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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 13 Sep 2012 - 23:45

Tenth Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, November 7, 1888





The public seemed to take very little interest in today's earlier proceedings at the Commission. There was a very limited attendance when the Court, which is usually inconveniently crowded, was, as early as half-past ten o'clock, opened. Mr. Biggar was the only notable member of the Parnellite Party present when the Judges took their seats, but Mr. Macdonald, the burly manager of the Times, was in Court conversing with Mr. Soames and Sir Henry James at an unusually early hour.

The counsel for the Times are the Attorney-General (Sir Richard Webster), Sir Henry James, Q.C., Mr. W. Murphy, Q.C., and Mr. W. Graham, of the English Bar, with Mr. J. Atkinson, Q.C., and Mr. Ronan, of the Irish Bar. The counsel for the Irish Members are Sir Charles Russell, Q.C., Mr. Asquith, Mr. R.T. Reid, Q.C., Mr. F. Lockwood, Q.C., Mr. Lionel Hart, Mr. Arthur Russell, Mr. Arthur O'Connor, and Mr. Harrington. Mr. P.A. Chance is represented by Mr. Hammond, solicitor, and Mr. Biggar, M.P., and Mr. Michael Davitt, appear personally.


Sir Henry James said they proposed to proceed with the evidence as to outrages today. He, however, explained the inconvenience of producing every witness as to certain cases, one reason for this being the state of the weather in the Channel during the past two nights, and the difficulty of getting witnesses over from Ireland. He, therefore, asked that where it was impossible to produce witnesses connected with a specific case he might be allowed to say that a particular one would be called at some subsequent date.
The President - Very well.


William Beatty, a constable of the R.I.C., was then called as a witness. His evidence was directed to showing the attitude of the people towards the widow of the murdered man, Finlay, popularly known as "Balaclava." He stated that he saw this woman standing at the door of her house in Woodford on the morning of the murder, and gazing anxiously in the direction her husband had gone; saw men pass by on the other side of the road, and heard them laugh and jeer and groan at her. Then he described how, upon receipt of the terrible news of the death, she left her home and, walking up to the priest's house, knelt down in the street and prayed that the curse of heaven might descend upon the head of the priest, and how a man, passing at the time, made an effort to kick the prostrate form of the woman.
"I've nothing to ask you," observed Sir Charles Russell, as the witness left the box.


Constable O'Nally, another of the R.I.C., took his place. The latter was one of the persons who escorted the coffin containing Finlay's remains from Loughrea to Woodford. On the road they met a funeral, he said, and the mourners paused and groaned, some of the parties shouting derisively, "Balaclava!" "Look at the devil's coffin!" and "Well may he wear it."
Constable Patrick Gibbons, who spoke with a very strong brogue, difficult to understand, stated that on the 20th of May, 1886, he saw a procession of about 500 persons, armed with stakes, and headed by the Woodford brass band. They carried a coffin, supported by pitchforks, on one side of which was an inscription - "Down with Orange Freemasonry!"


Mrs. Blaquiere, widow of Mr. Henry Blaquiere, examined by Mr. Murphy, said that her husband, who died in 1885, was a large farmer and owner of land in county Galway. He was also a Poor Law Guardian. On November 15th, 1881, witness was going downstairs when some shots were fired underneath the hall door, and went under her feet. One shot went right through the door. Subsequently her husband attended, with the police and military, at a Land League hunt, and after that notices were posted up boycotting her husband.
Mr. Murphy read the notice, which was signed "Captain Moonlight." It stated that Henry Blaquiere was boycotted because of his conduct at the Board of Guardians meeting in opposing a resolution condemning the Government for imprisoning Mr. Parnell, and also because the witness's husband took part with the police in preventing a Land League hunt. The notice concluded, "If anyone is so base to work for him he shall die the death of a traitor." The workpeople employed by her husband then left, and also a nurse, when witness had an infant. At the time of these outrages the Land League branches were in the neighbourhood.


"My husband," continued witness, "died in 1885, and I continued on the farm. I put my cattle on some land belonging to Mr. White, of Limerick, for the winter months. Three of the cattle, however, had their tails cut off. Those who committed the outrage also knocked down the walls of the winterage. As fast as I built them up they were knocked down again."


"I received letters and notices threatening me with violence if I did not discharge my herd, John Heaney. That man had to have police protection. While I was walking along the road shortly afterwards a stone was thrown at me, which came close to my head. When I went to ask for compensation for my cattle a man groaned at me, and hoped I had "no luck."


In answer to Sir Charles Russell, witness said the nearest Land League was three miles distant from Tidane. She believed meetings were held in the year 1881, but could not say whether any were held after that date.
Sir Charles Russell - Do you know that in 1872, when Mr. French, who was known as the landlord candidate, was defeated at the election in that part of Galway, there was a general raising and calling in of rents? - I did not live in Galway at that time.
"Do you know," Sir Henry James asked witness, "that at the Land League hunts people gather in large numbers, and kill and carry away all the game they can? - Witness replied that she had never attended a Land League hunt.


William Welsh, a tall, stout, middle-aged man, who was formerly a constable quartered at Galt, described the condition of the neighbourhood from 1873 to 1879, contrasting it with its condition after the establishment of a Land League branch near the town in 1880 or 1881. He declared that boycotting was carried on in the parish, that a local herd's house was fired into, that outrages increased very considerably after 1879, and that the police had to be increased. Describing a Land League hunt, he said a hundred men assembled with dogs, and good sturdy blackthorns, and attempted to break into Lord Gough's domain, being driven away by the police, and finally going off to the mountains. He, however, explained that he saw no members of the Land League at the "hunt," as the men were all strangers from a distance. After the League was suppressed outrages decreased, but increased with the formation of the National League.
"Why was it called a Land League hunt?" asked Sir Charles Russell.
"Well, I couldn't say," was the reply. "The men were all young and swift of foot, and their object was to beat for game, and bures, and rabbits.
Sir Charles Russell elicited from Welsh that there was no outrage in the neighbourhood before the Land League was established, a gate having been pulled off its hinges and smashed up.


"I was at the Galway election in 1872," continued the witness, "and I know that Colonel Nolan was what was known as the popular candidate."
And who was the other candidate? - The witness replied that it was Mr. French. Colonel Nolan was elected, but unseated on petition. Witness did not know that there was then a general action on the part of the landlords in that district to raise the rents and calling in the arrears. He did not know it as a fact, but he heard it said it was regarded as a punishment for voting for Colonel Nolan. Mr. Blaquiere was in witness's district. "And he was considered a good landlord," added the officer.
By Sir Henry James - Witness was in Galway from 1872 to 1883. From 1872 to 1880 there were no outrages in the district, with the exception of a slight one to a gate. Until 1880 witness did not give police protection to any one in the district, nor did he know of any boycotting until the Land League was established there.
Sir Henry James - And did you until 1880 hear of one tenant attacking another because he took a piece of land? - No.


Sub-Inspector Barry was recalled. He said he was stationed in Loughrea from 1880 until Dec., 1885. When he went to that district it was in a peaceful condition. When the Land League was established, however, it became very disturbed. From the time of the establishment of the League to the end of 1883, no less than five murders were committed in witness's district alone. They were all agrarian crimes, but no one was brought to justice. Many persons had to be put under police protection, and the police force had to be enlarged. When witness first went to Loughrea the feeling of the people towards the police was very friendly. The police were, however, denounced at Land League meetings. Sergeant Linten belonged to the force under his command. He was trained for the special purpose of reporting Land League meetings and watching the leaders of the League in the district, and other suspected persons. He was very vigilant in the performance of his duty. He became, in consequence, very _____ to the people. On the night of the 14th of July he was shot in the streets of Loughrea. The funeral of the man, who was single, and about 42 years of age, was not attended by anybody but the police and some people who attended out of curiosity.


Replying to Sir Charles Russell, the witness stated that the murder of Jos. Connors took place on May 9th, 1881; that of Dempsey on the 20th of May, 1881; of Sergeant Linten on the 24th of July, 1881; and those of John Henry Blake and his servant on the 28th of June, 1882. Three of the murders had occurred prior to the arrest of Mr. Parnell, and the other heads of the Parnellite Party. Before the occurrence of the murders arrests had been made in Loughrea, some forty or fifty persons being arrested as suspects.
Were there not several arrests made before May, 1881? - I cannot give a positive answer. I have been away from the district five years, and it is difficult to speak from memory. I think it very probable a great many of the arrests had taken place before July, 1881.


"In connection with the Linton murder," continued the officer, "a publican named Clark and his wife were arrested. It was suggested that the murder was not agrarian, because the man was acquitted." Witness had heard it suggested that Linton's murder was due to the fact that he had been a spy of the publicans. "But," he added, "I have reason to believe he was murdered because he gave evidence on the Parnell trial." Following the arrest of Parnell, Dillon, and others in October, 1882, witness believed the local leaders were to a great extent arrested.
"With regard to the suspects," asked Sir Charles, "not one, I believe, was brought to trial?"
"It was impossible," answered the Inspector.
By Sir H. James - Connors was a small farmer, who took up a position of hog-ranger which had been surrendered. As a rule, the persons arrested belonged to or were supporters of the Land League.


Samuel Murty, sergeant of the Royal Irish Constabulary, then entered the box. He said that on the night that Sergeant Linton was murdered he was in the police barracks at Loughrea. When the news of the murder reached the barracks the whole of the constabulary turned out with the exception of witness. About an hour after the police had gone, a party of twelve or thirteen men, most of whom were well-known members of the local Land League, arrived at the door. They said they came to report the murder of Linton, and asked for admission to the barracks. Witness, however, would not let them in.


Allan Bell, District Inspector of the Constabulary, was also examined. He said that in 1880 he was stationed at Athenry. On the 28th of November in that year he attended at a Land League meeting. There were about a thousand people present, and there were a number of banners bearing inscriptions. One of those inscriptions was "England is our only foe," and another, "Tears for Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien, the Manchester martyrs." At another Land League meeting Father Considine called for cheers for the Fenians. The cheers were given very heartily. O'Hallera was the chairman of the meeting, and he declared that within twenty-four hours he could disarm all the police in Galway. The district was very quiet previous to these meetings, but afterwards it was very disturbed. Several placards were circulated, some of which the witness produced. One of these recommended the tenants to pay no rents and avoid the Land Courts. Those who paid should be treated with the "severest semblance of social ostracism." There was a great deal of boycotting and intimidation in the district where these placards were posted, and several people were under police protection. Several protection posts were formed - he meant that either armed police were stationed in a man's house to protect him, or that they were stationed in an iron hut erected near his dwelling. On the 2nd November, 1881, Peter Doherty, who took a farm that had been surrendered was murdered.
"And were his cattle poisoned," asked counsel.
Sir Charles Russell - How can he swear to that.
The Witness - "Well, I saw them poisoned, and saw the post-mortem, and the poison taken out."
Sir Henry James - Now, Sir Charles? (Laughter).


Proceeding, the witness produced a notice that had been delivered to one of the persons working for a Mrs. Lambert, a widow. In this the man was warned not to work for Mrs. Lambert any longer, was told that he had been too great a traitor to the cause already, and that he would be visited by the "people's friend," Captain Boycott. Upon the top of this notice was a coffin. Another notice warned men not to work for Mr. John Lambert, or they would meet with a sad death. At the bottom of this document were the figures of three men - representing men who worked for Lambert - with a gun pointing at them and a coffin by their side. Another landlord was described as a "sly and unmerciful tyrant," and a "hoary-headed rogue," and "Captain Moonlight" declared that his powder was dry, and he was eager to kill certain men who worked for the particular landlord. Inspector Bell proceeded to say that the police were boycotted, and they had great difficulty in getting provisions.


On the 8th of June, 1882, Mr. Walter Burke, a local landlord, was shot, together with Corporal Wallis, who was with him, Mr. Burke being under protection. They were shot as Mr. Burke, a Magistrate, was driving home from Sessions.
"Did you see them after they were shot?" asked Mr. Graham.
"Yes," answered Inspector Bell, "I saw them in the road. There were some country people gathered round, and they were laughing at these poor men as they were lying in the road." "Later on," continued the witness, "two more men were shot, and on the 29th of June, 1882, Mrs. Blake was murdered on her way to mass."
"Was there any information gained against any men?" said the learned counsel.
"There was information," observed the witness, "but we could not get any evidence against them." The Inspector then gave a list of other outrages, of a minor character, by which farming produce was chiefly destroyed. "All these were tenants of Mr. Walter Joyce," said the witness, alluding to the victims, "and committed the offence of paying their rent."


On the 23rd of December, 1880 (proceeded witness), a boycotting notice was issued, warning the tenants generally to pay no rent. On the 30th of December, 1880, Mrs. Brown received a letter from the Menlough branch of the Land League, asking her to reinstate an evicted tenant. A man named Clarke also received a threatening letter. It stated that if he did not give up the land which he occupied, and from which the widow Kelly had been evicted, death would be his doom. At the bottom of the letter there was a drawing of a coffin with a man in it, and it was signed by "Roy-of-the-Hills." Mrs. Brown received a similar letter, and then, two days afterwards, her hay was burnt. Sir W. Crofton also received a threatening letter. He was a stranger in the neighbourhood, but rented a shooting lodge. The steward of the estate, as a result, wanted him to leave. Witness then recounted a large number of outrages and cases of intimidation which occurred in his district during the year 1881. These outrages were committed on boycotted farms, and on the tenants who occupied them. Besides this, the men who worked for the landlords were threatened. In December, 1881, a notice to pay no rent was posted upon Mr. Lambert's property. He went to collect the rent next day, but the notice was obeyed, and not a single tenant appeared at the office. In 1882, Mr. Walter Lambert was threatened with death. Mr. Frank Joyce, his agent, was also threatened at the same time.


In cross-examination by Sir Charles Russell, the witness stated that he had been in the Police Force nine years, during which time he had been an inspector. The district from which the crime of which he had spoken had been collected, was twenty miles long by six miles broad - or 120 square miles. He had, he said, given an account of all the crime in that district, extending from October, 1880, to January, 1883. There were a good many large farmers in the district - that was, farmers holding thirty or forty acres. By far the worst part of the whole was from about the autumn of 1880 to the autumn of 1882. Amongst those who held large portions of land were Lord Dunsandle, who owned a considerable amount of bog land, and had about a hundred tenants in that district. Lord Clanricarde, who had approximately a hundred and fifty tenants; Mr. Walter Burke, with forty tenants; Mr. Walter Lambert, with two hundred tenants; Mr. John Lambert, with sixty to one hundred tenants. Mr. French had a large number of tenants. There was no outrage reported on his property. There were no evictions there. He was looked upon as a very indulgent landlord. Lord Clonbrock and Sir H. Bellow were also large owners of property there. There were a great many other landlords whom witness could not recollect. Mr. Churcher and Lord Clanricarde were not resident on their property. From 1880 to 1882 witness did not know of any evictions having taken place on Lord Dunsandle's farm. Tenants were evicted at Portumna, on the property of Lord Clanricarde. "Have you assisted at evictions yourself?" asked Sir Charles. "Indeed, I have," answered the inspector, "on many occasions I have been in charge of the police.
There was and is a strong feeling against persons taking surrendered farms," continued the witness. "If it existed before I believe it was intensified in 1880." He had not heard that landlords served ejectments in order to defeat the Act of 1881.
The Commission then adjourned for lunch.


On the Court resuming after luncheon, Sir Charles Russell continued the cross-examination.
Was there much distress in 1879? - I know nothing about 1879, but in 1880 there was no general distress in my district.
In the Crockwell were there two thousand people in a destitute condition? - Not that I am aware of.
Were they eating their last potatoes? - I never heard of it.
In Athenry were there a thousand people destitute; was the distress likely to increase, and the number to double if work was not given? - I certainly do not think so; there was plenty of employment. I am speaking of 1880.
Sir Charles Russell - I am speaking of 1880 too.
The President - We are dealing with 1880, not 1882.
"I am alluding to 1880, too," repeated Sir Charles, amid laughter.


In answer to the Attorney-General, the witness said the constable Muldowney, who was convicted of crime, was a member of the Land League and of a secret society. There was on combination against Lord Clanricarde in witness's district in 1885. At that time the ground was very lowly rented - 2s. 6d. an acre. It was in that low-rented district that the combination was started in 1886. Witness had, of course, heard of complaints of men paying their rents behind the backs of the others. That was one of the causes of outrage in 1880 and 1881. Witness had never heard of that being a cause of outrage before that date.


Mr. Ives, the Special Correspondent of the New York Herald, was here recalled. He spoke to the popular feeling in Ireland as to the prospects of famine in 1879. He travelled all over the coast counties, south and west, investigating cases of distress, and checked his own observations by reference to every official source available, viz., the priests, the police, and the Protestant clergymen. He should have thought that, had not so much money in relief funds been poured into the country, there would have been a great many deaths. The tabulated statement he published was compiled from the appeals of priests and local committees received at the Mansion House at that time. Beyond the Poor Law relief, nothing was done - nothing extraordinary - by Government for the relief of the distressed people. Witness had had several interviews with Mr. Parnell, Mr. Dillon, and Mr. Davitt.


Sir Charles Russell - Except relying upon constitutional method, has Mr. Parnell ever suggested any recourse to other methods?
The Attorney-General objected to the form of question.
The President - What we want to get at is - is there anything which passed between Mr. Parnell and Mr. Ives inconsistent with the views represented by Mr. Parnell.
Sir Charles Russell said he was entitled to get at whether, at any time or in any form, Mr. Parnell had in any way suggested reliance upon outrage in furtherance of his views.
The President (to witness) - Have you given what you consider a full and impartial statement of Mr. Parnell's conversations with you?
Mr. Ives - Yes, on both sides.
By Sir Charles - Mr. Parnell never suggested outrage to further his political objects.


An account of an interview which Mr. Ives had with Mr. Davitt was then read by Sir Charles. In that account Mr. Davitt said, speaking of his arrest, "It was a huge blunder on the part of the landlords and Dublin Castle." He concluded by remarking, "I wish we could keep religion out of high politics. We could then have a United Ireland."
"A drunkard - that's all," was Mr. Ives' description of Scrab Nally. "Nally was full of whiskey," observed the witness, "when he attended meetings. He generally spoke at the end of meetings."


By Mr. Reid - When speaking to witness Mr. Dillon had never alluded to outrages as a means to further his views.
Mr. Reid then read an article from the New York Herald, headed "Parnell's Lieutenant." It was the report of an interview between witness and Mr. Dillon. In that interview Mr. Dillon said he did not adopt the more extreme views regarding the land question. He, however, regarded landlordism as hateful. He also deplored the humiliation of Ireland by parading before America the poverty of that nation. He, however, wished it to be clearly understood that if Ireland had control of her own resources she would neither ask nor require any assistance in that _____.
In reply to Sir Richard Webster, the witness said there was a great deal of general distress in the West of Ireland when he returned from America. With regard to "Scrab" Nally, witness said he had seen him at many meetings. His speeches were certainly cheered, and witness had never heard anyone on the platform repudiate what he had said.


William Charlton, sergeant R.I.C., then entered the witness-box. He said that in 1882 he was stationed in county Galway. He remembered Mr. Walter Burke and Corporal Willis being shot. When witness heard of the murders, he went to the place where the bodies were lying in the middle of the road. It was about three o'clock in the afternoon. The road was bounded by stone walls. There was a small crowd of persons present, and they were walking up and down in the blood of murdered men. they would not render witness any assistance. He was, therefore, compelled to leave the body of Mr. Burke on the grass while he carried Corporal Willis's body away. He recognised several members of the local Land League among the crowd.
Mr. Reid - Do you mean to say that they were deliberately walking in the blood? - Well, they were walking round and round the dead bodies in the blood of the murdered men. He believed firmly that they walked through the blood out of disrespect for the dead men. One of the men who did this was named Cain, but he could not remember anyone else.


James Preston, another Head Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and who was in charge of the Marne district in 1879, said that at that time the county was very quiet, but at the latter end of 1880 there were disturbances. On the 29th of December, 1880, a letter was brought him by a man named Coen. It ran thus: - "Dear Sir, - You are hereby required to take your son John, which were working for Armstrong, from him, and I will be very thankful to you. If you don't take my advice I will tan your old hide with slugs. This was written by orders of the very _____ that nailed Lord Mountmorres, Yours truly, Rory of the Hills."
A few days after that a man was arrested for setting fire to an ass which was steeped in paraffin, and a solicitor appeared for him and apparently was instructed by a priest.


In cross-examination by Mr. Lockwood, the witness said that in 1879 there were people in the neighbourhood who were well-to-do, and many receiving relief who ought not to have had anything at all. There were a number of them employed on relief works, many of whom, speaking generally, did not require such help. In fact, he heard of cases in which they gave what they received in relief, such as Indian meal, to their cattle.
The Commission soon afterwards adjourned.


The London Correspondent of the Birmingham Post had had an interview with Mr. Parnell. "The Nationalist leader is of opinion that upon the American tours he will "come out splendidly"; and he is equally convinced that the Byrne letter, with its reference to a certain 100 pounds, can be explained to his satisfaction and general content. With reference to the fac-simile letter and the others attributed to him, which he alleges to have been forged, Mr. Parnell is naturally more reticent; but the hint I gave last week as to the manner in which their authenticity will be challenged may be here expanded so far as to say that the Nationalist counsel will seek to show from enlarged photographs - and even by the aid of a magic-lantern, if necessary or allowable - that there is a tracing plainly to be distinguished under the signature, and that the pen was stopped several times in the course of the writing. Upon this point of the letters sensational testimony may be expected, for Sir Charles hopes to place in the box a man who will swear that he forged them. One further fact may here be noted. Upon Mr. Parnell being asked how long he thought the inquiry would last, he replied, "Certainly twelve months." It is no wonder that with such a prospect Sir James Hannen should have waxed pathetic today."


Captain O'Shea has (the London Correspondent of the Birmingham Post learns) received, since his evidence was taken, a second subpoena from Mr. George Lewis on behalf of the Nationalist members. It is not known when he will return to England, and it is not certain that even if he comes back while the Commission is still sitting he will be recalled into the witness-box; but if he is, it will be for the purpose of elucidating some further details concerning his communications and negotiations with Mr. Parnell. Mr. Chamberlain, and other leading politicians a few years ago, which could not be fully gone into by Sir Charles Russell in cross-examination last week, because of the suddenness with which Captain O'Shea was called. In this connection it may be mentioned that although it has been, and is, under the consideration of the legal advisers of the Nationalists to call Mr. Chamberlain, no subpoena has yet been issued against the right hon. gentleman.


The Freeman's Journal says Mr. Parnell desires to express his gratitude to his correspondents of 1881 and 1882 for the manner in which they have responded to his request for letters received from him in those years. He would now be very much obliged to any persons who have preserved letters they may have received from him in 1880, and if they would forward them to his secretary, Mr. H. Campbell, M.P., House of Commons. The letters will be returned to the owners immediately after the Commission has concluded its sittings.

Source: The Echo, Wednesday November 7, 1888, pp. 2-3

Karen Trenouth
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Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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