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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 4 Oct 2012 - 7:27

Twenty-seventh Day of Proceedings - Friday, December 7, 1888





Today's proceedings promised at the outset to be more interesting than any other since the Commission commenced its sittings. In the first place, the examination of the truant Molloy, who refused to obey his subpoena, and was arrested and committed for contempt, was eagerly looked forward to, it being stated that he would divulge something concerning the doings of the "Invincibles," of which, rumour had it, he was a member; and, in the second place, there were rumours that the informer O'Connell, who professed to know such a great deal about what he called the "inner circle" of the Land League, would be cross-examined - a proceeding which was adjourned, on the application of Sir Charles Russell, because the evidence he gave had been "sprang upon" the Parnellite Party. In consequence of this, the Court presented an unusually animated appearance when the Judges took their seats.


Patrick Molloy, with whom was a warder, immediately took his stand in the witness-box, and kissing the Testament, threw it down on the desk with a bang. He is a young, good-looking man, rather fair, and very respectably dressed. He was examined by the Attorney-General.
Where do you live? - Well, my present address is Holloway Jail, London.
Where did you live before you came to London? - 43, Oak-street, Dublin.
How old are you? - Somewhere about 25 or 26.
These answers being given in a very hostile manner, the Attorney-General directed his questions to proving what it is alleged Molloy told the person who took his statement for the purposes of examination at the Commission. He denied that he had ever been a Fenian, that he told the person who took his proof he had been; and that he said he joined in 1877 or 1878. The person he referred to went to his house, he said, and asked him if he had been a Fenian. He replied in the negative, but promised that if he went to London he would make "a statement." He declared that he never said he knew James Carey, or that James Carey introduced him to the Society; or that his statement was written out or read over to him. He certainly saw a Mr. Beecham, a solicitor, but he declared that he never told him that he had been a Fenian, or that he had been engaged in conveying arms to any part of Ireland.


"This man," he exclaimed, pointing to a gentleman just in front of the Attorney-General, "came to me, and told me he knew all about me, and all about the Fenian organisation, and why I went to America, and all about what I did there; and he said that he knew Mr. Davitt and Mr. Biggar were mixed up in it. Then I promised to make a statement in London." Then proceeding, he firmly denied that he said he knew Patrick Egan, swearing that he never saw him at all, to his knowledge. He, however, knew Kelly and Mullet, having gone to school with them. He admitted that he went to America, where he worked for Frank Byrne, and was ill there. A statement purporting to be written out in the interview, was handed up to the witness, but he denied that it was written in his presence or read over to him.


Have you seen Mr. Walker, who took this statement, frequently? - I have.
When did you first hear from him? - About three weeks ago, by letter.
What did you do with it? - I gave it to Mr. Boland, a friend of mine.
Where is it now? - I believe it is in the hands of a gentleman who will produce it here today.
Where was it taken by Boland? - I believe it was given to Dr. Kenny, M.P.
Had you any other letters? - I had.
Where are they? - I gave them to Boland, and I believe they are with the other one.
Sir Charles Russell - They are all here, if you want them.


Molloy went on to say, replying to the Attorney-General, that he refused to go to England when he got to the station in Dublin. He, however, received 11 pounds.
Did you tell Walker that you could not leave until you paid two small debts? - I did, and that was not true. I didn't like to go until I got hold of the money. I owed no money.
Did he tell you that if you wrote letters to the persons you owed the money to he would give the money, provided you posted the letters in his presence? - He did.
Did you write those letters? - I did, and I posted them in his presence, but I didn't owe any money.
You, I suppose, thought you were going to get over him? - I didn't think anything of the sort; but I wanted to show up the working.
If you made no statement what were you to go to London for? - Walker told me that I was to go for the purpose of making a statement to Mr. Soames and Mr. Walter.
Did you say that it would not be safe for you to go to London? - I did.
And would it have been dangerous? - Not at all.
Did you suggest that you would be shot if you gave evidence? - I did, but there is no such danger. This man (pointing to Mr. Walker) seemed to think that I knew a lot about the Fenian organisation, and that I could say a lot about Mr. Davitt, and all sorts of things. In fact, it was supposed I knew a great deal.


Now, did this gentleman mention a single Member of Parliament to you at all? - Yes; he mentioned the names of Dr. Kenny, Mr. Biggar, and Mr. O'Connor.
Did he not ask you whether you had ever met any Members of Parliament at meetings of "Invincibles"? - I tell you I never had anything to do with the "Invincibles." I do not know any Members of Parliament.
Now, were you Michael Fagan's private secretary? - No; but I knew him. I was introduced to him in 1880, by a young man named Murphy. He lived somewhere on the North side of the city, but I did not know exactly where.
What was he? - He was a blacksmith.
But do you not know that he was an "Invincible"? - No.
Are you aware that Fagan was hanged? - Yes; for being concerned in the Phoenix Park murder. I did not know Fagan intimately. I had met him several times in the street and in public-houses.


Did you know James Mullet? - Yes; he kept a public-house in Dorset-street. I had been there several times on business for my master, Mr. Steward, a solicitor.
Now, do you swear, Sir, that you never met Fagan at James Mullet's house? - That I swear.
Do you know that James Mullet got ten years' penal servitude? - Yes; but I did not know what for.
Did you not know that he was arrested at the time of the Phoenix-park murder, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder? - Yes.
Then why did you say that you did not know why he was sent to prison? - I meant that I knew he pleaded guilty, but of what I did not know.
Did you know that you were to be arrested? - No, never.
Now when did you leave Mr. Steward's employ? - In January, 1883.
Did you know Robert Farrell? - No; I have never seen him, but I heard his name mentioned when he turned informer.


Did you leave Mr. Steward without giving him notice? - Yes, because I had had a dispute with my parents, and I made up my mind to leave the country. I went to America.
Where did you get the money? - I had the money saved.
When did you go to America? - Either in February or March, 1883.
When you determined to go to America, did you go to Mr. Steward's office, open your desk, and take some papers away? - No, I did not.
Had you a revolver in your possession before or after that time? - I never had.
Did you hear that you were going to be arrested just before you went to America? - I did not.
How many days before you determined to go to America was it that you read in the papers that Farrell had turned informer? - I cannot say.
Molloy further said he knew McCafferey, but whether he was an Invincible or not he couldn't say, though he knew he pleaded guilty to some charge in connection with the Phoenix-park murder. Molloy was away from Ireland nearly three years. He left for America in the Pennsylvania, from Liverpool, and worked his passage out in his own name as a steward with Michael Brennan, who was the chief steward. Arrived in America he went to Philadelphia, where he acted as bar-keeper cashier in a hotel, afterwards traveling for a jewellery firm.


Turning again to Ireland, Molloy said he remembered reading of the police-court proceedings in Dublin in January, 1883, in which Farrell, the informer, mentioned a person named Molloy.


Having read over the names of the accused parties at the trial of the "Invincibles," the Attorney-General asked whether he remembered reading in Farrell's evidence a statement to this effect: - "That when Farrell got a revolver, and Curley came back to Westland-row, he met Joseph Mullet, Joe Hanlen, Michael Fagan, George Smith, and Molloy"? - He remembered reading it.
Did you read that portion in which it was said that Molloy took an envelope from a person to another at the corner of Westland-row? - I read that also.
Did you think that account referred to you? - I did not, Sir.
Did you ever make inquiries about it? - No; it didn't concern me.
Will you swear that you did not determine to leave for America within twenty-four hours after reading this evidence? - I cannot swear, but I may say the dispute at home that caused my departure had been brewing for a long time.
How long after that appeared was it before you left? - I cannot say; it is so long ago.
The Attorney-General read still further extracts, from which it appeared that the man Molloy, mentioned by Farrell, was the person deputed to murder Mr. Barrett. "Did you (he asked of Molloy) consider that that Molloy was to effect the murder? - I couldn't tell you. It didn't concern me.
Was everything you told Mr. Walker true? - No.
Well, what did you say that was not true? - I told him that if I came to London I would make a statement, which was not true.
Anything else? - I didn't say much.


Sir Charles Russell then cross-examined Molloy. He said he had been back from America since 1884, since which time his presence had been known very largely. He had never attempted to conceal himself, and had been in the employ of the Dublin Corporation.
Was there ever any attempt to arrest you? - Never, Sir.
Have you any objection to telling the Court what was the cause of the quarrel at home? - Well, I was inclined to get married, and my friends didn't seem satisfied, so I went off in a pout. (Laughter.)
Now, you say Mr. Walker mentioned a number of names to you. Just give us the conversation more fully? - He said he knew Mr. Davitt to be a Fenian. He asked me if I knew a man named Davis - Eugene Davis, of Paris. I said I had never seen him, and he then said Mr. Davitt was in touch with him. He also asked me if I knew Mr. John O'Connor, M.P., and said that he was a Fenian, as was also Mr. Matt J. Kenny, the Secretary of the present Lord Mayor of Dublin. The same applied to Mr. Biggar.


The various letters Molloy had received relative to giving evidence were then arranged by Molloy, and handed to Sir Charles Russell, who read them. The first was as follows: -

"Hibernian Hotel, Nov. 20, 1888.
"Dear Sir. - I am anxious to see you as to the Directory. I was not able to be there at the time named, but sent my friend. However, you didn't call, I believe. If convenient, you may call here tomorrow at twelve o'clock if you are able. Will you kindly give me the name of the agents in Dublin. - Yours, "S. THOMPSON."

Molloy explained that the Directory referred to in the first sentence was one for which he was canvassing. It was a book about to be brought out by a London firm. After receiving a telegram appointing another meeting, Molloy received another letter bearing the signature of S. Thompson, which ran thus: - "I would like to have some particulars as to terms of subscription for the book, and to know whether, if a larger number were ordered, there would be a reduction; also how soon you expect to be able to furnish copies. I will be at No. 8 (which Molloy explained was a building of the Young Men's Christian Association) at three o'clock today. If not convenient to see me then, please ask the firm to drop a note to No. 25, or write yourself and say if it will be convenient for you to see me in consultation with them. I think, if you can give the assurance that the book is likely to be a success, a very large number would be ordered. No advertisement will be issued till you reply."


Molloy said there was also another letter, which was burned in the presence of Mr. Walker. That letter - a copy of which was produced by the Attorney-General - was dated November 30th, and read as follows: -

"Dear Sir, - I have considered your proposal that I should advance you 11 pounds to enable you to pay your debts this evening before leaving for London, and I have come to the determination that I ought not to do so. I am willing to give you any guarantee you require in the way already settled; that your father and mother will be furnished with the means to leave the country if your giving evidence should lead to the necessity for going. I think it only fair, and shall give you a guarantee, that you will be provided with means to take you wherever you want to go, as you say you can no longer remain here. I will also give you a guarantee, as this is taking you away from your present means of earning a living and paying your debts, that you shall get a full equivalent, and further that you will not be dealt with in any niggardly spirit while considering this matter. Beyond this I do not think it would be honourable to go, and I am sure on reflection you will agree with me. - Yours truly, J. WALKER."
"P.S. - I gave your statement to the Times solicitor after satisfying myself that I was at liberty to give you these assurances."


Why did you burn that letter in Mr. Walker's presence? - Everything that passed between us was supposed to be private; but I had told two of my friends of the interviews, and also told them that I had burnt the letter. I burnt it in order to satisfy him that I would not show the letter to anyone. He was trying to get me into a trap; or of course, I was trying to get him into it.


Molloy then related the circumstances which led up to the interviews with Mr. Walker. He first of all, he said, made an appointment to see Mr. Thompson at the Hibernian Hotel at twelve o'clock. Mr. Thompson then told him he was engaged, so he must call again in the evening. This he did, but he did not see Mr. Thompson again. Mr. Walker was there. They went together to Fitzwilliam-square to see him, but he did not put in an appearance. Mr. Walker then asked Molloy for a specimen of his book, looked through it, and admired the plates. Then he said, "Well, it is not in connection with your book that I want to see you at all. I am an agent for the Times." He then asked him (proceeded the witness) several questions, and the following was a portion of the conversation which took place: - "Are you a clerk in the Land League Office?" - "No." "Are you a member of the Land League?" - "No." "Are you a Fenian?" - "No." "Are you an Invincible?" - "No."
Mr. Walker then said he had proof that Molloy was both a Land Leaguer, Fenian, and Invincible. Molloy answered - so he asserted - that if he had such evidence it was very strange that the Government had not taken any action with regard to him. Mr. Walker then asked Molloy questions concerning Egan and Sheridan, but Molloy denied being acquainted with them. Neither did he know Carey. It was on this, as well as on other occasions (said the witness), that Mr. Walker questioned him about Mr. Davitt, Mr. Biggar, Mr. John O'Connor, and Mr. Kenny.


"During these interviews (continued the witness) I kept two of my friends acquainted with what was going on. They gave me advice, which I acted upon. At one of the interviews I told Mr. Walker that I should not make a statement until I had a guarantee that I would get 40 pounds or 50 pounds before I left Dublin. Then, when I got to London, I would make a statement. The only occasion upon which Walker took notes (said the witness) was on the visit to Fitzwilliam-square. On the Tuesday he wanted me to go to London, and I refused; but I told him that it would not be safe, acting upon the advice of my friends, and that he had better serve me with a subpoena. He did serve me with the subpoena on the Friday, and gave me 4 pounds, asking me to go on board the mail-boat and sleep there. I represented to him that 4 pounds was of no use to me, as I should have to pay 2 pounds 2s. 6d. for my ticket alone. After that arose the conversation about my owing some money, and he then gave me the 11 pounds, which I put in two letters and posted in his presence, he however, threatening to stop the notes, as he, knew the numbers, because I stated that I would not go to London." The letters in which the notes were enclosed, and the notice stopping the notes were read by Sir Charles Russell, and Molloy went on to say that his statement was never taken down in writing, and he never signed any statement.
Replying to Mr. Reid, Molloy said the name "Molloy" was very common in Dublin.


Mr. Davitt - Do you know who this Thompson and Walker are? - I do not.
Do you know if they are connected with the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union? - I don't know.
Did you understand that Walker meant he didn't care whether you swore the truth or not, so long as you incriminated me? - Well, I can't say whether he meant he didn't care anything about the truth, but he certainly wanted me to incriminate you.
Do you know that it is a common belief in Ireland now that the agents of the Times and the Government are going round the country offering to buy and threatening people to give evidence against myself and others?
The Attorney-General objected.
The President - That is not a proper question.
Mr. Davitt - That is my belief, my lord, as is the game that is going on, and I considered this witness was the proper one to be asked the question.


Mr. John Walker, the solicitor's clerk who took Molloy's evidence, was called, and was about to detail the circumstances under which he met Molloy, when
Sir Charles Russell said a party could not, by affirmative evidence, discredit his own witness.
The question was argued at some length by Mr. Reid and Mr. Asquith, who followed. The Commissioners consulted together, after which
The President upheld Sir Charles Russell's view of the evidence. He said he considered it irrelevant. At the same time he considered it was quite necessary to go through the cross-examination of the witness; but it was obvious, after what had occurred, that the testimony of Molloy was rendered utterly valueless, and the time of the Court had been uselessly consumed.
Richard Chard, the Petty Sessions Clerk at Kilronan, in the county Galway, was next called to prove various outrages upon his sheep and cattle. Those dated from 1878 to 1885, and, in proof of the extent to which he was boycotted, he said young men used to sit opposite his shop and take the names of those who entered.


Constable James Hughes, who was stationed in Ballinrobe in 1879, gave evidence as to the condition of the neighbourhood in that year, and, in the subsequent year, towards the latter end of which Mr. Fearick, the agent of the district, was shot while returning from the Petty Sessions at Ballinrobe. He died a few weeks afterwards, but no one would assist in endeavouring to trace the murder.
To Mr. A. O'Connor Hughes stated that Fearick was fired at, twelve months before he was shot, while returning from Castlebar.
John Donovan, a sergeant in the R.I.C., also stationed at Ballinrobe in 1880, corroborated Hughes's statement.
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


On the Court resuming, Sergeant Thomas Elliott entered the box. He said he was stationed at Ballinrobe in 1880. At the time of the murder of Fearick, "Scrab" Nally passed through Ballinrobe. He addressed the people and alluded to Fearick, who was then lying in the hospital. Putting his hands on his hips, he said Fearick was "rotten from there." He had had a "dose of pills." He also exclaimed, "Down with landlords and landgrabbers!"


Elliott then left the box, and his place was taken by a landed proprietor. This was Mr. Bingham, of Doolough, in the county Mayo. He said he had at one time been on good terms with his tenants, but shortly after a Land League meeting, held near Green Castle, in Oct., 1880, he observed a change in their demeanour towards him. The Rev. P.J. Deranney, who was president of the branch of the League in that district, came to him with several of the tenants and asked for a reduction of 30 per cent. He refused that demand, but offered a reduction of four shillings in the pound, which was refused by the tenants. After that he was boycotted, his hay was burnt, his servants left him, and he was unable to get anyone to work for him. In 1881 he was shot at while driving home in a car with his wife and another lady, being wounded in the finger and in the side, the woman also being wounded in the arm. The person who fired the shots was attired as a woman.


He sold twelve acres of grass land to a man named Barrett, and the latter was shortly afterwards murdered.
In cross-examination by Mr. O'Connor, Mr. Bingham admitted that he let some of his farms to the tenants on the condition that they paid so much in rent and worked the remainder out, some giving eight days a year, and some twelve days. He had processed some of the men who were absent from this "duty work," and claimed 2s. 6d. a day for their absence.


Mr. Arthur O'Connor, after questioning the witness for some time, elicited from him that, after he was shot at, he carried a revolver about with him.
Now was it not a fact that, while you were driving home with your wife and the girl who was in the car with you, you were excited by seeing someone attired in a woman's clothes, and in your nervousness while drawing your revolver from your pocket you shot the girl in the arm. "It could not possibly have gone off," replied the witness amid laughter, "as it was not in my possession at that time. I did not carry a revolver until after I was shot at on that occasion."


The witness told Mr. Biggar that when his tenants - who paid their rent by so much money and so many days' work - refused to do that work, he claimed compensation at the rate of 2s. 6d. per day.
And what was your estimate of the work done when the men did do the work.
The President here became impatient. "What are you trying to convey to us, Mr. Biggar?" he asked.
"I am trying to show that this man is an extortioner," replied Mr. Biggar, amid laughter. "I want to prove that he claimed 2s. 6d. a day for the work, while he only gave the men credit for about 1s. per day. Witness, however, said the work was very often worth 2s. 6d. per day to him.


Mrs. Barrett then entered the witness-box. She was attired in an eccentric manner. She was dressed in a long black gown, while her head was encased in a white linen cap, and her shoulders were covered with a shawl. She held a handkerchief in her hand which she stroked carefully during the time she was giving her evidence. She related how, after her husband had purchased a portion of the grazing land which Riley had occupied, he was shot dead by someone who fired through the window while he was in the act of getting into bed.
"Was he a member of the Land League?" asked Mr. Atkinson. - "No, he was very fond of whisky," and ---- (Loud laughter.)
But that was no disqualification said Mr. Atkinson, interrupting.
Mrs. Barrett informed Mr. Reid that before her husband died he told her that he had quarrelled with a man, and he thought that was the man who had shot him.


Michael Brown, of Ardglass, in co. Mayo, was next examined. He told Mr. Atkinson that he took some land which a tenant who had gone to America had vacated. He was afterwards visited by Moonlighters, shot in the legs, and beaten. After that he gave up the land.


now entered the witness-box. This was Mr. George Scott, who lived near Ballina, co. Mayo. In 1881 he purchased a farm on what were called the Fairfield lands. Shortly after that witness's house was attacked and a shot was fired which nearly struck his child. Witness returned the fire. In the morning he found a notice posted on the door, calling him to give up the Fairfield Farm. About twelve months after he gave up the land, and left the district.
Witness told Mr. Reid that there was no truth in the statement that he had told two men that he fired the shot himself, in order to have an excuse to leave the place and go back to his father's house.


A farmer of Crossmaline, County Mayo, was then examined. He said he farmed about one hundred acres, and was on very good terms with his neighbours until the League was established. It was, however, known that he was opposed to the League, and in December, 1880, a boycotting notice was posted up concerning him. It was headed, "Hurrah for boycotting," and read as follows: -
"Joe and Billy Hogan are to be boycotted for endeavouring to tarnish the reputation of C.S. Parnell and his labourers. Any person now having connection with them, buying, selling, or working for them, will meet their deserved end. Now is the time to show the Government and enemies that you are determined to win, and are determined to be free." In January, 1881, witness was shot at through the window of his house, and in 1882 was shot at while in his yard. On that occasion he was wounded in the thigh.
William Hogan, a shopkeeper, the brother of the last witness, entered the witness-box. He said a man named Daly was a shopkeeper in the town. While he was in prison as a suspect the Land League built a hut for him. Daly was afterwards convicted of conspiracy to murder. After the notice which was posted up witness was boycotted, and his customers fell off.
The Court adjourned.

Source: The Echo, Friday December 7, 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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