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  • Co. Londonderry Assizes 1797- 1817

Co. Londonderry Assizes 1797- 1817

The following transcribed by Teena from the Belfast Commercial Chronicle, Dublin Evening Post, and Saunders Newsletter. (unless otherwise noted)

27 Apr. 1797

Two men of the name MILLER, indicted for taking a gun from the habitation David HYNDMAN, were acquitted of that charge, but found guilty of being concerned in a riot and unlawful assembly and received sentence, to be imprisoned 2 years and to be publicly whipped at the end of 6 months.

Walter GRAHAM and some others, whose trials were postponed from the last assizes, were acquitted, the witnesses having absconded.

On Tuesday, Thomas MOORE, who had sworn examinations against some United Irishmen, which he denied when called on the table, was convicted of perjury and sentence to be transported for 7 years and to stand once in the pillory, where he was roughly handled by the populace.

Richardson BOARDMAN, convicted during the assizes for the same offense, received a severe public whipping and was ordered for transportation.

Shelburne KINKEAD was indicted for being present at a riotous assembly; a soldier who was the prosecutor, not being able to identify him perfectly, he was acquitted.

Wm. DAVISON was indicted for administering oaths to a soldier of the Tipperary regiment at Londonderry, ‘to be true to the French and to keep to the secrets of the United Irishmen.’ After a trial and a charge from the solicitor general, the jury, without hesitation, found the prisoner guilty. Sentence of transportation for life immediately followed and the prisoner was handed over from the dock, into the custody of a strong guard, to be transmitted to Newgate. He was a native Derry, of good connections and in a decent line of business.

Michael ABRAHAM and two others, indicted for appearing in arms and unusual disguises were acquitted, but the person who had been bound over to prosecute them was convicted of perjury.

Wm. STEWART pleaded guilty to 2 capital indictments, the first which was for shooting R. HILL Esq. Mr. HILL with great generosity interfered with the court in his favour, in consequence of which, the judges were pleased to intimate their intention of recommending him to mercy.

On Wednesday, John DOHERTY pleaded guilty to a capital indictment for taking arms and some favourable circumstances in his conduct appearing, the court was pleased to give him the same hopes.

James HAMILTON was found guilty of endeavouring to obtain ball cartridges from some of the soldiery and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.

1 Sept. 1800
At Londonderry assizes, an action for assault and false imprisonment, wherein John GILLESPIE was the plaintiff and General CAMPBELL and two officers of the York fencibles were the defendants. After a hearing of several hours and a most able and impartial charge from the learned judge, (Baron SMITH), the jury retired and in a few minutes found a verdict for the plaintiff, with £750 damages.

12 Apr. 1802

Thursday week for the assizes for the city and county Londonderry commenced before the Justice FOX and JOHNSTON, the former of whom presided in the Crown and the latter in the Record, Court. Seven Records were tried in the Civil Court, one of which was for slander at the suit of Mrs. MATHERS, widow, against HAMILTON – Verdict for the plaintiff 90£. In the Criminal Court the following persons were convicted and received sentence as follows;

John MORROW an itinerant preacher, upwards of 50 years, for carnally knowing Martha GAMBLE an 8½ years old, to be executed on Wednesday the 14th instant.

Margaret CALHOUN for feloniously taking at Londonderry, a pocketbook containing bank notes, value 12£. 10s., the property James CRAWFORD – to be transported for 7 years.

Samuel STEEL for feloniously taking the main-sail of a boat at Ballykelly value 6£. the property John CAMPBELL – to be transported for 7 years.

Robert RODDEN for feloniously taking a bar of iron at the waterside of Londonderry, the property John HARSHAW – to be transported for 7 years.

John KEENING for robbing Mary Arm M’CLOSKEY of 3½ guineas, – to be imprisoned 6 months.

Mary M’ILWEE for passing base coin, – to be imprisoned 6 months.

25 May 1808 – 100 Guineas Reward
Whereas late on the night of Monday the 21st inst. or early in the following morning, several evil disposed persons, some of whom had their faces blackened, or were otherwise disguised, did in an outrageous manner break and enter the dwelling house of Robert THOMPSON, one of my tenants in Drumard in the Parish of Ballynascreen and County of Londonderry and having forced, or dragged, the said Robert THOMPSON from his bed, they in an outrageous and violent manner threatened to hang him and set fire to and burned his house; Now, in order to bring to consign punishment the perpetrators of such outrage, I do hereby offer a reward of One Hundred Guineas to any person or persons who will discover on, and prosecute to conviction, the perpetrators of said outrage, or any them, within 6 months from the date hereof. Dated Dungiven 29 April.

In addition to the above – We, the undernamed subscribers, in order to mark our detestation of so horrid an outrage, are determined to use every effort in our power to bring the offenders to justice, therefore, offer the sums annexed to each of our names for the discovery and prosecution to conviction, any of the persons yet undiscovered, who have been concerned in said infamous transaction;

G. Lennox CONYNGHAM 5£ 13s 9d.
John MILLAR 5£ 13s 9d.
Robert TORRENS 5£ 13s 9d.
Francis GOULDSBERRY 5£ 13s 9d.
James ACHESON 5£ 13s 9d.
Samuel LYLE 5£ 13s 9d.
James ROSS 5£ 13s 9d.
Nathaniel HUNTER 5£ 13s 9d.
Alex. OGILBY Jr. 5£ 13s 9d.
Gard? YOUNG 5£ 13s 9d.
William BRYAN 3£ 8s 3d
William MAULEVERER 5£ 13s 9d.
James STEVENSON 3£ 8s 3d
Clotworthy SODEN 5£ 13s 9d.
Alexander OGILBY 5£ 13s 9d.
John A. SMYTH 5£ 13s 9d.
Leslie OGILBY 5£ 13s 9d.

17 Aug. 1808

Patrick McCO_B (?) was indicted for the murder of James CAMPBELL on the 6th November last. Acquitted of the murder, but found guilty of manslaughter. Sentenced to be six months imprisoned and ordered to give security for his good behaviour for seven years.

Henry KEENAN indicted for stealing one load of turf, the property of the Rev. Theodoras MARTIN. Acquitted for want of prosecution.

Maud WARD indicted for stealing one bag and 10 yards of chequer, the property of Darley DIVIT, acquitted.

James SMITH indicted for stealing 1lb. of flour, the property of John M’KINNEY. Sentenced to one week’s imprisonment.

Alexander CAIN indicted for taking a purse containing 20 six shilling tokens and 63 ten penny pieces acquitted, but ordered to give security himself in £50 and two sureties in £25 each, to keep the peace for seven years.

Elizabeth M’GONGLE, otherwise DOWDALL, Ann HAINY and James HAINY were indicted for the murder Ann M’DONNELL. Acquitted.

Patrick M’SHAFFY  a branch pilot, indicted for a combination for the purpose of raising wages. Acquitted.

James GILLESPIE, otherwise M’GONGLE, indicted capitally for breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Mr. MACKAY of Derry, on the second night of the assizes, was acquitted under the following circumstances. The prisoner and his associates had cut out a pane in the half-door window, through which the prisoner was put, but when half through, he repented and wished to return, but those in the out-side wounded his feet with pins, and forced him through; but the prisoner, instead of shewing any intention of committing burglary, went upstairs and rapped at an apprentice’s door, and told him he was looking for a bed; the apprentice immediately got up, and had the fellow secured. As this was a capital offence and affected the prisoner’s life, the learned Judge Baron SMITH, delivered a most humane charge to the jury, who immediately acquitted the prisoner.

Neal MONAN, indicted for stealing a heifer, the property of Joseph DICKSON was acquitted; and James KERR was indicted for stealing a mare the property of Alexander HENDERSON, was acquitted.

15 Aug. 1809
In the civil court at the Londonderry assizes on the 3rd inst., there were 12 records, only one of which created much interest. It was an action for breach of promise of marriage, brought by a Miss M’GORMIGALL against a Major SMYTH. The promise and correspondence whereon the action was founded, took place several years ago and before the defendant had attained to his present rank in the army. It was said that an offer of £500 was made the evening before the trial, and on that sum being rejected, an offer of marriage was also made and rejected. The jury found a verdict for the lady damages £2,000.

7 Sept. 1810

Michael RODDY was capitally indicted for privately stealing from the person of Richard DUFFY, bank notes to the amount of 7£. 15s. 6d. and the fact being fully proved, he was found guilty and sentenced to be executed on Monday the 1st of October

Bernard DOUGHERTY, indicted for assaulting Isaac LEYNAS on the highway near Coleraine, putting him in fear of his life, and taking from his person a chain of cotton yarn; found guilty, and sentenced to be executed on the 1st of October. This person was as an object of mercy by the jury who tried him and the humane judge, when passing the awful sentence of the law, was pleased to say he would lay his case, as well as that of the other unfortunate man, before his Grace the Lord Lieutenant.

William WANLOCK indicted for firing a loaded gun at William MILLER and also for an assault, he was aquitted of the capital charge, but found guilty of the latter and after receiving a severe reprimand from the learned judge, he was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment and to pay a fine of 20£.

Andrew MULHOLLAND found guilty of a riot, was fined one mark and sentenced to be imprisoned 1 month.

Thomas HOLMES was indicted for stealing a bay mare, the property of Roger ATKINSON. The only evidence against this man was Thomas QUIN, the noted approver. The prisoner was acquitted.

Edward BERGAN was found guilty of a violent assault upon Ann WHITFORD and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

John McMONEGAL indicted for stealing 2 calf skins, the goods of George CATHER; acquitted.

Susanna M’DONNELL indicted for picking the pocket of Jane BRISLAND of 3d.; found guilty and was sentenced to be imprisoned 12 months and twice privately whipped

In the Record Court, 3 ejectment causes took up the whole of 2 days; they were brought by John CHURCH Esq., Oatlands, for the recovery of a valuable tract of bog in Myroe and after a very patient investigation before Mr. Justice FLETCHER, verdicts were found, in them all, for the defendants.

26 Aug. 1811

On Tuesday last, the Hon. Baron M’CLELLAND and the Hon. Justice DALY arrived in town from Lifford and immediately proceeded to open their respective Courts. the Grand jury sworn;

Lord George BERESFORD, Foreman
Right Hon. Sir G. F. HILL
Robert BYNG
William LECKY
Wm. H. ASH
Marcus GAGE
Alexander LECKY
Mark Ker O’NEIL
James ROSS
Andrew KNOX
Joseph CURRY
Connolly SKIPTON

John WALKINSHAW and John KILGORE, stood indicted (since the last assizes) for the murder of Henry M’ATEER. John KILGORE was also indicted for shooting at James M’IRLANE with intent to kill, wound, or maim him.

This prosecution was carried on at the instance of the proprietors of the Salmon fishery in the river Bann, the deceased was one of the persons appointed by them to take care of the fishery and guard it from depredations, which, it appeared had frequently appeared.

Henry M’ATEER, son of the deceased, deposed, that on the night of the 31st Dec. last, he was with his father at the house of F. M’IRLANE near the river Claudy, which falls into the Bann. The witness saw persons with lights upon the river and went down towards it, accompanied by the deceased. As they went, witness saw 2 men disguised in white shirts, who appeared to have come up from the river, each of them had a gun and a bayonet. The deceased asked them what they were, they made no answer, but the prisoner, WALKINSHAW presented his gun, fired and killed Henry M’ATEER, the elder. Witness immediately caught hold of WALKINSHAW. Witness did not know the other man, while witness was holding and calling for help, James and Francis M’IRLANE came up, the other man fired a shot, which wounded James M’IRLANE and then made off. Neither witness, the deceased, nor M’IRLANE used any threats. WALKINSHAW was brought into the house of M’IRLANE; he seemed much grieved for what had happened.

The evidence of this witness was supported by James and Francis M’IRLANE; but the latter only could identify KILGORE as the person who fired the 2nd shot and the Rev. John TORRENS, being called to the character of F. M’IRLANE, deposed that he was not a person to be believed on his oath.

On the cross-examination of F. M’IRLANE, it appeared that he had struck and wounded WALKINSHAW with a pitchfork but he said it was after he was taken and when he was attempting to escape.

On the part of the prisoners, Wm. DAWLEY was examined. Witness was near M’IRLANE’S house the night of the 31st December, when he saw 2 men in disguise, with guns, upon which he went into a ditch to observe them. Witness saw 2 other men approach them, who were armed with weapons like poles and one of them asked the disguised men ‘who are ye?’ no answer being given, the same man said, ‘I must see who it is’ and then made a push at one the disguised men with the pole. A struggle ensued, during which, witness saw a gun fire off. Witness, on his cross-examination, said that he did not go forward to assist in taking the person who had begun the outrage, but went off when he heard the cry of murder, not wanting to take any part in the business, lest he should get into trouble.

DAVIDSON, who was one of the jurors upon the coroner’s inquest, was called, in order to contradict the testimony of some of the witnesses for the crown, but on his cross examination it appeared that he had no distinct recollection of the matter, not remembering what was the verdict of the inquest.

The Rev. John TORRENS, a magistrate of the neighbourhood, gave a very good character of the prisoner. Being cross examined, he said, the practice of unlawful fishing was too common there; that respectable persons sometimes join in it and even carry arms on such occasions.

James COURTNEY Esq. also gave the prisoner, WALKINSHAW, an excellent character.

The jury, after some deliberation, found WALKINSHAW not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter and acquitted KILGORE on both indictments. WALKINSHAW was sentenced to be imprisoned 1 year and burnt in the hand.

Edmond M’NEILL, otherwise O’NEILL, found guilty of stealing several articles of wearing apparel, the property of Martha DUNCAN – to be transported for 7 years.

Thomas BURNSIDE and Robert MITCHELL, found guilty of passing in company, having in their custody unlicensed spirits; the former to be imprisoned 9 months and the latter 6 months.

Hugh M’LAUGHLIN and Bryan GALLAGHER, for the like – to be imprisoned 9 months.

John O’DONNELL and James NOWERY, for the like – to be imprisoned 6 months.

Arthur M’CORMICK and Michael CRISLAND for the like – to be imprisoned 9 months.

Isaac FLEMING and James DRIPS, for the like – to be imprisoned 12 months.

Alexander SLOANE was indicted for perjury in the examinations sworn by him against Mrs. Sarah CURRY. The trial was postponed until the next assizes, and himself bound 200£ and 2 sureties in 100£ each for his appearance.

30 Mar. 1812

The following Grand Jury sworn;
Alexander Stewart, Esq. Foreman
Thos. SCOTT, Derry
Langford HEYLAND
William KNOX
James ROSS
Alexander OGILBY
Joseph CORRY

Alexander SLOAN indicted for wilful and corrupt perjury. – This case occasioned a good deal of interest, as being connected with the prosecution of Mrs. CORRY of Magherafelt, for stealing bank notes from SLOAN and a verdict of conviction against her, was had at last Spring assizes. The finding afterwards of these very notes, concealed in a hay stack in Magherafelt, as well as the admission on the part of SLOAN, that he had been accustomed to conceal his money in this way, with other circumstances favourable to Mrs. CORRY, induced the Government to grant her a free pardon for the former offense, which she pleaded on the present trial, in order to entitle her to be examined as a witness. After a very patient investigation, in which Mr. STOKES, on behalf of the prosecution and Mr. ROULSTON on behalf of SLOAN stated the cases of their respective clients with great feeling and ability. The Learned judge proceeded to charge the jury. He dwelt strongly on the novelty of such a prosecution and the dangerous tendency it would have to undermine the criminal jurisprudence of the Country. He said they had no light to guide them in such a case, as he believed it to be without precedent, that a convicted felon should be permitted to appear as the prosecutor of his accuser for perjury, and nothing short of the clearest and most incontrovertible testimony should induce them to entertain it for a moment. He was sorry however, to say, that in the present case he saw no such evidence and concluded a most eloquent and able charge by recommending to the jury, if the same impression had been made on their minds as on his, to acquit the prisoner, which they accordingly did without leaving the box.

Jane GALLAGHER, Susanna SHARP, and Mary CONOLLY, were indicted for stealing several articles of shop goods and wearing apparel and sentenced to be burned in the hand and imprisoned 6 months.

George O’FEE found guilty of manslaughter, – to be burned in the hand and imprisoned 3 months.

Hugh PATTERSON found guilty of stealing a web, the goods of John KNOX – to be burned in the hand and imprisoned 3 months.

Hugh FARREN guilty of stealing a watch the property of Mr. Geo. MACKY – to be transported for 7 years.

Philip DOHERTY guilty of stealing lead from the County infirmary – to be burned in the hand and imprisoned 6 months.

Thomas NEILSON, a private soldier in the South Down Militia, was found guilty of a most wanton and aggravated assault and of stabbing Alexander MOODY. Baron M’CLELLAND, after passing a severe reprimand upon the prisoner, sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment.

Daniel M’LUCAS and John M’LUCAS charged with receiving 3 hats from Robert HALL, which had been stolen him from his father, Thomas HALL, were found guilty on the clearest evidence. This appeared to be case of the greatest enormity. Robert HALL, who turned approver, stated that he had been practising a system of depredation upon his father for several years; that one of the prisoners had wrought with his father and that they both afterwards set up a shop for themselves in the Diamond of Derry; that about 3 years ago, at which time he was about 17 years of age, they told him his father treated him like beggar and that they would shew him how he could make money enough and this was by stealing hats from his father, for which they would pay him; that he accordingly, was seduced from his duty and commenced his system of plunder; and that during a period of 3 years, he had taken a very large quantity of hats and given them to the prisoners, who paid him small sums of money for the same and that after paying him they generally took him to a house, kept by their sister, in the Bogside and made him drink and play at cards, until they swallowed up and won back the trifle they had given him; that at length, about the month of October last, he began to repent of his misconduct and he was so struck with the enormity of his offense, that he confessed the whole matter to his father. The prisoners were then taken up by the orders of Sir George HILL and committed for trial. Had the prosecution rested upon the single testimony a person so young, so lost to filial duty and so profligate as the witness stated himself to be, there might have been great doubts as the prisoners guilt, but his testimony was fully corroborated by another witness, who saw him frequently deliver the hats to the prisoners and also a fellow, brought forward by themselves, who admitted that he had been, himself, in their company while drinking and playing cards at the prisoner’s sisters, in the bogside. The jury found the prisoners guilty without leaving the box. Baron McCLELLAND, after stating in the most feeling manner, the extraordinary enormity of their crime, immediately sentenced them to be publicly whipped on Wednesday the 25th inst. from the jail, to the Market house, and back again, and to be imprisoned for the space of 12 months.

12 May 1817 Major D’ARCY

A correspondent from Derry in the respectable Dublin Paper, mentions the following facts relating to this gentleman, illustrative of the trial that lately took place at Derry Assizes and which, is certainly highly to his credit;

“In justice to a Gentleman, whose services in this part of the country have been highly meritorious and have accordingly drawn upon him the obloquy of the factious journals, I beg to state that to Major D’ARCY, is owing the detection of the perjury committed by Hugh M’CLOSKEY. After Hugh M’CLOSKEY had given his information before another Magistrate, Major D’ARCY went to Dungiven, the residence of the persons charged, when upon investigation, he had the sagacity to discover the falsehood of the accusation and immediately returned Derry, (where he had left M’CLOSKEY in the charge of two Constables) and committed him to gaol for the perjury and, if I am not mistaken, Major D’ARCY was not the witness sent up to the Grand jury, upon whose testimony the indictment for perjury was found, on which M’CLOSKEY has been sentenced to transportation.”