Philippe Jolin

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Westmount, Mont Patibulaire, or Gallows Hill, where Philippe Jolin was the last man to be publicly executed in Jersey. The gallows were replaced by a summerhouse, which has since been demolished

The life and death of Philippe Jolin 1808-1829

Jolin is often said to be the last person to be hung in public in Jersey, but Joseph Phillip Le Brun, who was hanged in public on 11 August 1875 for the murder of his sister, appears to have a stronger claim to this dubious honour.

Early life

Phillippe George Jolin was born in 1808 in St Helier, his parents were Philippe Jolin (1778-1829) and Elizabeth Turner, (1780- ) both of St Helier. Philippe’s Father was a violent man, a heavy drinker of cider, and as a consequence, suffered from poor health, and gout, Philippe’s mother often did not give their only son food to eat, which might have been because all the money was spent on alcohol. Often his neighbour, Margret Collas (1769- ) from the goodness of her heart would give Philippe George some food to eat, having been witness to the cruel conditions he lived in. Philippe’s father would often beat him about the head with an iron bar, a hammer, or anything else he could find, the intent was to kill, however Philippe always survived.

When Philippe was about eight years old, he found a shotgun, and in a fit of suicidal rage he turned it on himself, Philip Jeune (1795- ) a lodger living in his house saw this and intervened.

Tired of his cruel treatment by his father, Philippe joined the Royal Navy, at about the age of 14, and served on the brig Pelican. In 1823 Phillippe was in Buenos Ayres (as it was spelt then) and his friend and fellow crew member, Philip Aubin (1797- ) saw on the occasions that when he was drunk, or upset, he wanted to throw himself into the sea, and said that he should not care about dying, and that he did not wish to see his parents again.

Despite his hardships, generally, Philippe was a mild mannered boy, and he cared about his fellow man. On 7 January 1825, a cutter named Fanny had sailed from St Malo in France, and a Captain Destouches soon found himself shipwrecked on Les Buits, rocks near Elizabeth Castle. Philippe, along with five other young men, risked death by bravely setting out in a small boat to save the survivors from a watery grave. For saving the lives of the poor souls who had found themselves shipwrecked, he received on 2 May 1825, from the Greffier, an award for bravery from the States of Jersey.

Captain Philip Manuel, (1792- ) commander of HMS Pelican, said that Philippe had given up drinking with the other boys on the vessel, and thereafter he had conducted himself well. He also knew that Philippe had a rough life at the hands of his father, which was evidenced by many marks and scars on Philippe’s head. In 1827 he entered his home and noticed his father putting down a bloodied iron bar which he has just used to beat Philippe. The boy was covered in blood and they carried him to bed to recover. The father refused to help. On other occasions the captain had seen Philippe’s father kick his son cruelly in different parts of the body.

Such was the public interest in the event that a 24-page brochure was published after the hanging by the Chronique de Jersey

The murder

On the fateful day of 7 September 1829 Philippe put an end to all the violence meted out by his aggressive father. That Monday afternoon Philippe and his father were having another argument, and a tearful Philippe was chased out of the house, his father, having just beat him. "I shall catch you again" yelled Philippe "And I shall catch you again; you are not yet free" yelled his father. His father then yelled at him to come back, and Philippe refused, implying that if he came back it would be the death of one of them. Philippe ran down a lane, and down some steps and found a pile of bricks, then he grabbed a brick, broke it in two and ran back toward his father, who was standing in the alleyway leading toward his house. Two onlookers Thomas Bertram (15) and Jane Le Maistre (30), on seeing the argument, begged him not to throw the bricks, Philippe, who was sick of the years of abuse from his father said to the onlookers “he has threatened me severely” and “if you do not get out of my way I shall throw them at you!” He then threw the pieces of brick. Jane had to duck to avoid the bricks hurtling toward his father, one brick missed, but the other flew squarely toward his head, Philippe Jolin senior had been hit. The brick impacted his skull with such violence that he fell immediately to the ground. “Ramassez-vous! - Now pick yourself up!” yelled Philippe to his father, but there was no answer, so he picked up an apple, took a bite and with a certain sang froid walked casually to the Quay of St Helier.

Earlier that day, before 8 am, Philippe went to the shop of Philip Binet (42) to start work. However, his employer told Philippe to go home as he was drunk, at about 2 o’clock he returned to the shop, and there he met Edward Le Feuvr, (28), who also worked at the shop. Philippe told Edward that his father had just beaten him, and that he had just knocked him down, that he was glad of it, and that he wished his father was dead. Edward observed that when Philippe got drunk and did not know what he did, he was like a person deranged and beside himself. Philippe slept inside the shop till a quarter past three o'clock. Then his employer returned and learned that he had knocked his father down; he then told the him that he was a very wicked fellow, and that instead of setting himself to work he ought to go and fetch a doctor, thereafter Philippe began to shed tears.

Meanwhile at the house, Mr Jolin Senior, was being attended to by surgeon Edward Thompson Dickson (37). When he first saw him he was fainting from a great loss of blood, he dressed the wound, and about a quarter of an hour afterwards Mr Jolin partially recovered his senses. Edward then went away, and returned about 30 or 40 minutes later, and found him dead.

Centenier Philip Winter Nicolle (28), after being informed about 4 o'clock, by Surgeon Dickenson that Mr. Philippe Jolin had died, a short while afterwards he found a cool and perfectly sober Philippe, down at the quay, and seized him by the collar, accusing him of having killed his own father. Philippe replied that he could not help doing so. Centenier Nicolle told him that his conduct might lead to the gallows, Philippe began to shed tears, Centenier Nicole took him as prisoner, and lead him to gaol and locked him in a cell, and informed the King's Procureur of the circumstance, so that an inquest be held on the body of the deceased Mr Jolin.

At the inquest, William Mc Donal, surgeon of the Royal Navy (40) and Surgeon Dickenson, opened Mr Jolins’ head and found a considerable quantity of coagulated blood upon the brain, which had been the immediate cause of death. This haemorrhage had unquestionably been caused by the blow to the head. Surgeon Dickenson knew the deceased for many years, and before this incident he thought Mr Jolins’ state of health had been poor, and he did not think he could have lived long regardless.

The grand inquest

Royal Court, Jersey, Monday 28 September Grand Inquest upon Philip Jolin for the murder of his father

Letter to Th de Quetteville, Constable of St Helier (Translated from the French)

"Sir, - On Monday, the 7th instant, about four o'clock in the afternoon. I was informed that Mr Philip Jolin had expired some moments before, in consequence of wounds and divers severe injuries which he had reserved from his son, Philip Jolin, Jun. The latter having gone into his father's house between one and two o'clock in the afternoon, came out again soon after in a violent manner, followed by the deceased, who required him to return, which he refused to do so, saying, that if he returned, death would be the consequence to one or other of them, and that either his father would kill him, or he should kill his father. A few moments afterwards, (the father being then in the alley leading to the house), the son returned towards him armed with two bricks, or pieces of brick, which he hurled at him one after the other, in spite of the entreaties of a woman who was present on the spot. The deceased was hit by the last one thrown, which was pitched upon his head so as to produce a severe cut and knocked him down without the power of rising again. In consequence of the fatal result which has taken place, I have deemed it is my duty to apprehend the said Philip Jolin, and to make this report to you


"Ph W Nicolle, Centenier"

Evidence for both sides of the case was presented before the court. The jury then withdrew, and after half an hour returned, when the foreman, Mr Durell, pronounced that they were unanimously of the opinion that the prisoner was guilty of the crime of murder. The Bailiff then addressed Philippe, stating to him the verdict of the jury, and calling upon him if he had anything to say.

Mr Hammond, lawyer, then rose, and in a few words repeated part of his former arguments, stating that in the circumstances it should be the crime of manslaughter. He then added a sort of petition from the prisoner to the jury, stating "his contrition for the offence of which he had been unhappily, though unintentionally, guilty, and promising that if his life were spared, that his future conduct should atone for his past follies, of which he is now sensible". Mr Hammond then asked the Court to go before the King for His Majesty's gracious consideration and pardon.

The King's Procueur did not comply with the demand, as the trial of Philippe had unanimously found him guilty of murder. The Bailiff implied that if he were not found guilty of murder, and instead been found guilty of manslaughter, that Jolin would live, and it would not be kind to prolong the life of Philippe Jolin, as his life from here on in would be one of misery. However the court did incline to give the prisoner a fortnight to live.

The sentence

Philippe Jolin was then directed to go upon his knees, when the judges all put on their hats, a solemn silence prevailed and The Bailiff pronounced the sentence of the court, "That the prisoner be taken to the prison in irons, and delivered over to the public executioner; that he be from thence taken with a halter about his neck to the place of execution, and there be hanged by the neck till he is dead, and that his estate and effects be confiscated to the use of the crown, or of the lord of the manor."

The Bailiff then told Phillippe to make use of the short time he had to live to make peace with his offended God. He was thereafter lead away to Gaol.

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

The execution, Saturday 3 October 1829

The Deputy-Viscount and Denunciators Aubin and Godfray went to the prison at about a quarter past 12 noon. The Revs Gallichan and Hall appeared with the prisoner, who appeared serene. At a quarter past one o’clock, escorted by about 200 halberdiers, they left the prison and walked to Gallows Hill (Mont Patibulaire/Westmount), followed by a large crowd. Philippe Jolin's hanging was watched by a crowd estimated at being over 6,000 strong. He had first made a speech in a firm voice which included a reading from the Bible and a plea to the crowd for families to be tolerant of each other and to make efforts to learn their duty towards God and mankind.

At 4 o'clock the corpse was taken down from the gallows.

The Times of London noted that – He was the only child of parents both now no more.

The aftermath

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

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


This story is based on long and detailed reports in both French and English, from contemporary newspapers, including Chronique de Jersey and The Times of London, and other numerous sources which have brought this story to my attention.

By Kyle Lockwood, 19 June 2011 – (I am the fourth great grand nephew of the murdered Philippe Jolin.) --Designguy84 13:24, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

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