My grandfather and grandmother, John and Hassie Gillentine and children, circa @ 1920
My father, Voy Rivers Gillentine, standing, second from the right end
Gillentine: The Gillentines were Christ-loving people and were dedicated French Catholics when they lived in that country during the French Revolution. At the rebirth of the beheading apparatus, promoted by a well-respected physician, Dr. Joseph Guillotine, things didn't go too well for the family name, so off to England they went! There they became followers of the Church of England and brought their religious beliefs with them, when in the 17th century they landed in King William County, VA.
In Virginia they remained true to their Anglican faith, and when George Washington called for arms to free the colonies from all enemies, the only Guillotine eligible to go, wouldn't. He was/is called the family draft-dodger!! (Hey, we all have skeletons in our closets!!) As time went along, and I assume out of embarrassment of that association, the French spelling of the family name Guillotine was changed to the English spelling of Gillentine, of which it is known today.
Dr. Guillotine was President of The Chamber of the Province in 1775, founder of the French Academy of Medicine, and Deputy to the French Assembly in 1789. On October 11, 1789, Dr. Guillotine submitted a proposal to the Assembly debate on the Penal Code, recommending "that death, without the accompaniment of torture, and by means of decapitation, should become the sole and standard punishment in France". A fellow physician, Antoine Louis, took the first practical steps towards the creation of the guillotine in France, in keeping with Dr. Guillotine's proposal. It was called "Louison" or "Louisette", but the press preferred to call it the "guillotine" as the sound of that word "had a nicer ring" to it. It is estimated that over 40,000 people died under "Madame Guillotine". I was surprised to see that it's last official use was on September 10, 1977 in Marseilles, France. I thought it became obsolete after the French Revolution!
This is a "G"ory "G"eneology of our family name, but none-the-less, I've always felt a connection to my French heritage. I am of the 28th "G"eneration of the family recorded in the exodus of England to VA. I am certain that as a physician, Dr. Guillotine felt that this method of death was perhaps the most humane. The compassionate gene still remains prominent in the "G"illentine bloodline today. Sadly, although he did not invent it, Dr. Guillotine's name will forever be attached to it. During the Revolution, the guillotine was used only on people with a noble status, all others were drawn and quartered by a horse, burned at the stake, or beheaded with a sword. I shudder to think about the device and pray that it is never used again!
I am participating with Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday. You can click on her blog button located on my side bar. Please head (no pun intended) on over there and read all the other great "G" words for today.
"Voices from the Past" by Faye Witt Moreland (family historian and author)