Face of Winifred May Davies
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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 29 Nov 2012 - 18:59

Fifty-fourth Day of Proceedings - Thursday, February 21, 1889






The Court was very full again today. There was the same exhibition of remarkable eagerness to obtain seats on the part of the public, and the same rules were enforced, which absolutely closed the doors to all who were not fortunate enough to have forced their way in at an early period, and secured the first seats available. Amongst those who were thus very early in the Court were Lord Monteagle, Lord Castleross, Lord Dunraven, and the Hon. Lady Cecil (one of the Premier's daughters).


The Attorney-General resumed the examination of Mr. Pigott.
Can you fix the date of your first visit to Lausanne? - The end of January, 1886.
How long were you there? - Two days on the first occasion.
Did you go there more than once? - Twice.
When was the second? - In the following month.
On the first occasion did you see Eugene Davies? - Yes.
Had you an interview? - Two or three.
Did he make a statement to you? - The first time I told him I had called to ask for materials as to the doings of the Land League for a pamphlet. I also told him that I should require a statement of facts signed in the presence of another person. He said he would consider it.
Did he say anything else? - He said he knew a lot about the doings of the League and the Parnellite Party.
What then took place? - I saw him the day after, and he told me that he had carefully considered everything, and could not give me any particulars at all.


Why? - The principal reason was that the Fenian Brotherhood were bound to Mr. Parnell for a certain period, and until that period had elapsed he must decline to do anything. I saw him again the following day, and still he persisted in his decision, saying that the end of the period during which the Fenian Brotherhood were pledged to assist Mr. Parnell had not arrived.
Did you return to England? - I did, and saw Mr. Houston.
What passed between you then? - I gave him an account of what had happened, and told him that I thought probably Davies might consent to give a statement at some future time. I don't think we came to any decision or arrangement, but at a subsequent interview Mr. Houston suggested that I should make another trial, and pay Davies another visit.
Mr. Houston having suggested that, did you go? - I did.
How long were you at Lausanne the second time? - I think I was nearly a week there.


What passed between Davies and you? - I saw him in his hotel, in fact I stayed with him nearly the whole of the time. Until the day before my departure he adhered to his refusal to do anything. The day before I left I made a proposal to him that he should bind himself to write a pamphlet for me at such a time as, in his opinion, the publication of it would not do any injury to the Nationalist cause, or interfere with the arrangements between the Fenian Party and Mr. Parnell.
What did he say? - He at once agreed. I proposed to pay him 100 pounds, and asked that he would give me the heads of the particular facts; which he did.
In writing or verbally? - Verbally, at the hotel after dinner.
Did you write them down? - I did, on the backs of envelopes in his presence.
What did you do with them then? - Immediately after he had gone I wrote out an account of the conversation. I have read Eugene Davies's statement in the papers this morning, and it is word for word what Davies said to me.
Were the facts contained in that statement from Eugene Davies made by him? - Yes. I had never heard of the letter "Burke got no more than his desserts" before Davies told me of it. I do not know where Davies is now. I brought the document home and saw Mr. Houston. I told him the particulars, and handed him the statement.
Was that, the original statement, ever returned to you? - No, never.
What passed between you and Mr. Houston when you gave it to him? - He read it. I did not see him again until April, 1886. That was in the early part of April.
What was the conversation which took place between you and Houston? - I suggested he should make another search, as I had reason to believe some Irish-Americans had arrived in Paris.
How did you know that? - I had a friend in Paris.


Did you know who the Irish-Americans were? - I did not know who they were. Mr. Houston consented to my going to Paris.
Was there any other bargain made, or was it on the same arrangement? - On the same arrangement. I went to Paris.
Did you discover anything in Paris on that occasion? - I had been there a week or so when I was accosted in the street by a man who called me by name, and said he had been in my employ. He gave me his name as Maurice Murphy. I did not recollect his face, but, as my men were engaged by the printers, and not by me, I had no reason to doubt him. We had a long talk on that occasion, but nothing passed. I met him two or three times afterwards, and nothing passed.


Afterwards, proceeded Pigott, he told me that he was an agent for the Clan-na-Gael. I asked him if he knew anything of any documents, and he said he did not, but would make inquiries. Subsequently he told me that he had discovered a bag of documents. He did not tell me where they were.
On that occasion did you see any documents? - No, he described them to me. He said the bag contained a number of newspapers, six letters of Mr. Egan's and five of Mr. Parnell's, and some old accounts.


As nearly as you can recollect, did he show you anything more on that occasion? - No. I told him I was authorised to buy the letters, and I asked him to name a price. He first said 1,000 pounds, but I told him that was a great deal too much, and I was sure that would not be given, or anything like it. After some discussion it came down to 500 pounds.
Did you see anybody else at this time besides Murphy? - I met a number of Irish persons about Paris at this time, but I did not know them. I should say that I found there was an impression among these men in Paris that I was -
Sir Charles Russell (interrupting) - We cannot have your impression.
The Attorney-General - We are entitled to hear what occurred.


Mr. Pigott - I may say I was charged with being in the employ of the Government in getting evidence for a criminal prosecution of Mr. Parnell, and those with whom I came into contact regarded me with suspicion.
You tell me you did not know what their real names were? - No.
Did you get any documents on that occasion of your being in Paris or not? - On the next occasion Murphy brought the bag to show me, and I glanced at the contents of the letters and made memoranda about them. I did not make actual copies.
The Attorney-General here called for the "O'Shea" and "Delaney" letters.
Do you remember (he then asked Mr. Pigott) how many letters you saw on the first occasion that you were shown any? - I think there were six of Mr. Parnell's and five of Egan's.
The Attorney-General then handed a batch of letters to Mr. Pigott, who picked out the following letters of Egan's as being those which he saw on the first occasion. The letters were dated 24th Feb., 1881; 8th March, 1882; Tuesday, 10th June, 1881; 18th of June, 1881; and 11th of March, 1882. The "Carey" letter he did not recognise. He also picked out the five alleged Parnell letters dated 15-5-1882, (the fac-simile letter), 9-1-82, and the three "Tuesday" letters. Mr. Pigott said he also examined the scraps of paper, and these which were produced in Court were he believed the same. "Some of these leaves (he added) are taken out of an account-book once in my possession."
What account-books? - Pertaining to some Fenian money.
How did it come in your possession? - It was formerly in possession of David Murphy, who was my cashier, and was connected with the fund.
How long was Mr. Murphy in your employ? - Up to the time he was shot.


You saw the signature attached to the letters? - I did.
And you believe it to be that of Mr. Parnell? - I did.
Did you recognise the handwriting of the bodies of the letters? - I did not.
Did you know Mr. Campbell? - No, nor his handwriting.
Did you make any bargain with this man when you discussed the price - 1,000 pounds or 500 pounds - or not? - We only discussed the price.
Did he say anything about giving up the letters? - Not then.
What did you next do? - I came to London and saw Mr. Houston.
What did you tell him? - I described the contents of the bag, and showed him a pencil copy of the substance of the letters.
What did he say? - He took two days to consider, and then said he would pay the price.
What occurred next? - I returned to France at once, on the 20th of April, 1886.


Then what did you do? - I found Murphy, and told him that I was prepared to accept his offer.
What did he say? - He told me that, in my absence an agent of the Clan-na-Gael had claimed the letters as the property of the organisation, and that in order to obtain them it would be necessary that some one should go to New York.
Was anything more said? - He said the authority must be obtained from the head of the Clan-na-Gael before these letters could be sold. I was strongly opposed to going to New York, knowing that I should run a great deal of danger. I endeavoured to persuade Mr. Houston to go himself, but he declined, and then told me it would be impossible to get them without my going to America.
How long were you in Paris when you went there on the 20th April? - More than a week.
Had you a constant conversation with Murphy about these letters? - Well, we only spoke about it once, I think; but I was always with him.
Did you meet other Irish-Americans? - Yes; but I had no communication with anybody except Murphy.
And then you came back to London? - Yes, and saw Mr. Houston. He objected to the expense which would be incurred by the trip to America, and there wasn't even the certainty that the letters would be forthcoming. He said he would consider the matter. After an interval of a week I saw him again, and he then told me that he was prepared to send me, and I had better go at once.
About what time was that? - It must have been the very last day of April.


Did you go? - I went on the 1st of May, 1886.
Where did you sail from? - Queenstown.
In what vessel? - The Aurania.
Where did you go? - To New York.
How long were you there? - Eight days.
What vessel did you come back by? - The Servia, I think. It was a Cunarder. I arrived about the 29th of May. During the eight days I was in New York I saw Breslin. I saw him at the hotel where I was staying. I had a sealed letter from Murphy addressed to Breslin.


Did you have a previous engagement with Breslin? - No; the whole affair was over in a few minutes, and Breslin handed me a sealed letter to take back to Murphy. I had sent no message to Breslin. He must have heard of my arrival independently of myself. It was at the Metropolitan Hotel where I was staying.
You brought the sealed letter home from Breslin? - Yes. I did not see Mr. Houston for some days. The letter from Breslin was addressed to "Maurice Murphy, Esq."
Did you say anything more to Mr. Houston, except that you were the bearer of the letter? - He wanted me to go to Paris, but I was unable to go then, on account of the illness of my wife. I could not go until July. My wife was then dangerously ill. She died in August.
When did you go to Paris? - I was there, I think, on the 10th of July, 1886. I stayed at the Hotel St. Petersburg.


Whom did you see? - My business there was to deliver the letter to Murphy. I was there several days before I could find him. Murphy never gave me his address. He had been in the habit of calling on me at my hotel. He came there. I delivered the letter and he said it was all right, but that he could not deliver the documents until he had seen some other people. A day or two after he called early in the morning and said he would come in the evening, and take me to a party who would impose conditions on my before delivering the documents.


He called at nine o'clock at night, and took me to a cafe. There were five men seated round a table, and he said they were representatives of the Clan-na-Gael Society. I did not know them. He introduced me, and told them the object of my visit, and said I was the buyer of the documents. They made me take an oath on the Roman Catholic Prayer-Book that, under no circumstances, was I to reveal the source from which I obtained the documents; that I was to mention no name; and if any proceedings arose out of the publication I was not to appear as a witness.
Did the men say anything more? - Nothing more. I did not get any documents that night.
What happened next? - I made a communication to Mr. Houston by letter. I wrote him that the documents were available, and he had better come over himself. Before I went to Paris he told me that he would be perfectly satisfied to take the letters on my description, and would not come over to Paris himself. I told him he had better come over himself. After I sent that letter to Houston, arranging to meet him at an hotel in Paris, I made arrangements to meet Murphy on the same morning. Murphy stayed in the reading-room while I went up to Mr. Houston's bedroom. I had the documents, letters, scraps, and accounts in a large envelope.
Were those the eleven letters you have identified today? - Yes.


What did you say to Mr. Houston? - I told him to examine the letters very carefully, and see they were right. I also told him he was under no obligation to buy them if he was not satisfied with them. He left the room, taking the letters with him, and, after about ten minutes, returned and saw that all was right. He then handed me a "Cook's circular letter" for 500 pounds, and two Bank of England notes, one for 100 pounds and the other for 5 pounds.


What did you do with the money you got? - I went down to Murphy, and we both went to Cook's offices in a cab. He remained in the cab while I got cash for the cheque, and I brought it out and handed it to him. That completed the transaction.
I want to ask you - you had seen the letters when Murphy showed them to you in April, 1886? - Yes.
And you had seen them, of course, when you handed them to Mr. Houston? - Oh, yes.
Had you not seen them during the time between that or no? - Not.


Now, I want to put a specific question to you. Had you anything directly or indirectly to do with the writing of these letters? - Nothing whatever.
You have heard it suggested that you have forged these letters. Is it true or not? - Quite untrue.
Do you know Patrick Egan's signature? - Yes.
Do you know his handwriting? - Yes.
Had you formed any opinion as to whose handwriting the body of the Egan letters was in? - I was sure they were written by Egan.
You have no doubt about it? - Not the slightest.


Did you do anything more for Mr. Houston in this matter? - Yes, during the remainder of the year, and in 1887, I visited Paris five or six times, in the hope of seeing somebody who would give me further information. Murphy wrote to me about three weeks after I had purchased the first batch of letters, and told me that his associates in Paris were extremely anxious to regain possession of those letters, and were willing to return every half-penny of money paid for them. That letter has been destroyed.
Did you reply to it? - Not till I saw Mr. Houston, whom I wrote to.
What did he say? - He was not prepared to return them, but had decided to keep them.
Did you communicate that to Murphy? - Yes, a couple of weeks later.
What did he say? - He was much displeased, saying they would prefer to give me something for myself if I could get them back. I told him it was impossible, as they were out of my possession.


Did you know a man named Hayes? - Yes. John B. Hayes. He was a civil engineer in London.
Had he anything to do with any organisation? - Oh yes.
What? - The Irish Republican Brotherhood or the Fenians.
Did he hold a position? - That of president, he told me.
Did you know that he knew any Fenians? - Yes. All the men I knew in Paris were his friends.
Do you know of your own knowledge whether he knew Davitt? - I can't say.
Do you know if he knew Eugene Davies? - Yes. He was an intimate friend of his.
Did you meet Hayes after the purchase of the letters? - Yes.
Did you know Joseph Casey? - Yes. He was a compositor.
Did you see him at Paris at any time? - Frequently.
When did you see Hayes in London? - About three months after I returned from America.
Did he produce anything to you? - I should say the first time I saw Hayes at all was in Paris, in February, when he was with Casey.
Did he produce anything then? - He was very abusive.
What about?


Sir Charles Russell - What have we to do with this?
The President - I don't know at present; but it seems that we ought to have the full story.
Sir Charles Russell - Unless these men are called I can't have their names put upon me.
The Attorney-General - I don't say that I intend to call these men at all, but I do say that I am entitled to have this statement in connection with the letters.
The President: Just so. I assume that it pertains to the letters.
Sir Charles Russell - I would ask you, my Lord, not to assume anything unless you have ground for so doing in evidence.
The President - As I have said; I assume that it is connected with the letters.
Sir Charles Russell - It is a matter within everybody's knowledge that I have conducted this case in a way which shows that we are desirous that it should be gone into to the bottom, and -
The Attorney-General - There is no necessity for this.
Sir Charles Russell - But I do say so. I submit that it is a very dangerous thing with a witness of this character - I am not now making any reflections - to give him room for even the chance of the possible invention of a conversation with a third person.
The Attorney-General - My Lords, I would postpone the matter if necessary. But I will undertake to prove the connection of Michael Davitt and Casey.
Sir Charles Russell - I shall have to refer to the Attorney-General's undertaking afterwards.
Mr. Davitt - I admit that I have been to Paris to see both Casey and Hayes since the Commission.
The Attorney-General (to witness) - Did you hear of any other letters? - In 1888.


From whom? - A man who went by the name of Brown - (a laugh) - Tom Brown. He was a member of the Clan-na-Gael. I was introduced to him by Hayes. I did not see Brown again until January, 1888, when I was in Paris on the same business. Brown said he had been looking for me, and that he knew where the letters could be sold for the same purpose as the others. I asked him for copies. He made an appointment for the following day to show me the originals.
Did you see the originals? - Yes; after taking the copies. I wrote the letter (dated Hotel St. Petersburg, Paris, 10th Feb., 1888) to Mr. Houston. I enclosed the copies of letters from Parnell, and from Patrick Egan, to James Carey.
Look at the alleged originals (handing the witness photographs of the letters), and tell me if those are the documents? - Yes. They are the letters Brown produced to me in Paris shortly before writing the letter to Houston.
Now, taking the two Parnell letters, do you know in whose handwriting the body of those letters is written? - I do not.
Do you believe the signature to be Mr. Parnell's? - Yes.
Have you any doubt about it? - Not the slightest.
Now, with regard to the Egan "Carey" letter. In whose handwriting is the body of that? - Egan's.
Is the signature Egan's? - Yes.
Now, in your letter to Mr. Houston, you say "The other "E" letters, as I told you, were got from Mrs. "M." Who was Mrs. "M.?" - I was told it was Mrs. Mullett.
By whom? - By Brown and the other men I had been communicating with.


Then you say in your letter, "I have not been able to learn anything about the other "P" letter. I shall have to write to my Cork friend about it." What was the "P" letter? - Brown told me he was acquainted with a man in Cork to whom Mr. Parnell had written a very compromising letter, and he thought it was possible to obtain it. He could not give me any further particulars. I mentioned that to Mr. Houston in a previous letter. I had a friend in Cork, whom I thought might help me to obtain this letter.
Did Brown mention the name of the person to whom the letter had been addressed? - No.
Did you make any arrangement with Brown as to the price of letters? - Yes, we did arrange a price. I told him that. I was perfectly certain that no more than 500 pounds would be paid for them. He was quite content. I wrote to Mr. Houston regarding the matter, and mentioned the price, and I asked him to give me the same commission on this transaction as he had done on the previous one - a hundred guineas. He, however, demurred, and said he could not give me more than fifty guineas. I then wrote him stating that I should have to be content with that.


How did you get the letters? What happened as to the actual handing of them over? - I was taken to the same place, and introduced to the same five people, and they put to me the same oath.
Can you give the name of the place? - The Cafe Royale in the Rue St. Honore. I had previously sent the letters on to Mr. Houston, and he had sent me two Cook's circular notes, one for 500 pounds and the other for 50 pounds. I therefore paid the money down.


I returned from Paris (proceeded the witness) early in March, 1888, and again saw Mr. Houston. Early in the month of July, 1888, I once more visited Paris. A man called upon me; but he would not give me his name. He told me he had three letters for sale. He mentioned the name of Brown, and he said he had heard I was inclined to buy "such things."
I asked to see the letters, and he showed them to me. They were the letters from Mr. Egan's business place, "City Bakery, Dublin," the "Davitt" letter, and the "O'Kelly" letter.
The same that have been produced in Court? - The same.
Do you know Egan's handwriting? - Yes, and the "City Bakery" letter is, I am sure, both written and signed by him.
Do you know Mr. Davitt's handwriting? - I am not well acquainted with it; but (added Mr. Pigott, holding up the alleged "Davitt" letter) I believe this is his handwriting.
Do you know Mr. O'Kelly's handwriting? - Yes - (holding up the alleged "O'Kelly" letter) - this is Mr. O'Kelly's handwriting.
Do you know Mr. O'Kelly? - Yes; he was in my employ for several years.


How much did the man ask you for the letter? - 500 pounds; but I offered him 200 pounds. I told him that I should also expect a percentage out of that for myself, as I considered the letters were of very little value. He ultimately agreed to accept 200 pounds, less whatever he decided to give me.
Did he give you anything out of the 200 pounds? - He gave me two sums amounting to 50 pounds.
The same man who produced the letters? - Yes.
Did you bring those letters over to Mr. Houston? - I sent them to him by post before they were sold. He kept them a week, and then sent the money for them in bank notes.
With reference to these letters, is it true that you forged them or any of them, or the signatures to them? - Certainly not.


Had you several letters from Mr. Houston? - Yes, they accumulated in my house in different places, and when I changed my residence I burned them all. I have burned every one as I received it since.
When did you release Mr. Houston from secrecy? - He said I released him, but I contended that I had not.
When? - Just before the opening of this Commission.
When you went to Mr. Soames's office, who took you there? - Mr. Houston.


Had you before that received a subpoena from Mr. Lewis? - Yes.
Had you received one for the O'Donnell trial from anybody? - No.
Had any communication been made to you on Mr. Parnell's behalf before the service of the subpoena? - Oh, no.
After that was there a communication made to you on the part of Mr. Lewis or anybody connected with his client? - Yes, a man named Whelan.
I call for the letters that came from Mr. Pigott to Mr. Lewis.
These were produced by Sir Charles Russell.
The first letter was dated Oct. 4th, 1888. It was written from Sandycove Avenue, Kingstown, Dublin. It acknowledged the receipt of the subpoena, and asked what arrangements Messrs. Lewis and Lewis would make for the defrayal of his expenses. It went on to say that, whatever advantages they might expect to gain by his evidence would be neutralised by admissions he would be forced to make, and which would be drawn from him under great pressure, and with regret, when under cross-examination. They must be made, he added, under the strong penalties, which he did not feel called upon to incur under existing conditions.
Messrs. Lewis and Lewis's reply was to the effect that their agent in Dublin would have instructions to make every arrangement for Mr. Pigott's expenses. The letter added, with reference to Pigott's statement as to the possible result of the cross-examination, that Messrs. Lewis's clients were only anxious that he should tell the truth.
Examination continued - These were all the letters that passed prior to the time when somebody called upon you? - Yes.
When did you receive this visitor? - Some few days later.


What name did he give? - He sent in his card, which bore the words, "Mr. Sinclair, solicitor, Tullamore."
Sir Chas. Russell - It is, of course, desirable that we should have all this out, but, my Lords, I am authorised to say that Mr. Lewis knows nothing whatever about this gentleman.
The Attorney-General - However, I will continue (to the witness). What did Sinclair say to you? - He told me that he wanted me to go to London, where there were some persons who had just arrived from America, and were anxious to see me on certain matters.
What did you do? - I refused to go. He then said he would communicate with someone in London, and would call upon me next day and let me know the result.
Did he do so? - Yes. He said he had communicated with London, and he was authorised to say that the persons who had come from America would see me at Mr. Labouchere's house, and in the absence of Mr. Labouchere? -
Did you still refuse to go? - I did.
Had you the honour of Mr. Labouchere's acquaintance before that? - No.
Did this man call on you again? - Yes. With him was a man whom Sinclair told me came direct from Mr. Labouchere.
Do you know Sinclair's supposed name or real name? - No; I heard his name was O'Brien from Mr. Houston. Sinclair, or O'Brien, was a stranger to me.


What did Mr. Sinclair say? - He said he was sent by Mr. Parnell to get me to assist Mr. Egan. He said Mr. Labouchere was acting for Mr. Egan. He asked me if there were any other documents, or the writing of any of the parties implicated, and I told him, "No, I had not any more letters." He said he was prepared to pay a very heavy price for them. He proposed that I should go and see Mr. Labouchere. I told him I would go, and one evening he gave me 5 pounds to pay my travelling expenses, but said that I was to wait until I received a wire from him. I afterwards received the following telegram from Sinclair: - "Reply paid. Will it suit you to come over Friday or Saturday? - J. SINCLAIR, 19, Henrietta-street, Covent-garden." When I arrived in London I telegraphed to him to 19, Henrietta-street. I then received a telegram from Sinclair: - "My address is 17, not 19, Henrietta-street, Covent-garden." I called upon him there several times, but failed to see him. I left a letter stating I was staying at Anderton's Hotel, Fleet-street. He called upon me there.


What arrangement did you make with him there? - He made a appointment with me for the following evening, and I was to meet Mr. Labouchere. He said he would arrange for an interview at Mr. Labouchere's house on the following morning at eleven o'clock, but on the 22nd of October he sent me a telegram: - "Tomorrow morning. Sharp. At my place, 17, Henrietta-street." I saw Mr. Houston and he told me that he had been advised that I should let the matter drop. In consequence of that I sent Sinclair a telegram with reference to the appointment. Sinclair sent me one in reply, to go to his place at Covent-garden. I went there, and expressed my disappointment at Mr. Labouchere not being there, as Sinclair had undertaken he should be. I had reason to mistrust Sinclair.
Did he say anything to you at the interview in Henrietta-street? - He told me Egan was coming across. I sent Sinclair a telegram afterwards: - "Cannot keep appointment. Matters have been arranged so satisfactorily that I will not proceed further. - PIGOTT."


On the 23rd of October - the same day - I (proceeded the witness) wrote to Mr. Labouchere, but without Mr. Houston's knowledge. I had told Mr. Houston previously about the Labouchere affair.
The Attorney-General then read a long letter, written by Mr. Pigott to Mr. Labouchere, in which the witness explained that Whelan called on him at Kingston, and proposed that he should have an interview with an Irish American, who had just arrived in England. The writer detailed at length the circumstances already mentioned, leading up to the suggested interview, and went on to say that he had expected to meet him (Mr. Labouchere) and Mr. Justin M'Carthy at the proposed interview, but that instead there was only a letter from Mr. Labouchere. The writer said he thought an attempt was being made to trap him, adding, "But at the same time I should like to have a friendly conversation with you or Mr. M'Carthy, or, better still, with Mr. Parnell himself. Nothing will come of it, as it will be private and confidential. (Laughter.) Perhaps you will send me back this letter, and I will destroy it. I have reason to believe that I am watched, and it will be difficult for me to keep the appointment."


Did Mr. Labouchere give you the letter back on a subsequent occasion? - Yes. I burnt it in the presence of Mr. Labouchere. I wrote the letter (copy of it produced) without Mr. Houston's knowledge.
The Attorney-General then read a communication from Mr. Labouchere: - "Dear Sir, - I will be here at 10:30 tomorrow morning, and will be happy to see you for a confidential conversation. As you say, it can do no harm, if it does no good. I will return you your letter when you come. I think this house is the best place, for it is certainly not watched. (Much laughter.) Your best plan will be to take the "Underground," and get out at Victoria-street. The house is close by. - Yours faithfully, H. Labouchere." I received another telegram in the evening, and attended, and found Mr. Parnell there.


Now tell us what passed at that interview between Mr. Labouchere, Mr. Parnell, and yourself. How did the conversation begin? - I think, if I recollect rightly, that Mr. Parnell commenced the conversation, and what he said was to the effect that they held proofs in their hands which would convict me of the forgery of all the letters. He then asked me, with reference to a statement I had made that I wished if possible to avoid giving evidence at all, how I proposed to do that. I explained that I had not been subpoenaed by the Times, I had only received a subpoena from Mr. Lewis. It occurred to me that it was probable that I could induce Mr. Lewis to withdraw that subpoena, and then I might avoid going into the box at all. Mr. Parnell said he was of opinion that that could not be done, and I should be obliged to attend. Then Mr. Labouchere "took up the running" - (laughter) - and he was very facetious. (Renewed laughter.)


What did he say, please? - He made a suggestion to me right out that I should appear in the witness-box, and swear I had forged the letters myself. He pointed out to me that I should be entitled to receive the Commissioners' certificate of indemnity from prosecution. Mr. Parnell agreed with him that such was the case. Mr. Labouchere added that it was an extremely simple matter, merely going into Court, taking an oath, and then walking out.


In addition to the fact that you would receive a certificate of indemnity, did Mr. Labouchere offer you any further inducement to do this? - He said I would become immensely popular in Ireland. (Laughter.) The fact that I had swindled the Times would be sufficient to secure me a seat in Parliament - (loud laughter) - and then if I afterwards decided to go to the United States, he would undertake that I should be received by a torchlight procession by the Fenian organisation. (Renewed laughter.) Of course, I scarcely believed that he was serious. (Laughter.)
The President - I must say that, whether this is true or not, it is not a fit subject for laughter.
Mr. Pigott then continued his story: I should have mentioned (he said) that, before the conversation commenced, Mr. Labouchere cautioned me not to say anything about money before Mr. Parnell.
Was anything said at the beginning of the conversation about it being private and confidential? - Certainly; I said, before we entered on the discussion of the subject at all, that I presumed we were met there strictly in private. Mr. Parnell and Mr. Labouchere assented to that.
Do you remember anything else Mr. Labouchere said? - Oh, he referred to what Mr. Parnell had said about the proofs which he pretended he had, showing that I had myself forged the letters.


Did anything further pass at this interview? - Oh, yes. Mr. Parnell continued for a long time trying to induce me to follow the course he pointed out, and pointed out that it was to my own interest. Then I was greatly surprised at the arrival of another gentleman. This was Mr. George Lewis. I had not been told that he was coming, and I at once knew it was a "plant." Mr. Lewis put on his severest manner and charged me with having forged the letters, and said he had proofs in his possession to show it. When Mr. Lewis found that his statements did not affect me he became conciliatory, and rose from his seat and shook me by the hand. He declared that if I would only follow out his directions and the wishes of his clients he would be my best friend. Otherwise, of course, I could expect no quarter from them, and I should be probably prosecuted for perjury, and forgery.


I was considerably flurried at the time. I heard Mr. Lewis and Mr. Labouchere discussing what they should offer me, and shortly afterwards Mr. Labouchere called me out into the hall. I had mentioned in the course of conversation either that I had been promised 5,000 pounds, from the Times, and, referring to that, Mr. Labouchere said he was himself prepared to pay me 1,000 pounds, but I was not to mention it to Mr. Parnell. I said it was a very handsome sum, but did not say whether I would agree to take it or not. I believe Mr. Labouchere thought I was ready to accept it.


When we got back into the room, I stated that I would not go into the witness-box and swear a lie for any amount of money. Mr. Lewis then suggested that I should write to the Times and state my belief that the letters were a forgery, and that I had forged them myself. The Times would withdraw the letters, and the thing would drop. Mr. Parnell and Mr. Labouchere were present at that time.


I then left the house (proceeded the witness) and it was arranged that Mr. Lewis should call at my hotel on the following morning. He did so, and, to my surprise, he said he had called to take down a statement which "I had promised to make him." I told him I had not promised to make a statement, but I nevertheless made a statement to the same effect as the statement I had made to Mr. Soames. He took notes of the statement in pencil.
The Attorney-General called for these notes, and they were produced.
Tell us what you told him? - Nearly the same as I told Mr. Soames.
Well, what was it? - Of the visit to Lausanne, and all the events with reference to it, the same as I have given today. I mentioned the visits to Paris, how I got the letters, what I paid for them, and how the Times got them.


The Attorney-General read Mr. Lewis's notes, observing that it was headed October 25th. It described how Houston first visited Pigott, and asked him to visit Lausanne. According to this statement, Houston first informed Pigott of the existence of the alleged fac-simile letter, telling him that it was in possession of Eugene Davies. The remainder of the statement was merely a recapitulation of the evidence given by Pigott. It went on thus, "I didn't believe the letters to be genuine, and was surprised that Mr. Houston accepted them without very carefully examining them. I offered to take them back and return him the money. He refused to do so. Their publication came upon me as a surprise, and alarmed me. I at once wrote to Archbishop Walsh, and asked him to help to put me in communication with Mr. Parnell, so that he might dispose of the thing. He replied that nothing could be done unless I gave the name of the forger."
Is the substance of that statement true? - No, it is not. There are several inaccuracies.


What are they? - About the letters. I never said I didn't think them not genuine.
Anything else? - I never asked Archbishop Walsh to put me in communication with Mr. Parnell under the circumstances alleged. I may say that Mr. Lewis wrote to Archbishop Walsh and asked him for copies of correspondence his Grace had had with me. His Grace refused, and said the correspondence passed under the secrecy of the Confessional.
Did you make the inquiry as to the arrangement with Mr. Labouchere holding good before or after making the statement? - After.


On the 25th October did you receive a letter? - Yes. We had agreed - Mr. Lewis and I - that there should be a meeting with Mr. Parnell on the following day.
The letter asked Mr. Pigott to go to Ely-place at five o'clock on the 26th of October to meet Mr. Parnell.
Did you go there? - I did.
And who did you meet there? - Mr. Lewis and Mr. Parnell.
What took place? - Mr. Lewis pointed out to me that if I confessed anything I should get the certificate granting immunity from prosecution from the Commissioners. I put the question as to whether he had arrived at any decision with regard to the proposal that I should endeavour to induce the Times to withdraw the letters. To my surprise he denied point blank that he ever undertook to give the proposal a consideration at all. I reminded him of the conversations connected with our interviews; but he denied almost everything. After that Mr. Parnell, having the notes of the statement in his hand, proceeded to ask me certain questions. I can't exactly remember what he said, because I refused to be cross-examined. If the negotiations were to be broken off I was perfectly content. I may say that Mr. Parnell's attitude was decidedly threatening at this time, and he was not at all so pleasant as he had been. After repeating his assurances of proofs that I had forged the letters, he said that they - meaning his colleagues and legal advisers - were in possession of proofs that I had committed other forgeries in connection with mercantile and other matters.


Tell us what he said? - He said he could prove forgeries against me in certain mercantile transactions, and in asking him to give particulars he referred to my connection with the Hibernian Bank. He said I had swindled the Company with forged notes.
Did anything else pass at that interview? - Nothing of any importance. There was no understanding arrived at. Both Mr. Lewis and Mr. Parnell pretended, or appeared to pretend, to be extremely angry.
Either at the interview with Mr. George Lewis at Anderton's Hotel, or at Ely-place, did the name of Captain O'Shea come up? - Yes.
On both occasions? - Yes.
What was said with reference to that gentleman? - Mr. Lewis asked me to say whether or not Captain O'Shea had anything to do with procuring the letters.
What did you say? - I said distinctly not. And he replied that that relieved him, because he had been firmly convinced, and so had Mr. Parnell, that Captain O'Shea had had something to do with the matter.
Was anything further said about Captain O'Shea? - Not on that occasion; but on another occasion both pressed me very strongly whether or not he had anything to do with the transaction, and I stated certainly not, and that I had never seen nor communicated with Captain O'Shea.
At that interview of the 25th with Mr. Lewis did he say anything about communicating with any counsel, or with anybody, on behalf of the Times? - Yes. If Mr. Labouchere's proposals were accepted - that is to say, if I wrote to the Times stating my belief that the letters were forgeries - that I should write to the Attorney-General and Mr. Soames at the same time.
Did he say for what purpose? - That the letters might be withdrawn.
Was the statement made about consulting the Attorney-General and Mr. Soames at Mr. Labouchere's house or Mr. Lewis's? - At both. I returned to Dublin that night.


The Attorney-General read a letter from Mr. Pigott to Mr. George Lewis, in which Mr. Pigott said that, in spite of the pledge given him by Mr. Parnell and Mr. Labouchere that the interviews should be kept secret, the information was used in the cross-examination of Capt. O'Shea. To this Mr. Lewis replied, saying he was not present when any pledge of secrecy was given, and stating that Mr. Parnell was determined to vindicate himself with respect to the forged letters. Other correspondence passed between Mr. Pigott and Mr. Lewis, in which the latter stated that at the time Mr. Pigott made his statement he (Mr. Lewis) was aware that the letters were forged, and that Mr. Pigott sold them when in destitute circumstances. To this Mr. Pigott sent a reply, saying that he should be prepared to defend himself when the time came. He denied the truth of the allegations made by Mr. Lewis in his letters.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.


After the resumption of the Court, Mr. Pigott said he casually met Mr. Lewis on the 6th of November, during the adjournment of the Court, when he called out to witness, "I shall soon have you in the witness-box and show you up." He subsequently received a letter from Mr. Lewis, in which he accused him of having forged the letters, and added that the time for the exposure was only deferred.
Did you ever state to Mr. Lewis that the letters were forgeries? - No.
And that you knew them to be forgeries when you purchased them? - No. I saw Mr. Houston on the 5th of November, and made a complete statement. He said it was necessary to embody the facts in a sworn affidavit. On the 6th of November, before leaving for Ireland, I got the following note from Mr. Labouchere: - "Dear Sir, - I have been away from London. If you will call at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning, there will be no one there but myself. - Yours faithfully, H. LABOUCHERE."
The Attorney-General then read a letter from the witness to Mr. Labouchere, in which Mr. Pigott said that he could not call upon him as he had to return to Ireland. Referring to Mr. Lewis, Mr. Pigott said, "His conduct has been so insulting that I should consider him insane did I not know his purpose."


A letter was next read from Mr. Labouchere to Mr. Pigott, in which the writer said that he and Mr. Parnell were in possession of the facts as regards the letters before the interview with the witness. Mr. Labouchere added, "It would be well we should meet and talk the matter over and if you wish to see Mr. Parnell you will find him a man of the strictest honour. If you are in need of any cash to come over I will send it. I would also wish you to bring all documents, and necessarily to hand over to me. Mr. Parnell and I are only actuated by a desire to prove the letters forgeries." Mr. Labouchere also said that if Mr. Pigott could suggest "any way by which the object in view could be attained" otherwise than by his being called as a witness, it would be entertained.


The next letter which the Attorney-General read was dated Nov. 8th, 1888, and was written by Mr. Pigott to Mr. Labouchere. Mr. Pigott wrote that he did not consider Mr. Labouchere's last letter as entirely satisfactory. The explanation did not lessen the plain fact that Mr. Lewis intended to divulge the information he had obtained from him (Mr. Pigott). He looked upon it as a breach of faith, to which Mr. Parnell's sanction had been given. "Both yourself and Mr. Parnell (Mr. Pigott added) gave me to understand that the information you have obtained points to the fact that Mr. O'Shea has connection with at least one of the letters. So far as I know he has had nothing to do with any of the letters, but perhaps you may be able to prove that I am mistaken. If, over the course of ten days, you desire to have another conversation about all these matters, I should be glad to come over to you. As regards funds, they are at a low ebb just now; but I may not have to ask you for money."


This letter was afterwards returned to Mr. Pigott with Mr. Labouchere's reply written upon it. Mr. Labouchere wrote: - "I don't know what course the Times will take, or when their case will be over. It is probable that Mr. Parnell's lawyers will at once go in for the letters if the Times does not do so. It is difficult to suppose that the Court will not soon stop all the ancient history that has been brought before it, and the letters may come on at any time." In a further letter, dated the 10th of November, 1888, Mr. Pigott wrote to Mr. Labouchere, saying, "I have been subpoenaed by the Times, thanks to Mr. Lewis," to which (on the 12th of November) Mr. Labouchere replied, "I don't see how the Times could avoid sending you a subpoena."


On the 19th of November Mr. Labouchere wrote to Mr. Pigott: "If you can show that the letters can be proved to be forgeries by better evidence no doubt Mr. Parnell and Mr. Lewis will favourably consider it, for their object is to make it known to all that the letters are forgeries."
On November the 23rd Mr. Labouchere wrote that he would not mention to Mr. Lewis what had passed between him and the witness without the latter's consent.
Mr. Pigott wrote to Mr. Labouchere on the 5th of December: - "As I know your house is watched as well as Mr. Lewis's office, and as I cannot move outside a certain limit without being shadowed, perhaps you can arrange for me to meet you somewhere else."
In reply to this Mr. Labouchere asserted that he knew the house was not watched, and informed Pigott that he could call upon him at ten o'clock that night, as "he could evade anybody who followed him in the darkness."
The Attorney-General (to the witness) - Did you receive a letter towards the end of January enclosing a 10 pound note? - Yes.
Did you give that to Mr. Soames? - Yes.
This letter was to the effect that Mr. Pigott returned the 10 pound note. It explained that he only entered into negotiations with the object of evading appearing as a witness, being aware of the consequences which would attend such a step on his part. As there was not the possibility of avoiding such a course, he must close the correspondence.
You were anxious to avoid the danger of appearing here? - Yes.
Why? - Because I had taken an oath not to divulge anything.
And had you known, from what had happened to you before, what the consequences of your appearing here might perhaps be? - Yes.
These gentlemen - Mr. Parnell and Mr. Labouchere - told you that they had documents written to Mr. Parnell to you? - Yes.
Did they, at Mr. Labouchere's, offer to show you any of them? - No.


Sir Charles Russell - Mr. Pigott, will you, with my Lords' permission, write some words on that paper for me (handing the witness a piece of paper)? Would you like to sit down? - Oh, no!
The President - I think you had better. It is a course I always pursue.
Sir Charles Russell - Write the word "Livelihood," your own name, the word "Proselytism," "Patrick Egan," and, lower down, leaving a space, "hesitancy," with a small "h." (Having written the words.) Hand me the sheet, please.
The Attorney-General (examining the sheet) - I suggest that it should be photographed.
Sir Charles Russell - Don't interrupt my cross-examination, Mr. Attorney.
Continuing, Mr. Pigott said (in reply to Sir Charles Russell) - I recollect having a correspondence about the purchase of the Irishman with Mr. Parnell, myself, and Mr. Barry, of Manchester. I received letters from Mr. Egan, and wrote letters for him in the early part of 1881.


Did you have correspondence with the late Mr. Forster? - Yes.
After 1870 did you communicate with every Irish Secretary? - No. Mr. Forster was the first. I am quite sure of that. The first Viceroy I communicated with was Earl Spencer.
In 1873 did you write to him offering to give valuable information for money? - To the best of my belief I did not. I think I may say I did not. My impression is that I had no communication with Earl Spencer earlier than 1882. (After thinking) I am sure I did not.
Did you in 1884? - I gave Earl Spencer certain information in 1884.
On the demand for money? - No.
Or expecting money? - No.
Did you write to any Home Secretary offering to give information for money? - No, but I won't swear. As far as I can recollect I have not written to one - to none, so far as I can recollect.


Did you write to Sir George Trevelyan offering revelations? - Not revelations.
Or information? - No. I wrote to ask him for pecuniary help; not for anything I ought to do, but for something I had done in supporting the Government in the Land Bill.
Will that be in 1881 or 1882? - I don't know.


Now, you made a statement which I did not understand with reference to these notes of your statement which Mr. Lewis took down. I think you stated that the publication of "Parnellism and Crime" came upon you by surprise and alarmed you? - I did.
"And I wrote to Archbishop Walsh, asking him to help me, and to write to Mr. Parnell, so that he might expose the thing." Did you say that? - No.
"He replied it would not be effective unless I gave up the name of the forger." - That is not true. I did not say that.
Did you say anything about that? - I said nothing more than to say that I had had a communication with Archbishop Walsh in which these letters were referred to. I recalled to my memory what Mr. Lewis had already said, namely, that he had applied to the Archbishop four copies of my letter to him, but that the Archbishop had refused to give them up, as he considered that the secrecy of the communications was secured by the seal of the Confessional.
You are Catholic, are you not? - I am.
That rather amused you, I suppose? - No, indeed.


Had you any correspondence with Archbishop Walsh that was under the seal of Confession? - I did. At least that is what Mr. Lewis said.
You wrote him letters and he wrote you letters? - Yes.
Did you regard the letters as under the seal of the Confession? - I regarded the correspondence as strictly confidential.
Did you regard it as under the seal of Confession? - In effect, yes. I wished to have advice and instruction under the seal of perfect confidence with the Bishop as if he were my confessor. I wrote to him, and he accepted such confidences. This correspondence continued for some time, and when it was concluded he returned my letters to me.
Did this relate to the publication of incriminatory matters? - Yes.
And did it include letters? - Yes.
The letters in question? - One of them, at least.
Which? - The one called the "fac-simile."


You knew at that time what the charges were to be advanced against Mr. Parnell and his colleagues? - I really think I should not be asked questions under the circumstances.
I'm afraid I can't oblige you. - I certainly think, after such statements as to what the Archbishop knew, it should not be gone into.
I'm afraid we must touch upon it. At the time the correspondence passed you were the medium through which the publication of "Parnellism and Crime" was made? - Yes.
When did the correspondence take place? - In March, 1887.
And the first of the series of articles appeared in that month? - Yes.
Were you aware that they were to be published? - No.
Were you aware that Mr. Houston was obtaining them for the purpose of injuring Mr. Parnell and his colleagues? - Yes.
And were you aware that one mode of so injuring them was by publication? - Yes.
You have tried your hand at that, Mr. Pigott? - Yes.
You have written a pamphlet called "Parnellism Unmasked"? - Yes.
And you helped Lady Florence Dixie in writing what I call her libels? - I did not.
Will you swear you did not assist her? - Well, I wrote a pamphlet for her - (laughter) - and it wasn't published.
You did assist her, then? - Well, it wasn't published, and therefore I didn't help her.
What was it about? - About the Land League funds.
Is that a copy of it (handing up a document)? - That is apparently an uncorrected proof.
Do you remember a pamphlet called the "black pamphlet"? - Yes.
Do you know anything about that? - No.
Do you know who wrote it? - No.
Did you ever suggest a name to Mr. Parnell? - I may have done.
Well, you have told us you knew certain charges were to be made against Mr. Parnell and the leading members of the Land League? - I wasn't aware until the publication actually commenced.
Do you swear that? - I do.
No mistake about it? - None.


Is that your letter (handing one to the witness)? - Yes.
Have you any doubt? - No.
Now I will read this letter, my Lord. It is from the witness, and is addressed to Archbishop Walsh, of Dublin: -
"Anderton's Hotel, London, 4th March, 1887.
"(Private and confidential.)

"My Lord, - The importance of the matter about which I write will doubtless excuse this intrusion upon your attention. Briefly, I wish to say that I have been made aware of the details of certain proceedings that are in preparation with the object of destroying the influence of the Parnellite Party in Parliament."
What were the "certain proceedings"? - I don't recollect.
You swear that you, writing on the 4th March, stating that you had been made aware of details of "certain proceedings," which were in preparation for the purpose of destroying the influence of the Parnellite Party in Parliament - less than two years ago - did not know what that referred to? - I don't know, really.


Turn to the Judge, Sir, and tell me, Do you mean to swear that? - I don't know.
May I suggest? - Yes.
Had it reference to the incriminatory letters amongst other things? - At that date? The letters had not been obtained at that date, had they?
I don't want to confuse you. - Give me the date again.
I have already said it was the 4th March, 1887. Is it your impression that the letters had not been obtained at that date? - Oh! they had been obtained then.
Then, reminding you that they had been obtained, had that passage reference to those letters? - No; I rather fancy it had reference to the forthcoming articles.
I thought you told us you didn't know anything about the forthcoming articles? - I find now that I must have heard something about them.


Sir Charles Russell (reading) - "I cannot enter more fully into details than to state that the proceedings referred to consist in the publication of certain statements purporting to prove the complicity of Mr. Parnell himself and some of his supporters with murder and outrages in Ireland. It will be followed in all probability by the institution of criminal proceedings against these parties by the Government." Who told you that? - I have no idea.
Does that refer, amongst others, to the incriminatory letters? - I won't swear it did not.
Did you think that these letters, if genuine, would prove Parnell's complicity in crime? - I thought they would be very likely to prove it.
(Reading) - "Your Grace may be assured that I speak with full knowledge, and am in a position to prove, beyond all question, the truth of what I say." Is that true? - It could hardly be true.
Then you wrote what was false? - It was to add strength to what I had said.
A designedly untrue statement? - No, not designedly.


(Reading) "And I will further assure your Grace that I am also able to point out how the designs may be successfully combatted and finally defeated." How, if those documents were genuine, were you able to assure his Grace that you were able to point out the designs, or to successfully combat and finally defeat them? - I had not the letters in my mind at the time. My memory is a blank as regards the circumstance. It has completely faded out of my memory.
Sir Charles Russell - That I can understand. Assuming the letters to be genuine, what were the means that you could point out how the designs could be successfully defeated? - I cannot tell.
Were you afraid of the consequences of what you had done? - No.


(Reading) - "I assure your Grace that I have no other motive except to respectfully suggest that your Grace would communicate the substance of what I state to some one or other of the parties concerned." Who were they? - It is impossible for me to say.
(Reading) - "Under the specific understanding that my name is kept secret, I could furnish details exhibiting proofs, and suggest how the coming blow may be effectively met." What do you say to that? - Nothing, except I don't recollect anything about it.
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Thursday February 21, 1889, pp. 2-3

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