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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 15 Nov 2012 - 10:07

Fiftieth Day of Proceedings - Thursday, February 14, 1889





Today's proceedings were opened by Mr. Davitt. He read extracts from a conversation a Correspondent of the New York World had with him in 1882 about the land agitation in Ireland. This interview was read in part by Sir Henry James yesterday from a copy of it, which appeared in the Nation. Mr. Davitt now read extracts which go to support his side of the case. One of the most important points Mr. Davitt especially desired to press upon the Court was how the funds of the agitation were provided. In the course of the interview he explained to his interrogator that local committees were formed, and they collected money, which "paid for the rent of rooms and printing." In fact, he himself defrayed the expenses of some of the meetings from a testimonial presented to him on his release from prison, and never allowed any of the National Fund to be used in the work upon which he engaged.


The ex-Land League clerk, Farragher, was recalled and examined as to the receipt at the Dublin office, from week to week, of parcels of the Irish World, which were despatched to the country branches of the league for free distribution. They were addressed to O'Neil Larkin. Farragher confessed that he was sworn in as a Fenian in 1867, by a man named Ryan. Subsequently he met Mr. O'Kelly, M.P., who was introduced to him as Mr. Martin, at Tuam; and still later he met him at several meetings of the Fenian organisation, when he gave the members advice, telling them to keep their work secret and be ready when occasion required to take up arms.
Replying to Sir Charles Russell, Farragher said Larkin was the Dublin Correspondent of the Irish World, and he had nothing to do with the Land League.


Mr. Joseph Soames, the Times solicitor, was the next witness. He was examined by the Attorney-General. He stated that he had been engaged throughout in getting up the case for the Times and also that - on the part of the Times - in "O'Donnell v. Walter." He had made personal and frequent visits to Ireland, and interviewed various officials there, and engaged Mr. Beechan and Mr. Shannon, solicitors, to assist him.
Did you go to Dublin in May, 1888? - Yes.
And was the name communicated to you of a person who had once been in the office of the Land League? - It was.
Did you see that person? - I did; at the office of Mr. Murphy, a solicitor in Dublin, on the 12th of May. Mr. Murphy is a Crown Solicitor.
Did he produce any documents to you? - He produced a slip containing handwriting.
Did he produce anything more? - Yes; a slip - a paying-in slip.
Did he make a communication to you with reference to certain documents? - Well, I asked if he had specimens of Egan's handwriting. He referred to certain documents he had in his possession, and produced them to me, at the house, 113, Lower Drumconde-road.


Mr. Soames went on to say that he examined the letters very carefully, and took pencil copies of many of them. These have already been read in the course of the inquiry. He further explained that the persons who produced the documents refused to allow them to go out of his possession, and subsequently, on Whit-Monday, 1883, he brought them to London. Those documents were amongst those he had put in a box and "protected" as the Court had directed. Several of them had the initials "J.F." either on the first or fourth pages. He subsequently served John Fergusson, of Glasgow, with a subpoena. Fergusson wrote him subsequently.
The letter, with four others, was produced as a specimen of John Fergusson's handwriting, and Mr. Soames said he had not the slightest doubt that the letters "J.F." on the documents given him in Dublin were in the same hand as that of the letters.


The Attorney-General next proceeded to read a number of letters, most of which had already been put in, and which Mr. Soames said he had received when the documents he had alluded to were delivered to him in London. The letters were dated at various periods between 2nd September, 1881, and 8th of November, 1881. The majority of the letters were appeals to the headquarters of the Land League for money to support the families of men who had been thrown out of employment because they had carried out the principles of the League. One letter stated that a man had been boycotted because he had refused to join the League, and "had even scoffed at it." Seven men who refused to help cut his crops were discharged by their own employer, and had no means of support. The letter was endorsed in red ink, in the handwriting of Mr. Fergusson, "10 pounds for the seven."
The President ruled that a letter, not previously put in, written by Mr. Phillips, accountant of the Land League in 1881, was inadmissible at present, Sir Charles Russell saying that the best way would be to put Mr. Phillips in the witness-box to prove the handwriting.


The letters having been read through, the Attorney-General asked - When, Mr. Soames, were you consulted with reference to the published letter of May, 15, 1882? - In the latter end of 1886, or about the last week in December, I think.
What letter do you refer to? - I refer to the letters referred to in Captain O'Shea's evidence. One was dated January 9, 1882; another 15th May, 1882; three were dated Tuesday only; and two were dated June 2, 1882.
Who first showed you the five you have identified? - Mr. Macdonald, the manager of the Times, showed me all.
Had you a conversation with him? - I had.
You subsequently learnt where the letters came from? - A long time afterwards.
What did you do with the five letters? - They were subsequently submitted to an expert.
When you say that, how soon after you saw them first was that? - In the early part of April, I think, 1887.


What steps did you take prior to the submission to the experts? - Collecting genuine specimens of Mr. Parnell's writing.
Did you take every specimen you could get? - Every one.
And they are in the box? - Some I got before the "O'Donnell v. Walter" case and some I have got since then.
I must ask you to take those you believe to be in the original handwriting of Mr. Parnell and produce them one by one. - I'm afraid it will take me some time to do.
I am afraid I must ask you to do it. What was the name of the expert you consulted? - Mr. Inglis.
Who is he? - An expert in handwriting.
Did you submit to him the seven letters and those you are now about to produce? - I don't think I can separate the whole of them.
Mr. Soames having separated some of the letters he obtained as specimens, observed that they were obtained before the publication of the fac-simile letter. These included, in the order in which they were put in, an order for admission to the House of Commons, dated the 17th of May; an envelope addressed to Chas. Ross (formerly a Gallery reporter of the Times); two letters, dated 1875 and 1877, from Avondale, signed "Yours truly, Chas. S. Parnell"; a letter to Charles Ross; and two more admissions to the House of Commons, one dated the 15th of July, 1880.
You know you had those prior to the publication of the fac-simile? - Yes; and I had others.
Sir Charles Russell: Have you exhausted all?
Mr. Soames: No, I have not.
The Attorney-General: If Sir Charles would allow me to conduct the case I will obtain it all.
The President - Perhaps Mr. Soames will give us all the particulars with reference to it.
The Attorney-General (to the witness) - Did you see other documents? - Yes.
Where? - I saw some letters addressed to A. Bealass, solicitor, Dublin.


Did you go over to Dublin in April, 1887? - I did, with Mr. Inglis.
What did Mr. Inglis go for? - To see the Kilmainham book.
Is that here now? - It is.
The book, a large volume covered with mottled brown paper, was here produced.
Mr. Soames explained that he searched the books at Dublin Castle under a permission from the authorities.
Did you see certain letters on the occasion of that visit? - Yes.


Does that exhaust the specimens you saw? - No; I saw letters of Mr. Herbert Campbell.
Have you here specimens you saw before the publication of the fac-simile? - I have.
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming, Mr. Soames produced a number of specimens of the handwriting of Mr. Campbell, M.P., which he obtained before the publication of the fac-simile letters.
The Attorney-General next asked Mr. Soames whether, when he first saw the letter of the 15th of May, 1882, he knew in whose handwriting the body of the letter was. Mr. Soames replied that he did not.
Did you have any information as to whose handwriting the body of the letter was in? - No.
Did you have any opinion as to whose handwriting the body of the letter was in? - I had no means of judging.
Mr. Soames further pointed out that, before the publication of the fac-simile letters, he had procured several letters, the body of which were written in the handwriting of Mr. Campbell and signed by Mr. Parnell, and that, at the solicitation of Mr. Inglis, he procured a number of additional specimens.


Mr. Soames next produced several letters, some of which were in Mr. Campbell's handwriting, and signed - so it was said - by Mr. Parnell, and some of which were entirely in the handwriting of Mr. Parnell. He also produced Mr. Parnell's autograph and some summonses signed by him as a Justice of the Peace. Further letters were produced by Soames in proof of the handwriting of Mr. Campbell and Mr. Parnell; as was also the Kilmainham Jail book, containing Mr. Parnell's signature.


Before the fac-simile letters were published in 1887 were you advised by Mr. Inglis? - I was.
Did he advise you that they were genuine?
Sir Charles Russell objected.
The Attorney-General pressed the question, maintaining that it was a perfectly legitimate question, and Mr. Inglis would be called.
The Court ruled the question inadmissible.
The Attorney-General (to Mr. Soames) - Did you form the opinion as to whether you believed the signature to be Mr. Parnell's or not? - I did.
In whose handwriting did you believe it to be? - Mr. Parnell's.
You have seen the seven letters. Whose signature do you suppose that to be? - Mr. Parnell's.
You have seen the body of some of these letters. In whose handwriting did you take that to be? - Mr. Campbell's.


Did you also, in the course of your investigations, come across some documents alleged to be in the handwriting of Mr. Egan? - I did.
When did you see any documents alleged to be signed by him? - At the same time as I saw those of Mr. Parnell.
Do you produce those letters? - Yes. They were five in number. One was dated 24th February, 1882, and commenced, "My dear friend"; the second, dated March 25th, 1882, commenced, "Your presence in the West"; the third, dated Tuesday, commenced, "I had a conversation with Mr. Parnell"; the fourth was dated June 18th, 1881, and commenced, "Your two letters have been received"; and the fifth was dated June 18th, 1881, and commenced "I am in receipt."
Did you hear that three letters of Egan's had been discovered in the house of Egan? - I did.
Did you obtain some specimens of Mr. Egan's handwriting? - I did, and I produce them.
Mr. Soames having handed in an affidavit, with Mr. Parnell's signature, made the 27th of November, 1882, the Attorney-General said he was sorry the gentleman was not present who could produce the other documents.
Sir Charles Russell said he had only been able to give a cursory glance at some of the documents put in. He might have some questions to ask about them afterwards.


The Attorney-General (to Mr. Soames) - Have you the House of Commons book here? - Mr. Soames replied that he had not, and went on to state that, subsequent to the trial of "O'Donnell v. Walter," he learned from Mr. Houston and from Mr. Macdonald that the Parnell letters were obtained from Mr. Pigott. It was upon witness's advice that the letters were published. Witness was prepared to answer any questions from Sir Charles Russell as to the way the evidence had been obtained.


In the course of the case "O'Donnell v. Walter," was an affidavit made by Mr. O'Donnell? - Yes, and in that he disclosed a letter from Frank Byrne to Quinn. Prior to getting that affidavit from O'Donnell I had no knowledge of the existence of such a letter.
In the summer of 1887 did you send to Mr. Moser, who was in America? - Yes, with reference to certain documents I knew to be in existence.
Did Mr. Moser send you certain documents from America? - He did.
When you received them did you form any opinion about them? - I knew they were fraudulent. Mr. Moser cabled to me to that effect when he sent them, and that I was not to use them.
Did you ever make any use of them? - No use of them, either directly or indirectly.
(The report will be continued.)


Mr. Condon, M.P., Mayor of Clonmel, has declared the statements of the witness Mitchell, who gave evidence yesterday respecting him, to be absolutely without foundation.


Patrick Molloy, aged 26, a clerk, of 43, York-street, Dublin, was further charged before Sir James Ingham, in the Extradition Court at Bow-street, today, with having committed wilful and corrupt perjury in evidence given before the Parnell Commission on the 7th of December.
Mr. John Walker was recalled for cross-examination by Mr. Lynskey, and said: It was on the second occasion that I met the prisoner that I told him I knew all about him. I did not tell him that if he answered certain questions I would repay him, or that he would lose nothing by it. I did not tell him I would recoup him for any loss for giving evidence for the Times. I did not offer him anything for loss of time.


to give evidence. He never said he would require money before he went into the witness-box. On the occasion of the interview at Mr. Beauchamp's house Mr. Beauchamp came in and said, "This is Mr. Walker, who is acting for the Times." He said he would make the statement to me. I communicated with Mr. Houston, secretary of the Irish Loyal and Patriotic League, with reference to the guarantee. I have been in Mr. Beauchamp's employ three years.
What is your pay from the Times? - I never heard anything about pay at all. I have been paid nothing.
I have taken the statements of two witnesses who have given evidence before the Commission. The prisoner's statement was one and Thomas O'Connor's was another.
Are you aware that he has made a sworn retraction of the evidence given by him before the Commission, and that statement was false? - I can only say that the Freeman's Journal has published a statement to that effect, which I don't believe. I have an action against the Freeman's Journal for libel. I do not believe that Thomas O'Connor made the statement.


Re-examined by Mr. Scrutton, witness said - I wish to correct a statement I made. I said prisoner said it was James Carey who introduced him to the Invincibles. He said it was Tim Kelly. I also said that it was Tim Kelly who introduced him to the Fenians. He said it was James Carey.

Source: The Echo, Thursday February 14, 1889, pp. 2-3

Karen Trenouth
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