Jacques Amy

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Witches at the stake

Jacques Amy (1500-1586)

Jacques Amy was the second son of Jean Amy of Rue de Grouville. While his elder brother Philippe and younger brother Thomas pursued a traditional route of parish service in Grouville, Jacques entered the church and eventually became Dean of Guernsey. His period in office came to a controversial end when he clashed with the island's Bailiff over his (Amy's) condemnation of three women as heretics.


He was ordained priest at Coutances on 17 September 1525 and in 1547 he became Rector of St Saviour's, Guernsey. History does not record why he chose to pursue his career in the sister island but he was sent there to become Dean. He fell in line with EdwardVI's Reformation policies but was happier to take a more orthodox line when Mary came to the throne.

Women accused

In 1556 three women, Catherine Massey and her daughters Guillemine and Perrotine were acquitted at the Royal Court of stealing pewter pots but were then handed over to the Ecclesiastical Court having been accused of "not being obedient to the commands of the Holy Church". This court condemned them as heretics without even seeing them. The Bailiff insisted that they were examined by Dean Amy, who questioned them in the Church's north aisle "concerning the Catholic Faith and the Seven Sacraments, the veneration of the Blessed Mary and the Saints, the efficacy of the MAss, and the ceremonies of the Church" and condemned them for giving answers which he described as "inane, dishonest, idle, empty and contrary to the Catholic Faith".

They were sent before the Ecclesiastical Court and condemned to be burnt.

New Queen

But shortly after their death Queen Elizabeth came to the throne and Amy was arrested, sacked as Dean and sent to England to be put on trial. He was pardoned and sent back to Guernsey to continue as Rector of St Saviour, but he was not reinstated as Dean.


A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey, G R Balleine.

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