Thursday, March 4, 2010

"G" is for Guillotine/Gillentine

Bonjour from Campagne Maison

"The Tale of Two Names"

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. Joseph Ignance Guillotine
1738-1821

Guillotine: A common misconception associated with Dr. Joseph Guillotine was that he was responsible for the creation of the guillotine. BUT, history dates back to the use of a beheading or decapitation design introduced on January 4, 1307 in Merton, Ireland. In the 1400's, the "Halifax Gibbet" was used with a record of the last execution by use of the machine in 1648 in Halifax, England. In 1564, "The Maiden", which was fashioned after the "Halifax Gibbet" was used in Scotland.

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.
I am also linking this post back to Amy at http://keepingupwiththeshultzfamily.blogspot.com/
Thank you Amy for the invitation to join in your for "FAMILY FRIDAYS" today!

Thanks for stopping by the farmhouse for a visit today. We love having company.

Au revoir,

www.freemasonry.com

"Voices from the Past" by Faye Witt Moreland (family historian and author)

30 comments:

Short and Sweet said...

Thank you for the detailed history lesson. Being a retired teacher, I really enjoy knowing the derivation of words.

My name is PJ. said...

I had no idea! This was probably the most unique G I've read all morning!
There are so many reasons last names change in spelling.....this was a good one!!

Vicki said...

Wow, this is Great. And close to home with me. Your post is so interesting. Isn't it fun finding out about family things, you learn so much. You commented on my G post too, thanks. When you have a minute, go back and see my letter F post..there are some similarities there. Then go see my other blog about family stuff. The link is in the G post. This was a great read, thanks!

Sea Witch said...

Jacque this is a fantastic post. Marvelous history lesson and a little insight into your family history as well. Has me thinking it might be fun to share my French roots at some future date. Love that your name is attached to the famous Guillotine. This post was soooooo worth the wait. Can't wait to see what you have for "H". Sea Witch

Julie Schuler said...

Awesome post!

Amy said...

Wow what a great post. I know it has to deal with the letter "G" but if you would like on Friday I host along with another blogger a Family Friday this would be great to share it you want to stop by..

Have a great day..

Anonymous said...

Duh, I never put the two together. I see the French thing now.

Riet said...

What an interesting post with the letter G. Really Great

easternsparkle said...

That's really interesting! Thanks for sharing your family history with us!

laterg8r said...

tfs the history :D

mrs. c said...

Wow I loved learning about the history of the Guillotine/Gillentine. I will share this with my hubby because he is really into history and family trees.

WendyBee said...

What a great post! Fascinating! Some family names are a little more challenging to carry around than others. My family name was changed a few generations ago because of the unflattering connotations it had in American English. "What's in a name?" I maintain that only he or she who bears it can tell you!
And BTW, your father was one adorable garcon.
WendyBee

Jenny said...

Good Gracious. What an intriquing G post.

I am fascinated by your families history and the history of the guillotine at the same time.

I am going to impress my husband later with some of this Great information.

A+

Christy said...

wow..what great information!

Jo said...

okay that was really interesting ... and you are so fortunate to have so much family history detailed!

Maggie B said...

How fascinating, I've learned so much today and what a wonderful family history you have.
au revoir.
BTW the word verification is "matin", morning in French, very apt!
~Maggie~

SquirrelQueen said...

I am very interested in Genealogy and history so I really enjoy your post.

Amy said...

I am so glad you came by today and shared this great post with everyone. I hope you enjoy your time at "Family Fridays"

Have a great weekend....

Amy said...

I am now following your blog. I can't wait to read more..

william said...

hi there william here from family friday, wow this was superb friend, I totally enjoyed this post :)

Viki said...

Wow, this was totally cool. Thanks for sharing.

Melinda Cornish said...

I like that you know so much about your family....I probably wouldve changed the last name to the english version too!

Peterson Family said...

What a fabulous post! I love stuff like that! I am a genealogy nut and love, love, love that you have put so much into researching and knowing about your family! My great-great-great grandmother's family had changed their spelling of their last name when they came to the US from Germany and until I realized that I was hitting a brick wall with my research! But their last name wasn't as interesting as having Guillotine for a last name!

Robin said...

Hi There..Im from Family Friday as well..and I loved your post...what an interesting and historical bit of info...I would love to do what youve done with mine some day...Ill put it on my list of 2do's....Wow your kids have a great story to share with their class someday...you know the kids will love this one...as we all did..Have a great day..!

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

I enjoyed reading your family's history.

Catherine said...

What a great G post! You have a very interesting family history :) .

Steph said...

What an amazing family photo and fascinating family name story. It's neat to hear other people's stories and share in some of their heritage (including the transfer of compassion and heart from one generation to the next). Thank you for this post.

Amanda said...

Great story! I enjoyed the history lesson!

piggy said...

I'm glad you stopped by for a visit! I really enjoyed your post today and will look foward to visiting you again soon.
Hogs & Kisses

Sarah said...

Jacque, this is a great post. It's such fun to read about families and names. Sorry I'm late arriving. Life!