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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 24 Feb 2013 - 21:17

Eighty-ninth Day of Proceedings - Thursday, May 30, 1889



Matters were not very brisk in the earlier part of today. Led by Mr. Lockwood, Mr. Arthur O'Connor resumed the recital of this political career. Amongst those who listened to him were the Marchioness of Headford, the Duchess of Cleveland, Mr. and Mrs. Endicott, Mrs. Lecky, and Miss Hannen. Shortly after the Judges arrived two more of the Nationalist Members who are now undergoing imprisonment under the Coercion Act, entered - Messrs. John O'Connor and Condon. They secured seats on the solicitors' bench, receiving a very cordial welcome from Mr. E. Harrington and other colleagues present.


Mr. A. O'Connor's evidence related to his visit to America in 1887 with Sir Thomas Esmonde. The object of the trip was to make acknowledgment to the friends of the cause for their assistance, and to urge them to continue it in the future. They travelled from San Francisco to Boston, and were welcomed everywhere with great cordiality by the principal State officers; even the present President of the United States attended one of their meetings, and spoke.
"Is there ground for suggesting that you were in any way connected with secret societies?" asked Mr. Lockwood.
"None whatever," was the reply.
Explaining the position he held in Parliament, Mr. O'Connor said that he had been invited by the Government to join one of the Royal Commissions. He accepted the invitation, but when the charges of the Times were made, he resigned because the Government would not institute an inquiry into the truth of the allegations, which he considered they should have done, especially as he was charged with trafficking with dynamitards and murderers, and at the same time was sitting on the Royal Commission.


The cross-examination by Mr. Atkinson drifted on to the Land League books. Of these Mr. O'Connor had no recollection. He could not approximately give the number of them, nor their character, nor their contents. The remarkable Findlay-Horan letter, referred to over and over again in the course of the trial, again came up for discussion. Mr. O'Connor was asked who was responsible for the entry in one of the books produced of this sentence, relating to the letter - "The promise of Mr. Quinn to aid labourers. The hon. Member thought possibly Mr. Burton, one of the officials, was. As a matter of fact, the letter was never brought to his notice, and he never recollected it.
"Then it must have been an ordinary incident of the management of the League?" asked Mr. Atkinson.
"No," was the careful reply, "I should like very much to see the original letter."
It was handed to him, and Mr. O'Connor pointed out it was addressed, not to the secretary, but to Mr. Quinn. He would doubt if it ever went before the League at all.
Then came the removal of the books from Dublin. About this Mr. O'Connor could give no information. He couldn't even say how many, or who "the men" referred to by Mr. Campbell as being engaged to take the books to Liverpool. The only recollection he had of the books after that was that he saw a Mr. Pearson in London some days later, and that gentleman informed him he had brought a few of the books from Dublin. Pearson had a small parcel, and Mr. O'Connor inferred it contained the books.


Further than that, Mr. A. O'Connor was distinctly of the opinion that the Government seized many of the books when the League was suppressed.
"I think this ought to be followed up," observed the President. "Let inquiry be made, by our order, to see if the Government did seize any of the books." - "Quite so," observed the Attorney-General.
Mr. Atkinson dwelt for a very long time upon the translation of the books to Liverpool, but Mr. O'Connor could give no information on the point. He was not aware that the books and property of the League were removed from the office in three vans; did not know the whole staff was transported to, and that they carried on the business of the League, at Liverpool; certainly never saw the books in Paris; and could not say that the cash-book produced had the appearance of having been written at the same time.


Mr. O'Connor's views of landgrabbing were briefly touched upon. In one of his speeches the hon. gentleman described a landgrabber as "a person as bad as a receiver of stolen property." Asked if he would boycott "such a person to the extent of bringing him to the brink of starvation?" he said there was no fear of his coming to such a condition, for he could go to the landlord class, or to the workhouse with the poor people whose land he grabbed. "I believe," he added, "that in all parts of Ireland, and in Ulster even, for all time, the practise of landgrabbing has been regarded by the moral sense of the people as not distinguishable from receiving stolen goods."
Several of Mr. A. O'Connor's speeches, notably those addressed by him to his constituents, were next gone through, and as Mr. Atkinson proceeded some of the books, about which so much has been said, were brought into Court. They were in two boxes, and were brought in by Mr. Lewis's clerk and one of the Court attendants, and deposited in the well of the Court.
After luncheon Mr. O'Connor left the box, on the understanding that when the "register of letters" is produced he will again be cross-examined by the Times' counsel.


Mr. Justin M'Carthy, M.P., followed. Replying to Mr. Reid, he said he was returned for county Longford in 1879. He modestly confessed that he had followed a journalistic career, and was "known as an author." Mr. M'Carthy described the meeting with Mr. Parnell at Willesden, but denied that the conversation there had reference to crime. About the 100 pound cheque given to Byrne, he explained that he was in the habit of cashing cheques and postal-orders for Byrne. That gentleman was ill at the time he referred to, and had obtained a medical certificate and leave of absence, and these were the reasons why he left England. With the Phoenix-park murders the Nationalists were filled with horror and dismay. As for outrages, he had always denounced and deprecated them; and as to the alleged association of the Irish Party with the Invincibles, he denied it in toto.
The cross-examination elicited few important matters. Mr. M'Carthy expressed his general concurrence with the drift of Mr. Biggar's and Mr. O'Connor's speeches, and with boycotting.
(The report will be continued.)


The Exchange Telegraph Company understands that Mr. William Redmond, M.P., will not be called as a witness for the defence. The hon. gentleman will, however, be in readiness to be called by the Commissioners if they desire to do so.




A Chicago Grand Jury had indicted Daniel Coughlin, Patrick Sullivan, and Frank Black, alias Woodruff, for the murder of Dr. Cronin. The indictment was found without considering the charges of conspiracy or Dr. Cronin's papers. All three men are in custody, and eight other warrants have been issued for suspects who have been "shadowed" in Chicago. The police in the city have indeed - so the Times Correspondent says - come to the conclusion that the murder was the result of an extensive conspiracy, involving eight prominent Irish Nationalists in Chicago, who are being "shadowed."


The Chicago Herald, in an elaborate article, declares, so the Times says, that Dr. Cronin was "removed" by the Clan-Na-Gael after trial and conviction on the charge of being a British spy. It describes how the trial committee of seven were selected, only they, with the man preferring the charges and the witnesses examined, being cognisant of the composition of the committee or of the proceedings. It adds that the charges were proved, and Dr. Cronin was found guilty by a unanimous vote, and sentenced to be "removed." Knowledge of this reached Dr. Cronin, and hence his frequent statements that a violent death awaited him. According to a statement made in the New York Herald, an authority whom that paper describes as "a prominent Irishman," and who repeats that the crime was instigated by the Clan-Na-Gael, "the actual murderers were bound together by their oaths. They came from outside cities, and were governed by ironclad instructions. There were twelve men directly implicated in the assassination, and twenty-five others, most of whom live in Chicago, knew that Dr. Cronin was in peril. From the moment that Dr. Cronin was listed for death, nothing but the sudden extinction of his enemies could have spared his life. There was no escape for him. He knew his life was to be taken in a cowardly manner, as his friends within the Order had warned him of his peril. His own observation convinced him that his death was but a little way off, and his conversation and actions during the last days of his life showed he had prepared himself for the worst."


If we are to accept the statement of the New York Herald, the evidence against the doctor at his "trial" went to show that though Le Caron gave the names of his associates only to Chief Justice Hannen, Sir Richard Webster, and Sir Charles Russell on condition that they should never be revealed, Dr. Cronin was one of the men mentioned. *The conspirators forged telegrams and letters to prove that one of the trio had violated his promise made to the spy and informer. This appeared conclusive, and he was condemned as a spy by a full vote.
*The reason that I highlighted this fact is that I did show earlier on in the Commission evidence that I believed strongly that Pigott's allegedly forged letters were, in fact, not forged by Pigott, but by others.


There was, it was now suggested, a previous attempt on the life of Dr. Cronin. This, however, is the only evidence of it. The incident occurred last year. Dr. Cronin was re-elected physician to the Plasterers' Union, and late one night a telephone message came for the doctor, requesting him to go to a plasterer who was ill, and whose address was given, far over on the west side of the town. The doctor, quite tired out, flatly refused to go, and next morning, after hours of search in the locality mentioned, he found that the number given brought him to a vacant house. It is, however, important to notice that no less than 200 delegates from eleven "camps" of the Clan-Na-Gael met in Chicago on Tuesday, and sternly denounced the murder, and pledged their best efforts to aid in hunting the criminals. "It is not," said the resolution, "the spirit of the Clan-Na-Gael." The New York Municipal Council of the Irish National League have, too, repudiated the "calumnies by which it is sought to involve the League, its funds, or its policy, as in the slightest degree connected with the assassination, and expressing a hope that swift justice may overtake the murderers."


Private Detective Bruce, too, makes in this connection an extraordinary allegation against Alderman McCormack, of Chicago. He says - according to the New York Herald - that three months ago the Alderman gave him 20 pounds down, and a promise of 100 pounds more when the job was completed, on the agreement that Bruce should kill Dr. Cronin after decoying him to his rooms. Bruce's failure to fulfil the agreement led to his being violently assaulted by hired roughs; and, furthermore, he swears that Alderman McCormack paid his way to Oklahoma shortly before Dr. Cronin was murdered, remarking at the same time, "I can get plenty of others to do this job."


Frank Black, alias Woodruff, has now (says the Times Correspondent) told the police the story of his connection with the crime. He drove the waggon containing the trunk. This waggon the police have found. It contains blood and cotton from the trunk. The detectives took Woodruff over the route which the waggon travelled, Woodruff giving the driving instructions. Woodruff says the conspirators instructed him to visit Dinan's stable, and get a horse and a waggon, which they ordered him to drive to the neighbourhood of the cottage. He arrived there about twenty minutes before Dr. Cronin was driven up, and placed his waggon at a spot near where he could keep his eyes on the front steps. He saw Dr. Cronin arrive in a buggy drawn by a white horse. Three-quarters of an hour afterwards a man known as Williams opened the front door, giving a signal by stamping his foot on the wooden porch. Woodruff brought his waggon to the door. Assisted by a third man, Woodruff and Williams lifted the trunk into the waggon, and the two men got in and directed Woodruff to drive eastwards to Lake Michigan. The trunk would have been thrown into the lake, but for an interruption of the design, some of the Lakeview police having appeared close at hand. Steps were then taken to avoid them, which was done by driving along a circuitous route that brought the waggon to Evanston-avenue.


They had been driving nearly an hour, when one of the men suggested that the body should be placed in a sewer. A stop was made at Fifty-ninth-street, and a manhole was uncovered, but the trunk was found to be too large. Then the opening of the trunk was proposed, but the key was missing. Williams, saying that no time was to be lost, kicked in the trunk-lid. They lifted out the body, dropped it in the hole, replaced the trunk in the waggon, and drove away. It was intended to drive southwards for some distance, return northwards to the cottage, and there deposit the trunk, but the sound of waggon-wheels was heard to the southwards, upon which the two strange men, who had been sitting on the trunk, rose and threw it from the waggon at the place where it was subsequently found. They then urged Woodruff to whip up his horse and drive westwards. When they reached Fullerton-avenue both men said "good-night," and left the waggon.


Gradually, the chain is being drawn round men who are suspected of being the criminals. Willard Smith, the man who is alleged to have hired the white horse and the buggy with which Dr. Cronin was driven to the Carlson's cottage, is reported to have been arrested at Chicago. The ostler at the stable where the horse was hired is said to identify him. One witness declares that he saw Detective Coughlin give this man Smith 15s. From South Bend, Indiana, too, comes news that one Millard Williams, suspected of being the person who hired the cottage, has been arrested near Chain Lakes, Indiana, where he has been fishing. He belongs to South Bend, and has lived there for several months. He returned to Chain Lakes suddenly on the day after Dr. Cronin disappeared. He, however, strongly denies all knowledge of the crime. Considerable excitement has been caused in Chicago, too, by the Carlsons - the owners of the Ashland-avenue cottage - swearing before the Grand Jury that the "strange man who rented the cottage" passed in and out of the house of Patrick Sullivan, the iceman, every day, and that they had seen him hand the iceman monthly receipts for the rent of the house, and had also seen Sullivan pay the stranger large sums of money. Indeed, on one occasion Sullivan - who at first said he did not know Williams - said he was all right and would pay the rent. Other witnesses, too, testified to having seen Sullivan give the man Woodruff rolls of currency. Further than that, the rumour goes that Pinkerton had ascertained that on the night of Dr. Cronin's disappearance two detectives in the city's employ hurried a man off the north-western train. The detectives were presumably Coughlin and Whalen. One of the singular incidents connected with the business is the readiness with which the police are suspected. Captain Schaack, the Chief of the Chicago Police, who sent out Detectives Coughlin and Whalen to work on the case after the disappearance, with the result that nothing was done, has now become the object of suspicion. He was (says the New York Herald) restored to the police force through the influence of the enemies of Dr. Cronin, and through the same parties Coughlin obtained his appointment as a policeman.

Source: The Echo, Thursday May 30, 1889, Page 3

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

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