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  • Co. Fermanagh Assizes 1839

Co. Fermanagh Assizes 1839

22 Jul. 1839

Assizes at Enniskillen – with Chief Justice DOHERTY

James TRAINOR, a miserable looking ragged boy, was placed at the bar and arraigned for stealing 1s. 6d. It appeared to me somewhat extraordinary that such a case should be put on a county calendar. The jury found him guilty and as it was his 3rd offence the judge sentenced him to 7 years transportation.

Robert COULTER was arraigned for stealing a cow from James QUARTO. The prosecutor said that from circumstances which had lately come to his knowledge, he had no doubt that the prisoner took the cow under the impression that it belonged to his father-in-law and that he was entitled to it as a marriage portion. Acquitted.

22 Jul. 1839 Extraordinary case of Acquittal

Mary CRAWFORD a woman of bad character, was placed at the bar and arraigned for stealing 12s. 6d. from James GALLAGHER. I may here say that independent of the extraordinary acquittal which took place in this case, I never in all my experience of criminal courts, both in England and Ireland, saw such gross depravity and immorality developed as in the course of the trial. The facts of the case to which I allude cannot even be glanced at, but from the questions put by some of the jury, it was evident that such occurrences are common in the moral north.

It appeared that GALLAGHER, who was a very young man, went into a public-house to drink in company with the prisoner and another man, about his own age and that whilst there he stated that he had been robbed of the money in question by the prisoner.

He was called up and examined. He stated that he had the money going into the house in company with the prisoner and young man named GRIBBEN. When robbed he gave the alarm and a waiter who was attending in the house came up and he and the other boy, having secured her, the money was all found with her, except 2 shillings, which she put into her mouth, and which he believed, she swallowed.

Daniel CARROLL examined – was waiter in the public-house in question, when the prisoner and the 2 young men came in; they went into a room together; they were not long there when a ruf ? rus? was made; he went up stairs to see what was wanted and heard GALLAGHER say he was robbed; there was half a pint of punch and a pint of ale wanted and as soon as he served the customers with the ale and the punch, he went up and GALLAGHER said again that the prisoner robbed him; the young man that was with him was keeping the door shut and said also that GALLAGHER was robbed and requested that the prisoner might be searched; as witness was waiter in the house, he did not like that any complaint should be made of the place and he did search her and found 3 half-crowns and 3 shillings in silver in her stockings.

Prisoner – Come, CARROLL, tell the gentlemen of the jury what I said and l am sure justice will be done me. l am not to be transported by such a villain.

Witness – She said, my lord and gentlemen of the jury, that the money was her own; that GALLAGHER wanted to rob her and she called on me, gentlemen of the jury, not to allow her to be robbed by a Papist (here the witness stood up, and slapped his hands in the most vehement manner) and she said, lord, that the prisoner was bringing the charge against her for fear she would speak of BAXTER’s murder, as she knew all about it.

Chief Justice – But you found the money in her stockings? Witness – l did, lord.

Chief Justice – Did GALLAGHER describe the money to you before it was found? Witness – He did, lord. He said there were 3 half-crowns in it.

Chief Justice – And you found 3 half-crowns so concealed? Witness – l did.

One of the jury to GALLAGHER – Could you swear to the money when you saw it found on her?

GALLAGHER – No man could swear to silver, but I swear that it corresponded with the money I lost and that I saw her stooping down just before it was found in her stocking.

Chief Justice to the juryman – lf you lose money in a room while in company with another person and that money corresponding with it, as found on that person, it is no violent presumption to say that it is the same. The case is perfectly clear.

Chief Justice to CARROLL – What did you do with the money found?

CARROLL – I gave it to the police to keep till the trial and Mr. IRWIN, the magistrate, said I was right in doing so.

Chief Justice – I say the same.

Then turning to the jury – The case is perfectly plain against the prisoner; you can have no doubt about it.

The jury without leaving the box brought in a verdict of not guilty!

The Chief Justice looked up at them with apparent amazement. He said nothing to them, but told the clerk of the crown to desire them to stand aside and have another jury called.

22 July 1839 Extraordinary Case of Abduction

Thomas RUSSELL, Robert BROWNE and Catherine LITTLE, were placed at the bar and arraigned for the abduction of Catherine HOEY. The prisoner RUSSELL was charged as the principal and the other 2 prisoners were charged with aiding and assisting him. There was one count in the indictment charging RUSSELL with carrying her away with intent to marry her and another count charging him with carrying her by force, with intent to defile her.

RUSSELL a tall, athletic, young man, about 25 or 26 years of age. BROWNE is a low-sized strong made fellow, much younger than RUSSELL. The female prisoner is a sallow, ill-countenanced girl, about 20. They were all well dressed persons and seemed, particularly RUSSELL, to be of a very respectable class in life.

When Miss HOEY came up a thrill of amazement ran through the court; she was plainly but respectably dressed; she appeared to be between 15 and 16 years of age and was of surpassing beauty, to truth, a poet in his dreams could hardly picture to his imagination a more lovely looking creature. I understand that she has fortune of four thousand pounds. But the total want of education, which she manifested, astonished the bystanders, as much as her beauty.

Catherine HOEY examined – l live with my father Wm. HOEY, near Irvinestown; I know the prisoner, RUSSELL; I saw him at my father’s house in the month of April; he came there to see the work done, as my father was then ill; he lived about 19 or 20 miles from our house; on the 24th of last April, about 2 months after the prisoner came to see the work done, I was going with the housekeeper, Any M’CABE, to the market in Irvinestown, to buy some dress; as we went along Bessy M’MANUS fell in with us; RUSSELL was also going to the market with potatoes belonging to my father; after I went into the town, I went into a shop of BREEN’S, but before we went there I saw RUSSELL in Doctor MARTIN’S shop; RUSSELL came with us to Sandy AIKEN’S; Biddy DOONER and Catherine LITTLE, one of the prisoners at the bar, came to Sandy AIKEN’S; BROWNE came there too; when I went there, there was punch brought in by order of RUSSELL and I drank some of it; I drank a glass before at Doctor MARTIN’S; Mrs. MARTIN gave it to me; all the party drank a good deal; I took only one wine glass full; after the punch there was tea ordered and when I went to put on my bonnet RUSSELL said that the first who put on their bonnets should get a kiss; the prisoner, RUSSELL came over and kissed me without consent; he said that a friend of his had a car and would give me a seat on it home; I consented to take a seat; after that I went a little through the town; I called at Mr. ANDERSON’S to buy a collar and the making of a pair of stays; Catherine LITTLE followed me and brought me back to AIKEN’S door, where the car was; RUSSELL said that the car belonged to a Mr. SEMPLE, whom he introduced to me; I went on the car, and sat on the same side with RUSSELL; Catherine LITTLE and SEMPLE sat on the other side; a boy named SUTHERLAND drove us; it was late in the evening when we left the town; I noticed that we were not going the same road that I came and one of the party said that they were going the level road, to avoid the hills; when I went on a few miles, I met 2 women and I asked them were we on the right road to my father’s house and they said not; I then leaped off the car and began to cry; RUSSELL leaped off and put me on the car again; I caught hold of the 2 women and called on them for protection; the horse began to kick and broke the harness; the party was then obliged to stop, and we met a woman and a man and I called out to them for God’s sake to protect me; the man said he would keep me and RUSSELL then pulled out a pistol, put it to the man’s head and said he would blow out his brains if he interfered; when the harness was repaired, I was put on the car again and they drove on very fast; I was crying all the time and SEMPLE put a pistol to my breast and said he would shoot me if I did not hold my tongue; after a little time a man named CREERY got up on the same side of the car that RUSSELL and I were on, to put me between the two and held a stick over my head and swore he would strike me if I did not hold my tongue; when we went on a little farther we met a fresh horse on the road waiting for us; he was put to the car and the other brought back; I got off the car whilst the horses were changing; I thought to get into a house, but I would not be allowed; the prisoner, BROWNE, drove the fresh horse and SUTHERLAND went back; it was by this time after night; we went on a few miles further and met another horse harnessed, which was put to; the second fresh horse was not on the road; they called and he was brought out of a house; we went on then to a place called Whiskey-hill and stopped at the house of a person named CUMMINS; it was then daylight and the people were rising; I could not tell what country or what place I was in; BROWNE and SEMPLE went away from the car before we came to CUMMINS’ house; I asked RUSSELL where he was taking me and he said he was taking me to his father and that my father would be down after us in a day or two to adopt him as his heir; when we went to CUMMINS’ I went to bed and Catherine LITTLE lay down with me; RUSSELL did not make any improper freedom with me at CUMMINS’; we went in the evening to the house of a person named KERRIGAN; I was brought there against my will, and remained in it till after night, when a car was brought to the door and I was put on it; Doctor KERRIGAN, Thomas RUSSELL and Catherine LITTLE came on the car with me.

by the Court – l think RUSSELL caught me by the shoulder when he told me to get on the car.

Examination resumed – From KERRIGAN’S we went to the house of person named M’CREE and remained there till near daylight; I went to bed there too and Catherine LITTLE lay down with me; I undressed both occasions; the people at whose houses we stopped said that I should marry RUSSELL, that he was good enough for me, that I would never get as good; we remained 2 days and a night at M’CREE’S; from that we went to the house of a man named KILFETHER; we went on a car there; Doctor KERRIGAN, Catherine LITTLE, and RUSSELL were with me; it was about an hours journey from M’CREE’S to KILFETHER’S; it was by night we went there; from KILFETHER’S we went to the minister’s, as they told me; KILFETHER, KERRIGAN and the prisoners came with me to the minister’s; I don’t know his name or where he lived; it was just nightfall when we got to his house; he came out of a room, and bid us all stand; he said a few words and then got in some spirits and they all began to drink; I only tasted it; I don’t remember that RUSSELL and I joined hands; the minister said something about our being married; I made no objection before the minister, for when I was leaving KILFETHER’S they said that if I refused, RUSSELL would send home Catherine LITTLE, bring me to a desert, and treat me as he liked; it was KERRIGAN said that and it was on that account that I did not object before the minister; RUSSELL did not use any threats further than to say that he would never let me go home til I married him; when the party were drinking the spirits at the minister’s, the minister’s wife came out and drank some too; I got some, but only tasted it; we went from the minister’s to RUSSELL’S father’s house; it was the middle of the night when we got there; at daylight Catherine LITTLE and I went to bed together and bolted the door; after we went to bed I heard Mr. KERRIGAN and RUSSELL’S father fighting; KERRIGAN was crying; RUSSELL broke into the room and came to bed to LITTLE and me, but he took no liberties with me; I remained about a week at his father’s house; he took no improper liberties with me, although he came to bed to us every night; I never took off my clothes; he merely put his arms over me; I had clothes fastened round me; I remained at RUSSELL’S father’s for a week or more, until I was brought away by the police; I am only 14 years past and an only child.

Cross examined by Mr. DEERING Q. C – Did RUSSELL attempt to violate your chastity – do you understand that? No. Did he attempt to violate your virtue? Do you understand that? No. Then you don’t know what virtue or chastity is? No. Mr. DEERING – l am sorry you do not.

Witness in continuation – My father spoke to me about marriage with RUSSELL; he asked me would I like to marry him and I said I would not; I drank the punch before dinner; I drank punch with him before upon 3 or 4 occasions; I was with RUSSELL in the house of one of my father’s tenants; I did not think I was married when the words were said, because it was not before 12 o’clock in the day and there was no book or ring; I never heard what the minister’s name was; I saw a man named O’DONNELL at old RUSSELL’S house; I did not see any servant maid at RUSSELL’S house that I remember; I saw a servant maid at AIKEN’S house, but I had no conversation with her; I saw a person named YOUNG at old RUSSELL’S house, but I never said to him or any other person that I was married.

Alice M’CABE – l have been house keeper to Mr HOEY for the last 14 years; I recollect going to Irvinestown on the day in question, to sell yarn; I left Miss HOEY in care of Miss M’MANUS until I would sell the yarn; when I met RUSSELL in the town after he asked where I left the girls and I told him; we met SEMPLE there, who said he had a car and would be going home by Mr. HOEY’S and RUSSELL said that Miss HOEY could get a seat on it; I saw the party go off in the car together out of the town.

cross examined – Old HOEY was willing that his daughter should be married to RUSSELL if she wished it herself.

Oswald SUTHERLAND examined – l live in Irvinestown and keep post horses; a horse was engaged from me on the day that RUSSELL brought the young woman away; RUSSELL and AIKEN engaged the horse; the party had a car of their own; the 3 prisoners and Miss HOEY in it; I drove the car and when we went some way out of town, Miss HOEY got off the car and said she was going out of her way; she called out dada, dada; RUSSELL got off the car and put her up again; she began to cry.

Anne KNOX examined – Met the party on the road; Miss HOEY came down off the car and wished to go away; she asked was she on the straight road to Kesh where her father lived and I told her she was not; she was returning to Irvinestown when a man that was on the car got down, brought her back and put her on the car again; she shouted and cried and the car drove off at a smart rate; I heard her shouting till she went out of hearing.

Unity DONNELLY examined – This witness deposed that she saw the party on the car that night and the young lady crying to get off; there was a man on each side of her and one of them had his arm round her.

Two or three other witnesses were examined, who corroborated the remainder of the evidence given by Miss HOEY, with regard to the route which RUSSELL took her that night.

Mr. DEERING Q.C., addressed the jury on the part of the prisoners. He said that the offense with which they stood charged, subjected them to the awful penalty of death. In England the law was different from what it was in Ireland. In England the offense with which the prisoners stood charged was, at most, only a transportable one, but in Ireland it incurred the utmost penalty that the law could inflict. The jury would therefore, be more slow in finding a verdict against them. They would bear in mind the kind treatment that RUSSELL gave the young woman and the perfect delicacy with which he acted towards her whilst in his power. The truth was, that a courtship was carried on between them with the consent of the parents both and if there was a doubt upon their mind that she ever consented, they ought to give the prisoners the benefit of that doubt. The act of parliament had placed the prisoners in an awful predicament, for even if there were a marriage, in point of fact and that had it been consummated, still the law was that the wife could be examined as witness against the husband, if the force continued up to the time of the marriage, because there was then no marriage, de jure.

John YOUNG examined – Knew that the old man and RUSSELL were on very good terms; the families were related; heard of a marriage being contemplated between the parties.

John WILLIAM examined – Miss HOEY told that me she was married to RUSSELL; I am sure that she told me she was married and that she was not anxious about taking her clothes from old RUSSELL’S, as she would be soon back there again.

Robert RUSSELL examined – l had a conversation with old HOEY about the marriage, and he seemed very willing; the girl herself said she was well pleased if her father consented. The prosecutrix was called up and confronted with this witness and denied most positively that she ever had any conversation whatever with him about the marriage.

His lordship then recapitulated the evidence. He said he thought the case free from all embarrassment. The young creature whom they saw examined under such trying circumstances gave her evidence with great clearness and every material fact she had sworn, was corroborated by other witnesses, whom by mere accident, were brought in the way. He hardly ever heard a greater outrage, or one planned with more coolness and deliberation. The creature was taken away by an armed bandit and dragged about through the country for nearly a fortnight and it was not because she escaped violation by almost a miracle that the prisoner was less guilty. He would leave the case in their hands and if they thought the other 2 prisoners were not aware of the intent of RUSSELL and that there was no privity purpose between them, they ought to be acquitted, but after the evidence that was given they could hardly be of that opinion.

Then his lordship concluded his charge, RUSSELL cried out from the dock – oh. my lord, I have been ruined by my counsel and attorney, your lordship did not hear my case at all; I have many witnesses here to prove that she came away with me of her own accord, and that it was she who brought me away.

Chief Justice -You had skillful and able counsel to conduct your case and if you had such witnesses, as you speak of, they would have been examined.

Prisoner – Can’t your lordship let them come up and you will see. His lordship said, although the thing was irregular, he would allow any witnesses he had to be still examined.

Thomas GIBBEN was then called up – He said was in Irvinestown on the day in question; was in AIKEN’S public house paying for meal and heard Miss HOEY at the top of the stairs tell RUSSELL to bring her away and that when she would go a little out of the town she would pretend to resist and make noise. (The young woman was confronted with this witness and swore that all his evidence was false.)

Rose M’CORMICK examined – Was in AIKEN’S house on the day in question; saw Miss HOEY there with RUSSELL laughing and joking ; she called witness out to the yard, and told her she was going to be married to him.

Tom KILFETHER called up, but the solicitor said that he was included the indictment – he was one the conspirators, and he was glad to see him there. He was ushered from the witness’s box into the dock.

His lordship said that he would leave it to the jury to say what credit was to be attached to the additional witnesses who were called.The jury, after deliberating for a few minutes, brought in a verdict of guilty against all the prisoners, but recommended them to mercy. A sentence of death was recorded against them.

1 August 1839 – Abduction

John KILFEATHER, alias GILFILLAN, was indicted for having conspired to take away one Catherine HOEY, or being accessary to the fact, the same Catherine HOEY being taken away without her will or consent. This was a case arising out of one tried at Enniskillen during the late assizes in which 3 persons, RUSSELL, LITTLE, and BROWNE were convicted and had sentence of death recorded against them. RUSSELL, the person who had taken her away, had carried her through the country to prisoner’s house, from whence they left to go to the marriage. As the evidence, therefore, is the same as that in the case tried at Enniskillen, we shall not trouble our readers with a repetition.

Mr. MACKLEN in an able manner, addressed the jury for the defence, to show that KILFEATHER knew nothing about the forcible taking away of prosecutrix.

Mr. BARRY here produced the conviction of RUSSELL, LITTLE, and BROWNE, at the Fermanagh assizes, for forcibly taking away the said Catherine HOEY.

The jury were not agreed on Saturday evening and were locked up but at length they returned a verdict of guilty and prisoner was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. The prosecutrix is a young girl of about 14 years of age and has a legacy of 5,000£ left her, we believe, by an uncle and will have more when her father die ; she is of prepossessing appearance and very simple and artless in her manners. She created a good deal of astonishment by the straightforwardness of her evidence and her demeanour throughout. There seemed to be a bad feeling pervading the country people assembled as those whom she had prosecuted were from the county Donegal and were much liked by the people in general. Were it not for the protection afforded her by the police in passing through Lifford and Strabane, from the bad feeling manifested, it is to be feared she would have been assaulted.
Dublin Morning Register

Mon. 7 Oct. 1839 Late Abduction Case
We understand that Mr. Thomas RUSSELL, the person who was convicted at the assizes in Enniskillen of having feloniously carried off a young lady with the intent to marry her, has had his sentence of transportation commuted to that of two years imprisonment in Enniskillen gaol, owing to the petition of Colonel CONOLLY to his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant.

22 July 1839 Trial for Murder

Patrick and Mary MURPHY, otherwise SMITH, and Thos. MURPHY were arraigned for the murder of Essey ROGERS. The indictment charged the prisoners with having strangled deceased.

Owen KELLY examined – The deceased lodged with me; she was in the family way by the prisoner, Thomas MURPHY; I went to his house of a message from the deceased, and asked him did he know Essey ROGERS, that she had a son, which she said was his; he denied that it was; I asked him for some money to assist her, but he would not give any and added that if she sent the child home to him he would send her to gaol, or that perhaps she would not tell next day who hurted her; saw the body dead on the bank of a river one morning after the deceased went to MURPHY’S house to leave the child home with him.

The principal witness in the case was a woman named Alice SMITH, who swore that she was passing the MURPHY’S house on the night the of 28th June 1837; that she saw the deceased lying on the floor and MURPHY standing over her; heard them cry out that she was dead and that they would be all destroyed; she saw a young child in a basket at the fire.

This witness underwent a searching cross-examination by Mr. DOHERTY. There appeared considerable discrepancy between her testimony in court and her sworn informations. She admitted that she was at the last Monaghan assizes, but did not go there with the intention of giving evidence against the prisoners, although she knew they were to be tried there. She did not swear informations until last March and she accounted for her not coming forward against them sooner on the ground that she did not wish them any injury.

Two or 3 other witnesses were examined, who traced the unfortunate deceased to the house of the prisoners on the night in question. Two other witnesses were examined, who saw 2 of the prisoners out that morning daylight, carrying a large bundle towards the river.

Eliza CONNOR examined – Remembers when the body was found in the river; saw it floating in the water; her husband assisted to take her out; there were marks on her neck and body and blood flowing out of her mouth.

Martin CONNOR, the husband of the last witness corroborated the statement as to the finding of the body.

Doctor HURST examined – Attended the inquest; he deposed that strangulation was the cause of her death; in his opinion she did not die from drowning. This was the case for the crown.

For the Defense
James CLARKE examined – Knows the witness Alice SMITH lived in the same neighbourhood with her; on his oath did not believe her worthy of credit on her oath; she had a very bad character in the neighbourhood.

Cross examined – Could not say if any more respectable person could be found to speak about Alice SMITH’S character; has a good character himself; has his minister’s handwriting in his pocket; was once accused of robbery, but he was innocent.

Bernard MALONE examined – Knew the witness Hannah MALONE, who swore that she saw the prisoner carrying the bundle to the river; believes that she is not worthy credit on her oath.

Two witnesses deposed that Ally SMITH was not worthy of credit on her oath.

His lordship recapitulated the evidence at great length. The jury retired, and although they were an hour absent when the coach was leaving at half past 6 o’clock they had not agreed to a verdict.

There are three more of the same family to be tried for the same offence; but if there should an acquittal in this case, the crown will not proceed further. If the prisoners should be tried. Chief Justice Doherty will remain here till Monday.

26 July 1839 – the case the MURPHY’S

The jury in the case the MURPHY’S, for the murder of Essey ROGERS, agreed to find a verdict of guilty against Patrick MURPHY and a verdict of acquittal in favour of the other two prisoners, Mary and Thomas MURPHY. The jury were of opinion that those 2 prisoners were not sufficiently identified by the witness who swore that she saw the party carrying a large bundle to the river and throwing it in on the night the murder was committed. The other three MURPHY’S will not be tried at present; they will, I believe, will be let out on bail to appear when called upon. Sentence of death was passed on the wretched man who was found guilty, but no day was named for his execution. (Dublin Mercantile Advertiser and Weekly)

Transcribed by Teena from the pilot of 22nd Jul. 1839 with other noted sources