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  • Co. Tyrone Assizes 1829

Co. Tyrone Assizes 1829

Transcribed by Teena from the Belfast Newsletter Friday 21 Aug. 1829


The following gentlemen composed the grand jury-

Right Hon. Henry CORRY, foreman
Hon. Thomas KNOX
Sir Hugh STEWART, Bart
Sir James STRONGE, Bart
Sir Robert FERGUSON, Bart
Samuel VESEY
Robert EVANS

And. KEAN convicted of stealing a Bank of Ireland note for £20, the property of Thos. JUGG of Gortigal.

William MILROY was convicted of stealing a purse, containing 17s. from Michael DEVINE at last Strabane fair.

Thomas JOHNSTON was convicted of having 32 counterfeit six-pences in his possession at the last fair at Cookstown, knowing them to be stolen.

John SCANNAN, alias Bernard CALLAGHAN, was charged with having tendered five counterfeit sovereigns in payment of the price of a cow sold to him by Wm. QUIN at the March fair of Augher. Guilty

James ARMSTRONG was accused of having base coin in his possession and of passing some at the fair of Ballygawley.

Andrew MACFARLANE- Was at Ballygawley fair; saw the prisoner there; witness was examining a half crown for an old woman and thought it suspicious after comparing it with one of his own; prisoner was standing by and took up witness’s half-crown to try it and after ringing it, gave him a bad half-crown, as being witness’s own; witness seized him, on which he said “don’t expose me and I’ll give you a good half-crown.” This witness was very impassioned; He jumped about the table as if bitten by a tarantula, alternately addressing the jury, the counsel and the bench. His favourite positions were confronting the judge, as near to him as he could get and though within a half foot of him, he seemed to regret that he could not get nearer to his lordship, into whose face he stared most familiarly.

The following colloquy took place between him and Mr. SMYLIE, the prisoner’s counsel-

“Where did you get the fine flow of language you are possessed of?”
“By nature sure. I would have been a beautiful orrator had I got all your education. I would have put my larning to a good purpose.”
“Have you heard that it is a custom with rogues to examine the money of old women?”
“May be you yourself are a rogue and may answer the question, perhaps you are one of the gang.”
“Are you a man that a rogue would try to ring the changes upon him?”
“Do you mean to call me a rogue, Sir?” (pianissimo) (putting his arms akimbo). “I am a farmer and have a carrectar.”
“Have you any mental reservations in your evidence”?
“I did not look the dictionary for it and never found it in a newspaper. O I’m too sharp for you!”
“Did not the old woman run away with your half-crown, as soon as you seized the prisoner?”
“Cannot say what she did.” (After a long pause to the counsel, “Get on with you now!”, then to the judge, “Will you liberate me, your lordship?” (much laughter).
The prisoner was found guilty.

Catharine MACARTY and Mary DEARING were convicted of having on the 17th June, stolen from the shop of James DEARING, haberdasher, in Auchnacloy, <sic> a web of sarsnet cloth.

Patrick DUFFY, a boy, was tried for having stolen a pair of  trowsers and a hat the property of Hugh CROMLIE and also a pair of shoes, the property of Michael MAGUIRE. The whole parties were in the service of Dr. BRAIDEN of Fivemiletown, who, learning that DUFFY had absconded with the above property, pursued him to his native place, Castleblaney, a distance of 30 miles and got him apprehended. Guilty.

Lawrence HOLYWOOD was convicted of having stolen from the the store-room of Charles and Joseph M’MASTER of Omagh, in whose employment he had been as a sawyer, a skin of tanned leather.

Bernard M’COURT was convicted of having, in the house of Alexander WRIGHT, Nn. Stewart, stolen a silver watch, the property of Mr. John NEESON, of Derry.

Michael O’COLLORAN was accused of having on 21st Jan. 1827, stolen a black horse, the property of Daniel MALLIN, of Crevelough. Acquitted.

Patrick M’ELHATTON was charged with aiding and abetting in the murder of John KILTER.

Michael M’KENNA – The deceased, his brothers Pat. and Ed. KILTER and the witness, were on Kileenan mountain on the night of 19th Sept.; it was a moon-light night; on their way home they met prisoner and his brother Peter; deceased said to prisoner, “You have made a great many ditches here, which are improvements so far, but there is little within them”; after this saw prisoner knock down deceased with a spade-shaft, immediately on which, Peter M’ELHATTON pierced him to the ground through the heart with a bayonet stuck on a pole; Peter next stabbed at witness’s breast and arm, the latter of which was wounded; he then ran home; never heard deceased speak after he was stabbed; he returned to bring him home, but on the way, met a party who was carrying his corpse; none of the witness’s party were armed, but one of them had a horn for sounding. Cross-ex. – Deceased, his brothers and witness, were the whole who composed the party; deceased was killed about a mile from prisoner’s house, and about a quarter from deceased’s; party went to the mountain from deceased’s house and all, except witness, blew the horn by turns; they went out for a bit of amusement; they were not within a quarter of prisoner’s house; they said through the trumpet, “These ditches you have made are great improvements, but there is nothing within them,” but not a word about Peter’s rearing other folks children and having no need of a wife, or of their burning prisoner’s premises if he did not quit them; the mountain belongs to Captain RICHARDSON, who has let it on improving leases; the M’ELHATTON were among his tenants and the KILTER’s have land adjoining.; (A horn was now shown witness. It was a cow horn, having attached to it an enormous tube, about thrice the size of a boatswain’s trumpet, composed of sheet-iron, which the witness said was the one used on the above occasion.) Saw this horn a night or two before, at the house of Terence KILTER, father of deceased; sees a large scar on prisoner’s forehead; did not see him get it, but the day after deceased was killed, saw prisoner with his head tied up; Another Johnnie KILTER, besides deceased, acknowledged he had struck one of the M’ELHATTON’s; has heard prisoner was attended by a Doctor for a sore head and that his life was in danger; has no doubt that on the night in question he was knocked insensible.

John KILTER, uncle of deceased – Deceased and his brother’s Patrick and Edward, the last witness and witness himself, went to the mountain with ‘a little  horn’ (The horn being shown him, he identified it). It had been used to warn distillers of the approach of the police; they were at the distance of 170 perches from prisoner’s house, when he and his brothers came up to them; he got the distance measured; on coming up prisoner, who carried a long pole, said he would soon scatter that knot and knocked deceased down with the pole; Peter M’ELHATTON then pierced the ceased to the earth through three different places; Peter also stabbed at witness and as prisoner was advancing to strike him, he knocked him down with a stone; the blow was given on the brow. Cross-ex – the police might, or might not have, been out that night; witness did not leave home with the party; did not blow the horn that night; has blown it several times to warn the country of the police; does not think a still was going in prisoner’s house that night; the party did not go on his land, but to his mearing ditch, 60 perches from his house; did not hear the horn blown that night, but “the boys” sister told witness it was blowing and he, being afraid of accidents, went to the hill to bring them home; had been in England and on the night of his return, the horn was sounded to welcome him home; at no time heard scandal sounded through the horn.

Ed. KILTER, brother of deceased, on his examination concurred with preceding witnesses. On his cross-examination, he said it had been customary in the parish with youngsters, to speak through horns; the parish priest, Mr. DUFFY, had denounced the custom as odious and sinful and forbidden it; cannot say whether the Protestant rector, Mr. STEWART, or Captain RICHARDSON, had condemned it, or that it caused strife in families; witness’s family did not pursue it so much as others; they had been only twice out; there were horns made for slurring people, but this was not one of them; has heard many things said through slurring horns about young women; witness’s party were 80 perches from prisoner’s house when they sounded the horn; they asked Peter M’ELHATTON, through the horn, if he was in the house; ‘it’ answered yes; then ‘it’ made the observation about the ditches.

Dr. T. LEE, (military surgeon) – examined the body of deceased; he had received a wound in the left breast, which touched the heart and was sufficient to cause instant death. It must have been inflicted by a triangularly pointed weapon like a bayonet; there was a slighter wound in the stomach. Cross-ex. – Prisoner was under his care for 14 or 15 days; he suffered from a severe sympathetic fever, caused by a blow on the forehead, apparently by a stone; witness, for some time, entertained great fears for him.


Captain RICHARDSON – The mountain belonging to him was once waste, but is now let in different holdings; prisoner has one of them; that district has been much disturbed by speaking trumpets, which have caused bad blood in families; the rector of the parish, the parish priest and witness himself, have tried to suppress the practice; Peter M’ELHATTON has disappeared.

Mr. John K. TENOR agent to last witness – considers prisoner to be a quiet peaceable man; has heard that in two or three families the members have been separated from each other, by means of slanders circulated through horns.

John M’CULLOGH – has heard the KILTERS speaking through a horn to the M’ELHATTON’s; one night he heard these words, “Patrick MELHATTON and Peter are you in the house?; you have stolen Mr. IRVING’s cloth; you are mail robbers; you have stolen Paddy KERR’s sheep; you have done worse than all that, for you have __; clear out of this mountain or we shall burn the house over you.”

Thomas KELLY – On the night in question saw prisoner fettering his horse; at that time heard a horn blown and through it was said, “take your bastards and put them out of this; leave this or I’ll burn your house; you are making great improvements here.”; recollects nothing more that was said; the prisoner is married and has children; the party who blew the horn threw a stone at prisoner, which knocked him down; the stone came from where the horn was blown; when the trumpeters were coming down the hill, one of them cried to prisoner that he would shoot him; prisoner then said, “John KILTER, you’ll not shoot me”.

John CLARKE has known the prisoner since he was a child and always knew him to be peaceable and industrious.

The judge charged the jury at great length and in the course of doing so, observed that verbal abuse alone would not reduce the crime charged to manslaughter, but that it would be for the jury to weigh the probability of which of the two parties struck the first blow. The jury returned a verdict of “Manslaughter”.

James Lockhart, a boy, accused of stealing £2 in silver, from the shop of Frank MACKIE at Fintona. Acquitted.

Michael HUGHES and David KELLY were accused of having in a public-house at Magilly, stolen a purse and 25s. from Archie M’CAUGHIE. The prosecutor told a cock and bull story of KELLY having taken the purse from him while HUGHES held him, in the presence of a number of persons. He admitted the great respectability of both prisoners, one of whom, KELLY, is possessed of considerable property. The same fact was proved in the course of the defence by the Rev. Mr. EVANS and the prosecutor’s statement was completely disapproved. Verdict -not guilty. The counsel for the prisoners intimated a determination to prosecute M’CAUGHIE for perjury.