Although the death sentence has been abolished in Jersey since 1986, and no executions were carried out after 1959, in earlier times hanging was a major factor in the administration of justice. The Kings Gallows stood on Le Mont Patibulaire to the west of the town, a place now known as Westmount, but previously as Le Mont ès Pendus or Gallows Hill.
Most hangings took place there, except of people who lived on the Manors of St Ouen, Rosel or Samarès, which had the right to have their own manorial gallows. In earlier years, however, it was common for convicted criminals to be put to death in Market Square, outside the Courthouse. These were very public spectacles, as recorded by diarist Jean Chevalier concerning the strangling and burning of a convicted witch in 1648:
- "Such crowds came to watch her execution that the Town was full. No one had seen so many people since the Prince came to Jersey. A multitude of men and women, young lads and girls, swarmed on the walls of the churchyard and slope of the Town Hill".
Four pillars stood on the 250-foot summit of Gallows Hill. Originally of wood, they were replaced in 1632 by granite. Executions took place on market day and were proclaimed in the parish churches the previous Sunday. Schoolmasters would be ordered to close their schools so that pupils could attend hangings as an education in the probable outcome of crime, and those crimes could be as trivial as the theft of property worth more than a shilling
The last time the King's Gallows were used was for the execution of Philippe Jolin in 1829 for killing his father. Subsequent executions were carried out at the Newgate Street prison. Jolin made a speech from the scaffold:
- "You see to what a state I have been brought by drink. Yes, it is the drink that has been the cause of all my troubles. I recognise the justice of my sentence."
A local newspaper pontificated:
- "Let us hope that the execution of this terrible sentence has touched the hearts of parents, and taught them a stern lesson that will lead them to control their children's actions with stricter vigilance. Pray God above all that the young people present may profit by it."