the popular poisoner of Marseilles

Things are looking up for the convict in France (1933)

image found here

“At any rate, they’re taken to where they’re going in cell-equipped autobuses now instead of in the old salad-basket cars which figured like extra cabooses on freight trains. The new penitentiary buses have just carried some two hundred lifers to La Rochelle, where they embarked for the island prison of St Martin-de-Re.

image found here

The stars of this year’s embarkation were the prisoner who poisoned two wives, Dr Laget, “freshly shaven, attired in tortoiseshell glasses, golf suit, cap of pearl grey, and yellow polka dot tie“; a strangler named Morveau, whose accomplice was a motorcycle acrobat named the Death-Defier, since dead of tuberculosis; young Davin, a rich moron who murdered an American playboy pal for fun and pocket money; a hot-tempered Frenchman who killed a motorcyclist for passing too close to him and a multitude of arch-crooks, killers and underworld rabble.

image found here

Fortune’s fool was there too, a murderer named Boyer who was to have been executed the morning after an assassin killed France’s President Paul Doumer. On the technicality that Boyer thus lost his last-minute chance of pardon, his sentence was automatically commuted to life imprisonment.

assassination of Paul Doumer found here

Convicts from the Devil’s Island bagne have been known to escape not singly but in groups on ten or fifteen, rather like tropical walking clubs. Dr Bougrat, one of the most popular poisoners of Marseilles, recently fled from his cell to Caracas, where he now enjoys a flourishing general practice, though nose and throat were his original specialty.

Dr Bougrat found here

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45 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. tattoo artistry has come a long way since the 30’s…. some of those chests look like jackson pollak portrait splatters!

    • I find the old tattoos really fascinating

  2. I consider most rich men to be morons. Mostly because it makes me feel better, since I always end up dating the poor ones.

    • I don’t think I know too many rich people, morons or otherwise

  3. Some pretty fascinating tattoos from the thirties there. BTW, thanks for the link to that blog “Iconic Photos”. I love history and that is one very fascinating blog.

    • you’re welcome G

  4. The tats certainly aren’t on the par with Tupac, but how many of us are in the realm of Pac?

    • Hi Lisa, nice to see you here again

  5. I guess we should investigate the background of our doctors.

  6. i think i can relate to the hot-tempered Frenchman :p
    road fury

    • Ah yes, I remember your driving post

  7. I don’t think they should have called Davin a moron. That’s just mean.

  8. “a motorcycle acrobat named the Death-Defier, since dead of tuberculosis”
    I think that’s what they used to feature on “Attack Of The Show” as an (booming voice)
    “EPIC FAIL”!

    • I’ve never heard of that show

      • It was a computer and video game “geek” show on now-defunct G4TV, a network oriented towards all things computer. The show would scan the Net for various YouTube videos where people REALLY screwed up (like pulling a really horrific wipeout on a skateboard or somesuch), would pick the worst, and proclaim it an “Epic Fail”.

  9. A popular poisoner… Strychnine with a smile???

    • Maybe he threw a lot of dinner parties.

      • If so I bet people only were invited once!

      • Perhaps the first refusers were offered a second chance

  10. God, I’d hate to go to jail.

    • Me too Syncy. I find the thought terrifying.

      • I dunno, looks like St Martin-de-Re is a lovely little spot:

        The King

      • Hmmm… a lot of thought has gone into that design

  11. Oh, I don’t know, I could think of worse things than spending time on a French island and getting some more tattoos …

    • Spending time in Siberia perhaps?

  12. Interesting tatts…

    • I suppose they’d be unlikely to become obese on prison rations, but the graphics would look horrible if the skin stretched much.

      • They’d also look horrible if they lost too much weight. But I guess those thoughts don’t arise in the heat of a tattoo orgy

  13. A colleague went for a holiday recently on Île de Ré – I didn’t know this aspect of its history.

    • Photos of it now look really pretty, though a little too popular with tourists for my taste

  14. Were the guards not concentrating when 10 or 15 walked out at a time? Glad the prisoners got to travel in the lap of luxury…sounds like they deserved it?!

    • They were possibly concentrating on something else…. like poker or booze

  15. “…killed a motorcyclist for passing too close…”
    Road rage – to the extreme – back in the 1930s (or thereabouts).
    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

  16. Remarkable that groups of ten or fifteen managed to escape from Devil’s Island. It wasn’t so easy at Port Arthur, but then the sea round Port Arthur is said to be full of sharks, which would be a strong deterrent.

  17. I wonder how many people sport a raccoon eye tattoo?

  18. Of course, they escaped in groups because you needed the first 10 to become the “raft”…

  19. I was due to sail into the Iles de Re but stuff happened. I’ll just say the French Customs and Excise were charming …

    • Did they use velvet gloves?

      • The 30 something rather attractive young lady who questioned me for an hour could have been wearing gauntlets for all I cared … *sigh*

  20. I always imagine island prisons to be adorable and somewhat similar to being stranded. I mean, that’s obviously not real. But I still image it.

  21. This may interest you, if you not already know it :)

    • What a fabulous website! Thanks Mago

  22. I only have one question…How the hell is it…that an obviously British looking guy looks so British in photographs, yet so American when he moves to America? Off Topic I know..but, strange enough….
    Paul
    Love Ya Nurse Good Body!!!


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