The Last Witch Trial in Guernsey

We were visited last week by John William Lake who provided us with this information about his great aunt by marriage.

Aimee Henrietta Lake (nee Queripal) was born in Guernsey on the 7th January 1888, to parents Alfred and Harriet.  She was working as a housekeeper in a boarding house in St Sampsons, Guenersey when she met Walter John Lake a stone mason and quarryman who was born in Jersey on the 9th January 1872.  They married at the Greffe in St Peter Port (The Greefe is the main registry office on the island).  They had six children of their own the last one dying at birth.  When they married Aimee already had a daughter from a previous relationship who was born when Aimee was just 14 years old, John adopted her when they married.  John served in the 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry in both the Boer War and the India Campaign which was said to effect him greatly.  In 1913, he left Guernsey for Canada which many had done before him with a view to give his family a better life, presumably expecting to send for his family later.  However, he was to enlist in 1914 in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force for World War One.  The next we find is that in 1918 he purchased land in Alberta but there are no further records of him anywhere.

The following is derived from the official court documents and records.
Meanwhile Aimee was still in Guernsey and on the 28th January 1914 she appeared in court before Bailiff William Carey and Mr G E Kinnersley accused of Fortune Telling, interpreting dreams and practising witchcraft between August 1913 an January 1914.  The main evidence against her was supplied from a Mrs Marie Outen.  According to Mrs Outen's testimony she had consulted Mrs Aimee Lake on the advice of a neighbour after the death of her cattle during the previous October and had been told by teacup divination that her husband (Jean Marie Francis Outen who died at the age of 61 on the 14th April 1912) had been a victim of sorcery and that she herself was under the same spell.  To counteract this, she had buried a number of "charmed packets" she had bought from Mrs Lake for £3 10 shillings.  She was also convinced that Mrs Lake had a little tin box full of "Little Devils" and she would soon follow her husband to the grave unless she made a substantial payment for the protection powers of the sorceress.

On inspection, it was found that the buried potion contained: "Poulson's Cornflour, Paisley Flour, Brown Starch, Salt and Baking Powder."  Offering to pay back the money Mrs Lake pleaded that people visited her of their own free will and were normally satisfied with the results they got when she read their teacups.

According to a local newspaper, Mrs Lake nearly collapsed when she was found guilty and sentenced to 8 days in prison (it was later revealed that she was 28 weeks pregnant).

Many thanks to John William Lake for bringing us this interesting account and for allowing us to re-produce it here.

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