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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Thu 28 Feb 2013 - 11:24

Ninety-sixth Day of Proceedings - Thursday, June 27, 1889


At the outset today there was a brief discussion about some crime statistics, which proved exceptionally uninteresting. Then Father Hewson, a tall, good-looking cleric, who displayed a tolerably sized gold cross on his waistcoat, entered the box. Before examining him Mr. Reid explained that today they intended taking a few witnesses from County Mayo, which he described as the cradle of the League, for the purpose of showing cases of oppression on the part of the landlords.


Father Hewson, who is the priest at Balmullett, briefly referred to the attitude of Mr. Bingham, a landlord of the locality, who has been called as a Times witness. This gentleman, said the rev. Father, was in the habit of exacting duty money from his tenants. Asked to explain, he said tenants had to give so many days work to the landlord, and in this case six days in the summer and six days in the spring, without payment. If they lost one of those days they were muleted in the sum of 2s. 6d. This was how the landlord made out his receipt for the rent in such cases: -

Received from _________ £ s. d., and for duty money __________ in payment of a half-year's rent.

The rev. gentleman then briefly referred to the formation of the League in the district, and went on to say that thirteen days after a landlord, named Carter, evicted some poor tenants, he was fired at.


Landgrabbing was no new thing in Ireland, continued the witness. It has been regarded with reprobation by the peasantry in all times. Of course the English term was not always applied to it, for the people to whom he referred used the Irish language in their daily life. It was called saintough, and saint meant one of the seven deadliest sins - covetousness.
Mr. Atkinson cross-examined. He repeated his familiar question at the outset. It is usually used by Mr. Atkinson in opening the cross-examination of a witness of this class, and runs thus: - "Now, can you point to any case, during the twenty years preceding the establishment of the League, in which a man was outraged for taking a farm from which another had been evicted for non-payment of rent?" The witness generally replies in the negative. Such was the nature of Father Hewson's reply.
It will be remembered that, when Mr. Bingham was cross-examined, it was attempted to show that he was not, as he said, shot at at all, but that the revolver went off accidentally as he was driving home on a car, and that the bullet passed through his coat into the arm of a girl who accompanied him. Father Hewson now said he was the person who supplied the material for that cross-examination, and declared positively that he did not think Bingham was shot at, and repeated the opinion prevalent in the parish, that it was all due to himself.
Passing on, Father Hewson elaborated his definition of "duty work." It caused very great amusement, the President joining heartily in the laugh. "It means," said the Father, "that a man must leave his own tillage work, carry his breakfast in his stomach, get his dinner - a bad one - from the landlord, and go home supperless."
"I shouldn't object to his carrying the breakfast in his stomach," laughingly observed Mr. Atkinson.
"The best place for it, I should think," said the President, jocularly.


Giving an account of an attack on a party of police protecting a process-server, in the locality of Balmullet, the rev. Father asserted that he did not know that the police were beaten. The only recollection of the affair he had was that one of the policemen swore "he had his haversack wounded." (Laughter.) But this collision, which occurred at Balmullet in 1883, had a most disastrous ending. The police fired on the people, and two peasants were killed. Several were severely wounded, but they hid in the fields and mountains and concealed their wounds, being in fear of prosecution. Eventually the chief constable of the district sent him down to them to give a guarantee that if they came forward for medical treatment they would not be prosecuted, and a Coroner's Jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against the police who fired on the people.
Father Kelly followed. This gentleman has been parish priest of Crossmaline, and is now of Moygana. He described briefly the condition of the localities in the years of distress 1879-81.
Cross-examined by the Attorney-General, Father Kelly denied that he had condemned people of the locality who had given evidence for the Times, that he had denounced certain witnesses from the altar, or that he had appealed to the people to give no assistance to the Times case. He, however, admitted that he attended an eviction, and that he might have shouted out words to the effect "Get the hot water ready."
At this point the Court adjourned for luncheon.

After luncheon, Mr. Weldon, a tradesman at Ballybunch, described the branch of the League as one that always discountenanced crime, and asserted that it had no connection in any way with the two agrarian murders that occurred in the locality.


Charles Burke, the secretary of the Kiltemeagh Branch of the League, declared that that branch did not favour crime, or in any way recommend intimidation of those who did not join. He denied flatly the statement of Walsh, the informer, that he, or any other member of the League, had been engaged in the organisation of crime.
Sir Henry James, in cross-examination, endeavoured to make a point of this, that, according to his instructions, witness appeared on a local relief list as "a widower with three destitute children." Burke, with some warmth repudiated this, nor would he have it that the name of his wife with three destitute children could have justly been included in the relief list. It was not true that he was the father of three destitute children; it was equally untrue that he got any relief whatever. The incident, trifling in itself, but not without humour, then ended, and Burke was carried away into a minute inspection of Walsh's evidence.
(The report will be continued.)



Our Dublin Correspondent telegraphs that American papers just to hand contain severe criticisms on Mr. Davitt and Mr. P. Egan in connection with the Cronin murder. Mr. Davitt's recent letter has brought forward a reply in the New York World from John Devoy, who says: - "I have no hesitation in pronouncing Mr. Davitt's utterance one of the most unfortunate and unwarrantable of the many foolish ones he has made. It will do more harm to the National cause than Mr. Davitt can ever live to repair, even were he in a frame of mind to do so, which does not seem at all probable." The letter goes on to assert that Mr. Davitt condones "the foulest murder that has ever stained the Irish cause," and characterises the implication that Cronin was a traitor as a "cowardly and wanton attack." It is time, Devoy goes on to say, "that this system of assassination of character, which, in Cronin's case, preceded, and was made the pretext for his murder, should be stamped out. If it is not, a plot to murder several individuals, which now exists, will be carried out, and will be stimulated by this outrageous statement of Michael Davitt. I have no right to object to Mr. Davitt expressing his belief in the innocence of any man who is accused. I deny his right to assail the motive of those who are seeking to wipe out the foulest blot ever cast on the cause of Ireland by bringing to the gallows a gang of thieves who murder so that their rascality may be concealed, and then brand their victim as a traitor.
Within a few weeks Egan told a desperate man that he had the proof that I was a traitor. When my turn comes to be "removed," will Mr. Davitt say he did not suspect me until Le Caron testified?"


CHICAGO, June 27. - A man named John Biggs, a prominent member of the Clan-Na-Gael, has been arrested here on a charge of complicity in the murder of Dr. Cronin.


CHICAGO, June 27. - The investigation of the cottage at Grove-avenue Postal Station, South Chicago, shows that Patrick Cooney on May 15th, sent ten dollars by money-order to Burke at Joliet, Illinois, Cooney, saying that he could not write, but got the clerk to fill up the application. The clerk remembers the case, and says that the man gave the name of Patrick Cooney, and he seems to answer to Cooney's description. When Simonds bought the furniture that was found in Carlson's cottage he also bought a satchel, saying that he wanted one large enough to carry a complete suit of clothes. This was delivered with the furniture. The Winnipeg police have found on Burke a small flat satchel, the key of which has been sent to Chicago. It tallies with keys of similar satchels in the shop where this was supposed to have been bought. The theory is that Cronin's clothes, which have never been found, were put into this satchel with the intention to send them to England, and to dress with them a disfigured corpse, which would be placed in the Thames, thus confirming the tale which the conspirators circulated that Cronin went to England to testify before the Special Commission, and was murdered there as a spy. The finding of Cronin's body stopped this scheme, and the finding of the satchel-key in Burke's pocket without the satchel is regarded as an important clue.


Lord Randolph Churchill, who has not yet returned from Paris to London, will take (so the London Correspondent of the Birmingham Post says) the opportunity of his promised speech in Birmingham to reassert in the plainest terms his continued support of the "Unionist alliance," upon which, when he dined with Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Parnell at Sir Charles Russell's, some doubts were cast. It is far from improbable that the addresses to be given in Birmingham and at Walsall will be the first of a series that Lord Randolph will deliver in the great provincial centres during the recess, and that in this way he will reassert his position in public life.


The London Correspondent of the Newcastle Chronicle says: - "It seems that the Times lawyers have been studying the National League books and correspondence, and that these, so far from supporting their charges, furnish proof of quite a contrary character. Hence their gentle handling of Mr. Harrington, who seemed as much astonished as any one in Court at the "easy turn" given him."


At Clonakilty yesterday, before County Court Judge Ferguson, the rev. Father McCarthy, parish priest of Kilmeen, appealed against the sentence of four months' imprisonment passed by the Crimes Act Court on the 26th January, for inciting to violence and intimidation. His Honour the Judge gave the defendant the opportunity of expressing regret, and said he would recall sentence. Father McCarthy refused to express regret for anything said or done by him, and the sentence was accordingly confirmed.

Source: The Echo, Thursday June 27, 1889, Page 3

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

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