ÉLIE, JACQUES, fifth official executioner in Canada; b. c. 1682 in the village of Parcoul, in the province of Saintonge, son of Jean Helie and Marie-Joseph Marechal; d. 23 May 1710 on the shores of the Duchesne River, in the seigneury of Deschaillons.
Élie arrived in New France when quite young and lived first in Acadia, where he was condemned to death at Port-Royal. As there was no executioner in Acadia, he was sent to Quebec to be hanged. In November 1705 he was in the prison of the Conciergerie when the Conseil Souverain asked him to fill the office of hangman, Canada having been without an executioner for two years. He accepted on the condition that his life be spared.
Jacques Élie was a rogue of the worst sort, and as soon as he was released he started stealing again and continued to do so despite frequent stays in prison.
On 4 Oct. 1707 he married Marie-Joseph Maréchal at Quebec. She bore him two sons. Provoked beyond measure by the insults that the inhabitants of Quebec heaped upon them, the Élies decided to flee to New England. They entrusted their fate to the Pawnee Nicolas, who undertook to serve as their guide. But after one day’s travelling, during the night of 22–23 May 1710, the Pawnee attacked them while they slept. He murdered Jacques and his elder son, seriously injured his wife and younger son, robbed them, and fled. The hangman and his son were buried on the site of the crime. His wife and other son died at Quebec on 2 July as a result of their injuries.
AHDQ, Registres des malades, 1709–12. AJQ, Registre d’état civil de Notre-Dame de Québec. AQ, NF, Coll. de pièces jud. et not., 377, 447; NF, Dossiers du Cons. sup., Mat. crim., III, 193ff. Jug. et délib., V, 192. André Lachance, Le bourreau au Canada sous le régime français (SHQ Cahiers d’histoire, XVIII, 1966), 67–72. Marcel Trudel, L’esclavage au Canada français; histoire et conditions de l’esclavage (Québec, 1960), 225.
Revisions based on:
Bibliothèque et Arch. Nationales du Québec, Centre d’arch. de Québec, CE301-S1, 4 oct. 1707; TP1, S777, D133; ZQ6-S116, 2 juill. 1710.