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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 25 Nov 2012 - 16:45

Fifty-third Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, February 20, 1889






There was even a greater crush outside the Probate Court this morning than yesterday morning. Inside, however, much more satisfactory arrangements had been made. Only those were admitted who presented themselves at an early hour, and, all the seats having been appropriated, a rigid rule was enforced which excluded all late-comers. Thus the Court was not so inconveniently crowded; and those whose business takes them there had not to undergo the inconvenient process of forcing themselves through a dense mass of humanity, such as thronged the gangways yesterday. The Judges' gallery was occupied by ladies, the public gallery was crowded by ladies and gentlemen, and the jury-box was tested to its utmost capacity. Lady Denbigh and her daughter sat in a quiet corner behind the jury-box; Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett, in the first seat, leaned over the railing and chatted with Mr. Labouchere; Mr. Burne-Jones and Mr. Shaw-Lefevre joked with several eminent Q.C.'s, and a subdued hum of conversation was kept up with a great deal of animation right up to the arrival of the Judges. Professor Bryce had a seat on the Judicial bench; and in other parts of the Court, sheltering in the recesses of the bookshelves, or ensconced behind the curtains of the doorways, or on the ledges of the Jury-box, were several ladies and gentlemen, who were perfectly willing to take any inconvenient seat for the purpose of witnessing the proceedings.


Sir Charles Russell resumed his cross-examination of Mr. Houston. You told us yesterday that you had given an undertaking to destroy Mr. Pigott's letters? - My understanding with him was that I should destroy them.
When you received them? - The understanding was that the letters were to be for my eyes, and my eyes alone.
That you were to destroy them? - That I should make no public use of them.
I am not talking about making public use of them. Was it that you were to destroy them when you received them and as and when he requested? - My reply is that I was to make no public use of them.
Yesterday you told us that you did not undertake to destroy any letters except his own? - Well; I don't think there was any express stipulation, as a matter of phraseology.
We will drop phraseology, Sir. Did you undertake to destroy these letters when you received them, or as and when he requested? - I don't think the word "destroy" was used. I only used it to convey a meaning. I won't say that he, in November, asked me to destroy the letters.


Do you believe he did? - My belief can only be founded on my recollection, and my recollection does not enable me to reply.
Then you can't say that in November he asked you to destroy the letters? - I can't.
Will you swear that on that occasion he did not ask you to destroy them? - I will swear that definitely.
Then how is that you now swear so positively, and could not before? - As you have put the questions my recollection has been revived somewhat, and I am enabled to answer.
Had you at any time any misgiving about the genuineness of these letters? - I never had.
Or any of them? - No.
Perhaps you agree with Mr. Macdonald that they are a priori the most probable letters that would be written? - Quite.
So that you had no difficulty in accepting them as genuine when you received the various batches? - I had no difficulty.


Will you tell me, up to the payment for the first batch, how much altogether, including the guinea a day, plus travelling and hotel expenses, you had paid to Mr. Pigott? - I have no means of telling you.
Well, up to that date, including your own expenses, how much had you expended? - Up to the month of October, 1886, do you refer to?
I have said nothing about that; why do you mention it? - Because that was the time I first went to Mr. Macdonald.
Up to the time you paid for the first batch? - 1,780 pounds, or thereabouts.
That included, I presume, the payments that you made for the letters and the expenses in obtaining them? - Yes.
How much did you pay for the letters? - 500 pounds.
That left you 1,280 pounds? - Yes.
What proportion of the 1,280 pounds would represent your expenses? - I should say, approximately, about 200 pounds.
Then Mr. Pigott got 1,080 pounds? - I should say so.
And each payment did not exceed 100 pounds? - That is so.
What was the date that you paid for the letters? - Some day in July, 1886.
You went over to Paris accompanied by Dr. Maguire? - Yes.
How long had Pigott been in Paris on that occasion before you went over? - Four or five days.
And you went over in consequence of a communication from Pigott? - Yes; he sent me a telegram. I knew from previous letters what was the object of my visit.
It was that if he was successful in his search he was to telegraph you to proceed to Paris? - That is so.
And are those letters destroyed? - Yes.


Did Pigott ever give you the names of any of the persons from whom he got the letters? - He once mentioned the name of Murphy; but in all communications he mentioned them alphabetically.
Were you able to identify those men? - Not by name; all I knew of them was that "X" was in America, and "T" was engaged in active work in Paris. Pigott gave me further particulars in subsequent conversations.


You told us you had borrowed money from Mr. Maguire. How much was it? - 850 pounds. I borrowed it for the specific purpose of purchasing those letters and defraying the expenses. I have also borrowed money from private friends.
Who from? - I do not think it fair to ask that question, as they did not know for what reason I borrowed the money.
All the more reason you should answer the question.
The President - I think it is necessary to answer the question, as Sir Charles wants to know what amount of funds you had.
Mr. Houston - Well, I borrowed 70 pounds from Sir R. Blennerhasset, 450 pounds from Lord Richard Grosvenor, and 250 pounds from a Mr. Hoyle, in Dublin.
When did Lord Richard Grosvenor lend you the 450 pounds? - In January or February, 1886.
For what? - I cannot say. I said I wanted it for political purposes.


Have you repaid it? - Yes. Dr. Maguire and I went to Paris together. I went there, as I say, to obtain the letters. Pigott was not staying at the same hotel as myself. He called on me on the day of my arrival, and it was then I received the letters. The letters had not then really passed from Pigott. He said there were some persons downstairs, and they would not part with them until they were paid.
Pigott told you there were some people downstairs, and that if he did not get the money he should have to take the letters back. Did you see if anyone was downstairs? - No.


Did you ask him who they were? - No; I was kept in ignorance. I did not want to know who the men were. I wanted to keep myself in ignorance as to who the men were who had any of the letters. My part was done when I obtained the letters. I was told it would be useless for me to attempt to get the proof, and that I could not get a complete case.
As against Parnell? - He was one of the persons incriminated.
What did Pigott say about the letters? - He expressed his firm belief that they were genuine.
Yes. - He produced the letters, and left it for me to decide what I would do about them.
Sir Charles Russell - Tell their Lordships, in your own way, all that Pigott told you with reference to the first batch of letters.
Mr. Houston said that Pigott claimed to have communication with certain persons in America who refused to give the letters up; that he sent a man to America, and that he returned and said he had letters addressed to certain persons in Paris. That, said Mr. Houston, was the substance of what Mr. Pigott told him when he brought the letters.


Did you take any steps to test the truth of any part of the story? - I had largely depended upon the statement told to me.
You did not, in fact, test any one link in the chain of the story? - I had no means of doing it.
You did not attempt to test any part of it? - Beyond the evidence in his report I had no means of testing it.
Did you try to test it? - I considered Pigott's story in the light of contemporary events recorded at the time in the press.
Were they anything but what Pigott told you? - Events recorded in the press from day to day.
Tell me one? - The difficulties which were reported to be existing between Mr. Parnell and his colleagues on this side of the water and the extreme men on the other.
Anything else? - Nothing I can call to mind now.
Then, beyond the rumoured difficulties between Mr. Parnell and the extreme men in America, you can point to nothing which gave you any confirmation of Pigott's story? - At that time I may have been better informed. It does not imply that, because I cannot give you the particulars now, I did not have them in my possession at that time.
But, Mr. Houston, you are a person not only who supplied these letters to the Times, but one who had been engaged with Mr. Soames in getting up this case? - Just so; but it would not be fair for me to detail any information I have become possessed of in my capacity as Mr. Soames's assistant.


I am not asking you to - I am asking can you refer me to anything except Pigott's statement which goes to corroborate Pigott's story? - I can tell you that some statements were at the disposal of the Government, and were not utilised.
From whom? - I can't tell you.
From whom, Sir? - I don't know. It was mentioned in the public Press at the time.
What Press? - The Press of this country.
When? - In 1886 or 1887.
What about? - About the information in the possession of the Government; but which was not used for the purpose of bringing persons whom I consider to be criminal to justice.
Are you referring to impressions on your mind at the time of your visit to Paris? - I am speaking of the impressions on my mind while pursuing these investigations.
Then I may take it - we will waste no more time over the point - except what you saw in the papers, you had no corroborative evidence of Pigott's story? - That is so.
Did it seem a probable story to you? - It did.
About this strange bag. It was in a house in which either Carey or Sheridan had lodged that it was found? - It was represented to me as being left behind.


Were both those names mentioned to you? - Yes.
Did you ask where the room was? - No.
Nor in what street? - No.
He also told you that the bag got into the possession of some Fenians? - He did.
Did you ask him then where it was supposed to be? - Yes, and he told me he thought he could get some information from a man named Casey, an extreme man, living in Paris, who, however, he subsequently said, could tell him nothing about it.
Upon Pigott's return from America, did he produce any documents? - He did not.
Did he mention any name? - That of Breslin.
Then, although you were careful not to get other names, because you were not, as you say, desirous of mentioning them, you had this name from him? - Breslin lived in America, and the others in Paris.
Oh! is America a safer place, then? - I imagine it may be for such persons. (Laughter.)
Will you undertake to swear that he ever mentioned the name of Breslin before he gave you the first batch of letters? - I will not.
Did it never appear to you, Mr. Houston, that by your relying so implicitly upon Pigott you were offering him every opportunity to impose upon the public and upon you? - I did not regard him as fraudulent.
And do not? - No.


What sum did you pay him when you saw him on that day in July? - 500 pounds for the letters and 105 pounds for himself.
Then you took Pigott's statement that he had agreed to pay 500 pounds for the letters, and you gave him 105 pounds for himself. That was in addition to his guinea a day and travelling expenses? - Yes.
Did you get that money from Dr. Maguire? - I did.
Did you pay by cheque or Bank of England notes? - Bank of England notes, I believe.
Where does Mr. Maguire keep his account? - I don't know.
Is he here? - I don't know, I have not seen him.
Then we may want to see him. Did you take the numbers of the notes? - I did not.
Did Mr. Maguire? - Not that I know of.
Then just enumerate the value of each of the notes. - My recollection is that I went to Cook's in Ludgate-hill, and drew an order for 505 pounds, or two orders, one for 500 pounds and the other for 105 pounds. It was drawn to be paid to "Mr. Wilson." That is the name I used.


Did you get copies of these letters before you went to Paris? - Yes, and before Pigott went to America. The copies were embodied in some of Pigott's letters. When I obtained the original letters, I believe I destroyed the copies.
Did you compare the copies with the originals? - I did, and I believe Dr. Maguire assisted me. That took place in Dublin after our return from Paris.
On the order or orders which you gave to Pigott did you sign the name of Wilson yourself, or did you leave Pigott to do it? - I believe I did it.


Did you take any acknowledgment from Pigott for the money? - No. I thought the letters were sufficient acknowledgment.
Did he show you any acknowledgment for having paid the money? - No, that would be giving me information of the men with whom he had been dealing, and that is what I wished to avoid.
Why did you take that mode of paying Pigott? - Because I did not want to pay Pigott by cheque. I did not wish my name to be connected with Mr. Pigott's.
Was that because you were ashamed to have your name connected with Mr. Pigott's? - No. It was because I was doing this work without the consent or knowledge of my committee, and my position was a very difficult one. Sometimes I had to explain my absence from work for two or three days, and if they had found out what I was doing I might have found myself in a very risky position for the future.
But some of the persons from whom you borrowed the money were directors of the Society? - Only two of them, and they could not control the majority.
Was not Sir Rowland Blennerhasset chairman? - No.
In whose possession were the letters?


The letters remained in my possession.
Then you showed them to Lord Hartington? - They were shown to Lord Hartington. I showed them to him myself.
When did you offer them to Lord Hartington? - I never offered them to Lord Hartington. I submitted them to him, and asked if he could give me any advice as to their use, and he said he could not.
Declined to? - Yes.
Were they offered in any other quarter? - No.
Then at that time you had not made up your mind to honour the Times? - I went to the Times, and Mr. Buckle was away - I think on his holidays. I waited until his return. I did not go to Lord Hartington to "try another quarter." I went to ask him if he could give me any advice as to how I could use them. I went to Lord Hartington after finding Mr. Buckle was not in town. Up to the time of my visit to Paris I had no handwriting of Mr. Parnell or Mr. Egan.
Has Dr. Maguire, as far as you know, any genuine handwriting of Parnell or Egan? - He did not exhibit any to me. Up to that Pigott had not produced to me any genuine handwriting of Parnell or Egan.
You accepted these letters upon Pigott's faith? - I accepted them on Pigott's faith, and by the consent of Dr. Maguire.
Did it not occur to you that it would have been fair to the man whom you proposed to attack to follow up the means by which the letters had been obtained? - I considered it would be unfair to the men who helped Mr. Pigott.
Mr. Houston was understood to add, speaking in a lower tone, that they "might have been murdered."
Would you not, now, consider it fair to Mr. Parnell that you should have done so? - No; looking back on the matter, I do not.
Further questioned by Sir Charles Russell, Mr. Houston said that, as he paid Mr. Pigott in money, and not by cheque, such a course might have assisted Pigott, had he been mean enough or mercenary enough to have forged the letters.
Can you suggest any check upon him by your mode of payment? - No. My object was not to assist Mr. Parnell.
So that you deliberately followed that mode of payment? - I do not think that was the principal object I had in view.
Was it not that you would render any inquiry on the part of Mr. Parnell more difficult? - My sole motive was to render it difficult for Mr. Pigott's friends to be discovered, and to protect my own identity.


Did you ever offer these letters to the Pall Mall Gazette? - I saw Mr. Stead in the month of June, but at that time I could not have offered the letters, as they were not in my possession.
Had you copies of the letters? - I had.
And expected to get the originals of which you had copies? - I hoped to do so.
Did you offer them to Mr. Stead for 1,000 pounds? - No, I could not offer what I had not got.
Did you ask Mr. Stead to introduce you to any trusted man amongst the Unionist Party who could find money? - No.
Did you suggest that you should see Mr. Brett, who had been Lord Hartington's secretary? - No.
How long after seeing Mr. Stead did you go to Lord Hartington? - I did not go to Lord Hartington until I had obtained the letter. My object in going to Mr. Stead was to ask him to take the matter up and pursue it to the close.
Did you say that the information you had would convict Mr. Parnell and the Irish leaders of direct complicity in the Phoenix-park murders? - I didn't say so, because I had no direct information at that time.
You had copies of the letters? - But copies of letters would not convict anybody.
But you expected the originals? - I had not got them at that time.


You had copies of them from your friend Mr. Pigott, whom you always relied upon, and always regarded as honest and straightforward? - That is so.
You had long had faith in Mr. Pigott? - Yes.
And always will have? - Probably. I believe he will do what he has promised to do. (Laughter.)
And still have? - Well, I must confess I didn't like it when I knew he had had that interview with Mr. Labouchere. (Laughter.)
Your mind wasn't easy then? - It was not till I had made him make a sworn declaration.


Now, as to this interview with Mr. Stead. Did you go on to say that you had certain information in your possession which would corroborate the letters? - I did.
What was it? - What Mr. Pigott had obtained.
And did you further say that this information would lead to the conviction of Mr. Parnell and the Irish leaders for complicity in the Phoenix Park Murders? - My recollection will not allow me to answer that question. I may say the conversation took place on the understanding that it should never be repeated. If it was not used it was understood that no one should ever know anything about it. Mr. Stead, however, has broken the seal of secrecy. I took no record of the conversation. It seems Mr. Stead did, for he has apparently written a very sensational account of it. (Laughter.)
That's a speech. Did the conversation last about an hour and a half? - I don't know.
Was 1,000 pounds named? - My recollection is that the only mention on money was made by Mr. Stead. He said he had lost 3,000 pounds over the "Maiden Tribute to Modern Babylon," and he did not like to enter upon anything else without the promise of success. (Laughter.)
Was 1,000 pounds mentioned? - It may have been, and I may have suggested the figure.


Did you also say that Sexton and Dillon were implicated in the Phoenix Park murders? - I don't think I did; but I won't be certain I didn't.
I put it point-blank. - I gave you a point-blank reply. I can't tell.
You may have? - I may have, and I may have not.


If you may have said so, what was your authority? - Statements made by Eugene Davies to Mr. Pigott.
Statements which Pigott reported to have had from Davies? - Yes.
In writing? - Yes.
Unhappily destroyed? - A copy exists.
Let me have it. (A document was here handed to the witness.) Is that the original? - It is not. It is a copy, which I gave to Mr. Soames.
But I want the original. You told us yesterday you gave Mr. Soames the original.
The Attorney-General - This is the document he handed to Mr. Soames.
Sir Charles Russell - You have no right to say so.
The Attorney-General - I beg your pardon, Sir Charles Russell. I have a perfect right. That is the document you called for.
Sir Charles Russell (to the witness) - Did you not yesterday swear that you handed the original document to Mr. Soames? - I said that was my belief.
Has anything occurred to cause you to alter your belief? - Mr. Soames tells me I gave him only a copy.
Has the original been destroyed? - I don't know.
Do you think it has? - I don't know. It may have been.
You said you handed the original to Mr. Soames - I now recognise the copy as one that was written by my clerk at my suggestion. I handed it to Mr. Soames some months ago, soon after this Commission commenced.
Did you dictate the document to your clerk? - No. I handed him the original document.
Why did you send a copy to Mr. Soames? - I suppose I wanted to keep the original. My statement now is that this was the document that was handed to Mr. Soames, and he could not have had the original.
Where is it, then? - I don't know.
It was in Pigott's handwriting? - Yes.
And you said, yesterday, that you had had it in your possession from about February, 1886, until, as far as you recollected, you handed it to Mr. Soames? - Yes; that was my statement yesterday.
I do not propose to refer to this copy until this matter is cleared up. Did you not think that statement of Mr. Pigott's important? - Distinctly so.
And yet you cannot say what has become of the original? - I was under the impression that it was in the hands of Mr. Soames.
Now what was it that led up to the second batch of letters? - I received an intimation from Mr. Pigott that he had secured further letters.


Now, let me ask you this. With the exception of the Phoenix-park letter, did you consider any of the other letters important? - I did. I considered them all important, although they were not incriminatory on the face of them.
Did you ask Mr. Pigott to whom the Phoenix-park letter was supposed to have been addressed? - Yes, and he told me it was supposed to have been addressed either to Patrick Egan or to Frank Byrne.


Did he convey to you whether it was this one or the other, or can you only remember that he mentioned the one or the other, and are not sure which? - He told me the letter was supposed to have been written to either Frank Byrne or Patrick Egan.
Did you ask him what was his authority for that statement? - He told me that he had been informed by some of his friends that the letters had been passed about among them, and was supposed to have been sent to Patrick Egan or to Frank Byrne. That was all the authority he had for the statement.
He did not definitely name any persons? - No.


Now, with regard to the letter of the 9th of January, 1882, "What are those fellows waiting for, &c.?" did he tell you who that letter was supposed to have been written to? - He told me he understood it was written to Egan.
Did he tell you anything more about it, or did you ask him? - I asked him how a letter like that could get out of Kilmainham, and he replied that there would be no difficulty about that.
Now have you formed any opinion as to whose handwriting the body of that letter is in? - I have not.


Now, with regard to the letter dated Tuesday: -
"Tell B. to write to me direct. Have not yet received the papers, &c." To whom was that supposed to be addressed? - I understood to Egan, but I am not quite certain.
Did you ask him who the "B." was? - Yes; and he gave me to understand it was either Frank Byrne or Thomas Brennan. With regard to the letter commencing "Dear Sir, - I see no objection to paying the amount asked for," I do not think Mr. Pigott formed any opinion as to who it was addressed to. The letter dated Tuesday, "What amount does he want," I understood was addressed to Egan. Mr. Pigott also told me to whom the Egan letters were supposed to have been addressed. He would not vouch for the accuracy of his statements, however, and he said he had experienced great difficulty in getting information, and he would only tell me what his friends told him.


Now, having got this batch, you told Pigott to continue the search? And was he still enjoying his guinea a day, and travelling expenses? - Yes.
And how long was he kept on in this way after July, before he became hot again in the search for any documents? - I cannot tell you; there was a long blank, in which nothing was done at all.
Then, did you see him, and stir him up, or did he come to see you? - I think he wrote to me from Paris to say some more letters were there.
That letter he wrote you? - I think so.
And that letter is unfortunately destroyed? - Yes.
What was the date of that letter? - Jan., 1888.
During that time he had been going hither and thither? - I don't know. I ceased communication with him for a long time.


But you were still paying him a guinea a day? - Oh, dear, no.
Am I to take it that from July, 1886, to January, 1888, you paid him nothing? - I kept him employed until October, 1886, in searching for more documents. And now I remember (Mr. Houston added, and thus correcting his previous statement) I paid him some money in 1887, because he visited Paris several times for me.
And what sum of money did you pay him between October, 1886, and January, 1888? - I should think between 150 pounds and 200 pounds.
No more? - No.
And how much did you pay him between July and October, 1886? - Something like 30 pounds or 60 pounds. I think I may have made a mistake in saying I paid him about 200 pounds between October, 1886, and Jan., 1887. I cannot state the amount until I have seen my books.
Continuing his evidence, Mr. Houston said he received from Mr. Pigott the second batch of letters in February, 1888. Mr. Pigott had previously sent copies of the originals.


Did he tell you that the people who sold the letters repented of their bargains? - He told me that about three weeks after. That was about August, 1886.
Sir Charles Russell (reading from a letter written by Pigott to Mr. Houston), "Here are the three letters. The price is all right, only I shall have to be content with half of the commission I expected to get. I would not mind much, only I have spent a lot of money in entertaining "patriots." What was the price? - 550 pounds. I think the 500 pounds was for the letters and 50 pounds for himself.
But as far as seeing the copies you were buying a pig in a poke? - No, I was buying three letters alleged to be signed by three individuals. If the letters were proved to be genuine I would pay for them. He was paid by me. My hand was the first to receive the money - by cheque from Mr. Soames, for 550 pounds. A circular letter of credit was sent to Pigott in the name of Wilson to pay for the letters. I did not endorse it; I left it to Pigott. I believe he signed the name of Wilson.
Did Pigott tell you how he got the second batch of letters? - I understood that he had taken them from the same people that he had the first.


You conducted this second purchase so as to leave no trace of where the letters came from? - So as to leave no trace. It did not occur to me to ask him how the second batch did not turn up with the first batch.
Sir Charles Russell (reading) - "The two Parnell letters were addressed to "J. O'C." and the late "Colvert," but, as you will notice, the names have been erased." Was that, in your opinion, an additional evidence of authenticity? - Yes.
"J. O'C." means James O'Connor? - "John O'Connor," I said.
(Reading) - "As to their being genuine I have not the slightest doubt. The Egan letter, as I told you, was obtained from Mrs. Mullett."
Did that refer to Mrs. Mullett? - I understood it, I think, from what he told me. I think he had mentioned the circumstance before.


Am I to take it you say positively he told you that this letter "E" came from Mullett? - You may take it that he had told me before that. Mrs. Mullett had allowed it to go from her possession in a loose way.
She says it was amongst her husband's papers that she considered of no importance, and gave to a friend soon after he was sentenced, and did you ask what friend? - No.
What letter is that? - I think the one in which the 200 pounds is mentioned.
"Dear Sir, - I have by this post sent M. 200 pounds. He will give you what you want. When will you undertake to get to work and give me value for our money?" That is the letter? - Yes.
That letter, you say, was addressed to Carey? - Yes.
Did it occur to you to ask why the letter addressed to Carey came into the possession of Mullett? - I did not ask. But my theory was that Carey, being in need of money, took it to Mullett as an order for him to pay him what he wanted. Mullett was treasurer of the Invincibles.


Now we come to the third batch. That came into your possession after the "O'Donnell and Walter" trial? - Yes. I believe I sent Pigott to Paris during the trial to see if anything cropped up there. I may say I had previously heard of the existence of the "Bakery" letter.
Up to this third batch had you any "Davitt" or "O'Kelly" letter? - I had not.
Have you formed any opinion as to whether the "Davitt" letter was genuine? - I had no material.
The same as to the "O'Kelly" letter? - The same.
Did you attach any value as to the scraps - the various pieces of paper that appear to have been snipped off documents? - I considered them valuable.
With regard to the third batch did he say they came from the same people the others had come from? - I don't think anything was said about it.
Confidence had been so thoroughly established that you did not ask him? - That is a fair way of putting it.
What did you pay for them? - 300 pounds, which I sent Pigott in two 100 pound notes in a registered envelope. I took the numbers of the notes but I tore the papers up containing the numbers upon the receipt of the notes being acknowledged.


Did you ask him what he paid for the last batch of letters? - No. He asked me for 200 pounds, and I gave it to him.
Now, with reference to the statements in "Parnellism and Crime" about the "murderous knives being kept in the Land League offices." Had you anything to do with the preparation of , or the supply of, the materials for the articles? - Nothing whatever.
Have you any knowledge where that statement came from? - No.


When did Mr. Pigott first inform you of his having an interview with either Mr. Lewis, Mr. Parnell, or Mr. Labouchere? - On the 6th of November, 1888.
And up to that time you had not been aware that he had been in communication with these persons at all? - I had been previously informed by Mr. Pigott. He told me that a Mr. Whelan, a solicitor, from Tullamore, had called at the house, and told him that a gentleman had come from America, who wished to have an interview with him in London.
Did he say from whom in America? - I don't think so. He said the interview was to take place at the house of Mr. Labouchere, and he asked Mr. Pigott to go to London to meet this mysterious stranger. Mr. Pigott, however, refused to go, and told Whelan that the mysterious stranger must visit him. Ultimately, a man who said his name was Sinclair, visited Mr. Pigott, and asked him if he had any letters from Egan in his possession, and, if so, he was prepared to purchase them from him at a high price. Mr. Pigott replied in the negative, and wrote me two letters, in which he mentioned the visit of the mysterious stranger.
Can you produce those letters? - I can produce one of them.


The letter was here handed to Sir Charles, who read it. It was dated 17th October, 1888, and ran as follows: - "Dear Sir, - I received your wire all right on the 4th. My visitor yesterday turned up this morning with the information that he was authorised to say that the meeting between myself and the mysterious stranger - if it came off - should take place in the house of Mr. Labouchere, and in the presence of that gentleman. He could tell me nothing more. Although this looks like business I thought it better to state that I was indisposed to go over without further instructions. He promised to telegraph, and return and tell me the result. He has not appeared up to the present. I shall act on your suggestion as to the written guarantee should he come again, and I suppose he will."


When did Mr. Pigott first consent to his name being disclosed? - On the Saturday in October previous to the sitting of the Commission. He made a statement in Mr. Soames's office. I was present, and saw him receive a written guarantee that the Times would not see him suffer. He afterwards wrote to me demanding 5,000 pounds. He did not demand cash down, but required a written guarantee for the money. It was rather an abusive letter, because he thought we had compelled him to make his statement under false pretences. I therefore destroyed the letter as quickly as possible.
Sir Charles Russell - You have told us of a demand for 5,000 pounds in the letter you destroyed. Has he repeated that demand? - I think he subsequently mentioned it, but not as a demand. He said his position was giving him great pain and anxiety to himself, and he thought some arrangement should be made.
For 5,000 pounds? - He dropped the 5,000 pounds after that.


Mr. Soames then formally produced the copy of the statement alleged by Pigott to have been made by Eugene Davies to him, and stated that the original had not been out of his (Mr. Soames's) possession since he received it about thirteen months ago from Mr. Houston. Mr. Soames next produced a list, showing the cheques paid by him to Mr. Houston, as follows: -
4th May, 1887, 1,000 pounds; 26th July, 1887, 200 pounds; 8th October, 1887, 30 pounds; 18th December, 1887, 41 pounds 1s.; 27th January, 1888, 210 pounds; 4th February, 1888, 280 pounds; 16th February, 1888, 550 pounds; July 11th, 225 pounds; 29th October, 82 pounds. Nearly all the cheques were crossed. Mr. Soames then handed the list up, stating that there were other sums.
William Farquharson, a clerk in Mr. Houston's employ, said he had been with the Loyal and Patriotic Union since 1886. He copied the document (the statement of Eugene Davies to Pigott for Mr. Houston. It was in Pigott's handwriting.
In cross-examination by Sir Charles Russell, the witness said he had copied numerous documents - a few dozen - for Mr. Houston. They were all in Mr. Pigott's handwriting.
The Court then adjourned for lunch.


Upon resuming, Mr. Houston again entered the witness-box.
The Attorney-General said he proposed to read the document copied by Mr. Houston's clerk, and purporting to be the notes of Pigott's interview with Davies.
Sir Charles Russell objected this course.
The Attorney-General submitted that he had proved this was a perfectly legitimate copy of the document.
The President - I am under the impression that a thorough search for the document has been given. At the present time no search has been made. (To the witness.) Have you searched the document containing the notes of the conversation with Davies at Lausanne, given you by Pigott, there?
Could it be found? - It could be not. Mr. Soames told me last night that he only had the copy, and I am satisfied that the copy produced is a correct one.
Sir Charles Russell pointed out that he had only asked for the original document. He had never asked for the copy at all, and he could not have a copy put upon him, however clear it might be.
The President - If this evidence is to be believed, it was a copy of a document that came from Pigott.
Sir Charles Russell - Just so; but I ask your Lordship to allow me to consult with my learned friend.
The President - I will allow that. At present I am strongly of the opinion that the documents should be seen.


The copy was accordingly produced, and the Attorney-General proceeded to read. It ran thus: - "I first met Egan in February, 1881. As you know, it was your letter of introduction made me acquainted with him, though I was not then a member of the Land League. After a while he took me into his confidence, and from that time I was fully informed of the doings, designs, and plans of the League. I have previously known of the connection of the I.R.B. in America and the Land League on this side of the water, the two organisations having agreed to act in consort, one acting in the open and the other in secret. The "F's" were" -
Sir Charles Russell - Again I must say that this is not what I asked for at all. I asked for the notes which Mr. Houston says he received from Pigott and forwarded to Mr. Soames. This purports to be a statement of somebody or other.
The President - This, I understand -
The Attorney-General - This purports to be what Davies said to Pigott.
Sir Charles Russell - Well, I would point out that I asked for the notes which passed between Pigott and Houston. This begins "I first met." Who is the "I?"
The Attorney-General - Davies, of course. I will proceed to read the document.


Sir Charles Russell (after consulting with Mr. Parnell) - My Lords, my clients are very anxious that there should be an understanding on this matter. This cannot, of course, be accepted as evidence against them, but merely as a communication to the witness.
The President - Quite so; it will only be admitted as a communication received by the witness. The grounds upon which we admit it are that we have already had a portion of the communication that passed between Pigott and this witness, and we feel we ought to have the whole of it.
Sir Charles Russell - I wish we could have the whole of it.


The Attorney-General continued reading the statement. It was to the effect that Parnell, Biggar, Brennan, and, he believed, Matt Harris, went over to Ireland. Many informal meetings were held. It was agreed that they were all of one mind on the subject of reprisals. It was also agreed that Ireland was really at war with Great Britain, and as Ireland could not put a military force into the field to cope with that of Great Britain, it was necessary to arrange matters by effecting the removal of as many leading men as possible.


Men were then sent over to the West of Ireland to establish assassination centres of the "F.B.," and Sheridan especially took great credit upon himself for establishing the Patriotic Brotherhood. Either Walsh or Byrne also formed similar societies in the West of Ireland. Immediately after the arrest of Mr. Parnell Egan appealed to the Fenian leaders to carry out their treaty more energetically, at the direct instigation of Mr. Parnell, who wrote to him from Kilmainham. Mr. Parnell wrote frequently to Egan from Kilmainham.


formulated a demand for $200,000, which was obtained through John O'Connor from Patrick Egan, for the removal of obnoxious persons. A number of Clan-na-Gael men were engaged in Ireland, and planned nearly all the agrarian murders. Egan was always communicated with, and gave his consent when he obtained Mr. Parnell's sanction, which he always required, and it was invariably given. Tynan was instructed to watch United Ireland, and not to hesitate to order the assassination of any person who was pointed out in that journal. Egan was, however, so dissatisfied with the way he performed his mission, that he ordered his recall to New York as an imbecile. Then


were discussed. Tynan, anxious to redeem his character, undertook the work, and actually gave the signal for the killing of the secretaries. In a subsequent interview Egan expressed himself well satisfied with the way Tynan had behaved in that affair. Then came Mr. Parnell's denunciation of murders, and Egan wrote an angry letter to Mr. Parnell. Then he received the letter in which Mr. Parnell is alleged to have said that although he regretted the accident which caused the death of Lord F. Cavendish he thought Mr. Burke had got nothing but his desserts.


In the statement it was further set out that a plan was formed for the murder of the Prince of Wales, or Mr. Gladstone, or both, at a carnival. Byrne and Tynan got close to both those persons; but their courage failed them, and the blow was not struck.


In answer to further questions of the Attorney-General, with reference to the destroying Mr. Pigott's letters, Mr. Houston said he did not destroy those letters because he was afraid of anything being discovered in them respecting the genuineness of the letters; but because he thought that if he kept them certain individuals would be at the mercy of certain assassins.
Replying to other questions of the Attorney-General, Mr. Houston said he went to Paris in July, 1886, and did not communicate with the Times until his return to London. It was not true that he ever offered the letters to the Pall Mall Gazette for 1,000 pounds. For the last three months he had had no communication with Dr. Maguire.
Mr. Houston was further cross-examined by Sir Charles Russell. He said he did not know where the memoranda were, spoken of by his clerk as having copied. They were extracts from the Irish World and other papers. Witness was aware that Mr. Eugene Davies was in this country, and that Mr. Soames had subpoenaed him.


Mr. Richard Pigott was then called. He wore a single-eyeglass, which he shook down as he bowed to the Judges. He said: - I am fifty-four years of age. I reside at Queenstown, and am a journalist. I was proprietor of the Irishman. I became proprietor in April, 1865. It was the Nationalist organ.
Was it the Fenian organ? - Upon the suppression of the Irish People it was the organ of the Fenian Brotherhood.


Were you sworn in a member of the Fenian Brotherhood? - I was, shortly after I became proprietor.
In February, 1868, were you prosecuted by the Government for an article on the Manchester execution? - Yes. I received a sentence of twelve months, which was subsequently reduced to six months' imprisonment. I knew John Walsh.
After that time did you remain a member of the Fenian Brotherhood? - Yes.
Do you recollect when it was an Irish Republican Brotherhood was formed? - It was immediately after the release of the Fenian prisoners, Kickham, James O'Connor, James E. O'Brien, and others. That was in 1869, I think.
Did you employ either of those men? - Yes, Kickham and O'Connor, who was sub-editor of the Irishman.


Did you ever join the Supreme Council? - Yes. I know James O'Kelly. He belonged to the Brotherhood. He was arms agent in London. James O'Kelly was in my employ.
How do you know he was arms agent in London? - I had frequent communication with him, and discussed matters personally.
I will take you to the Amnesty Association. Do you remember that? - I do. I was a member of it. Nearly all the Fenians I knew were members of it. The date of the Amnesty Association was 1870.


Do you know whether Mr. Parnell was a member of the Amnesty Association? - Yes, he was.
When was the Supreme Council of the I.R.B. reconstituted? - Later on, at about the time of the Home Rule movement.
Who became members of that? - Mr. Biggar, M.P., Mr. Barry, M.P., and Mr. Matthew Harris.
Was Patrick Egan a member of the Supreme Council? - Yes. I should think it must have been 1871 or 1872. I knew James Carey, James Mullett, and David Murphy. They were connected with the Fenian Brotherhood. There was a Dublin "Directory." I know a man named John O'Leary. He was a member of the Supreme Council. Other members I knew as belonging to it were a man named Corley, a Glasgow centre; John Doran, and Johnson, of Belfast.
Did you know a man named Sullivan? - Yes, a prominent Fenian, who was an auctioneer and bookseller.
Where is Daley now? - In Chatham Prison.
For what? - For being concerned in a dynamite explosion.
Do you remember the shooting of Head-constable Talbot? - I do.
Who shot him? - A man named Kelly. It occurred in July, 1871. A defence fund was started for him through the columns of the Irishman, James O'Connor being the secretary. He is at present on United Ireland. The treasurer of the fund was John Levy.
Was O'Connor ever convicted? - He was one of the sixteen Fenians who were imprisoned.


Did you suffer four months' imprisonment for anything connected with the O'Kelly case? - Yes, for contempt of Court. A paragraph which appeared in the paper had respect to the case.
You continued connected with the "I.R.B." up to what time? - Up to the disposal of the paper in July, 1881; but I was never an active member.
Do you remember the Amnesty Association being formed? - Yes; after the O'Connell centenary, in 1875. There remained a considerable surplus out of the centenary fund, and there was a squabble as to how it should be distributed. The prominent gentlemen who attended the meetings about the disposition of the funds were Mr. Parnell, Mr. Biggar, and Mr. J. Nolan. Joe Brady and Dan Curley were also regular attendants.
Do you remember Kelly, the man who shot Talbot, being released in 1878? - Yes.
Was a fund started? - Yes.
Who was the secretary? - James Carey.
And the treasurer? - Brennan, who was subsequently connected with the Land League.
Do you remember a telegram coming from America relative to the Skirmishing Fund in 1878? - Yes. It appeared in my paper first of all, and I believe it was addressed to Mr. O'Connor.
In the year 1879 did you become aware of General Millen and Devoy being in Ireland? - Yes.
How? - Devoy sent a message to me saying that he heard I was anxious to dispose of my paper.
While Devoy was in Ireland were negotiations opened for the purchase of your paper? - Yes.
Who by? - James Mullett, Matt Harris, John O'Connor (Dr. Clarke), and Patrick Egan.
Those four gentlemen - or four persons perhaps I ought to say - negotiated with you for the purchase of the paper? - Oh, yes.


Up to that time, had you opposed the Land League? - Well, we gave it what we call an independent support. (Laughter.)
Did anything occur after the convention of the I.R.B. in Paris with reference to supporting the Land League? - I supported the Land League in the same way as before.
Was the Mr. Egan who opened up negotiations at the end of 1880 Mr. Patrick Egan, treasurer of the Land League? - The same.


And did your paper continue to be the organ of the Fenian organisation? - It did; and in April, 1881, I had an interview with Mr. Parnell in which the purchase of the Irishman was discussed. The paper was ultimately bought by a supposed company, comprising Mr. Parnell, Mr. Egan, and Mr. Justin Macarthy; but, I believe the money came from the Land League. They also bought another paper of mine called the Flag of Ireland - that was also an organ of the Fenian organisation - and that paper they turned into the United Ireland.


In the early part of 1881, I (proceeded witness) also had an interview with Mr. Egan, in which the prosecution of Mr. Parnell and other Land League leaders was discussed. Mr. Egan said that if the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended the Irish Republican Brotherhood would carry out reprisals. Mr. Egan further said he would make the lives of English officials in Ireland not worth an hour's purchase. He also said Devoy had re-organised the Brotherhood, so that it would act in co-operation with the Land League.
Do you remember the departure of Mr. Egan for Paris? - Yes.
Did you know of his going, or did he go suddenly? - I did not know he was going to leave Dublin. He wrote to me immediately on his arrival in Paris.
Mr. Pigott, continuing, said he received from Egan the letter dated 8th of February, from Hotel Brighton.
Do you know a man named Eugene Davies? - Yes. He was a writer on my paper, the Irishman. He wrote under the name of "Owen Rowe." He was a member of the Republican Brotherhood. John O'Connor was a brother of James O'Connor. I first heard of an Inner Circle at Dublin in 1879. I knew Sheridan, Biggar, Barry, Matthew Harris, and Patrick Egan were members of the Supreme Council, but the first three resigned when the Land League movement was started in 1880. They remained, however, members of the Fenian Brotherhood.


When did you first know Mr. Houston? - In 1885. I had written a pamphlet - "Parnellism Unmasked" - six months before I knew Mr. Houston. I had private sources of information for the pamphlet. Mr. Houston called on me and asked if I had the pamphlet. Before I ever saw Mr. Houston I had written to prominent politicians for pecuniary assistance to enable me to publish it.
And the pamphlet was printed and circulated anonymously? - It was, and he gave me 60 pounds for it. That was about in September, 1885. I next saw Mr. Houston in November, 1885, he coming to me.


What did he say? - I should say that immediately after the circulation of this pamphlet I wrote others for him, which he published. When he called on me he referred to a paragraph in this pamphlet which says "he organised the Invincibles and the Land League." That referred to Mr. Devoy, and he asked me if I could supply him information on that point.
Did you believe that statement to be true? - Yes.
And do now? - I do.
What did you say? - I told him it would be a matter of great difficulty, as the parties were bound to secrecy. He, however, wished me to try and find documents to support the truth of my statements.
What did you then say? - I told him that that was still more difficult, as every member was expected to destroy documents he received. That was all that passed, and the next time I saw him he said, if I was willing to make the experiment, he would defray the costs. I still objected, the matter being of an extremely dangerous nature. However, he prevailed upon me, told me that he would pay my expenses and traveling expenses, and give me a guinea a day, and I finally accepted the terms.
Were you engaged in work at that time? - I was writing a great many articles at that time, and told him I should have to give it up.
What was the first thing you did? - I went to London with the object of obtaining information. I sought my own friends, but I did not succeed, as some had gone to America, some were dead, and some were in prison. (Laughter.)


On returning to Dublin the name of the man Davis occurred to me. I knew that Davis was very much mixed up in Fenian matters, particularly at the time Egan was in Paris. Mr. Egan had engaged him to write in United Ireland when it was published in Paris. I told Mr. Houston so early in 1886. I also knew that Davis had been expelled from Paris by the French Government. I told Mr. Houston that I might be able to get something out of Davis. I obtained his address in Lausanne from a man in London, and J.W. Houston ultimately decided to send me to Lausanne to see Davis. There was a distinct understanding between Mr. Houston and myself that he should not mention my name to anyone, and that I would not mention his name to anyone. I went at once to Lausanne, and there saw Eugene Davis. He was personally a stranger to me; but, as I say, I knew him as a contributor to my paper under the nom de plume of "Owen Rowe."
Mr. Soames, in answer to the Attorney-General, said he subpoenaed Davis in October, 1888.
The Court then adjourned.


The Parnell fund has now reached a sum of nearly 33,000 pounds, of which a considerable proportion is still intact. The expenses of the defendants in the Probate Court have not (says the London Correspondent of the Liverpool Post), been on anything like such a scale as those which threaten to swamp even so rich a commercial enterprise as the Times. In the first place, Mr. George Lewis has as yet spent hardly anything under the head of expenses for witnesses. When this account is opened it will not in any degree compare with the cost incurred for the Times, since many of the witnesses will decline to accept their costs, and others differently situated will receive them on the lowest possible scale; whereas, as was shown in the case of Molloy, not to mention Mr. Houston, Mr. Moser, and Mr. Pigott, the Times has had to disburse large sums. Even the array of legal talent is not so costly as it looks. The Correspondent believes the fact is that neither Sir Charles Russell, Mr. Lockwood, Mr. Reid, nor Mr. Asquith had their briefs marked for any particular sum. They had received moneys on account, but it is no secret that in each case they are at considerable pecuniary disadvantage.

Source: The Echo, Wednesday February 20, 1889, pp. 2-3

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