravery and fidelity of these men, that he granted
to the “South” Regiment of Militia, the old “Regiment Bleu,” a special
“aiguillette d’argent.” Later authorities disprove this, on the grounds
that there were not, at this epoch, either regiments or uniforms, and
that the “royal blue facings and silver lace” quoted as “being borne at
present by the South Regiment of Militia” did not exist two centuries

But among the old country people, to the present day, the bay known
as “Moulin Huet” is invariably called “Vier Port” (old harbour), and
if one mentions “Moulin Huet _Bay_” they will tell you that the name
“Moulin Huet” only applies to the old mill, (now destroyed, and the
site turned into a picnic house), and that it was “Les Anglais” who
transferred the name of the mill to the bay just below, so that “La
Petite Porte,” being just the other side of the bay, might easily have
been originally “Petit Port”--(Little Harbour.)

Bounded by the “Tas de Pois,” the most magnificent rocks in the Channel
Islands, it is noted for its beauty, and, from its long expanse of
sand, is the best place for sand-eeling. But about the beginning of
last century no sand-eelers dared approach this spot by night. Screams,
shrieks, and groans were heard there, night after night, and finally
it was shunned after dark by the whole island. There was no difficulty
in the people’s minds in accounting for these sounds. Two such awful
tragedies were connected with this bay and its environs that it was an
“embarras de richesse” to decide which of the ghosts of the two men who
had been murdered in this vicinity it could be!

The first of these stories has already been published in a little
book, now out of print, called _Anglo-Norman Legends_ or _Tales of the
Channel Islands_, N.D., under the title of “John Andrew Gordier,” and
has also been taken as the foundation of “Rachel Mauger, a Guernsey
Tragedy,” published some years ago in Clarke’s _Guernsey Magazine_,
where also, in the number for May, 1883, the same story is given in a
condensed form, as taken from a newspaper cutting, and is preceded by
the following note, signed “J. Y.

“The following striking narrative, relating to the origin of a drama
celebrated in its day (the tragedy of “Julia”), became known to the
writer through an old newspaper cutting preserved in a family scrap
book. The newspaper of which we speak must be at least fifty years old
(in 1883), and it related events which were then long past.”

A book called _The Locket_, by Mrs. Alfred Marks is based on the same

Though these events must have happened nearly two hundred years ago,
there are still some recollections of them lingering in the minds of
the very old people, who preface them by saying “_J’ai ouï dire à ma

The story runs thus:--About the end of the seventeenth century there
was an extremely beautiful girl, living at the Varclin, in St. Martin’s
parish, called Rachel Mauger. The Maugers were of a good old Guernsey
family, and were, in those days, extremely well-to-do. She was
engaged to John Andrew Gordier, a native of Jersey, though of French
extraction. One day he sent her word that he was going to sail over
from Jersey to see her, and intended landing at La Petite Porte, which
was the nearest place to her house. She started to go to meet him.
But he never appeared, and she had to return home, fearing that some
accident had happened to him. What really had happened was this: There
was a wealthy merchant, in St. Peter Port, named Gaillard, who had
long wished to marry Rachel; he had formerly been her father’s clerk,
so they had been much thrown together, but she did not reciprocate his

The day Mr. Gordier sailed over to Guernsey, Gaillard was down in the
bay of La Petite Porte, having previously been refused admission to
the Mauger’s house, on the ground that Mr. Gordier was expected, and
they were all busy preparing for his reception. Brooding over his
wrongs, he looked up, and saw his rival just on the point of landing.
Mad with jealousy he waited behind the rocks till he saw him preparing
to ascend the winding path which leads to the top of the cliff, then he
rushed out, and stabbed him twice in the back with the knife he always
carried, and, doubling him up, thrust the body into a cave close by
with a particularly small entrance. The cave is still pointed out, and
is on the western side of the bay, just below the path, leading from La
Petite Porte to Moulin Huet. Before leaving the body, Gaillard searched
it, and abstracted a peculiarly-shaped locket from one of the pockets,
which Gordier was bringing as a present to his _fiancée_.

Of course the disappearance of Gordier led to a search, and his body
being finally discovered in this cave by some boys, his murder was
made manifest. His mother finally resolved to come over and visit
her intended daughter-in-law, whom she found in a most depressed and
excitable condition, and evidently dying of a broken heart. United to
the shock of her lover’s death, she had been exposed to the incessant
persecution of her relations, who were determined that she should marry
Gaillard, and had insisted that she should accept the locket that he
had stolen from Gordier’s corpse, and, with a refinement of malice, had
pressed on her. So unstrung was the unfortunate Rachel that she did
nothing but sink into one fainting fit after another on seeing Mrs.
Gordier, and when the latter, struck with horror on seeing this jewel
on her watch-chain, asked her how she had come into possession of a
locket which had, she knew, been made specially for her in Jersey by
her son’s orders, the unhappy girl turned deadly pale, and, murmuring
the word “clerc,” fell in a dead faint to the ground. The final shock,
and sudden conviction that they had been harbouring her lover’s
murderer, being too much for her in her enfeebled condition, she died
in a few moments.

Mrs. Gordier misinterpreted the poor girl’s grief, and, thinking it
proceeded from a guilty conscience, intimated that it evidently shewed
that Rachel was an accomplice in the murder. Naturally the Maugers
were most indignant at such an unworthy aspersion on their daughter,
and, after a violent scene, asked her to prove her statements. She
replied that the jewel their daughter was then wearing was one which
was purchased by her son before leaving Jersey, and she proved the
fact by touching a secret spring and shewing his portrait concealed in
the locket. The Maugers, knowing that Gaillard had been the donor of
this jewel, and connecting “clerc,” the last word Rachel’s lips had
uttered, with him, as being her father’s clerk, immediately sent for
him. On being confronted with the jewel, and asked to explain how it
came into his possession, he replied that he had purchased it from a
Jew, named Levi, who had for years paid periodical visits to the island
as a pedlar. So Levi was then considered to be undoubtedly guilty, and
was taken into custody, but then, remorse, the fear of public shame,
and also the conviction that, Rachel being dead nothing made life worth
living, so wrought on the miserable Gaillard, that the morning of the
day on which Levi was to be brought before the Royal Court, he was
found dead, stabbed by his own hand.

A letter was found on the table in his room confessing his guilt and
reading thus: “None but those who have experienced the furious impulse
of ungovernable love will pardon the crime which I have committed,
in order to obtain the incomparable object by whom my passions were
inflamed. But, Thou, O Father of Mercies! who implanted in my soul
these strong desires, wilt forgive one rash attempt to accomplish my
determined purpose, in opposition, as it should seem, to thy Almighty

[344] “L’honorable Jean de la Marche, du bas, Commandant-en-Chef de
la paroisse de St. Martin, voyant l’isle de Guernesey révoltée contre
son Roi, et servant de préférence sous les drapeaux Français; ce
vaillant homme, dis-je, ému par un esprit vraiment loyal, et secondé
par l’honorable Messire Pierre de Sausmarez, James Guille, Jean de
Blanchelande, Pierre Bonamy, Thomas Vauriouf, et Thomas Etibaut, qui
allèrent partout chercher des secours, et tâchant de détruire tous
les factieux, et animés d’un désir d’assister à leur bienfaiteur
pour reprendre le Château Cornet, assistés par les braves habitants
de la petite Césarée; la paroisse de St. Martin leva et envoya
quatre-vingt-sept hommes, qui se joignirent aux dites honorables
personnes, sous le commandement du dit noble Jean de la Marche, du bas;
ce nombre était autant que la paroisse de St. Martin pût en fournir
dans ce temps là. Ayant été attaqués au Mont Madau (dit les Hubits) ils
firent retraite et s’embarquèrent à la petite Porte (qui porte ce nom
à cause de cette aventure) sur de frèles barques, parmi les rochers,
et arrivèrent enfin à Jersey, et se joignirent sous le commandement de
Messire Renaud de Carteret, Grand Gouverneur des Iles, et se battirent
vailleusement sous les drapeaux de sa Majesté, après avoir échappé à
la fureur d’une mer orageuse. St. Martin était la seule paroisse de
cette isle de Guernesey, qui se garda sous l’obéissance du Roi, pour
lesquels bons services, il plut à sa Majesté Charles II., leur accorder
à leur requête le galon d’argent comme le plus noble. C’est alors que
plusieurs habitants de St. Martin donnèrent leurs services pour leurs
vies au susdit Renaud de Carteret, Gouverneur-en-Chef, et conçurent un
tel mépris pour leurs pays qu’ils habitèrent Jersey. Lisez pour cela le
discours que Charles II. donna au Parlement à son retour, et l’estime
et l’éloge qu’il fait de ces héros.”--_From an old document entitled
“Touchant La Preséance d’Honneur chalengée, par Guernesé.”_

[345] From Mrs. Le Patourel, Mr. Tourtel, and from my father, who had
heard it from his father, and collated with the printed versions of the


This second story is not at all well known, except among some of the
very old people at St. Martin’s. I will not mention the names of the
murderers, as descendants of the family still survive, and are among
the most respected of the country people.

At the end of the eighteenth century many French noblemen fled over
here, to escape the terrors of the French revolution. Among them was
a Seigneur de Damèque. (I have no idea whether or not whether this is
the correct spelling of his name, but it represents the pronunciation
of the people). He came out to St. Martin’s parish, and took a house at
Le Hurel, just above Le Vallon. He was very proud and reserved, made no
friends, and was always seen going for long solitary walks, or pacing
down “Les Olivettes,” (the old name for what is now known as “the water
lane”) or underneath “Les Rochers,” the cliffs on which the Manor House
of Blanchelande now stands, and resting by the “douït” where the pond
at Le Vallon now is, but which, in those days, was public property.

He was always very richly dressed, and was supposed to have hidden
hoards of wealth, as well as to carry large sums of money on his
person. There were two or three brothers who lived together in a house
near Le Varclin, who, tempted by his supposed riches, and thinking
that his isolation would prevent his disappearance being noticed or
enquiries being made, decided on following him on one of his solitary
rambles and on murdering him. These brothers had always borne a bad
reputation; they gambled and drank, and were the “vauriens” of an
otherwise respectable family.

So, one evening, they followed him, as, passing above La Petite Porte,
he entered into the narrow lane, overgrown with trees and thorn bushes,
which leads to Jerbourg Point. There they closed upon him, and, being
two or three to one, murdered him, and, after having robbed the body of
his watch, rings, etc., buried the corpse under some of the heaps of
stones which lie on the waste lands at the top of the cliff.

Some wonder was caused at Le Hurel when he failed to appear, but the
rumour was started that he had been seen sailing away in a little
fishing boat he used to hire for the season, from Bec du Nez, and which
the murderers had had the forethought to scuttle and sink. The country
people thought he had returned to his native land, and all interest in
the matter dropped.

[Illustration: Haunted Lane near Jerbourg.]

But there was one man to whom M. de Damèque’s disappearance meant
much. In Paris he had left a dear friend, a Dr. Le Harrier. These two
men wrote to each other regularly, and when M. de Damèque’s letters
suddenly ceased, letters came to Le Hurel from this doctor, asking for
explanations--letters which were never answered. Among M. de Damèque’s
jewellery was a beautiful and most uncommon watch, with either his
coronet and monogram or his coronet and arms displayed on the case.
One day, some years after his disappearance, Dr. Le Harrier, walking
through the streets of Paris, saw this unmistakable watch hanging in
a jeweller’s shop. He went in and asked the man how it had got into
his possession, and the man told him it had been brought by some men
from Guernsey, who had been trying to sell it in England, Holland, and
Belgium, and finally had left it with him to dispose of. Dr. Le Harrier
bought the watch, and, taking the men’s address, started at once for
Guernsey. When he arrived he made enquiries, and, finding that these
men bore a bad reputation, took some constables with him and went to
the house. There they found them sodden with drink, and, haunted by
fear and remorse when they saw the watch, they sank down on their knees
and confessed everything, and were led off then and there to prison.

The next thing to be done was to disinter the bones of the murdered
man and give them Christian burial. Heavily handcuffed the brothers
were taken to the spot, accompanied by various members of the clergy, a
doctor, who had to certify that every bone was there, (this is a point
much dwelt upon by every teller of the story), Dr. Le Harrier, and all
the people of St. Martin’s. Then the bones, being found, were placed in
a coffin, and reverently buried in St. Martin’s churchyard.

After the last spadeful of earth had been put in the grave, and while
handcuffed prisoners and all the bystanders were still present, an old
St. Martin’s man, named Pierre Jehan, got up and made the following
speech, which I have written down word for word as the people still
tell it.

_“Autrefois quand on enterrait des dépouilles mortelles on y envoyait
des rameaux et des bouquets de fleurs. Aujourd’hui on ne voit rien de
tout ça.”_

_“Autrefois on aurait donné un quartier de froment en fonds d’héritage
pour porter le nom de ----. Aujourd’hui on en donnera quatre pour ne le
pas porter.”_

(“Formerly when burying a corpse one sent branches of trees and
bouquets of flowers. To-day there is nothing of that.”

“Formerly one would have given a quarter of wheat rent to bear the name
of ----. To-day one would give four not to bear it.”)

The shock and the shame were such that the brothers were seized by what
the people call “a stroke,” and to the relief of their relations died
in prison before being brought for trial.

That the ghosts of these two murdered men should revisit the scenes
of the crime was only to be expected, but finally, when La Petite
Porte was shut to sand-eelers by reason of “_ces cris terribles_,”
some of the neighbours and fishermen began to wonder whether nothing
could be done to lay these unquiet spirits and free the bay from its
supernatural visitants.

There was a man called Pierre Thoume, who lived at Les Blanches,
most popular in the parish, being ready to go everywhere and join in
everything, though he was emphatically a “bon Chrétien.” He was a
distant relative of the murderers of M. de Damèque, and, having heard
these noises at various times, it was borne in upon him that perhaps if
he could find out what the ghost wanted, he could fulfil its wishes,
and so let it rest in peace. He even prayed for guidance, and more
and more he felt it to be his duty to go and meet the ghost face to
face. At first some other men said they would join him, but when the
appointed night came their spirits failed them, and no one arrived at
the rendezvous. Undaunted, and armed only with his Bible, Mr. Thoume
sallied forth alone at midnight. I think it is difficult to realise
what moral and physical courage it must have involved to go forth
alone to encounter the supernatural, fully persuaded of its unearthly

Early in the morning he returned to his home, looking very white, and
with a curiously set expression on his face. His wife and daughters,
who had waited up for him, rushed at him to know what had happened, but
he said, “You must never ask me what has happened, what I have seen,
what I have done. I have sworn to keep it a secret, and as a secret
it will die with me, but this I can tell you, you may go to La Petite
Porte at any hour of the day or night, and never again shall any ghost
haunt it, or noise or scream be heard.” And to this day the noises have
utterly ceased.

Pierre Thoume kept his vow, though his family, friends, and neighbours,
implored him time after time, even on his death bed, to tell them what
he had seen. His invariable reply was, “I have given my word, and I
will not break it.”[346]

[346] From Mrs. Rowswell, Mr. Thoume’s daughter, Mrs. Le Patourel,
Mrs. Charles Marquand, Margaret Mauger, Mr. Tourtel, and many others,
inhabitants of St. Martin’s parish.


There are two houses called Les Câches in St. Martin’s parish,
situated one behind the other in the district so called, between the
blacksmith’s forge at St. Martin’s and the Forest Road. Tradition says
that they all formed part of one property, which extended as far as
St. Martin’s Church, and was a nunnery, the nuns having a private lane
of their own by which they could go to the church without the fear of
meeting any men _en route_. There is a pond situated to the left of a
long avenue which now leads to the front door of one of the houses,
and for years it was believed that on a certain night of the year,
a woman’s figure, dressed in grey, is seen walking up and down the
avenue, weeping and wringing her hands, and then rushing to the pond.
The story the people tell to account for this appearance is, that one
of the nuns was discovered at the dead of night trying to drown her
child and herself in the pond. They were rescued, but only for a worse
fate, for the unfortunate woman and child were bricked up in a cupboard
which is now situated in one of the outhouses, but is supposed to have
been the old refectory. The people also tell in confirmation of this
story that the night the ghost is seen this cupboard door flies open of
itself though it is quite impossible to force it open at any other time.

It is possible that if this was an ecclesiastical establishment, it was
one of those alien priories of which Sir Edgar MacCulloch says:--

“After the loss of Normandy the inconvenience of having so many
valuable possessions in the hands of the enemy, led to the suppression
of these priories, and in these islands, whenever there was war between
England and France, alien ecclesiastics were compelled to leave.”

So probably the old conventual buildings, if there were any, were
allowed to fall into ruins, and the land passed into the hands of the
Patrys, and thence, through the marriage of Marguerite Patrys and
Pierre Bonamy, into the possession of the Bonamys, who owned it for
many centuries. There is an old document which tells the story of how
the Bonamys first came to Guernsey.

“On their return from the Holy Land, whither they had accompanied the
King of France, two brothers were driven by a violent storm, and thrown
into a little bay, where their bark went to pieces. In gratitude for
their preservation they made a vow to remain where Providence had
placed them. One, a priest, founded a church, and the other married and
founded the Bonamy family.” In 1495, John Bonamy, son of Pierre and
Marguerite Patrys, was “Procureur du Roi” in Guernsey, and his old MS.
memorandum book still survives, in which he describes a pilgrimage to
Rome he made in 1504, through France and Italy.

The following extracts relative to building Les Câches have been
deciphered from the old crabbed manuscript by Colonel J. H. Carteret

_1468.--M^{o} des gans quy mont aydy a caryer la pere … et des grant
roquez … de le Cluse Luet--premez Gylome robert j jo^{r} &c._

_1498.--M^{o} que je marchande de Colas Fyquet po^{r} ma meson, le
but deverz le nort … par la some de viij escus.… Il comencest le
xviij^{eme} jo^{r} du moys de Maye--le Mardyt._

_1504.--M^{o} que Gylome le Corvar et Colin Savage comancer acovyr ma
grange landeman du jo_{r} Saint Appolyne. Acevest le jo^{r} Saint Aubin
lan vc quatre,_ which may be translated:--

(1468.--Memo of the people who helped me to quarry the stone … and
the big rocks … of “l’Ecluse Luet” [the Ecluse was the mill-dam in
connection with the old watermill which gave its name to Moulin Huet
Bay. It was situated in the hollow at the bottom of the water-lane of
“Les Olivettes,” just above the old Mill House] first William Robert,
one day, &c.)

(1498.--Memo. That I bargain with Colas Fyquet about my house, the end
(to be) towards the north … for the sum of eight escus. They began the
18th of May--on Tuesday.)

(1504.--Memo. That William Le Corvar (&) Colin Savage, began to cover
my barn the day following the day of Saint Appolyne [Feb. 9,] finished
the day of St. Aubin [March 1,] 1504.)

In the parish of St. Martin’s they still tell a story of the old days
when the Bonamys yet occupied Les Câches.

Years and years ago, there was an old Helier Bonamy,[347] who lived
at the Câches. He was one of the richest men in Guernsey, and kept,
as well as cows and horses, a large flock of sheep, there being much
demand for wool in those days on account of the quantity of jerseys,
stockings, &c., knitted over here. One night he and his daughter went
to a ball in the town. Tradition even goes so far as to say that Miss
Bonamy was dressed in white brocade. Before starting, Helier Bonamy
summoned his herdsmen, and told them to keep a sharp look out after
his sheep, for that there were many lawless men about. Helier and his
daughter[348] walked home that night earlier than was expected.

As they turned into the avenue, between high hedges and forest trees,
they heard the bleatings of sheep in pain. “_Écoute donc, ce sont
mes berbis_” (Listen, those are my sheep), said Helier, and drew his
daughter under the hedge to listen. Peeping through the bushes they saw
his herdsman and farm labourers calling each other by name, drinking,
talking and laughing, and, while cutting the throats of the defenceless
sheep, chanting in chorus:--

    _“Rasons! rasons! les berbis_
    _Du grand Bonamy,_
    _S’il était ichin d’vànt,_
    _Nou l’i en feraït autant!”_

    (Shear! shear! the sheep,
    Of the great Bonamy,
    Were he here before us,
    We would do as much to him).

They crept up the avenue unobserved to the house, for Helier was afraid
to confront all these men who had evidently been drinking heavily,
alone and unarmed. The next day his herdsman came to him with a long
face, and said that robbers had broken into the sheepfold in the night
and killed all the sheep, and brought up the other men as witnesses.
Mr. Bonamy said nothing, except that he would like all these men to
accompany him down to the Court to there testify to the robbery. This
they did, and when they got there and told their story, Mr. Bonamy and
his daughter then turned round and denounced them. They were taken into
custody, and hanged shortly afterwards at St. Andrew’s.[349]

There are several stories illustrating the re-appearance of people
whose dying wishes had been disregarded by their survivors, and also of
people wishing to tell their heirs where their treasure had been hid.

At the King’s Mills, a Mrs. Marquand died, and left instructions with
her husband that her clothes were to be given to her sister Judith.
After her death the widower did not do it, so every night her ghost
came and knocked at her husband’s door. One night she rapped so loudly
that all the neighbours opened their windows, and heard her say:--

“_Jean, combien de temps que tu me feras donc souffrir, donne donc mes
hardes à ma sœur Judi_.”

(John, how much longer wilt thou make me suffer, give then my clothes
to my sister Judy).

He gave the clothes the next day, and the spirit returned no more.[350]

Almost the same story is told of a Mrs. Guille, who gave orders that
after her death a certain amount of clothes were to be bought and
yearly distributed amongst the poor. This her husband neglected to
comply with, so Mrs. Guille visited him one night, and told him that
she would do so every night until the clothes were given. Mr. Guille
hurriedly bought and distributed the clothes, and continued to do so
yearly until he died.[351]

Miss Le Pelley also contributes the following ghost stories which are
told at St. Pierre-du-Bois:--

“About the beginning of the century a man went to Gaspé (which the
narrator said was Newfoundland, but is really on the mainland). While
there, his father died suddenly, and the son came back to Guernsey to
work the farm. One night his father appeared to him and told him that
he would find “_une petite houlette_” (a little mug) on the barn wall,
with something of value in it. Next morning the son went to look, and
found a mug full of five franc pieces.”

“A widow in Little Sark had sold her sheep advantageously and hidden
the money in the “_poûtre_” (the large central rafter which runs along
the ceiling of the kitchen). Quite suddenly she died. Whenever her son
walked about in Little Sark he met his mother, which made him feel very
frightened, so one day he made his brother come with him, and together
they met her, and plucked up courage enough to say:--‘In the name of
the Great God what ails you,’ so then, having been spoken to first, she
could tell them where her hoard of treasure was, and then disappeared,
and was never seen again.”

The whole country-side is full of shreds of ghost stories and beliefs;
many of these were probably due to, and encouraged by, the smugglers of
olden days.

For instance a funeral procession was supposed to issue from an old
lane south of Le Hurel--now blocked up--and no St. Martin’s man or
woman would dare pass the place at night. But smugglers, creeping
along between the overhanging hedges, with kegs and bundles on their
shoulders, would have had just the same effect, especially to people
who would have been far too frightened at an unexpected nocturnal
appearance to stop and investigate the matter.

At the corner between Les Maindonneaux and the Hermitage, a tall figure
was said to appear, and hover round the spot. When the road was widened
and the wall round the Hermitage was built, a stone coffin was found
full of very large bones. These bones were taken to the churchyard, and
the burial service read over them, and since then no ghost has been

Then, a little further on, around the pond of Sausmarez Manor, was seen
an old man, dressed in a long grey coat, and a grey felt plumed hat.
This is supposed by the people to be old Mr. Matthew de Sausmarez--“Le
Grand Matthieu” as he is called,--but why he is supposed to return is

Even now-a-days, in quite modern most unghostly-looking houses, you
hear tales of little old women, former inhabitants, being seen. In
another house, where a suicide is known to have occurred, soft finger
knocks are heard against the walls of one of the rooms, as of some
one shut up in the room and seeking release; the door is opened, and
nothing is to be seen. And in St. Martin’s the ghost of a woman, who
only died a few years ago, is said to haunt the garden of the house
in which she lived. Her daughter saw the appearance and was picked up
in a dead faint from fright, but then the woman was supposed by all
the neighbours to have been a witch, and, of course, as they say, the
spirit of “une sorcière” could not rest quiet in consecrated ground.

I will close this chapter on ghosts with a story which is firmly
believed and told by many of the country people. For obvious reasons I
suppress all names.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, a very rich widower had a
house in Smith Street. His first wife had left many small children,
to whom in her lifetime she had been devoted, and spent many hours of
her day in the nursery. The widower, after a short interval, married
again, a young, pretty, and frivolous girl, who utterly neglected
her step-children. Then the spirit of his first wife came back for a
short time every morning, and washed and dressed them, the curtains of
their beds were found pushed back in the mornings, and her silk dress
was heard rustling up the stairs, and the children used to say “Mamma
dressed us.”[352]

A man residing on the north-west coast had a brother who was drowned
whilst out fishing. This man, wishing to do his best for his brother’s
family, was sore perplexed some years afterwards, as the family ran
great risk of losing their property, owing to the absence of a title
deed which he knew to have existed, but which unfortunately had not
been registered.

One day, when out fishing, he was greatly surprised to see his
brother’s boat coming full sail close to him and just rounding to, with
his brother at the tiller, and exclaimed:--“La! te v’lo et ta femme
qu’est r’mariaïe!” (Lo! there you are and your wife married again!)
The answer he received was:--“Le papier que tu trache est dans un taï
endret sus la poutre,” (the paper you are looking for is in such a
room, on the beam). Immediately everything disappeared.

Arrived ashore, he searched in the place indicated and found the
missing document.[353]

[347] On referring to the Bonamy pedigree, the only Helier Bonamy who
appears to have owned Les Câches, is a “Hellier, fils Pierre.” Peter
Bonamy being a Jurat in 1548. Helier does not seem to have borne the
best of reputations, for Nicholas Bermis writes of him to Bishop Horn:
“Guernsey, December 13, 1575. He is a disorderly character, notorious
for impiety and obstinacy.… Finally publicly excommunicated from the
commune of the Church of God and of His Saints and given over to Satan
until he should repent.”--_Zurich Letters_, Vol. II., p. 224.

[348] Even into the nineteenth century the old ladies would tell
you how they walked home, lit by a three-candled lantern from “the
Assemblys” and how the last dance was always given to the favourite
partner, so that he might have the privilege of accompanying them.

[349] From Miss C. Tardif, who was told the story by her grandmother.

[350] Collected by Miss E. Le Pelley.

[351] Collected by Miss E. Le Pelley.

[352] From Mrs. Le Patourel, and also told to Miss Le Pelley by an old
woman at St. Pierre-du-Bois.

[353] From John de Garis, Esq., of the Rouvêts, whose father was told
the story by the man himself.

APPENDIX B. Witchcraft.

    Referred to on page 386.


There are many stories still told and firmly believed by the country
people, of Marie Pipet, who was a noted “sorcière“ of the early part of
the nineteenth century. She came of a race of witches and wizards, thus
described in Redstone’s _Guernsey and Jersey Guide_, by Louisa Lane
Clarke, (Second Edition, 1844), p. 86.

“On the road past St. Andrew’s Church, one of the lanes to the right
leads to the village called “Le Hurel,”[354] a collection of mere
huts; rude, dirty looking cottages, but remarkable from the people who
tenant it. They are a kind of half gipsy, half beggar race, bearing
the name of Pipet; and kept totally distinct from every other family,
because no person would intermarry with them upon any consideration.
Their appearance and features are quite unlike the rest of the Guernsey
peasantry, who are extremely good-looking, clean, and active; whereas
those Pipets may be found basking in the sun, with anything but a
prepossessing exterior. The country people consider them as wizards and
witches, and, at certain times of the year, about Christmas, when they
are privileged to go round and beg for their _Noël_, or “_irvières_”
(New Year’s gifts), no one likes to send them away empty handed
for fear of the consequences to themselves, their cattle, or their
children.” Even to this day the country people have a great dread of
“Les Pipiaux.”[355]

My father’s old nurse, Margaret Mauger, told me that the cook at old
Mr. Fred Mansell’s, of the Vauxbelets, (about the year 1850), was a
great friend of hers, and told her that one day Marie Pipet came into
the Vauxbelets kitchen, and demanded some favour which was refused.
“_Tu t’en repentiras_,” she said, and went out of the door and sat on
the adjoining hedge to await developments. Meanwhile the sirloin which
was being cooked for Mr. Mansell’s dinner refused to be cooked! For
hours she turned it round and round on the jack in front of the fire.
The heat had apparently no effect on it, and it was as raw as when she
first put it there. Finally, in despair, the cook went to her master,
and told him what had happened. So he sent for Marie Pipet, and told
her if she did not disenchant his dinner she would spend the night in
gaol, (he was a Jurat of the Royal Court). With a curtsey she replied
that if he would go into his kitchen he would find his sirloin ready
for eating, and, at that moment, the cook declared, it suddenly turned

There are many stories told of Marie Pipet in St. Pierre-du-Bois. One
old woman, Judith Ozanne, told Miss Le Pelley that Marie Pipet, “la
sorcière,” once asked her grandmother, old Mrs. Ozanne, for some milk.
This was refused her, so she prevented the cows from eating, and they
were all pining away. So then her grandfather took his pitchfork, and,
going straight to the witch, compelled her, under the fear of corporal
punishment, to undo the spell.

Judith Ozanne also tells the following story of Marie Pipet, which she
affirms is true. One day Marie took her corn to the Grands Moulins (the
King’s Mills) to be ground. The two young men who were in charge of
the mill said “Oh dear no, they were not going to grind her corn,” and
so she returned home, but the mill-stones turned round and round and
round so quickly that no corn would grind, and nothing would stop them,
so they had to call back Marie Pipet and promise to grind her corn for
her, and, as soon as her corn was put in, the millstones worked as

Mr. Métivier gives a story of Marie Pipet which was current in his day,
in his _Souvenirs Historiques de Guernesey_.

“The incomparable Marie, so dreaded by the millers of the King’s Mills,
because she often amused herself by unhinging our mills, rests in peace
on the good side (au bon côté) of the Castel churchyard.[356] It is
firmly believed, and frequently told, how she, and other members of
her family, could metamorphose themselves as “cahouettes”--red-legged
choughs. One day, in the form of one of these birds, she was discovered
in a cow stable, and run through the thigh by the proprietor of the
stable, with his pitchfork. The bird managed to escape, but the woman
Marie Pipet was obliged to keep her bed for six months with a terrible
and mysterious wound in her leg, by which of course the metamorphosis
was proved.”[357]

Possibly a bird of such evil omen, having red legs, accounts for the
fact that to this day our country people tell you that all witches who
go to dance at the Catioroc wear red stockings.[358]

All witches are supposed to be endowed with the faculty of keeping the
person they have bewitched walking--walking, for hours perhaps, in a
circle, to which they cannot find a clue.

Marie Pipet, one day being offended with a man, made him walk backwards
and forwards one whole night between the Vauxbelets and St. Andrew’s

[354] _Hure_, _Hurel_, and _Huret_, all frequently met with
as place-names in Guernsey, mean “rocky ground.”--Métivier’s

[355] The Guernsey people have a way of making plurals of many words
ending in “et” or “ert” or “el,” by substituting “iaux,” as:--Pipets =
Pipiaux, Robert (a very common surname) Robiaux, Coquerel = Coqueriaux,
bouvet, bouviaux, touffet, touffiaux.

[356] In Guernsey the south side of our churchyard was “le bon côté.”
The north side, (according to the old Norse mythology, where hell and
its attendant demons were situated in the _north_) was reserved for
criminals, suicides, etc.

[357] The “Cahouettes” or red-legged choughs, have always, according
to Mr. Métivier (see his _Dictionnaire_, art. “Cahouettes”), played a
prominent rôle in the Néo-Latin mythology. According to the Council
of Nismes, 1281, witches and wizards metamorphosed themselves into
“Cahouets” and “Cahouettes.” Raphaël, Archbishop of Nicosia, capital of
the island, excommunicated all _cahouets_ and _cahouettes_, as well as
all who maintained and encourage games of chance.

[358] From Margaret Mauger, who also said that in her youth if one met
an old woman in the town wearing red stockings, it was always said
“_V’là une des sorcières du Catioroc!_” In Holbein’s _Crucifixion_,
1477, now at Augsberg, a devil which carries off the soul of the
impenitent thief has the head of an ape, bat-wings, and _flaming red

[359] From Margaret Mauger.


About the end of the eighteenth century there lived in Sark a very
notorious wizard called Pierre de Carteret. An old Sark woman called
Betsy Hamon, now Mrs. de Garis, has given Miss Le Pelley, whose servant
she is, the following particulars concerning him:--

Pierre de Carteret, called “le vieux diable,” lived in Sark. He always
worked at night, and when the fishermen passed by his house at night
they heard him talking to the little devils who worked for him. They
could not understand, for it was the devil’s language they talked. He
built a boat in a barn in one morning, and the Sark people were amazed
to see it launched in the Creux harbour. This was Black Art, for the
boat was too large to go out of the door, and also his house was not
quite close to the sea.

He was very rich, partly owing to his having no expenses, as he had no
workmen to pay, everything being done for him by these little devils,
and partly from his first wife, whom he courted in France. Pierre went
over to France alone, in a small open boat. The girl he married, who
was herself a lady, thought he was of gentle blood. After he married
her he was most cruel, and spoilt all her furniture. For instance, her
parlour was mirrored from ceiling to floor, and he brought her horses
up into the room, and the poor things became excited when they saw
other horses, and kicked the looking-glasses and broke all the other
furniture. This wife died of a broken heart, and for his second wife
Pierre married a Sark girl, little more than a child.

If Pierre wanted his hedges repaired he simply gave the order to
his little helpers, and the next morning they were done. Pierre’s
daughter--“la petite Betsy”--used to feed the cow at night in the
churchyard, and she was seen returning home at daybreak with the cow,
looking thoroughly well fed. Consequently nobody would buy butter or
milk from him.

When Pierre had nothing else to give his workers to do they used to
forge money, and their hammers could be heard by the passers by.[360]

Old Mrs. Le Messurier, in Sark, also confirmed a great many of these
details in 1896. She said he, Pierre de Carteret, was well known to
be a famous sorcerer. He had pictures of the Devil on his walls, and
little images of Satan were found in his house after his death, and
promptly burnt by the incomers. He could build a boat, alter a loft, or
build a wall in a single night, because he had “des esprits malins” to
help him. He was an excessively bad man and used to smuggle ball and
ammunition to France, to help the French against the English in the
war. The English found him out and came over with bayonets to take him,
but he hid down his well, and could not be found.

Out at St. Pierre-du-Bois they still tell the tale of a Frenchman, who
was a “sorcier,” and in league with the Devil.

One day he entered a farm kitchen, where he found all the young people
playing a game, in which they used a number of doubles, placed in a jam
pot, for counters.

He said “I can turn all those doubles into mice.”

They did not believe him, so he took the pot, shook it, and turned it
upside down on the table. Then he turned to one of the girls standing
by and said “Now, take up that pot.” She did so, and numbers of mice
ran out of it, all over the table, with their tails cocked up!

Of the same man another story is told. One morning he wanted some of
his neighbours to play cards with him, but they said they could not
spare the time, for they must weed their parsnips.

He replied--“If you will come, your parsnips shall be weeded by dinner

So they played, but one man looked up, and saw through the window
numbers and numbers of little demons weeding very quickly, and by
mid-day the work was done.[361]

Mr. J. Linwood Pitts has also collected two stories bearing on the
subject of the transformation of witches, both of which were related to
him in perfect good faith by reliable witnesses.

Many years ago a Guernsey gentleman went over to Sark. While sitting
on the cliffs above the Havre Gosselin he noticed a flock of birds,
principally wild duck, circling round and round. He fired off his
musket, but did not succeed in hitting any of them, or even, much to
his astonishment, in frightening them away.

He thought there must be something mysterious about them, as wild duck
are generally such shy birds, so he consulted a noted wizard, who told
him that if he loaded his musket with a piece of silver having a cross
on it it would take effect on any transformed witch. So he went over
to Sark again with this silver bullet, and on returning to the Havre
Gosselin again saw the birds. He picked out one, which seemed the
finest of the flock, and apparently their leader. On firing at it he
succeeded in winging it, though it disappeared, and he thought it had

That evening, on the return boat to Guernsey, a girl on board, who
used to pay almost daily visits to Sark, and about whom there were
many mysterious reports, appeared with a bad wound in her hand, about
which she would vouchsafe no explanation, but looking very white and
frightened. The man identified her in his own mind as the mysterious
bird, but did not speak about the affair till long after.

[360] From Miss Le Pelley, who wrote it down word for word as it was

[361] Collected by Miss Le Pelley.


A very respectable Alderney man used to tell old Mr. Barbenson,
Wesleyan minister, about a noted Alderney witch.

He declared that one night, passing by her cottage, he looked in, and
saw a blue flame blazing up, and the witch dancing in the middle of it,
surrounded by little devils, also dancing.

“But how do you know that they were devils?” Mr. Barbenson
asked:--“Because they were just like the pictures of Apollyon in my old
_Pilgrim’s Progress_” was the reply. Another day, he said that, coming
home from milking, he saw two large black birds revolving over his
head. They both sank, almost at his feet, behind a small furze bush.
Suddenly this woman rose up from behind the same bush, and ran away.
He said the bush was made too small to hide the woman, and that it was
quite impossible that she could have been concealed there. The man
vouched for the truth of these stories.

Mr. Pitts has also kindly allowed me to include the following extract
from an old MS. which was communicated to him by Mr. E. P. Le Feuvre, a
gentleman of Jersey extraction, residing in London, and connected with
some of our Guernsey families.

He also gave me the details of a remarkable local witch story, which
he had found in a curious old MS. in the library of Dr. Witham, of
Gordon Square, London. This MS., which is in two volumes folio, is
entitled ‘_Icones Sacræ Gallicanæ et Anglicanæ_,’ and contains seventy
biographies of ministers and clergymen. Among them is a sketch of the
life of the Rev. Daniel Fautrat, of Guernsey, who was minister of the
Câtel parish; then of Torteval; and who afterwards, in 1633 (in the
reign of Charles I.), succeeded Mr. de la Marche, at St. Peter-Port.
This MS. is by a John Quick (born 1636--died 1706). There were two
Fautrats, Helier and Daniel, father and son, and the biographer
somewhat confuses them.[362] This story of the witch--who was burnt
alive in the Bordage during Daniel Fautrat’s ministry at the Town
Church--is a very curious one, and is a decided acquisition to the
witch-lore of the island. It is as follows:--


“After Monsieur [Daniel] Ffautrat had spent some years at Torteval and
St. Andrew’s [Guernsey] he was, upon the death of Monsr. de la Marche,
called to succeed him in ye Pastorall charge of St. Peters Port, [in
1634, in the reign of Charles I.] which is ye Towne of this Island, a
fair Markett Towne and priviledged with ye Sessions of ye whole Island,
where all caisses Civill and Criminall are finally tryed and determined
in ye Playderoye,[363] by ye Bayliffe and Jurates.

“During his ministry in this Towne, and about ye year 1640 [Charles
I.] there happened a most remarkable event. Divines do say that it is
a very rare thing for witches under Gospell Light to repent; and some
have given this reason of their assertion--because they have committed
that unpardonable sin against ye Holy Ghost. I cannot tell, but that
this following story seems to confirm it.

“There was a certain woman of this Island, above four-score years
of age, who had been imprisoned, indicted and found guilty upon
full evidence, of that abominable sin of witchcraft, and for it was
condemned to death. She gave out confidently that she should not dye.
However, she is carried from prison to ye appointed place of Execution
to be burnt alive.

“All the way, as she was going thither, a great Black Raven was seen
hovering, and heard croaking after a dolefull manner over her head,
till she came to ye stake. And now, while they be fastening ye chain,
she begs of one of the Bystanders to give her a clew of thread, which
having received, she fastens one end of it to her girdle, and taking
ye other end, she flings it with her hand up into ye aire. The Raven,
stooping down, catcheth at it with his Beak, and, mounting, carrys with
him ye old witch from ye bottom of ye vale up into ye air. A young man
of that Island, seeing her flying, being on ye top of ye hill, flings
his Halbard so exactly betwixt her and ye raven, that it cuts ye thread
asunder, and ye old witch is taken by him, but with many fearfull
imprecations upon him, she vomityng out whole cartloads of curses
against him.

“However, she is once again carryed down to ye stake, and there
accordingly executed, being burnt to ashes. But this poor officious
wardour, whose name was Gosslin--ye holy wise providence of God so
permitting it--felt a short time after, ye bitter consequences of her
rage and dying curses; for he grew sick of an incurable disease, lying
under most exquisite torments, of which he could never be relieved by
any means or medicines, till having languished some years he was at
last released from his sufferings by death.”

“A girl was very ill, and the doctor did not know what was the matter
with her, and, though he tried many remedies, none succeeded. One day a
friend from the Vale, their native parish, called, and told the girl’s
mother privately that the girl was bewitched, and that it was Mrs. ----
who had done it, but that he could, with certain herbs, boiled in a
particular manner, cause the witch to die, and then the girl would be
well. The herbs were boiled, and a few days afterwards the witch died.
During the funeral the girl jumped joyfully out of bed, quite well.
This occurred within the last twenty years.”

“One day, two boys, well on in their teens were chaffing an old witch,
when suddenly she got very angry, threw dust in the air, and gabbled
some words very quickly. The boys went home and found they were covered
with vermin. They were near neighbours. One of the boys was so angry
that he took his gun and went to the old witch and said, “Now, take
away the vermin, or I shoot you,” and he levelled his gun at her.
They parleyed a little, but the boy was so determined that the witch
suddenly took fright, threw dust in the air, repeated some words, and
the vermin disappeared. The other boy was covered for three days.”[364]

The following story illustrating the widespread belief in these special
powers of witches and wizards was told me by Mrs. Le Patourel, of St.
Martin’s, who was told the story by the heroine, and who vouched for
its authenticity.

Mrs. Le Patourel’s mother-in-law was a Miss Mauger, of Saints, very
handsome and very well-to-do. In fact, she and her sister went to
school in England, which was considered very grand in those days. On
her return from school she, her sister, and a friend, all went together
to one of the country dances then frequently held in the various
parishes. They all “held their heads very high,” dressed very well, and
would only dance with those whom they considered the “best” partners.
They were dressed on this occasion in silk dresses with large white
lace collars and ruffles. At the beginning of the dance, as they were
all sitting in a row together, some man came up and asked each of them
in turn to dance, but they all considered him unworthy of the honour,
and each refused to dance with him. As the last refused he turned on
his heel muttering that they would repent their rudeness. A minute or
two later one of the girls leaned forward and cried to her sister, “Oh,
Marie, what have you got there?” and pointed to an insect crawling
on her lace. Covered with confusion the girl killed it, only to see
swarms more crawling after it. The other two girls then discovered to
their horror that they were likewise covered with swarms of vermin, and
covered with shame and confusion they all had hurriedly to leave the
dance. For three days they all remained in this condition, and then the
vermin disappeared as suddenly as they came.

“The shame of it I can never forget,” Mrs. Le Patourel says was the way
her informant always ended the story. “But,” said Mrs. Le Patourel,
“that is nothing to what people can do who use the bad books.”[365]

She thinks it is the French people who have brought these evil arts to
Guernsey, and in proof of her theory told me this story which happened
to one of her own friends, “who has told it to me many a time.”

A Guernsey farmer living in St. Saviour’s parish had a French
manservant, who slept on the premises. Suspicion being aroused by his
haggard looks he was watched, and seen to leave the house every night
and not come back till the morning. When asked where he had been and
what he had been doing he returned evasive answers. So one night his
master determined to follow him. He tracked him across some fields till
he reached the Catioroc, and there he saw him lie down in the middle of
a field, and then, in a few moments, a clear, bluish flame, like the
flame of a candle, was seen issuing out of his mouth, and wandering
off like a will-o’-the-wisp across the fields. When the astonished
farmer went up to the body he found it lying rigid and lifeless, and
no amount of shaking or calling could make any impression on it. After
some time the flame was seen returning, and settled on the man’s mouth,
and there disappeared, and shortly after the man sat up, looking dazed
and tired, and absolutely declined to answer any of the questions with
which his master greeted him.

On pp. 305 to 351 (ante) are given various trials for witchcraft, which
took place in Guernsey during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
but Sir Edgar MacCulloch has not included the following, which I have
found cited in an old MS. book compiled by Eleazar Le Marchant and
Pierre Careye between the years 1728 and 1743.

“Le 26me Juillet 1594, pardevant Louis de Vick, baillif, et Messrs.
Nicholas Martin, sen., Guillaume de Beauvoir, André Henry, Jean Andros,
Jean de Sausmarez, Pierre de Beauvoir, Pierre Careye, William le
Marchant, Nicholas Martin, jun., and François Allez, jurez.

“Marie Martin, alias Salmon, fille Osmond, deubment atteinte et
convaincue d’avoir usé d’Art de Sorcelerie, dont elle a empoisonné,
tourmenté et fait mourir jouxte sa propre et volontaire confession,
Anne Careye[366], fem͠e de John de Vick, la fem͠e de Pierre Vodin,
l’enfant de son oncle, Thomas Breton, l’enfant de John Briart, et deux
enfants à Collas Nouell, et plusieurs bestes et autres maux, par elle
commis par le dit art de Sorcelerie, comme apparoist par les procédures
et enquestes sur ce passées. Est ajugée d’être aujourd’huy brulée
tant que son corps soit reduit en cendres, et ses biens, meubles, et
héritages confisquées à la Majesté de la Royne, et est com͠andé aux
officiers de sa Majesté de voir la ditte execution être faitte, ainsi
qu’ils en voudront répondre: et est après avoir en sur ceu l’advis et
opinion de Henri de Beauvoir et John Effart, jurez.”

There are many other instances, which, did space permit, I could
mention, of belief in witches and wizards, extending even down to
the present day. Animals dying from no visible cause, bread turned
sour and uneatable, wounds mysteriously inflicted and incurable by
physicians, but at once healed by crossing running water, a woman sent
mad by smelling a harmless-looking bouquet of flowers, and so on. Many
involving the names of persons still living. For underneath the veneer
of civilisation and education found in the island are the same old
beliefs and superstitions, as deeply cherished and ingrained as they
were in the days of Queen Elizabeth--“Plus ça change, plus c’est la
même chose.”

In conclusion, I will give a few extracts respecting witchcraft from
Elie Brevint’s note book. Elie Brevint was born in 1586, became
minister of Sark in 1612, and died in 1674.

“Quelques uns tesmoignent avoir veu une nuée se lever d’Erm, et de là
s’en aller sur le dongeon du Chasteau Cornet, où un certain Maugier
depuis bruslé pour sortiléges estoit lors prisonnier, et ladite nuée
s’estre dissipée et esvanouie sur le dit Chasteau, et que les bateaux
pescheurs sur lesquels elle avoit passé avoyent cuide renversés.…”

“Histoire d’un juge, qui ne croyoit point qu’il y eust de sorciers; il
advint qu’il luy mourut soudain plusieurs vaches et brebis. Pourtant
depuis cette perte, laquelle il imputoit à belles personnes, il fist
rigoureuse justice de sorciers.…”

“On dit que quelqu’un va à la graine de Feugère[367] quand par un
livre de magie, ou par quelque autre voye il a communication avec le
Diable, qui luy baille des poudres pour attenter et commettre diverses
meschancetés, comme ouvrir serrures, violer femme et fille, &c., et
faut bailler à ce m͠re pour ces drogues une beste vive, comme chien ou
chat, autrement il poursuit N. pour le faire mourir.”

[362] The following is an abbreviated pedigree of the Fautrat family,
showing what close connections there were between the leading families
in Guernsey and Jersey before the wars of the Commonwealth, when--the
islands taking different sides--was established a feud which has never
properly been healed.

                      PIERRE FAUTRAT  = … LE VAVASSEUR
                     Took the oath of |
                    allegiance to the |
                    King of England   |
                    in Jersey the 19th|
                    of October, 1545. |
             Cardin Fautrat = Jenette Coquerel
                 Settled in | Daughter and heiress
                 Guernsey.  | of Thomas Coquerel of
                            | Guernsey and Jersey, and of
                            | Jeanne de Vic, daughter
                            | of Laurence de Vic
                            | of Guernsey.
             |                       |  |  |  |           |
           Jean = Bertranne Estur  Other Children.    Hellier =(1) Marthe
     Jurat and  | Daughter of                       Rector of | Baudouin
  Lieut.-Bailiff| Nicholas Estur                 St. Martin’s | Daughter
   of the Royal | widow of                            Jersey. | and heiress
       Court of | André Monamy.                 Married first | of the Rev.
      Guernsey. |                              May 6th, 1576, | Nicolas
     Married in |                                   secondly  | Baudouin
   April, 1592. |                               October 23rd, | first
    Buried Feb. |                               1623. Died in | Protestant
     7th, 1644. |                                       1652. | Rector of
   +------------+-------+--------------------------+--+--+    | St. Peter
   |                    |                          |  |  |    | Port, and
  Jean =(1) Marie de  Cardin = Elizabeth Careye     Other     | of Marie
       | Beauvoir.    Settled| Daughter of        Children    | daughter
       Ʌ              in     | Nicholas,                      | and heiress
       |(2) Elizabeth London.| Seigneur of                    | of the Rev.
       | Fondan              | Blanchelande                   | Guillaume
       | daughter and        | and Marthe                     | Maurice,
       | heiress of          | De Soulemont.                  | Seigneur
       | Matthew             |                                | de la
       | Fondan,          Elizabeth Fautrat                   | Ripaudière
       | Seigneur de           =                              | and first
       | Handois,          Thomas Simon                       | Protestant
       | Jersey, and of    the celebrated                     | Rector of
       | Elizabeth         engraver and                       | St.
       | Le Marchant.      medallist temp.                    | Helier’s,
       +---+------------+  Charles I. & II.                   | Jersey.
           |            |                                     |(2) Susanne
         Anne      Elizabeth                                  | Romeril,
           =            =                                     | widow of
        William    Guillaume                                  | the Rev.
      Le Marchant  De Beauvoir,                               | Jean Pinel.
   de l’Hyvreuse.  du Hommet.     +---------------------------+----+--+--+
           |                      |                                |  |  |
         Issue.     O. S. P.    Daniel =(1) Elizabeth Martin        Other
                             Rector of | Daughter and heiress     Children.
                           Torteval in | of Nicholas Martin of
                         1613, and St. | the Bosq and Marie
                         Peter Port in | Hamelin.
                         1634. Married |(2) Marie Germain
                   first, 2nd October, | widow of Pierre Careye.
                     1612, secondly in |
                   1636. Died in 1652. |
                                    |  |  |  |

[363] The Court House used to be situated in the Plaiderie before the
present Court House was built.

“About two centuries ago, public justice was administered in a
building, which, like those still used in many country towns in
England, was both Corn Market and Court House, which by a special
ordinance was to be cleared by noon that the Market might commence; and
after that a Court House was erected near Pollet Street, near a place
called from the circumstance “La Plaiderie.” This, however, was soon
found too small and inconvenient, and the present building was erected
in 1799, at the expense of about £7000, paid by the States, and further
improved in 1822.”--Redstone’s _Guernsey and Jersey Guide_, 2nd Edition
1844, p. 13.

[364] Collected by Miss E. Le Pelley in 1896.

[365] “I have heard of too many instances of this power of giving
vermin being exercised to admit of doubt. The surprising part is the
removal. I have not heard of a case for more than thirty years.”--_Note
by John de Garis, Esq., of Les Rouvêts._

[366] John de Vick, King’s Procureur, son of Richard, married first,
the 15th of March, 1579, Anne Careye, daughter of Nicholas Careye,
Seigneur of Blanchelande, and Collette de la Marche. I do not know
the date of her death, but he married, secondly, December 15th, 1594,
Elizabeth Pageot, and their son, Sir Henry de Vic, Knight, Baronet,
and Chancellor of the Garter, was one of the most distinguished
Guernseymen in our history. He was buried in Westminster Abbey the 24th
of November, 1672.

[367] Graine de Feugère (fougère) = Fern seed.

APPENDIX C. Charms and Spells.

    Referred to on page 421.

A very old lady remembers, when a child, seeing some small bits of
stick, shaped like slate-pencils, which old women wore sewn up in their
stays as charms against witchcraft, on the homœopathic principle, for
they called them “_Des Bouais de Helier Mouton_,” Helier Mouton being
himself a noted sorcerer.

When I mentioned this to Sir Edgar he told me that a hundred years ago
a man named Colin Haussin was put in the stocks for witchcraft and
using “_des petits bouais_.”

The following charms, etc., were collected for me in 1896-7, as still
current in the parish of St. Pierre-du-Bois, by Miss E. Le Pelley.


If a girl wishes to know whom she will marry, on the eve of St. Thomas’
Day she puts her shoes in the form of a T under her bed, and says, in
getting in:--

    _“Saint Thomas, Saint Thomas,_
    _Le plus court, le plus bas,_
    _Fais moi voir en m’endormant_
    _Celui qui sera mon amant,_
    _Et le pays, et la contrée._
    _Où il fait sa demeurée,_
    _Et le métier qu’il sait faire._
    _Devant moi qu’il vienne faire._
    _Qu’il soit beau ou qu’il soit laid_
    _Tel qu’il sera je l’aimerai._
    _Saint Thomas, fait moi la grâce_
    _Que je le voie, que je l’embrasse.”_
                       _“Ainsi soit il.”_


A girl makes a dumb cake and puts it on a gridiron over the fire, and
watches it in silence between twelve and one o’clock at night, during
which time the girl’s future husband arrives and turns the cake. The
narrator tried this, and when the cake was cooked on one side she heard
someone walking clumsily upstairs. She was so frightened that she threw
the cake away and got into her mother’s bed and held tight on to her!
Years afterwards she married and often recognised her husband’s step
as the one she heard that Midsummer Eve. She very much repented having
done it, for she said it gives the poor man so much suffering being
under the charm.

Another charm for Midsummer Eve is this:--If a girl wishes to know the
profession of her future husband she must melt some lead in an iron
spoon between twelve and one o’clock at night, and pour it in a tumbler
of cold water, and then watch the shapes it takes, such as a sword
would denote that he would be a soldier, an anchor a sailor, etc., etc.
Should she wish to know whether she is to be married or not, she must
kill two pigeons, take out their hearts and roast them on skewers, also
between twelve and one o’clock. If she is to be married she will see
her intended, if she is not to be, some men will bring in a coffin.
There must be perfect silence the whole time. It once happened that, as
a girl was doing it, a coffin appeared. She screamed aloud, and the men
came up to her and began to put her in the coffin. But fortunately for
her she fainted, and was quiet, and the men with the coffin could go
away as they came.

Another charm against witchcraft is “_vif argent_” or quicksilver, but
camphor, white salt, or heather, are all good. The charm must be put
in a small cotton or linen bag, two inches long by one and a half inch
wide, and attached by a ribbon round the neck, so that the charm rests
above the heart. Red salt is used by witches in their incantations.

The following written charm was lent me to copy by Mr. Guille, one
of the founders of the Guille-Allès Library. It is in the form of a
letter, and he told me, when he was a boy, a copy existed in almost all
the old Guernsey farm houses.[368] I have transcribed it verbatim, with
all its faults of spelling, punctuation, etc.


“Trouvé depuis peut par un Etudians au pied d’un Crusifix Miraculeux de
la Ville d’Arrase Ecritte en Lettres d’Or de la propre main de notre
Sauveur et Redempteur Jesus Christ.


Les Dimanches vous ne ferez aucune œuvre n’y travail sur peine d’être
maudits de Moy. Vous yrez à l’Eglise et priez Dieu qu’il vous fasse
Misericorde et qu’il vous pardonne vos pêchés. Je vous ai donné six
jours de la semaine pour travaille, et au septième me servir et vous
Reposer ayant entendu le Service divin. Vous ferez la charité et vous
donnerez de vos biens aux pauvres et vos champs seront fertille et
vous serez remplis de Benediction. Au contraire si vous ne croyez à
la presente l’Ettre Malediction viendra sur vous et sur vos Enfants,
et vos Bestiaux seront maudits, je vous envoierez Guerre, Peste, et
Famine et Douleur, et l’Angoisse de Cœur, et pour Marque de ma juste
colère et dure Vengeance vous voirez signes prodigieux dans les Astres
et Elements avec grands tremblements de Terre. Vous jeunerez cinq
Vendredis en l’honneur des Cinq Plaies qui iai souffert pour vous
sauver sur l’Arbre de la Croix. Vous donnerez cette l’Ettre sans aucun
interêt que celuy de ma Gloire. Ceux qui murmuront sur cette L’Ettre
seront aussy maudits et confis; qui la tiendra dans la maison sans la
publier sera aussy maudits au Jour Terrible Epouvantable du Jugement.
Mais s’y vous gardez mes comandements et pareillement ceux de ma Sainte
Eglise faisant une veritable penitence vous aurez la Vie Eternelle.
Celuy qui la lira ou publiera ycelle est écrite de Ma Sacré Main et
dictes de Ma Sacrée Bouche. S’il a com͠is autant de Pêchés qu’il y a de
Jours en l’an ils luy seront Pardonnés étant veritablement constrit,
se confaisant, et satisfaisant au prochain. Sy on luy a fait tort. Sy
vous ne croyez Pieusement en Ycelle Lettre je vous envoirez des Bestes
Monstreuses qui dèvoreront vous et votres Enfants. Bienheureux sera
celuy qui prendra une copie de cette L’Ettre, qui la portera sur Soi,
qui la lira, ou fera lire ou la gardera en sa Maison. Jamais aucun Feu
Malin, on autre feu ni foudre ne la touchera. Et toutes Feme enceinte
qui sur Elle qui la lira ou fera lire en Bonne intention etant en
Travail d’Enfans sera incontinent heureusement délivré. Gardez mes
comandements et ceux de Ma Sainte Église Catolique, et vous serez bien

Avec Aprobation et Permission de Superieur de la Ville d’Arrase.

Nous Vicaire Generale certifions avoir lut la presente Copie et nous
n’avons rien vus qu’il ne soit Utile et Capable de faire réussir le
Pêcheur dans la Voie du Salut.”


I will conclude by giving an instance of “Folk Medicine” which was sent
me the other day by one of the most prominent of our local physicians.

“As you are interested in Guernsey Folk-Lore I send you the following:--

A patient of mine at St. Pierre-du-Bois suffered from an affection of
the brain which has led to total loss of sight. It was supposed by the
wise people around her that she was suffering from “Mal Volant,” so a
black fowl was waved three times round her head on three successive
days, to the accompaniment of a prayer (? incantation). On the ninth
day the fowl ought to have died and the woman recovered.--As this did
not happen they concluded that their diagnosis was wrong!


Melrose, Guernsey, December 11th, 1902.”

[368] In reading this proof Mr. de Garis notes that in his young days
he had sometimes heard of a “Lettre d’Or” but had never seen the


The sign (_a_) signifies that the reference may be found in the
Editor’s Appendix; (_n_) that it refers to an Editor’s Footnote.

    Adams Chapel, 270

    Aerial Journey, 336

    Agricultural Sayings, 535

    Air, National, of Guernsey (_a_), 575

    A la Claire Fontaine (_a_), 565

    Alarm of Pulias, 473

    Albert, Grand et Petit (_n_), 341-345

    Alderney, How the Men Sowed and what came of it, 428;
      Witch of (_n_), 601

    Alien Priories, 165

    Andriou, 143

    Ane, Chevaucherie d’ (_n_), 102

    Animal Transformation, 361

    Anne, Ste., 187

    Appendix (_a_), 547

    Apolline, Ste., 178, 181

    April, First of, 47

    Aquatic Customs, 59

    Archbishop Mauger, 444

    Armée d’Espagne (_a_), 558

    August, 55

    Autel de Dehus, 120;
      des Vardes, 112

    Bakers, Fairy, 214

    Baguette Divinatoire, 416

    Ballad of Ivon de Galles, 450, 551 (_a_)

    Baptism and Birth, 97

    Barboue, 233

    Barking, to prevent a Dog, 397

    Bees put in mourning, 420

    Belengier, Faeu, 226

    Belfroi, 176

    Belle Lizabeau (_n_), 147;
      Rose au Rosier Blanc (_a_), 563

    Beilleuse, Fontaine de la (_n_), 192

    Bête, Rue de la, 235;
      de la Tour, 235;
      de la Pendue, 248

    Betrothals and Weddings, 99

    Biche, Coin de la (_n_), 255

    Birth and Baptism, 97

    Bimerlue, Grand (_n_), 202

    Biting, to prevent a Dog, 397

    Bladebone, 380

    Blanchelande, 187

    Bleeding, to stop, 395

    Bôdet, Chasse à, 237

    Bœuf, Pied de, 153

    Books, Magic, 340-350

    Bonamy Family (_n_), 155, (_a_) 590

    Bonhomme Andrelot, 143

    Breton, Jean, 477

    Brian and Cadwalla, 441

    Brioc, St., 151, 166

    Briser la Hanse, 77

    Broken Kettle, 210

    Building of the Castel Church, 220

    Burial of the Drowned, 283

    Burn, to cure a, 395

    Caches, Les (_n_), 589

    Cadwalla and Brian, 441

    Careye, Mons. Nicholas, 526, 528

    Casquet, 381

    Castel Church, Building of, 220;
      Old Figure at, 129

    Cat, Pel de, 201

    Cat and the Fox, 437

    Catel, Cotillon de Raché, 437

    Catherine, Ste., 176

    Catte, Mahy de la, 367

    Catillon, 151

    Catiorioc, (Trepied), 121

    Caûbo, Witch of, 350

    Celts, 403

    Ceremonial Customs, 59

    Chaire de St. Bonit, 148

    Changeling, 219, 225

    Chapel or Chapelle.
      Adams, 270;
      Ste. Apolline, 178;
      Dom Hue, 182;
      Epine, 183;
      Frères, 175;
      Lorette, 177;
      On the site of St. Martin’s Parish School (_n_), 197;
      Lihou, 151, 166, 171, 173, 343;
      Pulias, 181;
      St. Clair, 186;
      St. Germain, 187;
      St. Jean de la Houguette, 187;
      St. Malière or St. Magloire, 185;
      Sepulcre, 176;
      Ydolle de St. Jacques, 177

    Charms, Spells, and Incantations, 387

    Chasse à Bôdet, 237

    Chevaucherie d’Ane (_n_), 102

    Chevauchée de St. Michel, 59

    Chien, Creux du, 225;
      Bôdu, 237

    Children’s Games, 484

    Chimquière, Gran’mère du (_n_), 134

    Christmas and New Year, 33

    Cimetières des Frères et des Sœurs, 175

    Civic Customs, 59

    Clair, St., 186

    Clameur de Haro (_a_), 576

    Claw, Devil’s, 157

    Coin de la Biche (_n_), 255

    Colin, Grand et Petit, 214

    Colliche, Pont, 160

    Consequences of a Love Spell, 412

    Convent of Cordeliers, 174

    Cotillon de Raché Catel, 437

    Coq Chante, Roque où le, 149

    Counter Charm for Witchcraft, 403

    “Counting Out” Rhymes, 485

    Countrywoman and the Witch, 338

    Cradle Songs, 494

    Creux, du chien, 225;
      des Fâïes, 123;
      des Fées, 137;
      Mahié, 138

    Cromlechs, 110

    Cromlech at L’Ancresse (_n_), 134

    Customs, Aquatic, 58;
      Civic, 59, 89;
      Ceremonial, 89-106;
      Festival, 19-58

    Cuckoo Rhymes, 504

    Cure of Burns, 395;
      Erysipelas, 402;
      Vives or Gripes in a Horse, 396;
      Warts and Wens, 400

    Dame au Voile, 372

    Dame, Notre, de Lihou, 171;
      de Marais, 166;
      de la Perrelle, 179

    Damèque, Seigneur de (_a_), 585

    Dancing Rhymes, 496

    Deaths and Funerals, 103

    De Garis Pedigree (_n_), 522

    Déhus, Autel de, 120

    Délaissance, 432

    De la Rue, Collas, 312

    Demons and Goblins, 226

    Demon and Duke Richard, 443

    Désorceleur, Désorcelleresse, 300

    Devil, The, 148, 154, 157, 159, 257;
      Recent Appearance of, 269;
      and the Tailor, 266

    Devil’s Claw, 157

    Diable, Pont du, 158

    Divining Rod, 414

    Dix Paroisses, Filles des (_n_), 508

    Dog, to prevent from Barking or Biting, 397

    Dole of Loaves at Le Laurier, 249

    Dom Hue, 182

    Drowned, Burial of the, 283

    Duck and the Miller, 365

    Duke Richard and the Demon, 443

    Easter, 46

    Echelle, 245

    Editor’s Appendix (_a_), 546

    Eeling, Sand, 85

    Enchanted Horse, 252

    Enchantments, to avert, 394

    Epine, Chapelle de l’, 183

    Erysipelas, Cure of, 402

    Espagne, Armée d’ (_a_), 558

    Family, Bonamy (_n_), 155, (_a_) 590;
      de Garis (_n_), 522;
      Fautrart (_n_), 602;
      Henry (_n_), 179

    Faeu Belengier, 226

    Fâïes, Palette ès, 124;
      Creux des, 137;
      Tombé du Rouai des, 200

    Fairy Bakers, 214;
      Neighbours, 211

    Fairies, 123-129, 198-225;
      and the Midwife, 209;
      and the Nurse, 207;
      Invasion of Guernsey by the, 204

    Falla, Jean, and the Witches, 376

    Farm Servant and the Weeds, 438

    Fautrart Family (_n_), 602

    Festival Customs, 19

    Filles des Dix Paroisses (_n_), 508

    Figures, Old, at St. Martin’s and the Castel, 129

    Fingers, Names of, 488

    Fire, to stop a, 395

    First of April, 47;
      Sunday in Lent, 44

    Fishbone in the Throat, to Remove, 397

    Flleur de Jaon, 286

    Flouncing, 99

    Folk Medicine and Leech Craft, 422

    Fontaine de la Beilleuse (_n_), 192;
      A la Claire (_a_), 565;
      des Corbins, 191;
      Fleurie, 191;
      Gounebec, 191;
      Lesset, 191;
      Mal de la, 190;
      des Navets (_n_), 192;
      St. George, 190, 193, 197;
      St. Germain, 187;
      St. Martin, 191;
      Vaulaurent, 191

    Footprints on Stone, 151

    Fortune Telling, 385

    Fouaille, Lit de, 51

    Fox and the Cat, 437

    Frères, Cimetière and Chapelle des, 175;
      Pies, 355

    Friday, Good, 45

    Friquet du Gibet, 245

    Funerals and Deaths, 103

    Galles, Yvon de, 450, 551 (_a_)

    Game, to prevent a Sportsman killing, 396

    Galères, 245

    Gallows, Jersey, 430

    Games, Children’s, 484

    Garce, Grand’, 284

    Gaultier de la Salle (_a_), 237-247

    George, St., 166, 192, 194, 197

    Germain, St., 187

    Ghosts, 275, 281;
      of La Petite Porte (_a_), 581

    Ghost of Mr. Blondel (_a_), 578

    Gibet, des Fâïes, 128, (_n_), 222;
      Friquet du, 245

    Glaneur (_a_), 570

    Goblins and Demons, 226

    Good Friday, 45

    Grand Albert (_n_), 341-345;
      Bimerlue (_n_), 202;
      Colin, 214;
      Sarrazin, 119

    Grand’ Garce, 284;
      Querrue, 40

    Gran’mère du Chimquière (_n_), 134

    Grentmaisons, Spectre of, 247

    Gripes in a Horse, to cure, 396

    Guernseyman Three Centuries Ago, 23

    Guernsey National Air (_a_), 575;
      Songs and Ballads (_a_), 549;
      Lily, 221

    Hanse, Briser la, 77

    Haro, Clameur de (_a_), 576

    Hélène, Ste., 187

    Henry Pedigree (_n_), 179

    Herodias, 232

    Hidden Treasures, 228

    Historical Reminiscences, 441

    Hoc, 332

    Holy Chapels, 165;
      Island, 62;
      Wells, 188

    Horse, Enchanted, 252;
      with vives or gripes, to cure, 396

    How the Jerseymen attempted to carry off Guernsey, 429

    How the men of Alderney sowed, and what came of it, 428

    Incantations, 387

    Inscribed Stone, 151

    Invasion of Guernsey by the Fairies (_n_), 204

    Jacques, St., 176

    Jaon, Flleur de, 286

    Jean Breton, 477

    Jean Falla and the Witches, 376

    Jean, Gros Jean (_a_), 574

    Jean, St., 187

    Jersey Gallows, 430

    Jerseymen’s Attempt to carry off Guernsey, 429

    Jonquière, 51

    Journey, Aerial, 336

    Julien, St., 169

    Kettle, Broken, 210

    King’s Evil, 425

    La Moye Estate, Stone on (_n_), 121

    L’Ancresse, Cromlech at (_n_), 134

    Laurier, Dole of Loaves at Le, 249;
      Mon Beau, 496

    Legend of St. George’s Well, 194;
      of the Ville au Roi, 237

    Leech Craft, 422

    Le Marchant Family (_n_), 522

    Le Tocq, Jean, 459, 525, 552

    Lent, First Sunday in, 44

    L’Ettre Miraculeuse (_a_), 610

    Lihou, Chapel of, 146, 166;
      Notre Dame de, 171-173;
      Priory at, 342;
      Lady of, 151

    Lily, Guernsey, 221

    Lit de Fouâille, 51

    Lizabeau, Belle (_n_), 147

    Loaves, Dole of, at Le Laurier, 249

    Local Customs, Aquatic, Civic, 59-89;
      Ceremonial, 89-106;
      Festival, 19-58

    Local Nick-Names, 506-7

    Longue Roque, 124;
      Veille, 30

    Lorette, Chapelle de la, 177

    Lorreur, Le (_a_), 553

    Lovers’ Leap, 161

    Love Spells, 406;
      Consequences of, 412

    Love, to cause a Person to, 395

    Madeleine, La, 187

    Magic Books, 340-350

    Magloire, St., 185

    Mahié, Creux, 138

    Mahy de la Catte, 367

    Martin, St., 129

    Maidens at St. George’s Well, 195

    Mangi, Roque, 147

    Man in the Moon (_n_), 506;
      who was Bewitched, 373

    Marguerite s’est assise (_a_), 568

    Marais, Notre Dame des, 166

    Mares, Our Lady, 166

    Marie Pipet (_a_), 596

    Marie, Ste., 179

    Maritime Sayings, 538

    Mauger, Archbishop, 444

    Medicine, Folk, 422

    Mermaids, 223

    Meunière (_a_), 569

    Michel, St., 59, 160

    Midsummer, 50;
      in Jersey, 54;
      in Sark, 53;
      Eve (_a_), 609

    Midwife and the Fairies, 209

    Miller and the Duck, 365

    Miraculeuse, L’Ettre (_a_), 610

    Mon Beau Laurier, 496

    Moon, Man in the (_n_), 506

    Moulin de l’Echelle, 245

    Mourains, 288

    Mourioche (_n_), 252

    Moye Estate, Stone on La (_n_), 129

    Names of the Fingers, 488

    National Air of Guernsey (_a_), 575

    Natural Objects and their Superstitions, 137

    Neighbours, Fairy, 211

    New Year and Christmas, 93

    Nick-Names, 506-7

    Navets, Fontaine des (_n_), 192

    Notre Dame de Lihou, 171;
      des Marais, 166;
      de la Perrelle, 179;
      de la Roche (_n_), 147

    Nursery Rhymes and Children’s Games, 484

    Nurse and the Fairies, 207

    Old Figures in the Churchyards of St. Martin’s and the Castel, 129

    Old House at St. George (_a_), 580

    Ormering, 84

    Our Lady Mares, 166

    Palette ès Fâïes, 124

    Parish Nick-Names, 507

    Paroisses, Filles des Dix (_n_), 508

    Patris Family (_n_), 155, 590

    Peace, to make, 395

    Pedigrees, De Garis (_n_), 522;
      Fautrat (_n_), 602;
      Henry (_n_), 179

    Pel de Cat, 201

    Pendue, Bête de la, 248

    Perrelle, Notre Dame de la, 179

    Petit Albert (_n_), 341, 315;
      Bonhomme Andrelot, 143;
      Colin, 213

    Pied de Bœuf, 153

    Pies, Frères, 355

    Pipet, Marie (_a_), 596

    Piscatory and Maritime Sayings, 538

    Play, to win at, 395

    Poems, Secular (_n_), 563

    Pont Colliche, 160;
      du Diable, 158;
      St. Michel, 160

    Poor Box, Robber of the, 282

    Popular Notions about Fairies, 198;
      Sayings, 521

    Poulain de St. George, 192

    Pouquelaie, 110

    Prehistoric Monuments and their Superstitions, 109

    Preservative against Spells, 394

    Prior, Priory, alien, 165;
      of Lihou, 341, 343;
      of St. Michel du Valle, 171

    Prophetic Warnings and Ghosts, 275

    Proverbial stories, 432;
      Sayings, 529

    Proverbs, Weather Sayings, etc., 509

    Pulias, 181;
      Alarm of, 473

    Querrue, Grand’, 40

    Quick-Silver a Protection against Witchcraft, 397

    Qui Veut Ouïr (_a_), 566

    Raché Catel, Cotillon de, 437

    Raté, Le, 436

    Raven and the Witch (_a_) 602

    Recapture of Sark, 466

    Recent Appearance of the Devil, 269

    Reminiscences, Historical, 441

    Rhymes, “Counting Out,” 485;
      Nursery, 484;
      Dancing, 496;
      Cuckoo, 504

    Richard, Duke, and the Demon, 443

    Robber of the Poor Box, 282

    Roche, Notre Dame de la (_n_), 147

    Rocks and Stones, 143

    Rod, Divining, 414

    Roland, Mons., 526

    Roque, Balan, 113;
      Longue, 124;
      des Fâïes, 127;
      où le Coq Chante, 149, 214;
      qui Sonne, 114;
      Màngi, 147;

    Rouai des Fâïes, Tombeau du, 200

    Roussé, Collas, 361

    Rue de la Bête (_n_), 235

    Sabbath (Witches’), 295

    Salle, Gaultier de la (_n_), 246

    Sanbule, 249

    Sand Eeling, 85

    Saint, or Sainte.--Anne, 187;
      Appolline, 179;
      Bonit, Chaire de, 148;
      Brioc, Chapel of, 166;
      Lady of, 151;
      Catherine, 176;
      Clair, 186;
      George, Chapel of, 166;
      Well of, 194;
      Poulain de, 192;
      Germain, 187;
      Hélène, 187;
      Jacques, Chapel of, 176;
      Julien, Hospice and Chapel of, 169;
      Jean de la Houguette, 187;
      Marie de la Perrelle, 179;
      Michel, Chevauchée de, 59;
      Pont, 160;
      Malière or Magloire, 185;
      Martin’s Churchyard, Old Figure of, 129;
      Thomas’ Day (_n_), 608

    Sark, Recapture of, 466;
      Fisherman and the Devil (_n_), 274;
      Games, 500;
      Wizard of (_a_), 598

    Sarrazin, Tombeau du Grand, 119;
      Château du Grand, 118

    Satan, Outwitted, 258;
      and the Schoolmaster, 260-263.

    Sayings, Agricultural, 535;
      Piscatory and Maritime, 538;
      Popular, 521;
      Proverbial, 529;
      Various, 539;
      Weather, 509

    Secular Poems (_n_), 563

    Seigneur de Damèque (_n_), 585;
      of St. George and the Désorcelleur, 405

    September, 56

    Sepulcre, Chapelle du, 176

    Shrove Tuesday, 43

    Sick Princess and the Wizard, 357

    Si j’avais le Chapeau (_a_), 571

    Sœurs, Cimetière des, 175

    Songs, Cradle, 494, and Ballads (_a_), 549

    Sorcerers, 287-393

    Spectre of Les Grentmaisons, 247

    Spectral Appearances, 234;
      Cortège, 252

    Spells, 387, 390, 394, 406, 412

    Stone on La Moye Estate (_n_), 129;
      Footprints on, 151;
      Inscribed, 150

    Stones and Rocks, 143

    Story Telling, 427

    Sundays, in Lent, 44;
      in May, 47

    Superstitions, Natural Objects, 137;
      Prehistoric Monuments, 109;
      Generally, 501

    Superstitious Belief and Practice, 107

    Tambours, Trois (_a_), 570

    Tchi-co, la Bête de la Tour, 235

    Throat, to remove a Fishbone from, 397

    Thomas, St. (_n_), 409

    Tombeau du Grand Sarrazin, 119

    Tombé du Rouai des Fâïes, 200

    Torteval Church, 197

    Torture, 325

    Tour, Bête de la, 235

    To Cure a Burn, 395;
      Stop Bleeding, 395;
      Make Peace, 395;
      Stop a Fire, 395;
      Cause a Person to Love You, 395;
      Cause a Sorcerer to show himself, 393;
      Win at Play, 395;
      Avert Spells and Enchantments, 394;
      Remove a Spell, 390;
      Prevent a Dog from Barking or Biting, 397;
      Remove a Fish Bone from the Throat, 397;
      Cure a Horse that has Vives or Gripes, 396;
      Prevent a Sportsman from killing Game, 396

    Transformation of Animals, 361

    Transformed Wizard, 370

    Treasures, Hidden, 228

    Trepied, or the Catioroc, 121

    Trials for Witchcraft, and Confessions of Witches, 306, 606 (_a_)

    Trois Tambours (_a_), 570

    Tuesday, Shrove, 43

    Two Witches and two Cats (_a_), 370

    Various Sayings, 539

    Varou, 231

    Veille, Longue, 30

    Venez, Peuple Fidèle (_a_), 573

    Ville au Roi, 237;
      ès Pies, 355

    Vives in a Horse, to cure, 396

    Voile, Dame au, 372

    Vraicing, 78

    Warnings and Ghosts, 275

    Warts, Cure of, 400

    Weather Proverbs (_n_), 545;
      Sayings, 509

    Weddings and Betrothals, 99

    Weeds and the Farm Servant, 438

    Wells, Holy, and Chapels, 165

    Wens, Cure of, 400

    Witch and the Raven (_n_), 602;
      of Alderney (_n_), 601;
      in Disguise, 360;
      of the Ville-ès-Pies, 355;
      of Caûbo, 350;
      Foresight, 382;
      and the White Thorn, 413;
      Sabbath, 295;
      and two Cats (_a_), 370

    Witchcraft, 289;
      Counter charm for, 403;
      Quicksilver, a Protection against, 397;
      Sabbath, 295, (_a_) 596

    When it Snows, 492

    White Witch, 300

    Whitsuntide, 48

    Win at Play, to, 395

    Wizards and Witches, 331;
      Death, 347;
      on the West Coast, 346;
      Transformed, 370;
      and the Sick Princess, 357;
      of Sark (_a_), 598

    Yvon de Galles, 450, 551 (_a_)

    Ydolle de St. Jacques, 177


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Guernsey Folk Lore - a collection of popular superstitions, legendary tales, - peculiar customs, proverbs, weather sayings, etc., of the - people of that island" ***

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