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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 23 Sep 2012 - 5:49

Eighteenth Day of Proceedings - Thursday, November 22, 1888





There were very few present, other than those interested in the proceedings, when the Commission opened this morning. Lady Kenmare was an interested spectator, and was content to stand in a recess at the back of the Jury-box, no seat being available.

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.


The examination of Mr. Leonard, Lord Kenmare's agent was resumed. It was a monotonous proceeding, being really a recitation of events connected with the tenants on the Kenmare estate, which, it was attempted to show, was due to the action of the Land or National Leagues. One of the first incidents mentioned today occurred in Killarney, where after a sale Father O'Connor, the president of the local branch of the League, spoke, and is alleged to have said that if anyone went behind his neighbour's back and paid his rent, they should put a brassel - which, it seems, means a red mark - upon him. The next incident occurred at Faharies, the National School at that place being boycotted, and all the children being withdrawn because the children of Lord Kenmare's bailiff, Gloucester, attended it. To demonstrate the power the League exercised over the tenants, Mr. Leonard mentioned that, after a speech had been made by Father O'Connor, in which he advised the people to pay only the valuation rent, one of the tenants called upon him, and, at his request, Mr. Leonard gave him a receipt for the valuation rent, though the tenant promised to pay the whole amount later on, explaining that he wanted the receipt so that he might satisfy the Faharies branch of the League, that he had not paid the full amount. That man had (said Mr. Leonard) up to that time always paid he rent regularly, and paid the balance subsequently without asking for a receipt.


Other tenants approached the agent in the most secret manner. One, named John Hurley, wrote asking him to communicate, in an enclosed directed envelope, with his daughter, and not with him, as he was afraid the letters bearing Mr. Leonard's handwriting were tampered with at local post offices, and if it were known that he paid his rent his life would be in danger. He added the request that he might be put in the same position as other tenants who had not paid their rents and were to be distrained upon, in order that it might appear he had not paid his rent. That request was acceded to; but by some oversight his name was not included in the sheriff's list. Owing to this Hurley again wrote, "earnestly beseeching" that judgment might be obtained against him, stating that he would pay all the expenses. Mr. Leonard then gave notice of the sale in the ordinary way, but the sheriff adjourned it publicly, and the matter died out.


Another case, somewhat similar, was that a Jeremiah Murphy, a tenant who had paid his rent, and a month afterwards wrote to Mr. Leonard asking him to send a notice demanding the amount, in order that he might satisfy his clamourous neighbours, the state of the country being very "desperate." Edmund Casey, another tenant, met him clandestinely in the smoke-room of an hotel at night, and paid his rent and that of another tenant, but he refused to allow Mr. Leonard to put a receipt in the "pass-book," explaining that he was afraid the book would be seen by his enemies. Mr. Leonard also produced a threatening notice, extensively posted in the neighbourhood, after a man, named Sheehan, had taken a farm from which a Mary Toomey was evicted. That notice ran thus: -
"Men of Cork and Kerry, - Take notice that Jeremiah Sheehan has grabbed a farm, contrary to the wishes of the National party, from the notorious Leonard, Lord Kenmare's agent. Any person valuing his life is requested to shun him. God save Ireland."
After that Sheehan asked for a revolver, which Mr. Leonard said he gave him for his protection. Mr. Leonard received a number of Land and National League cards from different tenants. "How did I get them?" he repeated, after the Attorney-General. "Well, the owners brought them in to me, and told me I could keep them if I wished." He emphatically added that the terrorism existing amongst the tenants was directly due to the action of the Land League, and, after that, of the National League. He knew "three or four fellows" in the neighbourhood of Castleisland belonging to secret societies. "But," he added, "I don't believe that any secret society had anything to do with outrages or intimidation, and I attributed it to the action of the League."


"Would you mind giving particulars as to the tenants on the estate?" asked the Attorney-General.
Mr. Leonard, smiling, answered with a considerable amount of energy, "I court it." He gave particulars as to evictions. From 1874 to 1880 there were only two tenants evicted on the estate, and 43 were put out and re-admitted as caretakers; in 1885 there were five permanently evicted, and 15 evicted and allowed back as caretakers; in 1883 there were three permanently evicted, and 96 evicted and allowed to re-enter into possession; in 1884 one was evicted, and 53 evicted and allowed back as caretakers; in 1885 none were permanently evicted, but 44 were evicted, and allowed to go back as caretakers; in 1886 one was permanently put out, and 48 were evicted and allowed to return; in 1887 four were permanently evicted, and 50 were evicted and allowed to return; and in 1888, up to now, one had been permanently evicted, and three had been evicted and allowed to go back as caretakers. Mr. Leonard added that, after the League was established in the locality, he had to call upon the military to protect him at evictions, and at one eviction in 1884 he had to get four hundred soldiers. (Hisses in the gallery.) He asserted that the National League was so powerful now as it ever had been in the neighbourhood; and, in addition to it, the "Plan of Campaign" had been sprung upon him, and he had also to grapple with it.


Sir Charles Russell proceeded to cross-examine Mr. Leonard. "Those letters that you have read have, I think, figured in other proceedings before, have they not?" he asked.
"Yes," was the reply, "at the Cowper Commission."
Did you read them all there? - No; I read until they told me they had heard enough.
Now, tell me, did you, before these letters were written to you, see the people who wrote them? - Certainly not, except in the ordinary way - when they paid their rents, for instance.
Did you see the man, Hurley before he wrote this letter? - Only when he came to me about the writ he wanted me to serve upon him. He is a man in a very good position, and it was, I believe, part of the programme of the tenants that the richer and the poorer should combine to present a strong front. Mr. Leonard went on to say that he, by virtue of being a J.P., was an ex-officio member of the Board of Guardians.


In 1879 and 1880, continued the witness, there was much distress in the district. That was owing to the bad autumn and spring seasons. He was certainly of opinion that harsh evictions contributed to crime. He had, however, never known a harsh eviction, and declared that no eviction he had carried out was harsh.
Sir Charles asked whether evictions generally were not the principal cause of disturbance. "Of course," answered Mr. Leonard, "if the Land League sent out people to assemble at the evictions, with horns and drums, there would probably be a disturbance."


Describing the mode of procedure when a tenant is sued for rent, Mr. Leonard said the writ was sent to the sheriff, who made a seizure of the chattels of the tenant. If there were no goods then the tenant's interest in the farm was put up for auction. The landlord would himself buy his interest, and then proceed to evict the tenant. Mr. Leonard quite agreed that there was a necessity for the revision of the judicial rents in 1885-6, owing to the serious fall of prices, but he thought if a tenant was able to pay his rent he ought to pay it, whether the land produced it or not. He asserted that, so far, however, as Lord Kenmare was concerned, the tenants needed no protection in 1880.
"Then," said Sir Charles, "you did not think that the Land Act of 1880 was necessary?" - Oh, yes, I did. Continuing, he declared that arrears were never a trouble on Lord Kenmare's estate.


Then did you think the Arrears Act of 1883 was a mistake? - "It made every one in the country dishonest." (Laughter.) He thought that Act was a mistake, but he was of opinion that some other Bill was necessary, although he could not say what kind of Bill.
"A Bill to break up the National League, and imprison its leaders," suggested Sir Charles. Witness, however, did not think that it was exactly necessary.


Mr. Leonard again mentioned the fact that in the spring of 1880, the people of Killarney were "blue" with hunger, in consequence of the bad autumn season. He said that it rained from the 1st of January to the 3rd of March, 1880, without stopping. (Laughter.) Sir Charles mentioned that his experience was, that it always rained in Killarney.
"Well," said Mr. Leonard, amid renewed laughter, "we generally live in our waterproofs." Of course, he was aware (he added) that during that time of distress the tenants received assistance from their relatives in America.


Witness also stated that Lord Kenmare came into his property in 1851, and from that time to 1885 he spent on his estates in Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, 173,994 pounds in improvements. Of that sum he 163,814 pounds on the Kerry estate. Lord Kenmare's total rental was 40,000 pounds.


Of the 2,000 tenants on the Kerry estate 152 were leaseholders. That lease secured them against an increase in rent; but they were debarred from going into the Land Court for a reduction in rent until 1887. In 1882, however, Lord Kenmare offered to take a surrender of their leases so that they could go into the Court. Only two of them, however, availed themselves of the opportunity.


He was not aware (said the witness) that the late General Gordon lived for some time in county Kerry. Neither did he see the General's letter which appeared in the Times of the 3rd of December, 1880.
In that letter the late General said he had been over the west and south-west of Ireland with a view of discovering a possible means of settling the Irish question. He said he found that a gulf of antipathy existed between the tenants and the landlords. There was, in fact, a complete want of sympathy between the two classes. General Gordon then went on to say that the state of the people in Ireland was worse than that of any other nation in the world. They were loyal, but broken-spirited and desperate. They were in a state of starvation, and lived in places in which "we would not keep our cattle."


It was notorious, the witness admitted, after the letter had been read, that Sir Redvers Buller again and again intervened to try and stop evictions, as being a source of disturbance and crime. "And he brought pressure, within the law, to bear upon the landlords?" asked Sir Charles. - "Yes, and outside the law, too," replied the witness.
For a moment Sir Charles referred to the Cowper Commission, and the reasons of its appointment. - Well, said the witness, he thought the Commission was necessary, because as there were so many "lies" going about the country concerning landlord and tenant, it was as well that the truth should be known.


Mr. Lockwood particularly cross-examined Mr. Leonard as to the eviction of a man named Duggan, who, the latter declared, adopted the "Plan of Campaign," and then defied him. After the eviction Duggan wrote a letter, which appeared in the Kerry Sentinel. This was read by Mr. Lockwood. It stated that the land from which he was evicted had been in the hands of the Duggans for over two hundred years. It was, when first taken, a mere bog, which was reclaimed by his forefathers, who built a large house and outhouses on the farm. Each time the least expired the rent was raised, until it reached 500 pounds a year now, whereas only 20 pounds was paid by the first tenant. Ten pounds was the only statement made by the Kenmare family, who had never spent one farthing on the property in 200 years. Mr. Leonard admitted that it was perfectly true the Kenmare's had never spent one farthing on the property.


As to the Curtin family, he explained that they had difficulty after the murder in getting a livelihood, and yet he issued a distress against Mrs. Curtin. Mr. Leonard was about to explain why, when Mr. Lockwood stopped him.
However, the Judges thought he should be allowed to explain.
Mr. Leonard then said in 1887 he repeatedly wrote to Mrs. Curtin for her rent. Seeing that she was trying to get popularity with the National League, at the expense of his office, and that she wanted him to evict her -
Mr. Lockwood - It was a personal favour, then: -
Mr. Leonard - One moment. Seeing what she was at, I neither issued a writ nor decided to eject her. I went and took out a distress and distrained upon her cattle, and she paid the morning the cattle were seized.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.


On the Court resuming, Mr. T. Harrington cross-examined Mr. Leonard, who admitted that there were a large number of fair-minded men who were members of the League; but he declared that the National League was the cause of so many writs being issued for rent.
You have the National League on the brain, have you not? asked Mr. Harrington sarcastically. - "No, not at all," retorted the witness, "but I have experienced a great amount of trouble from it."
"And you don't anticipate that the trouble is over yet?" - "Indeed, I do not," answered the witness.
Witness, in further cross-examination, referred to the case of a tenant who had fever in his family, and lost his wife and daughter. He had nine cows, which were seized, as he refused to pay his rent for 1885. The rent was then paid.


Money was expended in constructing roads into the bogs. Before that expenditure Mr. Galway charged one penny per yard for the bog, but afterwards Mr. Hussey raised it to twopence per yard. When the fall in prices occurred, however, the tenants were allowed to have the bog land for nothing.


Alluding to the evicted farms on the estate, witness said there were now nineteen agricultural farms empty, and one Town fee farm. The majority of those farms had been empty since 1880. Witness admitted that Lord Kenmare did not pay poor-rate for these farms. The Poor-law Guardians sued him for 18s. 6d. for poor-rate. The case went to the appeal Court, and the Guardians, who lost the case, had to pay 5 pounds costs. (Laughter.) Witness asserted that he offered to all the tenants that if they were threatened with eviction if they paid one gale, they should be reinstated. They might then go into the Court, and have a fair rent fixed.


Mr. Davitt obtained from the witness the declaration that there were no other societies in Kerry than the National League, which, he asserted, was not, as the Chief Secretary had said, a thing of the past.
Is it not human to resist the destruction of a home? - Well, it is illegal to resist the Sheriff.
But is it not human, or natural, to resist the destruction of a home? - A tenant does usually resist, and cries very bitterly; but it is only as a last extremity that an agent resorts to eviction.


Mr. Biggar questioned Mr. Leonard as to the knowledge The O'Donoghue, who, he says, started the agitation in county Kerry, had of the county. Mr. Leonard asserted The O'Donoghue knew little or nothing of their condition.
He is a Liberal Unionist, is he not? - Well, I could never say; he's changed so often. (Laughter.) The witness went on to say that 20 pounds was awarded a person for a horse which had its ear cut off, and was really worth not more than 16 pounds.
Is that a sample of the way in which the Grand Jury perform their duty? - It is a sample, but the 1 pound was put on for costs.
Is that legal? - It is contrary to law, but it is a thing that's usually done. (Laughter.)


The Attorney-General then re-examined the witness, who asserted that after the Arrears Bill was brought in, people who were able to pay their rent got into arrears, and that a portion of the money spent in improvement on the estate came from the Government. Lord Kenmare, however, had to pay the money back by instalments over thirty-five years. A portion of the money was devoted to paying wages. The tenants drained their own land, and were paid at a rate of about 7 pounds an acre for doing so. They were, therefore, paid for improving their own land. With regard to the tenants' applications for abatement, Mr. Leonard said he granted an abatement of 25 per cent in 1885, and 20 per cent in 1886, 1887, and 1888.
District-inspector Huggins followed Mr. Leonard, who had been under examination exactly nine hours.


Witness was examined by Sir Henry James as to the condition of Castleisland and the neighbourhood in 1886. He asserted that there were outrages in the locality almost every night, and that a book was kept at the police-station called the "Outrage book." Several of the entries made in this volume were read by Huggins. According to this, on the 5th December, 1880, fourteen houses were visited and arms taken from them; and on the 10th December a man was taken out of his bed, tied to a cart, and his whiskers cut off. Some remarkable notices were also posted up in the locality at that time. One, referring to the local clergyman, read thus: -
"Notice. - Anyone who pays Archdeacon O'Connell more than half the usual Christmas offering will be boycotted."
The Court subsequently adjourned.



At the Central Criminal Court, today, Joseph Kavanagh, 30, described as a shoemaker, was placed on his trial on the charge of shooting at Patrick Lane, with intent to murder him.
Mr. Purcell prosecuted, and Mr. Poland and Mr. H.C. Richards defended.
The prosecutor and the prisoner are both subpoenaed witnesses for the Times in the Parnell Commission. Between four and five o'clock on the afternoon of the 1st of November the parties met in the George public-house, opposite the Royal Law Courts. They had what was described by the prosecutor as "a friendly drink." They got into an altercation about the Times-Parnell case, and high words ensued. The prosecutor was alleged to have thrown a glass at the prisoner, and a struggle followed, in the course of which the prisoner was thrown down and kicked by the prosecutor, after which the prosecutor left. The prisoner followed, and, over-taking him in Fleet-street, fired a shot from a revolver. A bystander touched the prisoner's arm, and the pistol was projected upwards, while the defendant "bobbed his head," and the shot did no harm to the prosecutor or anyone. The prosecuting counsel urged upon the Jury that a man firing a revolver must be held to be responsible for the consequences of such an act, and that it was a proper thing to assume that the prisoner intended to commit murder.


The first witness was the prosecutor, Patrick Lane, who, in a manner and language "racy of the soil," repeated the evidence he had given at the police-court. He added that he had known the prisoner for some time, and that they had often met in public-houses. He knew that the prisoner had been subpoenaed by the Times, and the prisoner knew he had been also subpoenaed. They each tried to get out of the other what evidence they were to give. He (witness) came to the conclusion that he was expected to "manufacture" evidence, and he told the prisoner that he would manufacture such a pill that neither Mr. Soames, nor Sir James Hannen, nor his colleagues could possibly digest. He was taken to Mr. Soames's office, and twice he received 10s. for giving statements, which were, he was told, to be used in the Parnell Commission.


He had seen that the Times people were going against his countrymen, and he thought he would do what he could for his country. He made a statement imputing certain charges against the leading Irish Members of Parliament which was utterly untrue, and he intended, when he might be called at the Commission, to tell the truth, and declare on his oath that the Parnellite Members were, so far as he knew, innocent. He considered he was perfectly justified in fighting the Times' folks with their own weapons. They were getting up a pack of lies; so he thought, in the interest of his fellow-countrymen, he might do a little business on the other side. Kavanagh, the prisoner, had told him that after the Times' case was over, he expected to


to take him out of the country. He had never called the prisoner an "informer," but he thought him one. There had been several previous altercations at other places, extending over some weeks, and there was no good feeling between them. On one occasion he (witness) called the prisoner a consummate scoundrel. He knew for some weeks that the prisoner had a revolver, for he had seen it in his possession, and he boasted how he had made a good bargain out of Mr. Soames, for that gentleman had given him a sovereign to purchase a revolver, and he had managed to get one cheap for 2s. Besides being subpoenaed by the Times, he (witness), with the prisoner, went to the office of Messrs. Lewis and Lewis, the solicitors for the Parnellite Members, and made a certain communication, for which he was paid 10s.
In answer to the Judge, the witness declared, over and over again, that he could not recollect the purport of the declaration he made to Mr. Soames. He was not sober at the time.

The Jury, after a few minutes' deliberation, acquitted the accused, and he was discharged.

Source: The Echo, Thursday November 22, 1888, pp. 2-3

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

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